Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/230

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wa’n’t no work for me, but she’d toil along till she dropped into a chair, plumb wore out.

“Lucien!” she exclaimed, “you’re so good to me. You don’t know what it means—this chance to practise thisaway!”

You’d think one day was like anotheh, down the reaches and bends. We had to drop down pretty well, account of winter coming on. I remember when the fresh meat was gone, and we was down to sowbelly and com, for I’d neglected providing. We hadn’t any money. I was looking along for a flock of shoats on a bar, or maybe a steer caved down at a riveh bank; you know what I mean. I’d be’n on the riveh so long, staying my appetite thataway, never careless or being caught, that prob’ly I didn’t rightly think about hit, the way I should of. I told her I’d have to lift a pig.

“Lucien Prenaux!” she turned on me, hard and set. “You sha’n’t!”

We had hit out. She’d rather starve ’n steal, she said, and I hadn’t. She had her way. Course, one way it wa’n’t none of her business how I found my grub. We weren’t nothin’ to each other, ’ceptin’ we was professional partners. But in a way, we were eatin’ together, floatin’ down together, an’ you mout say, tol’ably close together—if we hadn’t be’n, her an’ my boat tied together, we’d be’n miles apart, cut away by the current. So we jawed two three days, me not graftin’ any meat, an’ she arguin’ there must be some honest way.

Yes, suh! Theh we was broke. I hadn’t a cent. She hadn’t any money. She went uptown in Mendova, an’ come back smilin’. I was dog-gone hungry, an’ she’d lost weight, practisin’ on an empty stomach. She let her lips smile, when her eyes twinkled to me.

“We get five dollars for a turn into Palura’s!” she told me.

Course it was her steppin’, about four fifty for that, an’ fifty cents for me. I’d never had the nerve to play for the public thataway, but she made me. We done a turn that night on Palura’s stage. He was a flat-face feller, who’d killed three four men, an’ his place was a show for everybody from N’Orleans to St. Louis.

I felt mighty swell when I sat in the corner} an’ she came walkin’ down in those white satin knickerbockers she’d put