Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/282

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from the tents of the Arab or the Gypsy by their less healthy ess to the air of heaven, and less happy choice of their spot of earth’—you’re an Arab an’ a a Gypey if she teased.

“If likin’ the air of heaven proves it, I am!”

Her expression became frightened and wistful: “Say, Jem d’you know what I think heaven” s a-goin’ to be like? Well, there ain’t a-goin’ to be no towns there—just lots of mountains, an’ pines an’ space where folks can live the way they like, not the way someone else says! An’ I wouldn't want no hard gold pavements an’ streets to walk on—not if I could have a sunshiny trail instead—would you?”

Jem shook his head. “If there’s such lots of good folks that it’s crowded, I don’t want to go there nohow.” He thought it over. ‘Wherever there’s plenty of folks, there’s plenty of talk about progress. Know what progress is? . . . Well, it’s inventin’ somethin’ to carry you over the country so fast that you can’t see nothin’ you’re a-passin’. That’s progress!”

‘‘Like the railroad train!”

“Yes. I’m a-hopin’ they’ll be satisfied with that an’ not go on a-inventin’ any further.”

“They can’t never catch us—way up here!’’ she exulted. He agreed to that. “‘We’ve stumped em!”

Jenny glanced down at the illustration of a tracery from the Campanite of Giotto at Florence. ‘‘Of course alJ the things them progressers have done ain’t bad. Look at this! . . .

Say, Jem, if ever you make a big strike let’s us go an’ see these places in the book.” She hesitated. “An’ if I ain’t . . .

around . . . just remember I would a-been if I could—an’ you go anyhow. Promise!

He laughed at such a preposterous idea, then, as she stubbornly insisted, indulgently agreed. “Pm perf’ctly safe in sayin’ yes!”

“Remember, you've promised. I'll ha’nt you if you break your word!”

Sure!” said Jem Brown.

Jenny died in the autumn; for weeks before the end Jem devoted his entire time to her, heartening her against the hours of panic which preceded the Great Adventure.

“I don’t want to go off by myself among strangers, Jem!