He looked down on the floor, and spoke in a whisper:
“And ... would you send me off, too? The new war?”
She could scarcely speak.
“I ... oh, I’ll have to go down in a tenement somewhere—the slums....”
“Well, then,” she said, quietly, “I’ll go with you.”
“But you—” he exclaimed, almost adding, “an old woman”—“it’s impossible, mother.”
She answered him with the same quietness.
“You forget the shanty.”
And then it was clear to him. Like an electric bolt it shot him, thrilling, stirring his heart and soul. She would go with him; more than that, she should. It was her right, won by years of actual want and struggle and service. More, it was her escape from a flat, stale, meaningless boarding-house existence. Suddenly he felt that she was really his mother, knit to him by ties unbreakable, a terrible thing in its miraculousness.
But he only said, in a strained voice,
“All right, mother!”
And she laughed, and mused, and murmured:
“How does the world manage to keep so new and young?”
MYRA AND JOE
Myra Craig used to dream at night that the fifty-seven members of her class arose from their desks with wild shrieks and danced a war-dance about her. This paralyzed her throat, her hands, and her feet, and she could only stand, flooded with horror, awaiting the arrival of the school principal and disgrace. Out of this teacher’s dream she always awoke disgusted with school-work.
Myra came from Fall River—her parents still lived there—came when she was ten years younger, to seek her fortune in the great city. New York had drawn her as it draws all the youth of the land, for youth lusts for life and rushes eagerly to the spot where life is most intense and most exciting. The romance of crowds, of wealth, of art, of concentrated pleasure and concentrated vice, of immense money-power, the very architecture of the world-city, the maelstrom of people, drew the young Fall River woman irresistibly. She did not want the even and smooth future of a little town; she wanted to plunge into the hazardous interweaving of the destinies of millions of people. She wanted to grasp at some of the magic opportunities of the city. She wanted a career.
And so she came. Early that June morning she left her cabin on the Sound steamboat and went out on deck, and then she had unfolded to her the most thrilling scene of the earth. Gazing, almost panting with excitement, it seemed to her that the nature she had known—the hills and fields of New England—shrank to littleness. First there was all about her the sway of the East River, golden—flecked with the morning sun, which glowed through a thin haze. From either shore a city climbed, topped with steeples and mill chimneys—floods