Sample G60 from Gertrude Berg and Cherney Berg, Molly and Me. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. Inc., 1961. Pp. 134-139. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,009 words 20 (1.0%) quotesG60

Copyright 1961 by Cherney Berg. Used by permission. 0010-1610

Gertrude Berg and Cherney Berg, Molly and Me. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. Inc., 1961. Pp. 134-139.

Note: whyfores [0900]

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It usually turned out well for him because either he liked the right people or there were only a few wrong people in the town . Alfred wanted to invest in my father's hotel and advance enough money to build a larger place . It was a very tempting offer . My father would have done it if it hadn't been for my mother , who had a fear of being in debt to anyone -- even Alfred Alpert .

In spite of his being well liked there were a few people who were very careful about Alfred . They had my mother's opinion of him : that he was too sharp or a little too good to be true . One of the people who was afraid of Alfred was his own brother , Lew . I don't know how and I don't know why but the two stores , the one in Margaretville and the one in Fleischmanns that had been set up as a partnership , were dissolved , separated from each other . Everything was all very friendly , except when it came to Harry , the youngest brother . Alfred , who was a good deal older than Harry , had treated him like a son , and when Harry decided to stay in business with Lew instead of going with Alfred , Alfred looked on the decision as a betrayal . From that day on he never spoke to Harry or to Lew , or to Lew's two boys , Mort and Jimmy . The six miles between the towns became an ocean and the Alperts became a family of strangers .

Time went on and everybody got older . I became fifteen , sixteen , then twenty , and still Tessie Alpert sat on the porch with a rose in her hair , and Alfred got richer and sicker with diabetes . It was in the spring of the year when he took to his bed and Tessie and Alfred found out that they didn't know each other . They were like two strangers . The store was their marriage , and when Alfred had to leave it there was nothing to hold them together . Tessie , everybody thought , was a strong woman , but she was only strong because she had Alfred to lean on . And when Alfred was forced into his bed , Tessie left the front porch of the store and sat at home , rocking in her rocker in the living room , staring out the window -- the rose still in her hair . Tessie could do nothing for Alfred . She couldn't cook or clean or make him comfortable . Instead she waited for Alfred to get better and take care of her .

Spring was life -- and Alfred Alpert in his sickroom was death . Alfred knew that , too . I remember him pointing out of the window and saying that he wished he could live to see another spring but that he wouldn't .

Alfred began to put his affairs in order , and he went about it like a man putting his things into storage . My father , who liked Alfred very much , was a constant visitor . One day Alfred told him that he had decided to leave everything to me . My father , a wise man , asked him not to . He knew Alfred liked me ; ; if he wanted to leave me something let it be a trinket , nothing else . By leaving me everything he wouldn't be doing me a favor , my father told him , and he didn't want to see his daughter involved in a lawsuit . He didn't want Alfred to leave me trouble because that's all it would be , and Alfred understood .

Alfred was getting too sick to stay in his own home . The doctor wanted him in a hospital ; ; the nearest one was forty miles away in Kingston . The day Alfred left his home and Fleischmanns he gave up the convictions of a lifetime . He sent me for Meltzer the Butcher , whom he wanted not as a friend but as a rabbi .

Meltzer knew why I had come for him . Solemnly he walked me back to Alfred's house without a word passing between us . He entered the house in silence , walked into Alfred's room , and closed the door behind him . I sat down to wait , and I watched Tessie Alpert , who hadn't moved or said a word but kept staring out of the window .

For a few minutes there was nothing to hear . Then Meltzer's voice , quiet , calm , strong , started the Kaddish , the prayer for the dead . I could hear Alfred's voice a few words behind Meltzer's like a counterpoint , punctuated by sobs of sorrow and resignation . There was a finality in the rhythm of the prayer -- it was the end of a life , the end of hope , and the wondering if there would ever be another beginning .

Meltzer stayed with Alfred , and when the door opened they both came out . Alfred was dressed for his trip to the hospital . The car was waiting for him . Alfred , leaning on Meltzer , stopped for a minute to look at Tessie . She didn't turn away from the window . Alfred nodded a little nod and went out through the door .

Outside , his brother Harry was waiting for him -- he had come to say good-bye . Alfred walked past him without a word and got into the car . Harry ran to the side of the car where Alfred was sitting and looked at him , begging him to speak . Alfred looked straight ahead . The car began to move and Harry ran after it crying , `` Alfred ! ! Alfred ! ! Speak to me '' . But the car moved off and Alfred just looked straight ahead . Harry followed the car until it reached the main road and turned towards Kingston . He stood there watching until it had gone from his sight .

I went to visit Alfred in the Kingston Hospital a few times . The first time I went there he asked me to bring him water from Flagler's well -- water that reminded him of his first days in the mountains -- and before I came the next time I filled a five-gallon jug for him and brought it to the hospital . I don't think he ever got to drink any of it .

The jug stayed at the hospital and the water -- what can happen to water ? ? -- it evaporated , disappeared , and came back to the earth as rain -- maybe for another well or another stream or another Alfred Alpert .

12 `` where is it written '' ? ?

Mr. Banks was always called Banks the Butcher until he left town and the shop passed over to Meltzer the Scholar who then became automatically Meltzer the Butcher . Meltzer was a boarder with the Banks family . He came to Fleischmanns directly from the boat that brought him to America from Russia . He was a learned man and a very gentle soul . He was filled with knowledge of the Bible and the Talmud . He knew the whyfores and the wherefores but he was weak , very weak , on the therefores . Banks the Butcher took Meltzer the Scholar as an apprentice and he made it very clear that a man of learning must be able to do more than just quote the Commentaries of the Talmud in order to live . So Meltzer learned a new trade from Banks , who supplied the town and the hotels with meat .

Banks had a family -- a wife , a daughter , and a son . The daughter , Lilly , was a very good friend of mine and I always had hopes that someday she and Meltzer would find each other . They lived in the same house and it didn't seem to be such a hard thing to do , but the sad realities of Lilly's life and the fact that Meltzer didn't love her never satisfied my wishful thinking .

Banks the Butcher was a hard master and a hard father , a man who didn't seem to know the difference between the living flesh of his family and the hanging carcasses of his stock in trade . He treated both with equal indifference and with equal contempt ; ; perhaps he was a little more sympathetic to the sides of beef that hung silently from his hooks .

Lilly Banks and I became friends . She was the opposite of everything she should have been -- a positive pole in a negative home , a living reaction of warmth and kindness to the harsh reality of her father . And Lilly's whole family seemed to be an apology for Mr. Banks . Her brother Karl was a very gentle soul , her mother was a quiet woman who said little but who had hard , probing eyes . For every rude word of Mr. Banks's the family had five in apology .

Every chance I got I left the hotel to visit Lilly . I was free but she was bound to her duties that not even the coming of Meltzer lightened . She had to clean the glass on the display cases in the butcher shop , help her brother scrub the cutting tables with wire brushes , mop the floors , put down new sawdust on the floors and help check the outgoing orders . When these chores were finished , only then , was she allowed whatever freedom she could find .

I helped Lilly in the store . To me it was a game , to her it was the deadly seriousness of life . I wanted to help so that we could find time to play . And Lilly allowed me to help so that she could have her few little hours of escape .

When the work was finished , we would walk . The road past the butcher shop took us along the side of a stream . It ran north , away from the town and the people , through woods and past the nothingness of a graveyard .

Lilly preferred the loneliness of that walk . I would have liked the town and the busyness of its people but I always followed Lilly into the peace of the silent and unstaring road .

It wasn't hard to understand . To me Lilly was a fine and lovely girl . To people who didn't know her she was a gawky , badly dressed kid whose arms were too long , whose legs were a little too bony . She had the hips of a boy and a loose-jointed walk that reminded me of a string of beads strolling down the street . And she had the kind of crossed eyes that shocked . It was unexpected , unexpected because Lilly walked with her head bent down , down , and her mark of friendship was to look into your face . I accepted her crossed eyes as she accepted my childishness ; ; childishness compared to her grown-up understanding that life was a punishment for as yet undisclosed sins . We were almost the same age , she was fifteen , I was twelve , and where I felt there was a life to look forward to Lilly felt she had had as much of it as was necessary .

When we went for our walks Lilly's brother would come along every once in a while . Karl was an almost exact copy of his father physically and it was strange to see the expected become the unexpected . This huge hulk played the guitar and he would take it along on our walks and play for us as we sat alone in the woods or by the stream . Karl played well and his favorite song was a Schubert lullaby . He spoke no German but he could sing it and the words of the song were the only ones he knew in a foreign language . The song , he said , was called `` The Stream's Lullaby '' , and when he sang , `` Gute ruh , Gute ruh , Mach't die augen zu , '' there was such longing and such simple sadness that it frightened me . Later , when I was older , I found the song was part of Schubert's Die Schone Mullerin . And even hearing it in a concert hall surrounded by hundreds of people the words and the melody would make me a little colder and I would reach out for my husband's hand .

The brother and sister seemed to be a sort of mutual-aid society , a little fortress of kindness for each other in a hard world . I felt very flattered to be included in the protection of their company even though I had nothing to be protected from .