Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/260

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With head deprecatingly on one side the object of this general disapproval peered dubiously about the room. What was it all about? He had but sneezed, as everyone must do in the course of nature. Why, then, this public inquisition? Appealingly he looked at the kind lady at the desk.

“Children, stop it!’? commanded Miss Lipscomb, briskly. ‘Raphael has just started to school. Perhaps no one has ever told him that one uses the handkerchief when he coughs or sneezes. I am sure that if we explain kindly to him why it is necessary to do so, he will try to remember after this. Who would like to tell him about it?”

“Ramon, Ticher,” chorused the Third Grade. “Let heem tell. She can espick so good the English.”

“Well, Ramon,” acquiesced Miss Lipscomb, smiling. “Would you like to tell Raphael something about what we are all trying to do here as good Americans?”

Thus gratifyingly entreated, the chosen spokesman arose, adjusted his dashing red neckerchief, and faced his audience, graciously, yet with authority, as one born to dispense information.

Raphael had never heard of inferiority complexes and the perils of yielding to them; therefore he watched the debonair Ramon with all his wistful, self-deprecatory soul in his eyes. To be like this—so elegant, so careless, so sure of one’s self!

“Here we try be the good American, Ticher,” began Ramon, easily. “To be the good American,” he explained, “one doss not fight weeth the knife or throw the stone or shoot the crap in the yard off the school.”

Ticher made a mental note that it might be well to find out where a good American—like Ramon, for instance—did “shoot the crap.”

“To be the good American, one doss not tell the lie. Ramon thoughtfully cocked a brig ht black eye at the top of the blackboard. “Eet iss not to be the good American,” he offered innocently in enlargement of his text, “when Conchita poot into hees desk my new pencil and tells that she doss not see it.”

“Ticher, no, ma’am! Eet iss not the pencil of Ramon,” shrieked Concha Florida. “In my desk iss onlee—”

No importa (it is no matter),” shrugged Ramon with