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4
ener." He only knows I want to talk to him a bit.

He waits.

I have been concentrating; I conclude that I should break
the ice and make a few overtures to him first.

I ask, "Greorge, how have you been getting along lately?"
George draws conclusions too; from my question he thinks I am
from the welfare society; I have broken the ice in the wrong place.
Nevertheless, I can not stop him.

"Ten dollars; ten dollars; who kin lib on ten dollars a
month? All dese Niggers git mor'n dat. Heah I is ninety-seben
yeahs old, an' down wid duh back ache mos' ob duh time, an' all
I gits frum dat welfare is ten meazeldee dollars."

I shake my head sadly, wriggle around in my chair, and grunt,
hoping to distract his attention. I have heard that one must not
distract the attention of an old person while he is talking, for
his mind, "comes and goes" and he will forget what he is talking
about. There may be a good deal to this psychology, but it does
not work with George Carter. He mistakes my sad head shaking and
grunting as deep sympathy; he halts suddenly; in his mind he is
backing up, he wants to start from the very foundation of this
welfare trouble. He raises his big brown hand in order to hammer
emphasis into his opening sentence.

I will not have it. I catch him before he brings that big
hand down. "George," I say hastily, "have you ever been to school?"

His hand is poised midway in the air. He does not like my
interruption. He shows it in his manner, "Hell-ll-l, I ain't
nebuh seed de inside ob a school house," he says gruffly.

George looks at me. His mouth is half open. He has three
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