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Poor White

CHAPTER VII
Modern men and women who live in industrial cities are like mice that have come
out of the fields to live in houses that do not belong to them. They live within the
dark walls of the houses where only a dim light penetrates, and so many have
come that they grow thin and haggard with the constant toil of getting food and
warmth. Behind the walls the mice scamper about in droves, and there is much
squealing and chattering. Now and then a bold mouse stands upon his hind legs
and addresses the others. He declares he will force his way through the walls
and conquer the gods who have built the house. "I will kill them," he declares.
"The mice shall rule. You shall live in the light and the warmth. There shall be
food for all and no one shall go hungry."
The little mice, gathered in the darkness out of sight in the great houses, squeal
with delight. After a time when nothing happens they become sad and
depressed. Their minds go back to the time when they lived in the fields, but they
do not go out of the walls of the houses, because long living in droves has made
them afraid of the silence of long nights and the emptiness of skies. In the
houses giant children are being reared. When the children fight and scream in
the houses and in the streets, the dark spaces between the walls rumble with
strange and appalling noises.
The mice are terribly afraid. Now and then a single mouse for a moment escapes
the general fear. A mood comes over such a one and a light comes into his eyes.
When the noises run through the houses he makes up stories about them. "The
horses of the sun are hauling wagon loads of days over the tops of trees," he
says and looks quickly about to see if he has been heard. When he discovers a
female mouse looking at him he runs away with a flip of his tail and the female
follows. While other mice are repeating his saying and getting some little comfort
from it, he and the female mouse find a warm dark corner and lie close together.
It is because of them that mice continue to be born to dwell within the walls of the
houses.
When the first small model of Hugh McVey's plant-setting machine had been
whittled out by the half-wit Allie Mulberry, it replaced the famous ship, floating in
the bottle, that for two or three years had been lying in the window of Hunter's
jewelry store. Allie was inordinately proud of the new specimen of his handiwork.
As he worked under Hugh's directions at a bench in a corner of the deserted
pickle factory, he was like a strange dog that has at last found a master. He paid
no attention to Steve Hunter who, with the air of one bearing in his breast some
gigantic secret, came in and went out at the door twenty times a day, but kept his
eyes on the silent Hugh who sat at a desk and made drawings on sheets of
paper. Allie tried valiantly to follow the instructions given him and to understand
what his master was trying to do, and Hugh, finding himself unembarrassed by
the presence of the half-wit, sometimes spent hours trying to explain the
workings of some intricate part of the proposed machine. Hugh made each part
crudely out of great pieces of board and Allie reproduced the part in miniature.
Intelligence began to come into the eyes of the man who all his life had whittled
 
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