The woman of brilliance and audacity stayed behind, taking up the bills and stuffing them into a deep, irregularly-shaped pocket. A guttural snore from the recumbent man caused her to turn and look down at him.
She laughed. “What a damn fool,” she said, and went.
The smoke from the lamps settled heavily down in the little compartment, obscuring the way out. The smell of oil, stifling in its intensity, pervaded the air. The wine from an overturned glass dripped softly down upon the blotches on the man’s neck.
In a room a woman sat at a table eating like a fat monk in a picture.
A soiled, unshaven man pushed open the door and entered.
“Well,” said he, “Mag’s dead.”
“What?” said the woman, her mouth filled with bread.
“Mag’s dead,” repeated the man.
“Deh hell she is,” said the woman. She continued her meal. When she finished her coffee she began to weep.
“I kin remember when her two feet was no bigger dan yer t’umb, and she weared worsted boots,” moaned she.
“Well, whata dat?” said the man.
“I kin remember when she weared worsted boots,” she cried.
The neighbors began to gather in the hall, staring in at the weeping woman as if watching the contortions of a dying dog. A dozen women entered and lamented with her. Under their busy hands the rooms took on that appalling appearance of neatness and order with which death is greeted.
Suddenly the door opened and a woman in a black gown rushed in with outstretched arms. “Ah, poor Mary,” she cried, and tenderly embraced the moaning one.
“Ah, what ter’ble affliction is dis,” continued she. Her vocabulary was derived from mission churches. “Me poor Mary, how I feel fer yehs! Ah, what a ter’ble affliction is a disobed’ent chil’.”
Her good, motherly face was wet with tears. She trembled in eagerness to express her sympathy. The mourner sat with bowed head, rocking her body heavily to and fro, and crying out in a high, strained voice that sounded like a dirge on some forlorn pipe.
“I kin remember when she weared worsted boots an’ her two feets was no bigger dan yer t’umb an’ she weared worsted boots, Miss Smith,” she cried, raising her streaming eyes.
“Ah, me poor Mary,” sobbed the woman in black. With low, coddling cries, she sank on her knees by the mourner’s chair, and put her arms about her. The other women began to groan in different keys.
“Yer poor misguided chil’ is gone now, Mary, an’ let us hope it’s fer deh bes’. Yeh’ll fergive her now, Mary, won’t yehs, dear, all her disobed’ence? All her t’ankless behavior to her mudder an’ all her badness? She’s gone where her ter’ble sins will be judged.”
The woman in black raised her face and paused. The inevitable sunlight came streaming in at the windows and shed a ghastly cheerfulness upon the faded hues of the room. Two or three of the spectators were sniffling, and one was loudly weeping. The mourner arose and staggered into the other room. In a moment she emerged with a pair of faded baby shoes held in the hollow of her hand.