Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/256

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



“Good kid, did I hurt? Oh, good kid, I tried to be so gentle——”

“Gentle, Moll? Don’t talk. You’re the gentlest ever; and you’re more’n the gentlest; you’re the beautifulest, and you're more’n the beautifulest; you’re the straightest, bravest——”

“Bravest! Quit kiddin’, you Greek idiot. I been frightened sober; I’m still scared weak. Take hold of me and hang onto me tight, tight.”

“I got yu, tight. All there is, though, I hate to be a bother here.”

“Bother! That’s a good line. It’s my house, isn’t it, Jimmy dearie? And seeing we’re going to get married Friday, where’s the diff?”

(Friday at two!)

The Venetian boatmen end their fading by fading quite away, out of the bedroom, out of the house.

It’s a fog-dawn, the light from the sun-tipped hills coming down at every angle through the pearly smother. It’s as if the night, in place of ending, had just bleached out. Albino darkness. White shades. The veil is troubled by them, half-glimpsed and gone; white shades of youth, black-eyed and swarthy, sallow and gray-eyed.

Once more Andy and Isaiah flee the canopy of the willows and puff up Sheep Hill. The mist dilutes; at the height they find the sun and air. And the sea, Leviathan gone. The honest sea.

They flop on a timber and gaze at it. By and by Isaiah points a finger at the wedge of the Cove, still in shadow below them.

“By cricky, she goes fast these days, Andy.” He is resolved to see it, and he seés it; the marsh growing an estuary, the estuary a strait, a worm of blue salt water eating ever and ever more hungrily into the entrails of the dead Cape. “By cricky, ’twon’t be many years till you can sail a vessel straight through the Hollow to the back side.”

“Where do you get that stuff?” inquires a voice from behind the brothers. They won’t have it. They won’t hear.

“’Twa’n’t so many years ago,” says Andy in resolute musing, “there was beach-plums growin’ out there where them breakers are now.”