Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 438
There are four major characters in The Town Poor: Ann and Mandana Bray, Mrs. William Trimble and Miss Rebecca Wright, and one minor character, Mrs. Janes.
At the beginning of the story Mrs. Trimble and Miss Wright are returning home in Mrs. Trimble's horse and carriage, discussing the poverty of the region. Mrs. Trimble seems a kindly independent women and hugely grateful that she has lived a good life.
Mrs. Trimble was an active business woman, and looked after her own affairs herself, in all weathers. The late Mr. Trimble had left her a good farm, but not much ready money, and it was often said that she was better off in the end than if he had lived.
Mrs. Trimble seems to be the most prominent of the characters; they are after all driving in her carriage, but it is Rebecca who suggests that they visit the Bray sisters, saying,
I'd like to see just how they fare.
Through Mrs. Trimble and Miss Wright's kindly discussion and generous praise, the reader hears that the Bray sisters lived in the same town as them until their father, a preacher, died and they had to move to a smaller and cheaper place.
The first person they meet at the Bray's house is the Bray's landlady, Mrs. Janes. She cuts a lonely and ill figure and says her husband does not send her enough money and the Brays don't pay enough rent to heat the house properly.
In comparison, and despite living in worse circumstances, the Bray sisters do their best to make the visitors feel welcome.
Miss Ann Bray, the elder sister, who carried her right arm in a sling, with piteously drooping fingers, gazed at the visitors with radiant joy.
Mandana, as Miss Wright described earlier in the short story, is a little less enthusiastic than her sister. At one point she breaks down and cries.
Poor old Mandana, on the trunk, covered her face with her arms and sobbed aloud. The elder sister stood over her, and patted her on the thin shoulder like a child, and tried to comfort her.
They pull themselves together to make their guests a modest but nice tea of peaches, cheese, and crackers. They even have pleasant words to say about their landlady.
"I believe we ought to've asked Mis' Janes if she would n't come up," said Ann. "She's real good feelin', but she's had it very hard, an' gits discouraged. I can't find that she's ever had anything real pleasant to look back to, as we have. There, next time we'll make a good heartenin' time for her too."