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Scheaffer, C. Gibson (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XXVI, Number 4 (May 1927)

Wendt, Viola
John,   pp. 5-8


Howe, Helen E.
Before winter,   p. 8


Page 8

"My God," he muttered, "they're
in earnest, the whole lot of them."
It was the bank cashier, who had
come in a short while before for the
weekly fortification of his policy, who
tried to bring the situation to a less
intense pitch.
"That's a fine lad you have there,
Maetzer. He's getting bigger every
day. He'll be taller than his father
some day."
John's voice softened as he put his
hand on his son's shoulder, and his
eyes were proud as he spoke, "Danny's
a prince of a fellow."
The child felt his father's pride
keenly, and looked up in embarrass-
ment at the eyes turned on him.
The cashier, though less sensitive
than he was amiable and purposeful,
was disturbed by the kindliness with
which these fathers of the town's
young ruffians looked at the incorri-
gible rough-neck, of ill-repute among
parents and children, but who seemed
simple and childish enough as he re-
garded his father with dog-like ad-
miration.
The unconscious understanding
which passed between father and son
brought back John's grievances upon
him, and hot, defensive anger against
the powers that demanded his son of
him rose again in his breast.
"God, nobody's going to have
Danny. None of these damn people
that ain't got no brains. I'd like to
go out and trim them all up. They
ain't got no right living."
John lifted another glass to his lips
with his shaking hands.
"Hey, Maetzer!"
A dirty youngster burst open the
screened door and panted to John.
"Father Heidi wants you to come
up right away. He didn't say why,
but he wants you tonight." Then he
added impudently, "I guess he's seen
the school. superintendent hanging
around," and winked.
John was enraged and stubborn.
Only the half-superstitious fears of
his friends, the submissiveness of
whose century-old Catholicism was
still deeply branded, and the persua-
sions of the cashier led him at last to
bid Danny go home, while he walked
reluctantly with the dismayed but
insistent cashier to the priest's house.
The cashier urged John onto the walk
that led to the house, and left him to
go alone to the door. John knocked
loudly with the boldness of fear, and
was admitted into Father Heidi's
parlor.
For an hour he sat before the black-
robed priest, mute and unmoving.
Terror and resignation overwhelmed
him as the priest pleaded and warned
with all the age-old arguments and
threats of the church.
Finally the priest bade John good-
night, holding in his hand Danny's
enrollment slip for the parochial
school, signed with John's painfully-
written signature.
John stumbled home through the
darkness, silently. Slowly he opened
the door into his kitchen and walked
across the room to his wife, who was
trying to clamp pocketbooks while
she rocked her fretfeul baby.
"They got him, Mary," he said as
he sank down beside her. "They've
got everything now."
BEFORE WINTER
THE wind's blue, herded horses wake
And toss their short white manes across the lake.
The black hand of a tree
Waves still one little tattered yellow handkerchief
to me.
-Helen E. Howe
(8]


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