Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/229

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an’ a business man who’d mixed in scandal, an’ others what tried to lose themselves down the riveh—an’ firstest they knowed the gates of happiness spread wide open for them.

Probably we understood each otheh that night as well as eveh we would. There wan’t much talkin’ an’ explainin’. We jes’ had hit in ouh hearts. She stepped back, swung the chair clear, an’ stepped four five measures without any music but the voices of the riveh dark—which she heard, an’ I heard. She opened the bow door, bowed a pretty curtsy to me, an’ shut the wind out the cabin. I caught up a lantern to hand to her, but she had one of her own under the skiff tarpaulin hood. Lawse, but that were a cozy eddy that night!

Well, suh, next day we had breakfast togetheh. She read some music I had, all kinds that I’d picked up for my fiddling. Course, when I came on the riveh, if music wasn’t classic I sort of despised hit. But I’d been growing careless. I’d took to admiring the music river fiddlers played, some of it awful to listen to, but always, two three measures, perhaps one piece would be right out of the river’s heart. I’d learn that piece. I’d maybe have to smooth it up, for my ear, account of somebody not knowing how to run the times together, or maybe breaking the refrains or splitting up the melodies the way mountain fiddlers do. Well, anyhow, every pager fixes his music oveh, according to his notions, the way I did.

An’ when we’d settled our breakfasts, resting around, I brought out the old fiddle to tighten up and tune the strings, an she stepped, exercising to take out the kinks the cold an’ sleeping on the bottom of her skiff’d hooked into her knees an’ joints. An’ her dancin’ scales was purtier ’n some steppin’ of lots of heel-an’-toe folks.

May Gardner was sure wonderful, even in those days, and patient. If some step bothered her, she’d work at it, steady, minutes, hours till she had it to the lift and fall of a ripple, while I played the music she wanted, steady, oveh an’ oveh again. I hadn’t practised so much as I'd played. I used to let some hard places go. She made me go at those measures till my fingers and my bow’d walk through them, same as her dancing went through the swing, turn and change, the balance and the mark, the beat and the sway—— Lawse,man! Hit