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- Drusilla with a Million - 30/43 -
herrin', laughed and laughed and said that he hadn't laughed so much for years. I said that it was good for him, and if he'd come and see me every mornin' I'd agree to make him laugh once a day, 'cause if you don't laugh before you die, you'll go out of the world without laughing, and you don't know whether there'll be anything to laugh at in the next. He said he was comin' to see me. Why don't you look jealous, John? Wait till I tell you who he is. That big John Craydon, who owns all of America as far as I heard. They say he's the hardest man in New York, and that when he come within an inch of dyin' last year no one would 'a' cared if he had 'a' come within an inch of bein' born, as he ain't done nothin' but make money. I'm goin' to show him my babies, especially Rastus, and I know he ain't hard. Any man that can laugh as hearty as he did, if he only does it once a year, ain't got an iron heart.
"The old man on the other side of me didn't like Mr. Craydon. He mumbled to me, 'What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul'; and I said it was accordin' to the size of the soul, and then he quoted that old thing about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle--you know the thing people who ain't got money is always quoting about people who has. I said that, according to Scripter, Heaven might look like a circus parade, it'd be so full of camels; but I didn't have a chance to explain what I meant and the women got up and went into the parlor, where we had coffee. Pretty soon the men come in and we all went into the dancin'-room.
"And, John, I've had a revelation. St. John's was nothin' compared to mine. A lot of young men come in, men with no chins and high collars, and young girls that had ought to have had gimps put in their dresses; and the way they slithered around that room hugging each other--well, for once in my life, I couldn't talk. I just looked. It wasn't only the young men with soft heads and loud laughs that danced. By the way, they was some of them the descendants of the big men we read about in the papers, and, between you and me, John, great descent was what most of 'em was sufferin' with. But old men and women danced--old men especially that had ought to been at home rubbin' their backs with goose grease. I just thought as I saw them old men foolin' around, 'It's hard for an old dog to learn new tricks, but an old man hasn't got sense enough not to try.' And what do you think, one of them young nin-com-poops come and asked me if I wouldn't like to turkey trot. That's what he said, turkey trot. When I got my breath, I said, 'Young man, there's two things in life I ain't never prepared for. One's twins, the other's to turkey trot --whatever that is--so you run along to the chicken yard; you've mistook the place.'
"Then I moved over to a corner by some paam trees, as I was afraid one of them old men'd come and ask me to bunny hug next, and I always been respectable. As I was a settin' there, some one come and set down, and I couldn't help hearin' what they said. He wanted to go home and she didn't want to go, and he said he was tired and had to git up early and that he'd been out four nights this week, and she said he was selfish and didn't want her to enjoy herself, and they talked a lot and then he got up in a huff and went away. I heard a little sniffle and I looked around the paams and there set that pretty girl that got married about three months ago and lives in the Red House. I smiled at her and she stopped cryin' and tried to pretend she hadn't been, and then I got up and went and set down by her and took her hand an' kind of patted it, and let her dry her eyes. When she seemed better I said, 'Every wise woman buildeth her own home, but the foolish one plucketh it down with her own hands.' Isn't that what you are doin', my dear?
"She sniffed again and I thought she was going to begin all over, but she didn't. She said, 'Bert used to love to be at dances with me, but now he always says he's tired and wants to go home.'
"'Well, dear,' I said, 'you're his wife now, and it's different. He can see you at home, and have you to himself. You're not just the girl he dances with. The things a man wants in his wife ain't the things he wants in the girl he just dances with, any more than the vittles he wants for breakfast is like them he wants for dinner. It's all different when you're married.'
"'But Bert is selfish; he isn't trying to make me happy.'
"'Does this give you happiness?' I asked.
"'Why, of course; it's so gay,' she said.
"'But is it _happiness_?' I asked again. 'Happiness and bein' gay is different, and you don't need to go to things like this for happiness. You find it at home if you stop huntin' for it outside. It's like my specs that I go lookin' all over the house for and find up on my forehead where they was all the time. Now, dear, don't make a mistake and go fishing for happiness with a red rag instead of a real live worm, and then think there ain't no fish 'cause they won't bite. You got the right kind of bait in your pretty self, in your nice home, and in that great big husband, who, a person can see as plain as a wart on a white neck, is all over in love with you, and the sea'll be just full of fish for you."
"I patted her hand again, as I was afraid she'd think I was interferin', but she didn't. She set quiet a while, then she squeezed my hand, and I said, 'Now I'm goin' home. Git on your bunnet and find your Bert and I'll drop you both at your house; and when you git home git him something fillin' to eat and something he likes to drink, and light his seegar for him and set down by the fire and tell him that real hugs is better'n all the bunny hugs in the world, and you'll find you won't be lonesome.'
"And she did, John; at least I took 'em home, and they held hands all the way there, though they didn't know I saw 'em."
"Well, Drusilla, you did have a nice time after all. I suppose you'll be going out every night now."
"John, you got more hair then sense. I'm glad I haven't died before I seen this dinner dancin'; but it's like them spoiled fish sandwiches--one taste's enough."
One afternoon Drusilla was working in her corner of the greenhouse transplanting lily bulbs. She did not notice the entrance of Daphne until she heard the fresh young voice at her side.
"Good morning, Miss Doane. I have come on business. I am an agent to enlist your services."
Drusilla pushed her near-seeing glasses up on her forehead so that she could the better regard the pretty face before her.
"Well, now, what company is hirin' you? They have a good agent. Is it a book or a washin' machine?"
"Neither, Miss Doane. How shocking! I am working in a great cause-- the cause of the poor."
"So--" said Drusilla. "What do _you_ know about the poor?"
"Oh, I know a lot, Miss Doane. I am one of the volunteer workers in a Settlement house in the slums."
"What's that? I seem to disremember what I have read about such things, if I have ever read about them."
"A Settlement is a lot of nice people who go down to live among the poor, and they have clubs where the boys and girls can come evenings, and they have sometimes a kindergarten or a day nursery where the mothers who go out to work by the day can leave their children while they are away, and they give free baths and have a medical clinic. Dr. Eaton gives his services to one twice a week, and there is a district nurse, and--Oh lots of things are done for the poor in the neighborhood of the Settlement house."
Drusilla put down her trowel and looked interested.
"Do tell! How nice of 'em. Are they paid to do it?"
"Yes; the workers who live in the Settlement get a salary. But girls like myself give a day a week, or every once in a while go there and help."
"What do you do?" asked Drusilla.
"I--I--teach sewing. I have a class."
Drusilla looked at her a moment in astonishment.
"_You_ teach sewing? _You_ have a sewing class? I didn't know you sewed."
"I--don't--_much_, but I can do enough for a class like I have. They're just making gymnasium suits, and we buy the pattern and I get along some way."
"Well, for a girl who has all her clothes made and keeps a maid to sew on her buttons, I think it is very nice of you to learn girls how to sew. You must be a great help in that work."
"Now you're laughing at me, Miss Doane."
"No, I'm not laughin'; but it seems to me--how many girls you got in your class?"
"I have ten."
"How old are they?"
"About twelve to fourteen years."
"When do you learn 'em?"
"Well--well! You must let me go down with you some day and see you learn girls to make their dresses. I'd surely enjoy the sight."
"That's why I came to you to-day. Our Settlement wants me to bring
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