Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 491
When Bud opens his eyes, the sun is shining and he realizes he has overslept. He runs several blocks to the mission, hoping he can still get in line for breakfast.
When he arrives, many people are there before him. When Bud tries to take his place with the others, the man at the end of the line tells the youngster he is too late. Bud tries several times to get him to change his mind, until the man threateningly takes out a black strap, indicating that if he will hit the boy if he does not leave. Bud knows that getting beaten up would be worse than being hungry, and he starts to leave.
Before Bud goes more than a step or two, someone behind him stops him with a firm hand and calls him Clarence. He is asked why he has taken so long. When Bud tries to correct the man about his identity, the man shakes him and asks again what delayed him. Then he tells Bud to take his place with his mom. Looking ahead in the line he sees a woman who calls Clarence over to join her and her two children.
When Bud takes his place, his “mother and father” scold and shake him up as if he is in trouble. Bud figures they do this so the other people who have been waiting so long to eat will not be angry that he is stepping in front of them. Even the two children make fun of him for getting in trouble as if this really was their brother.
Bud stands with his “family” for a long time. No one talks, and everyone waits patiently. The closer they get to the entrance, the more relaxed people become, and they start to chat with each other.
As Bud enters the building, he notices how large it is and how many people there are inside—however, it is also very quiet. The family is served oatmeal, bread, an apple, and some milk. The adults are asked to read the posted signs to the children. The signs ask everyone to refrain from smoking, to eat quickly and quietly, to be thoughtful of others and patient, and to clean up after eating. The last sign apologizes that the mission has no work to offer the unemployed.
Bud finds his meal delicious. It is especially nice when the woman takes a small envelope from her purse and splits the brown sugar in it three ways—after asking her own kids if they would mind sharing. They are not excited about it but say nothing.
When they have finished and clean up, the woman reminds Bud to get in line for dinner early. As the family walks away, their boy turns and sticks his tongue out at Bud, who cannot really blame him; Bud figures he would not want to share his brown sugar—or parents—with a strange boy either.