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The Dawn of A To-morrow Frances Hodgson Burnett

Chapter III

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"More than enough to do all you have spoken of," answered Dart.

"It 's a shime a body couldn't 'ave it. Apple Blossom Court 'd be a different thing. It'd be the sime as Miss Montaubyn says it's goin' to be." She laughed again, this time as if remembering something fantastic, but not despicable.

"Who is Miss Montaubyn?"

"She 's a' old woman as lives next floor below. When she was young she was pretty an' used to dance in the 'alls. Drunken Bet says she was one o' the wust. When she got old it made 'er mad an' she got wusser. She was ready to tear gals eyes out, an' when she'd get took for makin' a row she'd fight like a tiger cat. About a year ago she tumbled downstairs when she'd 'ad too much an' she broke both 'er legs. You remember, Polly?"

Polly hid her face in her hands.

"Oh, when they took her away to the hospital!" she shuddered. "Oh, when they lifted her up to carry her!"

"I thought Polly 'd 'ave a fit when she 'eard 'er screamin' an' swearin'. My! it was langwich! But it was the 'orspitle did it."

"Did what?"

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"Dunno," with an uncertain, even slightly awed laugh. "Dunno wot it did--neither does nobody else, but somethin' 'appened. It was along of a lidy as come in one day an' talked to 'er when she was lyin' there. My eye," chuckling, "it was queer talk! But I liked it. P'raps it was lies, but it was cheerfle lies that 'elps yer. What I ses is--if THINGS ain't cheerfle, PEOPLE 'S got to be --to fight it out. The women in the 'ouse larft fit to kill theirselves when she fust come 'ome limpin' an' talked to 'em about what the lidy told 'er. But arter a bit they liked to 'ear 'er--just along o' the cheerfleness. Said it was like a pantermine. Drunken Bet says if she could get 'old 'f it an' believe it sime as Jinny Montaubyn does it'd be as cheerin' as drink an' last longer."

"Is it a kind of religion?" Dart asked, having a vague memory of rumors of fantastic new theories and half-born beliefs which had seemed to him weird visions floating through fagged brains wearied by old doubts and arguments and failures. The world was tired--the whole earth was sad--centuries had wrought only to the end of this twentieth century's despair. Was the struggle waking even here--in this back water of the huge city's human tide? he wondered with dull interest.

"Is it a kind of religion?" he said.

"It 's cheerfler." Glad thrust out her sharp chin uncertainly again. "There 's no 'ell fire in it. An' there ain't no blime laid on Godamighty." (The word as she uttered it seemed to have no connection whatever with her usual colloquial invocation of the Deity.) "When a dray run over little Billy an' crushed 'im inter a rag, an' 'is mother was screamin' an' draggin' 'er 'air down, the curick 'e ses, `It 's Gawd's will,' 'e ses--an' 'e ain't no bad sort neither, an' 'is fice was white an' wet with sweat--`Gawd done it,' 'e ses. An' me, I'd nussed the child an' I clawed me 'air sime as if I was 'is mother an' I screamed out, `Then damn 'im!' An' the curick 'e dropped sittin' down on the curb-stone an' 'id 'is fice in 'is 'ands."

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The Dawn of A To-morrow
Frances Hodgson Burnett

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