McTeague: A Story of San Francisco

By Frank Norris; Jerome Loving | Go to book overview
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XIX

ONE can hold a scrubbing-brush with two good fingers and the stumps of two others even if both joints of the thumb are gone, but it takes considerable practice to get used to it.

Trina became a scrub-woman. She had taken council of Selina, and through her had obtained the position of caretaker in a little memorial kindergarten over on Pacific Street. Like Polk Street, it was an accommodation street, but running through a much poorer and more sordid quarter. Trina had a little room over the kindergarten schoolroom. It was not an unpleasant room. It looked out upon a sunny little court floored with boards and used as the children's playground. Two great cherry trees grew here, the leaves almost brushing against the window of Trina's room and filtering the sunlight so that it fell in round golden spots upon the floor of the room. 'Like gold pieces,' Trina said to herself.

Trina's work consisted in taking care of the kindergarten rooms, scrubbing the floors, washing the windows, dusting and airing, and carrying out the ashes. Besides this she earned some five dollars a month by washing down the front steps of some big flats on Washington Street, and by cleaning out vacant houses after the tenants had left. She saw no one. Nobody knew her. She went about her work from dawn to dark, and often entire days passed when she did not hear the sound of her own voice. She was alone, a solitary, abandoned woman, lost in the lowest eddies of the great city's tide--the tide that always ebbs.

When Trina had been discharged from the hospital after the operation on her fingers, she found herself alone in the world, alone with her five thousand dollars. The interest of this would support her, and yet allow her to save a little.

But for a time Trina had thought of giving up the fight altogether and of joining, her family in the southern part

-268-

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