Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/192

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PRIZE STORIES OF 1924

getting thin, and I’m getting so tired I can’t wake on time, and then what will happen?”

Her exploring foot sought her slipper, her exploring hand sought her bed-gown. Anxiety made her nervous; she held her breath to listen. But Tilly slept sweetly.

“If I’m no more so heavy the boards won’t creak so under me,”’ she thought as she felt her way across the room. “Ach, but I’m tired!” She repeated the word mentally with each step. “Tired, tired, tired.”

In the kitchen there was the same glow of the fire, the same loveliness of light and shadow. The Maltese cat lay on his chair, the Airedale dog lay before the stove. Each lifted his head and each settled himself and closed his eyes. The starry quilt had advanced a little farther; a new section was set with two varieties of stitches, one short and regular, the other long and irregular.

Betsey found her large needle and sat down heavily. She ripped one stitch, then another. The point of the needle caught in the material and made little marks. She bent lower and lower—were her eyes also growing dim? She picked out another stitch and another, then her forehead touched the belt of Orion, her hand lay quietly upon Ursa Major.

After a long time she became conscious of some impending danger. Was she hurt and helpless? When she opened her eyes and saw Tilly standing by the quilting frame power was restored to her and she sprang up. ‘Tilly stood tall and bent in her gray bed-gown. Saying nothing, she looked at the starry quilt, then at her sister, then at the starry quilt.

“What is it?” she asked at last. ‘What do you make alone here in the middle of the night?”

Betsey stood paralyzed.

“You're ripping out my sewing and doing it over. That’s how it gets always all right by morning. Isn’t it so, Betsey?”

Betsey did not answer.

“You think I can’t see any more?” demanded Tilly.

Betsey said not a word.

“No, I can’t see any more.”’ Tilly answered her own question. “This long time already I have trouble. I can’t see to sew. I can’t see to read. Sometimes I can’t see you. I’ve twice stepped on the cat and once on the dog. If I do not step on them all the time it’s because they get nice