Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/225

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cabin, warm, two chairs—comfortable! I didn’t know what to say, so she said hit herself. If only ladies’d speak first their feelings, hit’d be lots nicer, wouldn’t it, for men? Lots an’ lots of times a man passes up something he’d like to do, probably he’d oughta do, jes’ account of him bein’ ’fraid a y'd be insulted, or like that.

“Mr. Man,” she said, her eyes sparkling, “I’m ’most froze to death! Won't yo’ let me stand by yo’ fire an’ warm?”

Why, say, I just told that gal she could have my whole blamed shanty boat if hit ’d ’commodate her any. She laughed, and come aboard, dropping a bowline on my bumper cleat, trailing the skiff alongside.

I give her my fiddling chair, but she took t’other one. We sat theh while she warmed her red hands an’ I strung up my bow. When I ’gun to play, she turned her head to listen—sharp! Naturally, I ain’t much of a talker, far as the ladies is concerned, but they don’t embarrass me none when I’m playing, which helps me forget how pretty they is, or something, I don’t know what.

She listened so blamed int’rested I was wondering, for the music was “Caving Bends.” Yo’ know that piece, which started ’way back yonder, which all the riveh fiddlers has played just natural, till now everybody knows hit? Played right, yo’ can hear the water suckling an’ sawing along the bend, an’ then the lumping-lumping down as the ground falls in, a tree swings out and falls a splashing, and all good music, which you can dance by.

“Oh, what’s that?” she asked.

I knowed right away she wasn’t a riveh gal, but like me, from up the banks, though more recent. So I told her “Caving Bends.” Then I told her about some more river music: “Cyclone,” “Crossing Ripples,” “Steamboat,” “Spring Birds,” “Cold Winds,” “Sandbar Whispers”—theh’s a lot of those funny musics that jes’ imitate the way the old Mississip’ sounds one time an’ anotheh, which anybody could play it he’s good at slidin’ notes an’ picking an’ knows the riveh.

“Riveh music!” she whispered. “Why—why, I didn’t know they had music like that! You know—I dance!”

While I played “Crossing Ripples,” she danced, too. Lawse, that gal was steppin’! I jes’ looked at her. She was