Jimmie had an idea it wasn't
common courtesy for a friend
to come to one's home and ruin
one's sister. But he was not
sure how much Pete knew about
the rules of politeness.
The following night he returned
home from work at rather a late
hour in the evening. In passing
through the halls he came upon
the gnarled and leathery old
woman who possessed the music
box. She was grinning in the
dim light that drifted through
dust- stained panes. She beckoned
to him with a smudged forefinger.
"Ah, Jimmie, what do yehs t'ink
I got onto las' night. It was
deh funnies' t'ing I ever saw," she
cried, coming close to him and
leering. She was trembling with
eagerness to tell her tale. "I
was by me door las' night when
yer sister and her jude feller
came in late, oh, very late.
An' she, the dear, she was a-cryin'
as if her heart would break,
she was. It was deh funnies'
t'ing I ever saw. An' right out
here by me door she asked him
did he love her, did he. An'
she was a-cryin' as if her heart
would break, poor t'ing. An'
him, I could see by deh way what
he said it dat she had been askin'
orften, he says: 'Oh, hell, yes,'
he says, says he, 'Oh, hell,
Storm-clouds swept over Jimmie's
face, but he turned from the
leathery old woman and plodded
"Oh, hell, yes," called she
after him. She laughed a laugh
that was like a prophetic croak. "'Oh,
hell, yes,' he says, says he,
'Oh, hell, yes.'"
There was no one in at home.
The rooms showed that attempts
had been made at tidying them.
Parts of the wreckage of the
day before had been repaired
by an unskilful hand. A chair
or two and the table, stood uncertainly
upon legs. The floor had been
newly swept. Too, the blue ribbons
had been restored to the curtains,
and the lambrequin, with its
immense sheaves of yellow wheat
and red roses of equal size,
had been returned, in a worn
and sorry state, to its position
at the mantel. Maggie's jacket
and hat were gone from the nail
behind the door.
Jimmie walked to the window
and began to look through the
blurred glass. It occurred to
him to vaguely wonder, for an
instant, if some of the women
of his acquaintance had brothers.
Suddenly, however, he began
"But he was
me frien'! I brought 'im here!
Dat's deh hell of it!"
He fumed about the room, his
anger gradually rising to the
deh jay! Dat's what I'll do!
I'll kill deh jay!"
He clutched his hat and sprang
toward the door. But it opened
and his mother's great form blocked
"What deh hell's deh matter
wid yeh?" exclaimed she, coming
into the rooms.
Jimmie gave vent to a sardonic
curse and then laughed heavily.
gone teh deh devil! Dat's what!
"Maggie's gone teh deh devil!
Are yehs deaf?" roared Jimmie,
"Deh hell she has," murmured
the mother, astounded.
Jimmie grunted, and then began
to stare out at the window. His
mother sat down in a chair, but
a moment later sprang erect and
delivered a maddened whirl of
oaths. Her son turned to look
at her as she reeled and swayed
in the middle of the room, her
fierce face convulsed with passion,
her blotched arms raised high
"May Gawd curse her forever," she
shrieked. "May she eat nothin'
but stones and deh dirt in deh
street. May she sleep in deh
gutter an' never see deh sun
shine agin. Deh damn--"
"Here, now," said her son. "Take
a drop on yourself."
The mother raised lamenting
eyes to the ceiling.
"She's deh devil's own chil',
Jimmie," she whispered. "Ah,
who would t'ink such a bad girl
could grow up in our fambly,
Jimmie, me son. Many deh hour
I've spent in talk wid dat girl
an' tol' her if she ever went
on deh streets I'd see her damned.
An' after all her bringin' up
an' what I tol' her and talked
wid her, she goes teh deh bad,
like a duck teh water."
The tears rolled down her furrowed
face. Her hands trembled.
"An' den when
dat Sadie MacMallister next
door to us was sent teh
deh devil by dat feller what
worked in deh soap-factory, didn't
I tell our Mag dat if she--"
"Ah, dat's annuder story," interrupted
the brother. "Of course, dat
Sadie was nice an' all dat--but--see--it
ain't dessame as if--well, Maggie
was diff'ent--see--she was diff'ent."
He was trying to formulate
a theory that he had always unconsciously
held, that all sisters, excepting
his own, could advisedly be ruined.
broke out again. "I'll
go t'ump hell outa deh mug what
did her deh harm. I'll kill 'im!
He t'inks he kin scrap, but when
he gits me a-chasin' 'im he'll
fin' out where he's wrong, deh
damned duffer. I'll wipe up deh
street wid 'im."
In a fury he plunged out of
the doorway. As he vanished the
mother raised her head and lifted
both hands, entreating.
"May Gawd curse her forever," she
In the darkness of the hallway
Jimmie discerned a knot of women
talking volubly. When he strode
by they paid no attention to
"She allus was a bold thing," he
heard one of them cry in an eager
voice. "Dere wasn't a feller
come teh deh house but she'd
try teh mash 'im. My Annie says
deh shameless t'ing tried teh
ketch her feller, her own feller,
what we useter know his fader."
"I could a' tol' yehs dis two
years ago," said a woman, in
a key of triumph. "Yessir, it
was over two years ago dat I
says teh my ol' man, I says,
'Dat Johnson girl ain't straight,'
I says. 'Oh, hell,' he says.
'Oh, hell.' 'Dat's all right,'
I says, 'but I know what I knows,'
I says, 'an' it 'ill come out
later. You wait an' see,' I says,
had eyes could see dat dere
was somethin' wrong
wid dat girl. I didn't like her
On the street
Jimmie met a friend. "What deh hell?" asked
Jimmie explained. "An'
I'll t'ump 'im till he can't
"Oh, what deh hell," said the
friend. "What's deh use! Yeh'll
git pulled in! Everybody 'ill
be onto it! An' ten plunks! Gee!"
t'inks he kin scrap, but he'll
fin' out diff'ent."
"Gee," remonstrated the friend. "What