Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/252

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blown by an Asian oath. In reverse the business of footfalls reënacted, across the kitchen, across the porch.

The night has overreached itself. “Got any rags?” That’s a joke.

There a glimmer of moon through the cracks in the blinds. In the wraith of light Andy lifts on an elbow and studies supine Isaiah. The youngster lies with his head cracked back, as though by a blow, his mouth open, the shape of a black egg, and his whisker thrust straight up in the air. He’s not dead, though; he’s asleep.

Andy lies back and summons all his resolution. Resolutely he envisions sheep, just such sheep as Dave Burch used to run on Borneo Plain, matted gray-brown bodies and slender legs snapping under them. Over the stone wall they go. One sheep over two sheep over; three sheep over; four—or was it five?-five—six sheep——

When he awakens it is with a gulp and a kick.

Who’s that? By the bed there, towering in the new gray?

It’s Isaiah. It’s the youngster, getting his pants on.

“I can’t stand it,” says Isaiah, his teeth aclatter.

“What is it now?

“I don’t know. My godfrey, if I knowed, I—there! Hark to that!”

“That trompin’ like?”

’“Trompin’, yes. Trompin’, skitterin’, skutterin’ all about, whisperin’, too, and groanin’ into the bargain. There, now! Will y’ hark?”

“In the wood-house. Or more like Molly’s room. Mebby it’s Molly.”

“I want to know.”

“Or cats.”

“I want to know.”

Andy fumbles his pale legs out of the quilt and into his trousers. They go in stocking-feet, carrying their boots. In the kitchen Andy pauses.

“Molly come home?”

“Never hear her.”

“You been asleep, though.”

“I ain’t. Not one blessed wink, and that’s true. No-sir, everything I seen, I seen. There’s niggers and heathen and all manner of islanders and dagoes spiritin’ about this night.