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As To People
by [?]

It is a very pleasant thing to go about in the world and see all the people.

Among the finest people in the world to talk with are scrubwomen. Bartenders, particularly those in very low places, are not without considerable merit in this respect. Policemen and trolley-car conductors have great social value. Rustic ferry-men are very attractive intellectually. But for a feast of reason and a flow of soul I know of no society at all comparable to that of scrubwomen.

It is possible that you do not cultivate scrubwomen. That is your misfortune. Let me tell you about my scrubwoman. I know only this one, I regret to say, but she, I take it, is representative.

Her name–ah, what does it matter, her name? The thing beyond price is her mind. There is stored, in opulence, all the ready-made language, the tag-ends of expression, coined by modern man. But she does not use this rich dross as others do. She touches nothing that she does not adorn. She turns the familiar into the unexpected, which is precisely what great writers do. To employ her own expression, she’s “a hot sketch, all right.”

She did not like the former occupant of my office. No; she told me that she “could not bear a hair of his head.” It seems that some altercation occurred between them. And whatever it was she had to say, she declares that she “told it to him in black and white.” This gentleman, it seems, was “the very Old Boy.” Though my scrubwoman admits that she herself is “a sarcastic piece of goods.” By way of emphasis she invariably adds to her assertions, “Believe me !”

Her son–she has a son–has much trouble with his feet. His mother says that if he has gone to one “shoeopodist” he has gone to a dozen. My scrubwoman tells me that she is “the only fair one” of her family. Her people, it appears, “are all olive.” My scrubwoman is a widow. She has told me a number of times of the last days of her husband. It is a touching story. She realised that the end was near, and humoured him in his idea of returning before it was too late to “the old country.” One day when he had asked her again if she had got the tickets, and then turned his face to the wall to cough, she said to herself, ” Good -night–shirt.”

But most of the discourse of my scrubwoman is cheerful. She is a valiant figure, a brave being very fond of the society of her friends (of whom I hold myself to be one), who works late at night, and talks continually. I know that if you would contrive to find favour with your scrubwoman you would often be like that person told of by mine who “laughed until she thought his heart would break.”

The most brotherly car-conductors, naturally, are those with not over much business, those on lines in remote places. I remember the loss I suffered not long ago on a suburban car, which results, I am sorry to say, in your loss also.

The bell signalling to stop rang, and a vivaciously got-up woman with an extremely broad-at-the-base, pear-shaped torse, arose and got herself carefully off the car. The conductor went forward to assist her. When he returned aft he came inside the car and sat on the last seat with two of us who were his passengers. The restlessness was in him which betrays that a man will presently unbosom himself of something. This finally culminated in his remarking, as if simply for something to say to be friendly, “You noticed that lady that just got off back there? Well,” he continued, leaning forward, having received a look intended to be not discouraging, “that’s the mother of Cora Splitts, the little actress;–that lady’s the mother of Cora Splitts, the little actress.”