Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/246

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



"Remember that night the revenue-man come snoopin’?”

“Remember the skiff bottom-up on the beach with the three bar’ls of rum under it, and me under it with ’em and my legs caught out by the gun’l, full in view?”

“Rec’lect the brig hove to out there, ’bout where that fisherman lays now?”

“The Abraham, wa’n’t it? And Ezra Small?”

They pause. Pause? Where are they? What in the name of Jehoshaphat are they doing here, old flies, clinging midway of the precipitous sand? This much is certain: if they don’t catch their death one way they’ll catch it another.

They pause. Hunkering down in little sand-slides, they gaze at the becalmed schooner. In the cobweb starlight it might truly be the Abraham, and Captain Ezra prowling the deck and chewing his whisker and wondering what’s wrong with the Brewster boys ashore. They gaze at the pool of the inlet below them, and there the starlight, chasing the ripples, weaves silver stuff of dreams, mesmeric, fluent. The gods are young.

“Rec'lect that night, eh?”

“Remember Molly——”

Molly! A subconscious discord. A rift of syncopation, dilute, galvanic; a painted mouth, an empty head; a half-ton truck, a Greek.

No, though! By thunder, no! Molly, they’re talking of. Molly!

She was the wife of one, the sister-in-law of the other. Years have almost outlawed that inequality. To each she comes back all comeliness, all docile bravery, all grace. A woman of those days.

“Remember Molly that night, Isaiah? You couldn’t see her, though, and you stuck under the skiff; the way she come trippin’ down from nowheres, fetch one look at your boots croppin’ out like a hamstrung turtle, set down on the skiff, tidied her skirts out over, and set there gazing at the stars as soberlike as if she was in the habit of star-gazin’ every night with a shotgun laid across her lap. Nor you couldn’t see the way old Revenue Perkins ey od her and hesitated, scrawn out his neck and fetch to a halt.”

“I heard him, though, Andy; promise you that. ‘Pleasant evenin’, Mis’ Brewster!’ ‘Pleasant evenin’, Mr. Perkins!’