“Your charities are like waving a scented handkerchief over the stock-yards. Or like handing out after-dinner mints to a mob of starving men.”
“You’re quite the wrong end there—as is usual with you agitators,” he replied comfortably. “We don’t give them mints. We give them soup.”
“Giving them soup—even if you did—is the mint end. Why don’t you give them jobs?”
He spread out his hands in gesture of despair. “What a bore a little learning can make of one! My dear niece, I deeply regret to be compelled to inform you that there aren’t ‘jobs’ enough to go around.”
“Why aren’t there?”
“Why the obvious reason would seem, Katie,” he replied patiently, “that there are too many of them wanting them.”
“And as usual, the obvious reason is not it. There are too many of you and me—that’s the trouble. They don’t have the soup because they must furnish us the mints.” It was Katie who had risen now and was walking about the room. Her cheeks were blazing. “I tell you, uncle, I feel it’s a disgrace the way we live—taking everything and doing nothing. I feel positively cheap about it. The army and the church and all the other useless things—”
“I do not agree with you that the army is useless and I certainly cannot permit you to say the church is.”
“You’ll not be able to stop other people from saying it!”
He seemed about to make heated reply, but instead sank back with an amused smile. “Katie, your learning sounds very suspiciously as though it were put on last night. I feel like putting up a sign—’Fresh Paint—Keep Off.’”
“Well at any rate it’s not mouldy!”
“At college I roomed with a chap who had a way of discovering things, getting in a fine glow of discovery over things everybody else had known. He would wake me out of a sound sleep to tell me something I had heard the week before.”
“And it’s trying to be waked out of a sound sleep, isn’t it, uncle?” she flashed back at him.
It ended with his kindly assuring her that he was glad she had begun to think about the problems of the world; that no one knew better than he that there was a social problem—and a grave one; that men of the church had written some excellent things on the subject—he would send her some of them. Indeed, he would be glad to do all in his power to help her to a better understanding of things. He was convinced, he said soothingly, that when she had gone a little farther into them she would see them more sanely.
Katie was back home; or, more accurately, she was back at Wayne’s quarters, where they could perhaps remain for a month or two longer.
And craving some simple, natural thing, something that could not make the heart ache, she went out that afternoon to play golf. The physical Kate, Katie of the sound body, was delighted to be back playing golf. Every little cell sang its song of rejoicing—rejoicing in emancipation from the ill-smelling crowds, return to the open air and the good green earth.