Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/245

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be taken in by a jest as thin as that, a ship enormous as eighty Sea Glories on one keel!

“I tell you,” says the shade, “these Englishmann, these Germann, they got nootheng on us now. One day us Americans we weel be as beeg a shipping nation as they is on the sea; you watch.”

It’s too rare. Andy and Isaiah open their mouths to chuckle, and before they can chuckle, a hot, contemptuous anger has got in their throats instead.

“Who are you?” they cry, and “Where you from?” Those voices that rang, full-winded, absolute, over the decks of the white clippers of the years when the world rubbed its eyes. Echoes now.

Echoes, yes, but echoes still puissant. The headless Jack-in-the-box sounds fetched-aback and ill at ease.

“Wh-wh-who am I? Well, I guess you know me, Meester Brewster. You know Manuel Braganza. You seen me round plentee, I guess. Since five year I got thees old Champion place back here, crost from Jimmee the Greek. I guess you know me, all right.”


“You don’t know Manuel Brag——— Don’t know Manny the Lisbon?”

“Never hear the name. Never!”

“You—you—never hear o’ my boy Johnee?”

“Johnnie who?”

Silence. That has done for him. It has done for them, too; done wonders. Their feet are solid on their own hill again and they begin to tower. Men against bogies, men will win every time.

It’s true. The spook hasn’t a word. Presently he begins to fade before their eyes, a receding whisper of sand. Across the hilltop and down the slope the long, black, dismembered torso vanishes degree by degree into the dark above the invisible Cove.

Give these old fellows an inch and they’ll take a mile. The impulse to pursue, to rout him seven-fold, to crow, to pile it on, is too strong. Nor is it altogether this that hauls them to the sandy precipice where he disappeared. Triumph has given sudden rein to memories; their feet are in old paths, their tongues wag.