Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/148

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Edward—Parker hasn't done a thing toward getting that wall down. He came over to say Mrs. Parker was sick and he couldn’t. Mrs. Thornley says they were chasing each other around and screaming half the night, last night."

"Where on earth do they get it?" Boynton wondered, briefly. "Sick" for the Parkers had a definite meaning. "I thought she was sent up for a cure of some kind last month?"

"I thought so, too, but she got off. But what I started to say was this: he went out through the back entry, and when I looked, your garden coat was gone. He was the only person here."

"I'll kill that old scoundrel one of these days," Boynton threatened, more amused than angry. "I like that coat. I wonder if Thornley'd mind getting it back for me."

He went in to the telephone and found the number.

"Thornley? This is Boynton speaking. Thornley, Parker stole a coat from me this morning. A brown one. . . . Yes. Yes, I knew they'd been at it again. Mrs. Thornley told us. If he's over there working on your lawn, I wonder if you'd mind telling him to leave the coat there till I can get it? He can't have had time to do anything with it yet. And you might mention to him, too, that if he sets foot on my place again, I'll save expense and shoot him on sight. Last time it was my best trowel. . . . Oh, over in Brookins, I suppose. You know what law enforcement amounts to over there. . . . Yes, she's worse than he is."

He came back laughing to the porch.

"Now, there's a question, Helen, that Magna Carta didn't settle. When it comes to a town like this, 90 per cent. of it law-abiding, home-owning professionals, having to stagger along with neighbours like the Parkers—— You young people staying to lunch?"

They were near the end of the meal when Mrs. Boynton, who was facing the open door, motioned through it.

"Look, Edward! It's both of them."

Outside, the two Parkers, the official derelicts of West Brookins, were coming waveringly along the pavement, arm in arm. Three or four small boys derided safely from a distance.