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any actual hardship moulded of mire and sweat and danger, it was an
atmosphere wherein birth and marriage and death were loathsome, secret
He remembered one day in the subway when a delivery boy had brought in a
great funeral wreath of fresh flowers, how the smell of it had suddenly
cleared the air and given every one in the car a momentary glow.
"I detest poor people," thought Amory suddenly. "I hate them for being
poor. Poverty may have been beautiful once, but it's rotten now. It's
the ugliest thing in the world. It's essentially cleaner to be corrupt
and rich than it is to be innocent and poor." He seemed to see again a
figure whose significance had once impressed him--a well-dressed young
man gazing from a club window on Fifth Avenue and saying something to
his companion with a look of utter disgust. Probably, thought Amory,
what he said was: "My God! Aren't people horrible!"
Never before in his life had Amory considered poor people. He thought
cynically how completely he was lacking in all human sympathy. O. Henry
had found in these people romance, pathos, love, hate--Amory saw only
coarseness, physical filth, and stupidity. He made no self-accusations:
never any more did he reproach himself for feelings that were
natural and sincere. He accepted all his reactions as a part of him,
unchangeable, unmoral. This problem of poverty transformed, magnified,
attached to some grander, more dignified attitude might some day even be
his problem; at present it roused only his profound distaste.
He walked over to Fifth Avenue, dodging the blind, black menace of
umbrellas, and standing in front of Delmonico's hailed an auto-bus.
Buttoning his coat closely around him he climbed to the roof, where he
rode in solitary state through the thin, persistent rain, stung
into alertness by the cool moisture perpetually reborn on his cheek.
Somewhere in his mind a conversation began, rather resumed its place
in his attention. It was composed not of two voices, but of one, which
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