Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/265

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The closet was still locked and Ticher had the key. Timidly he elbowed his way through the group of clamouring classmates about Miss *Lipscomb’s desk and plucked gently at her elbow.

“Ticher,” he murmured, “iss in the closet lots off the rag for the nose? I thing thees day mooch sneezing and——

“Ticher, when I espick “There hanks the flag,’ do I point weeth wheech hand? Pedro Gonzalos had rudely pushed Raphael aside.

But Hortensia Valdes had also elbowed herself into the foreground.

“Please, Ticher,” she complained, importantly, “please you tell Gilberto Villa not to mag wink the eye to me when T e-sink my song. Eet mag me e feel veree fonny, and een my song iss nawthing fonny.” Hortensia’s plain ace was tense with the anxiety of the true interpretive artist; her bony fingers were twisting and pulling at her lawn skirt. “Don’t do that, Hortensia; you’ll spoil your pretty dress. No. Surely you must not wink at Hortensia, Gilberto,” confirmed Miss Lipscomb. “Her song is not funny.”

“But, Ticher, yess, ma’am,” objected Gilberto, rakishly, ‘eet iss Hortensia that iss fonny. When she roll up the eye, so—and wave the arm, so—I thing she weel say next, ‘Cock- a-doodle-doo.

In the laughter that drowned Hortensia’s indignant outburst, Raphael again took heart to pluck Miss Lipscomb’s elbow and murmur, “Ticher, ticher, iss in the cupboard lots off the rag for the nose? I thing thees day——

“Ticher, pleass,” Gilberto Villa had wriggled into the foreground, “pleass you tell Felipe not to heet so mooch the drum. I cannot hear myself e-sink when she do so. Can I e-sink eef I do not hear heemself?”

“Ticher,” Raphael began patiently for the third time, thrusting himself daringly in front of the indignant Gilberto, ‘iss in the desk lots off the rag for the nose? Many already sneeze. I thing——

“Say, you Raphael,” threatened Gilberto, “eet iss I that espick now.”

“Raphael iss afraid that she weel forget hees speech,” tittered Concha Florida, “He has so veree mooch to say.”