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Puzzled, he studied her. She was Her face lighted with joy at his unthin, gaunt, with a wasting power of derstanding. frustrated passion in young flesh. "I never knew why I hated to be There was the shadow of blank nights Americanized. I was always burning staring out of her eyes. Here was a to dig out the thoughts from my own personality, he thought, who might re- mind." veal to him those intangible qualities of "Yes, your power lies in that you the immigrant-qualities he could not are yourself. Your message is that of grasp, which baffled, fascinated him. your people, and it is all the stronger
He questioned her, and she poured because you are not a so-called assimiout her story to him with eager aban- lated immigrant." don.
Ach! just to hear him talk! It was “I could n't be an actress or a singer, like the realization of a power in life because you got to be young and itself to hold her up and carry her to pretty for that; but for a writer no- the heights. body cares who or what you are so “Will you leave this manuscript long as the thoughts you give out are here, so I can have my secretary type beautiful."
it for you?” he asked as he took her to He laughed, and it was an apprecia- the door. "I can have it done easily. tive, genial laugh.
And I shall write you when I 'll have “You ain't at all like a professor, time for another long talk about your cold and hard like ice. You are a per
work." son so real," she naively said, inter- Only after she had left did she fully rupting the tale of her early struggles, realize the wonder of this man's kindher ambitions, and the repulse that had been hers in this very university “That 's America,” she whispered. of his. And then in sudden apprehen- "Where but in America could somesion she cried out: “Maybe the dean thing so beautiful happen? A crazy, and the English professor were right. choked-in thing like me and him such Maybe only those with long education a gentleman talking together about get a hearing in America. If you art and life like born equals. I povwould only fix this up for me-change erty, and he plenty; I ignorance, and the immigrant English.”
he knowledge; I from the bottom, and "Fix it up?" he protested. “There he from the top, and yet he making are things in life bigger than rules of me feel like we were from always grammar. The thing that makes art friends." live and stand out throughout the A few days later the promised note ages is sincerity. Unfortunately, edu- came. How quick he was with his cation robs many of us of the power to help, as if she were his only concern! give spontaneously, as mother earth Bare-headed, uncoated, she ran to gives, as the child gives.
him, this prince of kindness, repeating "You have poured out not a part, over and over again the words of the but the whole of yourself. That's letter. why it can't be measured by any Her spirit crashed to the ground of the prescribed standards. It's when she learned that he had been uniquely you."
suddenly called to a conference at
Washington. "He would return in a script was followed by a chorus of fortnight,” said the model-mannered criticism-criticism that echoed the
secretary who answered her feverish professor's own sentiments: "It's not questions.
a story; it has no plot”; “feeling withWait a fortnight? She could n't. out form"; "erotic, over-emotional.” Why, the contest would be over by She could hardly wait for the hour that time. Then it struck her, the to be over to get back this living thing next best thing—the professor of Eng- of hers that they were killing. When lish. With a type-written manuscript she left the class all the air seemed to in her hand, he must listen to her. have gone out of her lungs. She And just to be admitted to his short- dragged her leaden feet back to her story class for one criticism was all she room and sank on her cot a heap of would ask.
despair. But small a favor as it seemed to All at once she jumped up. her, it was greater than the professor "What do they know, they, with was in a position to grant.
only their book-learning?" If the "To concede to your request would president had understood her story, establish a precedent that would be at there might be others who would unvariance with the university,” he derstand. She must have faith enough vouchsafed.
in herself to send it forth for a judg“University regulations, precedents? ment of a world free from rules of
a What are you talking?" And clutch
grammar. In a fury of defiance she ing at his sleeve, hysterically, she mailed the story. pleaded: “Just this once, my life hangs on getting this story perfect, and you can save me by this one criticism." Weeks of torturous waiting for news Her burning desire knew no barrier, of the contest followed-weeks when
— recognized no higher authority. And she dogged the postman's footsteps the professor, contrary to his reason, and paced the lonely streets in restless contrary to his experienced judgment, suspense. How could she ever have yielded without knowing why to the hoped to win the prize? Why was she preposterous demands of this immi- so starving for the golden hills on the grant girl.
sky? If only for one day she could In the end of the last row of the stop wasting her heart for the imlecture-hall Sophie waited breathlessly possible! for the professor to get to her story. Exhausted, spent, she lay on her cot After a lifetime of waiting it came. when Hannah Breineh, more than usuAs from a great distance she heard ally disturbed by the girl's driven look, him announce the title.
opened the door softly. “This was not written by a member “Here you got it, a letter. I hope of the class,” he went on, “but is the it's such good luck in it as the paper is attempt of a very ambitious young fine."
. person. Its lack of form demonstrates “What's the matter?" cried Hanthe importance of the fundamentals of nah Breineh in alarm at the girl's sudtechnic in which we have drilled."
den pallor as the empty envelop flutHis reading aloud of the manu- tered from limp fingers.
For answer Sophie held up her check. was in the Jewish evening paper. The
"Five hundred dollars," she cried, Ghetto was drunk with pride because "and the winner of the first prize!” one of their number, and "only a
Hannah Breineh felt of the check. dried-up bone of a girl," had written She read it. It was actually true. a story good enough to be printed in a Five hundred dollars!
magazine of America. In a flurry of excite
Their dreams of roment she called the
mance had found neighbors in the hall
expression in the ways, and then hur
overwhelming sucried to the butcher,
cess of this greenhorn pushing through the
cook. babbling women who
In one day Sophie crowded around the
was elevated to a pocounter. "People lis
sition of social imten only! My roomer
portance by her keh got a five-hun
achievement. When dred-dollar prize!”
she walked in the "Five hundred dol
street, people pointed lars?” The words
at her with their finleaped from lips to
gers. She was dellips like fire in the
uged with requests air. “Ach! only the
"to givea taste" of the little bit of luck! Did
neighbors' cooking. she win it on the
When she went to lotteree?"
the baker for her "Not from the lot
usual stale bread, the tery. Just wrote
man picked out the something from her
finest loaf. head. And you ought
"Fresh bread for to see her only, a
you in honor of your dried-up bone of a
good luck. And girl, and yet so
“'Here you got it, a letter!" here's yet an apple smart.”
shtrudel for good In a few moments Sophie was measure.” Nor would he take the mobbed in her cellar by the gesticu- money she offered. “Only eat it with lating crowd of women who hurried in good health. I'm paid enough with to gaze upon the miracle of good luck. the honor that somebody with such With breathless awe hands felt of her luck steps into my store." and reverently of the check. Yes,
course,” explained Hannah even mouths watered with an envy Breineh. “People will give you the that was almost worship. They fell last bite from their mouth when you 're on her neck and kissed her.
lucky, because you don't need their “May we all live to have such luck favors. But if you 're poor, they 're to get rich quick!” they chorused. afraid to be good to you, so you should
The following day Sophie's picture not hang on their necks for help.”
But the greatest surprise that person quite different from the unawaited Sophie was the letter from the couth girl with the shabby sweater professor congratulating her upon her and broken shoes whom the higher-ups success.
were toasting and flattering. "The students have unanimously "I've never made a talk yet in my voted you to be their guest of honor life,” she said in answer to the calls for at luncheon on Saturday," it read. “Speech! speech!” “But these are "May we hope for the honor of your grand words from the professor, 'to company for that occasion?"
the stars through difficulties.'” She The sky is falling to the earth-she looked around on these stars of the a guest of honor of a well-fed, well- college world whom, after all her dressed world! She to break bread struggles, she had reached. “Yes, 'to with those high up in rules of gram- the stars through difficulties.' She mar! Sophie laughed aloud for the nodded with a queer little smile, and first time in months. Lunch at the sat down amidst a shower of applause. hotel! A vision of snowy tablecloths, silver forks, delicate china, and
$ 6 sparkling glasses dazzled her. Yes, In a daze Sophie left the heated she would go, and go as she was. banquet-hall. She walked blindly, The clothes that had been good enough struggling to get hold of herself, strugto starve and struggle in must be good gling in vain. Every reality, every
, enough to be feasted and congratu- human stay, seemed to slip from her. lated in.
A stifled sense of emptiness weighed She was surprised at the sense of her down like a dead weight. cold detachment with which she en- “What's the matter with me?" she tered the hotel lobby.
cried. "Why do the higher-ups crush "Maybe it 's my excuse to myself me so with nothing? Why is their for going that makes me feel that I'm smiling politeness only a hidden hurt so above it,” she told herself. The in my heart?” grandeur, the lights, the luster, and The flattering voices, the puppetglamour of magnificent hotel—she like smiles, the congratulations that took it all in, her nose in the air. sounded like mockery, were now so
At the entrance of the banquet-hall distant, so unreal as was the girl with stood the professor, smiling, smiling. her nose in the air. What cared these And all these people in silks and furs people wrapped in furs that the winter and broadcloth wanted to shake hands wind pierced through her shabby with her. Again, without knowing sweater? What cared they if her why, she longed to laugh aloud.
heart died in her from loneliness? Not until Professor —, smiling An aching need for human fellowmore graciously than ever, reached the ship pressed upon her, a need for some close of his speech, not until he referred one who cared for her regardless of to her for the third time as having failure or success. In a sudden dimreached "the stars through difficul- ming of vision she saw the only real ties," did she realize that she who had look of sympathy that had ever looked on, she who had listened, she warmed her soul. Of them all, this who had wanted so to laugh, was a man with the understanding eyes had
known that what she wanted to say den appearance. He merely greeted was worth saying before it got into her, and led her in silence to his inner print. If she could only see him, study. But there was a quality about him himself!
the silence that made her feel at ease, If she could only pass the building as though he had been expecting her.
“I have things to say to you," she faltered. “Do you have time?”
For answer he pushed closer to the blazing logs an easy-chair, and motioned her into it.
There no longer seemed any need to say what she had planned. His mere presence filled her with a healing peace.
"And it was so black for my eyes only a while before!” She spoke aloud her thought and paused, embarrassed.
"Black for your eyes?" he repeated, leaning toward her with an inviting interest.
“You know I was first on the table by the hotel?"
His eyebrows lifted whimsically. “Tell me about it," he urged.
"All those higher-ups what did n't care a pinch of salt for me myself making such a fuss over a little accident of good luck!"
"Accident! You have won your "In a few moments Sophie was mobbed in her cellar"
way inch by inch grappling with life."
His calm, compelling look seemed to where he was she would feel calm and flood her with strength. “You have serene again! All her bitterness and what our colleges cannot give, the resentment would dissolve, all her courage to face yourself,
courage to face yourself, the power to doubts turn to faith. Who knows? think. And now all your past experiPerhaps he had come back already. ences are so much capital to be utilized. Her feet seemed winged as they flew Do you see the turning-point I mean?" without her will, almost without her “The turning-point in my life is to consciousness, toward the place where know I got a friend. I owe it to the she thought he might be.
world to do something, to be someAs she ran up the steps she knew he thing, after this miracle of your kindwas there without being told. Even ness." And at his deepening smile, as she sent her name in, the door “But you are not kind in a leaningopened, and he stood there, the living down sort of kindness. You got none light of the late afternoon glow. of that what-can-I-do-for-you-my
He was n't a bit startled by her sud- poor-child-look in you.”