The Island of Faith eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 133 pages of information about The Island of Faith.

“You must be very kind to this little sister of yours,” she told him.  “She needs every bit of love and affection and consideration that her family can give her!”

Jim, his gaze still upon her face, shrugged his shoulders.  But before he could answer Ella had come a step closer to Rose-Marie.  Her eyes were flashing.

“Jim,” she said, “ain’t got any love or kindness or consideration in him!  Jim thinks that Lily ain’t got any more feelin’s than a puppy dog—­’cause she can’t answer back.  Oh,” in response to the question in Rose-Marie’s face, “oh, he’d never put a finger on her—­not that!  But he don’t speak kind to her, like we do.  It’s enough fer him that she can’t hear th’ words he lays his tongue to.  Even Pa—­”

Suddenly, as if in answer to his spoken name, there came a scuffling sound from the corner where Pa was sleeping.  All at once the empty bottle dropped from the unclenched hand, the mouth fell open in a prodigious yawn, the eyes became wide, burned-out wells of drunkenness.  And as she watched, Rose-Marie saw the room cleared in an amazing fashion.  She heard Mrs. Volsky’s terrified whisper, “He’s wakin’ up!” She heard Jim’s harsh laugh; she saw Ella, with a fiercely maternal sweep of her strong arms, gather the little Lily close to her breast and dart toward the inner room.  And then, as she stood dazedly watching the mountain of sodden flesh that was Pa rear itself to a sitting posture, and then to a standing one, she felt a hot little hand touch her own.

“We better clear out,” said the voice of Bennie.  “We better clear out pretty quick!  Pa’s awful bad, sometimes, when he’s just wakin’ up!”

With a quickness not unlike the bump at the end of a falling-through-space dream, Rose-Marie felt herself drawn from the room—­heard the door close with a slam behind her.  And then she was hurrying after the shadowy form of Bennie, down the five rickety flights of stairs—­past the same varied odours and the same appalling sounds that she had noticed on the way up!



When Rose-Marie came out into the sunlight of the street she glanced at her watch and saw, with an almost overwhelming surprise, that it was only four o’clock.  It was just an hour since she had entered the cavern-like doorway of the tenement.  But in that hour she had come, for the first time, against life in the rough.  She had seen degeneracy, and poverty, and—­she was thinking of the expression in Jim’s eyes—­a menace that she did not at all understand.  She had seen the waste of broken middle age and the pity of blighted childhood.  She had seen fear and, if she had stayed a few moments longer, she would have seen downright brutality.  Her hand, reaching out, clutched Bennie’s hand.

“Dear,” she said—­and realized, from the startled expression of his eyes, that he had not often been called “Dear,”—­“is it always like that, in your home?”

Project Gutenberg
The Island of Faith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook