Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/251

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WHAT DO YOU MEAN—AMERICANS?

217

So is the whine, like the whir of a night-hawk planing back into the night again.

“Isaiah,” says Andy, “you lay down and go to sleep. This is foolishness.”

Five minutes, up they knife again.

A step. A clandestine sole on the porch. A sneaking tread.

Andy wouldn’t speak for a million dollars; neither would Isaiah.

“Molly!” they call in the same breath.

No answer. Only the scratch of a match, out the kitchen way.

“Molly Brewster!”

The match goes out. More footfalls. Odd footfalls. Odd chills.

Who? What?

The second match is at the very foot of their bed, a blinding nimbus. In the nimbus there are two eyes, a lean, green-brown face, a hat like an inverted flower-pot made of kinky wool.

“You gaht ahny rags, say?”

When Isaiah was mate in the Boston fruit-bark Hope Wade he used once a year to load figs at Smyrna. He used to sit in an armchair on the house within one spit of the rail and keep those natives going as only a Cape man could, with alternate volleys of truculence and wit. “If there’s one thing I’d love to see before I die,” he used to say, “it’s one of you lazy heathen Turk-fellahs tryin’ to earn a meal in the town of Pamet, Barnstable County, Mass. If there’s one thing I’d love!”

It comes back to Isaiah, every fatal syllable. The white rims widen around his eyes. He begins to speak.

“You’re that Turk——”

“Curse the Toork! He keeled my fahther, my mahther, my brahther!”

“No-sir, though, no-sir, all foolin’, you’re the one—the one folks c-c-calls the Turk—that comes by sellin’ carpets. You are so!”

A frown withers the green-brown face. “You gaht ahny rags, say? You gaht ahny rags?”

The match burns a finger and sails away in two red stars,