xt7kpr7mpw63 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7kpr7mpw63/data/mets.xml Rice, Alice Caldwell Hegan, 1870-1942. 1918  books b92-249-31802323 English Century, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Calvary Alley  / Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice ; illustrated by Walter Biggs. text Calvary Alley  / Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice ; illustrated by Walter Biggs. 1918 2002 true xt7kpr7mpw63 section xt7kpr7mpw63 
















CALVARY ALLEY

 
















































- The boy is infatuated with that girl."

 



CALVARY



ALLEY



            BY
   ALICE HEGAN RICE
Author of "MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH,"
    "LovEY MARY," "SANDY," ETC.



       ILLUSTRATED BY
       WALTER BIGGS



  NEW YORK
THE CENTURY CO.
     1918

 


























Copyright, 1917, by
TllE CENTURY Co.

FubliJhed, October, 11

 





























        THIS STORY
 IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
           T U
   THE SMALL BAND)
OF KENTUCKY WRITERS

  WITH WHOM IT HAS BEEN MY
  HAPPY FOkTUNE TO MAKE
  THE LITERARY PILGRIMAGE

 This page in the original text is blank.

 


              CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                PAGE
     I THE FIGHT .  . . . . . . .         3
     II THE SNAWDORS AT HOME . . . .    14
     III THE CLARKES AT HOME . .         30
     IV JUVENILE COURT .   . . . . .     44
     V  ON PROBATION . . . . . . .      62
     VI BUTTERNUT LANE .   . . . . .     74
   VII AN EVICTION .   . . . . . .     83
   VIII AMBITION  STIRS . .  . . . .    97
   IX  BUTTONS. . . . . . . . . IIO
     X  THE PRINCESS COMES TO GRIEF . 120
     XI THE STATE TAKES A HAND .   . . 129
   XII CLARKE'S  . . . . . . . . 141
   XIII EIGHT TO SIX .  . . . . . . '55
   XIV  IDLENESS  .  . . . . . . . i67
   XV  MARKING TIME    . . . . . . 179
   XVI  MIISS BOniNET'S.  . . . . . 192
   XVII BEHIND THE TWINKLING LIGHTS . 202
 XVIII THIE FIRST NIGHT.  . . . . . 217
   XIX  PREPARATIONS FOR FLIGHT.  . . 228
   XX  WILD OATS .  . . . . . . . 245
   XXI DAN .    . . . . . . . . . 258

 

               CONT oNTS

CHAPTER                              PAGE
  XXII IN THE SIGNAL TOWER . .        271
  XXIII CALVARY CATHEDRAL . . . . . 279
  XXIV  BACK AT CLARKE'S. . . . . . 293
  XXV MAC .... ..                    303
  XXVI BETWEEN Two FIRES . . . . . 312
XXVII FATE TAKES A HAND . . . . . 326
XXVIII THE PRICE OF ENLIGHITENMENT . . 339
XXIX  IN TRAINING . . . . . . . 351
  XXX  HER FIRST CASE . . . . . . 365
  XXXI MR. DEMRY    . . . . . . . 379
XXXII THE NEW FOREMNIAN . . . . . 390
XXXIII NANCE CONIES INTO HER OWN . . 400

 


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



The boy is infatuated with that girl"


Her tense muscles relaxed; she forgot to cry"


Don't call a policeman!" she implored wildly



Frontispiece
     FACING
     PAGE
 .  .  28


    330

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CALVARY ALLEY

 This page in the original text is blank.

 

      CALVARY ALLEY


                 CHAPTER I

                 THE FIGHT

YOU never would guess in visiting Cathedral
     Court, with its people's hall and its public
baths, its clean, paved street and general air of smug
propriety, that it harbors a notorious past. But
those who knew it by its maiden name, before it was
married to respectability, recall Calvary Alley as a
region of swarming tenements, stale beer dives, and
frequent police raids. The sole remaining trace of
those unregenerate days is the print of a child's foot
in the concrete walk just where it leaves the court
and turns into the cathedral yard.
  All the tired feet that once plodded home from
factory and foundry, all the unsteady feet that stag-
gered in from saloon and dance-hall, all the fleeing
feet that sought a hiding place, have long since
passed away and left no record of their passing.
Only that one small footprint, with its perfect out-
line, still pauses on its way out of the alley into the
great world beyond.
  At the time Nance Molloy stepped into that soft
                       3

 

CALVARY ALLEY



concrete and thus set in motion the series of events
that was to influence her future career, she had
never been told that her inalienable rights were life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nevertheless
she had claimed them intuitively. When at the age
of one she had crawled out of the soap-box that
served as a cradle, and had eaten half a box of stove
polish, she was acting in strict accord with the Con-
stitution.
  By the time she reached the sophisticated age of
eleven her ideals had changed, Lut her principles
remained firm. She did not stoop to beg for her
rights, but struck out for them boldly with her
small bare fists. She was a glorious survival of that
primitive Kentucky type that stood side by side with
man in the early battles and fought valiantly for
herself.
  On the hot August day upon which she began to
make history, she stood in the gutter amid a crowd
of yelling boys, her feet far apart, her hands full of
mud, waiting tensely to chastise the next sleek head
that dared show itself above the cathedral fence.
She wore a boy's shirt and a ragged brown skirt
that flapped about her sturdy bare legs. Her matted
hair was bound in two disheveled braids around
her head and secured with a piece of shoe-string.
Her dirty round face was lighted up by a pair of
dancing blue eyes, in which just now blazed the un-
holy light of conflict.



4

 

                 THE FIGHT                   5

  The feud between the Calvary Micks and the
choir boys was an ancient one, carried on from one
generation to another and gaining prestige with age.
It was apt to break out on Saturday afternoons,
after rehearsal, when the choirmaster had taken his
departure. Frequently the disturbance amounted to
no more than taunts and jeers on one side and
threats and recriminations on the other, but the at-
mosphere that it created was of that electrical nature
that might at any moment develop a storm.
  Nance Molloy, at the beginning of the present
controversy, had been actively engaged in civil war-
fare in which the feminine element of the alley was
pursuing a defensive policy against the marauding
masculine. But at the first indication of an out-
side enemy, the herd instinct manifested itself, and
she allied herself with prompt and passionate loy-
alty to the cause of the Calvary Micks.
  The present argument was raging over the pos-
session of a spade that had been left in the alley
by the workmen who were laying a concrete pave-
ment into the cathedral yard.
  " Aw, leave 'em have it! " urged a philosophical
alleyite from the top of a barrel. "Them ole ave-
noo kids ain't nothin' ! -  We could lick daylight
outen 'em if we wanted to."
  " Ye-e-e-s you could! " came in a chorus of jeers
from the fence top, and a brown-eyed youth in a
white-frilled shirt, with a blue \Windsor tie knotted

 

6            C.\ALVARY ALLTEYt

under his sailor collar, added imperiously, " You get
too fresh down there, and I '11 call the janitor! "
  This gross breach of military etiquette evoked a
retort from Nance that was too inelegant to chroni-
cle.
  " Tomboy! tomboy! " jeered the brown-eyed
youth from above. " Why don't you borrow some
girls' clothes"
  " All right, Sissy," said Nance, "lend me yours."
  The Micks shrieked their appraival, while Nance
rolled a mud ball and, ws ith the deadly aim of a
sharpshooter, let it fly straight at the white-frilled
bosom of her tormentor.
  " Soak it to her, Mac," yelled the boy next to
him, " the kid 's got no business butting in! Make
her get out of the way!"
  " Go on and make me! " implored Nance.
  " I will if you don't stand back," threatened the
boy called Mac.
  Nance promptly stepped up to the alley gate and
wiggled her fingers in a way peculiarly provocative
to a juvenile enemy.
  "Poor white trash!" he jeered. "You stay
where you belong! Don't you step on our con-
crete! "
  "XWill if I want to. It 's my foot. I '11 put it
where I like."
  "Bet you don't. You 're afraid to."
  " I ain't either."

 
THE FIGHT



  " Well, do it then. I dare you! Anybody th;Lt
would take a-"
  In a second Nance had thrust her leg as far as
possible between the boards that warned the public
to keep out, and had planted a small alien foot firmly
in the center of the soft cement.
  This audacious act was the signal for instant bat-
tle. XWith yells of indignation the choir boys hurled
themselves from the fence, and descended upon their
foes. Mud gave place to rocks, sticks clashed, the
air resounded with war cries. Ash barrels wvere
overturned, straying cats made flying leaps for
safety, heads appeared at doorways and windows,
and frantic mothers made futile efforts to quell the
riot.
  Thus began the greatest fight ever enjoyed in Cal-
vary Alley. It went down in neighborhood annals
as the decisive clash between the classes, in which
the despised swells " was learnt to know their places
onct an' fer all! " For ten minutes it raged with
unabated fury, then when the tide of battle began
to set unmistakably in favor of the alley, parental
authority waned and threats changed to cheers.
Old and young united in the conviction that the
Monroe Doctrine must be maintained at any cost!
  In and out of the subsiding pandemonium darted
Nance Molloy, covered with mud from the shoe-
string on her hair to the rag about her toe, givill,
and taking blows with the best, and emitting yells



7

 
CALVARY ALLEY



of frenzied victory over every vanquished foe.
Suddenly her transports were checked by a disturb-
ing sight. At the end of the alley, locked in mor-
tal combat, she beheld her arch-enemy, he of the
brown eyes and the frilled shirt, whom the boys
called Mac, sitting astride the hitherto invincible
Dan Lewis, the former philosopher of the ash bar-
rel and one of the acknowledged leaders of the
Calvary Micks.
  It was a moment of intense chiagrin for Nance,
untempered by the fact that Dan's adversary was
much the bigger boy. Up to this time, the whole
affair had been a glorious game, but at the sight of
the valiant Dan lying helpless on his back, his mouth
bloody from the blows of the boy above him, the
comedy changed suddenly to tragedy. With a swift
charge from the rear, she flung herself upon the
victor, clapping her mud-daubed hands about his
eyes and dragging him backward with a force that
sent them both rolling in the gutter.
  Blind with fury, the boy scrambled to his feet,
and, seizing a rock, hurled it with all his strength
after the retreating Dan. The missile flew wide of
its mark and, whizzing high over the fence, crashed
through the great rose window that was the special
pride of Calvary Cathedral.
  The din of breaking glass, the simultaneous ap-
pearance of a cross-eyed policeman, and of Mason,
the outraged janitor, together with the horrified



8

 

THE FIGHT



realization of what had happened, brought the fren-
zied combatants to their senses. Amid a clamor
of accusations and denials, the policeman seized
upon two culprits and indicated a third.
  "You let me go!" shrieked Mac. "MNfy fa-
ther '11 make it all right! Tell him who I am,
Mason! Make him let me go! "
  But Mason was bent upon bringing all the crinii-
nals to justice.
  " I 'm going to have you all up before the juve-
nile court, rich and poor!" he declared excitedly.
" You been deviling the life out of me long enough!
If the vestry had 'a' listened at me and had you
up before now, that window would n't be smashed.
I told the bishop something was going to happen,
and he says, 'The next time there 's trouble, you
find the leaders and swear out a warrant. Don't
w ait to ask anybody! '
  By this time every window in the tenement at the
blind end of the alley had been converted into a
proscenium box, and suggestions, advice, and in-
criminating evidence were being freely volunteered.
  " Who started this here racket, anyhow " asked
the policeman, in the bored tone of one who is re-
hearsing an oft-repeated scene.
  " I did," declared Nance Molloy, with something
of the feminine gratification Helen of Troy must
have felt when she " launched a thousand ships and
burnt the topless towers of Ilium."



9

 

CALVARY ALLEY



  " You Nance! " screamed a woman from a third-
story window. "You know you never done no
such a thing! I was settin' here an' seen ever'-
thing that happened; it was them there boys."
  "So it was you, Dan Lewvis, was it" said the
policeman, recognizing one of his panting victims,
the one whose ragged shirt had been torn completely
off, leaving his heaving chest and brown shoulders
bare. " An' it ain't surprised, I am. Who is this
other little dude"
  " None of your business!" cried Mac furiously,
trying to wrench himself free. " I tell you my
father will pay for the darned old window."
  " Aisy there," said the policeman. " Does any-
body know him "
  " It's Mr. Clarke's son, up at the bottle works,"
said Mason.
  " You let me go," shrieked the now half-frantic
boy. " My father '11 make you pay for this. You
see if he don't! "
  " None o' your guff," said the policeman. "I
ain't wantin' to keep you now I got your name.
Onny more out o' the boonch, Mr. Mason"
  Mason swept a gleaning eye over the group, and
as he did so he spied the footprint in the concrete.
  " Who did that " he demanded in a fresh burst
of wrath.
  Those choir boys who had not fled the scene
g1,tve pr'tmpt and incriminating testimony.



IO

 

THE; FI;G                   TT



  " No! she never!" shouted the woman from the
third floor, now suspended half-way out of the win-
dow. " Nance Molloy was up here a-washin'
dishes with me. Don't you listen at them pasty-
faced cowards a-puttin' it off on a innercent little
girl! "
  But the innocent little girl had no idea of seeking
refuge in her sex. Hers had been a glorious and
determining part in the day's battle, and the dis-
tinction of having her name taken down wvith those
of the great leaders was one not to be foregone.
  "I did do it," she declared excitedly. "That
there boy dared me to. Ketch me takin' a dare
offen a avenoo kid! "
  " What 's your name, Sis" asked the policeman.
  " Nance Molloy."
  " Where do you live"
  " Up there at Snawdor's. That there was Mis'
Snawdor a-yellin' at me."
  " Is she ver mother"
  " Nope. She 's me step."
  " And ver father
  " He 's me step too. I 'm a two-step," she added
wvith an impudent toss of the head to show her co: -
tempt for the servant of the law, a blue-coated,
brass-buttoned interloper who swooped down on
you from around corners, and reported you at all
times and seasons.
  By this time Mrs. Snawdor had gotten herself



I I

 

CALVARY ALLEY



down the two flights of stairs, and was emerging
from the door of the tenement, taking down her
curl papers as she came. She was a plump, per-
spiring person who might have boasted good looks
had it not been for two eye-teeth that completely
dominated her facial landscape.
  " You surely ain't fixin' to report her" she
asked ingratiatingly of Mason. " A little 'leven-
year-ole orphin that never done no harm to no-
body "
  " It's no use arguing," interrupted Mason firmly.
"I 'm going to file out a warrant against them three
children if it 's the last act of my mortal life.
There ain't a boy in the alley that gives me any
more trouble than that there little girl, a-throwin'
mud over the fence and climbing round the coping
and sneaking into the cathedral to look under the
pews for nickels, if I so much as turn my back! "
  "He wants the nickels hisself!" cried Nance
shrilly, pushing her nose flat and pursing her lips in
such a clever imitation of the irate janitor that the
alley shrieked with joy.
  " You limb o' Satan! " cried Mrs. Snawdor, mak-
ing a futile pass at her. " It 's a God's mericle you
ain't been took up before this! And it's me as'll
have the brunt to bear, a-stoppin' my work to go
to court, a-lying to yer good character, an' a-payin'
the fine. It 's a pity able-bodied men like police-
mens an' janitors can't be tendin' their own business



12

 

                 THE FIGHT                   13
'stid of comin' interferin' with the family of a hard-
workin' woman like me. If there's any justice in
this world it ain't never flowed in my direction! "
  And Mrs. Snawdor, half dragging, half pushing
Nance, disappeared into the dark entrance of the
tenement, breathing maledictions first against her
charge, then against the tyranny of the law.

 

CHAPTER II



            THE SNAWDORS AT HOME

IF ever a place had a down-at-heel, out-of-elbow
   sort of look, it was Calvary Alley. At its open
end and twd o feet above it the city went rushing
and roaring past like a great river, quite oblivious
of this unhealthy bit of backwater into which some
of its flotsam and jetsam had been caught and held,
generating crime and disease and sending them out
again into the main current.
  For despite the fact that the alley rested under
the very wing of the great cathedral from which
it took its name, despite the fact that it echoed
dally to the chimes in the belfry and at times could
enell hear the murmured prayers of the congrega-
tion, it concerned itself not in the least with matters
of the spirit. Heaven was too remote and mysteri-
eUs. Hell too present and prosaic, to be of the least
interest. And the cathedral itself, holding out wel-
coming arms to all the noble avenues that stretched
in leafy luxury to the south, forgot entirely to
glance over its shoulder at the sordid little neigh-
bor that lay under the very shadow of its cross.
  At the blind end of the alley, wedged in between
                        14

 

THE SNAWDORS AT HOME



two towering warehouses, was Number One, a ram-
shackle tenement which in some forgotten day had
been a fine old colonial residence. The city had
long since hemmed it in completely, and all that
remained of its former grandeur were a flight of
broad steps that once boasted a portico and the im-
posing, fan-shaped arch above the doorway.
  In the third floor of Number One, on the si(le
next the cathedral, dwelt the Snawdor family, a
social unit of somewhat complex character. The
complication came about by the paterfamilias hav-
ing missed his calling. Mr. Snawdor wNas by in-
stinct and inclination a bachelor. He had early in
life found a modest rut in which he planned to run
undisturbed into eternity, but he had been discov-
ered by a widow, who was possessed of an initiative
which, to a man of Snawdor's retiring nature, was
destiny.
  At the time she met him she had already led two
reluctant captives to the hymeneal altar, and was
wont to boast, when twitted about the fact, that
" the Lord only knew what she might 'a' done if it
had n't been fer them eye-teeth! "  Her first hus-
band had been Bud Mlolloy, a genial young Irish-
man who good-naturedly allowed himself to be mar-
ried out of gratitude for her care of his motherless
little Nance. Bud had not lived to repent the act;
in less than a month he heroically wvent over an em-
bankment with his engine, in one of those fortunate



15

 

CALVARY ALLEY



accidents in which "only the engineer is killed."
  The bereft widow lost no time in seeking conso-
lation. Naturally the first person to present him-
self on terms of sympathetic intimacy was the un-
dertaker who officiated at poor Bud's funeral. At
the end of six months she married him, and was
just beginning to enjoy the prestige which his pro-
fession gave her, when Mr. Yager also passed away,
becoming, as it were, his own customer. Her leg-
acy from him consisted of a complete embalming
outfit and a feeble little Yager -Nho inherited her
father's tendency to spells.
  Thus encumbered with two small girls, a less
sanguine person would have retired from the matri-
monial market. But Mrs. Yager was not easily dis-
couraged; she was of a marrying nature, and evi-
dently resolved that neither man nor Providence
should stand in her way. Again casting a specula-
tive eye over the field, she discerned a new shop in
the alley, the sign of which announced that the
owner dealt in " Bungs and Fawcetts." On the
evening of the same day the chronic ailment from
which the kitchen sink had suffered for two years
was declared to be acute, and Mr. Snawdor was
called in for consultation.
  Ile was a timid, dejected person with a small
pointed chin that trembled when he spoke. Despite
the easy conventions of the alley, he kept his
clothes neatly brushed and his shoes polished, and



i6

 

THE SNAWDORS AT HOME



wore a collar on week days. These signs of pros-
perity were his undoing. Before he had time to
realize what was happening to him, he had been
skilfully jolted out of his rut by the widow's ex-
perienced hand, and bumped over a hurried court-
ship into a sudden marriage. He returned to con-
sciousness to find himself possessed of a wife and
two stepchildren and moved from his small neat
room over his shop to the indescribable disorder of
Number One.
  The subsequent years had brought many little
Snawdors in their wake, and Mr. Snawdor, being
thus held up by the highwayman Life, ignominiously
surrendered. He did not like being married; he did
not enjoy being a father; his one melancholy satis-
faction lay in being a martyr.
  Mrs. Snawdor, who despite her preference for
the married state derived little joy from domestic
duties, was quite content to sally forth as a wvage-
earner. By night she scrubbed office buildings and
by day she slept and between times she sought di-
version in the affairs of her neighbors.
  Thus it was that the household burdens fell
largely upon Nance Molloy's small shoulders, and if
she wiped the dishes without washing them, and
" shook up the beds " without airing them, and fed
the babies dill pickles, it was no more than older
housekeepers were doing all around her.
  Late in the afternoon of the day of the fight,



17

 
CALVARY ALLEY



when the sun, despairing of making things any hot-
ter than they were, dropped behind the warehouse,
Nance, carrying a box of crackers, a chunk of
cheese, and a bucket of beer, dodged in and out
among the push-carts and the barrels of the alley
on her way home from Slap Jack's saloon. There
was a strong temptation on her part to linger, for
a hurdy-gurdy up at the corner was playing a favor-
ite tune, and echoes of the fight were still heard
from animated groups in various doorways. But
Nance's ears still tingled from a recent boxing, and
she resolutely kept on her way until she reached
the worn steps of Number One and scurried
through its open doorway.
  The nice distinction between a flat and a tene-
ment is that the front door of one is always kept
closed, and the other open. In this particular in-
stance the matter admitted of no discussion, for
there was no front door. The one that originally
hung under the fan-shaped Colonial arch had long
since been kicked in during some nocturnal raid, and
had never been replaced.
  When the gas neglected to get itself lighted before
dark at Number One, you had to feel your way
along the hall in complete darkness, until your foot
struck something; then you knew you had reached
the stairs and you began to climb. It was just as
well to feel along the damp wall as you went. for



18

 

THE SNAWDORS AT HOME



somebody was always leaving things on the steps
for people to stumble over.
  Nance groped her way cautiously, resting her
bucket every few steps and taking a lively interest
in the sounds and smells that came from behind the
various closed doors she passed. She knew from
the angry voices on the first floor that Mir. Smelts
had come home "as usual"; she knew who was
having sauer-kraut for supper, and whose bread
was burning.
  The odor of cooking food reminded her of some-
thing. The hall was dark and the beer can full,
so she sat down at the top of the first flight and,
putting her lips to the foaming bucket was about
to drink, when the door behind her opened and a
keen-faced young Jew peered out.
  "Say, Nance," he whispered curiously, "have
they swore out the warrant on you yet"
  Nance put down the bucket and looked up at him
with a fine air of unconcern.
  " Don't know and don't keer! " she said.
"Where was you hidin' at, when the fight was goin'
on  "
  " Getting my lessons. Did the cop pinch the
Clarke guy"
  " You betcher," said Nance. " You orter seen
the way he took on! Begged to beat the band. Me
and Danny never. Me and him -"



19

 
CALVARY ALLEY



  A volley of curses came from the hall below, the
sound of a blow, followed by a woman's faint
scream of protest, then a door slammed.
  " If I was Mis' Smelts," said Nance darkly, with
a look that was too old for ten years, " I would n't
stand for that. I would n't let no man hit me.
I 'd get him sent up. I -"
  " You walk yourself up them steps, Nance Mol-
loy! " commanded Mrs. Snawdor's rasping voice
from the floor above. " I ain't got no time to be
waitin' while you gas with Ike Lavinsky."
  Nance, thus admonished, obeyed orders, arriving
on the domestic hearth in time to prevent the soup
from boiling over. Mr. Snawdor, wearing a long
apron and an expression of tragic doom, was try-
ing to set the table, while over and above and be-
neath him surged his turbulent offspring. In a
broken rocking-chair, fanning herself with a box-
top, sat Mrs. Snawdor, indulging herself in a con-
tinuous stream of conversation and apparently un-
disturbed by the uproar around her. Mrs. Snawdor
was not sensitive to discord. As a necessary ad-
justment to their environment, her nerves had be-
come soundproof.
  "You certainly missed it by not being here!"
she was saying to Mr. Snawdor. " It was one of
the liveliest mix-ups ever I seen! One of them rich
boys bust the cathedral window. Some say it '11
cost over a thousan' dollars to git it fixed. An' I



20

 

THE SNAWDORS AT HONIE



pray to God his paw '1 have to pay every cent of
it! "
  " Can't you make William J. and Rosy stop that
racket " queried Mr. Snawdor, plaintively. The
twins had been named at a time when Mrs. Snaw-
dor's loyalty was wavering between the President
and another distinguished statesman with whom she
associated the promising phrase, " free silver."
The arrival of two babies made a choice unneces-
sary, and, notwithstanding the fact that one of them
was a girl, she named them William J. and Roose-
velt, reluctantly abbreviating the latter to " Rosy."
  " They ain't hurtin' nothin'," she said, impatient
of the interruption to her story. " I wisht you
might 'a' seen that ole fool Mason a-lordin' it
aroun', an' that little devil Nance a-takin' him off
to the life. Everybody nearly died a-laughin' at
her. But he says he 's goin' to have her up in
court, an' I ain't got a blessed thing to wear 'cept
that ole hat of yours I trimmed up. Looks like a
shame fer a woman never to be fixed to go no-
where!
  Mr. Snawdor, who had been trying ineffectually
to get in a word, took this remark personally and in
muttering tones called Heaven to witness that it was
none of his fault that she did n't have the right
clothes, and that it was a pretty kind of a world
that would keep a man from gettin' on just because
he was honest, and -



21

 

CALVARY ALLEY



  ' Oh, shut up!" said Mrs. Snawvdor, unfeelingly;
"it ain't yer lack of work that gits on my nerves;
it's yer bein' 'round. I 'd pay anybody a quarter a
week to keep yer busy! "
  Nance, during this exchange of conjugal infelici-
ties, assisted by Lobelia and Fidy, wvas rescuing
sufficient dishes from the kitchen sink to serve for
the evening meal. She, too, was finding it difficult
to bring her attention to bear on domestic matters
after the exciting events of the afternoon.
  i An' he says to me,"- she was recounting with
dramatic intensity to her admiring audience -" he
says, ' Keep offen that concrete.' An' I says, ' It'll
take somebody bigger 'n you to make me! ' "
  Now, of course, we know that Nance never said
that, but it was what she wished she had said, which,
at certain moments in life, seems to the best of us
to be quite the same thing.
  " Then what " said Fidy, with a plate suspended
in air.
  "Then," said Nance with sparkling eyes, " I
sticks my foot right in the middle of their old con-
crete. an' they comes pilin' offen the fence, an' Dan
Lewis he-"
  " You Nance! " came in warning tones from the
other room, " you shet your head an' git on with
that supper. Here comes your Uncle Jed this min-
ute ! "
  At this announcement Nance dropped her dish



22

 

THE SNAWDORS AT HOIME



towel, and dashing to the door flung herself into
the arms of a short, fat, baldheaded man who had
just come out of the front room across the hall.
  " Easy there! " warned the new-comer. " Yru
ain't aimin' to butt the engine clean offen the track;,
air yer"
  Nance got his arm around her neck, and her alni
around his knees, and thus entwined they made
their way to the table.
  Uncle Jed Burks, uncle by courtesy, was a boarder
by day and a gate-tender by night at the signal
tower at the railroad crossing. On that day long
ago when he had found himself a widower, help-
less in the face of domestic problems, he had ac-
cepted Mrs. Snawdor's prompt offer of hospitality
and come across the hall for his meals. At the endl
of the week he had been allowed to show his grati-
tude by paying the rent, and by the end of the
month he had become the chief prop of the family.
It is difficult to conceive of an Atlas choosing to
burden himself with the world, but there are tem-
peraments that seek responsibilities just as there are
those, like Mr. Snawdor, who refuse them.
  Through endless discomforts, Uncle Jed had
stayed on, coaxing Mr. Snawdor into an acceptance
of his lot, helping Mrs. Snawdor over financial diffi-
culties, and bestowing upon the little Snawdors the
affection which they failed to elicit from either tile
maternal or the paternal bosom. And the amazing



23

 

CALVARY ALLEY



thing was that Uncle Jed always thought he wab
receiving favors instead of conferring them.
  " What's this I hear about my little partner git-
tin' into trouble" he asked, catching Nance's chin
in his palm and turning her smudged, excited face
up to his.
  Nance's eyes fell before his glance. For the first
time since the fight her pride was mingled with
misgiving. But when Mrs. Snawdor plunged
into a fresh recital of the affair, with evident ap-
proval of the part she had played, her self-esteem
returned.
  " And you say Mason 's fixin' to send her up to
the juvenile court " asked Uncle Jed gravely, his
fat hand closing on her small one.
  " Dan Lewis has got to go too! " said Nance, a
sudden apprehension seizing her at Uncle Jed's
solemn face.
  "Oh, they won't do nothin' to 'em," said Mrs.
Snawdor, pouring hot water over the coffee grounds
and shaking the pot vigorously. " Ever'body knows
it was the Clarke boy that bust the window.
Clarke's Bottle Works' son, you know, up there on
Zender Street."
  "Was it the Clarke boy and Dan Lewis that
started the fracas " asked Uncle Jed.
  "No, it was me! " put in Nance.
  "Now, Nance Molloy, you lemme hear you say
that one time more, an' you know what 'll happen! "



24

 

THE SNAWDORS AT HOME



said Mrs. Snawdor, impressively. "You 're fixin'
to make me pay a fine."
  "I 'm mighty sorry Dan Lewis is mixed up in
it," said Uncle Jed, shaking his head. " This here 's
his second offense. He was had up last year."
  " An' can you wonder " asked Mrs. Snawdor,
  with his mother what she is "
  " Mrs. Lewis ain't a bad looker," Mr. Snawdor
roused himself to observe dejectedly.
  His wife turned upon him indignantly. " Well,
it 's a pity she ain't as good as her looks then. Fer
my part I can't see it 's to any woman's credit to
look nice when she 's got the right kind of a switch
and a good set of false teeth. It 's the woman that
keeps her good looks without none of them luxuries
that orter be praised."
  " Mrs. Lewis ain't done her part by Dan," said
Uncle Jed, seating himself at the red-clothed table.
  " I should say she ain't," Mrs. Snawdor contin-
ued. " I never seen nothin' more pathetical than
that there boy when he was no more than three years
old, a-tryin' to feed hisself outer the garbage can,
an' her a comin' an' a goin' in the alley all these
years with her nose in the air, too good to speak to
anybody."
  " Dan don't think his mother 's bad to him," said
Nance. " He saved up his shoe-shine money an'
bought her some perfumery. He lemme smell it."
  "Oh, yes!" said Mrs. Snawdor, "she's got to



25

 

CAT-VARY Al-LEY



have her perfumery, an' her feather in her hat, an'
the whitewash on her face, no matter if Dan's feet
are on the groLn1', an his naked hide shinin' through
his shirt."
    "Well, I wis