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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Volume 118, Number 2 (February, 1931)

Morris, Gordon
Mothers of men,   pp. 15-16 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 15

SHE brought Christ with her into prison
that night. Her own beloved Jesus. She
needed someone, badly.  Someone to
give strength; to take away that chill
feeling of aloneness. And the others had all
backed out. Husband, daughter, son-in-law;
even old Mrs. Fagin who'd helped her bring
her baby into the world. Into the world! She
bit her lip. Within an hour he'd be going out
of it!
An hour, and her huge, strapping man-baby
would be no more. No wonder her poor old feet
sped along the cement floor of that cold corridor,
past endless rows of dark cells. Faces, white and
lean, peered out from thick shadows. Ghostlike
fingers clutched the bars of hopeless tombs. Here
and there a pair of glistening eyes like so many
cats in a coal-bin. Cruel eves, some of them. Others
with tears. She wondered if her baby's eyes had
tears. Or were they just as frigid and dispassionate
as they'd always been? No, they couldn't be. Not
in this hour. They must soften.
Already out of breath, she increased her step, until
a firm hand on her arm retarded her pace.
"Take it easy, ma'am, Plenty of time."
Time! she thought.
Time! In a world of minutes. She turned, with-
out stopping, to the speaker. It was a look that dug
deeper than words, and the kindly chaplain under-
"Sorry. Didn't mean it that way. Just thinking
of you and-"
A turn in the corridor. She made it, with the old
priest at her elbow. A hundred miles ahead stood the
door. The last door. His door. How well she knew it.
"You've been kind, Father!" she mumbled. "Very
"I wish I might have done more," he said softly, with
a tone of regret, and then, as they neared the uni-
formed guard at the door, he took her wrinkled hand
gently in his, as if to detain her from an immediate
"I know what you mean," she said. "I know ex-
"When I first told you, during those first weeks, I'd
every hope of winning him over. Not that I'm infallible.
I've lost out on many a soul, but never one who had a
mother like you."
"Thanks," she whispered, brushing a tear from her
eye. "I mustn't let him see me like this. Let's go in,
"Just a second, ma'am. Don't pull away like that.
Please. I-"
The old lady set her chin and faced him.
"I just want to say," he told her, "that there's no need
of wasting these last minutes in trying for the impossible.
He refuses to be convinced. le's set. Neither you nor
I nor the blessed Lord Himself could get under his skin."
They face ridicule and hatred
for love of the men who were
once their babies
a story
A strand of gray hair whisked over her eyes
indl she replaced it with trembling tingers.
F'ramed in the iron casement of that ominous
door and dwarfed by the gigantic height of
the uniformed man who defended it, she
stemed an incorporeal nothing in a staunch
lphere of stone and steel and monstrous brawn.
Net the timbre of her voice contradicted.
"You may be right, Father. I'll probably
never make my boy understand. But I'm not
readv to quit yet; not ready to quit until he's---
until he's gone."
She spoke definitely, emphatically. The priest
beckoned to the guard. A key sounded in a lock.
The portal swung heavily. They started to enter,
to go in there-to him.
"Sorry ma'am; 'gainst orders!"
The uniformed keeper pointed to a leather hand-
bag, clutched as a treasure against the mother's
breast. She looked up, half dazed, then realized,
and quickly opened the clasp.
"Of course. Of course. But I may take this,
mayn't I?" she asked, withdrawing from the bag a
tiny picture of the Crucifixion.
The guard consented. Consented with a trace of
a smile. Just a picture of the Savior on the Cross
couldn't do much harm.
That's what the little old mother thought, too.
Moreover, in her heart, *he prayed it might do some
good. And with such prayer she went inside.
ANOTHER door inside opened on nervous hinges.
The figure in the shadow turned. Recognition.
Nothing more. No kiss. No embrace. Not even a clasp
of hands. These gestures of affection held no place in
their lives. le had shrunk from them, long years ago,
when he was a little boy, and she had complied. She
had repressed each visible caress of maternal love, to
please him. le couldn't understand. le was such a
qieer boy. Always had been. Even before that dreadful
night when they had come to take him away, away from
her. Once, as he slept in a drunken stupor, and she
watched by his side, the temptation became too great:
she had leaned over and kissed him. He never knew;
never would know. But, afterwards, she had rushed
from his room like a guilty thing; and ever after she
thrived upon the memory of that one stolen kiss.
Now, as she gazed at him, she held back her tears with
that strength with which only women are endowed.
His own expiession was one of sullenness. Mouth set,
eyes cold, skin bleached. He scarcely seemed to breathe.
Why, a mask would have shown more life! And they
were killing him in less than an hour. It hardly seemed
worth while!
She'd seen him before like that. Many times. Yet,
tonight, she had hoped for something more. Some
change. A sparkle in his eyes. A tremor on his lips.
Something.  Even fear. It would have been easier.
"Will you carry it with you?" she asked her son. And that man in prison garb laughed cruelly, profanely. His pale face seemed illuminated by an unholy light

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