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A Hazard of New Fortunes — Complete by Howells

But what I'm talking about now is Coonrod


Dryfoos

stretched himself on the lounge again. "I can't see as Coonrod is much comfort, either. Why ain't he here with his sisters? What does all that work of his on the East Side amount to? It seems as if he done it to cross me, as much as anything." Dryfoos complained to his wife on the basis of mere affectional habit, which in married life often survives the sense of intellectual equality. He did not expect her to reason with him, but there was help in her listening, and though she could only soothe his fretfulness with soft answers which were often wide of the purpose, he still went to her for solace. "Here, I've gone into this newspaper business, or whatever it is, on his account, and he don't seem any more satisfied than ever. I can see he hain't got his heart in it."

"The pore boy tries; I know he does, Jacob; and he wants to please you. But he give up a good deal when he give up bein' a preacher; I s'pose we ought to remember that."

"A preacher!" sneered Dryfoos. "I reckon bein' a preacher wouldn't satisfy him now. He had the impudence to tell me this afternoon that he would like to be a priest; and he threw it up to me that he never could be because I'd kept him from studyin'."

"He don't mean a Catholic priest--not a Roman one, Jacob," the old woman explained, wistfully. "He's told me all about it. They ain't the kind o' Catholics we been used to; some sort of 'Piscopalians;

and they do a heap o' good amongst the poor folks over there. He says we ain't got any idea how folks lives in them tenement houses, hundreds of 'em in one house, and whole families in a room; and it burns in his heart to help 'em like them Fathers, as he calls 'em, that gives their lives to it. He can't be a Father, he says, because he can't git the eddication now; but he can be a Brother; and I can't find a word to say ag'inst it, when it gits to talkin', Jacob."

"I ain't saying anything against his priests, 'Liz'beth," said Dryfoos. "They're all well enough in their way; they've given up their lives to it, and it's a matter of business with them, like any other. But what I'm talking about now is Coonrod. I don't object to his doin' all the charity he wants to, and the Lord knows I've never been stingy with him about it. He might have all the money he wants, to give round any way he pleases."

"That's what I told him once, but he says money ain't the thing--or not the only thing you got to give to them poor folks. You got to give your time and your knowledge and your love--I don't know what all you got to give yourself, if you expect to help 'em. That's what Coonrod says."

"Well, I can tell him that charity begins at home," said Dryfoos, sitting up in his impatience. "And he'd better give himself to us a little--to his old father and mother. And his sisters. What's he doin' goin' off there to his meetings, and I don't know what all, an' leavin' them here alone?"


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