Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/247

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WHAT DO YOU MEAN—AMERICANS?

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‘I’m aimin’ to have a look innunder that skiff, if you don’t mind, Mis’ Brewster?’ ‘In which case, Mr. Perkins, you’re aimin’ to do something you ain’t able; not so long’s I’m settin’ onto it.’ ‘In which case, Mis’ Brewster, I shall have the law onto the lot of you———’ ‘In which case, Mr. Perkins, I’ll have something a sight quicker actin’ than the law onto you, sir.’ (With that I hear the gun-butt easin’ up along the garboard-strake.) ‘Quit it, Molly Brewster!’ says Perkins. ‘Git, Eben Perkins,’ says Molly, ‘and git quick!’”

“And Revenue gat! I guess he gat!”

“Never hear the last of it, did he? Nor come snoopin’ this way again, eh?”

‘Feared O’ meetin’ up with Molly! Heh-heh!”

The gentlest, the abidingest of women! What homage could be more precious to the heroine of long ago than this cachination of old men, this mirth flung out in thready challenge to reconquering nothingness and the prowling powers of the dark?

The dark answers, coagulating in another shade at their feet, down-hill.

“What you doin’ here, you guys?”

Their mouths dry and fall agape.

“Well, I v-v-vow!” bleats Isaiah, and Andy echoes him: “I vow!”

“Oh,” breathes the shade, “I know now. It’s old Isaiah and old Andy.”

“But who in—in —— are you ?”

“Don’t you rec’nize me? It’s Tony Fuller from the Coast Guard. You know me.”

Tony!” They see their chance. “Tony Fuller!” The impostor is delivered into their hands. Their voices break high. “There wa’n’t never a man—there’s been Eds and Ezras, Johns and Jonathans—but never a man amongst the Fullers’ called by any such nigger name, such a lemon-peddlin’ name, as ‘Tony.’ No-sir-ee!”

The haunt chuckles, rubbing his lips with a spectral sleeve.

“Try Farquiera then; that’s my family’s name when they come from the Azores. Or if you’re bent on crackin’ your jaws, try ’em on this guy Sob-lef-sky—Sub-lof-sky—whatever ’tis. He’s down in the road there to the left, waitin’; so you get along now, quiet, and tell him I sent you, and he'll