Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/254

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the old paper, spotty and faded as it is; funny old paper, peopled by Venetian boatmen and early Victorian trees. And now between two breaths Andy and Isaiah are pictures with the boatmen and memories with the trees. It is as though, still visible, no one saw them; as though reality had abandoned them and gone out into the middle of the room.

Molly is real; they’re not. Tag-end of a race and a tradition, her docked hair tousled, her shoes streaked with mud from another county, hem of a torn petticoat at the trail, she’s flesh alive; a tradition and a race beginning.

She’s on the bed’s edge, hip and elbow, one wild hand in Jimmy Krenk’s black curls, combwise, questioning, and her breath against his cheek.

“Y'all right, kid? Tell me quicker’n quick: y’all right?”

“Are you all right, Moll; you tell me?

You should worry about me! D’I look sick?”

“But, Moll—”

“Shush, kid, I know. I look like a home-made hang-over. I know I do, but you got to consider a hundred ’n’ thirty miles in that bus of yours is no tea-dansant for a fair young thing, is it now? 'Specially the last fifteen of ’em on a rim. Cheer up; I’ll look good when I get a shot of coffee in me. And don’t worry about the stuff; I got it all safe and dark to you-know-who, you-know-where, thirty-one cases, check, and you couldn’t have made it snappier yourself, you poor angel, and that’s that. And the bus is back in Costa’s g’rage with the old plates on—and the clutch afloat—and that phony rear shoe gone to and that’s that. And that motor-cycle egg was into Yarmouth Hospital at three, I just got word at the marsh, with his right arm out of commish. And that’s that.”

“Was it you, Moll? Was it you plugged the guy, same’s Turkey says?”

“Well, i I didn’t, there’s been some awful mistake. I picked up your gun when you dropped it, and I was peeved. But say, don’t get me talkin’-——"

"Listen, Moll, tell me somethin’. Was it you carried me up here from the Cove, same’s Turkey says?”

“Well, Turkey helped some—as quick as he——”

“Where was the other guys?”

"Busy, don’t you forget. Who’d you s’pose got the cop