Chapter 5

           Heawokenextmorningfromrosyscenesofdreamtoasteamyatmospherethatsmelledofsoapsudsanddirtyclothes,andthatwasvibrantwiththejarandjangleoftormentedlife. Ashecameoutofhisroomheheardthesloshofwater,asharpexclamation,andaresoundingsmackashissistervisitedherirritationupononeofhernumerousprogeny. Thesquallofthechildwentthroughhimlikeaknife. Hewasawarethatthewholething,theveryairhebreathed,wasrepulsiveandmean. Howdifferent,hethought,fromtheatmosphereofbeautyandreposeofthehousewhereinRuthdwelt. Thereitwasallspiritual. Hereitwasallmaterial,andmeanlymaterial. 

           "Comehere,Alfred,"hecalledtothecryingchild,atthesametimethrustinghishandintohistrouserspocket,wherehecarriedhismoneylooseinthesamelargewaythathelivedlifeingeneral. Heputaquarterintheyoungster’shandandheldhiminhisarmsamoment,soothinghissobs. "Nowrunalongandgetsomecandy,anddon’tforgettogivesometoyourbrothersandsisters. Besureandgetthekindthatlastslongest." 

           Hissisterliftedaflushedfacefromthewash-tubandlookedathim. 

           "Anickel’dha’benenough,"shesaid. "It’sjustlikeyou,noideaofthevalueofmoney. Thechild’lleathimselfsick." 

           "That’sallright,sis,"heansweredjovially. "Mymoney’lltakecareofitself. Ifyouweren’tsobusy,I’dkissyougoodmorning." 

           Hewantedtobeaffectionatetothissister,whowasgood,andwho,inherway,heknew,lovedhim. But,somehow,shegrewlessherselfastheyearswentby,andmoreandmorebaffling. Itwasthehardwork,themanychildren,andthenaggingofherhusband,hedecided,thathadchangedher. 

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