Page:Poor White.djvu/61

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.

each town. Beneath the roof boys and girls were born, grew up, quarreled, fought, and formed friend- ships with their fellows, were introduced into the mys- teries of love, married, and became the fathers and mothers of children, grew old, sickened, and died. Within the invisible circle and under the great roof every one knew his neighbor and was known to him. Strangers did not come and go swiftly and mysteri- ously and there was no constant and confusing roar of machinery and of new projects afoot. For the mo- ment mankind seemed about to take time to try to un- derstand itself. In Bidwell there was a man named Peter White who was a tailor and worked hard at his trade, but who once or twice a year got drunk and beat his wife. He was arrested each time and had to pay a fine, but there was a general understanding of the impulse that led to the beating. Most of the women knowing the wife sym- pathized with Peter. " She is a noisy thing and her jaw is never still," the wife of Henry Teeters, the grocer, said to her husband. " If he gets drunk it's only to forget he's married to her. Then he goes home to sleep it off and she begins jawing at him. He stands it as long as he can. It takes a fist to shut up that woman. If he strikes her it's the only thing he can do." Allie Mulberry the half-wit was one of the high- lights of life in the town. He lived with his mother in a tumble-down house at the edge of town on Medina Road. Beside being a half-wit he had something the matter with his legs. They were trembling and weak and he could only move them with great difficulty. On summer afternoons when the streets were deserted, he