Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/253

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WHAT DO YOU MEAN—AMERICANS?

219

Andy, there was a Turk come into our room, and I seen him with my own two eyes. So I ain’t been asleep.”

“I'll look in her room, anyway, on the chance.”

Holding his breath, he edges open Molly’s door. His head disappears. It reappears, the cheeks collapsing with relief.

“By glory, she be. Here all this time, to bed, asleep. Us fools!”

Side by side, holding the door open, they gaze into the chamber, cave-lit with the seepage of dawn, perfumed with violet water, tar soap, carnation powder, fibre-silk stockings, and all the faint, mingled emanations from frocks and under-things—the rectangular gray whiteness of the bed—the dark spot of a head averted on the pillow.

“Don’t wake ’er.”

“No; easy’s the word; take care.”

The old fools!

“Molly!” breathes Andy, just once. Just to try.

The head on the pillow flops over. The heads in the door thrust out.

Black eyes study them from the pillow, hypnotized.

Jimmy the Greek!

If he is hypnotized, what are they?

It was in this room, in that bed, that Molly White Brewster died, on Cleveland’s election day. It was through that window her soul went to heaven.

They can do nothing but stare; stare at the bureau, holy of holies, untidy, intimate; a pot of cold-cream, a ribbon, a note, a garter, a kitten of combings, a man’s plaid cap; stare at the bed, the pillow, the solitary presence there, obscurely begotten, horde-born, Mediterranean.

They open their mouths to roar like lions; in the hush they bleat.

“Where’s M-M-Molly?”

He holds them with black-and-white eyes; he has lost his tongue.

“Wh-wh-wh-where’s Molly?

It’s Molly that answers, Molly’s feet askip on the porch behind them, the wind of her coming across the kitchen, the fling of her arms brushing them aside like wraiths.

Worse than wraiths! Of a sudden something beyond accounting happens. In Molly’s bedroom they’ve always kept