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The Big Poor People

Then Ellen spoke: "Oh, Mrs. O'Brien, it was always you was the good neighbor to us! It was always you was with us in joy and in sorrow! What'll we ever do at all when you're gone and we're left here alone, with none to be so kind to us as you've always been?"

And Peter said: "I was thinkin' that same. The Lord go wid you and keep you, wherever you go, but it'll be the sad day for us when you go away."

"Peter and Ellen," said the old woman "how could you think that we'ld do a thing like that? You may be a fool sometimes, Peter, but you're your father's son. Do you know what your father did for us, Peter? When my John was dying with the fever, he sat and watched with him, and brought him the water and the whey all night, and night after night, when I was so worn out that I could watch no longer. He might have taken the fever himself, and he might have died with it, and he did take it, but the Lord spared his life for a while after that, Heaven rest his soul! And another thing that John said to me before he died was this: 'As long as you have a bit to eat or a drop to drink or a penny to buy, never let Tom Sullivan or any of his want more than you want yourself.'

"And so, Peter and Ellen, when we go to the States, you'll both go too. There's enough of the money to take us all there. If you're ever able to pay it back, you can do it, if you like; but if not, we'll never ask you for it. If we went away from here without you, my husband would look down from Heaven and see me doing what he told me, with his dying breath, never to do. He would come to me at night and he would say: 'Mary, you are deserting in their sorrow the children of them that never deserted us in our sorrow.' Do you think that I could bear that? Do you think that I would do that?"

Now I have told you all the talk that went on in the O'Briens' house that night. Perhaps you think that I have been a good while in doing it. If you will forgive me, I will try to get on with the story a little faster after this.

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