Short Fiction

By Ernest Hemingway.


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A Divine Gesture

And then when all was come and gone, the Great Lord God strode out of the house and into the garden, for in the garden he found the deep peace of Rome. Bathtubs stood all around in heavy earnestness. Boot jacks littered the Garden. A thousand broken flower pots were piled into one corner.

“Where is Adam?” asked the Lord God.

No one answered for all the flower pots were tired and none of the bathtubs remembered it was Sunday.

“Where is Eve?” asked the Lord God, pulling at his beard and looking remarkably like Tolstoy.

At once all the boot jacks began to leap and chatter and a flight of blackbirds swooped down into the garden and commenced to strut around, exploring into the flower pots with their beautiful shining bills.

“She is gone out, God,” said the largest and weakest bathtub in a heavily earnest manner, “and no man can prophecy the hour of her returning. But I would say that she would return around four o’clock.”

The Great Lord God made a divine motion with his hand and the angel Gabriel came swiftly forward from where he had been sitting and let all the water out of the largest and weakest of the bathtubs.

“That would teach him a valuable lesson,” remarked the angel Gabriel, and God nodded to him in an absentminded and approving manner.

“It should,” meditated the great Lord God, “and more valuable lessons is what we need in this day and age.”

As there seemed nothing more for the angel Gabriel to say and as the water was quite run out of the largest and weakest of the bathtubs, he smiled quietly at God and walked carefully back to his corner, treading cautiously as he went in order not to step on any of the boot jacks which were curling and uncurling in an alarming manner.

“Stop it!” shouted the Great Lord God, and at once every boot jack was still. “How often have I told you not to continue that loathsome habit?”

One boot jack nudged another and soon they were all nudging one another and whispering, “We mustn’t squirm today. We mustn’t squirm today. Hy ya to did eeyay. We mustn’t squirm today!”

In a little while from whispering the words had changed into a chant and all the boot jacks were squirming more than ever and chanting at the top of their voices, “We mustn’t squirm today. We mustn’t squirm today. Hy Yah Ta Did Esay! We mustn’t squirm today!”

“Stop it!” shouted the Great Lord God in a terrible voice.

All the boot jacks were very frightened and then in a few moments one said in a frightened but eager voice, “Why mustn’t we squirm today God?”

“I’m busy!” said God in a terrible voice. “I’m busier than ever!”

All the boot jacks commenced nudging one another and saying, “He’s busier than ever. That’s why we mustn’t squirm today.” But in a few moments they had forgotten why they were nudging one another and were all chanting and squirming, “We mustn’t squirm today.”

God strode away in disgust, making a divine gesture to the angel Gabriel who followed him quietly out of the garden.

“No peace,” said the Great Lord God as they strode rapidly up the long stairs, “no peace anywhere. I’m so busy, and there is only twenty-four hours in a day.”

“Are twenty-four hours, perhaps you mean, Sire,” quietly said the angel Gabriel.

“Is twenty-four hours, I said,” the Great Lord God corrected in a sad tone, for he was very fond of the angel Gabriel.

The angel Gabriel smiled uncertainly and followed God up the long stairs, thinking of his wife and children.

“I am sure there is only twenty-four hours,” he said, panting a little from the stairs.

“My good and faithful servant,” God said fondly, for he was very fond of the angel Gabriel, “I’m so very busy.”

So they sat down for a little while and far below them could hear the sound of the boot jacks squirming and chanting.

“What is that sound?” asked God, for like many other leaders he was very deaf at times.

“Your faithful boot jacks, Sire,” answered the angel Gabriel quietly, but very distinctly.

“Ah, yes,” God mused happily, “my faithful boot jacks.”

Up in Michigan

Jim Gilmore came to Hortons Bay from Canada. He bought the blacksmith shop from old man Horton. Jim was short and dark with big mustaches and big hands. He was a good horseshoer and did not look much like a blacksmith even with his leather apron on. He lived upstairs above the blacksmith shop and took his meals at A. J. Smith’s.

Liz Coates worked for Smith’s. Mrs. Smith, who was a very large clean woman, said Liz Coates was the neatest girl she’d ever seen. Liz had good legs and always wore clean gingham aprons and Jim noticed that her hair was always neat behind. He liked her face because it was so jolly but he never thought about her.

Liz liked Jim very much. She liked it the way he walked over from the shop and often went to the kitchen door to watch for him to start down the road. She liked it about his mustache. She liked it about how white his teeth were when he smiled. She liked it very much that he didn’t look like a blacksmith. She liked it how much A. J. Smith and Mrs. Smith liked Jim. One day she found that she liked it the way the hair was black on his arms and how white they were above the tanned line when he washed up in the washbasin outside the house. Liking that made her feel funny.

Hortons Bay, the town, was only five houses on the main road between Boyne City and Charlevoix. There was the general store and postoffice with a high false front and maybe a wagon hitched out in front, Smith’s house, Stroud’s house, Fox’s house, Horton’s house and Van Hoosen’s house. The houses were in a big grove of elm trees and the road was very sandy. There was farming country and timber each way up the road. Up the road a ways was the Methodist church and down the road the other direction was the township school. The blacksmith shop was painted red and faced the school.

A steep sandy road ran down the hill to the bay through the timber. From Smith’s back door you could look out across the woods that ran down to the lake and across the bay. It was very beautiful in the spring and summer, the bay blue and bright and usually whitecaps on the lake out beyond the point from the breeze blowing from Charlevoix and Lake Michigan. From Smith’s back door Liz could see ore barges way out in the lake going toward Boyne City. When she looked at them they didn’t seem to be moving at all but if she went in and dried some more dishes and then came out again they would be out of sight beyond the point.

All the time now Liz was thinking about Jim Gilmore. He didn’t seem to notice her much. He talked about the shop to A. J. Smith and about the Republican Party and about James G. Blaine. In the evenings he read the Toledo Blade and the Grand Rapids paper by the lamp in the front room or went out spearing fish in the bay with a jacklight with A. J. Smith. In the fall he and Smith and Charley Wyman took a wagon and tent, grub, axes, their rifles and two dogs and went on a trip to the pine plains beyond Vanderbilt deer hunting. Liz and Mrs. Smith were cooking for four days for them before they started. Liz wanted to make something special for Jim to take but she didn’t finally because she was afraid to ask Mrs. Smith for the eggs and flour and afraid if she bought them Mrs. Smith would catch her cooking. It would have been all right with Mrs. Smith but Liz was afraid.

All the time Jim was gone on the deer hunting trip Liz thought about him. It was awful while he was gone. She couldn’t sleep well from thinking about him but she discovered it was fun to think about him too. If she let herself go it was better. The night before they were to come back she didn’t sleep at all, that is she didn’t think she slept because it was all mixed up in a dream about not sleeping and really not sleeping. When she saw the wagon coming down the road she felt weak and sick sort of inside. She couldn’t wait till she saw Jim and it seemed as though everything would be all right when he came. The wagon stopped outside under the big elm and Mrs. Smith and Liz went out. All the men had beards and there were three deer in the back of the wagon, their thin legs sticking stiff over the edge of the wagon box. Mrs. Smith kissed Alonzo and he hugged her. Jim said “Hello Liz,” and grinned. Liz hadn’t known just what would happen when Jim got back but she was sure it would be something. Nothing had happened. The men were just home that was all. Jim pulled the burlap sacks off the deer and Liz looked at them. One was a big buck. It was stiff and hard to lift out of the wagon.

“Did you shoot it Jim?” Liz asked.

“Yeah. Aint it a beauty?” Jim got it onto his back to carry to the smokehouse.

That night Charley Wyman stayed to supper at Smith’s. It was too late to get back to Charlevoix. The men washed up and waited in the front room for supper.

“Aint there something left in that crock Jimmy?” A. J. Smith asked and Jim went out to the wagon in the barn and fetched in the jug of whiskey the men had taken hunting with them. It was a four gallon jug and there was quite a little slopped back and forth in the bottom. Jim took a long pull on his way back to the house. It was hard to lift such a big jug up to drink out of it. Some of the whiskey ran down on his shirt front. The two men smiled when Jim came in with the jug. A. J. Smith sent for glasses and Liz brought them. A. J. poured out three big shots.

“Well here’s looking at you A. J.,” said Charley Wyman.

“That damn big buck Jimmy,” said A. J.

“Here’s all the ones we missed A. J.,” said Jim and downed his liquor.

“Tastes good to a man.”

“Nothing like it this time of year for what ails you.”

“How about another boys?”

“Here’s how A. J.

“Down the creek boys.”

“Here’s to next year.”

Jim began to feel great. He loved the taste and the feel of whisky. He was glad to be back to a comfortable bed and warm food and the shop. He had another drink. The men came in to supper feeling hilarious but acting very respectable. Liz sat at the table after she put on the food and ate with the family. It was a good dinner. The men ate seriously. After supper they went into the front room again and Liz cleaned off with Mrs. Smith. Then Mrs. Smith went upstairs and pretty soon Smith came out and went upstairs too. Jim and Charley were still in the front room. Liz was sitting in the kitchen next to the stove pretending to read a book and thinking about Jim. She didn’t want to go to bed yet because she knew Jim would be coming out and she wanted to see him as he went out so she could take the way he looked up to bed with her.

She was thinking about him hard and then Jim came out. His eyes were shining and his hair was a little rumpled. Liz looked down at her book. Jim came over back of her chair and stood there and she could feel him breathing and then he put his arms around her. Her breasts felt plump and firm and the nipples were erect under his hands. Liz was terribly frightened, no one had ever touched her, but she thought, “He’s come to me finally. He’s really come.”

She held herself stiff because she was so frightened and did not know anything else to do and then Jim held her tight against the chair and kissed her. It was such a sharp, aching, hurting feeling that she thought she couldn’t stand it. She felt Jim right through the back of the chair and she couldn’t stand it and then something clicked inside of her and the feeling was warmer and softer. Jim held her tight hard against the chair and she wanted it now and Jim whispered, “Come on for a walk.”

Liz took her coat off the peg on the kitchen wall and they went out the door. Jim had his arm around her and every little way they stopped and pressed against each other and Jim kissed her. There was no moon and they walked ankle deep in the sandy road through the trees down to the dock and the warehouse on the bay. The water was lapping in the piles and the point was dark across the bay. It was cold but Liz was hot all over from being with Jim. They sat down in the shelter of the warehouse and Jim pulled Liz close to him. She was frightened. One of Jim’s hands went inside her dress and stroked over her breast and the other hand was in her lap. She was very frightened and didn’t know how he was going to go about things but she snuggled close to him. Then the hand that felt so big in her lap went away and was on her leg and started to move up it.

“Don’t Jim,” Liz said. Jim slid the hand further up.

“You musn’t Jim. You musn’t,” Neither Jim nor Jim’s big hand paid any attention to her.

The boards were hard. Jim had her dress up and was trying to do something to her. She was frightened but she wanted it. She had to have it but it frightened her.

“You musn’t do it Jim. You musn’t.”

“I got to. I’m going to. You know we got to.”

“No we haven’t Jim. We aint got to. Oh it isn’t right. Oh it’s so big and it hurts so. You can’t. Oh Jim. Jim. Oh.”

The hemlock planks of the dock were hard and splintery and cold and Jim was heavy on her and he had hurt her. Liz pushed him, she was so uncomfortable and cramped. Jim was asleep. He wouldn’t move. She worked out from under him and sat up and straightened her skirt and coat and tried to do something with her hair. Jim was sleeping with his mouth a little open. Liz leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. He was still asleep. She lifted his head a little and shook it. He rolled his head over and swallowed. Liz started to cry. She walked over to the edge of the dock and looked down to the water. There was a mist coming up from the bay. She was cold and miserable and everything felt gone. She walked back to where Jim was lying and shook him once more to make sure. She was crying.

“Jim,” she said, “Jim. Please Jim.”

Jim stirred and curled a little tighter. Liz took off her coat and leaned over and covered him with it. She tucked it around him neatly and carefully. Then she walked across the dock and up the steep sandy road to go to bed. A cold mist was coming up through the woods from the bay.

In Our Time

Chapter I

Everybody was drunk. The whole battery was drunk going along the road in the dark. We were going to the Champagne. The lieutenant kept riding his horse out into the fields and saying to him, “I’m drunk, I tell you, mon vieux. Oh, I am so soused.” We went along the road all night in the dark and the adjutant kept riding up alongside my kitchen and saying, “You must put it out. It is dangerous. It will be observed.” We were fifty kilometers from the front, but the adjutant worried about the fire in my kitchen. It was funny going along that road. That was when I was a kitchen Corporal.

Indian Camp

At the lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up. The two Indians stood waiting.

Nick and his father got in the stern of the boat and the Indians shoved it off and one of them got in to row. Uncle George sat in the stern of the camp rowboat. The young Indian shoved the camp boat off and got in to row Uncle George.

The two boats started off in the dark. Nick heard the oarlocks of the other boat quite a way ahead of them in the mist. The Indians rowed with quick choppy strokes. Nick lay back with his father’s arm around him. It was cold on the water. The Indian who was rowing them was working very hard, but the other boat moved further ahead in the mist all the time.

“Where are we going, Dad?” Nick asked.

“Over to the Indian camp. There is an Indian lady very sick.”

“Oh,” said Nick.

Across the bay they found the other boat beached. Uncle George was smoking a cigar in the dark. The young Indian pulled the boat way up the beach. Uncle George gave both the Indians cigars.

They walked up from the beach through a meadow that was soaking wet with dew, following the young Indian who carried a lantern. Then they went into the woods and followed a trail that led to the logging road that ran back into the hills. It was much lighter on the logging road as the timber was cut away on both sides. The young Indian stopped and blew out his lantern and they all walked on along the road.

They came around a bend and a dog came out barking. Ahead were the lights of the shanties where the Indian bark-peelers lived. More dogs rushed out at them. The two Indians sent them back to the shanties. In the shanty nearest the road there was a light in the window. An old woman stood in the doorway holding a lamp.

Inside on a wooden bunk lay a young Indian woman. She had been trying to have her baby for two days. All the old women in the camp had been helping her. The men had moved off up the road to sit in the dark and smoke out of range of the noise she made. She screamed just as Nick and the two Indians followed his father and Uncle George into the shanty. She lay in the lower bunk, very big under a quilt. Her head was turned to one side. In the upper bunk was her husband. He had cut his foot very badly with an ax three days before. He was smoking a pipe. The room smelled very bad.

Nick’s father ordered some water to be put on the stove, and while it was heating he spoke to Nick.

“This lady is going to have a baby, Nick,” he said.

“I know,” said Nick.

“You don’t know,” said his father. “Listen to me. What she is going through is called being in labor. The baby wants to be born and she wants it to be born. All her muscles are trying to get the baby born. That is what is happening when she screams.”

“I see,” Nick said.

Just then the woman cried out.

“Oh, Daddy, can’t you give her something to make her stop screaming?” asked Nick.

“No. I haven’t any anaesthetic,” his father said. “But her screams are not important. I don’t hear them because they are not important.”

The husband in the upper bunk rolled over against the wall.

The woman in the kitchen motioned to the doctor that the water was hot. Nick’s father went into the kitchen and poured about half of the water out of the big kettle into a basin. Into the water left in the kettle he put several things he unwrapped from a handkerchief.

“Those must boil,” he said, and began to scrub his hands in the basin of hot water with a cake of soap he had brought from the camp. Nick watched his father’s hands scrubbing each other with the soap. While his father washed his hands very carefully and thoroughly, he talked.

“You see, Nick, babies are supposed to be born head first but sometimes they’re not. When they’re not they make a lot of trouble for everybody. Maybe I’ll have to operate on this lady. We’ll know in a little while.”

When he was satisfied with his hands he went in and went to work.

“Pull back that quilt, will you, George?” he said. “I’d rather not touch it.”

Later when he started to operate Uncle George and three Indian men held the woman still. She bit Uncle George on the arm and Uncle George said, “Damn squaw bitch!” and the young Indian who had rowed Uncle George over laughed at him. Nick held the basin for his father. It all took a long time.

His father picked the baby up and slapped it to make it breathe and handed it to the old woman.

“See, it’s a boy, Nick,” he said. “How do you like being an interne?”

Nick said, “All right.” He was looking away so as not to see what his father was doing.

“There. That gets it,” said his father and put something into the basin.

Nick didn’t look at it.

“Now,” his father said, “there’s some stitches to put in. You can watch this or not, Nick, just as you like. I’m going to sew up the incision I made.”

Nick did not watch. His curiosity has been gone for a long time.

His father finished and stood up. Uncle George and the three Indian men stood up. Nick put the basin out in the kitchen.

Uncle George looked at his arm. The young Indian smiled reminiscently.

“I’ll put some peroxide on that, George,” the doctor said.

He bent over the Indian woman. She was quiet now and her eyes were closed. She looked very pale. She did not know what had become of the baby or anything.

“I’ll be back in the morning,” the doctor said, standing up. “The nurse should be here from St. Ignace by noon and she’ll bring everything we need.”

He was feeling exalted and talkative like football players in the dressing room after a game.

“That’s one for the medical journal, George,” he said. “Doing a Caesarian with a jackknife and sewing it up with nine-foot, tapered gut leaders.”

Uncle George was standing against the wall, looking at his arm.

“Oh, you’re a great man, all right,” he said.

“Ought to have a look at the proud father. They’re usually the worst sufferers in these little affairs,” the doctor said. “I must say he took it all pretty quietly.”

He pulled back the blanket from the Indian’s head. His hand came away wet. He mounted on the edge of the lower bunk with the lamp in one hand and looked in. The Indian lay with his face toward the wall. His throat had been cut from ear to ear. The blood had flowed down into a pool where his body sagged the bunk. His head rested on his left arm. The open razor lay edge up in the blankets.

“Take Nick out of the shanty, George,” the doctor said.

There was no need of that. Nick, standing in the door of the kitchen, had a good view of the upper bunk when his father, the lamp in one hand, tipped the Indian’s head back.

It was just beginning to be daylight when they walked along the logging road back toward the lake.

“I’m terribly sorry I brought you along, Nickie,” said his father, all his postoperative exhilaration gone. “It was an awful mess to put you through.”

“Do ladies always have such a hard time having babies?” Nick asked.

“No, that was very, very exceptional.”

“Why did he kill himself, Daddy?”

“I don’t know, Nick. He couldn’t stand things, I guess.”

“Do many men kill themselves, Daddy?”

“Not very many, Nick.”

“Do many women?”

“Hardly ever.”

“Don’t they ever?”

“Oh, yes. They do sometimes.”



“Where did Uncle George go?”

“He’ll turn up all right.”

“Is dying hard, Daddy?”

“No, I think it’s pretty easy, Nick. It all depends.”

They were seated in the boat, Nick in the stern, his father rowing. The sun was coming up over the hills. A bass jumped, making a circle in the water. Nick trailed his hand in the water. It felt warm in the sharp chill of the morning.

In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.

Chapter II

Minarets stuck up in the rain out of Adrianople across the mud flats. The carts were jammed for thirty miles along the Karagatch road. Water buffalo and cattle were hauling carts through the mud. No end and no beginning. Just carts loaded with everything they owned. The old men and women, soaked through, walking along keeping the cattle moving. The Maritza was running yellow almost up to the bridge. Carts were jammed solid on the bridge with camels bobbing along through them. Greek cavalry herded along the procession. Women and kids were in the carts, crouched with mattresses, mirrors, sewing machines, bundles. There was a woman having a kid with a young girl holding a blanket over her and crying. Scared sick looking at it. It rained all through the evacuation.

The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife

Dick Boulton came from the Indian camp to cut up logs for Nick’s father. He brought his son Eddy, and another Indian named Billy Tabeshaw with him. They came in through the back gate out of the woods, Eddy carrying the long crosscut saw. It flopped over his shoulder and made a musical sound as he walked. Billy Tabeshaw carried two big cant-hooks. Dick had three axes under his arm.

He turned and shut the gate. The others went on ahead of him down to the lake shore where the logs were buried in the sand.

The logs had been lost from the big log booms that were towed down the lake to the mill by the steamer Magic. They had drifted up onto the beach and if nothing were done about them sooner or later the crew of the Magic would come along the shore in a rowboat, spot the logs, drive an iron spike with a ring on it into the end of each one and then tow them out into the lake to make a new boom. But the lumbermen might never come for them because a few logs were not worth the price of a crew to gather them. If no one came for them they would be left to waterlog and rot on the beach.

Nick’s father always assumed that this was what would happen, and hired the Indians to come down from the camp and cut the logs up with the crosscut saw and split them with a wedge to make cord wood and chunks for the open fireplace. Dick Boulton walked around past the cottage down to the lake. There were four big beech logs lying almost buried in the sand. Eddy hung the saw up by one of its handles in the crotch of a tree. Dick put the three axes down on the little dock. Dick was a half-breed and many of the farmers around the lake believed he was really a white man. He was very lazy but a great worker once he was started. He took a plug of tobacco out of his pocket, bit off a chew and spoke in Ojibway to Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw.

They sunk the ends of their cant-hooks into one of the logs and swung against it to loosen it in the sand. They swung their weight against the shafts of the cant-hooks. The log moved in the sand. Dick Boulton turned to Nick’s father.

“Well, Doc,” he said, “that’s a nice lot of timber you’ve stolen.”

“Don’t talk that way, Dick,” the doctor said. “It’s driftwood.”

Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw had rocked the log out of the wet sand and rolled it toward the water.

“Put it right in,” Dick Boulton shouted.

“What are you doing that for?” asked the doctor.

“Wash it off. Clean off the sand on account of the saw. I want to see who it belongs to,” Dick said.

The log was just awash in the lake. Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw leaned on their cant-hooks sweating in the sun. Dick kneeled down in the sand and looked at the mark of the scaler’s hammer in the wood at the end of the log.

“It belongs to White and McNally,” he said, standing up and brushing off his trousers knees.

The doctor was very uncomfortable.

“You’d better not saw it up then, Dick,” he said, shortly.

“Don’t get huffy, Doc,” said Dick. “Don’t get huffy. I don’t care who you steal from. It’s none of my business.”

“If you think the logs are stolen, leave them alone and take your tools back to the camp,” the doctor said. His face was red.

“Don’t go off at half cock, Doc,” Dick said. He spat tobacco juice on the log. It slid off, thinning in the water. “You know they’re stolen as well as I do. It don’t make any difference to me.”

“All right. If you think the logs are stolen, take your stuff and get out.”

“Now, Doc⁠—”

“Take your stuff and get out.”

“Listen, Doc.”

“If you call me Doc once again, I’ll knock your eye teeth down your throat.”

“Oh, no, you won’t, Doc.”

Dick Boulton looked at the doctor. Dick was a big man. He knew how big a man he was. He liked to get into fights. He was happy. Eddy and Billy Tabeshaw leaned on their cant-hooks and looked at the doctor. The doctor chewed the beard on his lower lip and looked at Dick Boulton. Then he turned away and walked up the hill to the cottage. They could see from his back how angry he was. They all watched him walk up the hill and go inside the cottage.

Dick said something in Ojibway. Eddy laughed but Billy Tabeshaw looked very serious. He did not understand English but he had sweat all the time the row was going on. He was fat with only a few hairs of mustache like a Chinaman. He picked up the two cant-hooks. Dick picked up the axes and Eddy took the saw down from the tree. They started off and walked up past the cottage and out the back gate into the woods. Dick left the gate open. Billy Tabeshaw went back and fastened it. They were gone through the woods.

In the cottage the doctor, sitting on the bed in his room, saw a pile of medical journals on the floor by the bureau. They were still in their wrappers unopened. It irritated him.

“Aren’t you going back to work, dear?” asked the doctor’s wife from the room where she was lying with the blinds drawn.


“Was anything the matter?”

“I had a row with Dick Boulton.”

“Oh,” said his wife. “I hope you didn’t lose your temper, Henry.”

“No,” said the doctor.

“Remember, that he who ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city,” said his wife. She was a Christian Scientist. Her Bible, her copy of Science and Health and her Quarterly were on a table beside her bed in the darkened room.

Her husband did not answer. He was sitting on his bed now, cleaning a shotgun. He pushed the magazine full of the heavy yellow shells and pumped them out again. They were scattered on the bed.

“Henry,” his wife called. Then paused a moment. “Henry!”

“Yes,” the doctor said.

“You didn’t say anything to Boulton to anger him, did you?”

“No,” said the doctor.

“What was the trouble about, dear?”

“Nothing much.”

“Tell me, Henry. Please don’t try and keep anything from me. What was the trouble about?”

“Well, Dick owes me a lot of money for pulling his squaw through pneumonia and I guess he wanted a row so he wouldn’t have to take it out in work.”

His wife was silent. The doctor wiped his gun carefully with a rag. He pushed the shells back in against the spring of the magazine. He sat with the gun on his knees. He was very fond of it. Then he heard his wife’s voice from the darkened room.

“Dear, I don’t think, I really don’t think that anyone would really do a thing like that.”

“No?” the doctor said.

“No. I can’t really believe that anyone would do a thing of that sort intentionally.”

The doctor stood up and put the shotgun in the corner behind the dresser.

“Are you going out, dear?” his wife said.

“I think I’ll go for a walk,” the doctor said.

“If you see Nick, dear, will you tell him his mother wants to see him?” his wife said.

The doctor went out on the porch. The screen door slammed behind him. He heard his wife catch her breath when the door slammed.

“Sorry,” he said, outside her window with the blinds drawn.

“It’s all right, dear,” she said.

He walked in the heat out the gate and along the path into the hemlock woods. It was cool in the woods even on such a hot day. He found Nick sitting with his back against a tree, reading.

“Your mother wants you to come and see her,” the doctor said.

“I want to go with you,” Nick said.

His father looked down at him.

“All right. Come on, then,” his father said. “Give me the book, I’ll put it in my pocket.”

“I know where there’s black squirrels, Daddy,” Nick said.

“All right,” said his father. “Let’s go there.”

Chapter III

We were in a garden in Mons. Young Buckley came in with his patrol from across the river. The first German I saw climbed up over the garden wall. We waited till he got one leg over and then potted him. He had so much equipment on and looked awfully surprised and fell down into the garden. Then three more came over further down the wall. We shot them. They all came just like that.

The End of Something

In the old days Hortons Bay was a lumbering town. No one who lived in it was out of sound of the big saws in the mill by the lake. Then one year there were no more logs to make lumber. The lumber schooners came into the bay and were loaded with the cut of the mill that stood stacked in the yard. All the piles of lumber were carried away. The big mill building had all its machinery that was removable taken out and hoisted on board one of the schooners by the men who had worked in the mill. The schooner moved out of the bay toward the open lake carrying the two great saws, the traveling carriage that hurled the logs against the revolving, circular saws and all the rollers, wheels, belts and iron piled on a hull-deep load of lumber. Its open hold covered with canvas and lashed tight, the sails of the schooner filled and it moved out into the open lake, carrying with it everything that had made the mill a mill and Hortons Bay, a town.

The one-story bunk houses, the eating-house, the company store, the mill offices, and the big mill itself stood deserted in the acres of sawdust that covered the swampy meadow by the shore of the bay.

Ten years later there was nothing of the mill left except the broken white limestone of its foundations showing through the swampy second growth as Nick and Marjorie rowed along the shore. They were trolling along the edge of the channel-bank where the bottom dropped off suddenly from sandy shallows to twelve feet of dark water. They were trolling on their way to the point to set night lines for rainbow trout.

“There’s our old ruin, Nick,” Marjorie said.

Nick, rowing, looked at the white stone in the green trees.

“There it is,” he said.

“Can you remember when it was a mill?” Marjorie asked.

“I can just remember,” Nick said.

“It seems more like a castle,” Marjorie said.

Nick said nothing. They rowed on out of sight of the mill, following the shore line. Then Nick cut across the bay.

“They aren’t striking,” he said.

“No,” Marjorie said. She was intent on the rod all the time they trolled, even when she talked. She loved to fish. She loved to fish with Nick.

Close beside the boat a big trout broke the surface of the water. Nick pulled hard on one oar so the boat would turn and the bait spinning far behind would pass where the trout was feeding. As the trout’s back came up out of the water the minnows jumped wildly. They sprinkled the surface like a handful of shot thrown into the water. Another trout broke water, feeding on the other side of the boat.

“They’re feeding,” Marjorie said.

“But they won’t strike,” Nick said.

He rowed the boat around to troll past both the feeding fish, then headed it for the point. Marjorie did not reel in until the boat touched the shore.

They pulled the boat up the beach and Nick lifted out a pail of live perch. The perch swam in the water in the pail. Nick caught three of them with his hands and cut their heads off and skinned them while Marjorie chased with her hands in the bucket, finally caught a perch, cut its head off and skinned it. Nick looked at her fish.

“You don’t want to take the ventral fin out,” he said. “It’ll be all right for bait but it’s better with the ventral fin in.”

He hooked each of the skinned perch through the tail. There were two hooks attached to a leader on each rod. Then Marjorie rowed the boat out over the channel-bank, holding the line in her teeth, and looking toward Nick, who stood on the shore holding the rod and letting the line run out from the reel.

“That’s about right,” he called.

“Should I let it drop?” Marjorie called back, holding the line in her hand.

“Sure. Let it go.” Marjorie dropped the line overboard and watched the baits go down through the water.

She came in with the boat and ran the second line out the same way. Each time Nick set a heavy slab of driftwood across the butt of the rod to hold it solid and propped it up at an angle with a small slab. He reeled in the slack line so the line ran taut out to where the bait rested on the sandy floor of the channel and set the click on the reel. When a trout, feeding on the bottom, took the bait it would run with it, taking line out of the reel in a rush and making the reel sing with the click on.

Marjorie rowed up the point a little way so she would not disturb the line. She pulled hard on the oars and the boat went way up the beach. Little waves came in with it. Marjorie stepped out of the boat and Nick pulled the boat high up the beach.

“What’s the matter, Nick?” Marjorie asked.

“I don’t know,” Nick said, getting wood for a fire.

They made a fire with driftwood. Marjorie went to the boat and brought a blanket. The evening breeze blew the smoke toward the point, so Marjorie spread the blanket out between the fire and the lake.

Marjorie sat on the blanket with her back to the fire and waited for Nick. He came over and sat down beside her on the blanket. In back of them was the close second-growth timber of the point and in front was the bay with the mouth of Hortons Creek. It was not quite dark. The firelight went as far as the water. They could both see the two steel rods at an angle over the dark water. The fire glinted on the reels.

Marjorie unpacked the basket of supper.

“I don’t feel like eating,” said Nick.

“Come on and eat, Nick.”

“All right.”

They ate without talking, and watched the two rods and the firelight in the water.

“There’s going to be a moon tonight,” said Nick. He looked across the bay to the hills that were beginning to sharpen against the sky. Beyond the hills he knew the moon was coming up.

“I know it,” Marjorie said happily.

“You know everything,” Nick said.

“Oh, Nick, please cut it out! Please, please don’t be that way!”

“I can’t help it,” Nick said. “You do. You know everything. That’s the trouble. You know you do.”

Marjorie did not say anything.

“I’ve taught you everything. You know you do. What don’t you know, anyway?”

“Oh, shut up,” Marjorie said. “There comes the moon.”

They sat on the blanket without touching each other and watched the moon rise.

“You don’t have to talk silly,” Marjorie said; “what’s really the matter?”

“I don’t know.”

“Of course you know.”

“No I don’t.”

“Go on and say it.”

Nick looked on at the moon, coming up over the hills.

“It isn’t fun any more.”

He was afraid to look at Marjorie. He looked at Marjorie. She sat there with her back toward him. He looked at her back. “It isn’t fun any more. Not any of it.”

She didn’t say anything. He went on. “I feel as though everything was gone to hell inside of me. I don’t know, Marge. I don’t know what to say.”

He looked on at her back.

“Isn’t love any fun?” Marjorie said.

“No,” Nick said. Marjorie stood up. Nick sat there, his head in his hands.

“I’m going to take the boat,” Marjorie called to him. “You can walk back around the point.”

“All right,” Nick said. “I’ll push the boat off for you.”

“You don’t need to,” she said. She was afloat in the boat on the water with the moonlight on it. Nick went back and lay down with his face in the blanket by the fire. He could hear Marjorie rowing on the water.

He lay there for a long time. He lay there while he heard Bill come into the clearing, walking around through the woods. He felt Bill coming up to the fire. Bill didn’t touch him, either.

“Did she go all right?” Bill said.

“Oh, yes.” Nick said, lying, his face on the blanket.

“Have a scene?”

“No, there wasn’t any scene.”

“How do you feel?”

“Oh, go away, Bill! Go away for a while.”

Bill selected a sandwich from the lunch basket and walked over to have a look at the rods.

Chapter IV

It was a frightfully hot day. We’d jammed an absolutely perfect barricade across the bridge. It was simply priceless. A big old wrought-iron grating from the front of a house. Too heavy to lift and you could shoot through it and they would have to climb over it. It was absolutely topping. They tried to get over it, and we potted them from forty yards. They rushed it, and officers came out alone and worked on it. It was an absolutely perfect obstacle. Their officers were very fine. We were frightfully put out when we heard the flank had gone, and we had to fall back.

The Three Day Blow

The rain stopped as Nick turned into the road that went up through the orchard. The fruit had been picked and the fall wind blew through the bare trees. Nick stopped and picked up a Wagner apple from beside the road, shiny in the brown grass from the rain. He put the apple in the pocket of his Mackinaw coat.

The road came out of the orchard on to the top of the hill. There was the cottage, the porch bare, smoke coming from the chimney. In back was the garage, the chicken coop and the second-growth timber like a hedge against the woods behind. The big trees swayed far over in the wind as he watched. It was the first of the autumn storms.

As Nick crossed the open field above the orchard the door of the cottage opened and Bill came out. He stood on the porch looking out.

“Well, Wemedge,” he said.

“Hey, Bill,” Nick said, coming up the steps.

They stood together looking out across the country, down over the orchard, beyond the road, across the lower fields and the woods of the point to the lake. The wind was blowing straight down the lake. They could see the surf along Ten Mile point.

“She’s blowing,” Nick said.

“She’ll blow like that for three days,” Bill said.

“Is your dad in?” Nick asked.

“No. He’s out with the gun. Come on in.”

Nick went inside the cottage. There was a big fire in the fireplace. The wind made it roar. Bill shut the door.

“Have a drink?” he said.

He went out to the kitchen and came back with two glasses and a pitcher of water. Nick reached the whisky bottle from the shelf above the fireplace.

“All right?” he said.

“Good,” said Bill.

They sat in front of the fire and drank the Irish whisky and water.

“It’s got a swell, smoky taste,” Nick said, and looked at the fire through the glass.

“That’s the peat,” Bill said.

“You can’t get peat into liquor,” Nick said.

“That doesn’t make any difference,” Bill said.

“You ever seen any peat?” Nick asked.

“No,” said Bill.

“Neither have I,” Nick said.

His shoes, stretched out on the hearth, began to steam in front of the fire.

“Better take your shoes off,” Bill said.

“I haven’t got any socks on.”

“Take them off and dry them and I’ll get you some,” Bill said. He went upstairs into the loft and Nick heard him walking about overhead. Upstairs was open under the roof and was where Bill and his father and he, Nick, sometimes slept. In back was a dressing room. They moved the cots back out of the rain and covered them with rubber blankets.

Bill came down with a pair of heavy wool socks.

“It’s getting too late to go around without socks,” he said.

“I hate to start them again,” Nick said. He pulled the socks on and slumped back in the chair, putting his feet up on the screen in front of the fire.

“You’ll dent in the screen,” Bill said. Nick swung his feet over to the side of the fireplace.

“Got anything to read?” he asked.

“Only the paper.”

“What did the Cards do?”

“Dropped a double header to the Giants.”

“That ought to cinch it for them.”

“It’s a gift,” Bill said. “As long as McGraw can buy every good ball player in the league there’s nothing to it.”

“He can’t buy them all,” Nick said.

“He buys all the ones he wants,” Bill said. “Or he makes them discontented so they have to trade them to him.”

“Like Heinie Zim,” Nick agreed.

“That bonehead will do him a lot of good.”

Bill stood up.

“He can hit,” Nick offered. The heat from the fire was baking his legs.

“He’s a sweet fielder, too,” Bill said. “But he loses ball games.”

“Maybe that’s what McGraw wants him for,” Nick suggested.

“Maybe,” Bill agreed.

“There’s always more to it than we know about,” Nick said.

“Of course. But we’ve got pretty good dope for being so far away.”

“Like how much better you can pick them if you don’t see the horses.”

“That’s it.”

Bill reached down the whisky bottle. His big hand went all the way around it. He poured the whisky into the glass Nick held out.

“How much water?”

“Just the same.”

He sat down on the floor beside Nick’s chair.

“It’s good when the fall storms come, isn’t it?” Nick said.

“It’s swell.”

“It’s the best time of year,” Nick said.

“Wouldn’t it be hell to be in town?” Bill said.

“I’d like to see the World Series,” Nick said.

“Well, they’re always in New York or Philadelphia now,” Bill said. “That doesn’t do us any good.”

“I wonder if the Cards will ever win a pennant?”

“Not in our lifetime,” Bill said.

“Gee, they’d go crazy,” Nick said.

“Do you remember when they got going that once before they had the train wreck?”

“Boy!” Nick said, remembering.

Bill reached over to the table under the window for the book that lay there, face down, where he had put it when he went to the door. He held his glass in one hand and the book in the other, leaning back against Nick’s chair.

“What are you reading?”

Richard Feverel.”

“I couldn’t get into it.”

“It’s all right,” Bill said. “It ain’t a bad book, Wemedge.”

“What else have you got I haven’t read?” Nick asked.

“Did you read the Forest Lovers?”

“Yup. That’s the one where they go to bed every night with the naked sword between them.”

“That’s a good book, Wemedge.”

“It’s a swell book. What I couldn’t ever understand was what good the sword would do. It would have to stay edge up all the time because if it went over flat you could roll right over it and it wouldn’t make any trouble.”

“It’s a symbol,” Bill said.

“Sure,” said Nick, “but it isn’t practical.”

“Did you ever read Fortitude?”

“It’s fine,” Nick said. “That’s a real book. That’s where his old man is after him all the time. Have you got any more by Walpole?”

The Dark Forest,” Bill said. “It’s about Russia.”

“What does he know about Russia?” Nick asked.

“I don’t know. You can’t ever tell about those guys. Maybe he was there when he was a boy. He’s got a lot of dope on it.”

“I’d like to meet him,” Nick said.

“I’d like to meet Chesterton,” Bill said.

“I wish he was here now,” Nick said. “We’d take him fishing to the ’Voix tomorrow.”

“I wonder if he’d like to go fishing,” Bill said.

“Sure,” said Nick. “He must be about the best guy there is. Do you remember the Flying Inn?”

“ ‘If an angel out of heaven
Gives you something else to drink,
Thank him for his kind intentions;
Go and pour them down the sink.’ ”

“That’s right,” said Nick. “I guess he’s a better guy than Walpole.”

“Oh, he’s a better guy, all right,” Bill said.

“But Walpole’s a better writer.”

“I don’t know,” Nick said. “Chesterton’s a classic.”

“Walpole’s a classic, too,” Bill insisted.

“I wish we had them both here,” Nick said. “We’d take them both fishing to the ’Voix tomorrow.”

“Let’s get drunk,” Bill said.

“All right,” Nick agreed.

“My old man won’t care,” Bill said.

“Are you sure?” said Nick.

“I know it,” Bill said.

“I’m a little drunk now,” Nick said.

“You aren’t drunk,” Bill said.

He got up from the floor and reached for the whisky bottle. Nick held out his glass. His eyes fixed on it while Bill poured.

Bill poured the glass half full of whisky.

“Put in your own water,” he said. “There’s just one more shot.”

“Got any more?” Nick asked.

“There’s plenty more but dad only likes me to drink what’s open.”

“Sure,” said Nick.

“He says opening bottles is what makes drunkards,” Bill explained.

“That’s right,” said Nick. He was impressed. He had never thought of that before. He had always thought it was solitary drinking that made drunkards.

“How is your dad?” he asked respectfully.

“He’s all right,” Bill said. “He gets a little wild sometimes.”

“He’s a swell guy,” Nick said. He poured water into his glass out of the pitcher. It mixed slowly with the whisky. There was more whisky than water.

“You bet your life he is,” Bill said.

“My old man’s all right,” Nick said.

“You’re damn right he is,” said Bill.

“He claims he’s never taken a drink in his life,” Nick said, as though announcing a scientific fact.

“Well, he’s a doctor. My old man’s a painter. That’s different.”

“He’s missed a lot,” Nick said sadly.

“You can’t tell,” Bill said. “Everything’s got its compensations.”

“He says he’s missed a lot himself,” Nick confessed.

“Well, dad’s had a tough time,” Bill said.

“It all evens up,” Nick said.

They sat looking into the fire and thinking of this profound truth.

“I’ll get a chunk from the back porch,” Nick said. He had noticed while looking into the fire that the fire was dying down. Also he wished to show he could hold his liquor and be practical. Even if his father had never touched a drop Bill was not going to get him drunk before he himself was drunk.

“Bring one of the big beech chunks,” Bill said. He was also being consciously practical.

Nick came in with the log through the kitchen and in passing knocked a pan off the kitchen table. He laid the log down and picked up the pan. It had contained dried apricots, soaking in water. He carefully picked up all the apricots off the floor, some of them had gone under the stove, and put them back in the pan. He dipped some more water onto them from the pail by the table. He felt quite proud of himself. He had been thoroughly practical.

He came in carrying the log and Bill got up from the chair and helped him put it on the fire.

“That’s a swell log,” Nick said.

“I’d been saving it for the bad weather,” Bill said. “A log like that will burn all night.”

“There’ll be coals left to start the fire in the morning,” Nick said.

“That’s right,” Bill agreed. They were conducting the conversation on a high plane.

“Let’s have another drink,” Nick said.

“I think there’s another bottle open in the locker,” Bill said.

He kneeled down in the corner in front of the locker and brought out a square-faced bottle.

“It’s Scotch,” he said.

“I’ll get some more water,” Nick said. He went out into the kitchen again. He filled the pitcher with the dipper with cold spring water from the pail. On his way back to the living room he passed a mirror in the dining room and looked in it. His face looked strange. He smiled at the face in the mirror and it grinned back at him. He winked at it and went on. It was not his face but it didn’t make any difference.

Bill had poured out the drinks.

“That’s an awfully big shot,” Nick said.

“Not for us, Wemedge,” Bill said.

“What’ll we drink to?” Nick asked, holding up the glass.

“Let’s drink to fishing,” Bill said.

“All right,” Nick said. “Gentlemen, I give you fishing.”

“All fishing,” Bill said. “Everywhere.”

“Fishing,” Nick said. “That’s what we drink to.”

“It’s better than baseball,” Bill said.

“There isn’t any comparison,” said Nick. “How did we ever get talking about baseball?”

“It was a mistake,” Bill said. “Baseball is a game for louts.”

They drank all that was in their glasses.

“Now let’s drink to Chesterton.”

“And Walpole,” Nick interposed.

Nick poured out the liquor. Bill poured in the water. They looked at each other. They felt very fine.

“Gentlemen,” Bill said, “I give you Chesterton and Walpole.”

“Exactly, gentlemen,” Nick said.

They drank. Bill filled up the glasses. They sat down in the big chairs in front of the fire.

“You were very wise, Wemedge,” Bill said.

“What do you mean?” asked Nick.

“To bust off that Marge business,” Bill said.

“I guess so,” said Wemedge.

“It was the only thing to do. If you hadn’t, by now you’d be back home working trying to get enough money to get married.”

Nick said nothing.

“Once a man’s married he’s absolutely bitched,” Bill went on. “He hasn’t got anything more. Nothing. Not a damn thing. He’s done for. You’ve seen the guys that get married.”

Nick said nothing.

“You can tell them,” Bill said. “They get this sort of fat married look. They’re done for.”

“Sure,” said Nick.

“It was probably bad busting it off,” Bill said. “But you always fall for somebody else and then it’s all right. Fall for them but don’t let them ruin you.”

“Yes,” said Nick.

“If you’d have married her you would have had to marry the whole family. Remember her mother and that guy she married. The fat one?”

Nick nodded.

“Imagine having them around the house all the time and going to Sunday dinners at their house, and having them over to dinner and her telling Marge all the time what to do and how to act.”

Nick sat quiet.

“You came out of it damned well,” Bill said. “Now she can marry somebody of her own sort and settle down and be happy. You can’t mix oil and water and you can’t mix that sort of thing any more than if I’d marry Ida that works for Strattons. She’d probably like it, too.”

Nick said nothing. The liquor had all died out of him and left him alone. Bill wasn’t there. He wasn’t sitting in front of the fire or going fishing tomorrow with Bill and his dad or anything. He wasn’t drunk. It was all gone. All he knew was that he had once had Marjorie and that he had lost her. She was gone and he had sent her away. That was all that mattered. He might never see her again. Probably he never would. It was all gone, finished.

“Let’s have another drink,” Nick said.

Bill poured it out. Nick splashed in a little water.

“If you’d gone on that way we wouldn’t be here now,” Bill said.

That was true. His original plan had been to go down home and get a job. Then he had planned to stay in Charlevoix all winter so he could be near Marge. Now he did not know what he was going to do.

“Probably we wouldn’t even be going fishing tomorrow,” Bill said. “You had the right dope, all right.”

“I couldn’t help it,” Nick said.

“I know. That’s the way it works out,” Bill said.

“All of a sudden everything was over,” Nick said. “I don’t know why it was. I couldn’t help it. Just like when the three-day blows come now and rip all the leaves off the trees.”

“Well, it’s over. That’s the point,” Bill said.

“It was my fault,” Nick said.

“It doesn’t make any difference whose fault it was,” Bill said.

“No, I suppose not,” Nick said.

The big thing was that Marjorie was gone and that probably he would never see her again. He had talked to her about how they would go to Italy together and the fun they would have. Places they would be together. It was all gone now. Something gone out of him.

“So long as it’s over that’s all that matters,” Bill said. “I tell you, Wemedge, I was worried while it was going on. You played it right. I understand her mother is sore as hell. She told a lot of people you were engaged.”

“We weren’t engaged,” Nick said.

“It was all around that you were.”

“I can’t help it,” Nick said. “We weren’t.”

“Weren’t you going to get married?” Bill asked.

“Yes. But we weren’t engaged,” Nick said.

“What’s the difference?” Bill asked judicially.

“I don’t know. There’s a difference.”

“I don’t see it,” said Bill.

“All right,” said Nick. “Let’s get drunk.”

“All right,” Bill said. “Let’s get really drunk.”

“Let’s get drunk and then go swimming,” Nick said.

He drank off his glass.

“I’m sorry as hell about her but what could I do?” he said. “You know what her mother was like!”

“She was terrible,” Bill said.

“All of a sudden it was over,” Nick said. “I oughtn’t to talk about it.”

“You aren’t,” Bill said. “I talked about it and now I’m through. We won’t ever speak about it again. You don’t want to think about it. You might get back into it again.”

Nick had not thought about that. It had seemed so absolute. That was a thought. That made him feel better.

“Sure,” he said. “There’s always that danger.”

He felt happy now. There was not anything that was irrevocable. He might go into town Saturday night. Today was Thursday.

“There’s always a chance,” he said.

“You’ll have to watch yourself,” Bill said.

“I’ll watch myself,” he said.

He felt happy. Nothing was finished. Nothing was ever lost. He would go into town on Saturday. He felt lighter, as he had felt before Bill started to talk about it. There was always a way out.

“Let’s take the guns and go down to the point and look for your dad,” Nick said.

“All right.”

Bill took down the two shotguns from the rack on the wall. He opened a box of shells. Nick put on his Mackinaw coat and his shoes. His shoes were stiff from the drying. He was still quite drunk but his head was clear.

“How do you feel?” Nick asked.

“Swell. I’ve just got a good edge on.” Bill was buttoning up his sweater.

“There’s no use getting drunk.”

“No. We ought to get outdoors.”

They stepped out the door. The wind was blowing a gale.

“The birds will lie right down in the grass with this,” Nick said.

They struck down toward the orchard.

“I saw a woodcock this morning,” Bill said.

“Maybe we’ll jump him,” Nick said.

“You can’t shoot in this wind,” Bill said.

Outside now the Marge business was no longer so tragic. It was not even very important. The wind blew everything like that away.

“It’s coming right off the big lake,” Nick said.

Against the wind they heard the thud of a shotgun.

“That’s dad,” Bill said. “He’s down in the swamp.”

“Let’s cut down that way,” Nick said.

“Let’s cut across the lower meadow and see if we jump anything,” Bill said.

“All right,” Nick said.

None of it was important now. The wind blew it out of his head. Still he could always go into town Saturday night. It was a good thing to have in reserve.

Chapter V

They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldiers it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.

The Battler

Nick stood up. He was all right. He looked up the track at the lights of the caboose going out of sight around a curve. There was water on both sides of the track, then tamarack swamp.

He felt of his knee. The pants were torn and the skin was barked. His hands were scraped and there were sand and cinders driven up under his nails. He went over to the edge of the track, down the little slope to the water and washed his hands. He washed them carefully in the cold water, getting the dirt out from the nails. He squatted down and bathed his knee.

That lousy crut of a brakeman. He would get him some day. He would know him again. That was a fine way to act.

“Come here, kid,” he said. “I got something for you.”

He had fallen for it. What a lousy kid thing to have done. They would never suck him in that way again.

“Come here, kid, I got something for you.” Then wham and he lit on his hands and knees beside the track.

Nick rubbed his eye. There was a big bump coming up. He would have a black eye, all right. It ached already. That son of a crutting brakeman.

He touched the bump over his eye with his fingers. Oh, well, it was only a black eye. That was all he had gotten out of it. Cheap at the price. He wished he could see it. Could not see it looking into the water, though. It was dark and he was a long way off from anywhere. He wiped his hands on his trousers and stood up, then climbed the embankment to the rails.

He started up the track. It was well ballasted and made easy walking, sand and gravel packed between the ties, solid walking. The smooth roadbed like a causeway went on ahead through the swamp. Nick walked along. He must get to somewhere.

Nick had swung on to the freight train when it slowed down for the yards outside of Walton Junction. The train, with Nick on it, had passed through Kalkaska as it started to get dark. Now he must be nearly to Mancelona. Three or four miles of swamp. He stepped along the track, walking so he kept on the ballast between the ties, the swamp ghostly in the rising mist. His eye ached and he was hungry. He kept on hiking, putting the miles of track back of him. The swamp was all the same on both sides of the track.

Ahead there was a bridge. Nick crossed it, his boots ringing hollow on the iron. Down below the water showed black between the slits of ties. Nick kicked a loose spike and it dropped into the water. Beyond the bridge were hills. It was high and dark on both sides of the track. Up the track Nick saw a fire.

He came up the track toward the fire carefully. It was off to one side of the track, below the railway embankment. He had only seen the light from it. The track came out through a cut and where the fire was burning the country opened out and fell away into woods. Nick dropped carefully down the embankment and cut into the woods to come up to the fire through the trees. It was a beechwood forest and the fallen beechnut burrs were under his shoes as he walked between the trees. The fire was bright now, just at the edge of the trees. There was a man sitting by it. Nick waited behind the tree and watched. The man looked to be alone. He was sitting there with his head in his hands looking at the fire. Nick stepped out and walked into the firelight.

The man sat there looking into the fire. When Nick stopped quite close to him he did not move.

“Hello!” Nick said.

The man looked up.

“Where did you get the shiner?” he said.

“A brakeman busted me.”

“Off the through freight?”


“I saw the bastard,” the man said. “He went through here ’bout an hour and a half ago. He was walking along the top of the cars slapping his arms and singing.”

“The bastard!”

“It must have made him feel good to bust you,” the man said seriously.

“I’ll bust him.”

“Get him with a rock sometime when he’s going through,” the man advised.

“I’ll get him.”

“You’re a tough one, aren’t you?”

“No,” Nick answered.

“All you kids are tough.”

“You got to be tough,” Nick said.

“That’s what I said.”

The man looked at Nick and smiled. In the firelight Nick saw that his face was misshapen. His nose was sunken, his eyes were slits, he had queer shaped lips. Nick did not perceive all this at once, he only saw the man’s face was queerly formed and mutilated. It was like putty in color. Dead looking in the firelight.

“Don’t you like my pan?” the man asked.

Nick was embarrassed.

“Sure,” he said.

“Look here!” the man took off his cap.

He had only one ear. It was thickened and tight against the side of his head. Where the other ear should have been there was a stump.

“Ever see one like that?”

“No,” said Nick. It made him a little sick.

“I could take it,” the man said. “Don’t you think I could take it, kid?”

“You bet!”

“They all bust their hands on me,” the little man said. “They couldn’t hurt me.”

He looked at Nick. “Sit down,” he said. “Want to eat?”

“Don’t bother,” Nick said. “I’m going on to the town.”

“Listen!” the man said. “Call me Ad.”


“Listen,” the little man said. “I’m not quite right.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m crazy.”

He put on his cap. Nick felt like laughing.

“You’re all right,” he said.

“No, I’m not. I’m crazy. Listen, you ever been crazy?”

“No,” Nick said. “How does it get you?”

“I don’t know,” Ad said. “When you got it you don’t know about it. You know me, don’t you?”


“I’m Ad Francis.”

“Honest to God?”

“Don’t you believe it?”


Nick knew it must be true.

“You know how I beat them?”

“No,” Nick said.

“My heart’s slow. It only beats forty a minute. Feel it.”

Nick hesitated.

“Come on,” the man took hold of his hand. “Take hold of my wrist. Put your fingers there.”

The little man’s wrist was thick and the muscles bulged above the bone. Nick felt the slow pumping under his fingers.

“Got a watch?”


“Neither have I,” Ad said. “It ain’t any good if you haven’t got a watch.”

Nick dropped his wrist.

“Listen,” Ad Francis said. “Take ahold again. You count and I’ll count up to sixty.”

Feeling the slow hard throb under his fingers Nick started to count. He heard the little man counting slowly, one, two, three, four, five, and on⁠—aloud.

“Sixty,” Ad finished. “That’s a minute. What did you make it?”

“Forty,” Nick said.

“That’s right,” Ad said happily. “She never speeds up.”

A man dropped down the railroad embankment and came across the clearing to the fire.

“Hello, Bugs!” Ad said.

“Hello!” Bugs answered. It was a negro’s voice. Nick knew from the way he walked that he was a negro. He stood with his back to them, bending over the fire. He straightened up.

“This is my pal Bugs,” Ad said. “He’s crazy, too.”

“Glad to meet you,” Bugs said. “Where you say you’re from?”

“Chicago,” Nick said.

“That’s a fine town,” the negro said. “I didn’t catch your name.”

“Adams. Nick Adams.”

“He says he’s never been crazy, Bugs,” Ad said.

“He’s got a lot coming to him,” the negro said. He was unwrapping a package by the fire.

“When are we going to eat, Bugs?” the prizefighter asked.

“Right away.”

“Are you hungry, Nick?”

“Hungry as hell.”

“Hear that, Bugs?”

“I hear most of what goes on.”

“That ain’t what I asked you.”

“Yes. I heard what the gentleman said.”

Into a skillet he was laying slices of ham. As the skillet grew hot the grease sputtered and Bugs, crouching on long nigger legs over the fire, turned the ham and broke eggs into the skillet, tipping it from side to side to baste the eggs with the hot fat.

“Will you cut some bread out of that bag, Mister Adams?” Bugs turned from the fire.


Nick reached in the bag and brought out a loaf of bread. He cut six slices. Ad watched him and leaned forward.

“Let me take your knife, Nick,” he said.

“No, you don’t,” the negro said. “Hang onto your knife, Mister Adams.”

The prizefighter sat back.

“Will you bring me the bread, Mister Adams?” Bugs asked. Nick brought it over.

“Do you like to dip your bread in the ham fat?” the negro asked.

“You bet!”

“Perhaps we’d better wait until later. It’s better at the finish of the meal. Here.”

The negro picked up a slice of ham and laid it on one of the pieces of bread, then slid an egg on top of it.

“Just close that sandwich, will you, please, and give it to Mister Francis.”

Ad took the sandwich and started eating.

“Watch out how that egg runs,” the negro warned. “This is for you, Mister Adams. The remainder for myself.”

Nick bit into the sandwich. The negro was sitting opposite him beside Ad. The hot fried ham and eggs tasted wonderful.

“Mister Adams is right hungry,” the negro said. The little man whom Nick knew by name as a former champion fighter was silent. He had said nothing since the negro had spoken about the knife.

“May I offer you a slice of bread dipped right in the hot ham fat?” Bugs said.

“Thanks a lot.”

The little white man looked at Nick.

“Will you have some, Mister Adolph Francis?” Bugs offered from the skillet.

Ad did not answer. He was looking at Nick.

“Mister Francis?” came the nigger’s soft voice.

Ad did not answer. He was looking at Nick.

“I spoke to you, Mister Francis,” the nigger said softly.

Ad kept on looking at Nick. He had his cap down over his eyes. Nick felt nervous.

“How the hell do you get that way?” came out from under the cap sharply at Nick.

“Who the hell do you think you are? You’re a snotty bastard. You come in here where nobody asks you and eat a man’s food and when he asks to borrow a knife you get snotty.”

He glared at Nick, his face was white and his eyes almost out of sight under the cap.

“You’re a hot sketch. Who the hell asked you to butt in here?”


“You’re damn right nobody did. Nobody asked you to stay either. You come in here and act snotty about my face and smoke my cigars and drink my liquor and then talk snotty. Where the hell do you think you get off?”

Nick said nothing. Ad stood up.

“I’ll tell you, you yellow-livered Chicago bastard. You’re going to get your can knocked off. Do you get that?”

Nick stepped back. The little man came toward him slowly, stepping flat-footed forward, his left foot stepping forward, his right dragging up to it.

“Hit me,” he moved his head. “Try and hit me.”

“I don’t want to hit you.”

“You won’t get out of it that way. You’re going to take a beating, see? Come on and lead at me.”

“Cut it out,” Nick said.

“All right, then, you bastard.”

The little man looked down at Nick’s feet. As he looked down the negro, who had followed behind him as he moved away from the fire, set himself and tapped him across the base of the skull. He fell forward and Bugs dropped the cloth-wrapped blackjack on the grass. The little man lay there, his face in the grass. The negro picked him up, his head hanging, and carried him to the fire. His face looked bad, the eyes open. Bugs laid him down gently.

“Will you bring me the water in the bucket, Mister Adams,” he said. “I’m afraid I hit him just a little hard.”

The negro splashed water with his hand on the man’s face and pulled his ears gently. The eyes closed.

Bugs stood up.

“He’s all right,” he said. “There’s nothing to worry about. I’m sorry, Mister Adams.”

“It’s all right.” Nick was looking down at the little man. He saw the blackjack on the grass and picked it up. It had a flexible handle and was limber in his hand. Worn black leather with a handkerchief wrapped around the heavy end.

“That’s a whalebone handle,” the negro smiled. “They don’t make them any more. I didn’t know how well you could take care yourself and, anyway, I didn’t want you to hurt him or mark him up no more than he is.”

The negro smiled again.

“You hurt him yourself.”

“I know how to do it. He won’t remember nothing of it. I have to do it to change him when he gets that way.”

Nick was still looking down at the little man, lying, his eyes closed in the firelight. Bugs put some wood on the fire.

“Don’t you worry about him none, Mister Adams. I seen him like this plenty of times before.”

“What made him crazy?” Nick asked.

“Oh, a lot of things,” the negro answered from the fire. “Would you like a cup of this coffee, Mister Adams?”

He handed Nick the cup and smoothed the coat he had placed under the unconscious man’s head.

“He took too many beatings, for one thing,” the negro sipped the coffee. “But that just made him sort of simple. Then his sister was his manager and they was always being written up in the papers all about brothers and sisters and how she loved her brother and how he loved his sister, and then they got married in New York and that made a lot of unpleasantness.”

“I remember about it.”

“Sure. Of course they wasn’t brother and sister no more than a rabbit, but there was a lot of people didn’t like it either way and they commenced to have disagreements, and one day she just went off and never come back.”

He drank the coffee and wiped his lips with the pink palm of his hand.

“He just went crazy. Will you have some more coffee, Mister Adams?”


“I seen her a couple of times,” the negro went on. “She was an awful good looking woman. Looked enough like him to be twins. He wouldn’t be bad looking without his face all busted.”

He stopped. The story seemed to be over.

“Where did you meet him?” asked Nick.

“I met him in jail,” the negro said. “He was busting people all the time after she went away and they put him in jail. I was in for cuttin’ a man.”

He smiled, and went on soft-voiced:

“Right away I liked him and when I got out I looked him up. He likes to think I’m crazy and I don’t mind. I like to be with him and I like seeing the country and I don’t have to commit no larceny to do it. I like living like a gentleman.”

“What do you all do?” Nick asked.

“Oh, nothing. Just move around. He’s got money.”

“He must have made a lot of money.”

“Sure. He spent all his money, though. Or they took it away from him. She sends him money.”

He poked up the fire.

“She’s a mighty fine woman,” he said. “She looks enough like him to be his own twin.”

The negro looked over at the little man, lying breathing heavily. His blond hair was down over his forehead. His mutilated face looked childish in repose.

“I can wake him up any time now, Mister Adams. If you don’t mind I wish you’d sort of pull out. I don’t like to not be hospitable, but it might disturb him back again to see you. I hate to have to thump him and it’s the only thing to do when he gets started. I have to sort of keep him away from people. You don’t mind, do you, Mister Adams? No, don’t thank me, Mister Adams. I’d have warned you about him but he seemed to have taken such a liking to you and I thought things were going to be all right. You’ll hit a town about two miles up the track. Mancelona they call it. Goodbye. I wish we could ask you to stay the night but it’s just out of the question. Would you like to take some of that ham and some bread with you? No? You better take a sandwich,” all this in a low, smooth, polite nigger voice.

“Good. Well, goodbye, Mister Adams. Goodbye and good luck!”

Nick walked away from the fire across the clearing to the railway tracks. Out of the range of the fire he listened. The low soft voice of the negro was talking. Nick could not hear the words. Then he heard the little man say, “I got an awful headache, Bugs.”

“You’ll feel better, Mister Francis,” the negro’s voice soothed. “Just you drink a cup of this hot coffee.”

Nick climbed the embankment and started up the track. He found he had a ham sandwich in his hand and put it in his pocket. Looking back from the mounting grade before the track curved into the hills he could see the firelight in the clearing.

Chapter VI

Nick sat against the wall of the church where they had dragged him to be clear of machine gun fire in the street. Both legs stuck out awkwardly. He had been hit in the spine. His face was sweaty and dirty. The sun shone on his face. The day was very hot. Rinaldi, big backed, his equipment sprawling, lay face downward against the wall. Nick looked straight ahead brilliantly. The pink wall of the house opposite had fallen out from the roof, and an iron bedstead hung twisted toward the street. Two Austrian dead lay in the rubble in the shade of the house. Up the street were other dead. Things were getting forward in the town. It was going well. Stretcher bearers would be along any time now. Nick turned his head and looked down at Rinaldi. “Senta Rinaldo; Senta. You and me we’ve made a separate peace.” Rinaldi lay still in the sun, breathing with difficulty. “We’re not patriots.” Nick turned his head away, smiling sweatily. Rinaldi was a disappointing audience.

A Very Short Story

One hot evening in Milan they carried him up onto the roof and he could look out over the top of the town. There were chimney swifts in the sky. After a while it got dark and the searchlights came out. The others went down and took the bottles with them. He and Ag could hear them below on the balcony. Ag sat on the bed. She was cool and fresh in the hot night.

Ag stayed on night duty for three months. They were glad to let her. When they operated on him she prepared him for the operating table; and they had a joke about friend or enema. He went under the anaesthetic holding tight on to himself so he would not blab about anything during the silly, talky time. After he got on crutches he used to take the temperatures so Ag would not have to get up from the bed. There were only a few patients, and they all knew about it. They all liked Ag. As he walked back along the halls he thought of Ag in his bed.

Before he went back to the front they went into the Duomo and prayed. It was dim and quiet, and there were other people praying. They wanted to get married, but there was not enough time for the banns, and neither of them had birth certificates. They felt as though they were married, but they wanted everyone to know about it, and to make it so they could not lose it.

Ag wrote him many letters that he never got until after the armistice. Fifteen came in a bunch to the front and he sorted them by the dates and read them all straight through. They were all about the hospital, and how much she loved him and how it was impossible to get along without him and how terrible it was missing him at night.

After the armistice they agreed he should go home to get a job so they might be married. Ag would not come home until he had a good job and could come to New York to meet her. It was understood he would not drink, and he did not want to see his friends or anyone in the States. Only to get a job and be married. On the train from Padua to Milan they quarreled about her not being willing to come home at once. When they had to say goodbye, in the station at Milan, they kissed goodbye, but were not finished with the quarrel. He felt sick about saying goodbye like that.

He went to America on a boat from Genoa. Ag went back to Torre di Mosta to open a hospital. It was lonely and rainy there, and there was a battalion of arditi quartered in the town. Living in the muddy, rainy town in the winter, the major of the battalion made love to Ag, and she had never known Italians before, and finally wrote to the States that theirs had been only a boy and girl affair. She was sorry, and she knew he would probably not be able to understand, but might some day forgive her, and be grateful to her, and she expected, absolutely unexpectedly, to be married in the spring. She loved him as always, but she realized now it was only a boy and girl love. She hoped he would have a great career, and believed in him absolutely. She knew it was for the best.

The major did not marry her in the spring, or any other time. Ag never got an answer to the letter to Chicago about it. A short time after he contracted gonorrhea from a sales girl in a loop department store riding in a taxicab through Lincoln Park.

Chapter VII

While the bombardment was knocking the trench to pieces at Fossalta, he lay very flat and sweated and prayed, “Oh Jesus Christ get me out of here. Dear Jesus, please get me out. Christ, please, please, please, Christ. If you’ll only keep me from getting killed I’ll do anything you say. I believe in you and I’ll tell everybody in the world that you are the only thing that matters. Please, please, dear Jesus.” The shelling moved further up the line. We went to work on the trench and in the morning the sun came up and the day was hot and muggy and cheerful and quiet. The next night back at Mestre he did not tell the girl he went upstairs with at the Villa Rossa about Jesus. And he never told anybody.

Soldier’s Home

Krebs went to the war from a Methodist college in Kansas. There is a picture which shows him among his fraternity brothers, all of them wearing exactly the same height and style collar. He enlisted in the Marines in 1917 and did not return to the United States until the second division returned from the Rhine in the summer of 1919.

There is a picture which shows him on the Rhine with two German girls and another corporal. Krebs and the corporal look too big for their uniforms. The German girls are not beautiful. The Rhine does not show in the picture.

By the time Krebs returned to his home town in Oklahoma the greeting of heroes was over. He came back much too late. The men from the town who had been drafted had all been welcomed elaborately on their return. There had been a great deal of hysteria. Now the reaction had set in. People seemed to think it was rather ridiculous for Krebs to be getting back so late, years after the war was over.

At first Krebs, who had been at Belleau Wood, Soissons, the Champagne, St. Mihiel and in the Argonne did not want to talk about the war at all. Later he felt the need to talk but no one wanted to hear about it. His town had heard too many atrocity stories to be thrilled by actualities. Krebs found that to be listened to at all he had to lie, and after he had done this twice he, too, had a reaction against the war and against talking about it. A distaste for everything that had happened to him in the war set in because of the lies he had told. All of the times that had been able to make him feel cool and clear inside himself when he thought of them; the times so long back when he had done the one thing, the only thing for a man to do, easily and naturally, when he might have done something else, now lost their cool, valuable quality and then were lost themselves.

His lies were quite unimportant lies and consisted in attributing to himself things other men had seen, done or heard of, and stating as facts certain apocryphal incidents familiar to all soldiers. Even his lies were not sensational at the pool room. His acquaintances, who had heard detailed accounts of German women found chained to machine guns in the Argonne forest and who could not comprehend, or were barred by their patriotism from interest in, any German machine gunners who were not chained, were not thrilled by his stories.

Krebs acquired the nausea in regard to experience that is the result of untruth or exaggeration, and when he occasionally met another man who had really been a soldier and they talked a few minutes in the dressing room at a dance he fell into the easy pose of the old soldier among other soldiers: that he had been badly, sickeningly frightened all the time. In this way he lost everything.

During this time, it was late summer, he was sleeping late in bed, getting up to walk down town to the library to get a book, eating lunch at home, reading on the front porch until he became bored and then walking down through the town to spend the hottest hours of the day in the cool dark of the pool room. He loved to play pool.

In the evening he practiced on his clarinet, strolled down town, read and went to bed. He was still a hero to his two young sisters. His mother would have given him breakfast in bed if he had wanted it. She often came in when he was in bed and asked him to tell her about the war, but her attention always wandered. His father was noncommittal.

Before Krebs went away to the war he had never been allowed to drive the family motor car. His father was in the real estate business and always wanted the car to be at his command when he required it to take clients out into the country to show them a piece of farm property. The car always stood outside the First National Bank building where his father had an office on the second floor. Now, after the war, it was still the same car.

Nothing was changed in the town except that the young girls had grown up. But they lived in such a complicated world of already defined alliances and shifting feuds that Krebs did not feel the energy or the courage to break into it. He liked to look at them, though. There were so many good-looking young girls. Most of them had their hair cut short. When he went away only little girls wore their hair like that or girls that were fast. They all wore sweaters and shirt waists with round Dutch collars. It was a pattern. He liked to look at them from the front porch as they walked on the other side of the street. He liked to watch them walking under the shade of the trees. He liked the round Dutch collars above their sweaters. He liked their silk stockings and flat shoes. He liked their bobbed hair and the way they walked.

When he was in town their appeal to him was not very strong. He did not like them when he saw them in the Greek’s ice cream parlor. He did not want them themselves really. They were too complicated. There was something else. Vaguely he wanted a girl but he did not want to have to work to get her. He would have liked to have a girl but he did not want to have to spend a long time getting her. He did not want to get into the intrigue and the politics. He did not want to have to do any courting. He did not want to tell any more lies. It wasn’t worth it.

He did not want any consequences. He did not want any consequences ever again. He wanted to live along without consequences. Besides he did not really need a girl. The army had taught him that. It was all right to pose as though you had to have a girl. Nearly everybody did that. But it wasn’t true. You did not need a girl. That was the funny thing. First a fellow boasted how girls mean nothing to him, that he never thought of them, that they could not touch him. Then a fellow boasted that he could not get along without girls, that he had to have them all the time, that he could not go to sleep without them.

That was all a lie. It was all a lie both ways. You did not need a girl unless you thought about them. He learned that in the army. Then sooner or later you always got one. When you were really ripe for a girl you always got one. You did not have to think about it. Sooner or later it would come. He had learned that in the army.

Now he would have liked a girl if she had come to him and not wanted to talk. But here at home it was all too complicated. He knew he could never get through it all again. It was not worth the trouble. That was the thing about French girls and German girls. There was not all this talking. You couldn’t talk much and you did not need to talk. It was simple and you were friends. He thought about France and then he began to think about Germany. On the whole he had liked Germany better. He did not want to leave Germany. He did not want to come home. Still, he had come home. He sat on the front porch.

He liked the girls that were walking along the other side of the street. He liked the look of them much better than the French girls or the German girls. But the world they were in was not the world he was in. He would like to have one of them. But it was not worth it. They were such a nice pattern. He liked the pattern. It was exciting. But he would not go through all the talking. He did not want one badly enough. He liked to look at them all, though. It was not worth it. Not now when things were getting good again.

He sat there on the porch reading a book on the war. It was a history and he was reading about all the engagements he had been in. It was the most interesting reading he had ever done. He wished there were more maps. He looked forward with a good feeling to reading all the really good histories when they would come out with good detail maps. Now he was really learning about the war. He had been a good soldier. That made a difference.

One morning after he had been home about a month his mother came into his bedroom and sat on the bed. She smoothed her apron.

“I had a talk with your father last night, Harold,” she said, “and he is willing for you to take the car out in the evenings.”

“Yeah?” said Krebs, who was not fully awake. “Take the car out? Yeah?”

“Yes. Your father has felt for some time that you should be able to take the car out in the evenings whenever you wished but we only talked it over last night.”

“I’ll bet you made him,” Krebs said.

“No. It was your father’s suggestion that we talk the matter over.”

“Yeah. I’ll bet you made him,” Krebs sat up in bed.

“Will you come down to breakfast, Harold?” his mother said.

“As soon as I get my clothes on,” Krebs said.

His mother went out of the room and he could hear her frying something downstairs while he washed, shaved and dressed to go down into the dining-room for breakfast. While he was eating breakfast his sister brought in the mail.

“Well, Hare,” she said. “You old sleepyhead. What do you ever get up for?”

Krebs looked at her. He liked her. She was his best sister.

“Have you got the paper?” he asked.

She handed him the Kansas City Star and he shucked off its brown wrapper and opened it to the sporting page. He folded the Star open and propped it against the water pitcher with his cereal dish to steady it, so he could read while he ate.

“Harold,” his mother stood in the kitchen doorway, “Harold, please don’t muss up the paper. Your father can’t read his Star if it’s been mussed.”

“I won’t muss it,” Krebs said.

His sister sat down at the table and watched him while he read.

“We’re playing indoor over at school this afternoon,” she said. “I’m going to pitch.”

“Good,” said Krebs. “How’s the old wing?”

“I can pitch better than lots of the boys. I tell them all you taught me. The other girls aren’t much good.”

“Yeah?” said Krebs.

“I tell them all you’re my beau. Aren’t you my beau, Hare?”

“You bet.”

“Couldn’t your brother really be your beau just because he’s your brother?”

“I don’t know.”

“Sure you know. Couldn’t you be my beau, Hare, if I was old enough and if you wanted to?”

“Sure. You’re my girl now.”

“Am I really your girl?”


“Do you love me?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Will you love me always?”


“Will you come over and watch me play indoor?”


“Aw, Hare, you don’t love me. If you loved me, you’d want to come over and watch me play indoor.”

Krebs’s mother came into the dining-room from the kitchen. She carried a plate with two fried eggs and some crisp bacon on it and a plate of buckwheat cakes.

“You run along, Helen,” she said. “I want to talk to Harold.”

She put the eggs and bacon down in front of him and brought in a jug of maple syrup for the buckwheat cakes. Then she sat down across the table from Krebs.

“I wish you’d put down the paper a minute, Harold,” she said.

Krebs took down the paper and folded it.

“Have you decided what you are going to do yet, Harold?” his mother said, taking off her glasses.

“No,” said Krebs.

“Don’t you think it’s about time?” His mother did not say this in a mean way. She seemed worried.

“I hadn’t thought about it,” Krebs said.

“God has some work for everyone to do,” his mother said. “There can be no idle hands in His Kingdom.”

“I’m not in His Kingdom,” Krebs said.

“We are all of us in His Kingdom.”

Krebs felt embarrassed and resentful as always.

“I’ve worried about you so much, Harold,” his mother went on. “I know the temptations you must have been exposed to. I know how weak men are. I know what your own dear grandfather, my own father, told us about the Civil War and I have prayed for you. I pray for you all day long, Harold.”

Krebs looked at the bacon fat hardening on his plate.

“Your father is worried, too,” his mother went on. “He thinks you have lost your ambition, that you haven’t got a definite aim in life. Charley Simmons, who is just your age, has a good job and is going to be married. The boys are all settling down; they’re all determined to get somewhere; you can see that boys like Charley Simmons are on their way to being really a credit to the community.”

Krebs said nothing.

“Don’t look that way, Harold,” his mother said. “You know we love you and I want to tell you for your own good how matters stand. Your father does not want to hamper your freedom. He thinks you should be allowed to drive the car. If you want to take some of the nice girls out riding with you, we are only too pleased. We want you to enjoy yourself. But you are going to have to settle down to work, Harold. Your father doesn’t care what you start in at. All work is honorable as he says. But you’ve got to make a start at something. He asked me to speak to you this morning and then you can stop in and see him at his office.”

“Is that all?” Krebs said.

“Yes. Don’t you love your mother, dear boy?”

“No,” Krebs said.

His mother looked at him across the table. Her eyes were shiny. She started crying.

“I don’t love anybody,” Krebs said.

It wasn’t any good. He couldn’t tell her, he couldn’t make her see it. It was silly to have said it. He had only hurt her. He went over and took hold of her arm. She was crying with her head in her hands.

“I didn’t mean it,” he said. “I was just angry at something. I didn’t mean I didn’t love you.”

His mother went on crying. Krebs put his arm on her shoulder.

“Can’t you believe me, mother?”

His mother shook her head.

“Please, please, mother. Please believe me.”

“All right,” his mother said chokily. She looked up at him. “I believe you, Harold.”

Krebs kissed her hair. She put her face up to him.

“I’m your mother,” she said. “I held you next to my heart when you were a tiny baby.”

Krebs felt sick and vaguely nauseated.

“I know, Mummy,” he said. “I’ll try and be a good boy for you.”

“Would you kneel and pray with me, Harold?” his mother asked.

They knelt down beside the dining-room table and Krebs’s mother prayed.

“Now, you pray, Harold,” she said.

“I can’t,” Krebs said.

“Try, Harold.”

“I can’t.”

“Do you want me to pray for you?”


So his mother prayed for him and then they stood up and Krebs kissed his mother and went out of the house. He had tried so to keep his life from being complicated. Still, none of it had touched him. He had felt sorry for his mother and she had made him lie. He would go to Kansas City and get a job and she would feel all right about it. There would be one more scene maybe before he got away. He would not go down to his father’s office. He would miss that one. He wanted his life to go smoothly. It had just gotten going that way. Well, that was all over now, anyway. He would go over to the schoolyard and watch Helen play indoor baseball.

Chapter VIII

At two o’clock in the morning two Hungarians got into a cigar store at Fifteenth Street and Grand Avenue. Drevitts and Boyle drove up from the Fifteenth Street police station in a Ford. The Hungarians were backing their wagon out of an alley. Boyle shot one off the seat of the wagon and one out of the wagonbox. Drevitts got frightened when he found they were both dead. “Hell, Jimmy,” he said, “you oughtn’t to have done it. There’s liable to be a hell of a lot of trouble.”

“They’re crooks, ain’t they?” said Boyle. “They’re wops, ain’t they? Who the hell is going to make any trouble?”

“That’s all right maybe this time,” said Drevitts, “but how did you know they were wops when you bumped them off?”

“Wops,” said Boyle, “I can tell wops a mile off.”

The Revolutionist

In 1919 he was traveling on the railroads in Italy, carrying a square of oilcloth from the headquarters of the party written in indelible pencil and saying here was a comrade who had suffered very much under the Whites in Budapest and requesting comrades to aid him in any way. He used this instead of a ticket. He was very shy and quite young and the train men passed him on from one crew to another. He had no money, and they fed him behind the counter in railway eating houses.

He was delighted with Italy. It was a beautiful country, he said. The people were all kind. He had been in many towns, walked much, and seen many pictures. Giotto, Masaccio, and Piero della Francesca he bought reproductions of and carried them wrapped in a copy of Avanti. Mantegna he did not like.

He reported at Bologna, and I took him with me up into the Romagna where it was necessary I go to see a man. We had a good trip together. It was early September and the country was pleasant. He was a Magyar, a very nice boy and very shy. Horthy’s men had done some bad things to him. He talked about it a little. In spite of Hungary, he believed altogether in the world revolution.

“But how is the movement going in Italy?” he asked.

“Very badly,” I said.

“But it will go better,” he said. “You have everything here. It is the one country that everyone is sure of. It will be the starting point of everything.”

I did not say anything.

At Bologna he said goodbye to us to go on the train to Milano and then to Aosta to walk over the pass into Switzerland. I spoke to him about the Mantegnas in Milano. “No,” he said, very shyly, he did not like Mantegna. I wrote out for him where to eat in Milano and the addresses of comrades. He thanked me very much, but his mind was already looking forward to walking over the pass. He was very eager to walk over the pass while the weather held good. He loved the mountains in the autumn. The last I heard of him the Swiss had him in jail near Sion.

Chapter IX

The first matador got the horn through his sword hand and the crowd hooted him out. The second matador slipped, and the bull caught him through the belly and he hung onto the horn with one hand and held the other tight against the place, and the bull rammed him wham against the barrier and the horn came out, and he lay in the sand, and then got up like crazy drunk and tried to slug the men carrying him away and yelled for his sword, but he fainted. The kid came out and had to kill five bulls because you can’t have more than three matadors, and the last bull he was so tired he couldn’t hardly get the sword in. He couldn’t hardly lift his arm. He tried five times and the crowd was quiet because it was a good bull and it looked like him or the bull and then he finally made it. He sat down in the sand and puked and they held a cape over him while the crowd hollered and threw things down into the bull ring.

Mr. and Mrs. Elliot

Mr. and Mrs. Elliot tried very hard to have a baby. They were married in Boston and sailed for Europe on a boat. It was a very expensive boat and was supposed to get to Europe in six days. But on the boat Mrs. Elliot was quite sick. She was sick, and when she was sick she was sick as Southern women are sick. That is women from the Southern part of the United States. Like all Southern women Mrs. Elliot disintegrated very quickly under seasickness, traveling at night in a railroad carriage and getting up too early in the morning. Many of the people on the boat took her for Elliot’s mother. Other people who knew they were married believed she was going to have a baby. In reality she was forty years old. Her years had been precipitated suddenly when she started traveling.

She had seemed much younger, in fact, she had seemed not to have any age at all, when Elliot had married her after several weeks of making love to her, after knowing her for a long time in her tea shop before he had kissed her one evening.

Hubert Elliot was taking postgraduate work in economics at Harvard when he was married. He was a poet with an income of nearly ten thousand dollars a year. He wrote very long poems very rapidly. He was twenty-five years old and he never had gone to bed with a woman until he married Mrs. Elliot. He wanted to keep himself pure so that he could bring to his wife the same purity of mind and body that he expected of her. He called it to himself living straight. He had been in love with various girls before he kissed Mrs. Elliot and always told them sooner or later that he had led a clean life. Nearly all the girls lost interest in him. He was shocked and really horrified at the way girls would become engaged to and marry men who they must know dragged themselves through the gutter. He once tried to warn a girl he knew against a man of whom he had almost proof that he had been a rotter at college, and a very unpleasant incident had resulted.

Mrs. Elliot’s name was Cornelia. She had taught him to call her Canina, which was her family nickname in the South. His mother cried when he brought Cornelia home after their marriage but brightened very much when she learned they were going to live abroad.

Cornelia had said, “You sweet dear boy,” and held him closer than ever when he had told her how he had kept himself clean for her. Cornelia was pure, too. “Kiss me again like that,” she said.

Hubert explained to her that he had learned that way of kissing from hearing a fellow tell a story once. He was delighted with his experiment and they developed it as far as possible. Sometimes when they had been kissing together a long time Cornelia would ask him to tell her again that he had kept himself really straight for her. The declaration always set her off again.

At first Hubert had no idea of marrying Cornelia. He had never thought of her that way. She had been such a good friend of his, and then one day in the little back room of the shop they had been dancing to the gramophone while her girl friend was in the front of the shop and she had looked up into his eyes and he had kissed her. He could never remember just when it was decided that they were to be married. But they were married.

They spent the night of the day they were married in a Boston hotel. They were both very disappointed but finally Cornelia went to sleep. Hubert could not sleep and several times went out and walked up and down the corridor of the hotel in his new Jaeger bathrobe that he had bought for his wedding trip. As he walked he saw all the pairs of shoes, small shoes and big shoes, outside the doors of the hotel rooms. This set his heart to pounding and he hurried back to his room but Cornelia was asleep. He did not like to awaken her and soon everything was quite all right and he slept peacefully.

The next day they called on his mother and the next day they sailed for Europe. It was now possible to think of having a baby but Cornelia could not think of it very often although they now wanted a baby more than anything else in the world.

The days on the boat were very long and all very much like each other except that sometimes the sun shone, but the wind did not stop blowing, and although the boat was very expensive and had elevators and a swimming pool and everyone spoke with an English accent, yet it took eight days to reach Europe. They landed at Cherbourg and came to Paris.

Paris was quite disappointing and very rainy. It became increasingly important to them that they should have a baby, and even though someone had pointed out Ezra Pound to them in a café and they had watched James Joyce eating in the Trianon and almost been introduced to a man named Leo Stein, it was to be explained to them who he was later, they decided to go to Dijon, where there was a summer school and where a number of people who crossed on the boat with them had gone.

They found there was nothing to do in Dijon. Hubert, however, was writing a great number of poems and Cornelia typed them for him. They were all very long poems. He was very severe about mistakes and would make her redo an entire page if there was one mistake. She cried a good deal and they wanted several times to have a baby before they left Dijon.

They came to Paris and most of their friends from the boat came back, too. They were tired of Dijon and anyway would now be able to say that after leaving Harvard or Columbia or Wabash, they had studied at the University of Dijon, down in the Côte d’Or. Many would have preferred to go to Languedoc, Montpellier or Perpignan if there are universities there. But all those places are too far away. Dijon is only four and a half hours from Paris and there is a diner on the train.

So they all sat around the Café du Dome, avoiding the Rotonde across the street because it is always so full of foreigners, for a few days, and then the Elliots rented a château in Touraine, through an advertisement in the New York Herald. Elliot had a number of friends by now, all of whom admired his poetry, and Mrs. Elliot had prevailed on him to send over to Boston for her girl friend who had been in the tea shop. Mrs. Elliot became much brighter after her girl friend came and they had many good cries together. The girl friend was several years older than Cornelia and called her Honey. She, too, came from a very old Southern family.

The three of them with several of Elliot’s friends who called him Hubie, went down to the château in Touraine. They found Touraine to be a very flat, hot country, very much like Kansas. Elliot had nearly enough poems for a book now. He was going to bring it out in Boston, and had already sent his check to, and made a contract with, a publisher.

In a short time the friends began to drift back to Paris. Touraine had not turned out the way it looked when it started. Soon all the friends had gone off with a rich, young and unmarried American poet to a seaside resort near Trouville. There they were all very happy.

Elliot kept on at the château in Touraine because he had taken it for all summer. He and Mrs. Elliot slept in a big, hot bedroom on a big, hard bed. And they still wanted very much to have a baby. Mrs. Elliot was learning the touch system on the typewriter but she found that while it increased the speed it made more mistakes. The girl friend was now typing practically all of the manuscripts. She was very neat and efficient and seemed to enjoy it. Elliot had taken to drinking white wine and lived apart in his own room. He wrote a great deal of poetry during the night and in the morning looked very exhausted. Mrs. Elliot and the girl friend now slept together in the big medieval bed. They had many a good cry together. In the evening they all sat at dinner together in the garden, under a plane tree, and the hot evening wind blew and Elliot drank white wine and Mrs. Elliot and the girl friend made conversation and they were all three quite happy.

Chapter X

They whack-whacked the white horse on the legs and he kneed himself up. The picador twisted the stirrups straight and pulled and hauled up into the saddle. The horse’s entrails hung down in a blue bunch and swung backward and forward as he began to canter, the monos whacking him on the back of his legs with the rods. He cantered jerkily along the barrera. He stopped stiff and one of the monos held his bridle and walked him forward. The picador kicked in his spurs, leaned forward and shook his lance at the bull. Blood pumped regularly from between the horse’s front legs. He was nervously unsteady. The bull could not make up his mind to charge.

Cat in the Rain

There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel. They did not know any of the people they passed on the stairs on their way to and from their room. Their room was on the second floor facing the sea. It also faced the public garden and the war monument. There were big palms and green benches in the public garden. In the good weather there was always an artist with his easel. Artists liked the way the palms grew and the bright colors of the hotels facing the gardens and the sea. Italians came from a long way off to look up at the war monument. It was made of bronze and glistened in the rain. It was raining. The rain dripped from the palm trees. Water stood in pools on the gravel paths. The sea broke in a long line in the rain and slipped back down the beach to come up and break again in a long line in the rain. The motor cars were gone from the square by the war monument. Across the square in the doorway of the café a waiter stood looking out at the empty square.

The American wife stood at the window looking out. Outside right under their window a cat was crouched under one of the dripping green tables. The cat was trying to make herself so compact that she would not be dripped on.

“I’m going down and get that kitty,” the American wife said.

“I’ll do it,” her husband offered from the bed.

“No, I’ll get it. The poor kitty out trying to keep dry under a table.”

The husband went on reading, lying propped up with the two pillows at the foot of the bed.

“Don’t get wet,” he said.

The wife went downstairs and the hotel owner stood up and bowed to her as she passed the office. His desk was at the far end of the office. He was an old man and very tall.

Il piove,” the wife said. She liked the hotelkeeper.

Si, si, Signora, brutto tempo. It is very bad weather.”

He stood behind his desk in the far end of the dim room. The wife liked him. She liked the deadly serious way he received any complaints. She liked his dignity. She liked the way he wanted to serve her. She liked the way he felt about being a hotelkeeper. She liked his old, heavy face and big hands.

Liking him she opened the door and looked out. It was raining harder. A man in a rubber cape was crossing the empty square to the café. The cat would be around to the right. Perhaps she could go along under the eaves. As she stood in the doorway an umbrella opened behind her. It was the maid who looked after their room.

“You must not get wet,” she smiled, speaking Italian. Of course, the hotelkeeper had sent her.

With the maid holding the umbrella over her, she walked along the gravel path until she was under their window. The table was there, washed bright green in the rain, but the cat was gone. She was suddenly disappointed. The maid looked up at her.

Ha perduto qualque cosa, Signora?

“There was a cat,” said the American girl.

“A cat?”

Si, il gatto.

“A cat?” the maid laughed. “A cat in the rain?”

“Yes,” she said, “under the table.” Then, “Oh, I wanted it so much. I wanted a kitty.”

When she talked English the maid’s face tightened.

“Come, Signora,” she said. “We must get back inside. You will be wet.”

“I suppose so,” said the American girl.

They went back along the gravel path and passed in the door. The maid stayed outside to close the umbrella. As the American girl passed the office, the padrone bowed from his desk. Something felt very small and tight inside the girl. The padrone made her feel very small and at the same time really important. She had a momentary feeling of being of supreme importance. She went on up the stairs. She opened the door of the room. George was on the bed, reading.

“Did you get the cat?” he asked, putting the book down.

“It was gone.”

“Wonder where it went to,” he said, resting his eyes from reading.

She sat down on the bed.

“I wanted it so much,” she said. “I don’t know why I wanted it so much. I wanted that poor kitty. It isn’t any fun to be a poor kitty out in the rain.”

George was reading again.

She went over and sat in front of the mirror of the dressing table looking at herself with the hand glass. She studied her profile, first one side and then the other. Then she studied the back of her head and her neck.

“Don’t you think it would be a good idea if I let my hair grow out?” she asked, looking at her profile again.

George looked up and saw the back of her neck, clipped close like a boy’s.

“I like it the way it is.”

“I get so tired of it,” she said. “I get so tired of looking like a boy.”

George shifted his position in the bed. He hadn’t looked away from her since she started to speak.

“You look pretty darn nice,” he said.

She laid the mirror down on the dresser and went over to the window and looked out. It was getting dark.

“I want to pull my hair back tight and smooth and make a big knot at the back that I can feel,” she said. “I want to have a kitty to sit on my lap and purr when I stroke her.”

“Yeah?” George said from the bed.

“And I want to eat at a table with my own silver and I want candles. And I want it to be spring and I want to brush my hair out in front of a mirror and I want a kitty and I want some new clothes.”

“Oh, shut up and get something to read,” George said. He was reading again.

His wife was looking out of the window. It was quite dark now and still raining in the palm trees.

“Anyway, I want a cat,” she said, “I want a cat. I want a cat now. If I can’t have long hair or any fun, I can have a cat.”

George was not listening. He was reading his book. His wife looked out of the window where the light had come on in the square.

Someone knocked at the door.

Avanti,” George said. He looked up from his book.

In the doorway stood the maid. She held a big tortoiseshell cat pressed tight against her and swung down against her body.

“Excuse me,” she said, “the padrone asked me to bring this for the Signora.”

Chapter XI

The crowd shouted all the time, and threw pieces of bread down into the bull ring, then cushions and leather wine bottles, keeping up whistling and yelling. Finally the bull was too tired from so much sticking and folded his knees and lay down and one of the cuadrilla leaned out over his neck and killed him with the puntillo. The crowd came over the barrera and around the torero and two men grabbed him and held him and someone cut off his pigtail and was waving it and a kid grabbed it and ran away with it. Afterwards I saw him at the café. He was very short with a brown face and quite drunk and he said, “After all, it has happened before like that. I am not really a good bull fighter!”

Out of Season

On the four lire Peduzzi had earned by spading the hotel garden he got quite drunk. He saw the young gentleman coming down the path and spoke to him mysteriously. The young gentleman said he had not eaten but would be ready to go as soon as lunch was finished. Forty minutes or an hour.

At the cantina near the bridge they trusted him for three more grappas because he was so confident and mysterious about his job for the afternoon. It was a windy day with the sun coming out from behind clouds and then going under in sprinkles of rain. A wonderful day for trout fishing.

The young gentleman came out of the hotel and asked him about the rods. Should his wife come behind with the rods? “Yes,” said Peduzzi, “let her follow us.” The young gentleman went back into the hotel and spoke to his wife. He and Peduzzi started down the road. The young gentleman had a musette over his shoulder. Peduzzi saw the wife, who looked as young as the young gentleman, and was wearing mountain boots and a blue beret, start out to follow them down the road, carrying the fishing rods, unjointed, one in each hand. Peduzzi didn’t like her to be way back there. “Signorina,” he called, winking at the young gentleman, “come up here and walk with us. Signora come up here. Let us all walk together.” Peduzzi wanted them all three to walk down the street of Cortina together.

The wife stayed behind, following rather sullenly. “Signorina,” Peduzzi called tenderly, “come up here with us.” The young gentleman looked back and shouted something. The wife stopped lagging behind and walked up.

Everyone they met walking through the main street of the town Peduzzi greeted elaborately. Buon’ di Arturo! Tipping his hat. The bank clerk stared at him from the door of the Fascist café. Groups of three and four people standing in front of the shops stared at the three. The workmen in their stone-powdered jackets working on the foundations of the new hotel looked up as they passed. Nobody spoke or gave any sign to them except the town beggar, lean and old, with a spittle-thickened beard, who lifted his hat as they passed.

Peduzzi stopped in front of a store with the window full of bottles and brought his empty grappa bottle from an inside pocket of his old military coat. “A little to drink, some marsala for the Signora, something, something to drink.” He gestured with the bottle. It was a wonderful day. “Marsala, you like marsala, Signorina? A little marsala?”

The wife stood sullenly. “You’ll have to play up to this,” she said. “I can’t understand a word he says. He’s drunk, isn’t he?”

The young gentleman appeared not to hear Peduzzi. He was thinking, what in hell makes him say marsala? That’s what Max Beerbohm drinks.

Geld,” Peduzzi said finally, taking hold of the young gentleman’s sleeve. “Lire.” He smiled, reluctant to press the subject but needing to bring the young gentleman into action.

The young gentleman took out his pocketbook and gave him a ten-lira note. Peduzzi went up the steps to the door of the Specialty of Domestic and Foreign Wines shop. It was locked.

“It is closed until two,” someone passing in the street said scornfully. Peduzzi came down the steps. He felt hurt. Never mind, he said, we can get it at the Concordia.

They walked down the road to the Concordia three abreast. On the porch of the Concordia, where the rusty bobsleds were stacked, the young gentleman said, “Was wollen sie?” Peduzzi handed him the ten-lira note folded over and over. “Nothing,” he said, “anything.” He was embarrassed. “Marsala, maybe. I don’t know. Marsala?”

The door of the Concordia shut on the young gentleman and the wife. “Three marsalas,” said the young gentleman to the girl behind the pastry counter. “Two, you mean?” she asked. “No,” he said, “one for a vecchio.” “Oh,” she said, “a vecchio,” and laughed, getting down the bottle. She poured out the three muddy looking drinks into three glasses. The wife was sitting at a table under the line of newspapers on sticks. The young gentleman put one of the marsalas in front of her. “You might as well drink it,” he said, “maybe it’ll make you feel better.” She sat and looked at the glass. The young gentleman went outside the door with a glass for Peduzzi but could not see him.

“I don’t know where he is,” he said, coming back into the pastry room carrying the glass.

“He wanted a quart of it,” said the wife.

“How much is a quarter litre?” the young gentleman asked the girl.

“Of the bianco? One lira.”

“No, of the marsala. Put these two in, too,” he said, giving her his own glass and the one poured for Peduzzi. She filled the quarter litre wine measure with a funnel. “A bottle to carry it,” said the young gentleman.

She went to hunt for a bottle. It all amused her.

“I’m sorry you feel so rotten, Tiny,” he said. “I’m sorry I talked the way I did at lunch. We were both getting at the same thing from different angles.”

“It doesn’t make any difference,” she said. “None of it makes any difference.”

“Are you too cold?” he asked. “I wish you’d worn another sweater.”

“I’ve got on three sweaters.”

The girl came in with a very slim brown bottle and poured the marsala into it. The young gentleman paid five lire more. They went out the door. The girl was amused. Peduzzi was walking up and down at the other end out of the wind and holding the rods.

“Come on,” he said, “I will carry the rods. What difference does it make if anybody sees them? No one will trouble us. No one will make any trouble for me in Cortina. I know them at the municipio. I have been a soldier. Everybody in this town likes me. I sell frogs. What if it is forbidden to fish? Not a thing. Nothing. No trouble. Big trout, I tell you. Lots of them.”

They were walking down the hill toward the river. The town was in back of them. The sun had gone under and it was sprinkling rain. “There,” said Peduzzi, pointing to a girl in the doorway of a house they passed. “My daughter.”

“His doctor,” the wife said, “has he got to show us his doctor?”

“He said his daughter,” said the young gentleman.

The girl went into the house as Peduzzi pointed.

They walked down the hill across the fields and then turned to follow the river bank. Peduzzi talked rapidly with much winking and knowingness. As they walked three abreast the wife caught his breath across the wind. Once he nudged her in the ribs. Part of the time he talked in d’Ampezzo dialect and sometimes in Tyroler German dialect. He could not make out which the young gentleman and his wife understood the best so he was being bilingual. But as the young gentleman said, Ja, Ja, Peduzzi decided to talk altogether in Tyroler. The young gentleman and the wife understood nothing.

“Everybody in the town saw us going through with these rods. We’re probably being followed by the game police now. I wish we weren’t in on this damn thing. This damned old fool is so drunk, too.”

“Of course you haven’t got the guts to just go back,” said the wife. “Of course you have to go on.”

“Why don’t you go back? Go on back, Tiny.”

“I’m going to stay with you. If you go to jail we might as well both go.”

They turned sharp down the bank and Peduzzi stood, his coat blowing in the wind, gesturing at the river. It was brown and muddy. Off on the right there was a dump heap.

“Say it to me in Italian,” said the young gentleman.

Un’ mezz’ ora. Piu d’ un’ mezz’ ora.

“He says it’s at least a half hour more. Go on back, Tiny. You’re cold in this wind anyway. It’s a rotten day and we aren’t going to have any fun, anyway.”

“All right,” she said, and climbed up the grassy bank.

Peduzzi was down at the river and did not notice her till she was almost out of sight over the crest. “Frau!” he shouted. “Frau! Fräulein! You’re not going.”

She went on over the crest of the hill.

“She’s gone!” said Peduzzi. It shocked him.

He took off the rubber bands that held the rod segments together and commenced to joint up one of the rods.

“But you said it was half an hour further.”

“Oh, yes. It is good half an hour down. It is good here, too.”


“Of course. It is good here and good there, too.”

The young gentleman sat down on the bank and jointed up a rod, put on the reel and threaded the line through the guides. He felt uncomfortable and afraid that any minute a gamekeeper or a posse of citizens would come over the bank from the town. He could see the houses of the town and the campanile over the edge of the hill. He opened his leader box. Peduzzi leaned over and dug his flat, hard thumb and forefinger in and tangled the moistened leaders.

“Have you some lead?”


“You must have some lead.” Peduzzi was excited. “You must have piombo. Piombo. A little piombo. Just here. Just above the hook or your bait will float on the water. You must have it. Just a little piombo.”

“Have you got some?”

“No.” He looked through his pockets desperately. Sifting through the cloth dirt in the linings of his inside military pockets. “I haven’t any. We must have piombo.”

“We can’t fish then,” said the young gentleman, and unjointed the rod, reeling the line back through the guides. “We’ll get some piombo and fish tomorrow.”

“But listen, caro, you must have piombo. The line will lie flat on the water.” Peduzzi’s day was going to pieces before his eyes. “You must have piombo. A little is enough. Your stuff is all clean and new but you have no lead. I would have brought some. You said you had everything.”

The young gentleman looked at the stream discoloured by the melting snow. “I know,” he said, “we’ll get some piombo and fish tomorrow.”

“At what hour in the morning? Tell me that.”

“At seven.”

The sun came out. It was warm and pleasant. The young gentleman felt relieved. He was no longer breaking the law. Sitting on the bank he took the bottle of marsala out of his pocket and passed it to Peduzzi. Peduzzi passed it back. The young gentleman took a drink of it and passed it to Peduzzi again. Peduzzi passed it back again. “Drink,” he said, “drink. It’s your marsala.” After another short drink the young gentleman handed the bottle over. Peduzzi had been watching it closely. He took the bottle very hurriedly and tipped it up. The gray hairs in the folds of his neck oscillated as he drank, his eyes fixed on the end of the narrow brown bottle. He drank it all. The sun shone while he drank. It was wonderful. This was a great day, after all. A wonderful day.

Senta, caro! In the morning at seven.” He had called the young gentleman caro several times and nothing had happened. It was good marsala. His eyes glistened. Days like this stretched out ahead. It would begin at seven in the morning.

They started to walk up the hill toward the town. The young gentleman went on ahead. He was quite a way up the hill. Peduzzi called to him.

“Listen, caro, can you let me take five lire for a favor?”

“For today?” asked the young gentleman frowning.

“No, not today. Give it to me today for tomorrow. I will provide everything for tomorrow. Pane, salami, formaggio, good stuff for all of us. You and I and the signora. Bait for fishing, minnows, not worms only. Perhaps I can get some marsala. All for five lire. Five lire for a favor.”

The young gentleman looked through his pocketbook and took out a two-lira note and two ones.

“Thank you, caro. Thank you,” said Peduzzi, in the tone of one member of the Carleton Club accepting the Morning Post from another. This was living. He was through with the hotel garden, breaking up frozen manure with a dung fork. Life was opening out.

“Until seven o’clock then, caro,” he said, slapping the young gentleman on the back. “Promptly at seven.”

“I may not be going,” said the young gentleman putting his purse back in his pocket.

“What,” said Peduzzi, “I will have minnows, Signor. Salami, everything. You and I and the Signora. The three of us.”

“I may not be going,” said the young gentleman, “very probably not. I will leave word with the padrone at the hotel office.”

Chapter XII

If it happened right down close in front of you, you could see Villalta snarl at the bull and curse him, and when the bull charged he swung back firmly like an oak when the wind hits it, his legs tight together, the muleta trailing and the sword following the curve behind. Then he cursed the bull, flopped the muleta at him, and swung back from the charge, his feet firm, the muleta curving and at each swing the crowd roaring.

When he started to kill it was all in the same rush. The bull looking at him straight in front, hating. He drew out the sword from the folds of the muleta and sighted with the same movement and called to the bull, Toro! Toro! and the bull charged and Villalta charged and just for a moment they became one. Villalta became one with the bull and then it was over. Villalta standing straight and the red hilt of the sword sticking out dully between the bull’s shoulders. Villalta, his hand up at the crowd and the bull roaring blood, looking straight at Villalta and his legs caving.

Cross Country Snow

The funicular car bucked once more and then stopped. It could not go further, the snow drifted solidly across the track. The gale scouring the exposed surface of the mountain had swept the snow surface into a wind-board crust. Nick, waxing his skis in the baggage car, pushed his boots into the toe irons and shut the clamp tight. He jumped from the car sideways onto the hard wind-board, made a jump turn and crouching and trailing his sticks slipped in a rush down the slope.

On the white below George dipped and rose and dipped out of sight. The rush and the sudden swoop as he dropped down a steep undulation in the mountain side plucked Nick’s mind out and left him only the wonderful flying, dropping sensation in his body. He rose to a slight up-run and then the snow seemed to drop out from under him as he went down, down, faster and faster in a rush down the last, long steep slope. Crouching so he was almost sitting back on his skis, trying to keep the center of gravity low, the snow driving like a sandstorm, he knew the pace was too much. But he held it. He would not let go and spill. Then a patch of soft snow, left in a hollow by the wind, spilled him and he went over and over in a clashing of skis, feeling like a shot rabbit, then stuck, his legs crossed, his skis sticking straight up and his nose and ears jammed full of snow.

George stood a little further down the slope, knocking the snow from his wind jacket with big slaps.

“You took a beauty, Mike,” he called to Nick. “That’s lousy soft snow. It bagged me the same way.”

“What’s it like over the khud?” Nick kicked his skis around as he lay on his back and stood up.

“You’ve got to keep to your left. It’s a good fast drop with a Christy at the bottom on account of a fence.”

“Wait a sec and we’ll take it together.”

“No, you come on and go first. I like to see you take the khuds.”

Nick Adams came up past George, big back and blond head still faintly snowy, then his skis started slipping at the edge and he swooped down, hissing in the crystalline powder snow and seeming to float up and drop down as he went up and down the billowing khuds. He held to his left and at the end, as he rushed toward the fence, keeping his knees locked tight together and turning his body like tightening a screw brought his skis sharply around to the right in a smother of snow and slowed into a loss of speed parallel to the hillside and the wire fence.

He looked up the hill. George was coming down in telemark position, kneeling; one leg forward and bent, the other trailing; his sticks hanging like some insect’s thin legs, kicking up puffs of snow as they touched the surface and finally the whole kneeling, trailing figure coming around in a beautiful right curve, crouching, the legs shot forward and back, the body leaning out against the swing, the sticks accenting the curve like points of light, all in a wild cloud of snow.

“I was afraid to Christy,” George said, “the snow was too deep. You made a beauty.”

“I can’t telemark with my leg,” Nick said.

Nick held down the top strand of the wire fence with his ski and George slid over. Nick followed him down to the road. They thrust bent-kneed along the road into a pine forest. The road became polished ice, stained orange and a tobacco yellow from the teams hauling logs. The skiers kept to the stretch of snow along the side. The road dipped sharply to a stream and then ran straight uphill. Through the woods they could see a long, low-eaved, weather-beaten building. Through the trees it was a faded yellow. Closer the window frames were painted green. The paint was peeling. Nick knocked his clamps loose with one of his ski sticks and kicked off the skis.

“We might as well carry them up here,” he said.

He climbed the steep road with the skis on his shoulder, kicking his heel nails into the icy footing. He heard George breathing and kicking in his heels just behind him. They stacked the skis against the side of the inn and slapped the snow off each other’s trousers, stamped their boots clean, and went in.

Inside it was quite dark. A big porcelain stove shone in the corner of the room. There was a low ceiling. Smooth benches back of dark, wine-stained tables were along each side of the rooms. Two Swiss sat over their pipes and two decies of cloudy new wine next to the stove. The boys took off their jackets and sat against the wall on the other side of the stove. A voice in the next room stopped singing and a girl in a blue apron came in through the door to see what they wanted to drink.

“A bottle of Sion,” Nick said. “Is that all right, Gidge?”

“Sure,” said George. “You know more about wine than I do. I like any of it.”

The girl went out.

“There’s nothing really can touch skiing, is there?” Nick said. “The way it feels when you first drop off on a long run.”

“Huh,” said George. “It’s too swell to talk about.”

The girl brought the wine in and they had trouble with the cork. Nick finally opened it. The girl went out and they heard her singing in German in the next room.

“Those specks of cork in it don’t matter,” said Nick.

“I wonder if she’s got any cake.”

“Let’s find out.”

The girl came in and Nick noticed that her apron covered swellingly her pregnancy. I wonder why I didn’t see that when she first came in, he thought.

“What were you singing?” he asked her.

“Opera, German opera.” She did not care to discuss the subject. “We have some apple strudel if you want it.”

“She isn’t so cordial, is she?” said George.

“Oh, well. She doesn’t know us and she thought we were going to kid her about her singing, maybe. She’s from up where they speak German probably and she’s touchy about being here and then she’s got that baby coming without being married and she’s touchy.”

“How do you know she isn’t married?”

“No ring. Hell, no girls get married around here till they’re knocked up.”

The door came open and a gang of woodcutters from up the road came in, stamping their boots and steaming in the room. The waitress brought in three litres of new wine for the gang and they sat at the two tables, smoking and quiet, with their hats off, leaning back against the wall or forward on the table. Outside the horses on the wood sledges made an occasional sharp jangle of bells as they tossed their heads.

George and Nick were happy. They were fond of each other. They knew they had the run back home ahead of them.

“When have you got to go back to school?” Nick asked.

“Tonight,” George answered. “I’ve got to get the ten-forty from Montreux.”

“I wish you could stick over and we could do the Dent du Lys tomorrow.”

“I got to get educated,” George said. “Gee, Mike, don’t you wish we could just bum together? Take our skis and go on the train to where there was good running and then go on and put up at pubs and go right across the Oberland and up the Valais and all through the Engadine and just take repair kit and extra sweaters and pyjamas in our rucksacks and not give a damn about school or anything.”

“Yes, and go through the Schwartzwald that way. Gee, the swell places.”

“That’s where you went fishing last summer, isn’t it?”


They ate the strudel and drank the rest of the wine.

George leaned back against the wall and shut his eyes.

“Wine always makes me feel this way,” he said.

“Feel bad?” Nick asked.

“No. I feel good, but funny.”

“I know,” Nick said.

“Sure,” said George.

“Should we have another bottle?” Nick asked.

“Not for me,” George said.

They sat there, Nick leaning his elbows on the table, George slumped back against the wall.

“Is Helen going to have a baby?” George said, coming down to the table from the wall.



“Late next summer.”

“Are you glad?”

“Yes. Now.”

“Will you go back to the States?”

“I guess so.”

“Do you want to?”


“Does Helen?”


George sat silent. He looked at the empty bottle and the empty glasses.

“It’s hell, isn’t it?” he said.

“No. Not exactly,” Nick said.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know,” Nick said.

“Will you ever go skiing together in the States?” George said.

“I don’t know,” said Nick.

“The mountains aren’t much,” George said.

“No,” said Nick. “They’re too rocky. There’s too much timber and they’re too far away.”

“Yes,” said George, “that’s the way it is in California.”

“Yes,” Nick said, “that’s the way it is everywhere I’ve ever been.”

“Yes,” said George, “that’s the way it is.”

The Swiss got up and paid and went out.

“I wish we were Swiss,” George said.

“They’ve all got goiter,” said Nick.

“I don’t believe it,” George said.

“Neither do I,” said Nick.

They laughed.

“Maybe we’ll never go skiing again, Nick,” George said.

“We’ve got to,” said Nick. “It isn’t worth while if you can’t.”

“We’ll go, all right,” George said.

“We’ve got to,” Nick agreed.

“I wish we could make a promise about it,” George said.

Nick stood up. He buckled his wind jacket tight. He leaned over George and picked up the two ski poles from against the wall. He stuck one of the ski poles into the floor.

“There isn’t any good in promising,” he said.

They opened the door and went out. It was very cold. The snow had crusted hard. The road ran up the hill into the pine trees.

They took down their skis from where they leaned against the wall in the inn. Nick put on his gloves. George was already started up the road, his skis on his shoulder. Now they would have the run home together.

Chapter XIII

I heard the drums coming down the street and then the fifes and the pipes and then they came around the corner, all dancing. The street full of them. Maera saw him and then I saw him. When they stopped the music for the crouch he hunched down in the street with them all and when they started it again he jumped up and went dancing down the street with them. He was drunk all right.

“You go down after him,” said Maera, “he hates me.”

So I went down and caught up with them and grabbed him while he was crouched down waiting for the music to break loose and said, “Come on, Luis. For Christ sake, you’ve got bulls this afternoon.” He didn’t listen to me, he was listening so hard for the music to start.

I said, “Don’t be a damn fool, Luis. Come on back to the hotel.”

Then the music started again and he jumped up and twisted away from me and started dancing. I grabbed his arm and he pulled loose and said, “Oh, leave me alone. You’re not my mother.”

I went back to the hotel and Maera was on the balcony looking out to see if I’d be bringing him back. He went inside when he saw me and came downstairs disgusted.

“Well, after all,” I said, “he’s just an ignorant Mexican savage.”

“Yes,” Maera said, “and who will kill his bulls after he gets cogida?”

“We, I suppose,” I said.

“Yes, we,” said Maera. “We kill the savage’s bulls, and the drunkard’s bulls, and the riau-riau dancer’s bulls. Yes. We kill them. We kill them all right. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

My Old Man

I guess looking at it, now, my old man was cut out for a fat guy, one of those regular little roly fat guys you see around, but he sure never got that way, except a little toward the last, and then it wasn’t his fault, he was riding over the jumps only and he could afford to carry plenty of weight then. I remember the way he’d pull on a rubber shirt over a couple of jerseys and a big sweat shirt over that, and get me to run with him in the forenoon in the hot sun. He’d have, maybe, taken a trial trip with one of Razzo’s skins early in the morning after just getting in from Torino at four o’clock in the morning and beating it out to the stables in a cab and then with the dew all over everything and the sun just starting to get going, I’d help him pull off his boots and he’d get into a pair of sneakers and all these sweaters and we’d start out.

“Come on, kid,” he’d say, stepping up and down on his toes in front of the jock’s dressing room, “let’s get moving.”

Then we’d start off jogging around the infield once, maybe, with him ahead, running nice, and then turn out the gate and along one of those roads with all the trees along both sides of them that run out from San Siro. I’d go ahead of him when we hit the road and I could run pretty stout and I’d look around and he’d be jogging easy just behind me and after a little while I’d look around again and he’d begun to sweat. Sweating heavy and he’d just be dogging it along with his eyes on my back, but when he’d catch me looking at him he’d grin and say, “Sweating plenty?” When my old man grinned, nobody could help but grin too. We’d keep right on running out toward the mountains and then my old man would yell, “Hey, Joe!” and I’d look back and he’d be sitting under a tree with a towel he’d had around his waist wrapped around his neck.

I’d come back and sit down beside him and he’d pull a rope out of his pocket and start skipping rope out in the sun with the sweat pouring off his face and him skipping rope out in the white dust with the rope going cloppetty, cloppetty, clop, clop, clop, and the sun hotter, and him working harder up and down a patch of the road. Say, it was a treat to see my old man skip rope, too. He could whirr it fast or lop it slow and fancy. Say, you ought to have seen wops look at us sometimes, when they’d come by, going into town walking along with big white steers hauling the cart. They sure looked as though they thought the old man was nuts. He’d start the rope whirring till they’d stop dead still and watch him, then give the steers a cluck and a poke with the goad and get going again.

When I’d sit watching him working out in the hot sun I sure felt fond of him. He sure was fun and he done his work so hard and he’d finish up with a regular whirring that’d drive the sweat out on his face like water and then sling the rope at the tree and come over and sit down with me and lean back against the tree with the towel and a sweater wrapped around his neck.

“Sure is hell keeping it down, Joe,” he’d say and lean back and shut his eyes and breathe long and deep, “it ain’t like when you’re a kid.” Then he’d get up before he started to cool and we’d jog along back to the stables. That’s the way it was keeping down to weight. He was worried all the time. Most jocks can just about ride off all they want to. A jock loses about a kilo every time he rides, but my old man was sort of dried out and he couldn’t keep down his kilos without all that running.

I remember once at San Siro, Regoli, a little wop, that was riding for Buzoni, came out across the paddock going to the bar for something cool; and flicking his boots with his whip, after he’d just weighed in and my old man had just weighed in too, and came out with the saddle under his arm looking red-faced and tired and too big for his silks and he stood there looking at young Regoli standing up to the outdoors bar, cool and kid-looking, and I says, “What’s the matter, Dad?” cause I thought maybe Regoli had bumped him or something and he just looked at Regoli and said, “Oh, to hell with it,” and went on to the dressing room.

Well, it would have been all right, maybe, if we’d stayed in Milan and ridden at Milan and Torino, ’cause if there ever were any easy courses, it’s those two. “Pianola, Joe,” my old man said when he dismounted in the winning stall after what the wops thought was a hell of a steeplechase. I asked him once. “This course rides itself. It’s the pace you’re going at, that makes riding the jumps dangerous, Joe. We ain’t going any pace here, and they ain’t any really bad jumps either. But it’s the pace always⁠—not the jumps that makes the trouble.”

San Siro was the swellest course I’d ever seen but the old man said it was a dog’s life. Going back and forth between Mirafiore and San Siro and riding just about every day in the week with a train ride every other night.

I was nuts about the horses, too. There’s something about it, when they come out and go up the track to the post. Sort of dancy and tight looking with the jock keeping a tight hold on them and maybe easing off a little and letting them run a little going up. Then once they were at the barrier it got me worse than anything. Especially at San Siro with that big green infield and the mountains way off and the fat wop starter with his big whip and the jocks fiddling them around and then the barrier snapping up and that bell going off and them all getting off in a bunch and then commencing to string out. You know the way a bunch of skins gets off. If you’re up in the stand with a pair of glasses all you see is them plunging off and then that bell goes off and it seems like it rings for a thousand years and then they come sweeping round the turn. There wasn’t ever anything like it for me.

But my old man said one day, in the dressing room, when he was getting into his street clothes. “None of these things are horses, Joe. They’d kill that bunch of skates for their hides and hoofs up at Paris.” That was the day he’d won the Premio Commercio with Lantorna shooting her out of the field the last hundred meters like pulling a cork out of a bottle.

It was right after the Premio Commercio that we pulled out and left Italy. My old man and Holbrook and a fat wop in a straw hat that kept wiping his face with a handkerchief were having an argument at a table in the Galleria. They were all talking French and the two of them were after my old man about something. Finally he didn’t say anything any more but just sat there and looked at Holbrook, and the two of them kept after him, first one talking and then the other, and the fat wop always butting in on Holbrook.

“You go out and buy me a Sportsman, will you, Joe?” my old man said, and handed me a couple of soldi without looking away from Holbrook.

So I went out of the Galleria and walked over to in front of the Scala and bought a paper, and came back and stood a little way away because I didn’t want to butt in and my old man was sitting back in his chair looking down at his coffee and fooling with a spoon and Holbrook and the big wop were standing and the big wop was wiping his face and shaking his head. And I came up and my old man acted just as though the two of them weren’t standing there and said, “Want an ice, Joe?” Holbrook looked down at my old man and said slow and careful, “You son of a b⁠⸺,” and he and the fat wop went out through the tables.

My old man sat there and sort of smiled at me, but his face was white and he looked sick as hell and I was scared and felt sick inside because I knew something had happened and I didn’t see how anybody could call my old man a son of a b⁠⸺, and get away with it. My old man opened up the Sportsman and studied the handicaps for a while and then he said, “You got to take a lot of things in this world, Joe.” And three days later we left Milan for good on the Turin train for Paris, after an auction sale out in front of Turner’s stables of everything we couldn’t get into a trunk and a suit case.

We got into Paris early in the morning in a long, dirty station the old man told me was the Gare de Lyon. Paris was an awful big town after Milan. Seems like in Milan everybody is going somewhere and all the trams run somewhere and there ain’t any sort of a mix-up, but Paris is all balled up and they never do straighten it out. I got to like it, though, part of it, anyway, and say it’s got the best race courses in the world. Seems as though that were the thing that keeps it all going and about the only thing you can figure on is that every day the buses will be going out to whatever track they’re running at, going right out through everything to the track. I never really got to know Paris well, because I just came in about once or twice a week with the old man from Maisons and he always sat at the Café de la Paix on the Opera side with the rest of the gang from Maisons and I guess that’s one of the busiest parts of the town. But, say, it is funny that a big town like Paris wouldn’t have a Galleria, isn’t it?

Well, we went out to live at Maisons-Lafitte, where just about everybody lives except the gang at Chantilly, with a Mrs. Meyers that runs a boarding house. Maisons is about the swellest place to live I’ve ever seen in all my life. The town ain’t so much, but there’s a lake and a swell forest that we used to go off bumming in all day, a couple of us kids, and my old man made me a sling shot and we got a lot of things with it but the best one was a magpie. Young Dick Atkinson shot a rabbit with it one day and we put it under a tree and were all sitting around and Dick had some cigarettes and all of a sudden the rabbit jumped up and beat it into the brush and we chased it but we couldn’t find it. Gee, we had fun at Maisons. Mrs. Meyers used to give me lunch in the morning and I’d be gone all day. I learned to talk French quick. It’s an easy language.

As soon as we got to Maisons, my old man wrote to Milan for his license and he was pretty worried till it came. He used to sit around the Café de Paris in Maisons with the gang, there were lots of guys he’d known when he rode up at Paris, before the war, lived at Maisons, and there’s a lot of time to sit around because the work around a racing stable, for the jocks, that is, is all cleaned up by nine o’clock in the morning. They take the first batch of skins out to gallop them at 5:30 in the morning and they work the second lot at 8 o’clock. That means getting up early all right and going to bed early, too. If a jock’s riding for somebody too, he can’t go boozing around because the trainer always has an eye on him if he’s a kid and if he ain’t a kid he’s always got an eye on himself. So mostly if a jock ain’t working he sits around the Café de Paris with the gang and they can all sit around about two or three hours in front of some drink like a vermouth and seltz and they talk and tell stories and shoot pool and it’s sort of like a club or the Galleria in Milan. Only it ain’t really like the Galleria because there everybody is going by all the time and there’s everybody around at the tables.

Well, my old man got his license all right. They sent it through to him without a word and he rode a couple of times. Amiens, up country and that sort of thing, but he didn’t seem to get any engagement. Everybody liked him and whenever I’d come in to the Café in the forenoon I’d find somebody drinking with him because my old man wasn’t tight like most of these jockies that have got the first dollar they made riding at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in nineteen ought four. That’s what my old man would say when he’d kid George Burns. But it seemed like everybody steered clear of giving my old man any mounts.

We went out to wherever they were running every day with the car from Maisons and that was the most fun of all. I was glad when the horses came back from Deauville and the summer. Even though it meant no more bumming in the woods, ’cause then we’d ride to Enghien or Tremblay or St. Cloud and watch them from the trainers’ and jockeys’ stand. I sure learned about racing from going out with that gang and the fun of it was going every day.

I remember once out at St. Cloud. It was a big two hundred thousand franc race with seven entries and Kzar a big favorite. I went around to the paddock to see the horses with my old man and you never saw such horses. This Kzar is a great big yellow horse that looks like just nothing but run. I never saw such a horse. He was being led around the paddocks with his head down and when he went by me I felt all hollow inside he was so beautiful. There never was such a wonderful, lean, running built horse. And he went around the paddock putting his feet just so and quiet and careful and moving easy like he knew just what he had to do and not jerking and standing up on his legs and getting wild eyed like you see these selling platers with a shot of dope in them. The crowd was so thick I couldn’t see him again except just his legs going by and some yellow and my old man started out through the crowd and I followed him over to the jock’s dressing room back in the trees and there was a big crowd around there, too, but the man at the door in a derby nodded to my old man and we got in and everybody was sitting around and getting dressed and pulling shirts over their heads and pulling boots on and it all smelled hot and sweaty and linimenty and outside was the crowd looking in.

The old man went over and sat down beside George Gardner that was getting into his pants and said, “What’s the dope, George?” just in an ordinary tone of voice ’cause there ain’t any use him feeling around because George either can tell him or he can’t tell him.

“He won’t win,” George says very low, leaning over and buttoning the bottoms of his pants.

“Who will?” my old man says, leaning over close so nobody can hear.

“Kircubbin,” George says, “and if he does, save me a couple of tickets.”

My old man says something in a regular voice to George and George says, “Don’t ever bet on anything, I tell you,” kidding like, and we beat it out and through all the crowd that was looking in over to the 100 franc mutuel machine. But I knew something big was up because George is Kzar’s jockey. On the way he gets one of the yellow odds-sheets with the starting prices on and Kzar is only paying 5 for 10, Cefisidote is next at 3 to 1 and fifth down the list this Kircubbin at 8 to 1. My old man bets five thousand on Kircubbin to win and puts on a thousand to place and we went around back of the grandstand to go up the stairs and get a place to watch the race.

We were jammed in tight and first a man in a long coat with a gray tall hat and a whip folded up in his hand came out and then one after another the horses, with the jocks up and a stable boy holding the bridle on each side and walking along, followed the old guy. That big yellow horse Kzar came first. He didn’t look so big when you first looked at him until you saw the length of his legs and the whole way he’s built and the way he moves. Gosh, I never saw such a horse. George Gardner was riding him and they moved along slow, back of the old guy in the gray tall hat that walked along like he was the ring master in a circus. Back of Kzar, moving along smooth and yellow in the sun, was a good looking black with a nice head with Tommy Archibald riding him; and after the black was a string of five more horses all moving along slow in a procession past the grandstand and the pesage. My old man said the black was Kircubbin and I took a good look at him and he was a nice looking horse, all right, but nothing like Kzar.

Everybody cheered Kzar when he went by and he sure was one swell-looking horse. The procession of them went around on the other side past the pelouse and then back up to the near end of the course and the circus master had the stable boys turn them loose one after another so they could gallop by the stands on their way up to the post and let everybody have a good look at them. They weren’t at the post hardly any time at all when the gong started and you could see them way off across the infield all in a bunch starting on the first swing like a lot of little toy horses. I was watching them through the glasses and Kzar was running well back, with one of the bays making the pace. They swept down and around and came pounding past and Kzar was way back when they passed us and this Kircubbin horse in front and going smooth. Gee, it’s awful when they go by you and then you have to watch them go farther away and get smaller and smaller and then all bunched up on the turns and then come around towards into the stretch and you feel like swearing and goddamming worse and worse. Finally they made the last turn and came into the straightaway with this Kircubbin horse way out in front. Everybody was looking funny and saying “Kzar” in sort of a sick way and them pounding nearer down the stretch, and then something came out of the pack right into my glasses like a horse-headed yellow streak and everybody began to yell “Kzar” as though they were crazy. Kzar came on faster than I’d ever seen anything in my life and pulled up on Kircubbin that was going fast as any black horse could go with the jock flogging hell out of him with the gad and they were right dead neck and neck for a second but Kzar seemed going about twice as fast with those great jumps and that head out⁠—but it was while they were neck and neck that they passed the winning post and when the numbers went up in the slots the first one was 2 and that meant Kircubbin had won.

I felt all trembly and funny inside, and then we were all jammed in with the people going downstairs to stand in front of the board where they’d post what Kircubbin paid. Honest, watching the race I’d forgot how much my old man had bet on Kircubbin. I’d wanted Kzar to win so damned bad. But now it was all over it was swell to know we had the winner.

“Wasn’t it a swell race, Dad?” I said to him.

He looked at me sort of funny with his derby on the back of his head. “George Gardner’s a swell jockey, all right,” he said. “It sure took a great jock to keep that Kzar horse from winning.”

Of course I knew it was funny all the time. But my old man saying that right out like that sure took the kick all out of it for me and I didn’t get the real kick back again ever, even when they posted the numbers up on the board and the bell rang to pay off and we saw that Kircubbin paid 67.50 for 10. All round people were saying, “Poor Kzar! Poor Kzar!” And I thought, I wish I were a jockey and could have rode him instead of that son of a b⁠⸺. And that was funny, thinking of George Gardner as a son of a b⁠⸺ because I’d always liked him and besides he’d given us the winner, but I guess that’s what he is, all right.

My old man had a big lot of money after that race and he took to coming into Paris oftener. If they raced at Tremblay he’d have them drop him in town on their way back to Maisons, and he and I’d sit out in front of the Café de la Paix and watch the people go by. It’s funny sitting there. There’s streams of people going by and all sorts of guys come up and want to sell you things, and I loved to sit there with my old man. That was when we’d have the most fun. Guys would come by selling funny rabbits that jumped if you squeezed a bulb and they’d come up to us and my old man would kid with them. He could talk French just like English and all those kind of guys knew him ’cause you can always tell a jockey⁠—and then we always sat at the same table and they got used to seeing us there. There were guys selling matrimonial papers and girls selling rubber eggs that when you squeezed them a rooster came out of them and one old wormy-looking guy that went by with postcards of Paris, showing them to everybody, and, of course, nobody ever bought any, and then he would come back and show the under side of the pack and they would all be smutty postcards and lots of people would dig down and buy them.

Gee, I remember the funny people that used to go by. Girls around supper time looking for somebody to take them out to eat and they’d speak to my old man and he’d make some joke at them in French and they’d pat me on the head and go on. Once there was an American woman sitting with her kid daughter at the next table to us and they were both eating ices and I kept looking at the girl and she was awfully good looking and I smiled at her and she smiled at me but that was all that ever came of it because I looked for her mother and her every day and I made up ways that I was going to speak to her and I wondered if I got to know her if her mother would let me take her out to Auteuil or Tremblay but I never saw either of them again. Anyway, I guess it wouldn’t have been any good, anyway, because looking back on it I remember the way I thought out would be best to speak to her was to say, “Pardon me, but perhaps I can give you a winner at Enghien today?” and, after all, maybe she would have thought I was a tout instead of really trying to give her a winner.

We’d sit at the Café de la Paix, my old man and me, and we had a big drag with the waiter because my old man drank whisky and it cost five francs, and that meant a good tip when the saucers were counted up. My old man was drinking more than I’d ever seen him, but he wasn’t riding at all now and besides he said that whisky kept his weight down. But I noticed he was putting it on, all right, just the same. He’d busted away from his old gang out at Maisons and seemed to like just sitting around on the boulevard with me. But he was dropping money every day at the track. He’d feel sort of doleful after the last race, if he’d lost on the day, until we’d get to our table and he’d have his first whisky and then he’d be fine.

He’d be reading the Paris-Sport and he’d look over at me and say, “Where’s your girl, Joe?” to kid me on account I had told him about the girl that day at the next table. And I’d get red, but I liked being kidded about her. It gave me a good feeling. “Keep your eye peeled for her, Joe,” he’d say, “she’ll be back.”

He’d ask me questions about things and some of the things I’d say he’d laugh. And then he’d get started talking about things. About riding down in Egypt, or at St. Moritz on the ice before my mother died, and about during the war when they had regular races down in the south of France without any purses, or betting or crowd or anything just to keep the breed up. Regular races with the jocks riding hell out of the horses. Gee, I could listen to my old man talk by the hour, especially when he’d had a couple or so of drinks. He’d tell me about when he was a boy in Kentucky and going coon hunting, and the old days in the States before everything went on the bum there. And he’d say, “Joe, when we’ve got a decent stake, you’re going back there to the States and go to school.”

“What’ve I got to go back there to go to school for when everything’s on the bum there?” I’d ask him.

“That’s different,” he’d say and get the waiter over and pay the pile of saucers and we’d get a taxi to the Gare St. Lazare and get on the train out to Maisons.

One day at Auteuil, after a selling steeplechase, my old man bought in the winner for 30,000 francs. He had to bid a little to get him but the stable let the horse go finally and my old man had his permit and his colors in a week. Gee, I felt proud when my old man was an owner. He fixed it up for stable space with Charles Drake and cut out coming in to Paris, and started his running and sweating out again, and him and I were the whole stable gang. Our horse’s name was Gilford, he was Irish bred and a nice, sweet jumper. My old man figured that training him and riding him, himself, he was a good investment. I was proud of everything and I thought Gilford was as good a horse as Kzar. He was a good, solid jumper, a bay, with plenty of speed on the flat, if you asked him for it, and he was a nice-looking horse, too.

Gee, I was fond of him. The first time he started with my old man up, he finished third in a 2,500 meter hurdle race and when my old man got off him, all sweating and happy in the place stall, and went in to weigh, I felt as proud of him as though it was the first race he’d ever placed in. You see, when a guy ain’t been riding for a long time, you can’t make yourself really believe that he has ever rode. The whole thing was different now, ’cause down in Milan, even big races never seemed to make any difference to my old man, if he won he wasn’t ever excited or anything, and now it was so I couldn’t hardly sleep the night before a race and I knew my old man was excited, too, even if he didn’t show it. Riding for yourself makes an awful difference.

Second time Gilford and my old man started, was a rainy Sunday at Auteuil, in the Prix du Marat, a 4,500 meter steeplechase. As soon as he’d gone out I beat it up in the stand with the new glasses my old man had bought for me to watch them. They started way over at the far end of the course and there was some trouble at the barrier. Something with goggle blinders on was making a great fuss and rearing around and busted the barrier once, but I could see my old man in our black jacket, with a white cross and a black cap, sitting up on Gilford, and patting him with his hand. Then they were off in a jump and out of sight behind the trees and the gong going for dear life and the parimutuel wickets rattling down. Gosh, I was so excited, I was afraid to look at them, but I fixed the glasses on the place where they would come out back of the trees and then out they came with the old black jacket going third and they all sailing over the jump like birds. Then they went out of sight again and then they came pounding out and down the hill and all going nice and sweet and easy and taking the fence smooth in a bunch, and moving away from us all solid. Looked as though you could walk across on their backs they were all so bunched and going so smooth. Then they bellied over the big double Bullfinch and something came down. I couldn’t see who it was, but in a minute the horse was up and galloping free and the field, all bunched still, sweeping around the long left turn into the straightaway. They jumped the stone wall and came jammed down the stretch toward the big water-jump right in front of the stands. I saw them coming and hollered at my old man as he went by, and he was leading by about a length and riding way out, and light as a monkey, and they were racing for the water-jump. They took off over the big hedge of the water-jump in a pack and then there was a crash, and two horses pulled sideways out off it, and kept on going, and three others were piled up. I couldn’t see my old man anywhere. One horse kneed himself up and the jock had hold of the bridle and mounted and went slamming on after the place money. The other horse was up and away by himself, jerking his head and galloping with the bridle rein hanging and the jock staggered over to one side of the track against the fence. Then Gilford rolled over to one side off my old man and got up and started to run on three legs with his off hoof dangling and there was my old man laying there on the grass flat out with his face up and blood all over the side of his head. I ran down the stand and bumped into a jam of people and got to the rail and a cop grabbed me and held me and two big stretcher-bearers were going out after my old man and around on the other side of the course I saw three horses, strung way out, coming out of the trees and taking the jump.

My old man was dead when they brought him in and while a doctor was listening to his heart with a thing plugged in his ears, I heard a shot up the track that meant they’d killed Gilford. I lay down beside my old man, when they carried the stretcher into the hospital room, and hung onto the stretcher and cried and cried, and he looked so white and gone and so awfully dead, and I couldn’t help feeling that if my old man was dead maybe they didn’t need to have shot Gilford. His hoof might have got well. I don’t know. I loved my old man so much.

Then a couple of guys came in and one of them patted me on the back and then went over and looked at my old man and then pulled a sheet off the cot and spread it over him; and the other was telephoning in French for them to send the ambulance to take him out to Maisons. And I couldn’t stop crying, crying and choking, sort of, and George Gardner came in and sat down beside me on the floor and put his arm around me and says, “Come on, Joe, old boy. Get up and we’ll go out and wait for the ambulance.”

George and I went out to the gate and I was trying to stop bawling and George wiped off my face with his handkerchief and we were standing back a little ways while the crowd was going out of the gate and a couple of guys stopped near us while we were waiting for the crowd to get through the gate and one of them was counting a bunch of mutuel tickets and he said, “Well, Butler got his, all right.”

The other guy said, “I don’t give a good goddam if he did, the crook. He had it coming to him on the stuff he’s pulled.”

“I’ll say he had,” said the other guy, and tore the bunch of tickets in two.

And George Gardner looked at me to see if I’d heard and I had all right and he said, “Don’t you listen to what those bums said, Joe. Your old man was one swell guy.”

But I don’t know. Seems like when they get started they don’t leave a guy nothing.

Chapter XIV

Maera lay still, his head on his arms, his face in the sand. He felt warm and sticky from the bleeding. Each time he felt the horn coming. Sometimes the bull only bumped him with his head. Once the horn went all the way through him and he felt it go into the sand. Someone had the bull by the tail. They were swearing at him and flopping the cape in his face. Then the bull was gone. Some men picked Maera up and started to run with him toward the barriers through the gate out the passage way around under the grandstand to the infirmary. They laid Maera down on a cot and one of the men went for the doctor. The doctor came running from the corral, where he had been sewing up picador horses. He had to stop and wash his hands. There was a great shouting going on in the grandstand overhead. Maera wanted to say something and found he could not talk. Maera felt everything getting larger and larger and then smaller and smaller. Then it got larger and larger and larger and then smaller and smaller. Then everything commenced to run faster and faster as when they speed up a cinematograph film. Then he was dead.

Big Two-Hearted River Part I

The train went on up the track out of sight, around one of the hills of burnt timber. Nick sat down on the bundle of canvas and bedding the baggage man had pitched out of the door of the baggage car. There was no town, nothing but the rails and the burned-over country. The thirteen saloons that had lined the one street of Seney had not left a trace. The foundations of the Mansion House hotel stuck up above the ground. The stone was chipped and split by the fire. It was all that was left of the town of Seney. Even the surface had been burned off the ground.

Nick looked at the burned-over stretch of hillside, where he had expected to find the scattered houses of the town and then walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log spiles of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their positions by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time.

He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. At the bottom of the pool were the big trout. Nick did not see them at first. Then he saw them at the bottom of the pool, big trout looking to hold themselves on the gravel bottom in a varying mist of gravel and sand, raised in spurts by the current.

Nick looked down into the pool from the bridge. It was a hot day. A kingfisher flew up the stream. It was a long time since Nick had looked into a stream and seen trout. They were very satisfactory. As the shadow of the kingfisher moved up the stream, a big trout shot upstream in a long angle, only his shadow marking the angle, then lost his shadow as he came through the surface of the water, caught the sun, and then, as he went back into the stream under the surface, his shadow seemed to float down the stream with the current, unresisting, to his post under the bridge where he tightened facing up into the current.

Nick’s heart tightened as the trout moved. He felt all the old feeling.

He turned and looked down the stream. It stretched away, pebbly-bottomed with shallows and big boulders and a deep pool as it curved away around the foot of a bluff.

Nick walked back up the ties to where his pack lay in the cinders beside the railway track. He was happy. He adjusted the pack harness around the bundle, pulling straps tight, slung the pack on his back, got his arms through the shoulder straps and took some of the pull off his shoulders by leaning his forehead against the wide band of the tump-line. Still, it was too heavy. It was much too heavy. He had his leather rod-case in his hand and leaning forward to keep the weight of the pack high on his shoulders he walked along the road that paralleled the railway track, leaving the burned town behind in the heat, and then turned off around a hill with a high, fire-scarred hill on either side onto a road that went back into the country. He walked along the road feeling the ache from the pull of the heavy pack. The road climbed steadily. It was hard work walking uphill. His muscles ached and the day was hot, but Nick felt happy. He felt he had left everything behind, the need for thinking, the need to write, other needs. It was all back of him.

From the time he had gotten down off the train and the baggage man had thrown his pack out of the open car door things had been different. Seney was burned, the country was burned over and changed, but it did not matter. It could not all be burned. He knew that. He hiked along the road, sweating in the sun, climbing to cross the range of hills that separated the railway from the pine plains.

The road ran on, dipping occasionally, but always climbing. Nick went on up. Finally the road after going parallel to the burnt hillside reached the top. Nick leaned back against a stump and slipped out of the pack harness. Ahead of him, as far as he could see, was the pine plain. The burned country stopped off at the left with the range of hills. On ahead islands of dark pine trees rose out of the plain. Far off to the left was the line of the river. Nick followed it with his eye and caught glints of the water in the sun.

There was nothing but the pine plain ahead of him, until the far blue hills that marked the Lake Superior height of land. He could hardly see them, faint and far away in the heat-light over the plain. If he looked too steadily they were gone. But if he only half-looked they were there, the far off hills of the height of land.

Nick sat down against the charred stump and smoked a cigarette. His pack balanced on the top of the stump, harness holding ready, a hollow molded in it from his back. Nick sat smoking, looking out over the country. He did not need to get his map out. He knew where he was from the position of the river.

As he smoked, his legs stretched out in front of him, he noticed a grasshopper walk along the ground and up onto his woolen sock. The grasshopper was black. As he had walked along the road, climbing, he had started many grasshoppers from the dust. They were all black. They were not the big grasshoppers with yellow and black or red and black wings whirring out from their black wing sheathing as they fly up. These were just ordinary hoppers, but all a sooty black in color. Nick had wondered about them as he walked, without really thinking about them. Now, as he watched the black hopper that was nibbling at the wool of his sock with its fourway lip, he realized that they had all turned black from living in the burned-over land. He realized that the fire must have come the year before, but the grasshoppers were all black now. He wondered how long they would stay that way.

Carefully he reached his hand down and took hold of the hopper by the wings. He turned him up, all his legs walking in the air, and looked at his jointed belly. Yes, it was black too, iridescent where the back and head were dusty.

“Go on, hopper,” Nick said, speaking out loud for the first time, “Fly away somewhere.”

He tossed the grasshopper up into the air and watched him sail away to a charcoal stump across the road.

Nick stood up. He leaned his back against the weight of his pack where it rested upright on the stump and got his arms through the shoulder straps. He stood with the pack on his back on the brow of the hill looking out across the country, toward the distant river and then struck down the hillside away from the road. Underfoot the ground was good walking. Two hundred yards down the hillside the fire line stopped. Then it was sweet fern, growing ankle high, to walk through, and clumps of jack pines; a long undulating country with frequent rises and descents, sandy underfoot and the country alive again.

Nick kept his direction by the sun. He knew where he wanted to strike the river and he kept on through the pine plain, mounting small rises to see other rises ahead of him and sometimes from the top of a rise a great solid island of pines off to his right or his left. He broke off some sprigs of the heathery sweet fern, and put them under his pack straps. The chafing crushed it and he smelled it as he walked.

He was tired and very hot, walking across the uneven, shadeless pine plain. At any time he knew he could strike the river by turning off to his left. It could not be more than a mile away. But he kept on toward the north to hit the river as far upstream as he could go in one day’s walking.

For some time as he walked Nick had been in sight of one of the big islands of pine standing out above the rolling high ground he was crossing. He dipped down and then as he came slowly up to the crest of the ridge he turned and made toward the pine trees.

There was no underbrush in the island of pine trees. The trunks of the trees went straight up or slanted toward each other. The trunks were straight and brown without branches. The branches were high above. Some interlocked to make a solid shadow on the brown forest floor. Around the grove of trees was a bare space. It was brown and soft underfoot as Nick walked on it. This was the overlapping of the pine needle floor, extending out beyond the width of the high branches. The trees had grown tall and the branches moved high, leaving in the sun this bare space they had once covered with shadow. Sharp at the edge of this extension of the forest floor commenced the sweet fern.

Nick slipped off his pack and lay down in the shade. He lay on his back and looked up into the pine trees. His neck and back and the small of his back rested as he stretched. The earth felt good against his back. He looked up at the sky, through the branches, and then shut his eyes. He opened them and looked up again. There was a wind high up in the branches. He shut his eyes again and went to sleep.

Nick woke stiff and cramped. The sun was nearly down. His pack was heavy and the straps painful as he lifted it on. He leaned over with the pack on and picked up the leather rod-case and started out from the pine trees across the sweet fern swale, toward the river. He knew it could not be more than a mile.

He came down a hillside covered with stumps into a meadow. At the edge of the meadow flowed the river. Nick was glad to get to the river. He walked upstream through the meadow. His trousers were soaked with the dew as he walked. After the hot day, the dew had come quickly and heavily. The river made no sound. It was too fast and smooth. At the edge of the meadow, before he mounted to a piece of high ground to make camp, Nick looked down the river at the trout rising. They were rising to insects come from the swamp on the other side of the stream when the sun went down. The trout jumped out of water to take them. While Nick walked through the little stretch of meadow alongside the stream, trout had jumped high out of water. Now as he looked down the river, the insects must be settling on the surface, for the trout were feeding steadily all down the stream. As far down the long stretch as he could see, the trout were rising, making circles all down the surface of the water, as though it were starting to rain.

The ground rose, wooded and sandy, to overlook the meadow, the stretch of river and the swamp. Nick dropped his pack and rod-case and looked for a level piece of ground. He was very hungry and he wanted to make his camp before he cooked. Between two jack pines, the ground was quite level. He took the ax out of the pack and chopped out two projecting roots. That leveled a piece of ground large enough to sleep on. He smoothed out the sandy soil with his hand and pulled all the sweet fern bushes by their roots. His hands smelled good from the sweet fern. He smoothed the uprooted earth. He did not want anything making lumps under the blankets. When he had the ground smooth, he spread his three blankets. One he folded double, next to the ground. The other two he spread on top.

With the ax he slit off a bright slab of pine from one of the stumps and split it into pegs for the tent. He wanted them long and solid to hold in the ground. With the tent unpacked and spread on the ground, the pack, leaning against a jackpine, looked much smaller. Nick tied the rope that served the tent for a ridgepole to the trunk of one of the pine trees and pulled the tent up off the ground with the other end of the rope and tied it to the other pine. The tent hung on the rope like a canvas blanket on a clothes line. Nick poked a pole he had cut up under the back peak of the canvas and then made it a tent by pegging out the sides. He pegged the sides out taut and drove the pegs deep, hitting them down into the ground with the flat of the ax until the rope loops were buried and the canvas was drum tight.

Across the open mouth of the tent Nick fixed cheese cloth to keep out mosquitoes. He crawled inside under the mosquito bar with various things from the pack to put at the head of the bed under the slant of the canvas. Inside the tent the light came through the brown canvas. It smelled pleasantly of canvas. Already there was something mysterious and homelike. Nick was happy as he crawled inside the tent. He had not been unhappy all day. This was different though. Now things were done. There had been this to do. Now it was done. It had been a hard trip. He was very tired. That was done. He had made his camp. He was settled. Nothing could touch him. It was a good place to camp. He was there, in the good place. He was in his home where he had made it. Now he was hungry.

He came out, crawling under the cheese cloth. It was quite dark outside. It was lighter in the tent.

Nick went over to the pack and found, with his fingers, a long nail in a paper sack of nails, in the bottom of the pack. He drove it into the pine tree, holding it close and hitting it gently with the flat of the ax. He hung the pack up on the nail. All his supplies were in the pack. They were off the ground and sheltered now.

Nick was hungry. He did not believe he had ever been hungrier. He opened and emptied a can of pork and beans and a can of spaghetti into the frying pan.

“I’ve got a right to eat this kind of stuff, if I’m willing to carry it,” Nick said. His voice sounded strange in the darkening woods. He did not speak again.

He started a fire with some chunks of pine he got with the ax from a stump. Over the fire he stuck a wire grill, pushing the four legs down into the ground with his boot. Nick put the frying pan on the grill over the flames. He was hungrier. The beans and spaghetti warmed. Nick stirred them and mixed them together. They began to bubble, making little bubbles that rose with difficulty to the surface. There was a good smell. Nick got out a bottle of tomato catchup and cut four slices of bread. The little bubbles were coming faster now. Nick sat down beside the fire and lifted the frying pan off. He poured about half the contents out into the tin plate. It spread slowly on the plate. Nick knew it was too hot. He poured on some tomato catchup. He knew the beans and spaghetti were still too hot. He looked at the fire, then at the tent, he was not going to spoil it all by burning his tongue. For years he had never enjoyed fried bananas because he had never been able to wait for them to cool. His tongue was very sensitive. He was very hungry. Across the river in the swamp, in the almost dark, he saw a mist rising. He looked at the tent once more. All right. He took a full spoonful from the plate.

“Chrise,” Nick said, “Geezus Chrise,” he said happily.

He ate the whole plateful before he remembered the bread. Nick finished the second plateful with the bread, mopping the plate shiny. He had not eaten since a cup of coffee and a ham sandwich in the station restaurant at St. Ignace. It had been a very fine experience. He had been that hungry before, but had not been able to satisfy it. He could have made camp hours before if he had wanted to. There were plenty of good places to camp on the river. But this was good.

Nick tucked two big chips of pine under the grill. The fire flared up. He had forgotten to get water for the coffee. Out of the pack he got a folding canvas bucket and walked down the hill, across the edge of the meadow, to the stream. The other bank was in the white mist. The grass was wet and cold as he knelt on the bank and dipped the canvas bucket into the stream. It bellied and pulled hard in the current. The water was ice cold. Nick rinsed the bucket and carried it full up to the camp. Up away from the stream it was not so cold.

Nick drove another big nail and hung up the bucket full of water. He dipped the coffee pot half full, put some more chips under the grill onto the fire and put the pot on. He could not remember which way he made coffee. He could remember an argument about it with Hopkins, but not which side he had taken. He decided to bring it to a boil. He remembered now that was Hopkins’s way. He had once argued about everything with Hopkins. While he waited for the coffee to boil, he opened a small can of apricots. He liked to open cans. He emptied the can of apricots out into a tin cup. While he watched the coffee on the fire, he drank the juice syrup of the apricots, carefully at first to keep from spilling, then meditatively, sucking the apricots down. They were better than fresh apricots.

The coffee boiled as he watched. The lid came up and coffee and grounds ran down the side of the pot. Nick took it off the grill. It was a triumph for Hopkins. He put sugar in the empty apricot cup and poured some of the coffee out to cool. It was too hot to pour and he used his hat to hold the handle of the coffee pot. He would not let it steep in the pot at all. Not the first cup. It should be straight Hopkins all the way. Hop deserved that. He was a very serious coffee maker. He was the most serious man Nick had ever known. Not heavy, serious. That was a long time ago. Hopkins spoke without moving his lips. He had played polo. He made millions of dollars in Texas. He had borrowed carfare to go to Chicago, when the wire came that his first big well had come in. He could have wired for money. That would have been too slow. They called Hop’s girl the Blonde Venus. Hop did not mind because she was not his real girl. Hopkins said very confidently that none of them would make fun of his real girl. He was right. Hopkins went away when the telegram came. That was on the Black River. It took eight days for the telegram to reach him. Hopkins gave away his .22 caliber Colt automatic pistol to Nick. He gave his camera to Bill. It was to remember him always by. They were all going fishing again next summer. The Hop Head was rich. He would get a yacht and they would all cruise along the north shore of Lake Superior. He was excited but serious. They said goodbye and all felt bad. It broke up the trip. They never saw Hopkins again. That was a long time ago on the Black River.

Nick drank the coffee, the coffee, according to Hopkins. The coffee was bitter. Nick laughed. It made a good ending to the story. His mind was starting to work. He knew he could choke it because he was tired enough. He spilled the coffee out of the pot and shook the grounds loose into the fire. He lit a cigarette and went inside the tent. He took off his shoes and trousers, sitting on the blankets, rolled the shoes up inside the trousers for a pillow and got in between the blankets.

Out through the front of the tent he watched the glow of the fire, when the night wind blew on it. It was a quiet night. The swamp was perfectly quiet. Nick stretched under the blanket comfortably. A mosquito hummed close to his ear. Nick sat up and lit a match. The mosquito was on the canvas, over his head. Nick moved the match quickly up to it. The mosquito made a satisfactory hiss in the flame. The match went out. Nick lay down again under the blankets. He turned on his side and shut his eyes. He was sleepy. He felt sleep coming. He curled up under the blanket and went to sleep.

Chapter XV

They hanged Sam Cardinella at six o’clock in the morning in the corridor of the county jail. The corridor was high and narrow with tiers of cells on either side. All the cells were occupied. The prisoners had been brought in for the hanging. Five men sentenced to be hanged were in the five top cells. Three of the men to be hanged were negroes. They were very frightened. One of the white men sat on his cot with his head in his hands. The other lay flat on his cot with a blanket wrapped around his head.

They came out onto the gallows through a door in the wall. There were six or seven of them including two priests. They were carrying Sam Cardinella. He had been like that since about four o’clock in the morning.

While they were strapping his legs together two guards held him up and the two priests were whispering to him. “Be a man, my son,” said one priest. When they came toward him with the cap to go over his head Sam Cardinella lost control of his sphincter muscles. The guards who had been holding him up dropped him. They were both disgusted. “How about a chair, Will?” asked one of the guards. “Better get one,” said a man in a derby hat.

When they all stepped back on the scaffolding back of the drop, which was very heavy, built of oak and steel and swung on ball bearings, Sam Cardinella was left sitting there strapped tight with the rope around his neck, the younger of the two priests kneeling beside the chair holding up a little crucifix. The priest skipped back onto the scaffolding just before the drop fell.

Big Two-Hearted River Part II

In the morning the sun was up and the tent was starting to get hot. Nick crawled out under the mosquito netting stretched across the mouth of the tent, to look at the morning. The grass was wet on his hands as he came out. He held his trousers and his shoes in his hands. The sun was just up over the hill. There was the meadow, the river and the swamp. There were birch trees in the green of the swamp on the other side of the river.

The river was clear and smoothly fast in the early morning. Down about two hundred yards were three logs all the way across the stream. They made the water smooth and deep above them. As Nick watched, a mink crossed the river on the logs and went into the swamp. Nick was excited. He was excited by the early morning and the river. He was really too hurried to eat breakfast, but he knew he must. He built a little fire and put on the coffee pot. While the water was heating in the pot he took an empty bottle and went down over the edge of the high ground to the meadow. The meadow was wet with dew and Nick wanted to catch grasshoppers for bait before the sun dried the grass. He found plenty of good grasshoppers. They were at the base of the grass stems. Sometimes they clung to a grass stem. They were cold and wet with the dew, and could not jump until the sun warmed them. Nick picked them up, taking only the medium sized brown ones, and put them into the bottle. He turned over a log and just under the shelter of the edge were several hundred hoppers. It was a grasshopper lodging house. Nick put about fifty of the medium browns into the bottle. While he was picking up the hoppers the others warmed in the sun and commenced to hop away. They flew when they hopped. At first they made one flight and stayed stiff when they landed, as though they were dead.

Nick knew that by the time he was through with breakfast they would be as lively as ever. Without dew in the grass it would take him all day to catch a bottle full of good grasshoppers and he would have to crush many of them, slamming at them with his hat. He washed his hands at the stream. He was excited to be near it. Then he walked up to the tent. The hoppers were already jumping stiffly in the grass. In the bottle, warmed by the sun, they were jumping in a mass. Nick put in a pine stick as a cork. It plugged the mouth of the bottle enough, so the hoppers could not get out and left plenty of air passage.

He had rolled the log back and knew he could get grasshoppers there every morning.

Nick laid the bottle full of jumping grasshoppers against a pine trunk. Rapidly he mixed some buckwheat flour with water and stirred it smooth, one cup of flour, one cup of water. He put a handful of coffee in the pot and dipped a lump of grease out of a can and slid it sputtering across the hot skillet. On the smoking skillet he poured smoothly the buckwheat batter. It spread like lava, the grease spitting sharply. Around the edges the buckwheat cake began to firm, then brown, then crisp. The surface was bubbling slowly to porousness. Nick pushed under the browned under surface with a fresh pine chip. He shook the skillet sideways and the cake was loose on the surface. I won’t try and flop it, he thought. He slid the chip of clean wood all the way under the cake, and flopped it over onto its face. It sputtered in the pan.

When it was cooked Nick regreased the skillet. He used all the batter. It made another big flapjack and one smaller one.

Nick ate a big flapjack and a smaller one, covered with apple butter. He put apple butter on the third cake, folded it over twice, wrapped it in oiled paper and put it in his shirt pocket. He put the apple butter jar back in the pack and cut bread for two sandwiches.

In the pack he found a big onion. He sliced it in two and peeled the silky outer skin. Then he cut one half into slices and made onion sandwiches. He wrapped them in oiled paper and buttoned them in the other pocket of his khaki shirt. He turned the skillet upside down on the grill, drank the coffee, sweetened and yellow brown with the condensed milk in it, and tidied up the camp. It was a nice little camp.

Nick took his fly rod out of the leather rod-case, jointed it, and shoved the rod-case back into the tent. He put on the reel and threaded the line through the guides. He had to hold it from hand to hand, as he threaded it, or it would slip back through its own weight. It was a heavy, double tapered fly line. Nick had paid eight dollars for it a long time ago. It was made heavy to lift back in the air and come forward flat and heavy and straight to make it possible to cast a fly which has no weight. Nick opened the aluminum leader box. The leaders were coiled between the damp flannel pads. Nick had wet the pads at the water cooler on the train up to St. Ignace. In the damp pads the gut leaders had softened and Nick unrolled one and tied it by a loop at the end to the heavy fly line. He fastened a hook on the end of the leader. It was a small hook; very thin and springy.

Nick took it from his hook book, sitting with the rod across his lap. He tested the knot and the spring of the rod by pulling the line taut. It was a good feeling. He was careful not to let the hook bite into his finger.

He started down to the stream, holding his rod, the bottle of grasshoppers hung from his neck by a thong tied in half hitches around the neck of the bottle. His landing net hung by a hook from his belt. Over his shoulder was a long flour sack tied at each corner into an ear. The cord went over his shoulder. The sack flapped against his legs.

Nick felt awkward and professionally happy with all his equipment hanging from him. The grasshopper bottle swung against his chest. In his shirt the breast pockets bulged against him with the lunch and his fly book.

He stepped into the stream. It was a shock. His trousers clung tight to his legs. His shoes felt the gravel. The water was a rising cold shock.

Rushing, the current sucked against his legs. Where he stepped in, the water was over his knees. He waded with the current. The gravel slid under his shoes. He looked down at the swirl of water below each leg and tipped up the bottle to get a grasshopper.

The first grasshopper gave a jump in the neck of the bottle and went out into the water. He was sucked under in the whirl by Nick’s right leg and came to the surface a little way down stream. He floated rapidly, kicking. In a quick circle, breaking the smooth surface of the water, he disappeared. A trout had taken him.

Another hopper poked his head out of the bottle. His antennae wavered. He was getting his front legs out of the bottle to jump. Nick took him by the head and held him while he threaded the slim hook under his chin, down through his thorax and into the last segments of his abdomen. The grasshopper took hold of the hook with his front feet, spitting tobacco juice on it. Nick dropped him into the water.

Holding the rod in his right hand he let out line against the pull of the grasshopper in the current. He stripped off line from the reel with his left hand and let it run free. He could see the hopper in the little waves of the current. It went out of sight.

There was a tug on the line. Nick pulled against the taut line. It was his first strike. Holding the now living rod across the current, he brought in the line with his left hand. The rod bent in jerks, the trout pumping against the current. Nick knew it was a small one. He lifted the rod straight up in the air. It bowed with the pull.

He saw the trout in the water jerking with his head and body against the shifting tangent of the line in the stream.

Nick took the line in his left hand and pulled the trout, thumping tiredly against the current, to the surface. His back was mottled the clear, water-over-gravel color, his side flashing in the sun. The rod under his right arm, Nick stooped, dipping his right hand into the current. He held the trout, never still, with his moist right hand, while he unhooked the barb from his mouth, then dropped him back into the stream.

He hung unsteadily in the current, then settled to the bottom beside a stone. Nick reached down his hand to touch him, his arm to the elbow under water. The trout was steady in the moving stream, resting on the gravel, beside a stone. As Nick’s fingers touched him, touched his smooth, cool, underwater feeling he was gone, gone in a shadow across the bottom of the stream.

He’s all right, Nick thought. He was only tired.

He had wet his hand before he touched the trout, so he would not disturb the delicate mucus that covered him. If a trout was touched with a dry hand, a white fungus attacked the unprotected spot. Years before when he had fished crowded streams, with fly fishermen ahead of him and behind him, Nick had again and again come on dead trout, furry with white fungus, drifted against a rock, or floating belly up in some pool. Nick did not like to fish with other men on the river. Unless they were of your party, they spoiled it.

He wallowed down the stream, above his knees in the current, through the fifty yards of shallow water above the pile of logs that crossed the stream. He did not rebait his hook and held it in his hand as he waded. He was certain he could catch small trout in the shallows, but he did not want them. There would be no big trout in the shallows this time of day.

Now the water deepened up his thighs sharply and coldly. Ahead was the smooth dammed-back flood of water above the logs. The water was smooth and dark; on the left, the lower edge of the meadow; on the right the swamp.

Nick leaned back against the current and took a hopper from the bottle. He threaded the hopper on the hook and spat on him for good luck. Then he pulled several yards of line from the reel and tossed the hopper out ahead onto the fast, dark water. It floated down towards the logs, then the weight of the line pulled the bait under the surface. Nick held the rod in his right hand, letting the line run out through his fingers.

There was a long tug. Nick struck and the rod came alive and dangerous, bent double, the line tightening, coming out of water, tightening, all in a heavy, dangerous, steady pull. Nick felt the moment when the leader would break if the strain increased and let the line go.

The reel ratcheted into a mechanical shriek as the line went out in a rush. Too fast. Nick could not check it, the line rushing out, the reel note rising as the line ran out.

With the core of the reel showing, his heart feeling stopped with the excitement, leaning back against the current that mounted icily his thighs, Nick thumbed the reel hard with his left hand. It was awkward getting his thumb inside the fly reel frame.

As he put on pressure the line tightened into sudden hardness and beyond the logs a huge trout went high out of water. As he jumped, Nick lowered the tip of the rod. But he felt, as he dropped the tip to ease the strain, the moment when the strain was too great; the hardness too tight. Of course, the leader had broken. There was no mistaking the feeling when all spring left the line and it became dry and hard. Then it went slack.

His mouth dry, his heart down, Nick reeled in. He had never seen so big a trout. There was a heaviness, a power not to be held, and then the bulk of him, as he jumped. He looked as broad as a salmon.

Nick’s hand was shaky. He reeled in slowly. The thrill had been too much. He felt, vaguely, a little sick, as though it would be better to sit down.

The leader had broken where the hook was tied to it. Nick took it in his hand. He thought of the trout somewhere on the bottom, holding himself steady over the gravel, far down below the light, under the logs, with the hook in his jaw. Nick knew the trout’s teeth would cut through the snell of the hook. The hook would imbed itself in his jaw. He’d bet the trout was angry. Anything that size would be angry. That was a trout. He had been solidly hooked. Solid as a rock. He felt like a rock, too, before he started off. By God, he was a big one. By God, he was the biggest one I ever heard of.

Nick climbed out onto the meadow and stood, water running down his trousers and out of his shoes, his shoes squlchy. He went over and sat on the logs. He did not want to rush his sensations any.

He wriggled his toes in the water, in his shoes, and got out a cigarette from his breast pocket. He lit it and tossed the match into the fast water below the logs. A tiny trout rose at the match, as it swung around in the fast current. Nick laughed. He would finish the cigarette.

He sat on the logs, smoking, drying in the sun, the sun warm on his back, the river shallow ahead entering the woods, curving into the woods, shallows, light glittering, big water-smooth rocks, cedars along the bank and white birches, the logs warm in the sun, smooth to sit on, without bark, gray to the touch; slowly the feeling of disappointment left him. It went away slowly, the feeling of disappointment that came sharply after the thrill that made his shoulders ache. It was all right now. His rod lying out on the logs, Nick tied a new hook on the leader, pulling the gut tight until it grimped into itself in a hard knot.

He baited up, then picked up the rod and walked to the far end of the logs to get into the water, where it was not too deep. Under and beyond the logs was a deep pool. Nick walked around the shallow shelf near the swamp shore until he came out on the shallow bed of the stream.

On the left, where the meadow ended and the woods began, a great elm tree was uprooted. Gone over in a storm, it lay back into the woods, its roots clotted with dirt, grass growing in them, rising a solid bank beside the stream. The river cut to the edge of the uprooted tree. From where Nick stood he could see deep channels, like ruts, cut in the shallow bed of the stream by the flow of the current. Pebbly where he stood and pebbly and full of boulders beyond; where it curved near the tree roots, the bed of the stream was marly and between the ruts of deep water green weed fronds swung in the current.

Nick swung the rod back over his shoulder and forward, and the line, curving forward, laid the grasshopper down on one of the deep channels in the weeds. A trout struck and Nick hooked him.

Holding the rod far out toward the uprooted tree and sloshing backward in the current, Nick worked the trout, plunging, the rod bending alive, out of the danger of the weeds into the open river. Holding the rod, pumping alive against the current, Nick brought the trout in. He rushed, but always came, the spring of the rod yielding to the rushes, sometimes jerking under water, but always bringing him in. Nick eased downstream with the rushes. The rod above his head he led the trout over the net, then lifted.

The trout hung heavy in the net, mottled trout back and silver sides in the meshes. Nick unhooked him; heavy sides, good to hold, big undershot jaw, and slipped him, heaving and big sliding, into the long sack that hung from his shoulders in the water.

Nick spread the mouth of the sack against the current and it filled, heavy with water. He held it up, the bottom in the stream, and the water poured out through the sides. Inside at the bottom was the big trout, alive in the water.

Nick moved downstream. The sack out ahead of him, sunk, heavy in the water, pulling from his shoulders.

It was getting hot, the sun hot on the back of his neck.

Nick had one good trout. He did not care about getting many trout. Now the stream was shallow and wide. There were trees along both banks. The trees of the left bank made short shadows on the current in the forenoon sun. Nick knew there were trout in each shadow. In the afternoon, after the sun had crossed toward the hills, the trout would be in the cool shadows on the other side of the stream.

The very biggest ones would lie up close to the bank. You could always pick them up there on the Black. When the sun was down they all moved out into the current. Just when the sun made the water blinding in the glare before it went down, you were liable to strike a big trout anywhere in the current. It was almost impossible to fish then, the surface of the water was blinding as a mirror in the sun. Of course, you could fish upstream, but in a stream like the Black, or this, you had to wallow against the current and in a deep place, the water piled up on you. It was no fun to fish upstream with this much current.

Nick moved along through the shallow stretch watching the banks for deep holes. A beech tree grew close beside the river, so that the branches hung down into the water. The stream went back in under the leaves. There were always trout in a place like that.

Nick did not care about fishing that hole. He was sure he would get hooked in the branches.

It looked deep though. He dropped the grasshopper so the current took it under water, back in under the overhanging branch. The line pulled hard and Nick struck. The trout threshed heavily, half out of water in the leaves and branches. The line was caught. Nick pulled hard and the trout was off. He reeled in and holding the hook in his hand, walked down the stream.

Ahead, close to the left bank, was a big log. Nick saw it was hollow; pointing up river the current entered it smoothly, only a little ripple spread each side of the log. The water was deepening. The top of the hollow log was gray and dry. It was partly in the shadow.

Nick took the cork out of the grasshopper bottle and a hopper clung to it. He picked him off, hooked him and tossed him out. He held the rod far out so that the hopper on the water moved into the current flowing into the hollow log. Nick lowered the rod and the hopper floated in. There was a heavy strike. Nick swung the rod against the pull. It felt as though he were hooked into the log itself, except for the live feeling.

He tried to force the fish out into the current. It came, heavily.

The line went slack and Nick thought the trout was gone. Then he saw him, very near, in the current, shaking his head, trying to get the hook out. His mouth was clamped shut. He was fighting the hook in the clear flowing current.

Looping in the line with his left hand, Nick swung the rod to make the line taut and tried to lead the trout toward the net, but he was gone, out of sight, the line pumping. Nick fought him against the current, letting him thump in the water against the spring of the rod. He shifted the rod to his left hand, worked the trout upstream, holding his weight, fighting on the rod, and then let him down into the net. He lifted him clear of the water, a heavy half circle in the net, the net dripping, unhooked him and slid him into the sack.

He spread the mouth of the sack and looked down in at the two big trout alive in the water.

Through the deepening water, Nick waded over to the hollow log. He took the sack off, over his head, the trout flopping as it came out of water, and hung it so the trout were deep in the water. Then he pulled himself up on the log and sat, the water from his trousers and boots running down into the stream. He laid his rod down, moved along to the shady end of the log and took the sandwiches out of his pocket. He dipped the sandwiches in the cold water. The current carried away the crumbs. He ate the sandwiches and dipped his hat full of water to drink, the water running out through his hat just ahead of his drinking.

It was cool in the shade, sitting on the log. He took a cigarette out and struck a match to light it. The match sunk into the gray wood, making a tiny furrow. Nick leaned over the side of the log, found a hard place and lit the match. He sat smoking and watching the river.

Ahead the river narrowed and went into a swamp. The river became smooth and deep and the swamp looked solid with cedar trees, their trunks close together, their branches solid. It would not be possible to walk through a swamp like that. The branches grew so low. You would have to keep almost level with the ground to move at all. You could not crash through the branches. That must be why the animals that lived in swamps were built the way they were, Nick thought.

He wished he had brought something to read. He felt like reading. He did not feel like going on into the swamp. He looked down the river. A big cedar slanted all the way across the stream. Beyond that the river went into the swamp.

Nick did not want to go in there now. He felt a reaction against deep wading with the water deepening up under his armpits, to hook big trout in places impossible to land them. In the swamp the banks were bare, the big cedars came together overhead, the sun did not come through, except in patches; in the fast deep water, in the half light, the fishing would be tragic. In the swamp fishing was a tragic adventure. Nick did not want it. He did not want to go down the stream any further today.

He took out his knife, opened it and stuck it in the log. Then he pulled up the sack, reached into it and brought out one of the trout. Holding him near the tail, hard to hold, alive, in his hand, he whacked him against the log. The trout quivered, rigid. Nick laid him on the log in the shade and broke the neck of the other fish the same way. He laid them side by side on the log. They were fine trout.

Nick cleaned them, slitting them from the vent to the tip of the jaw. All the insides and the gills and tongue came out in one piece. They were both males; long gray-white strips of milt, smooth and clean. All the insides clean and compact, coming out all together. Nick tossed the offal ashore for the minks to find.

He washed the trout in the stream. When he held them back up in the water they looked like live fish. Their color was not gone yet. He washed his hands and dried them on the log. Then he laid the trout on the sack spread out on the log, rolled them up in it, tied the bundle and put it in the landing net. His knife was still standing, blade stuck in the log. He cleaned it on the wood and put it in his pocket.

Nick stood up on the log, holding his rod, the landing net hanging heavy, then stepped into the water and splashed ashore. He climbed the bank and cut up into the woods, toward the high ground. He was going back to camp. He looked back. The river just showed through the trees. There were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp.


The king was working in the garden. He seemed very glad to see me. We walked through the garden. “This is the queen,” he said. She was clipping a rose bush. “Oh, how do you do,” she said. We sat down at a table under a big tree and the king ordered whisky and soda. “We have good whisky anyway,” he said. The revolutionary committee, he told me, would not allow him to go outside the palace grounds. “Plastiras is a very good man, I believe,” he said, “but frightfully difficult. I think he did right, though, shooting those chaps. If Kerensky had shot a few men things might have been altogether different. Of course, the great thing in this sort of an affair is not to be shot oneself.”

It was very jolly. We talked for a long time. Like all Greeks he wanted to go to America.

The Torrents of Spring

A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of a Great Race

And perhaps there is one reason why a comic writer should of all others be the least excused for deviating from nature, since it may not be always so easy for a serious poet to meet with the great and the admirable; but life everywhere furnishes an accurate observer with the ridiculous.

Henry Fielding

Red and Black Laughter

The only source of the true Ridiculous (as it appears to me) is affectation.

Henry Fielding


Yogi Johnson stood looking out of the window of a big pump-factory in Michigan. Spring would soon be here. Could it be that what this writing fellow Hutchinson had said, “If winter comes can spring be far behind?” would be true again this year? Yogi Johnson wondered. Near Yogi at the next window but one stood Scripps O’Neil, a tall, lean man with a tall, lean face. Both stood and looked out at the empty yard of the pump-factory. Snow covered the crated pumps that would soon be shipped away. Once the spring should come and the snow melt, workmen from the factory would break out the pumps from piles where they were snowed in and haul them down to the G. R. & I. station, where they would be loaded on flatcars and shipped away. Yogi Johnson looked out of the window at the snowed-in pumps, and his breath made little fairy tracings on the cold windowpane. Yogi Johnson thought of Paris. Perhaps it was the little fairy tracings that reminded him of the gay city where he had once spent two weeks. Two weeks that were to have been the happiest weeks of his life. That was all behind him now. That and everything else.

Scripps O’Neil had two wives. As he looked out of the window, standing tall and lean and resilient with his own tenuous hardness, he thought of both of them. One lived in Mancelona and the other lived in Petoskey. He had not seen the wife who lived in Mancelona since last spring. He looked out at the snow-covered pump-yards and thought what spring would mean. With his wife in Mancelona Scripps often got drunk. When he was drunk he and his wife were happy. They would go down together to the railway station and walk out along the tracks, and then sit together and drink and watch the trains go by. They would sit under a pine-tree on a little hill that overlooked the railway and drink. Sometimes they drank all night. Sometimes they drank for a week at a time. It did them good. It made Scripps strong.

Scripps had a daughter whom he playfully called Lousy O’Neil. Her real name was Lucy O’Neil. One night, after Scripps and his old woman had been out drinking on the railroad line for three or four days, he lost his wife. He didn’t know where she was. When he came to himself everything was dark. He walked along the railroad track toward town. The ties were stiff and hard under his feet. He tried walking on the rails. He couldn’t do it. He had the dope on that all right. He went back to walking along the ties. It was a long way into town. Finally he came to where he could see the lights of the switch-yard. He cut away from the tracks and passed the Mancelona High School. It was a yellow-brick building. There was nothing rococo about it, like the buildings he had seen in Paris. No, he had never been in Paris. That was not he. That was his friend Yogi Johnson.

Yogi Johnson looked out of the window. Soon it would be time to shut the pump-factory for the night. He opened the window carefully, just a crack. Just a crack, but that was enough. Outside in the yard the snow had begun to melt. A warm breeze was blowing. A chinook wind the pump fellows called it. The warm chinook wind came in through the window into the pump-factory. All the workmen laid down their tools. Many of them were Indians.

The foreman was a short, iron-jawed man. He had once made a trip as far as Duluth. Duluth was far across the blue waters of the lake in the hills of Minnesota. A wonderful thing had happened to him there.

The foreman put his finger in his mouth to moisten it and held it up in the air. He felt the warm breeze on his finger. He shook his head ruefully and smiled at the men, a little grimly perhaps.

“Well, it’s a regular chinook, boys,” he said.

Silently for the most part, the workmen hung up their tools. The half-completed pumps were put away in their racks. The workmen filed, some of them talking, others silent, a few muttering, to the washroom to wash up.

Outside through the window came the sound of an Indian war-whoop.


Scripps O’Neil stood outside the Mancelona High School looking up at the lighted windows. It was dark and the snow was falling. It had been falling ever since Scripps could remember. A passerby stopped and stared at Scripps. After all, what was this man to him? He went on.

Scripps stood in the snow and stared up at the lighted windows of the High School. Inside there people were learning things. Far into the night they worked, the boys vying with the girls in their search for knowledge, this urge for the learning of things that was sweeping America. His girl, little Lousy, a girl that had cost him a cool seventy-five dollars in doctors’ bills, was in there learning. Scripps was proud. It was too late for him to learn, but there, day after day and night after night, Lousy was learning. She had the stuff in her, that girl.

Scripps went on up to his house. It was not a big house, but it wasn’t size that mattered to Scripps’s old woman.

“Scripps,” she often said when they were drinking together, “I don’t want a palace. All I want is a place to keep the wind out.” Scripps had taken her at her word. Now, as he walked in the late evening through the snow and saw the lights of his own home, he felt glad that he had taken her at her word. It was better this way than if he were coming home to a palace. He, Scripps, was not the sort of chap that wanted a palace.

He opened the door of his house and went in. Something kept going through his head. He tried to get it out, but it was no good. What was it that poet chap his friend Harry Parker had met once in Detroit had written? Harry used to recite it: “Through pleasures and palaces though I may roam. When you something something something there’s no place like home.” He could not remember the words. Not all of them. He had written a simple tune to it and taught Lucy to sing it. That was when they first were married. Scripps might have been a composer, one of these chaps that write the stuff the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays, if he had had a chance to go on. He would get Lucy to sing that song tonight. He would never drink again. Drinking robbed him of his ear for music. Times when he was drunk the sound of the whistles of the trains at night pulling up the Boyne Falls grade seemed more lovely than anything this chap Stravinsky had ever written. Drinking had done that. It was wrong. He would get away to Paris. Like this chap Albert Spalding that played the violin.

Scripps opened the door. He went in. “Lucy,” he called, “it is I, Scripps.” He would never drink again. No more nights out on the railroad. Perhaps Lucy needed a new fur coat. Perhaps, after all, she had wanted a palace instead of this place. You never knew how you were treating a woman. Perhaps, after all, this place was not keeping out the wind. Fantastic. He lit a match. “Lucy!” he called, and there was a note of dumb terror in his mouth. His friend Walt Simmons had heard just such a cry from a stallion that had once been run over by a passing autobus in the Place Vendôme in Paris. In Paris there were no geldings. All the horses were stallions. They did not breed mares. Not since the war. The war changed all that.

“Lucy!” he called, and again “Lucy!” There was no answer. The house was empty. Through the snow-filled air, as he stood there alone in his tall leanness, in his own deserted house, there came to Scripps’s ears the distant sound of an Indian war-whoop.


Scripps left Mancelona. He was through with that place. What had a town like that to give him? There was nothing to it. You worked all your life and then a thing like that happened. The savings of years wiped out. Everything gone. He started to Chicago to get a job. Chicago was the place. Look at its geographical situation, right at the end of Lake Michigan. Chicago would do big things. Any fool could see that. He would buy land in what is now the Loop, the big shopping and manufacturing district. He would buy the land at a low price and then hang onto it. Let them try and get it away from him. He knew a thing or two now.

Alone, bareheaded, the snow blowing in his hair, he walked down the G. R. & I. railway tracks. It was the coldest night he had ever known. He picked up a dead bird that had frozen and fallen onto the railroad tracks and put it inside his shirt to warm it. The bird nestled close to his warm body and pecked at his chest gratefully.

“Poor little chap,” Scripps said. “You feel the cold too.”

Tears came into his eyes.

“Drat that wind,” Scripps said and once again faced into the blowing snow. The wind was blowing straight down from Lake Superior. The telegraph wires above Scripps’s head sang in the wind. Through the dark, Scripps saw a great yellow eye coming toward him. The giant locomotive came nearer through the snowstorm. Scripps stepped to one side of the track to let it go by. What is it that old writing fellow Shakespeare says: “Might makes right”? Scripps thought of that quotation as the train went past him in the snowing darkness. First the engine passed. He saw the fireman bending to fling great shovelfuls of coal into the open furnace door. The engineer wore goggles. His face was lit up by the light from the open door of the engine. He was the engineer. It was he who had his hand on the throttle. Scripps thought of the Chicago anarchists who, when they were hanged, said: “Though you throttle us today, still you cannot something something our souls.” There was a monument where they were buried in Waldheim Cemetery, right beside the Forest Park Amusement Park, in Chicago. His father used to take Scripps out there on Sundays. The monument was all black and there was a black angel. That was when Scripps had been a little boy. He used often to ask his father: “Father, why if we come to look at the anarchists on Sunday why can’t we ride on the shoot the chutes?” He had never been satisfied with his father’s answer. He had been a little boy in knee pants then. His father had been a great composer. His mother was an Italian woman from the north of Italy. They are strange people, these north Italians.

Scripps stood beside the track, and the long black segments of the train clicked by him in the snow. All the cars were Pullmans. The blinds were down. Light came in thin slits from the bottom of the dark windows as the cars went by. The train did not roar by as it might have if it had been going in the other direction, because it was climbing the Boyne Falls grade. It went slower than if it had been going down. Still it went too fast for Scripps to hitch on. He thought how he had been an expert at hitching on grocery wagons when he was a young boy in knee pants.

The long black train of Pullman cars passed Scripps as he stood beside the tracks. Who were in those cars? Were they Americans, piling up money while they slept? Were they mothers? Were they fathers? Were there lovers among them? Or were they Europeans, members of a worn-out civilization world-weary from the war? Scripps wondered.

The last car passed him and the train went on up the track. Scripps watched the red light at its stern disappearing into the blackness through which the snowflakes now came softly. The bird fluttered inside his shirt. Scripps started along the ties. He wanted to get to Chicago that night, if possible, to start work in the morning. The bird fluttered again. It was not so feeble now. Scripps put his hand on it to still its little bird flutterings. The bird was calmed. Scripps strode on up the track.

After all, he did not need to go as far as Chicago. There were other places. What if that critic fellow Henry Mencken had called Chicago the Literary Capital of America? There was Grand Rapids. Once in Grand Rapids, he could start in in the furniture business. Fortunes had been made that way. Grand Rapids furniture was famous wherever young couples walked in the evening to talk of homemaking. He remembered a sign he had seen in Chicago as a little boy. His mother had pointed it out to him as together they walked barefoot through what now is probably the Loop, begging from door to door. His mother loved the bright flashing of the electric lights in the sign.

“They are like San Miniato in my native Florence,” she told Scripps. “Look at them, my son,” she said, “for some day your music will be played there by the Firenze Symphony Orchestra.”

Scripps had often watched the sign for hours while his mother slept wrapped in an old shawl on what is now probably the Blackstone Hotel. The sign had made a great impression on him.

Let Hartman Feather Your Nest

it had said. It flashed in many different colors. First a pure, dazzling white. That was what Scripps loved best. Then it flashed a lovely green. Then it flashed red. One night as he lay crouched against his mother’s body warmth and watched the sign flash, a policeman came up. “You’ll have to move along,” he said.

Ah, yes, there was big money to be made in the furniture business if you knew how to go about it. He, Scripps, knew all the wrinkles of that game. In his own mind it was settled. He would stop at Grand Rapids. The little bird fluttered, happily now.

“Ah, what a beautiful gilded cage I’ll build for you, my pretty one,” Scripps said exultantly. The little bird pecked him confidently. Scripps strode on in the storm. The snow was beginning to drift across the track. Borne on the wind, there came to Scripps’s ears the sound of a far-off Indian war-whoop.


Where was Scripps now? Walking in the night in the storm, he had become confused. He had started for Chicago after that dreadful night when he had found that his home was a home no longer. Why had Lucy left? What had become of Lousy? He, Scripps, did not know. Not that he cared. That was all behind him. There was none of that now. He was standing knee-deep in snow in front of a railway station. On the railway station was written in big letters:


There were a pile of deer shipped down by hunters from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, lying piled the one on the other, dead and stiff and drifted half over with snow on the station platform. Scripps read the sign again. Could this be Petoskey?

A man was inside the station, tapping something back of a wicketed window. He looked out at Scripps. Could he be a telegrapher? Something told Scripps that he was.

He stepped out of the snowdrift and approached the window. Behind the window the man worked busily away at his telegrapher’s key.

“Are you a telegrapher?” asked Scripps.

“Yes, sir,” said the man. “I’m a telegrapher.”

“How wonderful!”

The telegrapher eyed him suspiciously. After all, what was this man to him?

“Is it hard to be a telegrapher?” Scripps asked. He wanted to ask the man outright if this was Petoskey. He did not know this great northern section of America, though, and he wished to be polite.

The telegrapher looked at him curiously.

“Say,” he asked, “are you a fairy?”

“No,” Scripps said. “I don’t know what being a fairy means.”

“Well,” said the telegrapher, “what do you carry a bird around for?”

“Bird?” asked Scripps. “What bird?”

“That bird that’s sticking out of your shirt.” Scripps was at a loss. What sort of chap was this telegrapher? What sort of men went in for telegraphy? Were they like composers? Were they like artists? Were they like writers? Were they like the advertising men who write the ads in our national weeklies? Or were they like Europeans, drawn and wasted by the war, their best years behind them? Could he tell this telegrapher the whole story? Would he understand?

“I started home,” he began. “I passed the Mancelona High School⁠—”

“I knew a girl in Mancelona,” the telegrapher said. “Maybe you knew her. Ethel Enright.”

It was no good going on. He would cut the story short. He would give the bare essentials. Besides, it was beastly cold. It was cold standing there on the windswept station platform. Something told him it was useless to go on. He looked over at the deer lying there in a pile, stiff and cold. Perhaps they, too, had been lovers. Some were bucks and some were does. The bucks had horns. That was how you could tell. With cats it is more difficult. In France they geld the cats and do not geld the horses. France was a long way off.

“My wife left me,” Scripps said abruptly.

“I don’t wonder if you go around with a damn bird sticking out of your shirt,” the telegrapher said.

“What town is this?” Scripps asked. The single moment of spiritual communion they had had, had been dissipated. They had never really had it. But they might have. It was no use now. It was no use trying to capture what had gone. What had fled.

“Petoskey,” the telegrapher replied.

“Thank you,” Scripps said. He turned and walked into the silent, deserted Northern town. Luckily, he had four hundred and fifty dollars in his pocket. He had sold a story to George Horace Lorimer just before he had started out with his old woman on that drinking trip. Why had he gone at all? What was it all about, anyway?

Coming toward him down the street came two Indians. They looked at him, but their faces did not change. Their faces remained the same. They went into McCarthy’s barber shop.


Scripps O’Neil stood irresolutely before the barber shop. Inside there men were being shaved. Other men, no different, were having their hair cut. Other men sat against the wall in tall chairs and smoked, awaiting their turn in the barber chairs, admiring the paintings hung on the wall, or admiring their own reflections in the long mirror. Should he, Scripps, go in there? After all, he had four hundred and fifty dollars in his pocket. He could go where he wanted. He looked, once again, irresolutely. It was an inviting prospect, the society of men, the warm room, the white jackets of the barbers skillfully snipping away with their scissors or drawing their blades diagonally through the lather that covered the face of some man who was getting a shave. They could use their tools, these barbers. Somehow, it wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted something different. He wanted to eat. Besides, there was his bird to look after.

Scripps O’Neil turned his back on the barber shop and strode away up the street of the silently frozen Northern town. On his right, as he walked, the weeping birches, their branches bare of leaves, hung down to the ground, heavy with snow. To his ears came the sound of sleigh bells. Perhaps it was Christmas. In the South little children would be shooting off firecrackers and crying “Christmas Gift! Christmas Gift!” to one another. His father came from the South. He had been a soldier in the rebel army. ’Way back in Civil War days. Sherman had burned their house down on his March to the Sea. “War is hell,” Sherman had said. “But you see how it is, Mrs. O’Neil. I’ve got to do it.” He had touched a match to the white-pillared old house.

“If General O’Neil were here, you dastard!” his mother had said, speaking in her broken English, “you’d never have touched a match to that house.”

Smoke curled up from the old house. The fire was mounting. The white pillars were obscured in the rising smoke-wreaths. Scripps had held close to his mother’s linsey-woolsey dress.

General Sherman climbed back onto his horse and made a low bow. “Mrs. O’Neil,” he said, and Scripps’s mother always said there were tears in his eyes, even if he was a damned Yank. The man had a heart, sir, even if he did not follow its dictates. “Mrs. O’Neil, if the general were here, we could have it out as man to man. As it is, ma’am, war being what it is, I must burn your house.”

He motioned to one of his soldiers, who ran forward and threw a bucket of kerosene on the flames. The flames rose and a great column of smoke went up in the still evening air.

“At least, General Sherman,” Scripps’s mother said triumphantly, “that column of smoke will warn the other loyal daughters of the Confederacy that you are coming.”

Sherman bowed. “That is the risk we must take, ma’am.” He clapped spurs to his horse and rode away, his long white hair floating on the wind. Neither Scripps nor his mother ever saw him again. Odd that he should think of that incident now. He looked up. Facing him was a sign:

Brown’s Beanery The Best by Test

He would go in and eat. This was what he wanted. He would go in and eat. That sign:

The Best by Test

Ah, these big beanery owners were wise fellows. They knew how to get the customers. No ads in The Saturday Evening Post for them. The Best by Test. That was the stuff. He went in.

Inside the door of the beanery Scripps O’Neil looked around him. There was a long counter. There was a clock. There was a door led into the kitchen. There were a couple of tables. There were a pile of doughnuts under a glass cover. There were signs put about on the wall advertising things one might eat. Was this, after all, Brown’s Beanery?

“I wonder,” Scripps asked an elderly waitress who came in through the swinging door from the kitchen, “if you could tell me if this is Brown’s Beanery?”

“Yes, sir,” answered the waitress. “The best by test.”

“Thank you,” Scripps said. He sat down at the counter. “I would like to have some beans for myself and some for my bird here.”

He opened his shirt and placed the bird on the counter. The bird ruffled his feathers and shook himself. He pecked inquiringly at the catsup bottle. The elderly waitress put out a hand and stroked him. “Isn’t he a manly little fellow?” she remarked. “By the way,” she asked, a little shamefacedly, “what was it you ordered, sir?”

“Beans,” Scripps said, “for my bird and myself.”

The waitress shoved up a little wicket that led into the kitchen. Scripps had a glimpse of a warm, steam-filled room, with big pots and kettles, and many shining cans on the wall.

“A pig and the noisy ones,” the waitress called in a matter-of-fact voice into the open wicket. “One for a bird!”

“On the fire!” a voice answered from the kitchen.

“How old is your bird?” the elderly waitress asked.

“I don’t know,” Scripps said. “I never saw him before last night. I was walking on the railroad track from Mancelona. My wife left me.”

“Poor little chap,” the waitress said. She poured a little catsup on her finger and the bird pecked at it gratefully.

“My wife left me,” Scripps said. “We’d been out drinking on the railroad track. We used to go out evenings and watch the trains pass. I write stories. I had a story in The Post and two in The Dial. Mencken’s trying to get ahold of me. I’m too wise for that sort of thing. No politzei for mine. They give me the katzenjammers.”

What was he saying? He was talking wildly. This would never do. He must pull himself together.

“Scofield Thayer was my best man,” he said. “I’m a Harvard man. All I want is for them to give me and my bird a square deal. No more weltpolitik. Take Dr. Coolidge away.”

His mind was wandering. He knew what it was. He was faint with hunger. This Northern air was too sharp, too keen for him.

“I say,” he said. “Could you let me have just a few of those beans. I don’t like to rush things. I know when to let well enough alone.”

The wicket came up, and a large plate of beans and a small plate of beans, both steaming, appeared.

“Here they are,” the waitress said.

Scripps fell to on the large plate of beans. There was a little pork, too. The bird was eating happily, raising its head after each swallow to let the beans go down.

“He does that to thank God for those beans,” the elderly waitress explained.

“They’re mighty fine beans, too,” Scripps agreed. Under the influence of the beans his head was clearing. What was this rot he had been talking about that man Henry Mencken? Was Mencken really after him? It wasn’t a pretty prospect to face. He had four hundred and fifty dollars in his pocket. When that was gone he could always put an end to things. If they pressed him too far they would get a big surprise. He wasn’t the man to be taken alive. Just let them try it.

After eating his beans the bird had fallen asleep. He was sleeping on one leg, the other leg tucked up into his feathers.

“When he gets tired of sleeping on that leg he will change legs and rest,” the waitress remarked. “We had an old osprey at home that was like that.”

“Where was your home?” Scripps asked.

“In England. In the Lake District.” The waitress smiled a bit wistfully. “Wordsworth’s country, you know.”

Ah, these English. They travelled all over the face of the globe. They were not content to remain in their little island. Strange Nordics, obsessed with their dream of empire.

“I was not always a waitress,” the elderly waitress remarked.

“I’m sure you weren’t.”

“Not half,” the waitress went on. “It’s rather a strange story. Perhaps it would bore you?”

“Not at all,” Scripps said. “You wouldn’t mind if I used the story sometime?”

“Not if you find it interesting,” the waitress smiled. “You wouldn’t use my name, of course.”

“Not if you’d rather not,” Scripps said. “By the way, could I have another order of beans?”

“Best by test,” the waitress smiled. Her face was lined and gray. She looks a little like that actress that died in Pittsburgh. What was her name? Lenore Ulric. In Peter Pan. That was it. They say she always went about veiled, Scripps thought. There was an interesting woman. Was it Lenore Ulric? Perhaps not. No matter.

“You really want some more beans?” asked the waitress.

“Yes,” Scripps answered simply.

“Once again on the loud ones,” the waitress called into the wicket. “Lay off the bird.”

“On the fire,” came the response.

“Please go on with your story,” Scripps said kindly.

“It was the year of the Paris Exposition,” she began. “I was a young girl at the time, a jeune fille, and I came over from England with my mother. We were going to be present at the opening of the exposition. On our way from the Gare du Nord to the hotel in the Place Vendôme where we lodged, we stopped at a coiffeur’s shop and made some trifling purchase. My mother, as I recall, purchased an additional bottle of ‘smelling salts,’ as you call them here in America.”

She smiled.

“Yes, go on. Smelling salts,” Scripps said.

“We registered, as is customary, in the hotel, and were given the adjoining rooms we had reserved. My mother felt a bit done in by the trip, and we dined in our rooms. I was full of excitement about seeing the exposition on the morrow. But I was tired after the journey⁠—we had had a rather nasty crossing⁠—and slept soundly. In the morning I awoke and called for my mother. There was no answer, and I went into the room to waken Mummy. Instead of Mummy there was a French general in the bed.”

Mon Dieu!” Scripps said.

“I was terribly frightened,” the waitress went on, “and rang the bell for the management. The concierge came up, and I demanded to know where my mother was.

“ ‘But, mademoiselle,’ the concierge explained, ‘we know nothing about your mother. You came here with General So-and-so’⁠—I cannot remember the general’s name.”

“Call him General Joffre,” Scripps suggested.

“It was a name very like that,” the waitress said. “I was fearfully frightened and sent for the police, and demanded to see the guest-register. ‘You’ll find there that I am registered with my mother,’ I said. The police came and the concierge brought up the register. ‘See, madame,’ he said. ‘You are registered with the general with whom you came to our hotel last night.’

“I was desperate. Finally, I remembered where the coiffeur’s shop was. The police sent for the coiffeur. An agent of police brought him in.

“ ‘I stopped at your shop with my mother,’ I said to the coiffeur, ‘and my mother bought a bottle of aromatic salts.’

“ ‘I remember mademoiselle perfectly,’ the coiffeur said. ‘But you were not with your mother. You were with an elderly French general. He purchased, I believe, a pair of mustache tongs. My books, at any rate, will show the purchase.’

“I was in despair. In the meantime the police had brought in the cab driver who had brought us from the gare to the hotel. He swore that I had never been with my mother. Tell me, does this story bore you?”

“Go on,” said Scripps. “If you had ever been as hard up for plots as I have been!”

“Well,” the waitress said. “That’s all there is to the tale. I never saw my mother again. I communicated with the embassy, but they could do nothing. It was finally established by them that I had crossed the channel with my mother, but they could do nothing beyond that.” Tears came into the elderly waitress’s eyes. “I never saw Mummy again. Never again. Not even once.”

“What about the general?”

“He finally loaned me one hundred francs⁠—not a great sum even in those days⁠—and I came to America and became a waitress. That’s all there is to the story.”

“There’s more than that,” Scripps said. “I’d stake my life there’s more than that.”

“Sometimes, you know, I feel there is,” the waitress said. “I feel there must be more than that. Somewhere, somehow, there must be an explanation. I don’t know what brought the subject into my mind this morning.”

“It was a good thing to get it off your mind,” Scripps said.

“Yes,” the waitress smiled, the lines in her face not quite so deep now. “I feel better now.”

“Tell me,” Scripps asked the waitress. “Is there any work in this town for me and my bird?”

“Honest work?” asked the waitress. “I only know of honest work.”

“Yes, honest work,” Scripps said.

“They do say they’re hiring hands at the new pump-factory,” the waitress said. Why shouldn’t he work with his hands? Rodin had done it. Cézanne had been a butcher. Renoir a carpenter. Picasso had worked in a cigarette-factory in his boyhood. Gilbert Stuart, who painted those famous portraits of Washington that are reproduced all over this America of ours and hang in every schoolroom⁠—Gilbert Stuart had been a blacksmith. Then there was Emerson. Emerson had been a hod-carrier. James Russell Lowell had been, he had heard, a telegraph operator in his youth. Like that chap down at the station. Perhaps even now that telegrapher at the station was working on his “Thanatopsis” or his “To a Waterfowl.” Why shouldn’t he, Scripps O’Neil, work in a pump-factory?

“You’ll come back again?” the waitress asked.

“If I may,” Scripps said.

“And bring your bird.”

“Yes,” Scripps said. “The little chap’s rather tired now. After all, it was a hard night for him.”

“I should say it was,” agreed the waitress.

Scripps went out again into the town. He felt clearheaded and ready to face life. A pump-factory would be interesting. Pumps were big things now. Fortunes were made and lost in pumps every day in New York in Wall Street. He knew of a chap who’d cleaned up a cool half-million on pumps in less than half an hour. They knew what they were about, these big Wall Street operators.

Outside on the street he looked up at the sign. Best by Test, he read. They had the dope all right, he said. Was it true, though, that there had been a Negro cook? Just once, just for one moment, when the wicket went up, he thought he had caught a glimpse of something black. Perhaps the chap was only sooty from the stove.

The Struggle for Life

And here I solemnly protest I have no intention to vilify or asperse anyone; for though everything is copied from the book of nature, and scarce a character or action produced which I have not taken from my own observations or experience; yet I have used the utmost care to obscure the persons by such different circumstances, degrees, and colors, that it will be impossible to guess at them with any degree of certainty; and if it ever happens otherwise, it is only where the failure characterized is so minute, that it is a foible only which the party himself may laugh at as well as any other.

Henry Fielding


Scripps O’Neil was looking for employment. It would be good to work with his hands. He walked down the street away from the beanery and past McCarthy’s barber shop. He did not go into the barber shop. It looked as inviting as ever, but it was employment Scripps wanted. He turned sharply around the corner of the barber shop and onto the Main Street of Petoskey. It was a handsome, broad street, lined on either side with brick and pressed-stone buildings. Scripps walked along it toward the part of town where the pump-factory stood. At the door of the pump-factory he was embarrassed. Could this really be the pump-factory? True, a stream of pumps were being carried out and set up in the snow, and workmen were throwing pails of water over them to encase them in a coating of ice that would protect them from the winter winds as well as any paint would. But were they really pumps? It might all be a trick. These pump men were clever fellows.

“I say!” Scripps beckoned to one of the workmen who was sloshing water over a new, raw-looking pump that had just been carried out and stood protestingly in the snow. “Are they pumps?”

“They will be in time,” the workman said.

Scripps knew it was the factory. They weren’t going to fool him on that. He walked up to the door. There was a sign on it:

Keep out. This means you

Can that mean me? Scripps wondered. He knocked on the door and went in.

“I’d like to speak to the manager,” he said, standing quietly in the half-light.

Workmen were passing him, carrying the new raw pumps on their shoulders. They hummed snatches of songs as they passed. The handles of the pumps flopped stiffly in dumb protest. Some pumps had no handles. They perhaps, after all, are the lucky ones, Scripps thought. A little man came up to him. He was well-built, short, with wide shoulders and a grim face.

“You were asking for the manager?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m the foreman here. What I say goes.”

“Can you hire and fire?” Scripps asked.

“I can do one as easily as the other,” the foreman said.

“I want a job.”

“Any experience?”

“Not in pumps.”

“All right,” the foreman said. “We’ll put you on piecework. Here, Yogi,” he called to one of the men, who was standing looking out of the window of the factory, “show this new chum where to stow his swag and how to find his way around these diggings.” The foreman looked Scripps up and down. “I’m an Australian,” he said. “Hope you’ll like the lay here.” He walked off.

The man called Yogi Johnson came over from the window. “Glad to meet you,” he said. He was a chunky, well-built fellow. One of the sort you see around almost anywhere. He looked as though he had been through things.

“Your foreman’s the first Australian I’ve ever met,” Scripps said.

“Oh, he’s not an Australian,” Yogi said. “He was just with the Australians once during the war, and it made a big impression on him.”

“Were you in the war?” Scripps asked.

“Yes,” Yogi Johnson said. “I was the first man to go from Cadillac.”

“It must have been quite an experience.”

“It’s meant a lot to me,” Yogi answered. “Come on and I’ll show you around the works.”

Scripps followed this man, who showed him through the pump-factory. It was dark but warm inside the pump-factory. Men naked to the waist took the pumps in huge tongs as they came trundling by on an endless chain, culling out the misfits and placing the perfect pumps on another endless chain that carried them up into the cooling room. Other men, Indians for the most part, wearing only breech-clouts, broke up the misfit pumps with huge hammers and adzes and rapidly recast them into axe heads, wagon springs, trombone slides, bullet moulds, all the byproducts of a big pump-factory. There was nothing wasted, Yogi pointed out. A group of Indian boys, humming to themselves one of the old tribal chanties, squatted in a corner of the big forging room shaping the little fragments that were chipped from the pumps in casting, into safety razor blades.

“They work naked,” Yogi said. “They’re searched as they go out. Sometimes they try and conceal the razor blades and take them out with them to bootleg.”

“There must be quite a loss that way,” Scripps said.

“Oh, no,” Yogi answered. “The inspectors get most of them.”

Upstairs, apart in a separate room, two old men were working. Yogi opened the door. One of the old men looked over his steel spectacles and frowned.

“You make a draft,” he said.

“Shut the door,” the other old man said, in the high, complaining voice of the very old.

“They’re our two hand-workers,” Yogi said. “They make all the pumps the manufactory sends out to the big international pump races. You remember our Peerless Pounder that won the pump race in Italy, where Franky Dawson was killed?”

“I read about it in the paper,” Scripps answered.

Mr. Borrow, over there in the corner, made the Peerless Pounder all himself by hand,” Yogi said.

“I carved it direct from the steel with this knife.” Mr. Borrow held up a short-bladed, razorlike-looking knife. “Took me eighteen months to get it right.”

“The Peerless Pounder was quite a pump all right,” the high-voiced little old man said. “But we’re working on one now that will show its heels to any of them foreign pumps, aren’t we, Henry?”

“That’s Mr. Shaw,” Yogi said in an undertone. “He’s probably the greatest living pump-maker.”

“You boys get along and leave us alone,” Mr. Borrow said. He was carving away steadily, his infirm old hands shaking a little between strokes.

“Let the boys watch,” Mr. Shaw said. “Where you from, young feller?”

“I’ve just come from Mancelona,” Scripps answered. “My wife left me.”

“Well, you won’t have no difficulty finding another one,” Mr. Shaw said. “You’re a likely-looking young feller. But take my advice and take your time. A poor wife ain’t much better than no wife at all.”

“I wouldn’t say that, Henry,” Mr. Borrow remarked in his high voice. “Any wife at all’s a pretty good wife the way things are going now.”

“You take my advice, young feller, and go slow. Get yourself a good one this time.”

“Henry knows a thing or two,” Mr. Borrow said. “He knows what he’s talking about there.” He laughed a high, cackling laugh. Mr. Shaw, the old pump-maker, blushed.

“You boys get along and leave us get on with our pump-making,” he said. “Henry and me here, we got a sight of work to do.”

“I’m very glad to have met you,” Scripps said.

“Come on,” Yogi said. “I better get you started or the foreman will be on my tail.”

He put Scripps to work collaring pistons in the piston-collaring room. There Scripps worked for almost a year. In some ways it was the happiest year of his life. In other ways it was a nightmare. A hideous nightmare. In the end he grew to like it. In other ways he hated it. Before he knew it, a year had passed. He was still collaring pistons. But what strange things had happened in that year. Often he wondered about them. As he wondered, collaring a piston now almost automatically, he listened to the laughter that came up from below, where the little Indian lads were shaping what were to be razor blades. As he listened something rose in his throat and almost choked him.


That night, after his first day in the pump-factory, the first day in what was or were to become an endless succession of days of dull piston-collaring, Scripps went again to the beanery to eat. All day he had kept his bird concealed. Something told him that the pump-factory was not the place to bring his bird out in. During the day the bird had several times made him uncomfortable, but he had adjusted his clothes to it and even cut a little slit the bird could poke his beak out through in search of fresh air. Now the day’s work was over. It was finished. Scripps on his way to the beanery. Scripps happy that he was working with his hands. Scripps thinking of the old pump-makers. Scripps going to the society of the friendly waitress. Who was that waitress, anyway? What was it had happened to her in Paris? He must find out more about this Paris. Yogi Johnson had been there. He would quiz Yogi. Get him to talk. Draw him out. Make him tell what he knew. He knew a trick or two about that.

Watching the sunset out over the Petoskey Harbor, the lake now frozen and great blocks of ice jutting up over the breakwater, Scripps strode down the streets of Petoskey to the beanery. He would have liked to ask Yogi Johnson to eat with him, but he didn’t dare. Not yet. That would come later. All in good time. No need to rush matters with a man like Yogi. Who was Yogi, anyway? Had he really been in the war? What had the war meant to him? Was he really the first man to enlist from Cadillac? Where was Cadillac, anyway? Time would tell.

Scripps O’Neil opened the door and went into the beanery. The elderly waitress got up from the chair where she had been reading the overseas edition of The Manchester Guardian, and put the paper and her steel-rimmed spectacles on top of the cash register.

“Good evening,” she said simply. “It’s good to have you back.”

Something stirred inside Scripps O’Neil. A feeling that he could not define came within him.

“I’ve been working all day long”⁠—he looked at the elderly waitress⁠—“for you,” he added.

“How lovely!” she said. And then smiled shyly. “And I have been working all day long⁠—for you.”

Tears came into Scripps’s eyes. Something stirred inside him again. He reached forward to take the elderly waitress’s hand, and with quiet dignity she laid it within his own. “You are my woman,” he said. Tears came into her eyes, too.

“You are my man,” she said.

“Once again I say: you are my woman.” Scripps pronounced the words solemnly. Something had broken inside him again. He felt he could not keep from crying.

“Let this be our wedding ceremony,” the elderly waitress said. Scripps pressed her hand. “You are my woman,” he said simply.

“You are my man and more than my man.” She looked into his eyes. “You are all of America to me.”

“Let us go,” Scripps said.

“Have you your bird?” asked the waitress, laying aside her apron and folding the copy of The Manchester Guardian Weekly. “I’ll bring The Guardian, if you don’t mind,” she said, wrapping the paper in her apron. “It’s a new paper and I’ve not read it yet.”

“I’m very fond of The Guardian,” Scripps said. “My family have taken it ever since I can remember. My father was a great admirer of Gladstone.”

“My father went to Eton with Gladstone,” the elderly waitress said. “And now I am ready.”

She had donned a coat and stood ready, her apron, her steel-rimmed spectacles in their worn black morocco case, her copy of The Manchester Guardian held in her hand.

“Have you no hat?” asked Scripps.


“Then I will buy you one,” Scripps said tenderly.

“It will be your wedding gift,” the elderly waitress said. Again there were tears shone in her eyes.

“And now let us go,” Scripps said.

The elderly waitress came out from behind the counter, and together, hand in hand, they strode out into the night.

Inside the beanery the black cook pushed up the wicket and looked through from the kitchen. “Dey’ve gone off,” he chuckled. “Gone off into de night. Well, well, well.” He closed the wicket softly. Even he was a little impressed.


Half an hour later Scripps O’Neil and the elderly waitress returned to the beanery as man and wife. The beanery looked much the same. There was the long counter, the salt cellars, the sugar containers, the catsup bottle, the Worcestershire Sauce bottle. There was the wicket that led into the kitchen. Behind the counter was the relief waitress. She was a buxom, jolly-looking girl, and she wore a white apron. At the counter, reading a Detroit paper, sat a drummer. The drummer was eating a T-bone steak and hashed-brown potatoes. Something very beautiful had happened to Scripps and the elderly waitress. Now they were hungry. They wished to eat.

The elderly waitress looking at Scripps. Scripps looking at the elderly waitress. The drummer reading his paper and occasionally putting a little catsup on his hashed-brown potatoes. The other waitress, Mandy, back of the counter in her freshly starched white apron. The frost on the windows. The warmth inside. The cold outside. Scripps’s bird, rather rumpled now, sitting on the counter and preening his feathers.

“So you’ve come back,” Mandy the waitress said. “The cook said you had gone out into the night.”

The elderly waitress looked at Mandy, her eyes brightened, her voice calm and now of a deeper, richer timbre.

“We are man and wife now,” she said kindly. “We have just been married. What would you like to eat for supper, Scripps, dear?”

“I don’t know,” Scripps said. He felt vaguely uneasy. Something was stirring within him.

“Perhaps you have eaten enough of the beans, dear Scripps,” the elderly waitress, now his wife, said. The drummer looked up from his paper. Scripps noticed that it was the Detroit News. There was a fine paper.

“That’s a fine paper you’re reading,” Scripps said to the drummer.

“It’s a good paper, the News,” the drummer said. “You two on your honeymoon?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Scripps said; “we are man and wife now.”

“Well,” said the drummer, “that’s a mighty fine thing to be. I’m a married man myself.”

“Are you?” said Scripps. “My wife left me. It was in Mancelona.”

“Don’t let’s talk of that any more, Scripps, dear,” Mrs. Scripps said. “You’ve told that story so many times.”

“Yes, dear,” Scripps agreed. He felt vaguely mistrustful of himself. Something, somewhere was stirring inside of him. He looked at the waitress called Mandy, standing robust and vigorously lovely in her newly starched white apron. He watched her hands, healthy, calm, capable hands, doing the duties of her waitresshood.

“Try one of these T-bones with hashed-brown potatoes,” the drummer suggested. “They got a nice T-bone here.”

“Would you like one, dear?” Scripps asked his wife.

“I’ll just take a bowl of milk and crackers,” the elderly Mrs. Scripps said. “You have whatever you want, dear.”

“Here’s your crackers and milk, Diana,” Mandy said, placing them on the counter. “Do you want a T-bone, sir?”

“Yes,” Scripps said. Something stirred again within him.

“Well done or rare?”

“Rare, please.”

The waitress turned and called into the wicket: “Tea for one. Let it go raw!”

“Thank you,” Scripps said. He eyed the waitress Mandy. She had a gift for the picturesque in speech, that girl. It had been that very picturesque quality in her speech that had first drawn him to his present wife. That and her strange background. England, the Lake Country. Scripps striding through the Lake Country with Wordsworth. A field of golden daffodils. The wind blowing at Windermere. Far off, perhaps, a stag at bay. Ah, that was farther north, in Scotland. They were a hardy race, those Scots, deep in their mountain fastnesses. Harry Lauder and his pipe. The Highlanders in the Great War. Why had not he, Scripps, been in the war? That was where that chap Yogi Johnson had it on him. The war would have meant much to him, Scripps. Why hadn’t he been in it? Why hadn’t he heard of it in time? Perhaps he was too old. Look at that old French General Joffre, though. Surely he was a younger man than that old general. General Foch praying for victory. The French troops kneeling along the Chemin des Dames, praying for victory. The Germans with their “Gott mit uns.” What a mockery. Surely he was no older than that French General Foch. He wondered.

Mandy, the waitress, placed his T-bone steak and hashed-brown potatoes on the counter before him. As she laid the plate down, just for an instant, her hand touched his. Scripps felt a strange thrill go through him. Life was before him. He was not an old man. Why were there no wars now? Perhaps there were. Men were fighting in China, Chinamen, Chinamen killing one another. What for? Scripps wondered. What was it all about, anyway?

Mandy, the buxom waitress, leaned forward. “Say,” she said, “did I ever tell you about the last words of Henry James?”

“Really, dear Mandy,” Mrs. Scripps said, “you’ve told that story rather often.”

“Let’s hear it,” Scripps said. “I’m very interested in Henry James.” Henry James, Henry James. That chap who had gone away from his own land to live in England among Englishmen. Why had he done it? For what had he left America? Weren’t his roots here? His brother William. Boston. Pragmatism. Harvard University. Old John Harvard with silver buckles on his shoes. Charley Brickley. Eddie Mahan. Where were they now?

“Well,” Mandy began, “Henry James became a British subject on his deathbed. At once, as soon as the king heard Henry James had become a British subject he sent around the highest decoration in his power to bestow⁠—the Order of Merit.”

“The O.M.,” the elderly Mrs. Scripps explained.

“That was it,” the waitress said. “Professors Gosse and Saintsbury came with the man who brought the decoration. Henry James was lying on his deathbed, and his eyes were shut. There was a single candle on a table beside the bed. The nurse allowed them to come near the bed, and they put the ribbon of the decoration around James’s neck, and the decoration lay on the sheet over Henry James’s chest. Professors Gosse and Saintsbury leaned forward and smoothed the ribbon of the decoration. Henry James never opened his eyes. The nurse told them they all must go out of the room, and they all went out of the room. When they were all gone, Henry James spoke to the nurse. He never opened his eyes. ‘Nurse,’ Henry James said, ‘put out the candle, nurse, and spare my blushes.’ Those were the last words he ever spoke.”

“James was quite a writer,” Scripps O’Neil said. He was strangely moved by the story.

“You don’t always tell it the same way, dear,” Mrs. Scripps remarked to Mandy. There were tears in Mandy’s eyes. “I feel very strongly about Henry James,” she said.

“What was the matter with James?” asked the drummer. “Wasn’t America good enough for him?”

Scripps O’Neil was thinking about Mandy, the waitress. What a background she must have, that girl! What a fund of anecdotes! A chap could go far with a woman like that to help him! He stroked the little bird that sat on the lunch-counter before him. The bird pecked at his finger. Was the little bird a hawk? A falcon, perhaps, from one of the big Michigan falconries. Was it perhaps a robin? Pulling and tugging at the early worm on some green lawn somewhere? He wondered.

“What do you call your bird?” the drummer asked.

“I haven’t named him yet. What would you call him?”

“Why not call him Ariel?” Mandy asked.

“Or Puck,” Mrs. Scripps put in.

“What’s it mean?” asked the drummer.

“It’s a character out of Shakespeare,” Mandy explained.

“Oh, give the bird a chance.”

“What would you call him?” Scripps turned to the drummer.

“He ain’t a parrot, is he?” asked the drummer. “If he was a parrot you could call him Polly.”

“There’s a character in The Beggar’s Opera called Polly,” Mandy explained.

Scripps wondered. Perhaps the bird was a parrot. A parrot strayed from some comfortable home with some old maid. The untilled soil of some New England spinster.

“Better wait till you see how he turns out,” the drummer advised. “You got plenty of time to name him.”

This drummer had sound ideas. He, Scripps, did not even know what sex the bird was. Whether he was a boy bird or a girl bird.

“Wait till you see if he lays eggs,” the drummer suggested. Scripps looked into the drummer’s eyes. The fellow had voiced his own unspoken thought.

“You know a thing or two, drummer,” he said.

“Well,” the drummer admitted modestly, “I ain’t drummed all these years for nothing.”

“You’re right there, pal,” Scripps said.

“That’s a nice bird you got there, brother,” the drummer said. “You want to hang onto that bird.”

Scripps knew it. Ah, these drummers know a thing or two. Going up and down over the face of this great America of ours. These drummers kept their eyes open. They were no fools.

“Listen,” the drummer said. He pushed his derby hat off his brow and, leaning forward, spat into the tall brass cuspidor that stood beside his stool. “I want to tell you about a pretty beautiful thing that happened to me once in Bay City.”

Mandy, the waitress, leaned forward. Mrs. Scripps leaned toward the drummer to hear better. The drummer looked apologetically at Scripps and stroked the bird with his forefinger.

“Tell you about it some other time, brother,” he said. Scripps understood. From out of the kitchen, through the wicket in the hall, came a high-pitched, haunting laugh. Scripps listened. Could that be the laughter of the Negro? He wondered.


Scripps going slowly to work in the pump-factory in the mornings. Mrs. Scripps looking out of the window and watching him go up the street. Not much time for reading The Guardian now. Not much time for reading about English politics. Not much time for worrying about the cabinet crises over there in France. The French were a strange people. Joan of Arc. Eva le Gallienne. Clemenceau. Georges Carpentier. Sacha Guitry. Yvonne Printemps. Grock. Les Fratellinis. Gilbert Seldes. The Dial. The Dial Prize. Marianne Moore. E. E. Cummings. The Enormous Room. Vanity Fair. Frank Crowninshield. What was it all about? Where was it taking her?

She had a man now. A man of her own. For her own. Could she keep him? Could she hold him for her own? She wondered.

Mrs. Scripps, formerly an elderly waitress, now the wife of Scripps O’Neil, with a good job in the pump-factory. Diana Scripps. Diana was her own name. It had been her mother’s, too. Diana Scripps looking into the mirror and wondering could she hold him. It was getting to be a question. Why had he ever met Mandy? Would she have the courage to break off going to the restaurant with Scripps to eat? She couldn’t do that. He would go alone. She knew that. It was no use trying to pull wool over her own eyes. He would go alone and he would talk with Mandy. Diana looked into the mirror. Could she hold him? Could she hold him? That thought never left her now.

Every night at the restaurant, she couldn’t call it a beanery now⁠—that made a lump come in her throat and made her throat feel hard and choky. Every night at the restaurant now Scripps and Mandy talked together. The girl was trying to take him away. Him, her Scripps. Trying to take him away. Take him away. Could she, Diana, hold him?

She was no better than a slut, that Mandy. Was that the way to do? Was that the thing to do? Go after another woman’s man? Come between man and wife? Break up a home? And all with these interminable literary reminiscences. These endless anecdotes. Scripps was fascinated by Mandy. Diana admitted that to herself. But she might hold him. That was all that mattered now. To hold him. To hold him. Not to let him go. Make him stay. She looked into the mirror.

Diana subscribing for The Forum. Diana reading The Mentor. Diana reading William Lyon Phelps in Scribner’s. Diana walking through the frozen streets of the silent Northern town to the Public Library, to read The Literary Digest “Book Review.” Diana waiting for the postman to come, bringing The Bookman. Diana, in the snow, waiting for the postman to bring The Saturday Review of Literature. Diana, bareheaded now, standing in the mounting snowdrifts, waiting for the postman to bring her the New York Times “Literary Section.” Was it doing any good? Was it holding him?

At first it seemed to be. Diana learned editorials by John Farrar by heart. Scripps brightened. A little of the old light shining in Scripps’s eyes now. Then it died. Some little mistake in the wording, some slip in her understanding of a phrase, some divergence in her attitude, made it all ring false. She would go on. She was not beaten. He was her man and she would hold him. She looked away from the window and slit open the covering of the magazine that lay on her table. It was Harper’s Magazine. Harper’s Magazine in a new format. Harper’s Magazine completely changed and revised. Perhaps that would do the trick. She wondered.


Spring was coming. Spring was in the air. (Author’s Note.⁠—This is the same day on which the story starts, back on page three.) A chinook wind was blowing. Workmen were coming home from the factory. Scripps’s bird singing in its cage. Diana looking out of the open window. Diana watching for her Scripps to come up the street. Could she hold him? Could she hold him? If she couldn’t hold him, would he leave her his bird? She had felt lately that she couldn’t hold him. In the nights, now, when she touched Scripps he rolled away, not toward her. It was a little sign, but life was made up of little signs. She felt she couldn’t hold him. As she looked out of the window, a copy of The Century Magazine dropped from her nerveless hand. The Century had a new editor. There were more woodcuts. Glenn Frank had gone to head some great university somewhere. There were more Van Dorens on the magazine. Diana felt that might turn the trick. Happily she had opened The Century and read all morning. Then the wind, the warm chinook wind, had started to blow, and she knew Scripps would soon be home. Men were coming down the street in increasing numbers. Was Scripps among them? She did not like to put on her spectacles to look. She wanted Scripps’s first glimpse of her to be of her at her best. As she felt him drawing nearer, the confidence she had had in The Century grew fainter. She had so hoped that would give her the something which would hold him. She wasn’t sure now.

Scripps coming down the street with a crowd of excited workmen. Men stirred by the spring. Scripps swinging his lunch-bucket. Scripps waving goodbye to the workmen, who trooped one by one into what had formerly been a saloon. Scripps not looking up at the window. Scripps coming up the stairs. Scripps coming nearer. Scripps coming nearer. Scripps here.

“Good afternoon, dear Scripps,” she said. “I’ve been reading a story by Ruth Suckow.”

“Hello, Diana,” Scripps answered. He set down his lunch-pail. She looked worn and old. He could afford to be polite.

“What was the story about, Diana?” he asked.

“It was about a little girl in Iowa,” Diana said. She moved toward him. “It was about people on the land. It reminded me a little of my own Lake Country.”

“That so?” asked Scripps. In some ways the pump-factory had hardened him. His speech had become more clipped. More like these hardy Northern workers’. But his mind was the same.

“Would you like me to read a little of it out loud?” Diana asked. “They’re some lovely woodcuts.”

“How about going down to the beanery?” Scripps said.

“As you wish, dear,” Diana said. Then her voice broke. “I wish⁠—oh, I wish you’d never seen that place!” She wiped away her tears. Scripps had not even seen them. “I’ll bring the bird, dear,” Diana said. “He hasn’t been out all day.”

Together they went down the street to the beanery. They did not walk hand in hand now. They walked like what are called old married people. Mrs. Scripps carried the birdcage. The bird was happy in the warm wind. Men lurching along, drunk with the spring, passed them. Many spoke to Scripps. He was well known and well liked in the town now. Some, as they lurched by, raised their hats to Mrs. Scripps. She responded vaguely. If I can only hold him, she was thinking. If I can only hold him. As they walked along the slushy snow of the narrow sidewalk of the Northern town, something began to beat in her head. Perhaps it was the rhythm of their walking together. I can’t hold him. I can’t hold him. I can’t hold him.

Scripps took her arm as they crossed the street. When his hand touched her arm Diana knew it was true. She would never hold him. A group of Indians passed them on the street. Were they laughing at her or was it some tribal jest? Diana didn’t know. All she knew was that rhythm that beat into her brain. I can’t hold him. I can’t hold him.

Author’s Note

For the reader, not the printer. What difference does it make to the printer? Who is the printer, anyway? Gutenberg. The Gutenberg Bible. Caxton. Twelve-point open-face Caslon. The linotype machine. The author as a little boy being sent to look for type lice. The author as a young man being sent for the key to the forms. Ah, they knew a trick or two, these printers.

(In case the reader is becoming confused, we are now up to where the story opened with Yogi Johnson and Scripps O’Neil in the pump-factory itself, with the chinook wind blowing. As you see, Scripps O’Neil has now come out of the pump-factory and is on his way to the beanery with his wife, who is afraid she cannot hold him. Personally, we don’t believe she can, but the reader will see for himself. We will now leave the couple on their way to the beanery and go back and take up Yogi Johnson. We want the reader to like Yogi Johnson. The story will move a little faster from now on, in case any of the readers are tiring. We will also try and work in a number of good anecdotes. Would it be any violation of confidence if we told the reader that we get the best of these anecdotes from Mr. Ford Madox Ford? We owe him our thanks, and we hope the reader does, too. At any rate, we will now go on with Yogi Johnson. Yogi Johnson, the reader may remember, is the chap who was in the war. As the story opens, he is just coming out of the pump-factory. (See page three.)

It is very hard to write this way, beginning things backward, and the author hopes the reader will realize this and not grudge this little word of explanation. I know I would be very glad to read anything the reader ever wrote, and I hope the reader will make the same sort of allowances. If any of the readers would care to send me anything they ever wrote, for criticism or advice, I am always at the Café du Dôme any afternoon, talking about Art with Harold Stearns and Sinclair Lewis, and the reader can bring his stuff along with him, or he can send it to me care of my bank, if I have a bank. Now, if the reader is ready⁠—and understand, I don’t want to rush the reader any⁠—we will go back to Yogi Johnson. But please remember that, while we have gone back to Yogi Johnson, Scripps O’Neil and his wife are on their way to the beanery. What will happen to them there I don’t know. I only wish the reader could help me.)

Men in War and the Death of Society

It may be likewise noted that affectation does not imply an absolute negation of those qualities which are affected; and therefore, though, when it proceeds from hypocrisy, it be nearly allied to deceit; yet when it comes from vanity only, it partakes of the nature of ostentation: for instance, the affectation of liberality in a vain man differs visibly from the same affectation in the avaricious, for though the vain man is not what he would appear, or hath not the virtue he affects, to the degree he would be thought to have it; yet it sits less awkwardly on him than on the avaricious man, who is the very reverse of what he would seem to be.

Henry Fielding


Yogi Johnson walked out of the workmen’s entrance of the pump-factory and down the street. Spring was in the air. The snow was melting, and the gutters were running with snow-water. Yogi Johnson walked down the middle of the street, keeping on the as yet unmelted ice. He turned to the left and crossed the bridge over Bear River. The ice had already melted in the river and he watched the swirling brown current. Below, beside the stream, buds on the willow brush were coming out green.

It’s a real chinook wind, Yogi thought. The foreman did right to let the men go. It wouldn’t be safe keeping them in a day like this. Anything might happen. The owner of the factory knew a thing or two. When the chinook blew, the thing to do was to get the men out of the factory. Then, if any of them were injured, it was not on him. He didn’t get caught under the Employer’s Liability Act. They knew a thing or two, these big pump-manufacturers. They were smart, all right.

Yogi was worried. There was something on his mind. It was spring, there was no doubt of that now, and he did not want a woman. He had worried about it a lot lately. There was no question about it. He did not want a woman. He couldn’t explain it to himself. He had gone to the Public Library and asked for a book the night before. He looked at the librarian. He did not want her. Somehow, she meant nothing to him. At the restaurant where he had a meal ticket he looked hard at the waitress who brought him his meals. He did not want her, either. He passed a group of girls on their way home from high school. He looked carefully at all of them. He did not want a single one. Decidedly something was wrong. Was he going to pieces? Was this the end?

Well, Yogi thought, women are gone, perhaps, though I hope not; but I still have my love of horses. He was walking up the steep hill that leads up from the Bear River out onto the Charlevoix road. The road was not really so steep, but it felt steep to Yogi, his legs heavy with the spring. In front of him was a grain and feed store. A team of beautiful horses were hitched in front of the feed store. Yogi went up to them. He wanted to touch them. To reassure himself that there was something left. The nigh horse looked at him as he came near. Yogi put his hand in his pocket for a lump of sugar. He had no sugar. The horse put its ears back and showed its teeth. The other horse jerked its head away. Was this all that his love of horses had brought him? After all, perhaps there was something wrong with these horses. Perhaps they had glanders or spavin. Perhaps something had been caught in the tender frog of their hoof. Perhaps they were lovers.

Yogi walked on up the hill and turned to the left onto the Charlevoix road. He passed the last houses of the outskirts of Petoskey and came out onto the open country road. On his right was a field that stretched to Little Traverse Bay. The blue of the bay opening out into the big Lake Michigan. Across the bay the pine hills behind Harbor Springs. Beyond, where you could not see it, Cross Village, where the Indians lived. Even further beyond, the Straits of Mackinac with St. Ignace, where a strange and beautiful thing had once happened to Oscar Gardner, who worked beside Yogi in the pump-factory. Further beyond, the Soo, both Canadian and American. There the wilder spirits of Petoskey sometimes went to drink beer. They were happy then. ’Way, ’way beyond, and, in the other direction, at the foot of the lake was Chicago, where Scripps O’Neil had started for on that eventful night when his first marriage had become a marriage no longer. Near there Gary, Indiana, where were the great steel mills. Near there Hammond, Indiana. Near there Michigan City, Indiana. Further beyond, there would be Indianapolis, Indiana, where Booth Tarkington lived. He had the wrong dope, that fellow. Further down there would be Cincinnati, Ohio. Beyond that, Vicksburg, Mississippi. Beyond that, Waco, Texas. Ah! there was grand sweep to this America of ours.

Yogi walked across the road and sat down on a pile of logs, where he could look out over the lake. After all, the war was over and he was still alive.

There was a chap in that fellow Anderson’s book that the librarian had given him at the library last night. Why hadn’t he wanted the librarian, anyway? Could it be because he thought she might have false teeth? Could it be something else? Would a little child ever tell her? He didn’t know. What was the librarian to him, anyway?

This chap in the book by Anderson. He had been a soldier, too. He had been at the front two years, Anderson said. What was his name? Fred Something. This Fred had thoughts dancing in his brain⁠—horror. One night, in the time of the fighting, he went out on parade⁠—no, it was patrol⁠—in No Man’s Land, and saw another man stumbling along in the darkness and shot him. The man pitched forward dead. It had been the only time Fred consciously killed a man. You don’t kill men in war much, the book said. The hell you don’t, Yogi thought, if you’re two years in the infantry at the front. They just die. Indeed they do, Yogi thought. Anderson said the act was rather hysterical on Fred’s part. He and the men with him might have made the fellow surrender. They had all got the jimjams. After it happened they all ran away together. Where the hell did they run to? Yogi wondered. Paris?

Afterward, killing this man haunted Fred. It’s got to be sweet and true. That was the way the soldiers thought, Anderson said. The hell it was. This Fred was supposed to have been two years in an infantry regiment at the front.

A couple of Indians were passing along the road, grunting to themselves and to each other. Yogi called to them. The Indians came over.

“Big white chief got chew of tobacco?” asked the first Indian.

“White chief carry liquor?” the second Indian asked.

Yogi handed them a package of Peerless and his pocket flask.

“White chief heap big medicine,” the Indians grunted.

“Listen,” Yogi Johnson said. “I am about to address to you a few remarks about the war. A subject on which I feel very deeply.” The Indians sat down on the logs. One of the Indians pointed at the sky. “Up there gitchy Manitou the Mighty,” he said.

The other Indian winked at Yogi. “White chief no believe every goddam thing he hear,” he grunted.

“Listen,” Yogi Johnson said. And he told them about the war.

War hadn’t been that way to Yogi, he told the Indians. War had been to him like football. American football. What they play at the colleges. Carlisle Indian School. Both the Indians nodded. They had been to Carlisle.

Yogi had played centre at football and war had been much the same thing, intensely unpleasant. When you played football and had the ball, you were down with your legs spread out and the ball held out in front of you on the ground; you had to listen for the signal, decode it, and make the proper pass. You had to think about it all the time. While your hands were on the ball the opposing centre stood in front of you, and when you passed the ball he brought his hand up smash into your face and grabbed you with the other hand under the chin or under your armpit, and tried to pull you forward or shove you back to make a hole he could go through and break up the play. You were supposed to charge forward so hard you banged him out of the play with your body and put you both on the ground. He had all the advantage. It was not what you would call fun. When you had the ball he had all the advantage. The only good thing was that when he had the ball you could roughhouse him. In this way things evened up and sometimes even a certain tolerance was achieved. Football, like the war, was unpleasant; stimulating and exciting after you had attained a certain hardness, and the chief difficulty had been that of remembering the signals. Yogi was thinking about the war, not the army. He meant combat. The army was something different. You could take it and ride with it or you could buck the tiger and let it smash you. The army was a silly business, but the war was different.

Yogi was not haunted by men he had killed. He knew he had killed five men. Probably he had killed more. He didn’t believe men you killed haunted you. Not if you had been two years at the front. Most of the men he had known had been excited as hell when they had first killed. The trouble was to keep them from killing too much. It was hard to get prisoners back to the people that wanted them for identification. You sent a man back with two prisoners; maybe you sent two men back with four prisoners. What happened? The men came back and said the prisoners were knocked out by the barrage. They would give the prisoner a poke in the seat of the pants with a bayonet, and when the prisoner jumped they would say, “You would run, you son of a bitch,” and let their gun off in the back of his head. They wanted to be sure they had killed. Also they didn’t want to go back through any damn barrage. No, sir. They learned those kind of manners from the Australians. After all, what were those Jerries? A bunch of goddam Huns. “Huns” sounded like a funny word now. All this sweetness and truth. Not if you were in there two years. In the end they would have softened. Got sorry for excesses and begun to store up good deeds against getting killed themselves. But that was the fourth phase of soldiering, the gentling down.

In a good soldier in the war it went like this: First, you were brave because you didn’t think anything could hit you, because you yourself were something special, and you knew that you could never die. Then you found out different. You were really scared then, but if you were a good soldier you functioned the same as before. Then after you were wounded and not killed, with new men coming on, and going through your old processes, you hardened and became a good hard-boiled soldier. Then came the second crack, which is much worse than the first, and then you began doing good deeds, and being the boy Sir Philip Sidney, and storing up treasures in heaven. At the same time, of course, functioning always the same as before. As if it were a football game.

Nobody had any damn business to write about it, though, that didn’t at least know about it from hearsay. Literature has too strong an effect on people’s minds. Like this American writer Willa Cather, who wrote a book about the war where all the last part of it was taken from the action in the Birth of a Nation, and ex-servicemen wrote to her from all over America to tell her how much they liked it.

One of the Indians was asleep. He had been chewing tobacco, and his mouth was pursed up in sleep. He was leaning on the other Indian’s shoulder. The Indian who was awake pointed at the other Indian, who was asleep, and shook his head.

“Well, how did you like the speech?” Yogi asked the Indian who was awake.

“White chief have heap much sound ideas,” the Indian said. “White chief educated like hell.”

“Thank you,” Yogi said. He felt touched. Here among the simple aborigines, the only real Americans, he had found that true communion. The Indian looked at him, holding the sleeping Indian carefully that his head might not fall back upon the snow-covered logs.

“Was white chief in the war?” the Indian asked.

“I landed in France in May, 1917,” Yogi began.

“I thought maybe white chief was in the war from the way he talked,” the Indian said. “Him,” he raised the head of his sleeping companion up so the last rays of the sunset shone on the sleeping Indian’s face, “he got V.C. Me I got D.S.O. and M.C. with bar. I was major in the Fourth C.M.R.’s.”

“I’m glad to meet you,” Yogi said. He felt strangely humiliated. It was growing dark. There was a single line of sunset where the sky and the water met ’way out on Lake Michigan. Yogi watched the narrow line of the sunset grow darker red, thin to a mere slit, and then fade. The sun was down behind the lake. Yogi stood up from the pile of logs. The Indian stood up too. He awakened his companion, and the Indian who had been sleeping stood up and looked at Yogi Johnson.

“We go to Petoskey to join Salvation Army,” the larger and more wakeful Indian said.

“White chief come too,” said the smaller Indian, who had been asleep.

“I’ll walk in with you,” Yogi replied. Who were these Indians? What did they mean to him?

With the sun down, the slushy road was stiffening. It was freezing again. After all, maybe spring was not coming. Maybe it did not make a difference that he did not want a woman. Now that the spring was perhaps not coming there was a question about that. He would walk into town with the Indians and look for a beautiful woman and try and want her. He turned down the now frozen road. The two Indians walked by his side. They were all bound in the same direction.


Through the night down the frozen road the three walked into Petoskey. They had been silent walking along the frozen road. Their shoes broke the new-formed crusts of ice. Sometimes Yogi Johnson stepped through a thin film of ice into a pool of water. The Indians avoided the pools of water.

They came down the hill past the feed store, crossed the bridge over the Bear River, their boots ringing hollowly on the frozen planks of the bridge, and climbed the hill that led past Dr. Rumsey’s house and the Home Tearoom up to the poolroom. In front of the poolroom the two Indians stopped.

“White chief shoot pool?” the big Indian asked.

“No,” Yogi Johnson said. “My right arm was crippled in the war.”

“White chief have hard luck,” the small Indian said. “Shoot one game Kelly pool.”

“He got both arms and both legs shot off at Ypres,” the big Indian said in an aside to Yogi. “Him very sensitive.”

“All right,” Yogi Johnson said. “I’ll shoot one game.”

They went into the hot, smoke-filled warmth of the poolroom. They obtained a table and took down cues from the wall. As the little Indian reached up to take down his cue Yogi noticed that he had two artificial arms. They were brown leather and were both buckled on at the elbow. On the smooth green cloth, under the bright electric lights, they played pool. At the end of an hour and a half, Yogi Johnson found that he owed the little Indian four dollars and thirty cents.

“You shoot a pretty nice stick,” he remarked to the small Indian.

“Me not shoot so good since the war,” the small Indian replied.

“White chief like to drink a little?” asked the larger Indian.

“Where do you get it?” asked Yogi. “I have to go to Cheboygan for mine.”

“White chief come with red brothers,” the big Indian said.

They left the pool-table, placed their cues in the rack on the wall, paid at the counter, and went out into the night.

Along the dark streets men were sneaking home. The frost had come and frozen everything stiff and cold. The chinook had not been a real chinook, after all. Spring had not yet come, and the men who had commenced their orgies were halted by the chill in the air that told them the chinook wind had been a fake. That foreman, Yogi thought, he’ll catch hell tomorrow. Perhaps it had all been engineered by the pump-manufacturers to get the foreman out of his job. Such things were done. Through the dark of the night men were sneaking home in little groups.

The two Indians walked on either side of Yogi. They turned down a side street, and all three halted before a building that looked something like a stable. It was a stable. The two Indians opened the door and Yogi followed them inside. A ladder led upstairs to the floor above. It was dark inside the stable, but one of the Indians lit a match to show Yogi the ladder. The little Indian climbed up first, the metal hinges of his artificial limbs squeaking as he climbed. Yogi followed him, and the other Indian climbed last, lighting Yogi’s way with matches. The little Indian knocked on the roof where the ladder stopped against the wall. There was an answering knock. The little Indian knocked in answer, three sharp knocks on the roof above his head. A trap-door in the roof was raised, and they climbed up through into the lighted room.

In one corner of the room there was a bar with a brass rail and tall spittoons. Behind the bar was a mirror. Easy-chairs were all around the room. There was a pool-table. Magazines on sticks hung in a line on the wall. There was a framed autographed portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the wall draped in the American flag. Several Indians were sitting in the easy-chairs reading. A little group stood at the bar.

“Nice little club, eh?” An Indian came up and shook hands with Yogi. “I see you almost every day at the pump-factory.”

He was a man who worked at one of the machines near Yogi in the factory. Another Indian came up and shook hands with Yogi. He also worked in the pump-factory.

“Rotten luck about the chinook,” he said.

“Yes,” Yogi said. “Just a false alarm.”

“Come and have a drink,” the first Indian said.

“I’m with a party,” Yogi answered. Who were these Indians, anyway?

“Bring them along too,” the first Indian said. “Always room for one more.”

Yogi looked around him. The two Indians who had brought him were gone. Where were they? Then he saw them. They were over at the pool-table. The tall refined Indian to whom Yogi was talking followed his glance. He nodded his head in understanding.

“They’re woods Indians,” he explained apologetically. “We’re most of us town Indians here.”

“Yes, of course,” Yogi agreed.

“The little chap has a very good war record,” the tall refined Indian remarked. “The other chap was a major too, I believe.”

Yogi was guided over to the bar by the tall refined Indian. Behind the bar was the bartender. He was a Negro.

“How would some Dog’s Head ale go?” asked the Indian.

“Fine,” Yogi said.

“Two Dog’s Heads, Bruce,” the Indian remarked to the bartender. The bartender broke into a chuckle.

“What are you laughing at, Bruce?” the Indian asked.

The Negro broke into a shrill haunting laugh.

“I knowed it, Massa Red Dog,” he said. “I knowed you’d ordah dat Dog’s Head all the time.”

“He’s a merry fellow,” the Indian remarked to Yogi. “I must introduce myself. Red Dog’s the name.”

“Johnson’s the name,” Yogi said. “Yogi Johnson.”

“Oh, we are all quite familiar with your name, Mr. Johnson,” Red Dog smiled. “I would like you to meet my friends Mr. Sitting Bull, Mr. Poisoned Buffalo, and Chief Running Skunk-Backwards.”

“Sitting Bull’s a name I know,” Yogi remarked, shaking hands.

“Oh, I’m not one of those Sitting Bulls,” Mr. Sitting Bull said.

“Chief Running Skunk-Backwards’s great-grandfather once sold the entire Island of Manhattan for a few strings of wampum,” Red Dog explained.

“How very interesting,” Yogi said.

“That was a costly bit of wampum for our family,” Chief Running Skunk-Backwards smiled ruefully.

“Chief Running Skunk-Backwards has some of that wampum. Would you like to see it?” Red Dog asked.

“Indeed, I would.”

“It’s really no different from any other wampum,” Skunk-Backwards explained deprecatingly. He pulled a chain of wampum out of his pocket, and handed it to Yogi Johnson. Yogi looked at it curiously. What a part that string of wampum had played in this America of ours.

“Would you like to have one or two wampums for a keepsake?” Skunk-Backwards asked.

“I wouldn’t like to take your wampum,” Yogi demurred.

“They have no intrinsic value really,” Skunk-Backwards explained, detaching one or two wampums from the string.

“Their value is really a sentimental one to Skunk-Backwards’s family,” Red Dog said.

“It’s damned decent of you, Mr. Skunk-Backwards,” Yogi said.

“It’s nothing,” Skunk-Backwards said. “You’d do the same for me in a moment.”

“It’s decent of you.”

Behind the bar, Bruce, the Negro bartender, had been leaning forward and watching the wampums pass from hand to hand. His dark face shone. Sharply, without explanation, he broke into high-pitched uncontrolled laughter. The dark laughter of the Negro.

Red Dog looked at him sharply. “I say, Bruce,” he spoke sharply; “your mirth is a little ill-timed.”

Bruce stopped laughing and wiped his face on a towel. He rolled his eyes apologetically.

“Ah can’t help it, Massa Red Dog. When I seen Mistah Skunk-Backhouse passin’ dem wampums around I jess couldn’t stand it no longa. Whad he wan sell a big town like New Yawk foh dem wampums for? Wampums! Take away yoah wampums!”

“Bruce is an eccentric,” Red Dog explained, “but he’s a corking bartender and a good-hearted chap.”

“Youah right theah, Massa Red Dog,” the bartender leaned forward. “I’se got a heart of puah gold.”

“He is an eccentric, though,” Red Dog apologized. “The house committee are always after me to get another bartender, but I like the chap, oddly enough.”

“I’m all right, boss,” Bruce said. “It’s just that when I see something funny I just have to laff. You know I don’ mean no harm, boss.”

“Right enough, Bruce,” Red Dog agreed. “You are an honest chap.”

Yogi Johnson looked about the room. The other Indians had gone away from the bar, and Skunk-Backwards was showing the wampum to a little group of Indians in dinner dress who had just come in. At the pool-table the two woods Indians were still playing. They had removed their coats, and the light above the pool-table glinted on the metal joints in the little woods Indian’s artificial arms. He had just run the table for the eleventh consecutive time.

“That little chap would have made a pool-player if he hadn’t had a bit of hard luck in the war,” Red Dog remarked. “Would you like to have a look about the club?” He took the check from Bruce, signed it, and Yogi followed him into the next room.

“Our committee room,” Red Dog said. On the walls were framed autographed photographs of Chief Bender, Francis Parkman, D. H. Lawrence, Chief Meyers, Stewart Edward White, Mary Austin, Jim Thorpe, General Custer, Glenn Warner, Mabel Dodge, and a full-length oil painting of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Beyond the committee room was a locker room with a small plunge bath or swimming-pool. “It’s really ridiculously small for a club,” Red Dog said. “But it makes a comfortable little hole to pop into when the evenings are dull.” He smiled. “We call it the wigwam, you know. That’s a little conceit of my own.”

“It’s a damned nice club,” Yogi said enthusiastically.

“Put you up if you like,” Red Dog offered. “What’s your tribe?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your tribe. What are you⁠—Sac and Fox? Jibway? Cree, I imagine.”

“Oh,” said Yogi. “My parents came from Sweden.”

Red Dog looked at him closely. His eyes narrowed.

“You’re not having me on?”

“No. They either came from Sweden or Norway,” Yogi said.

“I’d have sworn you looked a bit on the white side,” Red Dog said. “Damned good thing this came out in time. There’d have been no end of scandal.” He put his hand to his head and pursed his lips. “Here, you,” he turned suddenly and gripped Yogi by the vest. Yogi felt the barrel of an automatic pushed hard against his stomach. “You’ll go quietly through the clubroom, get your coat and hat and leave as though nothing had happened. Say polite goodbye to anyone who happens to speak to you. And never come back. Get that, you Swede.”

“Yes,” said Yogi. “Put up your gun. I’m not afraid of your gun.”

“Do as I say,” Red Dog ordered. “As for those two pool-players that brought you here, I’ll soon have them out of this.”

Yogi went into the bright room, looked at the bar, where Bruce, the bartender, was regarding him, got his hat and coat, said good night to Skunk-Backwards, who asked him why he was leaving so early, and the outside trap-door was swung up by Bruce. As Yogi started down the ladder the Negro burst out laughing. “I knowed it,” he laughed. “I knowed it all de time. No Swede gwine to fool ole Bruce.”

Yogi looked back and saw the laughing black face of the Negro framed in the oblong square of light that came through the raised trap-door. Once on the stable floor, Yogi looked around him. He was alone. The straw of the old stable was stiff and frozen under his feet. Where had he been? Had he been in an Indian club? What was it all about? Was this the end?

Above him a slit of light came in the roof. Then it was blocked by two black figures, there was the sound of a kick, a blow, a series of thuds, some dull, some sharp, and two human forms came crashing down the ladder. From above floated the dark, haunting sound of black Negro laughter.

The two woods Indians picked themselves up from the straw and limped toward the door. One of them, the little one, was crying. Yogi followed them out into the cold night. It was cold. The night was clear. The stars were out.

“Club no damn good,” the big Indian said. “Club heap no damn good.”

The little Indian was crying. Yogi, in the starlight, saw that he had lost one of his artificial arms.

“Me no play pool no more,” the little Indian sobbed. He shook his one arm at the window of the club, from which a thin slit of light came. “Club heap goddam hell no good.”

“Never mind,” Yogi said. “I’ll get you a job in the pump-factory.”

“Pump-factory, hell,” the big Indian said. “We all go join Salvation Army.”

“Don’t cry,” Yogi said to the little Indian. “I’ll buy you a new arm.”

The little Indian went on crying. He sat down in the snowy road. “No can play pool me no care about nothing,” he said.

From above them, out of the window of the club came the haunting sound of a Negro laughing.

Author’s Note to the Reader

In case it may have any historical value, I am glad to state that I wrote the foregoing chapter in two hours directly on the typewriter, and then went out to lunch with John Dos Passos, whom I consider a very forceful writer, and an exceedingly pleasant fellow besides. This is what is known in the provinces as logrolling. We lunched on rollmops, Sole Meunière, Civet de Lièvre à la Chez Cocotte, marmelade de pommes, and washed it all down, as we used to say (eh, reader?) with a bottle of Montrachet 1919, with the sole, and a bottle of Hospice de Beaune 1919 apiece with the jugged hare. Mr. Dos Passos, I believe, shared a bottle of Chambertin with me over the marmelade de pommes (Eng., apple sauce). We drank two vieux marcs, and after deciding not to go to the Café du Dôme and talk about Art we both went to our respective homes and I wrote the following chapter. I would like the reader to particularly remark the way the complicated threads of the lives of the various characters in the book are gathered together, and then held there in that memorable scene in the beanery. It was when I read this chapter aloud to him that Mr. Dos Passos exclaimed, “Hemingway, you have wrought a masterpiece.”

P.S. from the Author to the Reader

It is at this point, reader, that I am going to try and get that sweep and movement into the book that shows that the book is really a great book. I know you hope just as much as I do, reader, that I will get this sweep and movement because think what it will mean to both of us. Mr. H. G. Wells, who has been visiting at our home (we’re getting along in the literary game, eh, reader?) asked us the other day if perhaps our reader, that’s you, reader⁠—just think of it, H. G. Wells talking about you right in our home. Anyway, H. G. Wells asked us if perhaps our reader would not think too much of this story was autobiographical. Please, reader, just get that idea out of your head. We have lived in Petoskey, Mich., it is true, and naturally many of the characters are drawn from life as we lived it then. But they are other people, not the author. The author only comes into the story in these little notes. It is true that before starting this story we spent twelve years studying the various Indian dialects of the North, and there is still preserved in the museum at Cross Village our translation of the New Testament into Ojibway. But you would have done the same thing in our place, reader, and I think if you think it over you will agree with us on this. Now to get back to the story. It is meant in the best spirit of friendship when I say that you have no idea, reader, what a hard chapter this is going to be to write. As a matter of fact, and I try to be frank about these things, we will not even try and write it until tomorrow.

The Passing of a Great Race and the Making and Marring of Americans

But perhaps it may be objected to me, that I have against my own rules introduced vices, and of a very black kind, into this work. To which I shall answer: first, that it is very difficult to pursue a series of human actions, and keep clear from them. Secondly, that the vices to be found here are rather the accidental consequences of some human frailty or foible, than causes habitually existing in the mind. Thirdly, that they are never set forth as the objects of ridicule, but detestation. Fourthly, that they are never the principal figure at that time on the scene: and lastly, they never produce the intended evil.

Henry Fielding


Yogi Johnson walking down the silent street with his arm around the little Indian’s shoulder. The big Indian walking along beside them. The cold night. The shuttered houses of the town. The little Indian, who has lost his artificial arm. The big Indian, who was also in the war. Yogi Johnson, who was in the war too. The three of them walking, walking, walking. Where were they going? Where could they go? What was there left?

Suddenly under a street light that swung on its drooping wire above a street corner, casting its light down on the snow, the big Indian stopped. “Walking no get us nowhere,” he grunted. “Walking no good. Let white chief speak. Where we go, white chief?”

Yogi Johnson did not know. Obviously, walking was not the solution of their problem. Walking was all right in its way. Coxey’s Army. A horde of men, seeking work, pressing on toward Washington. Marching men, Yogi thought. Marching on and on and where were they getting? Nowhere. Yogi knew it only too well. Nowhere. No damn where at all.

“White chief speak up,” the big Indian said.

“I don’t know,” Yogi said. “I don’t know at all.” Was this what they had fought the war for? Was this what it was all about? It looked like it. Yogi standing under the street light. Yogi thinking and wondering. The two Indians in their mackinaw coats. One of the Indians with an empty sleeve. All of them wondering.

“White chief no speak?” the big Indian asked.

“No.” What could Yogi say? What was there to say?

“Red brother speak?” asked the Indian.

“Speak out,” Yogi said. He looked down at the snow. “One man’s as good as another now.”

“White chief ever go to Brown’s Beanery?” asked the big Indian, looking into Yogi’s face under the arc light.

“No.” Yogi felt all in. Was this the end? A beanery. Well, a beanery as well as any other place. But a beanery. Well, why not? These Indians knew the town. They were ex-service men. They both had splendid war records. He knew that himself. But a beanery.

“White chief come with red brothers.” The tall Indian put his arm under Yogi’s arm. The little Indian fell into step. “Forward to the beanery.” Yogi spoke quietly. He was a white man, but he knew when he had enough. After all, the white race might not always be supreme. This Muslim revolt. Unrest in the East. Trouble in the West. Things looked black in the South. Now this condition of things in the North. Where was it taking him? Where did it all lead? Would it help him to want a woman? Would spring ever come? Was it worth while after all? He wondered.

The three of them striding along the frozen streets of Petoskey. Going somewhere now. En route. Huysmans wrote that. It would be interesting to read French. He must try it sometime. There was a street in Paris named after Huysmans. Right around the corner from where Gertrude Stein lived. Ah, there was a woman! Where were her experiments in words leading her? What was at the bottom of it? All that in Paris. Ah, Paris. How far it was to Paris now. Paris in the morning. Paris in the evening. Paris at night. Paris in the morning again. Paris at noon, perhaps. Why not? Yogi Johnson striding on. His mind never still.

All three of them striding on together. The arms of those that had arms linked through each other’s arms. Red men and white men walking together. Something had brought them together. Was it the war? Was it fate? Was it accident? Or was it just chance? These questions struggled with each other in Yogi Johnson’s brain. His brain was tired. He had been thinking too much lately. On still they strode. Then, abruptly, they stopped.

The little Indian looked up at the sign. It shone in the night outside the frosted windows of the beanery. Best by Test.

“Makeum heap big test,” the little Indian grunted.

“White man’s beanery got heap fine T-bone steak,” the tall Indian grunted. “Take it from red brother.” The Indians stood a little uncertainly outside the door. The tall Indian turned to Yogi. “White chief got dollars?”

“Yes, I’ve got money,” Yogi answered. He was prepared to go the route. It was no time to turn back now. “The feed’s on me, boys.”

“White chief nature’s nobleman,” the tall Indian grunted.

“White chief rough diamond,” the little Indian agreed.

“You’d do the same for me,” Yogi deprecated. After all, perhaps it was true. It was a chance he was taking. He had taken a chance in Paris once. Steve Brodie had taken a chance. Or so they said. Chances were taken all over the world every day. In China, Chinamen were taking chances. In Africa, Africans. In Egypt, Egyptians. In Poland, Poles. In Russia, Russians. In Ireland, Irish. In Armenia⁠—

“Armenians no take chances,” the tall Indian grunted quietly. He had voiced Yogi’s unspoken doubt. They were a canny folk these red men.

“Not even in the rug game?”

“Red brother think not,” the Indian said. His tones carried conviction to Yogi. Who were these Indians? There was something back of all this. They went into the beanery.

Author’s Note to Reader

It was at this point in the story, reader, that Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald came to our home one afternoon, and after remaining for quite a while suddenly sat down in the fireplace and would not (or was it could not, reader?) get up and let the fire burn something else so as to keep the room warm. I know, reader, that these things sometimes do not show in a story, but, just the same, they are happening, and think what they mean to chaps like you and me in the literary game. If you should think this part of the story is not as good as it might have been remember, reader, that day in and day out all over the world things like this are happening. Need I add, reader, that I have the utmost respect for Mr. Fitzgerald, and let anybody else attack him and I would be the first to spring to his defense! And that includes you too, reader, though I hate to speak out bluntly like this, and take the risk of breaking up a friendship of the sort that ours has gotten to be.

P.S.⁠—To the Reader

As I read that chapter over, reader, it doesn’t seem so bad. You may like it. I hope you will. And if you do like it, reader, and the rest of the book as well, will you tell your friends about it, and try and get them to buy the book just as you have done? I only get twenty cents on each book that is sold, and while twenty cents is not much nowadays still it will mount up to a lot if two or three hundred thousand copies of the book are sold. They will be, too, if everyone likes the book as much as you and I do, reader. And listen, reader. I meant it when I said I would be glad to read anything you wrote. That wasn’t just talk. Bring it along and we will go over it together. If you like, I’ll rewrite bits of it for you. I don’t mean that in any critical sort of way either. If there is anything you do not like in this book just write to Mr. Scribner’s Sons at the home office. They’ll change it for you. Or, if you would rather, I will change it myself. You know what I think of you, reader. And you’re not angry or upset about what I said about Scott Fitzgerald either, are you? I hope not. Now I am going to write the next chapter. Mr. Fitzgerald is gone and Mr. Dos Passos had gone to England, and I think I can promise you that it will be a bully chapter. At least, it will be just as good as I can write it. We both know how good that can be, if we read the blurbs, eh, reader?


Inside the beanery. They are all inside the beanery. Some do not see the others. Each are intent on themselves. Red men are intent on red men. White men are intent on white men or on white women. There are no red women. Are there no squaws any more? What has become of the squaws? Have we lost our squaws in America? Silently, through the door which she had opened, a squaw came into the room. She was clad only in a pair of worn moccasins. On her back was a papoose. Beside her walked a husky dog.

“Don’t look!” the drummer shouted to the women at the counter.

“Here! Get her out of here!” the owner of the beanery shouted. The squaw was forcibly ejected by the Negro cook. They heard her thrashing around in the snow outside. Her husky dog was barking.

“My God! What that might have led to!” Scripps O’Neil mopped his forehead with a napkin.

The Indians had watched with impassive faces. Yogi Johnson had been unable to move. The waitresses had covered their faces with napkins or whatever was handy. Mrs. Scripps had covered her eyes with The American Mercury. Scripps O’Neil was feeling faint and shaken. Something had stirred inside him, some vague primordial feeling, as the squaw had come into the room.

“Wonder where that squaw came from?” the drummer asked.

“Her my squaw,” the little Indian said.

“Good God, man! Can’t you clothe her?” Scripps O’Neil said in a dumb voice. There was a note of terror in his words.

“Her no like clothes,” the little Indian explained. “Her woods Indian.”

Yogi Johnson was not listening. Something had broken inside of him. Something had snapped as the squaw came into the room. He had a new feeling. A feeling he thought had been lost forever. Lost for always. Lost. Gone permanently. He knew now it was a mistake. He was all right now. By the merest chance he had found it out. What might he not have thought if that squaw had never come into the beanery? What black thoughts he had been thinking! He had been on the verge of suicide. Self-destruction. Killing himself. Here in this beanery. What a mistake that would have been. He knew now. What a botch he might have made of life. Killing himself. Let spring come now. Let it come. It couldn’t come fast enough. Let spring come. He was ready for it.

“Listen,” he said to the two Indians. “I want to tell you about something that happened to me in Paris.”

The two Indians leaned forward. “White chief got the floor,” the tall Indian remarked.

“What I thought was a very beautiful thing happened to me in Paris,” Yogi began. “You Indians know Paris? Good. Well, it turned out to be the ugliest thing that ever happened to me.”

The Indians grunted. They knew their Paris.

“It was the first day of my leave. I was walking along the Boulevard Malesherbes. A car passed me and a beautiful woman leaned out. She called to me and I came. She took me to a house, a mansion rather, in a distant part of Paris, and there a very beautiful thing happened to me. Afterward someone took me out a different door than I had come in by. The beautiful woman had told me that she would never, that she could never, see me again. I tried to get the number of the mansion but it was one of a block of mansions all looking the same.

“From then on all through my leave I tried to see that beautiful lady. Once I thought I saw her in the theatre. It wasn’t her. Another time I caught a glimpse of what I thought was her in a passing taxi and leaped into another taxi and followed. I lost the taxi. I was desperate. Finally on the next to the last night of my leave I was so desperate and dull that I went with one of those guides that guarantee to show you all of Paris. We started out and visited various places. ‘Is this all you’ve got?’ I asked the guide.

“ ‘There is a real place, but it’s very expensive,’ the guide said. We compromised on a price finally, and the guide took me. It was in an old mansion. You looked through a slit in the wall. All around the wall were people looking through slits. There, looking through slits could be seen the uniforms of men of all the Allied countries, and many handsome South Americans in evening dress. I looked through a slit myself. For a while nothing happened. Then a beautiful woman came into the room with a young British officer. She took off her long fur coat and her hat and threw them into a chair. The officer was taking off his Sam Browne belt. I recognized her. It was the lady whom I had been with when the beautiful thing happened to me.” Yogi Johnson looked at his empty plate of beans. “Since then,” he said, “I have never wanted a woman. How I have suffered I cannot tell. But I’ve suffered, boys, I’ve suffered. I blamed it on the war. I blamed it on France. I blamed it on the decay of morality in general. I blamed it on the younger generation. I blamed it here. I blamed it there. Now I am cured. Here’s five dollars for you, boys.” His eyes were shining. “Get some more to eat. Take a trip somewhere. This is the happiest day of my life.”

He stood up from his stool before the counter, shook the one Indian impulsively by the hand, rested his hand for a minute on the other Indian’s shoulder, opened the door of the beanery, and strode out into the night.

The two Indians looked at one another. “White chief heap nice fella,” observed the big Indian.

“Think him was in the war?” asked the little Indian.

“Me wonder,” the big Indian said.

“White chief said he buy me new artificial arm,” the little Indian grumbled.

“Maybe you get more than that,” the big Indian said.

“Me wonder,” the little Indian said. They went on eating.

At the other end of the counter of the beanery a marriage was coming to an end.

Scripps O’Neil and his wife sat side by side. Mrs. Scripps knew now. She couldn’t hold him. She had tried and failed. She had lost. She knew it was a losing game. There was no holding him now. Mandy was talking again. Talking. Talking. Always talking. That interminable stream of literary gossip that was bringing her, Diana’s, marriage to an end. She couldn’t hold him. He was going. Going. Going away from her. Diana sitting there in misery. Scripps listening to Mandy talking. Mandy talking. Talking. Talking. The drummer, an old friend now, the drummer, sitting reading his Detroit News. She couldn’t hold him. She couldn’t hold him. She couldn’t hold him.

The little Indian got up from his stool at the beanery counter, and went over to the window. The glass on the window was covered with thick rimy frost. The little Indian breathed on the frozen windowpane, rubbed the spot bare with the empty sleeve of his mackinaw coat and looked out into the night. Suddenly he turned from the window and rushed out into the night. The tall Indian watched him go, leisurely finished his meal, took a toothpick, placed it between his teeth, and then he too followed his friend out into the night.


They were alone in the beanery now. Scripps and Mandy and Diana. Only the drummer was with them. He was an old friend now. But his nerves were on edge tonight. He folded his paper abruptly and started for the door.

“See you all later,” he said. He went out into the night. It seemed the only thing to do. He did it.

Only three of them in the beanery now. Scripps and Mandy and Diana. Only those three. Mandy was talking. Leaning on the counter and talking. Scripps with his eyes fixed on Mandy. Diana made no pretense of listening now. She knew it was over. It was all over now. But she would make one more attempt. One more last gallant try. Perhaps she still could hold him. Perhaps it had all been just a dream. She steadied her voice and then she spoke.

“Scripps, dear,” she said. Her voice shook a little. She steadied it.

“What’s on your mind?” Scripps asked abruptly. Ah, there it was. That horrid clipped speech again.

“Scripps, dear, wouldn’t you like to come home?” Diana’s voice quavered. “There’s a new Mercury.” She had changed from the London Mercury to The American Mercury just to please Scripps. “It just came. I wish you felt like coming home, Scripps, there’s a splendid thing in this Mercury. Do come home, Scripps, I’ve never asked anything of you before. Come home, Scripps! Oh, won’t you come home?”

Scripps looked up. Diana’s heart beat faster. Perhaps he was coming. Perhaps she was holding him. Holding him. Holding him.

“Do come, Scripps, dear,” Diana said softly. “There’s a wonderful editorial in it by Mencken about chiropractors.”

Scripps looked away.

“Won’t you come, Scripps?” Diana pleaded.

“No,” Scripps said. “I don’t give a damn about Mencken any more.”

Diana dropped her head. “Oh, Scripps,” she said. “Oh, Scripps.” This was the end. She had her answer now. She had lost him. Lost him. Lost him. It was over. Finished. Done for. She sat crying silently. Mandy was talking again.

Suddenly Diana straightened up. She had one last request to make. One thing she would ask him. Only one. He might refuse her. He might not grant it. But she would ask him.

“Scripps,” she said.

“What’s the trouble?” Scripps turned in irritation. Perhaps, after all, he was sorry for her. He wondered.

“Can I take the bird, Scripps?” Diana’s voice broke.

“Sure,” said Scripps. “Why not?”

Diana picked up the birdcage. The bird was asleep. Perched on one leg as on that night when they had first met. What was it he was like? Ah, yes. Like an old osprey. An old, old osprey from her own Lake Country. She held the cage to her tightly.

“Thank you, Scripps,” she said. “Thank you for this bird.” Her voice broke. “And now I must be going.”

Quietly, silently, gathering her shawl around her, clutching the cage with the sleeping bird and the copy of The Mercury to her breast, with only a backward glance, a last glance at him who had been her Scripps, she opened the door of the beanery, and went out into the night. Scripps did not even see her go. He was intent on what Mandy was saying. Mandy was talking again.

“That bird she just took out,” Mandy was saying.

“Oh, did she take a bird out?” Scripps asked. “Go on with the story.”

“You used to wonder about what sort of bird that was,” Mandy went on.

“That’s right,” Scripps agreed.

“Well that reminds me of a story about Gosse and the Marquis of Buque,” Mandy went on.

“Tell it, Mandy. Tell it,” Scripps urged.

“It seems a great friend of mine, Ford, you’ve heard me speak of him before, was in the marquis’s castle during the war. His regiment was billeted there and the marquis, one of the richest if not the richest man in England, was serving in Ford’s regiment as a private. Ford was sitting in the library one evening. The library was a most extraordinary place. The walls were made of bricks of gold set into tiles or something. I forget exactly how it was.”

“Go on,” Scripps urged. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Anyhow, in the middle of the wall of the library was a stuffed flamingo in a glass case.”

“They understand interior decorating, these English,” Scripps said.

“Your wife was English, wasn’t she?” asked Mandy.

“From the Lake Country,” Scripps answered. “Go on with the story.”

“Well, anyway,” Mandy went on, “Ford was sitting there in the library one evening after mess when the butler came in and said: ‘The Marquis of Buque’s compliments and might he show the library to a group of friends with whom he has been dining?’ They used to let him dine out and sometimes they let him sleep in the castle. Ford said, ‘Quite,’ and in came the marquis in his private’s uniform followed by Sir Edmund Gosse and Professor Whatsisname, I forget it for the moment, from Oxford. Gosse stopped in front of the stuffed flamingo in the glass case and said, ‘What have we here, Buque?’

“ ‘It’s a flamingo, Sir Edmund,’ the marquis answered.

“ ‘That’s not my idea of a flamingo,’ Gosse remarked.

“ ‘No, Gosse. That’s God’s idea of a flamingo,’ Professor Whatsisname said. I wish I could remember his name.”

“Don’t bother,” Scripps said. His eyes were bright. He leaned forward. Something was pounding inside of him. Something he could not control. “I love you, Mandy,” he said. “I love you. You are my woman.” The thing was pounding away inside of him. It would not stop.

“That’s all right,” Mandy answered. “I’ve known you were my man for a long time. Would you like to hear another story? Speaking of woman.”

“Go on,” Scripps said. “You must never stop, Mandy. You are my woman now.”

“Sure,” Mandy agreed. “This story is about when Knut Hamsun was a streetcar conductor in Chicago.”

“Go on,” Scripps said. “You are my woman now, Mandy.”

He repeated the phrase to himself. My woman. My woman. You are my woman. She is my woman. It is my woman. My woman. But, somehow, he was not satisfied. Somewhere, somehow, there must be something else. Something else. My woman. The words were a little hollow now. Into his mind, though he tried to thrust it out, there came again the monstrous picture of the squaw as she strode silently into the room. That squaw. She did not wear clothes, because she did not like them. Hardy, braving the winter nights. What might not the spring bring? Mandy was talking. Mandy talking on in the beanery. Mandy telling her stories. It grows late in the beanery. Mandy talks on. She is his woman now. He is her man. But is he her man? In Scripps’s brain that vision of the squaw. The squaw that strode unannounced into the beanery. The squaw who had been thrown out into the snow. Mandy talking on. Telling literary reminiscences. Authentic incidents. They had the ring of truth. But were they enough? Scripps wondered. She was his woman. But for how long? Scripps wondered. Mandy talking on in the beanery. Scripps listening. But his mind straying away. Straying away. Straying away. Where was it straying? Out into the night. Out into the night.


Night in Petoskey. Long past midnight. Inside the beanery a light burning. The town asleep under the Northern moon. To the North the tracks of the G. R. & I. Railroad running far into the North. Cold tracks, stretching North toward Mackinaw City and St. Ignace. Cold tracks to be walking on at this time of night.

North of the frozen little Northern town a couple walking side by side on the tracks. It is Yogi Johnson walking with the squaw. As they walk Yogi Johnson silently strips off his garments. One by one he strips off his garments, and casts them beside the track. In the end he is clad only in a worn pair of pump-maker shoes. Yogi Johnson, naked in the moonlight, walking North beside the squaw. The squaw striding along beside him. She carries the papoose on her back in his bark cradle. Yogi attempts to take the papoose from her. He would carry the papoose. The husky dog whines and licks at Yogi Johnson’s ankles. No, the squaw would carry the papoose herself. On they stride. Into the North. Into the Northern night.

Behind them come two figures. Sharply etched in the moonlight. It is the two Indians. The two woods Indians. They stoop and gather up the garments Yogi Johnson has cast away. Occasionally, they grunt to one another. Striding softly along in the moonlight. Their keen eyes not missing a single cast-off garment. When the last garment has been cast off they look and see far ahead of them the two figures in the moonlight. The two Indians straighten up. They examine the garments.

“White chief snappy dresser,” the tall Indian remarks, holding up an initialled shirt.

“White chief going get pretty cold,” small Indian remarks. He hands a vest to the tall Indian. The tall Indian rolls all the clothing, all the cast-off garments, into a bundle, and they start back along the tracks to the town.

“Better keep clothes for white chief or sellem Salvation Army?” asks the short Indian.

“Better sellem Salvation Army,” the tall Indian grunts. “White chief maybe never come back.”

“White chief come back all right,” grunted the little Indian.

“Better sellem Salvation Army, anyway,” grunts the tall Indian. “White chief need new clothes, anyhow, when spring comes.”

As they walked down the tracks toward town, the air seemed to soften. The Indians walk uneasily now. Through the tamaracks and cedars beside the railway tracks a warm wind is blowing. The snowdrifts are melting now beside the tracks. Something stirs inside the two Indians. Some urge. Some strange pagan disturbance. The warm wind is blowing. The tall Indian stops, moistens his finger and holds it up in the air. The little Indian watches. “Chinook?” he asks.

“Heap chinook,” the tall Indian says. They hurry on toward town. The moon is blurred now by clouds carried by the warm chinook wind that is blowing.

“Want to get in town before rush,” the tall Indian grunts.

“Red brothers want be well up in line,” the little Indian grunts anxiously.

“Nobody work in factory now,” the tall Indian grunted.

“Better hurry.”

The warm wind blows. Inside the Indians strange longings were stirring. They knew what they wanted. Spring at last was coming to the frozen little Northern town. The two Indians hurried along the track.

Author’s Final Note to the Reader

Well, reader, how did you like it? It took me ten days to write it. Has it been worth it? There is just one place I would like to clear up. You remember back in the story where the elderly waitress, Diana, tells about how she lost her mother in Paris, and woke up to find herself with a French general in the next room? I thought perhaps you might be interested to know the real explanation of that. What actually happened was that her mother was taken violently ill with the bubonic plague in the night, and the doctor who was called diagnosed the case and warned the authorities. It was the day the great exposition was to be opened, and think what a case of bubonic plague would have done for the exposition as publicity. So the French authorities simply had the woman disappear. She died toward morning. The general who was summoned and who then got into bed in the same room where the mother had been, always seemed to us like a pretty brave man. He was one of the big stockholders in the exposition, though, I believe. Anyway, reader, as a piece of secret history it always seemed to me like an awfully good story, and I know you would rather have me explain it here than drag an explanation into the novel, where really, after all, it has no place. It is interesting to observe, though, how the French police hushed the whole matter up, and how quickly they got ahold of the coiffeur and the cabdriver. Of course, what it shows is that when you’re travelling abroad alone, or even with your mother, you simply cannot be too careful. I hope it is all right about bringing this in here, but I just felt I owed it to you, reader, to give some explanation. I do not believe in these protracted goodbyes any more than I do in long engagements, so I will just say a simple farewell and Godspeed, reader, and leave you now to your own devices.

The Undefeated

Manuel Garcia climbed the stairs to Don Miguel Retana’s office. He set down his suitcase and knocked on the door. There was no answer. Manuel, standing in the hallway, felt there was someone in the room. He felt it through the door.

“Retana,” he said, listening.

There was no answer.

He’s there, all right, Manuel thought.

“Retana,” he said and banged the door.

“Who’s there?” said someone in the office.

“Me, Manolo,” Manuel said.

“What do you want?” asked the voice.

“I want to work,” Manuel said.

Something in the door clicked several times and it swung open. Manuel went in, carrying his suitcase.

A little man sat behind a desk at the far side of the room. Over his head was a bull’s head, stuffed by a Madrid taxidermist; on the walls were framed photographs and bullfight posters.

The little man sat looking at Manuel.

“I thought they’d killed you,” he said.

Manuel knocked with his knuckles on the desk. The little man sat looking at him across the desk.

“How many corridas you had this year?” Retana asked.

“One,” he answered.

“Just that one?” the little man asked.

“That’s all.”

“I read about it in the papers,” Retana said. He leaned back in the chair and looked at Manuel.

Manuel looked up at the stuffed bull. He had seen it often before. He felt a certain family interest in it. It had killed his brother, the promising one, about nine years ago. Manuel remembered the day. There was a brass plate on the oak shield the bull’s head was mounted on. Manuel could not read it, but he imagined it was in memory of his brother. Well, he had been a good kid.

The plate said: “The Bull ‘Mariposa’ of the Duke of Veragua, which accepted 9 varas for 7 caballos, and caused the death of Antonio Garcia, Novillero, April 27, 1909.”

Retana saw him looking at the stuffed bull’s head.

“The lot the Duke sent me for Sunday will make a scandal,” he said. “They’re all bad in the legs. What do they say about them at the Café?”

“I don’t know,” Manuel said. “I just got in.”

“Yes,” Retana said. “You still have your bag.”

He looked at Manuel, leaning back behind the big desk.

“Sit down,” he said. “Take off your cap.”

Manuel sat down; his cap off, his face was changed. He looked pale, and his coleta pinned forward on his head, so that it would not show under the cap, gave him a strange look.

“You don’t look well,” Retana said.

“I just got out of the hospital,” Manuel said.

“I heard they’d cut your leg off,” Retana said.

“No,” said Manuel. “It got all right.”

Retana leaned forward across the desk and pushed a wooden box of cigarettes toward Manuel.

“Have a cigarette,” he said.


Manuel lit it.

“Smoke?” he said, offering the match to Retana.

“No,” Retana waved his hand, “I never smoke.”

Retana watched him smoking.

“Why don’t you get a job and go to work?” he said.

“I don’t want to work,” Manuel said. “I am a bullfighter.”

“There aren’t any bullfighters any more,” Retana said.

“I’m a bullfighter,” Manuel said.

“Yes, while you’re in there,” Retana said.

Manuel laughed.

Retana sat, saying nothing and looking at Manuel.

“I’ll put you in a nocturnal if you want,” Retana offered.

“When?” Manuel asked.

“Tomorrow night.”

“I don’t like to substitute for anybody,” Manuel said. That was the way they all got killed. That was the way Salvador got killed. He tapped with his knuckles on the table.

“It’s all I’ve got,” Retana said.

“Why don’t you put me on next week?” Manuel suggested.

“You wouldn’t draw,” Retana said. “All they want is Litri and Rubito and La Torre. Those kids are good.”

“They’d come to see me get it,” Manuel said, hopefully.

“No, they wouldn’t. They don’t know who you are any more.”

“I’ve got a lot of stuff,” Manuel said.

“I’m offering to put you on tomorrow night,” Retana said. “You can work with young Hernandez and kill two novillos after the Chariots.”

“Whose novillos?” Manuel asked.

“I don’t know. Whatever stuff they’ve got in the corrals. What the veterinaries won’t pass in the daytime.”

“I don’t like to substitute,” Manuel said.

“You can take it or leave it,” Retana said. He leaned forward over the papers. He was no longer interested. The appeal that Manuel had made to him for a moment when he thought of the old days was gone. He would like to get him to substitute for Larita because he could get him cheaply. He could get others cheaply too. He would like to help him though. Still he had given him the chance. It was up to him.

“How much do I get?” Manuel asked. He was still playing with the idea of refusing. But he knew he could not refuse.

“Two hundred and fifty pesetas,” Retana said. He had thought of five hundred, but when he opened his mouth it said two hundred and fifty.

“You pay Villalta seven thousand,” Manuel said.

“You’re not Villalta,” Retana said.

“I know it,” Manuel said.

“He draws it, Manolo,” Retana said in explanation.

“Sure,” said Manuel. He stood up. “Give me three hundred, Retana.”

“All right,” Retana agreed. He reached in the drawer for a paper.

“Can I have fifty now?” Manuel asked.

“Sure,” said Retana. He took a fifty peseta note out of his pocketbook and laid it, spread out flat, on the table.

Manuel picked it up and put it in his pocket.

“What about a cuadrilla?” he asked.

“There’s the boys that always work for me nights,” Retana said. “They’re all right.”

“How about picadors?” Manuel asked.

“They’re not much,” Retana admitted.

“I’ve got to have one good pic,” Manuel said.

“Get him then,” Retana said. “Go and get him.”

“Not out of this,” Manuel said. “I’m not paying for any cuadrilla out of sixty duros.”

Retana said nothing but looked at Manuel across the big desk.

“You know I’ve got to have one good pic,” Manuel said.

Retana said nothing but looked at Manuel from a long way off.

“It isn’t right,” Manuel said.

Retana was still considering him, leaning back in his chair, considering him from a long way away.

“There’re the regular pics,” he offered.

“I know,” Manuel said. “I know your regular pics.”

Retana did not smile. Manuel knew it was over.

“All I want is an even break,” Manuel said reasoningly. “When I go out there I want to be able to call my shots on the bull. It only takes one good picador.”

He was talking to a man who was no longer listening.

“If you want something extra,” Retana said, “go and get it. There will be a regular cuadrilla out there. Bring as many of your own pics as you want. The charlotada is over by 10:30.”

“All right,” Manuel said. “If that’s the way you feel about it.”

“That’s the way,” Retana said.

“I’ll see you tomorrow night,” Manuel said.

“I’ll be out there,” Retana said.

Manuel picked up his suitcase and went out.

“Shut the door,” Retana called.

Manuel looked back. Retana was sitting forward looking at some papers. Manuel pulled the door tight until it clicked.

He went down the stairs and out of the door into the hot brightness of the street. It was very hot in the street and the light on the white buildings was sudden and hard on his eyes. He walked down the shady side of the steep street toward the Puerta del Sol. The shade felt solid and cool as running water. The heat came suddenly as he crossed the intersecting streets. Manuel saw no one he knew in all the people he passed.

Just before the Puerta del Sol he turned into a café.

It was quiet in the café. There were a few men sitting at tables against the wall. At one table four men played cards. Most of the men sat against the wall smoking, empty coffee-cups and liqueur-glasses before them on the tables. Manuel went through the long room to a small room in back. A man sat at a table in the corner asleep. Manuel sat down at one of the tables.

A waiter came in and stood beside Manuel’s table.

“Have you seen Zurito?” Manuel asked him.

“He was in before lunch,” the waiter answered. “He won’t be back before five o’clock.”

“Bring me some coffee and milk and a shot of the ordinary,” Manuel said.

The waiter came back into the room carrying a tray with a big coffee-glass and a liqueur-glass on it. In his left hand he held a bottle of brandy. He swung these down to the table and a boy who had followed him poured coffee and milk into the glass from two shiny, spouted pots with long handles.

Manuel took off his cap and the waiter noticed his pigtail pinned forward on his head. He winked at the coffee-boy as he poured out the brandy into the little glass beside Manuel’s coffee. The coffee-boy looked at Manuel’s pale face curiously.

“You fighting here?” asked the waiter, corking up the bottle.

“Yes,” Manuel said. “Tomorrow.”

The waiter stood there, holding the bottle on one hip.

“You in the Charlie Chaplins?” he asked.

The coffee-boy looked away, embarrassed.

“No. In the ordinary.”

“I thought they were going to have Chaves and Hernandez,” the waiter said.

“No. Me and another.”

“Who? Chaves or Hernandez?”

“Hernandez, I think.”

“What’s the matter with Chaves?”

“He got hurt.”

“Where did you hear that?”


“Hey, Looie,” the waiter called to the next room, “Chaves got cogida.”

Manuel had taken the wrapper off the lumps of sugar and dropped them into his coffee. He stirred it and drank it down, sweet, hot, and warming in his empty stomach. He drank off the brandy.

“Give me another shot of that,” he said to the waiter.

The waiter uncorked the bottle and poured the glass full, slopping another drink into the saucer. Another waiter had come up in front of the table. The coffee-boy was gone.

“Is Chaves hurt bad?” the second waiter asked Manuel.

“I don’t know,” Manuel said, “Retana didn’t say.”

“A hell of a lot he cares,” the tall waiter said. Manuel had not seen him before. He must have just come up.

“If you stand in with Retana in this town, you’re a made man,” the tall waiter said. “If you aren’t in with him, you might just as well go out and shoot yourself.”

“You said it,” the other waiter who had come in said. “You said it then.”

“You’re right I said it,” said the tall waiter. “I know what I’m talking about when I talk about that bird.”

“Look what he’s done for Villalta,” the first waiter said.

“And that ain’t all,” the tall waiter said. “Look what he’s done for Marcial Lalanda. Look what he’s done for Nacional.”

“You said it, kid,” agreed the short waiter.

Manuel looked at them, standing talking in front of his table. He had drunk his second brandy. They had forgotten about him. They were not interested in him.

“Look at that bunch of camels,” the tall waiter went on. “Did you ever see this Nacional II?”

“I seen him last Sunday didn’t I?” the original waiter said.

“He’s a giraffe,” the short waiter said.

“What did I tell you?” the tall waiter said. “Those are Retana’s boys.”

“Say, give me another shot of that,” Manuel said. He had poured the brandy the waiter had slopped over in the saucer into his glass and drank it while they were talking.

The original waiter poured his glass full mechanically, and the three of them went out of the room talking.

In the far corner the man was still asleep, snoring slightly on the intaking breath, his head back against the wall.

Manuel drank his brandy. He felt sleepy himself. It was too hot to go out into the town. Besides there was nothing to do. He wanted to see Zurito. He would go to sleep while he waited. He kicked his suitcase under the table to be sure it was there. Perhaps it would be better to put it back under the seat, against the wall. He leaned down and shoved it under. Then he leaned forward on the table and went to sleep.

When he woke there was someone sitting across the table from him. It was a big man with a heavy brown face like an Indian. He had been sitting there some time. He had waved the waiter away and sat reading the paper and occasionally looking down at Manuel, asleep, his head on the table. He read the paper laboriously, forming the words with his lips as he read. When it tired him he looked at Manuel. He sat heavily in the chair, his black Cordoba hat tipped forward.

Manuel sat up and looked at him.

“Hello, Zurito,” he said.

“Hello, kid,” the big man said.

“I’ve been asleep.” Manuel rubbed his forehead with the back of his fist.

“I thought maybe you were.”

“How’s everything?”

“Good. How is everything with you?”

“Not so good.”

They were both silent. Zurito, the picador, looked at Manuel’s white face. Manuel looked down at the picador’s enormous hands folding the paper to put away in his pocket.

“I got a favor to ask you, Manos,” Manuel said.

Manosduros was Zurito’s nickname. He never heard it without thinking of his huge hands. He put them forward on the table self-consciously.

“Let’s have a drink,” he said.

“Sure,” said Manuel.

The waiter came and went and came again. He went out of the room looking back at the two men at the table.

“What’s the matter, Manolo?” Zurito set down his glass.

“Would you pic two bulls for me tomorrow night?” Manuel asked, looking up at Zurito across the table.

“No,” said Zurito. “I’m not pic-ing.”

Manuel looked down at his glass. He had expected that answer; now he had it. Well, he had it.

“I’m sorry, Manolo, but I’m not pic-ing.” Zurito looked at his hands.

“That’s all right,” Manuel said.

“I’m too old,” Zurito said.

“I just asked you,” Manuel said.

“Is it the nocturnal tomorrow?”

“That’s it. I figured if I had just one good pic, I could get away with it.”

“How much are you getting?”

“Three hundred pesetas.”

“I get more than that for pic-ing.”

“I know,” said Manuel. “I didn’t have any right to ask you.”

“What do you keep on doing it for?” Zurito asked. “Why don’t you cut off your coleta, Manolo?”

“I don’t know,” Manuel said.

“You’re pretty near as old as I am,” Zurito said.

“I don’t know,” Manuel said. “I got to do it. If I can fix it so that I get an even break, that’s all I want. I got to stick with it, Manos.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes, I do. I’ve tried keeping away from it.”

“I know how you feel. But it isn’t right. You ought to get out and stay out.”

“I can’t do it. Besides, I’ve been going good lately.”

Zurito looked at his face.

“You’ve been in the hospital.”

“But I was going great when I got hurt.”

Zurito said nothing. He tipped the cognac out of his saucer into his glass.

“The papers said they never saw a better faena,” Manuel said.

Zurito looked at him.

“You know when I get going I’m good,” Manuel said.

“You’re too old,” the picador said.

“No,” said Manuel. “You’re ten years older than I am.”

“With me it’s different.”

“I’m not too old,” Manuel said.

They sat silent, Manuel watching the picador’s face.

“I was going great till I got hurt,” Manuel offered.

“You ought to have seen me, Manos,” Manuel said, reproachfully.

“I don’t want to see you,” Zurito said. “It makes me nervous.”

“You haven’t seen me lately.”

“I’ve seen you plenty.”

Zurito looked at Manuel, avoiding his eyes.

“You ought to quit it, Manolo.”

“I can’t,” Manuel said. “I’m going good now, I tell you.”

Zurito leaned forward, his hands on the table.

“Listen. I’ll pic for you and if you don’t go big tomorrow night, you’ll quit. See? Will you do that?”


Zurito leaned back, relieved.

“You got to quit,” he said. “No monkey business. You got to cut the coleta.”

“I won’t have to quit,” Manuel said. “You watch me. I’ve got the stuff.”

Zurito stood up. He felt tired from arguing.

“You got to quit,” he said. “I’ll cut your coleta myself.”

“No, you won’t,” Manuel said. “You won’t have a chance.”

Zurito called the waiter.

“Come on,” said Zurito. “Come on up to the house.”

Manuel reached under the seat for his suitcase. He was happy. He knew Zurito would pic for him. He was the best picador living. It was all simple now.

“Come on up to the house and we’ll eat,” Zurito said.

Manuel stood in the patio de caballos waiting for the Charlie Chaplins to be over. Zurito stood beside him. Where they stood it was dark. The high door that led into the bullring was shut. Above them they heard a shout, then another shout of laughter. Then there was silence. Manuel liked the smell of the stables about the patio de caballos. It smelt good in the dark. There was another roar from the arena and then applause, prolonged applause, going on and on.

“You ever seen these fellows?” Zurito asked, big and looming beside Manuel in the dark.

“No,” Manuel said.

“They’re pretty funny.” Zurito said. He smiled to himself in the dark.

The high, double, tight-fitting door into the bullring swung open and Manuel saw the ring in the hard light of the arc-lights, the plaza, dark all the way around, rising high; around the edge of the ring were running and bowing two men dressed like tramps, followed by a third in the uniform of a hotel bellboy who stooped and picked up the hats and canes thrown down onto the sand and tossed them back up into the darkness.

The electric light went on in the patio.

“I’ll climb onto one of those ponies while you collect the kids,” Zurito said.

Behind them came the jingle of the mules, coming out to go into the arena and be hitched onto the dead bull.

The members of the cuadrilla, who had been watching the burlesque from the runway between the barrera and the seats, came walking back and stood in a group talking, under the electric light in the patio. A good-looking lad in a silver-and-orange suit came up to Manuel and smiled.

“I’m Hernandez,” he said and put out his hand.

Manuel shook it.

“They’re regular elephants we’ve got tonight,” the boy said cheerfully.

“They’re big ones with horns,” Manuel agreed.

“You drew the worst lot,” the boy said.

“That’s all right,” Manuel said. “The bigger they are, the more meat for the poor.”

“Where did you get that one?” Hernandez grinned.

“That’s an old one,” Manuel said. “You line up your cuadrilla, so I can see what I’ve got.”

“You’ve got some good kids,” Hernandez said. He was very cheerful. He had been on twice before in nocturnals and was beginning to get a following in Madrid. He was happy the fight would start in a few minutes.

“Where are the pics?” Manuel asked.

“They’re back in the corrals fighting about who gets the beautiful horses,” Hernandez grinned.

The mules came through the gate in a rush, the whips snapping, bells jangling and the young bull ploughing a furrow of sand.

They formed up for the paseo as soon as the bull had gone through.

Manuel and Hernandez stood in front. The youths of the cuadrillas were behind, their heavy capes furled over their arms. In back, the four picadors, mounted, holding their steel-tipped push-poles erect in the half-dark of the corral.

“It’s a wonder Retana wouldn’t give us enough light to see the horses by,” one picador said.

“He knows we’ll be happier if we don’t get too good a look at these skins,” another pic answered.

“This thing I’m on barely keeps me off the ground,” the first picador said.

“Well, they’re horses.”

“Sure, they’re horses.”

They talked, sitting their gaunt horses in the dark.

Zurito said nothing. He had the only steady horse of the lot. He had tried him, wheeling him in the corrals and he responded to the bit and the spurs. He had taken the bandage off his right eye and cut the strings where they had tied his ears tight shut at the base. He was a good, solid horse, solid on his legs. That was all he needed. He intended to ride him all through the corrida. He had already, since he had mounted, sitting in the half-dark in the big, quilted saddle, waiting for the paseo, pic-ed through the whole corrida in his mind. The other picadors went on talking on both sides of him. He did not hear them.

The two matadors stood together in front of their three peones, their capes furled over their left arms in the same fashion. Manuel was thinking about the three lads in back of him. They were all three Madrileños, like Hernandez, boys about nineteen. One of them, a gypsy, serious, aloof, and dark-faced, he liked the look of. He turned.

“What’s your name, kid?” he asked the gypsy.

“Fuentes,” the gypsy said.

“That’s a good name,” Manuel said.

The gypsy smiled, showing his teeth.

“You take the bull and give him a little run when he comes out,” Manuel said.

“All right,” the gypsy said. His face was serious. He began to think about just what he would do.

“Here she goes,” Manuel said to Hernandez.

“All right. We’ll go.”

Heads up, swinging with the music, their right arms swinging free, they stepped out, crossing the sanded arena under the arc-lights, the cuadrillas opening out behind, the picadors riding after, behind came the bullring servants and the jingling mules. The crowd applauded Hernandez as they marched across the arena. Arrogant, swinging, they looked straight ahead as they marched.

They bowed before the president, and the procession broke up into its component parts. The bullfighters went over to the barrera and changed their heavy mantles for the light fighting capes. The mules went out. The picadors galloped jerkily around the ring, and two rode out the gate they had come in by. The servants swept the sand smooth.

Manuel drank a glass of water poured for him by one of Retana’s deputies, who was acting as his manager and sword-handler. Hernandez came over from speaking with his own manager.

“You got a good hand, kid,” Manuel complimented him.

“They like me,” Hernandez said happily.

“How did the paseo go?” Manuel asked Retana’s man.

“Like a wedding,” said the handler. “Fine. You came out like Joselito and Belmonte.”

Zurito rode by, a bulky equestrian statue. He wheeled his horse and faced him toward the toril on the far side of the ring where the bull would come out. It was strange under the arc-light. He pic-ed in the hot afternoon sun for big money. He didn’t like this arc-light business. He wished they would get started.

Manuel went up to him.

“Pic him, Manos,” he said. “Cut him down to size for me.”

“I’ll pic him, kid,” Zurito spat on the sand. “I’ll make him jump out of the ring.”

“Lean on him, Manos,” Manuel said.

“I’ll lean on him,” Zurito said. “What’s holding it up?”

“He’s coming now,” Manuel said.

Zurito sat there, his feet in the box-stirrups, his great legs in the buckskin-covered armor gripping the horse, the reins in his left hand, the long pic held in his right hand, his broad hat well down over his eyes to shade them from the lights, watching the distant door of the toril. His horse’s ears quivered. Zurito patted him with his left hand.

The red door of the toril swung back and for a moment Zurito looked into the empty passageway far across the arena. Then the bull came out in a rush, skidding on his four legs as he came out under the lights, then charging in a gallop, moving softly in a fast gallop, silent except as he woofed through wide nostrils as he charged, glad to be free after the dark pen.

In the first row of seats, slightly bored, leaning forward to write on the cement wall in front of his knees, the substitute bullfight critic of El Heraldo scribbled: “Campagnero, Negro, 42, came out at 90 miles an hour with plenty of gas⁠—”

Manuel, leaning against the barrera, watching the bull, waved his hand and the gypsy ran out, trailing his cape. The bull, in full gallop, pivoted and charged the cape, his head down, his tail rising. The gypsy moved in a zigzag, and as he passed, the bull caught sight of him and abandoned the cape to charge the man. The gyp sprinted and vaulted the red fence of the barrera as the bull struck it with his horns. He tossed into it twice with his horns, banging into the wood blindly.

The critic of El Heraldo lit a cigarette and tossed the match at the bull, then wrote in his notebook, “large and with enough horns to satisfy the cash customers, Campagnero showed a tendency to cut into the terrane of the bullfighters.”

Manuel stepped out on the hard sand as the bull banged into the fence. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Zurito sitting the white horse close to the barrera, about a quarter of the way around the ring to the left. Manuel held the cape close in front of him, a fold in each hand, and shouted at the bull. “Huh! Huh!” The bull turned, seemed to brace against the fence as he charged in a scramble, driving into the cape as Manuel sidestepped, pivoted on his heels with the charge of the bull, and swung the cape just ahead of the horns. At the end of the swing he was facing the bull again and held the cape in the same position close in front of his body, and pivoted again as the bull recharged. Each time, as he swung, the crowd shouted.

Four times he swung with the bull, lifting the cape so it billowed full, and each time bringing the bull around to charge again. Then, at the end of the fifth swing, he held the cape against his hip and pivoted, so the cape swung out like a ballet dancer’s skirt and wound the bull around himself like a belt, to step clear, leaving the bull facing Zurito on the white horse, come up and planted firm, the horse facing the bull, its ears forward, its lips nervous, Zurito, his hat over his eyes, leaning forward, the long pole sticking out before and behind in a sharp angle under his right arm, held halfway down, the triangular iron point facing the bull.

El Heraldo’s second-string critic, drawing on his cigarette, his eyes on the bull, wrote: “the veteran Manolo designed a series of acceptable veronicas, ending in a very Belmontistic recorte that earned applause from the regulars, and we entered the tercio of the cavalry.”

Zurito sat his horse, measuring the distance between the bull and the end of the pic. As he looked, the bull gathered himself together and charged, his eyes on the horse’s chest. As he lowered his head to hook, Zurito sunk the point of the pic in the swelling hump of muscle above the bull’s shoulder, leaned all his weight on the shaft, and with his left hand pulled the white horse into the air, front hoofs pawing, and swung him to the right as he pushed the bull under and through so the horns passed safely under the horse’s belly and the horse came down, quivering, the bull’s tail brushing his chest as he charged the cape Hernandez offered him.

Hernandez ran sideways, taking the bull out and away with the cape, toward the other picador. He fixed him with a swing of the cape, squarely facing the horse and rider, and stepped back. As the bull saw the horse he charged. The picador’s lance slid along his back, and as the shock of the charge lifted the horse, the picador was already halfway out of the saddle, lifting his right leg clear as he missed with the lance and falling to the left side to keep the horse between him and the bull. The horse, lifted and gored, crashed over with the bull driving into him, the picador gave a shove with his boots against the horse and lay clear, waiting to be lifted and hauled away and put on his feet.

Manuel let the bull drive into the fallen horse; he was in no hurry, the picador was safe; besides, it did a picador like that good to worry. He’d stay on longer next time. Lousy pics! He looked across the sand at Zurito a little way out from the barrera, his horse rigid, waiting.

“Huh!” he called to the bull, “Tomar!” holding the cape in both hands so it would catch his eye. The bull detached himself from the horse and charged the cape, and Manuel, running sideways and holding the cape spread wide, stopped, swung on his heels, and brought the bull sharply around facing Zurito.

“Campagnero accepted a pair of varas for the death of one rosinante, with Hernandez and Manolo at the quites,” El Heraldo’s critic wrote. “He pressed on the iron and clearly showed he was no horse-lover. The veteran Zurito resurrected some of his old stuff with the pike-pole, notably the suerte⁠—”

“Olé Olé!” the man sitting beside him shouted. The shout was lost in the roar of the crowd, and he slapped the critic on the back. The critic looked up to see Zurito, directly below him, leaning far out over his horse, the length of the pic rising in a sharp angle under his armpit, holding the pic almost by the point, bearing down with all his weight, holding the bull off, the bull pushing and driving to get at the horse, and Zurito, far out, on top of him, holding him, holding him, and slowly pivoting the horse against the pressure, so that at last he was clear. Zurito felt the moment when the horse was clear and the bull could come past, and relaxed the absolute steel lock of his resistance, and the triangular steel point of the pic ripped in the bull’s hump of shoulder muscle as he tore loose to find Hernandez’s cape before his muzzle. He charged blindly into the cape and the boy took him out into the open arena.

Zurito sat patting his horse and looking at the bull charging the cape that Hernandez swung for him out under the bright light while the crowd shouted.

“You see that one?” he said to Manuel.

“It was a wonder,” Manuel said.

“I got him that time,” Zurito said. “Look at him now.”

At the conclusion of a closely turned pass of the cape the bull slid to his knees. He was up at once, but far out across the sand Manuel and Zurito saw the shine of the pumping flow of blood, smooth against the black of the bull’s shoulder.

“I got him that time,” Zurito said.

“He’s a good bull,” Manuel said.

“If they gave me another shot at him, I’d kill him,” Zurito said.

“They’ll change the thirds on us,” Manuel said.

“Look at him now,” Zurito said.

“I got to go over there,” Manuel said, and started on a run for the other side of the ring, where the monos were leading a horse out by the bridle toward the bull, whacking him on the legs with rods and all, in a procession, trying to get him toward the bull, who stood, dropping his head, pawing, unable to make up his mind to charge.

Zurito, sitting his horse, walking him toward the scene, not missing any detail, scowled.

Finally the bull charged, the horse leaders ran for the barrera, the picador hit too far back, and the bull got under the horse, lifted him, threw him onto his back.

Zurito watched. The monos, in their red shirts, running out to drag the picador clear. The picador, now on his feet, swearing and flopping his arms. Manuel and Hernandez standing ready with their capes. And the bull, the great, black bull, with a horse on his back, hooves dangling, the bridle caught in the horns. Black bull with a horse on his back, staggering short-legged, then arching his neck and lifting, thrusting, charging to slide the horse off, horse sliding down. Then the bull into a lunging charge at the cape Manuel spread for him.

The bull was slower now, Manuel felt. He was bleeding badly. There was a sheen of blood all down his flank.

Manuel offered him the cape again. There he came, eyes open, ugly, watching the cape. Manuel stepped to the side and raised his arms, tightening the cape ahead of the bull for the veronica.

Now he was facing the bull. Yes, his head was going down a little. He was carrying it lower. That was Zurito.

Manuel flopped the cape; there he comes; he sidestepped and swung in another veronica. He’s shooting awfully accurately, he thought. He’s had enough fight, so he’s watching now. He’s hunting now. Got his eye on me. But I always give him the cape.

He shook the cape at the bull; there he comes; he sidestepped. Awful close that time. I don’t want to work that close to him.

The edge of the cape was wet with blood where it had swept along the bull’s back as he went by.

All right, here’s the last one.

Manuel, facing the bull, having turned with him each charge, offered the cape with his two hands. The bull looked at him. Eyes watching, horns straight forward, the bull looked at him, watching.

“Huh!” Manuel said, “Toro!” and leaning back, swung the cape forward. Here he comes. He sidestepped, swung the cape in back of him, and pivoted, so the bull followed a swirl of cape and then was left with nothing, fixed by the pass, dominated by the cape. Manuel swung the cape under his muzzle with one hand, to show the bull was fixed, and walked away.

There was no applause.

Manuel walked across the sand toward the barrera, while Zurito rode out of the ring. The trumpet had blown to change the act to the planting of the banderillos while Manuel had been working with the bull. He had not consciously noticed it. The monos were spreading canvas over the two dead horses and sprinkling sawdust around them.

Manuel came up to the barrera for a drink of water. Retana’s man handed him the heavy porous jug.

Fuentes, the tall gypsy, was standing holding a pair of banderillos, holding them together, slim, red sticks, fishhook points out. He looked at Manuel.

“Go on out there,” Manuel said.

The gypsy trotted out. Manuel set down the jug and watched. He wiped his face with his handkerchief.

The critic of El Heraldo reached for the bottle of warm champagne that stood between his feet, took a drink, and finished his paragraph.

“⁠—the aged Manolo rated no applause for a vulgar series of lances with the cape and we entered the third of the palings.”

Alone in the centre of the ring the bull stood, still fixed. Fuentes, tall, flat-backed, walking toward him arrogantly, his arms spread out, the two slim, red sticks, one in each hand, held by the fingers, points straight forward. Fuentes walked forward. Back of him and to one side was a peon with a cape. The bull looked at him and was no longer fixed.

His eyes watched Fuentes, now standing still. Now he leaned back, calling to him. Fuentes twitched the two banderillos and the light on the steel points caught the bull’s eye.

His tail went up and he charged.

He came straight, his eyes on the man. Fuentes stood still, leaning back, the banderillos pointing forward. As the bull lowered his head to hook, Fuentes leaned backward, his arms came together and rose, his two hands touching, the banderillos two descending red lines, and leaning forward drove the points into the bull’s shoulder, leaning far in over the bull’s horns and pivoting on the two upright sticks, his legs tight together, his body curving to one side to let the bull pass.

“Olé!” from the crowd.

The bull was hooking wildly, jumping like a trout, all four feet off the ground. The red shaft of the banderillos tossed as he jumped.

Manuel standing at the barrera, noticed that he hooked always to the right.

“Tell him to drop the next pair on the right,” he said to the kid who started to run out to Fuentes with the new banderillos.

A heavy hand fell on his shoulder. It was Zurito.

“How do you feel, kid?” he asked.

Manuel was watching the bull.

Zurito leaned forward on the barrera, leaning the weight of his body on his arms. Manuel turned to him.

“You’re going good,” Zurito said.

Manuel shook his head. He had nothing to do now until the next third. The gypsy was very good with the banderillos. The bull would come to him in the next third in good shape. He was a good bull. It had all been easy up to now. The final stuff with the sword was all he worried over. He did not really worry. He did not even think about it. But standing there he had a heavy sense of apprehension. He looked out at the bull, planning his faena, his work with the red cloth that was to reduce the bull, to make him manageable.

The gypsy was walking out toward the bull again, walking heel-and-toe, insultingly, like a ballroom dancer, the red shafts of the banderillos twitching with his walk. The bull watched him, not fixed now, hunting him, but waiting to get close enough so he could be sure of getting him, getting the horns into him.

As Fuentes walked forward the bull charged. Fuentes ran across the quarter of a circle as the bull charged and, as he passed running backward, stopped, swung forward, rose on his toes, arms straight out, and sunk the banderillos straight down into the tight of the big shoulder muscles as the bull missed him.

The crowd were wild about it.

“That kid won’t stay in this night stuff long,” Retana’s man said to Zurito.

“He’s good,” Zurito said.

“Watch him now.”

They watched.

Fuentes was standing with his back against the barrera. Two of the cuadrilla were back of him, with their capes ready to flop over the fence to distract the bull.

The bull, with his tongue out, his barrel heaving, was watching the gypsy. He thought he had him now. Back against the red planks. Only a short charge away. The bull watched him.

The gypsy bent back, drew back his arms, the banderillos pointing at the bull. He called to the bull, stamped one foot. The bull was suspicious. He wanted the man. No more barbs in the shoulder.

Fuentes walked a little closer to the bull. Bent back. Called again. Somebody in the crowd shouted a warning.

“He’s too damn close,” Zurito said.

“Watch him,” Retana’s man said.

Leaning back, inciting the bull with the banderillos, Fuentes jumped, both feet off the ground. As he jumped the bull’s tail rose and he charged. Fuentes came down on his toes, arms straight out, whole body arching forward, and drove the shafts straight down as he swung his body clear of the right horn.

The bull crashed into the barrera where the flopping capes had attracted his eye as he lost the man.

The gypsy came running along the barrera toward Manuel, taking the applause of the crowd. His vest was ripped where he had not quite cleared the point of the horn. He was happy about it, showing it to the spectators. He made the tour of the ring. Zurito saw him go by, smiling, pointing at his vest. He smiled.

Somebody else was planting the last pair of banderillos. Nobody was paying any attention.

Retana’s man tucked a baton inside the red cloth of a muleta, folded the cloth over it, and handed it over the barrera to Manuel. He reached in the leather sword-case, took out a sword, and holding it by its leather scabbard, reached it over the fence to Manuel. Manuel pulled the blade out by the red hilt and the scabbard fell limp.

He looked at Zurito. The big man saw he was sweating.

“Now you get him, kid,” Zurito said.

Manuel nodded.

“He’s in good shape,” Zurito said.

“Just like you want him,” Retana’s man assured him.

Manuel nodded.

The trumpeter, up under the roof, blew for the final act, and Manuel walked across the arena toward where, up in the dark boxes, the president must be.

In the front row of seats the substitute bullfight critic of El Heraldo took a long drink of the warm champagne. He had decided it was not worth while to write a running story and would write up the corrida back in the office. What the hell was it anyway? Only a nocturnal. If he missed anything he would get it out of the morning papers. He took another drink of the champagne. He had a date at Maxim’s at twelve. Who were these bullfighters anyway? Kids and bums. A bunch of bums. He put his pad of paper in his pocket and looked over toward Manuel, standing very much alone in the ring, gesturing with his hat in a salute toward a box he could not see high up in the dark plaza. Out in the ring the bull stood quiet, looking at nothing.

“I dedicate this bull to you, Mr. President, and to the public of Madrid, the most intelligent and generous of the world,” was what Manuel was saying. It was a formula. He said it all. It was a little long for nocturnal use.

He bowed at the dark, straightened, tossed his hat over his shoulder, and, carrying the muleta in his left hand and the sword in his right, walked out toward the bull.

Manuel walked toward the bull. The bull looked at him; his eyes were quick. Manuel noticed the way the banderillos hung down on his left shoulder and the steady sheen of blood from Zurito’s pic-ing. He noticed the way the bull’s feet were. As he walked forward, holding the muleta in his left hand and the sword in his right, he watched the bull’s feet. The bull could not charge without gathering his feet together. Now he stood square on them, dully.

Manuel walked toward him, watching his feet. This was all right. He could do this. He must work to get the bull’s head down, so he could go in past the horns and kill him. He did not think about the sword, not about killing the bull. He thought about one thing at a time. The coming things oppressed him, though. Walking forward, watching the bull’s feet, he saw successively his eyes, his wet muzzle, and the wide, forward-pointing spread of his horns. The bull had light circles about his eyes. His eyes watched Manuel. He felt he was going to get this little one with the white face.

Standing still now and spreading the red cloth of the muleta with the sword, pricking the point into the cloth so that the sword, now held in his left hand, spread the red flannel like the jib of a boat, Manuel noticed the points of the bull’s horns. One of them was splintered from banging against the barrera. The other was sharp as a porcupine quill. Manuel noticed while spreading the muleta that the white base of the horn was stained red. While he noticed these things he did not lose sight of the bull’s feet. The bull watched Manuel steadily.

He’s on the defensive now, Manuel thought. He’s reserving himself. I’ve got to bring him out of that and get his head down. Always get his head down. Zurito had his head down once, but he’s come back. He’ll bleed when I start him going and that will bring it down.

Holding the muleta, with the sword in his left hand widening it in front of him, he called to the bull.

The bull looked at him.

He leaned back insultingly and shook the widespread flannel.

The bull saw the muleta. It was a bright scarlet under the arc-light. The bull’s legs tightened.

Here he comes. Whoosh! Manuel turned as the bull came and raised the muleta so that it passed over the bull’s horns and swept down his broad back from head to tail. The bull had gone clean up in the air with the charge. Manuel had not moved.

At the end of the pass the bull turned like a cat coming around a corner and faced Manuel.

He was on the offensive again. His heaviness was gone. Manuel noted the fresh blood shining down the black shoulder and dripping down the bull’s leg. He drew the sword out of the muleta and held it in his right hand. The muleta held low down in his left hand, leaning toward the left, he called to the bull. The bull’s legs tightened, his eyes on the muleta. Here he comes, Manuel thought. Yuh!

He swung with the charge, sweeping the muleta ahead of the bull, his feet firm, the sword following the curve, a point of light under the arcs.

The bull recharged as the pase natural finished and Manuel raised the muleta for a pase de pecho. Firmly planted, the bull came by his chest under the raised muleta. Manuel leaned his head back to avoid the clattering banderillo shafts. The hot, black bull body touched his chest as it passed.

Too damn close, Manuel thought. Zurito, leaning on the barrera, spoke rapidly to the gypsy, who trotted out toward Manuel with a cape. Zurito pulled his hat down low and looked out across the arena at Manuel.

Manuel was facing the bull again, the muleta held low and to the left. The bull’s head was down as he watched the muleta.

“If it was Belmonte doing that stuff, they’d go crazy,” Retana’s man said.

Zurito said nothing. He was watching Manuel out in the centre of the arena.

“Where did the boss dig this fellow up?” Retana’s man asked.

“Out of the hospital,” Zurito said.

“That’s where he’s going damn quick,” Retana’s man said.

Zurito turned on him.

“Knock on that,” he said, pointing to the barrera.

“I was just kidding, man,” Retana’s man said.

“Knock on the wood.”

Retana’s man leaned forward and knocked three times on the barrera.

“Watch the faena,” Zurito said.

Out in the centre of the ring, under the lights, Manuel was kneeling, facing the bull, and as he raised the muleta in both hands the bull charged, tail up.

Manuel swung his body clear and, as the bull recharged, brought around the muleta in a half-circle that pulled the bull to his knees.

“Why, that one’s a great bullfighter,” Retana’s man said.

“No, he’s not,” said Zurito.

Manuel stood up and, the muleta in his left hand, the sword in his right, acknowledged the applause from the dark plaza.

The bull had humped himself up from his knees and stood waiting, his head hung low.

Zurito spoke to two of the other lads of the cuadrilla and they ran out to stand back of Manuel with their capes. There were four men back of him now. Hernandez had followed him since he first came out with the muleta. Fuentes stood watching, his cape held against his body, tall, in repose, watching lazy-eyed. Now the two came up. Hernandez motioned them to stand one at each side. Manuel stood alone, facing the bull.

Manuel waved back the men with the capes. Stepping back cautiously, they saw his face was white and sweating.

Didn’t they know enough to keep back? Did they want to catch the bull’s eye with the capes after he was fixed and ready? He had enough to worry about without that kind of thing.

The bull was standing, his four feet square, looking at the muleta. Manuel furled the muleta in his left hand. The bull’s eyes watched it. His body was heavy on his feet. He carried his head low, but not too low.

Manuel lifted the muleta at him. The bull did not move. Only his eyes watched.

He’s all lead, Manuel thought. He’s all square. He’s framed right. He’ll take it.

He thought in bullfight terms. Sometimes he had a thought and the particular piece of slang would not come into his mind and he could not realize the thought. His instincts and his knowledge worked automatically, and his brain worked slowly and in words. He knew all about bulls. He did not have to think about them. He just did the right thing. His eyes noted things and his body performed the necessary measures without thought. If he thought about it, he would be gone.

Now, facing the bull, he was conscious of many things at the same time. There were the horns, the one splintered, the other smoothly sharp, the need to profile himself toward the left horn, lance himself short and straight, lower the muleta so the bull would follow it, and, going in over the horns, put the sword all the way into a little spot about as big as a five-peseta piece straight in back of the neck, between the sharp pitch of the bull’s shoulders. He must do all this and must then come out from between the horns. He was conscious he must do all this, but his only thought was in words: “Corto y derecho.

Corto y derecho,” he thought, furling the muleta. Short and straight. Corto y derecho, he drew the sword out of the muleta, profiled on the splintered left horn, dropped the muleta across his body, so his right hand with the sword on the level with his eye made the sign of the cross, and, rising on his toes, sighted along the dipping blade of the sword at the spot high up between the bull’s shoulders.

Corto y derecho he lanced himself on the bull.

There was a shock, and he felt himself go up in the air. He pushed on the sword as he went up and over, and it flew out of his hand. He hit the ground and the bull was on him. Manuel, lying on the ground, kicked at the bull’s muzzle with his slippered feet. Kicking, kicking, the bull after him, missing him in his excitement, bumping him with his head, driving the horns into the sand. Kicking like a man keeping a ball in the air, Manuel kept the bull from getting a clean thrust at him.

Manuel felt the wind on his back from the capes flopping at the bull, and then the bull was gone, gone over him in a rush. Dark, as his belly went over. Not even stepped on.

Manuel stood up and picked up the muleta. Fuentes handed him the sword. It was bent where it had struck the shoulder-blade. Manuel straightened it on his knee and ran toward the bull, standing now beside one of the dead horses. As he ran, his jacket flopped where it had been ripped under his armpit.

“Get him out of there,” Manuel shouted to the gypsy. The bull had smelled the blood of the dead horse and ripped into the canvas-cover with his horns. He charged Fuentes’s cape, with the canvas hanging from his splintered horn, and the crowd laughed. Out in the ring, he tossed his head to rid himself of the canvas. Hernandez, running up from behind him, grabbed the end of the canvas and neatly lifted it off the horn.

The bull followed it in a half-charge and stopped still. He was on the defensive again. Manuel was walking toward him with the sword and muleta. Manuel swung the muleta before him. The bull would not charge.

Manuel profiled toward the bull, sighting along the dipping blade of the sword. The bull was motionless, seemingly dead on his feet, incapable of another charge.

Manuel rose to his toes, sighting along the steel, and charged.

Again there was the shock and he felt himself being borne back in a rush, to strike hard on the sand. There was no chance of kicking this time. The bull was on top of him. Manuel lay as though dead, his head on his arms, and the bull bumped him. Bumped his back, bumped his face in the sand. He felt the horn go into the sand between his folded arms. The bull hit him in the small of the back. His face drove into the sand. The horn drove through one of his sleeves and the bull ripped it off. Manuel was tossed clear and the bull followed the capes.

Manuel got up, found the sword and muleta, tried the point of the sword with his thumb, and then ran toward the barrera for a new sword.

Retana’s man handed him the sword over the edge of the barrera.

“Wipe off your face,” he said.

Manuel, running again toward the bull, wiped his bloody face with his handkerchief. He had not seen Zurito. Where was Zurito?

The cuadrilla had stepped away from the bull and waited with their capes. The bull stood, heavy and dull again after the action.

Manuel walked toward him with the muleta. He stopped and shook it. The bull did not respond. He passed it right and left, left and right before the bull’s muzzle. The bull’s eyes watched it and turned with the swing, but he would not charge. He was waiting for Manuel.

Manuel was worried. There was nothing to do but go in. Corto y derecho. He profiled close to the bull, crossed the muleta in front of his body and charged. As he pushed in the sword, he jerked his body to the left to clear the horn. The bull passed him and the sword shot up in the air, twinkling under the arc-lights, to fall red-hilted on the sand.

Manuel ran over and picked it up. It was bent and he straightened it over his knee.

As he came running toward the bull, fixed again now, he passed Hernandez standing with his cape.

“He’s all bone,” the boy said encouragingly.

Manuel nodded, wiping his face. He put the bloody handkerchief in his pocket.

There was the bull. He was close to the barrera now. Damn him. Maybe he was all bone. Maybe there was not any place for the sword to go in. The hell there wasn’t! He’d show them.

He tried a pass with the muleta and the bull did not move. Manuel chopped the muleta back and forth in front of the bull. Nothing doing.

He furled the muleta, drew the sword out, profiled and drove in on the bull. He felt the sword buckle as he shoved it in, leaning his weight on it, and then it shot high in the air, end-over-ending into the crowd. Manuel had jerked clear as the sword jumped.

The first cushions thrown down out of the dark missed him. Then one hit him in the face, his bloody face looking toward the crowd. They were coming down fast. Spotting the sand. Somebody threw an empty champagne-bottle from close range. It hit Manuel on the foot. He stood there watching the dark, where the things were coming from. Then something whished through the air and struck by him. Manuel leaned over and picked it up. It was his sword. He straightened it over his knee and gestured with it to the crowd.

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you.”

Oh, the dirty bastards! Dirty bastards! Oh, the lousy, dirty bastards! He kicked into a cushion as he ran.

There was the bull. The same as ever. All right, you dirty, lousy bastard!

Manuel passed the muleta in front of the bull’s black muzzle.

Nothing doing.

You won’t! All right. He stepped close and jammed the sharp peak of the muleta into the bull’s damp muzzle.

The bull was on him as he jumped back and as he tripped on a cushion he felt the horn go into him, into his side. He grabbed the horn with his two hands and rode backward, holding tight onto the place. The bull tossed him and he was clear. He lay still. It was all right. The bull was gone.

He got up coughing and feeling broken and gone. The dirty bastards!

“Give me the sword,” he shouted. “Give me the stuff.”

Fuentes came up with the muleta and the sword.

Hernandez put his arm around him.

“Go on to the infirmary, man,” he said. “Don’t be a damn fool.”

“Get away from me,” Manuel said. “Get to hell away from me.”

He twisted free. Hernandez shrugged his shoulders. Manuel ran toward the bull.

There was the bull standing, heavy, firmly planted.

All right, you bastard! Manuel drew the sword out of the muleta, sighted with the same movement, and flung himself onto the bull. He felt the sword go in all the way. Right up to the guard. Four fingers and his thumb into the bull. The blood was hot on his knuckles, and he was on top of the bull.

The bull lurched with him as he lay on, and seemed to sink; then he was standing clear. He looked at the bull going down slowly over on his side, then suddenly four feet in the air.

Then he gestured at the crowd, his hand warm from the bull blood.

All right, you bastards! He wanted to say something, but he started to cough. It was hot and choking. He looked down for the muleta. He must go over and salute the president. President hell! He was sitting down looking at something. It was the bull. His four feet up. Thick tongue out. Things crawling around on his belly and under his legs. Crawling where the hair was thin. Dead bull. To hell with the bull! To hell with them all! He started to get to his feet and commenced to cough. He sat down again, coughing. Somebody came and pushed him up.

They carried him across the ring to the infirmary, running with him across the sand, standing blocked at the gate as the mules came in, then around under the dark passageway, men grunting as they took him up the stairway, and then laid him down.

The doctor and two men in white were waiting for him. They laid him out on the table. They were cutting away his shirt. Manuel felt tired. His whole chest felt scalding inside. He started to cough and they held something to his mouth. Everybody was very busy.

There was an electric light in his eyes. He shut his eyes.

He heard someone coming very heavily up the stairs. Then he did not hear it. Then he heard a noise far off. That was the crowd. Well, somebody would have to kill his other bull. They had cut away all his shirt. The doctor smiled at him. There was Retana.

“Hello, Retana!” Manuel said. He could not hear his voice.

Retana smiled at him and said something. Manuel could not hear it.

Zurito stood beside the table, bending over where the doctor was working. He was in his picador clothes, without his hat.

Zurito said something to him. Manuel could not hear it.

Zurito was speaking to Retana. One of the men in white smiled and handed Retana a pair of scissors. Retana gave them to Zurito. Zurito said something to Manuel. He could not hear it.

To hell with this operating-table! He’d been on plenty of operating-tables before. He was not going to die. There would be a priest if he was going to die.

Zurito was saying something to him. Holding up the scissors.

That was it. They were going to cut off his coleta. They were going to cut off his pigtail.

Manuel sat up on the operating-table. The doctor stepped back, angry. Someone grabbed him and held him.

“You couldn’t do a thing like that, Manos,” he said.

He heard suddenly, clearly, Zurito’s voice.

“That’s all right,” Zurito said. “I won’t do it. I was joking.”

“I was going good,” Manuel said. “I didn’t have any luck. That was all.”

Manuel lay back. They had put something over his face. It was all familiar. He inhaled deeply. He felt very tired. He was very, very tired. They took the thing away from his face.

“I was going good,” Manuel said weakly. “I was going great.”

Retana looked at Zurito and started for the door.

“I’ll stay here with him,” Zurito said.

Retana shrugged his shoulders.

Manuel opened his eyes and looked at Zurito.

“Wasn’t I going good, Manos?” he asked, for confirmation.

“Sure,” said Zurito. “You were going great.”

The doctor’s assistant put the cone over Manuel’s face and he inhaled deeply. Zurito stood awkwardly, watching.

In Another Country

In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. It was cold in the fall in Milan and the dark came very early. Then the electric lights came on, and it was pleasant along the streets looking in the windows. There was much game hanging outside the shops, and the snow powdered in the fur of the foxes and the wind blew their tails. The deer hung stiff and heavy and empty, and small birds blew in the wind and the wind turned their feathers. It was a cold fall and the wind came down from the mountains.

We were all at the hospital every afternoon, and there were different ways of walking across the town through the dusk to the hospital. Two of the ways were alongside canals, but they were long. Always, though, you crossed a bridge across a canal to enter the hospital. There was a choice of three bridges. On one of them a woman sold roasted chestnuts. It was warm, standing in front of her charcoal fire, and the chestnuts were warm afterward in your pocket. The hospital was very old and very beautiful, and you entered through a gate and walked across a courtyard and out a gate on the other side. There were usually funerals starting from the courtyard. Beyond the old hospital were the new brick pavilions, and there we met every afternoon and were all very polite and interested in what was the matter, and sat in the machines that were to make so much difference.

The doctor came up to the machine where I was sitting and said: “What did you like best to do before the war? Did you practise a sport?”

I said: “Yes, football.”

“Good,” he said. “You will be able to play football again better than ever.”

My knee did not bend and the leg dropped straight from the knee to the ankle without a calf, and the machine was to bend the knee and make it move as in riding a tricycle. But it did not bend yet, and instead the machine lurched when it came to the bending part. The doctor said: “That will all pass. You are a fortunate young man. You will play football again like a champion.”

In the next machine was a major who had a little hand like a baby’s. He winked at me when the doctor examined his hand, which was between two leather straps that bounced up and down and flapped the stiff fingers, and said: “And will I too play football, captain-doctor?” He had been a very great fencer, and before the war the greatest fencer in Italy.

The doctor went to his office in a back room and brought a photograph which showed a hand that had been withered almost as small as the major’s, before it had taken a machine course, and after was a little larger. The major held the photograph with his good hand and looked at it very carefully. “A wound?” he asked.

“An industrial accident,” the doctor said.

“Very interesting, very interesting,” the major said, and handed it back to the doctor.

“You have confidence?”

“No,” said the major.

There were three boys who came each day who were about the same age I was. They were all three from Milan, and one of them was to be a lawyer, and one was to be a painter, and one had intended to be a soldier, and after we were finished with the machines, sometimes we walked back together to the Café Cova, which was next door to the Scala. We walked the short way through the communist quarter because we were four together. The people hated us because we were officers, and from a wine-shop someone would call out, “A basso gli ufficiali!” as we passed. Another boy who walked with us sometimes and made us five wore a black silk handkerchief across his face because he had no nose then and his face was to be rebuilt. He had gone out to the front from the military academy and been wounded within an hour after he had gone into the front line for the first time. They rebuilt his face, but he came from a very old family and they could never get the nose exactly right. He went to South America and worked in a bank. But this was a long time ago, and then we did not any of us know how it was going to be afterward. We only knew then that there was always the war, but that we were not going to it any more.

We all had the same medals, except the boy with the black silk bandage across his face, and he had not been at the front long enough to get any medals. The tall boy with a very pale face who was to be a lawyer had been a lieutenant of Arditi and had three medals of the sort we each had only one of. He had lived a very long time with death and was a little detached. We were all a little detached, and there was nothing that held us together except that we met every afternoon at the hospital. Although, as we walked to the Cova through the tough part of town, walking in the dark, with light and singing coming out of the wine-shops, and sometimes having to walk into the street when the men and women would crowd together on the sidewalk so that we would have had to jostle them to get by, we felt held together by there being something that had happened that they, the people who disliked us, did not understand.

We ourselves all understood the Cova, where it was rich and warm and not too brightly lighted, and noisy and smoky at certain hours, and there were always girls at the tables and the illustrated papers on a rack on the wall. The girls at the Cova were very patriotic, and I found that the most patriotic people in Italy were the café girls⁠—and I believe they are still patriotic.

The boys at first were very polite about my medals and asked me what I had done to get them. I showed them the papers, which were written in very beautiful language and full of fratellanza and abnegazione, but which really said, with the adjectives removed, that I had been given the medals because I was an American. After that their manner changed a little toward me, although I was their friend against outsiders. I was a friend, but I was never really one of them after they had read the citations, because it had been different with them and they had done very different things to get their medals. I had been wounded, it was true; but we all knew that being wounded, after all, was really an accident. I was never ashamed of the ribbons, though, and sometimes, after the cocktail hour, I would imagine myself having done all the things they had done to get their medals; but walking home at night through the empty streets with the cold wind and all the shops closed, trying to keep near the street lights, I knew that I would never have done such things, and I was very much afraid to die, and often lay in bed at night by myself, afraid to die and wondering how I would be when I went back to the front again.

The three with the medals were like hunting-hawks; and I was not a hawk, although I might seem a hawk to those who had never hunted; they, the three, knew better and so we drifted apart. But I stayed good friends with the boy who had been wounded his first day at the front, because he would never know now how he would have turned out; so he could never be accepted either, and I liked him because I thought perhaps he would not have turned out to be a hawk either.

The major, who had been the great fencer, did not believe in bravery, and spent much time while we sat in the machines correcting my grammar. He had complimented me on how I spoke Italian, and we talked together very easily. One day I had said that Italian seemed such an easy language to me that I could not take a great interest in it; everything was so easy to say. “Ah, yes,” the major said. “Why, then, do you not take up the use of grammar?” So we took up the use of grammar, and soon Italian was such a difficult language that I was afraid to talk to him until I had the grammar straight in my mind.

The major came very regularly to the hospital. I do not think he ever missed a day, although I am sure he did not believe in the machines. There was a time when none of us believed in the machines, and one day the major said it was all nonsense. The machines were new then and it was we who were to prove them. It was an idiotic idea, he said, “a theory, like another.” I had not learned my grammar, and he said I was a stupid impossible disgrace, and he was a fool to have bothered with me. He was a small man and he sat straight up in his chair with his right hand thrust into the machine and looked straight ahead at the wall while the straps thumped up and down with his fingers in them.

“What will you do when the war is over if it is over?” he asked me. “Speak grammatically!”

“I will go to the States.”

“Are you married?”

“No, but I hope to be.”

“The more of a fool you are,” he said. He seemed very angry. “A man must not marry.”

“Why, Signor Maggiore?”

“Don’t call me ‘Signor Maggiore.’ ”

“Why must not a man marry?”

“He cannot marry. He cannot marry,” he said angrily. “If he is to lose everything, he should not place himself in a position to lose that. He should not place himself in a position to lose. He should find things he cannot lose.”

He spoke very angrily and bitterly, and looked straight ahead while he talked.

“But why should he necessarily lose it?”

“He’ll lose it,” the major said. He was looking at the wall. Then he looked down at the machine and jerked his little hand out from between the straps and slapped it hard against his thigh. “He’ll lose it,” he almost shouted. “Don’t argue with me!” Then he called to the attendant who ran the machines. “Come and turn this damned thing off.”

He went back into the other room for the light treatment and the massage. Then I heard him ask the doctor if he might use his telephone and he shut the door. When he came back into the room, I was sitting in another machine. He was wearing his cape and had his cap on, and he came directly toward my machine and put his arm on my shoulder.

“I am so sorry,” he said, and patted me on the shoulder with his good hand. “I would not be rude. My wife has just died. You must forgive me.”

“Oh⁠—” I said, feeling sick for him. “I am so sorry.”

He stood there biting his lower lip. “It is very difficult,” he said. “I cannot resign myself.”

He looked straight past me and out through the window. Then he began to cry. “I am utterly unable to resign myself,” he said and choked. And then crying, his head up looking at nothing, carrying himself straight and soldierly, with tears on both his cheeks and biting his lips, he walked past the machines and out the door.

The doctor told me that the major’s wife, who was very young and whom he had not married until he was definitely invalided out of the war, had died of pneumonia. She had been sick only a few days. No one expected her to die. The major did not come to the hospital for three days. Then he came at the usual hour, wearing a black band on the sleeve of his uniform. When he came back, there were large framed photographs around the wall, of all sorts of wounds before and after they had been cured by the machines. In front of the machine the major used were three photographs of hands like his that were completely restored. I do not know where the doctor got them. I always understood we were the first to use the machines. The photographs did not make much difference to the major because he only looked out of the window.

Hills Like White Elephants

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the sun. Close against the side of the station there was the warm shadow of the building and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into the bar, to keep out flies. The American and the girl with him sat at a table in the shade, outside the building. It was very hot and the express from Barcelona would come in forty minutes. It stopped at this junction for two minutes and went on to Madrid.

“What should we drink?” the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.

“It’s pretty hot,” the man said.

“Let’s drink beer.”

Dos cervezas,” the man said into the curtain.

“Big ones?” a woman asked from the doorway.

“Yes. Two big ones.”

The woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads. She put the felt pads and the beer glasses on the table and looked at the man and the girl. The girl was looking off at the line of hills. They were white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.

“They look like white elephants,” she said.

“I’ve never seen one,” the man drank his beer.

“No, you wouldn’t have.”

“I might have,” the man said. “Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.”

The girl looked at the bead curtain. “They’ve painted something on it,” she said. “What does it say?”

Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.”

“Could we try it?”

The man called “Listen” through the curtain. The woman came out from the bar.

“Four reales.”

“We want two Anis del Toro.”

“With water?”

“Do you want it with water?”

“I don’t know,” the girl said. “Is it good with water?”

“It’s all right.”

“You want them with water?” asked the woman.

“Yes, with water.”

“It tastes like licorice,” the girl said and put the glass down.

“That’s the way with everything.”

“Yes,” said the girl. “Everything tastes of licorice. Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for, like absinthe.”

“Oh, cut it out.”

“You started it,” the girl said. “I was being amused. I was having a fine time.”

“Well, let’s try and have a fine time.”

“All right. I was trying. I said the mountains looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?”

“That was bright.”

“I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it⁠—look at things and try new drinks?”

“I guess so.”

The girl looked across at the hills.

“They’re lovely hills,” she said. “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.”

“Should we have another drink?”

“All right.”

The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table.

“The beer’s nice and cool,” the man said.

“It’s lovely,” the girl said.

“It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” the man said. “It’s not really an operation at all.”

The girl looked at the ground the table legs rested on.

“I know you wouldn’t mind it, Jig. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.”

The girl did not say anything.

“I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.”

“Then what will we do afterward?”

“We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before.”

“What makes you think so?”

“That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.”

The girl looked at the bead curtain, put her hand out and took hold of two of the strings of beads.

“And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.”

“I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have done it.”

“So have I,” said the girl. “And afterward they were all so happy.”

“Well,” the man said, “if you don’t want to you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.”

“And you really want to?”

“I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.”

“And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?”

“I love you now. You know I love you.”

“I know. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like white elephants, and you’ll like it?”

“I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.”

“If I do it you won’t ever worry?”

“I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.”

“Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t care about me.”

“Well, I care about you.”

“Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.”

“I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.”

The girl stood up and walked to the end of the station. Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the banks of the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.

“And we could have all this,” she said. “And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible.”

“What did you say?”

“I said we could have everything.”

“We can have everything.”

“No, we can’t.”

“We can have the whole world.”

“No, we can’t.”

“We can go everywhere.”

“No, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.”

“It’s ours.”

“No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.”

“But they haven’t taken it away.”

“We’ll wait and see.”

“Come on back in the shade,” he said. “You mustn’t feel that way.”

“I don’t feel any way,” the girl said. “I just know things.”

“I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do⁠—”

“Nor that isn’t good for me,” she said. “I know. Could we have another beer?”

“All right. But you’ve got to realize⁠—”

“I realize,” the girl said. “Can’t we maybe stop talking?”

They sat down at the table and the girl looked across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and the man looked at her and at the table.

“You’ve got to realize,” he said, “that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.”

“Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.”

“Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else. And I know it’s perfectly simple.”

“Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.”

“It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.”

“Would you do something for me now?”

“I’d do anything for you.”

“Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?”

He did not say anything but looked at the bags against the wall of the station. There were labels on them from all the hotels where they had spent nights.

“But I don’t want you to,” he said, “I don’t care anything about it.”

“I’ll scream,” the girl said.

The woman came out through the curtains with two glasses of beer and put them down on the damp felt pads. “The train comes in five minutes,” she said.

“What did she say?” asked the girl.

“That the train is coming in five minutes.”

The girl smiled brightly at the woman, to thank her.

“I’d better take the bags over to the other side of the station,” the man said. She smiled at him.

“All right. Then come back and we’ll finish the beer.”

He picked up the two heavy bags and carried them around the station to the other tracks. He looked up the tracks but could not see the train. Coming back, he walked through the barroom, where people waiting for the train were drinking. He drank an Anis at the bar and looked at the people. They were all waiting reasonably for the train. He went out through the bead curtain. She was sitting at the table and smiled at him.

“Do you feel better?” he asked.

“I feel fine,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.”

The Killers

The door of Henry’s lunchroom opened and two men came in. They sat down at the counter.

“What’s yours?” George asked them.

“I don’t know,” one of the men said. “What do you want to eat, Al?”

“I don’t know,” said Al. “I don’t know what I want to eat.”

Outside it was getting dark. The streetlight came on outside the window. The two men at the counter read the menu. From the other end of the counter Nick Adams watched them. He had been talking to George when they came in.

“I’ll have a roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes,” the first man said.

“It isn’t ready yet.”

“What the hell do you put it on the card for?”

“That’s the dinner,” George explained. “You can get that at six o’clock.”

George looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter.

“It’s five o’clock.”

“The clock says twenty minutes past five,” the second man said.

“It’s twenty minutes fast.”

“Oh, to hell with the clock,” the first man said. “What have you got to eat?”

“I can give you any kind of sandwiches,” George said. “You can have ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver and bacon, or a steak.”

“Give me chicken croquettes with green peas and cream sauce and mashed potatoes.”

“That’s the dinner.”

“Everything we want’s the dinner, eh? That’s the way you work it.”

“I can give you ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver⁠—”

“I’ll take ham and eggs,” the man called Al said. He wore a derby hat and a black overcoat buttoned across the chest. His face was small and white and he had tight lips. He wore a silk muffler and gloves.

“Give me bacon and eggs,” said the other man. He was about the same size as Al. Their faces were different, but they were dressed like twins. Both wore overcoats too tight for them. They sat leaning forward, their elbows on the counter.

“Got anything to drink?” Al asked.

“Silver beer, bevo, ginger-ale,” George said.

“I mean you got anything to drink?”

“Just those I said.”

“This is a hot town,” said the other. “What do they call it?”


“Ever hear of it?” Al asked his friend.

“No,” said the friend.

“What do you do here nights?” Al asked.

“They eat the dinner,” his friend said. “They all come here and eat the big dinner.”

“That’s right,” George said.

“So you think that’s right?” Al asked George.


“You’re a pretty bright boy, aren’t you?”

“Sure,” said George.

“Well, you’re not,” said the other little man. “Is he, Al?”

“He’s dumb,” said Al. He turned to Nick. “What’s your name?”


“Another bright boy,” Al said. “Ain’t he a bright boy, Max?”

“The town’s full of bright boys,” Max said.

George put the two platters, one of ham and eggs, the other of bacon and eggs, on the counter. He set down two side-dishes of fried potatoes and closed the wicket into the kitchen.

“Which is yours?” he asked Al.

“Don’t you remember?”

“Ham and eggs.”

“Just a bright boy,” Max said. He leaned forward and took the ham and eggs. Both men ate with their gloves on. George watched them eat.

“What are you looking at?” Max looked at George.


“The hell you were. You were looking at me.”

“Maybe the boy meant it for a joke, Max,” Al said.

George laughed.

You don’t have to laugh,” Max said to him. “You don’t have to laugh at all, see?”

“All right,” said George.

“So he thinks it’s all right.” Max turned to Al. “He thinks it’s all right. That’s a good one.”

“Oh, he’s a thinker,” Al said. They went on eating.

“What’s the bright boy’s name down the counter?” Al asked Max.

“Hey, bright boy,” Max said to Nick. “You go around on the other side of the counter with your boy friend.”

“What’s the idea?” Nick asked.

“There isn’t any idea.”

“You better go around, bright boy,” Al said. Nick went around behind the counter.

“What’s the idea?” George asked.

“None of your damn business,” Al said. “Who’s out in the kitchen?”

“The nigger.”

“What do you mean the nigger?”

“The nigger that cooks.”

“Tell him to come in.”

“What’s the idea?”

“Tell him to come in.”

“Where do you think you are?”

“We know damn well where we are,” the man called Max said. “Do we look silly?”

“You talk silly,” Al said to him. “What the hell do you argue with this kid for? Listen,” he said to George, “tell the nigger to come out here.”

“What are you going to do to him?”

“Nothing. Use your head, bright boy. What would we do to a nigger?”

George opened the slit that opened back into the kitchen. “Sam,” he called. “Come in here a minute.”

The door to the kitchen opened and the nigger came in. “What was it?” he asked. The two men at the counter took a look at him.

“All right, nigger. You stand right there,” Al said.

Sam, the nigger, standing in his apron, looked at the two men sitting at the counter. “Yes, sir,” he said. Al got down from his stool.

“I’m going back to the kitchen with the nigger and bright boy,” he said. “Go on back to the kitchen, nigger. You go with him, bright boy.” The little man walked after Nick and Sam, the cook, back into the kitchen. The door shut after them. The man called Max sat at the counter opposite George. He didn’t look at George but looked in the mirror that ran along back of the counter. Henry’s had been made over from a saloon into a lunch-counter.

“Well, bright boy,” Max said, looking into the mirror, “why don’t you say something?”

“What’s it all about?”

“Hey, Al,” Max called, “bright boy wants to know what it’s all about.”

“Why don’t you tell him?” Al’s voice came from the kitchen.

“What do you think it’s all about?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you think?”

Max looked into the mirror all the time he was talking.

“I wouldn’t say.”

“Hey, Al, bright boy says he wouldn’t say what he thinks it’s all about.”

“I can hear you, all right,” Al said from the kitchen. He had propped open the slit that dishes passed through into the kitchen with a catsup bottle. “Listen, bright boy,” he said from the kitchen to George. “Stand a little further along the bar. You move a little to the left, Max.” He was like a photographer arranging for a group picture.

“Talk to me, bright boy,” Max said. “What do you think’s going to happen?”

George did not say anything.

“I’ll tell you,” Max said. “We’re going to kill a Swede. Do you know a big Swede named Ole Andreson?”


“He comes here to eat every night, don’t he?”

“Sometimes he comes here.”

“He comes here at six o’clock, don’t he?”

“If he comes.”

“We know all that, bright boy,” Max said. “Talk about something else. Ever go to the movies?”

“Once in a while.”

“You ought to go to the movies more. The movies are fine for a bright boy like you.”

“What are you going to kill Ole Andreson for? What did he ever do to you?”

“He never had a chance to do anything to us. He never even seen us.”

“And he’s only going to see us once,” Al said from the kitchen.

“What are you going to kill him for, then?” George asked.

“We’re killing him for a friend. Just to oblige a friend, bright boy.”

“Shut up,” said Al from the kitchen. “You talk too goddam much.”

“Well, I got to keep bright boy amused. Don’t I, bright boy?”

“You talk too damn much,” Al said. “The nigger and my bright boy are amused by themselves. I got them tied up like a couple of girl friends in the convent.”

“I suppose you were in a convent.”

“You never know.”

“You were in a kosher convent. That’s where you were.”

George looked up at the clock.

“If anybody comes in you tell them the cook is off, and if they keep after it, you tell them you’ll go back and cook yourself. Do you get that, bright boy?”

“All right,” George said. “What you going to do with us afterward?”

“That’ll depend,” Max said. “That’s one of those things you never know at the time.”

George looked up at the clock. It was a quarter past six. The door from the street opened. A streetcar motorman came in.

“Hello, George,” he said. “Can I get supper?”

“Sam’s gone out,” George said. “He’ll be back in about half an hour.”

“I’d better go up the street,” the motorman said. George looked at the clock. It was twenty minutes past six.

“That was nice, bright boy,” Max said. “You’re a regular little gentleman.”

“He knew I’d blow his head off,” Al said from the kitchen.

“No,” said Max. “It ain’t that. Bright boy is nice. He’s a nice boy. I like him.”

At six-fifty-five George said: “He’s not coming.”

Two other people had been in the lunchroom. Once George had gone out to the kitchen and made a ham-and-egg sandwich “to go” that a man wanted to take with him. Inside the kitchen he saw Al, his derby hat tipped back, sitting on a stool beside the wicket with the muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun resting on the ledge. Nick and the cook were back to back in the corner, a towel tied in each of their mouths. George had cooked the sandwich, wrapped it up in oiled paper, put it in a bag, brought it in, and the man had paid for it and gone out.

“Bright boy can do everything,” Max said. “He can cook and everything. You’d make some girl a nice wife, bright boy.”

“Yes?” George said. “Your friend, Ole Andreson, isn’t going to come.”

“We’ll give him ten minutes,” Max said.

Max watched the mirror and the clock. The hands of the clock marked seven o’clock, and then five minutes past seven.

“Come on, Al,” said Max. “We better go. He’s not coming.”

“Better give him five minutes,” Al said from the kitchen.

In the five minutes a man came in, and George explained that the cook was sick.

“Why the hell don’t you get another cook?” the man asked. “Aren’t you running a lunch-counter?” He went out.

“Come on, Al,” Max said.

“What about the two bright boys and the nigger?”

“They’re all right.”

“You think so?”

“Sure. We’re through with it.”

“I don’t like it,” said Al. “It’s sloppy. You talk too much.”

“Oh, what the hell,” said Max. “We got to keep amused, haven’t we?”

“You talk too much, all the same,” Al said. He came out from the kitchen. The cutoff barrels of the shotgun made a slight bulge under the waist of his too tight-fitting overcoat. He straightened his coat with his gloved hands.

“So long, bright boy,” he said to George. “You got a lot of luck.”

“That’s the truth,” Max said. “You ought to play the races, bright boy.”

The two of them went out the door. George watched them, through the window, pass under the arc-light and cross the street. In their tight overcoats and derby hats they looked like a vaudeville team. George went back through the swinging-door into the kitchen and untied Nick and the cook.

“I don’t want any more of that,” said Sam, the cook. “I don’t want any more of that.”

Nick stood up. He had never had a towel in his mouth before.

“Say,” he said. “What the hell?” He was trying to swagger it off.

“They were going to kill Ole Andreson,” George said. “They were going to shoot him when he came in to eat.”

“Ole Andreson?”


The cook felt the corners of his mouth with his thumbs.

“They all gone?” he asked.

“Yeah,” said George. “They’re gone now.”

“I don’t like it,” said the cook. “I don’t like any of it at all.”

“Listen,” George said to Nick. “You better go see Ole Andreson.”

“All right.”

“You better not have anything to do with it at all,” Sam, the cook, said. “You better stay way out of it.”

“Don’t go if you don’t want to,” George said.

“Mixing up in this ain’t going to get you anywhere,” the cook said. “You stay out of it.”

“I’ll go see him,” Nick said to George. “Where does he live?”

The cook turned away.

“Little boys always know what they want to do,” he said.

“He lives up at Hirsch’s rooming-house,” George said to Nick.

“I’ll go up there.”

Outside the arc-light shone through the bare branches of a tree. Nick walked up the street beside the car-tracks and turned at the next arc-light down a side-street. Three houses up the street was Hirsch’s rooming-house. Nick walked up the two steps and pushed the bell. A woman came to the door.

“Is Ole Andreson here?”

“Do you want to see him?”

“Yes, if he’s in.”

Nick followed the woman up a flight of stairs and back to the end of a corridor. She knocked on the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s somebody to see you, Mr. Andreson,” the woman said.

“It’s Nick Adams.”

“Come in.”

Nick opened the door and went into the room. Ole Andreson was lying on the bed with all his clothes on. He had been a heavyweight prizefighter and he was too long for the bed. He lay with his head on two pillows. He did not look at Nick.

“What was it?” he asked.

“I was up at Henry’s,” Nick said, “and two fellows came in and tied up me and the cook, and they said they were going to kill you.”

It sounded silly when he said it. Ole Andreson said nothing.

“They put us out in the kitchen,” Nick went on. “They were going to shoot you when you came in to supper.”

Ole Andreson looked at the wall and did not say anything.

“George thought I better come and tell you about it.”

“There isn’t anything I can do about it,” Ole Andreson said.

“I’ll tell you what they were like.”

“I don’t want to know what they were like,” Ole Andreson said. He looked at the wall. “Thanks for coming to tell me about it.”

“That’s all right.”

Nick looked at the big man lying on the bed.

“Don’t you want me to go and see the police?”

“No,” Ole Andreson said. “That wouldn’t do any good.”

“Isn’t there something I could do?”

“No. There ain’t anything to do.”

“Maybe it was just a bluff.”

“No. It ain’t just a bluff.”

Ole Andreson rolled over toward the wall.

“The only thing is,” he said, talking toward the wall, “I just can’t make up my mind to go out. I been in here all day.”

“Couldn’t you get out of town?”

“No,” Ole Andreson said. “I’m through with all that running around.”

He looked at the wall.

“There ain’t anything to do now.”

“Couldn’t you fix it up some way?”

“No. I got in wrong.” He talked in the same flat voice. “There ain’t anything to do. After a while I’ll make up my mind to go out.”

“I better go back and see George,” Nick said.

“So long,” said Ole Andreson. He did not look toward Nick. “Thanks for coming around.”

Nick went out. As he shut the door he saw Ole Andreson with all his clothes on, lying on the bed looking at the wall.

“He’s been in his room all day,” the landlady said downstairs. “I guess he don’t feel well. I said to him: ‘Mr. Andreson, you ought to go out and take a walk on a nice fall day like this,’ but he didn’t feel like it.”

“He doesn’t want to go out.”

“I’m sorry he don’t feel well,” the woman said. “He’s an awfully nice man. He was in the ring, you know.”

“I know it.”

“You’d never know it except from the way his face is,” the woman said. They stood talking just inside the street door. “He’s just as gentle.”

“Well, good night, Mrs. Hirsch,” Nick said.

“I’m not Mrs. Hirsch,” the woman said. “She owns the place. I just look after it for her. I’m Mrs. Bell.”

“Well, good night, Mrs. Bell,” Nick said.

“Good night,” the woman said.

Nick walked up the dark street to the corner under the arc-light, and then along the car-tracks to Henry’s eating-house. George was inside, back of the counter.

“Did you see Ole?”

“Yes,” said Nick. “He’s in his room and he won’t go out.”

The cook opened the door from the kitchen when he heard Nick’s voice.

“I don’t even listen to it,” he said and shut the door.

“Did you tell him about it?” George asked.

“Sure. I told him but he knows what it’s all about.”

“What’s he going to do?”


“They’ll kill him.”

“I guess they will.”

“He must have got mixed up in something in Chicago.”

“I guess so,” said Nick.

“It’s a hell of a thing.”

“It’s an awful thing,” Nick said.

They did not say anything. George reached down for a towel and wiped the counter.

“I wonder what he did?” Nick said.

“Double-crossed somebody. That’s what they kill them for.”

“I’m going to get out of this town,” Nick said.

“Yes,” said George. “That’s a good thing to do.”

“I can’t stand to think about him waiting in the room and knowing he’s going to get it. It’s too damned awful.”

“Well,” said George, “you better not think about it.”

Che Ti Dice La Patria?

The road of the pass was hard and smooth and not yet dusty in the early morning. Below were the hills with oak and chestnut trees, and far away below was the sea. On the other side were snowy mountains.

We came down from the pass through wooded country. There were bags of charcoal piled beside the road, and through the trees we saw charcoal-burners’ huts. It was Sunday and the road, rising and falling, but always dropping away from the altitude of the pass, went through the scrub woods and through villages.

Outside the villages there were fields with vines. The fields were brown and the vines coarse and thick. The houses were white, and in the streets the men, in their Sunday clothes, were playing bowls. Against the walls of some of the houses there were pear trees, their branches candelabraed against the white walls. The pear trees had been sprayed, and the walls of the houses were stained a metallic blue-green by the spray vapor. There were small clearings around the villages where the vines grew, and then the woods.

In a village, twenty kilometres above Spezia, there was a crowd in the square, and a young man carrying a suitcase came up to the car and asked us to take him in to Spezia.

“There are only two places, and they are occupied,” I said. We had an old Ford coupé.

“I will ride on the outside.”

“You will be uncomfortable.”

“That makes nothing. I must go to Spezia.”

“Should we take him?” I asked Guy.

“He seems to be going anyway,” Guy said. The young man handed in a parcel through the window.

“Look after this,” he said. Two men tied his suitcase on the back of the car, above our suitcases. He shook hands with everyone, explained that to a Fascist and a man as used to travelling as himself there was no discomfort, and climbed up on the running-board on the left-hand side of the car, holding on inside, his right arm through the open window.

“You can start,” he said. The crowd waved. He waved with his free hand.

“What did he say?” Guy asked me.

“That we could start.”

“Isn’t he nice?” Guy said.

The road followed a river. Across the river were mountains. The sun was taking the frost out of the grass. It was bright and cold and the air came cold through the open windshield.

“How do you think he likes it out there?” Guy was looking up the road. His view out of his side of the car was blocked by our guest. The young man projected from the side of the car like the figurehead of a ship. He had turned his coat collar up and pulled his hat down and his nose looked cold in the wind.

“Maybe he’ll get enough of it,” Guy said. “That’s the side our bum tire’s on.”

“Oh, he’d leave us if we blew out,” I said. “He wouldn’t get his travelling-clothes dirty.”

“Well, I don’t mind him,” Guy said⁠—“except the way he leans out on the turns.”

The woods were gone; the road had left the river to climb; the radiator was boiling; the young man looked annoyedly and suspiciously at the steam and rusty water; the engine was grinding, with both Guy’s feet on the first-speed pedal, up and up, back and forth and up, and, finally, out level. The grinding stopped, and in the new quiet there was a great churning bubbling in the radiator. We were at the top of the last range above Spezia and the sea. The road descended with short, barely rounded turns. Our guest hung out on the turns and nearly pulled the top-heavy car over.

“You can’t tell him not to,” I said to Guy. “It’s his sense of self-preservation.”

“The great Italian sense.”

“The greatest Italian sense.”

We came down around curves, through deep dust, the dust powdering the olive trees. Spezia spread below along the sea. The road flattened outside the town. Our guest put his head in the window.

“I want to stop.”

“Stop it,” I said to Guy.

We slowed up, at the side of the road. The young man got down, went to the back of the car and untied the suitcase.

“I stop here, so you won’t get into trouble carrying passengers,” he said. “My package.”

I handed him the package. He reached in his pocket.

“How much do I owe you?”


“Why not?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Then thanks,” the young man said, not “thank you,” or “thank you very much,” or “thank you a thousand times,” all of which you formerly said in Italy to a man when he handed you a timetable or explained about a direction. The young man uttered the lowest form of the word “thanks” and looked after us suspiciously as Guy started the car. I waved my hand at him. He was too dignified to reply. We went on into Spezia.

“That’s a young man that will go a long way in Italy,” I said to Guy.

“Well,” said Guy, “he went twenty kilometres with us.”

A Meal in Spezia

We came into Spezia looking for a place to eat. The street was wide and the houses high and yellow. We followed the tram-track into the centre of town. On the walls of the houses were stencilled eye-bugging portraits of Mussolini, with hand-painted “vivas,” the double V in black paint with drippings of paint down the wall. Side-streets went down to the harbor. It was bright and the people were all out for Sunday. The stone paving had been sprinkled and there were damp stretches in the dust. We went close to the curb to avoid a tram.

“Let’s eat somewhere simple,” Guy said.

We stopped opposite two restaurant signs. We were standing across the street and I was buying the papers. The two restaurants were side by side. A woman standing in the doorway of one smiled at us and we crossed the street and went in.

It was dark inside and at the back of the room three girls were sitting at a table with an old woman. Across from us, at another table, sat a sailor. He sat there neither eating nor drinking. Further back, a young man in a blue suit was writing at a table. His hair was pomaded and shining and he was very smartly dressed and clean-cut looking.

The light came through the doorway, and through the window where vegetables, fruit, steaks, and chops were arranged in a showcase. A girl came and took our order and another girl stood in the doorway. We noticed that she wore nothing under her house dress. The girl who took our order put her arm around Guy’s neck while we were looking at the menu. There were three girls in all, and they all took turns going and standing in the doorway. The old woman at the table in the back of the room spoke to them and they sat down again with her.

There was no doorway leading from the room except into the kitchen. A curtain hung over it. The girl who had taken our order came in from the kitchen with spaghetti. She put it on the table and brought a bottle of red wine and sat down at the table.

“Well,” I said to Guy, “you wanted to eat some place simple.”

“This isn’t simple. This is complicated.”

“What do you say?” asked the girl. “Are you Germans?”

“South Germans,” I said. “The South Germans are a gentle, lovable people.”

“Don’t understand,” she said.

“What’s the mechanics of this place?” Guy asked. “Do I have to let her put her arm around my neck?”

“Certainly,” I said. “Mussolini has abolished the brothels. This is a restaurant.”

The girl wore a one-piece dress. She leaned forward against the table and put her hands on her breasts and smiled. She smiled better on one side than on the other and turned the good side toward us. The charm of the good side had been enhanced by some event which had smoothed the other side of her nose in, as warm wax can be smoothed. Her nose, however, did not look like warm wax. It was very cold and firmed, only smoothed in. “You like me?” she asked Guy.

“He adores you,” I said. “But he doesn’t speak Italian.”

Ich spreche Deutsch,” she said, and stroked Guy’s hair.

“Speak to the lady in your native tongue, Guy.”

“Where do you come from?” asked the lady.


“And you will stay here now for a little while?”

“In this so dear Spezia?” I asked.

“Tell her we have to go,” said Guy. “Tell her we are very ill, and have no money.”

“My friend is a misogynist,” I said, “an old German misogynist.”

“Tell him I love him.”

I told him.

“Will you shut your mouth and get us out of here?” Guy said. The lady had placed another arm around his neck. “Tell him he is mine,” she said. I told him.

“Will you get us out of here?”

“You are quarrelling,” the lady said. “You do not love one another.”

“We are Germans,” I said proudly, “old South Germans.”

“Tell him he is a beautiful boy,” the lady said. Guy is thirty-eight and takes some pride in the fact that he is taken for a travelling salesman in France. “You are a beautiful boy,” I said.

“Who says so?” Guy asked, “you or her?”

“She does. I’m just your interpreter. Isn’t that what you got me in on this trip for?”

“I’m glad it’s her,” said Guy. “I didn’t want to have to leave you here too.”

“I don’t know. Spezia’s a lovely place.”

“Spezia,” the lady said. “You are talking about Spezia.”

“Lovely place,” I said.

“It is my country,” she said. “Spezia is my home and Italy is my country.”

“She says that Italy is her country.”

“Tell her it looks like her country,” Guy said.

“What have you for dessert?” I asked.

“Fruit,” she said. “We have bananas.”

“Bananas are all right,” Guy said. “They’ve got skins on.”

“Oh, he takes bananas,” the lady said. She embraced Guy.

“What does she say?” he asked, keeping his face out of the way.

“She is pleased because you take bananas.”

“Tell her I don’t take bananas.”

“The Signor does not take bananas.”

“Ah,” said the lady, crestfallen, “he doesn’t take bananas.”

“Tell her I take a cold bath every morning,” Guy said.

“The Signor takes a cold bath every morning.”

“No understand,” the lady said.

Across from us, the property sailor had not moved. No one in the place paid any attention to him.

“We want the bill,” I said.

“Oh, no. You must stay.”

“Listen,” the clean-cut young man said from the table where he was writing, “let them go. These two are worth nothing.”

The lady took my hand. “You won’t stay? You won’t ask him to stay?”

“We have to go,” I said. “We have to get to Pisa, or if possible, Firenze, tonight. We can amuse ourselves in those cities at the end of the day. It is now the day. In the day we must cover distance.”

“To stay a little while is nice.”

“To travel is necessary during the light of day.”

“Listen,” the clean-cut young man said. “Don’t bother to talk with these two. I tell you they are worth nothing and I know.”

“Bring us the bill,” I said. She brought the bill from the old woman and went back and sat at the table. Another girl came in from the kitchen. She walked the length of the room and stood in the doorway.

“Don’t bother with these two,” the clean-cut young man said in a wearied voice. “Come and eat. They are worth nothing.”

We paid the bill and stood up. All the girls, the old woman, and the clean-cut young man sat down at table together. The property sailor sat with his head in his hands. No one had spoken to him all the time we were at lunch. The girl brought us our change that the old woman counted out for her and went back to her place at the table. We left a tip on the table and went out. When we were seated in the car ready to start, the girl came out and stood in the door. We started and I waved to her. She did not wave, but stood there looking after us.

After the Rain

It was raining hard when we passed through the suburbs of Genoa and, even going very slowly behind the tramcars and the motor trucks, liquid mud splashed on to the sidewalks, so that people stepped into doorways as they saw us coming. In San Pier d’Arena, the industrial suburb outside of Genoa, there is a wide street with two car-tracks and we drove down the centre to avoid sending the mud on to the men going home from work. On our left was the Mediterranean. There was a big sea running and waves broke and the wind blew the spray against the car. A riverbed that, when we had passed, going into Italy, had been wide, stony and dry, was running brown, and up to the banks. The brown water discolored the sea and as the waves thinned and cleared in breaking, the light came through the yellow water and the crests, detached by the wind, blew across the road.

A big car passed us, going fast, and a sheet of muddy water rose up and over our windshield and radiator. The automatic windshield cleaner moved back and forth, spreading the film over the glass. We stopped and ate lunch at Sestri. There was no heat in the restaurant and we kept our hats and coats on. We could see the car outside, through the window. It was covered with mud and was stopped beside some boats that had been pulled up beyond the waves. In the restaurant you could see your breath.

The pasta asciuta was good; the wine tasted of alum, and we poured water in it. Afterward the waiter brought beefsteak and fried potatoes. A man and a woman sat at the far end of the restaurant. He was middle-aged and she was young and wore black. All during the meal she would blow out her breath in the cold damp air. The man would look at it and shake his head. They ate without talking and the man held her hand under the table. She was good-looking and they seemed very sad. They had a travelling-bag with them.

We had the papers and I read the account of the Shanghai fighting aloud to Guy. After the meal, he left with the waiter in search for a place which did not exist in the restaurant, and I cleaned off the windshield, the lights and the license plates with a rag. Guy came back and we backed the car out and started. The waiter had taken him across the road and into an old house. The people in the house were suspicious and the waiter had remained with Guy to see nothing was stolen.

“Although I don’t know how, me not being a plumber, they expected me to steal anything,” Guy said.

As we came up on a headland beyond the town, the wind struck the car and nearly tipped it over.

“It’s good it blows us away from the sea,” Guy said.

“Well,” I said, “they drowned Shelley somewhere along here.”

“That was down by Viareggio,” Guy said. “Do you remember what we came to this country for?”

“Yes,” I said, “but we didn’t get it.”

“We’ll be out of it tonight.”

“If we can get past Ventimiglia.”

“We’ll see. I don’t like to drive this coast at night.” It was early afternoon and the sun was out. Below, the sea was blue with whitecaps running toward Savona. Back, beyond the cape, the brown and blue waters joined. Out ahead of us, a tramp steamer was going up the coast.

“Can you still see Genoa?” Guy asked.

“Oh, yes.”

“That next big cape ought to put it out of sight.”

“We’ll see it a long time yet. I can still see Portofino Cape behind it.”

Finally we could not see Genoa. I looked back as we came out and there was only the sea, and below in the bay, a line of beach with fishing-boats and above, on the side of the hill, a town and then capes far down the coast.

“It’s gone now,” I said to Guy.

“Oh, it’s been gone a long time now.”

“But we couldn’t be sure till we got way out.”

There was a sign with a picture of an S-turn and Svolta Pericolosa. The road curved around the headland and the wind blew through the crack in the windshield. Below the cape was a flat stretch beside the sea. The wind had dried the mud and the wheels were beginning to lift dust. On the flat road we passed a Fascist riding a bicycle, a heavy revolver in a holster on his back. He held the middle of the road on his bicycle and we turned out for him. He looked up at us as we passed. Ahead there was a railway crossing, and as we came toward it the gates went down.

As we waited, the Fascist came up on his bicycle. The train went by and Guy started the engine.

“Wait,” the bicycle man shouted from behind the car. “Your number’s dirty.”

I got out with a rag. The number had been cleaned at lunch.

“You can read it,” I said.

“You think so?”

“Read it.”

“I cannot read it. It is dirty.”

I wiped it off with the rag.

“How’s that?”

“Twenty-five lire.”

“What?” I said. “You could have read it. It’s only dirty from the state of the roads.”

“You don’t like Italian roads?”

“They are dirty.”

“Fifty lire.” He spat in the road. “Your car is dirty and you are dirty too.”

“Good. And give me a receipt with your name.”

He took out a receipt-book, made in duplicate, and perforated, so one side could be given to the customer, and the other side filled in and kept as a stub. There was no carbon to record what the customer’s ticket said.

“Give me fifty lire.”

He wrote in indelible pencil, tore out the slip and handed it to me. I read it.

“This is for twenty-five lire.”

“A mistake,” he said, and changed the twenty-five to fifty.

“And now the other side. Make it fifty in the part you keep.”

He smiled a beautiful Italian smile and wrote something on the receipt stub, holding it so I could not see.

“Go on,” he said, “before your number gets dirty again.”

We drove for two hours after it was dark and slept in Mentone that night. It seemed very cheerful and clean and sane and lovely. We had driven from Ventimiglia to Pisa and Florence, across the Romagna to Rimini, back through Forli, Imola, Bologna, Parma, Piacenza and Genoa, to Ventimiglia again. The whole trip had only taken ten days. Naturally, in such a short trip, we had no opportunity to see how things were with the country or the people.

Fifty Grand

“How are you going yourself, Jack?” I asked him.

“You seen this, Walcott?” he says.

“Just in the gym.”

“Well,” Jack says, “I’m going to need a lot of luck with that boy.”

“He can’t hit you, Jack,” Soldier said.

“I wish to hell he couldn’t.”

“He couldn’t hit you with a handful of bird-shot.”

“Bird-shot’d be all right,” Jack says. “I wouldn’t mind bird-shot any.”

“He looks easy to hit,” I said.

“Sure,” Jack says, “he ain’t going to last long. He ain’t going to last like you and me, Jerry. But right now he’s got everything.”

“You’ll left-hand him to death.”

“Maybe,” Jack says. “Sure. I got a chance to.”

“Handle him like you handled Kid Lewis.”

“Kid Lewis,” Jack said. “That kike!”

The three of us, Jack Brennan, Soldier Bartlett, and I were in Handley’s. There were a couple of broads sitting at the next table to us. They had been drinking.

“What do you mean, kike?” one of the broads says. “What do you mean, kike, you big Irish bum?”

“Sure,” Jack says. “That’s it.”

“Kikes,” this broad goes on. “They’re always talking about kikes, these big Irishmen. What do you mean, kikes?”

“Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

“Kikes,” this broad goes on. “Whoever saw you ever buy a drink? Your wife sews your pockets up every morning. These Irishmen and their kikes! Ted Lewis could lick you too.”

“Sure,” Jack says. “And you give away a lot of things free too, don’t you?”

We went out. That was Jack. He could say what he wanted to when he wanted to say it.

Jack started training out at Danny Hogan’s health-farm over in Jersey. It was nice out there but Jack didn’t like it much. He didn’t like being away from his wife and the kids, and he was sore and grouchy most of the time. He liked me and we got along fine together; and he liked Hogan, but after a while Soldier Bartlett commenced to get on his nerves. A kidder gets to be an awful thing around a camp if his stuff goes sort of sour. Soldier was always kidding Jack, just sort of kidding him all the time. It wasn’t very funny and it wasn’t very good, and it began to get to Jack. It was sort of stuff like this. Jack would finish up with the weights and the bag and pull on the gloves.

“You want to work?” he’d say to Soldier.

“Sure. How you want me to work?” Soldier would ask. “Want me to treat you rough like Walcott? Want me to knock you down a few times?”

“That’s it,” Jack would say. He didn’t like it any, though.

One morning we were all out on the road. We’d been out quite a way and now we were coming back. We’d go along fast for three minutes and then walk a minute, and then go fast for three minutes again. Jack wasn’t ever what you would call a sprinter. He’d move around fast enough in the ring if he had to, but he wasn’t any too fast on the road. All the time we were walking Soldier was kidding him. We came up the hill to the farmhouse.

“Well,” says Jack, “you better go back to town, Soldier.”

“What do you mean?”

“You better go back to town and stay there.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m sick of hearing you talk.”

“Yes?” says Soldier.

“Yes,” says Jack.

“You’ll be a damn sight sicker when Walcott gets through with you.”

“Sure,” says Jack, “maybe I will. But I know I’m sick of you.”

So Soldier went off on the train to town that same morning. I went down with him to the train. He was good and sore.

“I was just kidding him,” he said. We were waiting on the platform. “He can’t pull that stuff with me, Jerry.”

“He’s nervous and crabby,” I said. “He’s a good fellow, Soldier.”

“The hell he is. The hell he’s ever been a good fellow.”

“Well,” I said, “so long, Soldier.”

The train had come in. He climbed up with his bag.

“So long, Jerry,” he says. “You be in town before the fight?”

“I don’t think so.”

“See you then.”

He went in and the conductor swung up and the train went out. I rode back to the farm in the cart. Jack was on the porch writing a letter to his wife. The mail had come and I got the papers and went over on the other side of the porch and sat down to read. Hogan came out the door and walked over to me.

“Did he have a jam with Soldier?”

“Not a jam,” I said. “He just told him to go back to town.”

“I could see it coming,” Hogan said. “He never liked Soldier much.”

“No. He don’t like many people.”

“He’s a pretty cold one,” Hogan said.

“Well, he’s always been fine to me.”

“Me too,” Hogan said. “I got no kick on him. He’s a cold one, though.”

Hogan went in through the screen door and I sat there on the porch and read the papers. It was just starting to get fall weather and it’s nice country there in Jersey, up in the hills, and after I read the paper through I sat there and looked out at the country and the road down below against the woods with cars going along it, lifting the dust up. It was fine weather and pretty nice-looking country. Hogan came to the door and I said, “Say, Hogan, haven’t you got anything to shoot out here?”

“No,” Hogan said. “Only sparrows.”

“Seen the paper?” I said to Hogan.

“What’s in it?”

“Sande booted three of them in yesterday.”

“I got that on the telephone last night.”

“You follow them pretty close, Hogan?” I asked.

“Oh, I keep in touch with them,” Hogan said.

“How about Jack?” I says. “Does he still play them?”

“Him?” said Hogan. “Can you see him doing it?”

Just then Jack came around the corner with the letter in his hand. He’s wearing a sweater and an old pair of pants and boxing shoes.

“Got a stamp, Hogan?” he asks.

“Give me the letter,” Hogan said. “I’ll mail it for you.”

“Say, Jack,” I said, “didn’t you used to play the ponies?”


“I knew you did. I knew I used to see you out at Sheepshead.”

“What did you lay off them for?” Hogan asked.

“Lost money.”

Jack sat down on the porch by me. He leaned back against a post. He shut his eyes in the sun.

“Want a chair?” Hogan asked.

“No,” said Jack. “This is fine.”

“It’s a nice day,” I said. “It’s pretty nice out in the country.”

“I’d a damn sight rather be in town with the wife.”

“Well, you only got another week.”

“Yes,” Jack says. “That’s so.”

We sat there on the porch. Hogan was inside at the office.

“What do you think about the shape I’m in?” Jack asked me.

“Well, you can’t tell,” I said. “You got a week to get around into form.”

“Don’t stall me.”

“Well,” I said, “you’re not right.”

“I’m not sleeping,” Jack said.

“You’ll be all right in a couple of days.”

“No,” says Jack, “I got the insomnia.”

“What’s on your mind?”

“I miss the wife.”

“Have her come out.”

“No. I’m too old for that.”

“We’ll take a long walk before you turn in and get you good and tired.”

“Tired!” Jack says. “I’m tired all the time.”

He was that way all week. He wouldn’t sleep at night and he’d get up in the morning feeling that way, you know, when you can’t shut your hands.

“He’s stale as poorhouse cake,” Hogan said. “He’s nothing.”

“I never seen Walcott,” I said.

“He’ll kill him,” said Hogan. “He’ll tear him in two.”

“Well,” I said, “everybody’s got to get it sometime.”

“Not like this, though,” Hogan said. “They’ll think he never trained. It gives the farm a black eye.”

“You hear what the reporters said about him?”

“Didn’t I! They said he was awful. They said they oughtn’t to let him fight.”

“Well,” I said, “they’re always wrong, ain’t they?”

“Yes,” said Hogan. “But this time they’re right.”

“What the hell do they know about whether a man’s right or not?”

“Well,” said Hogan, “they’re not such fools.”

“All they did was pick Willard at Toledo. This Lardner, he’s so wise now, ask him about when he picked Willard at Toledo.”

“Aw, he wasn’t out,” Hogan said. “He only writes the big fights.”

“I don’t care who they are,” I said. “What the hell do they know? They can write maybe, but what the hell do they know?”

“You don’t think Jack’s in any shape, do you?” Hogan asked.

“No. He’s through. All he needs is to have Corbett pick him to win for it to be all over.”

“Well, Corbett’ll pick him,” Hogan says.

“Sure. He’ll pick him.”

That night Jack didn’t sleep any either. The next morning was the last day before the fight. After breakfast we were out on the porch again.

“What do you think about, Jack, when you can’t sleep?” I said.

“Oh, I worry,” Jack says. “I worry about property I got up in the Bronx, I worry about property I got in Florida. I worry about the kids. I worry about the wife. Sometimes I think about fights. I think about that kike Ted Lewis and I get sore. I got some stocks and I worry about them. What the hell don’t I think about?”

“Well,” I said, “tomorrow night it’ll all be over.”

“Sure,” said Jack. “That always helps a lot, don’t it? That just fixes everything all up, I suppose. Sure.”

He was sore all day. We didn’t do any work. Jack just moved around a little to loosen up. He shadowboxed a few rounds. He didn’t even look good doing that. He skipped the rope a little while. He couldn’t sweat.

“He’d be better not to do any work at all,” Hogan said. We were standing watching him skip rope. “Don’t he ever sweat at all any more?”

“He can’t sweat.”

“Do you suppose he’s got the con? He never had any trouble making weight, did he?”

“No, he hasn’t got any con. He just hasn’t got anything inside any more.”

“He ought to sweat,” said Hogan.

Jack came over, skipping the rope. He was skipping up and down in front of us, forward and back, crossing his arms every third time.

“Well,” he says. “What are you buzzards talking about?”

“I don’t think you ought to work any more,” Hogan says. “You’ll be stale.”

“Wouldn’t that be awful?” Jack says and skips away down the floor, slapping the rope hard.

That afternoon John Collins showed up out at the farm. Jack was up in his room. John, came out in a car from town. He had a couple of friends with him. The car stopped and they all got out.

“Where’s Jack?” John asked me.

“Up in his room, lying down.”

“Lying down?”

“Yes,” I said.

“How is he?”

I looked at the two fellows that were with John.

“They’re friends of his,” John said.

“He’s pretty bad,” I said.

“What’s the matter with him?”

“He don’t sleep.”

“Hell,” said John. “That Irishman could never sleep.”

“He isn’t right,” I said.

“Hell,” John said. “He’s never right. I’ve had him for ten years and he’s never been right yet.”

The fellows who were with him laughed.

“I want you to shake hands with Mr. Morgan and Mr. Steinfelt,” John said. “This is Mr. Doyle. He’s been training Jack.”

“Glad to meet you,” I said.

“Let’s go up and see the boy,” the fellow called Morgan said.

“Let’s have a look at him,” Steinfelt said.

We all went upstairs.

“Where’s Hogan?” John asked.

“He’s out in the barn with a couple of his customers,” I said.

“He got many people out here now?” John asked.

“Just two.”

“Pretty quiet, ain’t it?” Morgan said.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s pretty quiet.”

We were outside Jack’s room. John knocked on the door. There wasn’t any answer.

“Maybe he’s asleep,” I said.

“What the hell’s he sleeping in the daytime for?”

John turned the handle and we all went in. Jack was lying asleep on the bed. He was face down and his face was in the pillow. Both his arms were around the pillow.

“Hey, Jack!” John said to him.

Jack’s head moved a little on the pillow. “Jack!” John says, leaning over him. Jack just dug a little deeper in the pillow. John touched him on the shoulder. Jack sat up and looked at us. He hadn’t shaved and he was wearing an old sweater.

“Christ! Why can’t you let me sleep?” he says to John.

“Don’t be sore,” John says. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“Oh no,” Jack says. “Of course not.”

“You know Morgan and Steinfelt,” John said.

“Glad to see you,” Jack says.

“How do you feel, Jack,” Morgan asks him.

“Fine,” Jack says. “How the hell would I feel?”

“You look fine,” Steinfelt says.

“Yes, don’t I,” says Jack. “Say,” he says to John. “You’re my manager. You get a big enough cut. Why the hell don’t you come out here when the reporters was out! You want Jerry and me to talk to them?”

“I had Lew fighting in Philadelphia,” John said.

“What the hell’s that to me?” Jack says. “You’re my manager. You get a big enough cut, don’t you? You aren’t making me any money in Philadelphia, are you? Why the hell aren’t you out here when I ought to have you?”

“Hogan was here.”

“Hogan,” Jack says. “Hogan’s as dumb as I am.”

“Soldier Bathlett was out here wukking with you for a while, wasn’t he?” Steinfelt said to change the subject.

“Yes, he was out here,” Jack says. “He was out here all right.”

“Say, Jerry,” John said to me. “Would you go and find Hogan and tell him we want to see him in about half an hour?”

“Sure,” I said.

“Why the hell can’t he stick around?” Jack says. “Stick around, Jerry.”

Morgan and Steinfelt looked at each other.

“Quiet down, Jack,” John said to him.

“I better go find Hogan,” I said.

“All right, if you want to go,” Jack says. “None of these guys are going to send you away, though.”

“I’ll go find Hogan,” I said.

Hogan was out in the gym in the barn. He had a couple of his health-farm patients with the gloves on. They neither one wanted to hit the other, for fear the other would come back and hit him.

“That’ll do,” Hogan said when he saw me come in. “You can stop the slaughter. You gentlemen take a shower and Bruce will rub you down.”

They climbed out through the ropes and Hogan came over to me.

“John Collins is out with a couple of friends to see Jack,” I said.

“I saw them come up in the car.”

“Who are the two fellows with John?”

“They’re what you call wise boys,” Hogan said. “Don’t you know them two?”

“No,” I said.

“That’s Happy Steinfelt and Lew Morgan. They got a poolroom.”

“I been away a long time,” I said.

“Sure,” said Hogan. “That Happy Steinfelt’s a big operator.”

“I’ve heard his name,” I said.

“He’s a pretty smooth boy,” Hogan said. “They’re a couple of sharpshooters.”

“Well,” I said. “They want to see us in half an hour.”

“You mean they don’t want to see us until a half an hour?”

“That’s it.”

“Come on in the office,” Hogan said. “To hell with those sharpshooters.”

After about thirty minutes or so Hogan and I went upstairs. We knocked on Jack’s door. They were talking inside the room.

“Wait a minute,” somebody said.

“To hell with that stuff,” Hogan said. “When you want to see me I’m down in the office.”

We heard the door unlock. Steinfelt opened it.

“Come on in, Hogan,” he says. “We’re all going to have a drink.”

“Well,” says Hogan. “That’s something.”

We went in. Jack was sitting on the bed. John and Morgan were sitting on a couple of chairs. Steinfelt was standing up.

“You’re a pretty mysterious lot of boys,” Hogan said.

“Hello, Danny,” John says.

“Hello, Danny,” Morgan says and shakes hands.

Jack doesn’t say anything. He just sits there on the bed. He ain’t with the others. He’s all by himself. He was wearing an old blue jersey and pants and had on boxing shoes. He needed a shave. Steinfelt and Morgan were dressers. John was quite a dresser too. Jack sat there looking Irish and tough.

Steinfelt brought out a bottle and Hogan brought in some glasses and everybody had a drink. Jack and I took one and the rest of them went on and had two or three each.

“Better save some for your ride back,” Hogan said.

“Don’t you worry. We got plenty,” Morgan said.

Jack hadn’t drunk anything since the one drink. He was standing up and looking at them. Morgan was sitting on the bed where Jack had sat.

“Have a drink, Jack,” John said and handed him the glass and the bottle.

“No,” Jack said, “I never liked to go to these wakes.”

They all laughed. Jack didn’t laugh.

They were all feeling pretty good when they left. Jack stood on the porch when they got into the car. They waved to him.

“So long,” Jack said.

We had supper. Jack didn’t say anything all during the meal except, “Will you pass me this?” or “Will you pass me that?” The two health-farm patients ate at the same table with us. They were pretty nice fellows. After we finished eating we went out on the porch. It was dark early.

“Like to take a walk, Jerry?” Jack asked.

“Sure,” I said.

We put on our coats and started out. It was quite a way down to the main road and then we walked along the main road about a mile and a half. Cars kept going by and we would pull out to the side until they were past. Jack didn’t say anything. After we had stepped out into the bushes to let a big car go by Jack said, “To hell with this walking. Come on back to Hogan’s.”

We went along a side road that cut up over the hill and cut across the fields back to Hogan’s. We could see the lights of the house up on the hill. We came around to the front of the house and there standing in the doorway was Hogan.

“Have a good walk?” Hogan asked.

“Oh, fine,” Jack said. “Listen, Hogan. Have you got any liquor?”

“Sure,” says Hogan. “What’s the idea?”

“Send it up to the room,” Jack says. “I’m going to sleep tonight.”

“You’re the doctor,” Hogan says.

“Come on up to the room, Jerry,” Jack says.

Upstairs Jack sat on the bed with his head in his hands.

“Ain’t it a life?” Jack says.

Hogan brought in a quart of liquor and two glasses.

“Want some ginger-ale?”

“What do you think I want to do, get sick?”

“I just asked you,” said Hogan.

“Have a drink?” said Jack.

“No, thanks,” said Hogan. He went out.

“How about you, Jerry?”

“I’ll have one with you,” I said.

Jack poured out a couple of drinks. “Now,” he said, “I want to take it slow and easy.”

“Put some water in it,” I said.

“Yes,” Jack said. “I guess that’s better.”

We had a couple of drinks without saying anything. Jack started to pour me another.

“No,” I said, “that’s all I want.”

“All right,” Jack said. He poured himself out another big shot and put water in it. He was lighting up a little.

“That was a fine bunch out here this afternoon,” he said. “They don’t take any chances, those two.”

Then a little later, “Well,” he says, “they’re right. What the hell’s the good in taking chances?”

“Don’t you want another, Jerry?” he said. “Come on, drink along with me.”

“I don’t need it, Jack,” I said. “I feel all right.”

“Just have one more,” Jack said. It was softening him up.

“All right,” I said.

Jack poured one for me and another big one for himself.

“You know,” he said, “I like liquor pretty well. If I hadn’t been boxing I would have drunk quite a lot.”

“Sure,” I said.

“You know,” he said, “I missed a lot, boxing.”

“You made plenty of money.”

“Sure, that’s what I’m after. You know I miss a lot, Jerry.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well,” he says, “like about the wife. And being away from home so much. It don’t do my girls any good. ‘Whose your old man?’ some of those society kids’ll say to them. ‘My old man’s Jack Brennan.’ That don’t do them any good.”

“Hell,” I said, “all that makes a difference is if they got dough.”

“Well,” says Jack, “I got the dough for them all right.”

He poured out another drink. The bottle was about empty.

“Put some water in it,” I said. Jack poured in some water.

“You know,” he says, “you ain’t got any idea how I miss the wife.”


“You ain’t got any idea. You can’t have an idea what it’s like.”

“It ought to be better out in the country than in town.”

“With me now,” Jack said, “it don’t make any difference where I am. You can’t have an idea what it’s like.”

“Have another drink.”

“Am I getting soused? Do I talk funny?”

“You’re coming on all right.”

“You can’t have an idea what it’s like. They ain’t anybody can have an idea what it’s like.”

“Except the wife,” I said.

“She knows,” Jack said. “She knows all right. She knows. You bet she knows.”

“Put some water in that,” I said.

“Jerry,” says Jack, “you can’t have an idea what it gets to be like.”

He was good and drunk. He was looking at me steady. His eyes were sort of too steady.

“You’ll sleep all right,” I said.

“Listen, Jerry,” Jack says. “You want to make some money? Get some money down on Walcott.”


“Listen, Jerry,” Jack put down the glass. “I’m not drunk now, see? You know what I’m betting on him? Fifty grand.”

“That’s a lot of dough.”

“Fifty grand,” Jack says, “at two to one. I’ll get twenty-five thousand bucks. Get some money on him, Jerry.”

“It sounds good,” I said.

“How can I beat him?” Jack says. “It ain’t crooked. How can I beat him? Why not make money on it?”

“Put some water in that,” I said.

“I’m through after this fight,” Jack says. “I’m through with it. I got to take a beating. Why shouldn’t I make money on it?”


“I ain’t slept for a week,” Jack says. “All night I lay awake and worry my can off. I can’t sleep, Jerry. You ain’t got an idea what it’s like when you can’t sleep.”


“I can’t sleep. That’s all. I just can’t sleep. What’s the use of taking care of yourself all these years when you can’t sleep?”

“It’s bad.”

“You ain’t got an idea what it’s like, Jerry, when you can’t sleep.”

“Put some water in that,” I said.

Well, about eleven o’clock Jack passes out and I put him to bed. Finally he’s so he can’t keep from sleeping. I helped him get his clothes off and got him into bed.

“You’ll sleep all right, Jack,” I said.

“Sure,” Jack says, “I’ll sleep now.”

“Good night, Jack,” I said.

“Good night, Jerry,” Jack says. “You’re the only friend I got.”

“Oh, hell,” I said.

“You’re the only friend I got,” Jack says, “the only friend I got.”

“Go to sleep,” I said.

“I’ll sleep,” Jack says.

Downstairs Hogan was sitting at the desk in the office reading the papers. He looked up. “Well, you get your boy friend to sleep?” he asks.

“He’s off.”

“It’s better for him than not sleeping,” Hogan said.


“You’d have a hell of a time explaining that to these sport writers though,” Hogan said.

“Well, I’m going to bed myself,” I said.

“Good night,” said Hogan.

In the morning I came downstairs about eight o’clock and got some breakfast. Hogan had his two customers out in the barn doing exercises. I went out and watched them.

“One! Two! Three! Four!” Hogan was counting for them. “Hello, Jerry,” he said. “Is Jack up yet?”

“No. He’s still sleeping.”

I went back to my room and packed up to go in to town. About nine-thirty I heard Jack getting up in the next room. When I heard him go downstairs I went down after him. Jack was sitting at the breakfast table. Hogan had come in and was standing beside the table.

“How do you feel, Jack?” I asked him.

“Not so bad.”

“Sleep well?” Hogan asked.

“I slept all right,” Jack said. “I got a thick tongue but I ain’t got a head.”

“Good,” said Hogan. “That was good liquor.”

“Put it on the bill,” Jack says.

“What time you want to go into town?” Hogan asked.

“Before lunch,” Jack says. “The eleven o’clock train.”

“Sit down, Jerry,” Jack said. Hogan went out.

I sat down at the table. Jack was eating a grapefruit. When he’d find a seed he’d spit it out in the spoon and dump it on the plate.

“I guess I was pretty stewed last night,” he started.

“You drank some liquor.”

“I guess I said a lot of fool things.”

“You weren’t bad.”

“Where’s Hogan?” he asked. He was through with the grapefruit.

“He’s out in front in the office.”

“What did I say about betting on the fight?” Jack asked. He was holding the spoon and sort of poking at the grapefruit with it.

The girl came in with some ham and eggs and took away the grapefruit.

“Bring me another glass of milk,” Jack said to her. She went out.

“You said you had fifty grand on Walcott,” I said.

“That’s right,” Jack said.

“That’s a lot of money.”

“I don’t feel too good about it,” Jack said.

“Something might happen.”

“No,” Jack said. “He wants the title bad. They’ll be shooting with him all right.”

“You can’t ever tell.”

“No. He wants the title. It’s worth a lot of money to him.”

“Fifty grand is a lot of money,” I said.

“It’s business,” said Jack. “I can’t win. You know I can’t win anyway.”

“As long as you’re in there you got a chance.”

“No,” Jack says. “I’m all through. It’s just business.”

“How do you feel?”

“Pretty good,” Jack said. “The sleep was what I needed.”

“You might go good.”

“I’ll give them a good show,” Jack said.

After breakfast Jack called up his wife on the long-distance. He was inside the booth telephoning.

“That’s the first time he’s called her up since he’s out here,” Hogan said.

“He writes her every day.”

“Sure,” Hogan says, “a letter only costs two cents.”

Hogan said goodbye to us and Bruce, the nigger rubber, drove us down to the train in the cart.

“Goodbye, Mr. Brennan,” Bruce said at the train, “I sure hope you knock his can off.”

“So long,” Jack said. He gave Bruce two dollars. Bruce had worked on him a lot. He looked kind of disappointed. Jack saw me looking at Bruce holding the two dollars.

“It’s all in the bill,” he said. “Hogan charged me for the rubbing.”

On the train going into town Jack didn’t talk. He sat in the corner of the seat with his ticket in his hatband and looked out of the window. Once he turned and spoke to me.

“I told the wife I’d take a room at the Shelby tonight,” he said. “It’s just around the corner from the Garden. I can go up to the house tomorrow morning.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said. “Your wife ever see you fight, Jack?”

“No,” Jack says. “She never seen me fight.”

I thought he must be figuring on taking an awful beating if he doesn’t want to go home afterward. In town we took a taxi up to the Shelby. A boy came out and took our bags and we went in to the desk.

“How much are the rooms?” Jack asked.

“We only have double rooms,” the clerk says. “I can give you a nice double room for ten dollars.”

“That’s too steep.”

“I can give you a double room for seven dollars.”

“With a bath?”


“You might as well bunk with me, Jerry,” Jack says.

“Oh,” I said, “I’ll sleep down at my brother-in-law’s.”

“I don’t mean for you to pay it,” Jack says. “I just want to get my money’s worth.”

“Will you register, please?” the clerk says. He looked at the names. “Number 238, Mister Brennan.”

We went up in the elevator. It was a nice big room with two beds and a door opening into a bathroom.

“This is pretty good,” Jack says.

The boy who brought us up pulled up the curtains and brought in our bags. Jack didn’t make any move, so I gave the boy a quarter. We washed up and Jack said we better go out and get something to eat.

We ate a lunch at Jimmey Handley’s place. Quite a lot of the boys were there. When we were about half through eating, John came in and sat down with us. Jack didn’t talk much.

“How are you on the weight, Jack?” John asked him. Jack was putting away a pretty good lunch.

“I could make it with my clothes on,” Jack said. He never had to worry about taking off weight. He was a natural welterweight and he’d never gotten fat. He’d lost weight out at Hogan’s.

“Well, that’s one thing you never had to worry about,” John said.

“That’s one thing,” Jack says.

We went around to the garden to weigh in after lunch. The match was made at a hundred forty-seven pounds at three o’clock. Jack stepped on the scales with a towel around him. The bar didn’t move. Walcott had just weighed and was standing with a lot of people around him.

“Let’s see what you weigh, Jack,” Freedman, Walcott’s manager said.

“All right, weigh him then,” Jack jerked his head toward Walcott.

“Drop the towel,” Freedman said.

“What do you make it?” Jack asked the fellows who were weighing.

“One hundred and forty-three pounds,” the fat man who was weighing said.

“You’re down fine, Jack,” Freedman says.

“Weigh him,” Jack says.

Walcott came over. He was a blond with wide shoulders and arms like a heavyweight. He didn’t have much legs. Jack stood about half a head taller than he did.

“Hello, Jack,” he said. His face was plenty marked up.

“Hello,” said Jack. “How you feel?”

“Good,” Walcott says. He dropped the towel from around his waist and stood on the scales. He had the widest shoulders and back you ever saw.

“One hundred and forty-six pounds and twelve ounces.”

Walcott stepped off and grinned at Jack.

“Well,” John says to him, “Jack’s spotting you about four pounds.”

“More than that when I come in, kid,” Walcott says. “I’m going to go and eat now.”

We went back and Jack got dressed. “He’s a pretty tough-looking boy,” Jack says to me.

“He looks as though he’d been hit plenty of times.”

“Oh, yes,” Jack says. “He ain’t hard to hit.”

“Where are you going?” John asked when Jack was dressed.

“Back to the hotel,” Jack says. “You looked after everything?”

“Yes,” John says. “It’s all looked after.”

“I’m going to lie down a while,” Jack says.

“I’ll come around for you about a quarter to seven and we’ll go and eat.”

“All right.”

Up at the hotel Jack took off his shoes and his coat and lay down for a while. I wrote a letter. I looked over a couple of times and Jack wasn’t sleeping. He was lying perfectly still but every once in a while his eyes would open. Finally he sits up.

“Want to play some cribbage, Jerry?” he says.

“Sure,” I said.

He went over to his suitcase and got out the cards and the cribbage board. We played cribbage and he won three dollars off me. John knocked at the door and came in.

“Want to play some cribbage, John?” Jack asked him.

John put his kelly down on the table. It was all wet. His coat was wet too.

“Is it raining?” Jack asks.

“It’s pouring,” John says. “The taxi I had, got tied up in the traffic and I got out and walked.”

“Come on, play some cribbage,” Jack says.

“You ought to go and eat.”

“No,” says Jack. “I don’t want to eat yet.”

So they played cribbage for about half an hour and Jack won a dollar and a half off him.

“Well, I suppose we got to go eat,” Jack says. He went to the window and looked out.

“Is it still raining?”


“Let’s eat in the hotel,” John says.

“All right,” Jack says, “I’ll play you once more to see who pays for the meal.”

After a little while Jack gets up and says, “You buy the meal, John,” and we went downstairs and ate in the big dining-room.

After we ate we went upstairs and Jack played cribbage with John again and won two dollars and a half off him. Jack was feeling pretty good. John had a bag with him with all his stuff in it. Jack took off his shirt and collar and put on a jersey and a sweater, so he wouldn’t catch cold when he came out, and put his ring clothes and his bathrobe in a bag.

“You all ready?” John asks him. “I’ll call up and have them get a taxi.”

Pretty soon the telephone rang and they said the taxi was waiting.

We rode down in the elevator and went out through the lobby, and got in a taxi and rode around to the Garden. It was raining hard but there was a lot of people outside on the streets. The Garden was sold out. As we came in on our way to the dressing-room I saw how full it was. It looked like half a mile down to the ring. It was all dark. Just the lights over the ring.

“It’s a good thing, with this rain, they didn’t try and pull this fight in the ball park,” John said.

“They got a good crowd,” Jack says.

“This is a fight that would draw a lot more than the Garden could hold.”

“You can’t tell about the weather,” Jack says.

John came to the door of the dressing-room and poked his head in. Jack was sitting there with his bathrobe on, he had his arms folded and was looking at the floor. John had a couple of handlers with him. They looked over his shoulder. Jack looked up.

“Is he in?” he asked.

“He’s just gone down,” John said.

We started down. Walcott was just getting into the ring. The crowd gave him a big hand. He climbed through between the ropes and put his two fists together and smiled, and shook them at the crowd, first at one side of the ring, then at the other, and then sat down. Jack got a good hand coming down through the crowd. Jack is Irish and the Irish always get a pretty good hand. An Irishman don’t draw in New York like a Jew or an Italian but they always get a good hand. Jack climbed up and bent down to go through the ropes and Walcott came over from his corner and pushed the rope down for Jack to go through. The crowd thought that was wonderful. Walcott put his hand on Jack’s shoulder and they stood there just for a second.

“So you’re going to be one of these popular champions,” Jack says to him. “Take your goddam hand off my shoulder.”

“Be yourself,” Walcott says.

This is all great for the crowd. How gentlemanly the boys are before the fight! How they wish each other luck!

Solly Freedman came over to our corner while Jack is bandaging his hands and John is over in Walcott’s corner. Jack puts his thumb through the slit in the bandage and then wrapped his hand nice and smooth. I taped it around the wrist and twice across the knuckles.

“Hey,” Freedman says. “Where do you get all that tape?”

“Feel of it,” Jack says. “It’s soft, ain’t it? Don’t be a hick.”

Freedman stands there all the time while Jack bandages the other hand, and one of the boys that’s going to handle him brings the gloves and I pull them on and work them around.

“Say, Freedman,” Jack asks, “what nationality is this Walcott?”

“I don’t know,” Solly says. “He’s some sort of a Dane.”

“He’s a Bohemian,” the lad who brought the gloves said.

The referee called them out to the centre of the ring and Jack walks out. Walcott comes out smiling. They met and the referee put his arm on each of their shoulders.

“Hello, popularity,” Jack says to Walcott.

“Be yourself.”

“What do you call yourself ‘Walcott’ for?” Jack says. “Didn’t you know he was a nigger?”

“Listen⁠—” says the referee, and he gives them the same old line. Once Walcott interrupts him. He grabs Jack’s arm and says, “Can I hit when he’s got me like this?”

“Keep your hands off me,” Jack says. “There ain’t no moving-pictures of this.”

They went back to their corners. I lifted the bathrobe off Jack and he leaned on the ropes and flexed his knees a couple of times and scuffed his shoes in the rosin. The gong rang and Jack turned quick and went out. Walcott came toward him and they touched gloves and as soon as Walcott dropped his hands Jack jumped his left into his face twice. There wasn’t anybody ever boxed better than Jack. Walcott was after him, going forward all the time with his chin on his chest. He’s a hooker and he carries his hands pretty low. All he knows is to get in there and sock. But every time he gets in there close, Jack has the left hand in his face. It’s just as though it’s automatic. Jack just raises the left hand up and it’s in Walcott’s face. Three or four times Jack brings the right over but Walcott gets it on the shoulder or high up on the head. He’s just like all these hookers. The only thing he’s afraid of is another one of the same kind. He’s covered everywhere you can hurt him. He don’t care about a left-hand in his face.

After about four rounds Jack has him bleeding bad and his face all cut up, but every time Walcott’s got in close he’s socked so hard he’s got two big red patches on both sides just below Jack’s ribs. Every time he gets in close, Jack ties him up, then gets one hand loose and uppercuts him, but when Walcott gets his hands loose he socks Jack in the body so they can hear it outside in the street. He’s a socker.

It goes along like that for three rounds more. They don’t talk any. They’re working all the time. We worked over Jack plenty too, in between the rounds. He don’t look good at all but he never does much work in the ring. He don’t move around much and that left-hand is just automatic. It’s just like it was connected with Walcott’s face and Jack just had to wish it in every time. Jack is always calm in close and he doesn’t waste any juice. He knows everything about working in close too and he’s getting away with a lot of stuff. While they were in our corner I watched him tie Walcott up, get his right hand loose, turn it and come up with an uppercut that got Walcott’s nose with the heel of the glove. Walcott was bleeding bad and leaned his nose on Jack’s shoulder so as to give Jack some of it too, and Jack sort of lifted his shoulder sharp and caught him against the nose, and then brought down the right hand and did the same thing again.

Walcott was sore as hell. By the time they’d gone five rounds he hated Jack’s guts. Jack wasn’t sore; that is, he wasn’t any sorer than he always was. He certainly did used to make the fellows he fought hate boxing. That was why he hated Kid Lewis so. He never got the Kid’s goat. Kid Lewis always had about three new dirty things Jack couldn’t do. Jack was as safe as a church all the time he was in there, as long as he was strong. He certainly was treating Walcott rough. The funny thing was it looked as though Jack was an open classic boxer. That was because he had all that stuff too.

After the seventh round Jack says, “My left’s getting heavy.”

From then he started to take a beating. It didn’t show at first. But instead of him running the fight it was Walcott was running it, instead of being safe all the time now he was in trouble. He couldn’t keep him out with the left hand now. It looked as though it was the same as ever, only now instead of Walcott’s punches just missing him they were just hitting him. He took an awful beating in the body.

“What’s the round?” Jack asked.

“The eleventh.”

“I can’t stay,” Jack says. “My legs are going bad.”

Walcott had been just hitting him for a long time. It was like a baseball catcher pulls the ball and takes some of the shock off. From now on Walcott commenced to land solid. He certainly was a socking-machine. Jack was just trying to block everything now. It didn’t show what an awful beating he was taking. In between the rounds I worked on his legs. The muscles would flutter under my hands all the time I was rubbing them. He was sick as hell.

“How’s it go?” he asked John, turning around, his face all swollen.

“It’s his fight.”

“I think I can last,” Jack says. “I don’t want this bohunk to stop me.”

It was going just the way he thought it would. He knew he couldn’t beat Walcott. He wasn’t strong any more. He was all right though. His money was all right and now he wanted to finish it off right to please himself. He didn’t want to be knocked out.

The gong rang and we pushed him out. He went out slow. Walcott came right out after him. Jack put the left in his face and Walcott took it, came in under it and started working on Jack’s body. Jack tried to tie him up and it was just like trying to hold on to a buzz-saw. Jack broke away from it and missed with the right. Walcott clipped him with a left-hook and Jack went down. He went down on his hands and knees and looked at us. The referee started counting. Jack was watching us and shaking his head. At eight John motioned to him. You couldn’t hear on account of the crowd. Jack got up. The referee had been holding Walcott back with one arm while he counted.

When Jack was on his feet Walcott started toward him.

“Watch yourself, Jimmy,” I heard Solly Freedman yell to him.

Walcott came up to Jack looking at him. Jack stuck the left hand at him. Walcott just shook his head. He backed Jack up against the ropes, measured him and then hooked the left very light to the side of Jack’s head and socked the right into the body as hard as he could sock, just as low as he could get it. He must have hit him five inches below the belt. I thought the eyes would come out of Jack’s head. They stuck way out. His mouth come open.

The referee grabbed Walcott. Jack stepped forward. If he went down there went fifty thousand bucks. He walked as though all his insides were going to fall out.

“It wasn’t low,” he said. “It was a accident.”

The crowd were yelling so you couldn’t hear anything.

“I’m all right,” Jack says. They were right in front of us. The referee looks at John and then he shakes his head.

“Come on, you polak son-of-a-bitch,” Jack says to Walcott.

John was hanging onto the ropes. He had the towel ready to chuck in. Jack was standing just a little way out from the ropes. He took a step forward. I saw the sweat come out on his face like somebody had squeezed it and a big drop went down his nose.

“Come on and fight,” Jack says to Walcott.

The referee looked at John and waved Walcott on.

“Go in there, you slob,” he says.

Walcott went in. He didn’t know what to do either. He never thought Jack could have stood it. Jack put the left in his face. There was such a hell of a lot of yelling going on. They were right in front of us. Walcott hit him twice. Jack’s face was the worst thing I ever saw⁠—the look on it! He was holding himself and all his body together and it all showed on his face. All the time he was thinking and holding his body in where it was busted.

Then he started to sock. His face looked awful all the time. He started to sock with his hands low down by his side, swinging at Walcott. Walcott covered up and Jack was swinging wild at Walcott’s head. Then he swung the left and it hit Walcott in the groin and the right hit Walcott right bang where he’d hit Jack. Way low below the belt. Walcott went down and grabbed himself there and rolled and twisted around.

The referee grabbed Jack and pushed him toward his corner. John jumps into the ring. There was all this yelling going on. The referee was talking with the judges and then the announcer got into the ring with the megaphone and says, “Walcott on a foul.”

The referee is talking to John and he says, “What could I do? Jack wouldn’t take the foul. Then when he’s groggy he fouls him.”

“He’d lost it anyway,” John says.

Jack’s sitting on the chair. I’ve got his gloves off and he’s holding himself in down there with both hands. When he’s got something supporting it his face doesn’t look so bad.

“Go over and say you’re sorry,” John says into his ear. “It’ll look good.”

Jack stands up and the sweat comes out all over his face. I put the bathrobe around him and he holds himself in with one hand under the bathrobe and goes across the ring. They’ve picked Walcott up and they’re working on him. There’re a lot of people in Walcott’s corner. Nobody speaks to Jack. He leans over Walcott.

“I’m sorry,” Jack says. “I didn’t mean to foul you.”

Walcott doesn’t say anything. He looks too damned sick.

“Well, you’re the champion now,” Jack says to him. “I hope you get a hell of a lot of fun out of it.”

“Leave the kid alone,” Solly Freedman says.

“Hello, Solly,” Jack says. “I’m sorry I fouled your boy.”

Freedman just looks at him.

Jack went to his corner walking that funny jerky way and we got him down through the ropes and through the reporters’ tables and out down the aisle. A lot of people want to slap Jack on the back. He goes out through all that mob in his bathrobe to the dressing-room. It’s a popular win for Walcott. That’s the way the money was bet in the Garden.

Once we got inside the dressing-room Jack lay down and shut his eyes.

“We want to get to the hotel and get a doctor,” John says.

“I’m all busted inside,” Jack says.

“I’m sorry as hell, Jack,” John says.

“It’s all right,” Jack says.

He lies there with his eyes shut.

“They certainly tried a nice double-cross,” John said.

“Your friends Morgan and Steinfelt,” Jack said. “You got nice friends.”

He lies there, his eyes are open now. His face has still got that awful drawn look.

“It’s funny how fast you can think when it means that much money,” Jack says.

“You’re some boy, Jack,” John says.

“No,” Jack says. “It was nothing.”

A Simple Enquiry

Outside, the snow was higher than the window. The sunlight came in through the window and shone on a map on the pine-board wall of the hut. The sun was high and the light came in over the top of the snow. A trench had been cut along the open side of the hut, and each clear day the sun, shining on the wall, reflected heat against the snow and widened the trench. It was late March. The major sat at a table against the wall. His adjutant sat at another table.

Around the major’s eyes were two white circles where his snow-glasses had protected his face from the sun on the snow. The rest of his face had been burned and then tanned and then burned through the tan. His nose was swollen and there were edges of loose skin where blisters had been. While he worked at the papers he put the fingers of his left hand into a saucer of oil and then spread the oil over his face, touching it very gently with the tips of his fingers. He was very careful to drain his fingers on the edge of the saucer so there was only a film of oil on them, and after he had stroked his forehead and his cheeks, he stroked his nose very delicately between his fingers. When he had finished he stood up, took the saucer of oil and went into the small room of the hut where he slept. “I’m going to take a little sleep,” he said to the adjutant. In that army an adjutant is not a commissioned officer. “You will finish up.”

“Yes, signor maggiore,” the adjutant answered. He leaned back in his chair and yawned. He took a paper-covered book out of the pocket of his coat and opened it; then laid it down on the table and lit his pipe. He leaned forward on the table to read and puffed at his pipe. Then he closed the book and put it back in his pocket. He had too much paperwork to get through. He could not enjoy reading until it was done. Outside, the sun went behind a mountain and there was no more light on the wall of the hut. A soldier came in and put some pine branches, chopped into irregular lengths, into the stove. “Be soft, Pinin,” the adjutant said to him. “The major is sleeping.”

Pinin was the major’s orderly. He was a dark-faced boy, and he fixed the stove, putting the pine wood in carefully, shut the door, and went into the back of the hut again. The adjutant went on with his papers.

“Tonani,” the major called.

“Signor maggiore?”

“Send Pinin in to me.”

“Pinin!” the adjutant called. Pinin came into the room. “The major wants you,” the adjutant said.

Pinin walked across the main room of the hut toward the major’s door. He knocked on the half-opened door. “Signor maggiore?”

“Come in,” the adjutant heard the major say, “and shut the door.”

Inside the room the major lay on his bunk. Pinin stood beside the bunk. The major lay with his head on the rucksack that he had stuffed with spare clothing to make a pillow. His long, burned, oiled face looked at Pinin. His hands lay on the blankets.

“You are nineteen?” he asked.

“Yes, signor maggiore.”

“You have ever been in love?”

“How do you mean, signor maggiore?”

“In love⁠—with a girl?”

“I have been with girls.”

“I did not ask that. I asked if you had been in love⁠—with a girl.”

“Yes, signor maggiore.”

“You are in love with this girl now? You don’t write her. I read all your letters.”

“I am in love with her,” Pinin said, “but I do not write her.”

“You are sure of this?”

“I am sure.”

“Tonani,” the major said in the same tone of voice, “can you hear me talking?”

There was no answer from the next room.

“He can not hear,” the major said. “And you are quite sure that you love a girl?”

“I am sure.”

“And,” the major looked at him quickly, “that you are not corrupt?”

“I don’t know what you mean, corrupt.”

“All right,” the major said. “You needn’t be superior.”

Pinin looked at the floor. The major looked at his brown face, down and up him, and at his hands. Then he went on, not smiling, “And you don’t really want⁠—” the major paused. Pinin looked at the floor. “That your great desire isn’t really⁠—” Pinin looked at the floor. The major leaned his head back on the rucksack and smiled. He was really relieved: life in the army was too complicated. “You’re a good boy,” he said. “You’re a good boy, Pinin. But don’t be superior and be careful someone else doesn’t come along and take you.”

Pinin stood still beside the bunk.

“Don’t be afraid,” the major said. His hands were folded on the blankets. “I won’t touch you. You can go back to your platoon if you like. But you had better stay on as my servant. You’ve less chance of being killed.”

“Do you want anything of me, signor maggiore?”

“No,” the major said. “Go on and get on with whatever you were doing. Leave the door open when you go out.”

Pinin went out, leaving the door open. The adjutant looked up at him as he walked awkwardly across the room and out the door. Pinin was flushed and moved differently than he had moved when he brought in the wood for the fire. The adjutant looked after him and smiled. Pinin came in with more wood for the stove. The major, lying on his bunk, looking at his cloth-covered helmet and his snow-glasses that hung from a nail on the wall, heard him walk across the floor. The little devil, he thought, I wonder if he lied to me.

Ten Indians

After one Fourth of July, Nick, driving home late from town in the big wagon with Joe Garner and his family, passed nine drunken Indians along the road. He remembered there were nine because Joe Garner, driving along in the dusk, pulled up the horses, jumped down into the road and dragged an Indian out of the wheel rut. The Indian had been asleep, face down in the sand. Joe dragged him into the bushes and got back up on the wagon-box.

“That makes nine of them,” Joe said, “just between here and the edge of town.”

“Them Indians,” said Mrs. Garner.

Nick was on the back seat with the two Garner boys. He was looking out from the back seat to see the Indian where Joe had dragged him alongside of the road.

“Was it Billy Tabeshaw?” Carl asked.


“His pants looked mighty like Billy.”

“All Indians wear the same kind of pants.”

“I didn’t see him at all,” Frank said. “Pa was down into the road and back up again before I seen a thing. I thought he was killing a snake.”

“Plenty of Indians’ll kill snakes tonight, I guess,” Joe Garner said.

“Them Indians,” said Mrs. Garner.

They drove along. The road turned off from the main highway and went up into the hills. It was hard pulling for the horses and the boys got down and walked. The road was sandy. Nick looked back from the top of the hill by the schoolhouse. He saw the lights of Petoskey and, off across Little Traverse Bay, the lights of Harbour Springs. They climbed back in the wagon again.

“They ought to put some gravel on that stretch,” Joe Garner said. The wagon went along the road through the woods. Joe and Mrs. Garner sat close together on the front seat. Nick sat between the two boys. The road came out into a clearing.

“Right here was where Pa ran over the skunk.”

“It was further on.”

“It don’t make no difference where it was,” Joe said without turning his head. “One place is just as good as another to run over a skunk.”

“I saw two skunks last night,” Nick said.


“Down by the lake. They were looking for dead fish along the beach.”

“They were coons probably,” Carl said.

“They were skunks. I guess I know skunks.”

“You ought to,” Carl said. “You got an Indian girl.”

“Stop talking that way, Carl,” said Mrs. Garner.

“Well, they smell about the same.”

Joe Garner laughed.

“You stop laughing, Joe,” Mrs. Garner said. “I won’t have Carl talk that way.”

“Have you got an Indian girl, Nickie?” Joe asked.


“He has too, Pa,” Frank said. “Prudence Mitchell’s his girl.”

“She’s not.”

“He goes to see her every day.”

“I don’t.” Nick, sitting between the two boys in the dark, felt hollow and happy inside himself to be teased about Prudence Mitchell. “She ain’t my girl,” he said.

“Listen to him,” said Carl. “I see them together every day.”

“Carl can’t get a girl,” his mother said, “not even a squaw.”

Carl was quiet.

“Carl ain’t no good with girls,” Frank said.

“You shut up.”

“You’re all right, Carl,” Joe Garner said. “Girls never got a man anywhere. Look at your pa.”

“Yes, that’s what you would say,” Mrs. Garner moved close to Joe as the wagon jolted. “Well, you had plenty of girls in your time.”

“I’ll bet Pa wouldn’t ever have had a squaw for a girl.”

“Don’t you think it,” Joe said. “You better watch out to keep Prudie, Nick.”

His wife whispered to him and Joe laughed.

“What you laughing at?” asked Frank.

“Don’t you say it, Garner,” his wife warned. Joe laughed again.

“Nickie can have Prudence,” Joe Garner said. “I got a good girl.”

“That’s the way to talk,” Mrs. Garner said.

The horses were pulling heavily in the sand. Joe reached out in the dark with the whip.

“Come on, pull into it. You’ll have to pull harder than this tomorrow.”

They trotted down the long hill, the wagon jolting. At the farmhouse everybody got down. Mrs. Garner unlocked the door, went inside, and came out with a lamp in her hand. Carl and Nick unloaded the things from the back of the wagon. Frank sat on the front seat to drive to the barn and put up the horses. Nick went up the steps and opened the kitchen door. Mrs. Garner was building a fire in the stove. She turned from pouring kerosene on the wood.

“Goodbye, Mrs. Garner,” Nick said. “Thanks for taking me.”

“Oh shucks, Nickie.”

“I had a wonderful time.”

“We like to have you. Won’t you stay and eat some supper?”

“I better go. I think Dad probably waited for me.”

“Well, get along then. Send Carl up to the house, will you?”

“All right.”

“Good night, Nickie.”

“Good night, Mrs. Garner.”

Nick went out the farmyard and down to the barn. Joe and Frank were milking.

“Good night,” Nick said. “I had a swell time.”

“Good night, Nick,” Joe Garner called. “Aren’t you going to stay and eat?”

“No, I can’t. Will you tell Carl his mother wants him?”

“All right. Good night, Nickie.”

Nick walked barefoot along the path through the meadow below the barn. The path was smooth and the dew was cool on his bare feet. He climbed a fence at the end of the meadow, went down through a ravine, his feet wet in the swamp mud, and then climbed up through the dry beech woods until he saw the lights of the cottage. He climbed over the fence and walked around to the front porch. Through the window he saw his father sitting by the table, reading in the light from the big lamp. Nick opened the door and went in.

“Well, Nickie,” his father said, “was it a good day?”

“I had a swell time, Dad. It was a swell Fourth of July.”

“Are you hungry?”

“You bet.”

“What did you do with your shoes?”

“I left them in the wagon at Garner’s.”

“Come on out to the kitchen.”

Nick’s father went ahead with the lamp. He stopped and lifted the lid of the icebox. Nick went on into the kitchen. His father brought in a piece of cold chicken on a plate and a pitcher of milk and put them on the table before Nick. He put down the lamp.

“There’s some pie too,” he said. “Will that hold you?”

“It’s grand.”

His father sat down in a chair beside the oilcloth-covered table. He made a big shadow on the kitchen wall.

“Who won the ball game?”

“Petoskey. Five to three.”

His father sat watching him eat and filled his glass from the milk-pitcher. Nick drank and wiped his mouth on his napkin. His father reached over to the shelf for the pie. He cut Nick a big piece. It was huckleberry pie.

“What did you do, Dad?”

“I went out fishing in the morning.”

“What did you get?”

“Only perch.”

His father sat watching Nick eat the pie.

“What did you do this afternoon?” Nick asked.

“I went for a walk up by the Indian camp.”

“Did you see anybody?”

“The Indians were all in town getting drunk.”

“Didn’t you see anybody at all?”

“I saw your friend, Prudie.”

“Where was she?”

“She was in the woods with Frank Washburn. I ran onto them. They were having quite a time.”

His father was not looking at him.

“What were they doing?”

“I didn’t stay to find out.”

“Tell me what they were doing.”

“I don’t know,” his father said. “I just heard them threshing around.”

“How did you know it was them?”

“I saw them.”

“I thought you said you didn’t see them.”

“Oh, yes, I saw them.”

“Who was it with her?” Nick asked.

“Frank Washburn.”

“Were they⁠—were they⁠—”

“Were they what?”

“Were they happy?”

“I guess so.”

His father got up from the table and went out the kitchen screen door. When he came back Nick was looking at his plate. He had been crying.

“Have some more?” His father picked up the knife to cut the pie.

“No,” said Nick.

“You better have another piece.”

“No, I don’t want any.”

His father cleared off the table.

“Where were they in the woods?” Nick asked.

“Up back of the camp.” Nick looked at his plate. His father said, “You better go to bed, Nick.”

“All right.”

Nick went into his room, undressed, and got into bed. He heard his father moving around in the living-room. Nick lay in the bed with his face in the pillow.

“My heart’s broken,” he thought. “If I feel this way my heart must be broken.”

After a while he heard his father blow out the lamp and go into his own room. He heard a wind come up in the trees outside and felt it come in cool through the screen. He lay for a long time with his face in the pillow, and after a while he forgot to think about Prudence and finally he went to sleep. When he awoke in the night he heard the wind in the hemlock trees outside the cottage and the waves of the lake coming in on the shore, and he went back to sleep. In the morning there was a big wind blowing and the waves were running high up on the beach and he was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken.

A Canary for One

The train passed very quickly a long, red stone house with a garden and four thick palm-trees with tables under them in the shade. On the other side was the sea. Then there was a cutting through red stone and clay, and the sea was only occasionally and far below against rocks.

“I bought him in Palermo,” the American lady said. “We only had an hour ashore and it was Sunday morning. The man wanted to be paid in dollars and I gave him a dollar and a half. He really sings very beautifully.”

It was very hot in the train and it was very hot in the lit salon compartment. There was no breeze came through the open window. The American lady pulled the window-blind down and there was no more sea, even occasionally. On the other side there was glass, then the corridor, then an open window, and outside the window were dusty trees and an oiled road and flat fields of grapes, with gray-stone hills behind them.

There was smoke from many tall chimneys⁠—coming into Marseilles, and the train slowed down and followed one track through many others into the station. The train stayed twenty-five minutes in the station at Marseilles and the American lady bought a copy of The Daily Mail and a half-bottle of Evian water. She walked a little way along the station platform, but she stayed near the steps of the car because at Cannes, where it stopped for twelve minutes, the train had left with no signal of departure and she had only gotten on just in time. The American lady was a little deaf and she was afraid that perhaps signals of departure were given and that she did not hear them.

The train left the station in Marseilles and there was not only the switch-yards and the factory smoke but, looking back, the town of Marseilles and the harbor with stone hills behind it and the last of the sun on the water. As it was getting dark the train passed a farmhouse burning in a field. Motorcars were stopped along the road and bedding and things from inside the farmhouse were spread in the field. Many people were watching the house burn. After it was dark the train was in Avignon. People got on and off. At the newsstand Frenchmen, returning to Paris, bought that day’s French papers. On the station platform were negro soldiers. They wore brown uniforms and were tall and their faces shone, close under the electric light. Their faces were very black and they were too tall to stare. The train left Avignon station with the negroes standing there. A short white sergeant was with them.

Inside the lit salon compartment the porter had pulled down the three beds from inside the wall and prepared them for sleeping. In the night the American lady lay without sleeping because the train was a rapide and went very fast and she was afraid of the speed in the night. The American lady’s bed was the one next to the window. The canary from Palermo, a cloth spread over his cage, was out of the draft in the corridor that went into the compartment washroom. There was a blue light outside the compartment, and all night the train went very fast and the American lady lay awake and waited for a wreck.

In the morning the train was near Paris, and after the American lady had come out from the washroom, looking very wholesome and middle-aged and American in spite of not having slept, and had taken the cloth off the birdcage and hung the cage in the sun, she went back to the restaurant-car for breakfast. When she came back to the lit salon compartment again, the beds had been pushed back into the wall and made into seats, the canary was shaking his feathers in the sunlight that came through the open window, and the train was much nearer Paris.

“He loves the sun,” the American lady said. “He’ll sing now in a little while.”

The canary shook his feathers and pecked into them. “I’ve always loved birds,” the American lady said. “I’m taking him home to my little girl. There⁠—he’s singing now.”

The canary chirped and the feathers on his throat stood out, then he dropped his bill and pecked into his feathers again. The train crossed a river and passed through a very carefully tended forest. The train passed through many outside of Paris towns. There were tramcars in the towns and big advertisements for the Belle Jardinière and Dubonnet and Pernod on the walls toward the train. All that the train passed through looked as though it were before breakfast. For several minutes I had not listened to the American lady, who was talking to my wife.

“Is your husband American too?” asked the lady.

“Yes,” said my wife. “We’re both Americans.”

“I thought you were English.”

“Oh, no.”

“Perhaps that was because I wore braces,” I said. I had started to say suspenders and changed it to braces in the mouth, to keep my English character. The American lady did not hear. She was really quite deaf; she read lips, and I had not looked toward her. I had looked out of the window. She went on talking to my wife.

“I’m so glad you’re Americans. American men make the best husbands,” the American lady was saying. “That was why we left the Continent, you know. My daughter fell in love with a man in Vevey.” She stopped. “They were simply madly in love.” She stopped again. “I took her away, of course.”

“Did she get over it?” asked my wife.

“I don’t think so,” said the American lady. “She wouldn’t eat anything and she wouldn’t sleep at all. I’ve tried so very hard, but she doesn’t seem to take an interest in anything. She doesn’t care about things. I couldn’t have her marrying a foreigner.” She paused. “Someone, a very good friend, told me once, ‘No foreigner can make an American girl a good husband.’ ”

“No,” said my wife, “I suppose not.”

The American lady admired my wife’s travelling-coat, and it turned out that the American lady had bought her own clothes for twenty years now from the same maison de couturier in the Rue Saint Honoré. They had her measurements, and a vendeuse who knew her and her tastes picked the dresses out for her and they were sent to America. They came to the post-office near where she lived uptown in New York, and the duty was never exorbitant because they opened the dresses there in the post-office to appraise them and they were always very simple-looking and with no gold lace nor ornaments that would make the dresses look expensive. Before the present vendeuse, named Thérèse, there had been another vendeuse, named Amélie. Altogether there had only been these two in the twenty years. It had always been the same couturier. Prices, however, had gone up. The exchange, though, equalized that. They had her daughter’s measurements now too. She was grown up and there was not much chance of their changing now.

The train was now coming into Paris. The fortifications were levelled but grass had not grown. There were many cars standing on tracks⁠—brown wooden restaurant-cars and brown wooden sleeping-cars that would go to Italy at five o’clock that night, if that train still left at five; the cars were marked Paris-Rome, and cars, with seats on the roofs, that went back and forth to the suburbs with, at certain hours, people in all the seats and on the roofs, if that were the way it were still done, and passing were the white walls and many windows of houses. Nothing had eaten any breakfast.

“Americans make the best husbands,” the American lady said to my wife. I was getting down the bags. “American men are the only men in the world to marry.”

“How long ago did you leave Vevey?” asked my wife.

“Two years ago this fall. It’s her, you know, that I’m taking the canary to.”

“Was the man your daughter was in love with a Swiss?”

“Yes,” said the American lady. “He was from a very good family in Vevey. He was going to be an engineer. They met there in Vevey. They used to go on long walks together.”

“I know Vevey,” said my wife. “We were there on our honeymoon.”

“Were you really? That must have been lovely. I had no idea, of course, that she’d fall in love with him.”

“It was a very lovely place,” said my wife.

“Yes,” said the American lady. “Isn’t it lovely? Where did you stop there?”

“We stayed at the Trois Couronnes,” said my wife.

“It’s such a fine old hotel,” said the American lady.

“Yes,” said my wife. “We had a very fine room and in the fall the country was lovely.”

“Were you there in the fall?”

“Yes,” said my wife.

We were passing three cars that had been in a wreck. They were splintered open and the roofs sagged in.

“Look,” I said. “There’s been a wreck.”

The American lady looked and saw the last car. “I was afraid of just that all night,” she said. “I have terrific presentiments about things sometimes. I’ll never travel on a rapide again at night. There must be other comfortable trains that don’t go so fast.”

Then the train was in the dark of the Gare de Lyons, and then stopped and porters came up to the windows. I handed bags through the windows, and we were out on the dim longness of the platform, and the American lady put herself in charge of one of three men from Cook’s who said: “Just a moment, madame, and I’ll look for your name.”

The porter brought a truck and piled on the baggage, and my wife said goodbye and I said goodbye to the American lady, whose name had been found by the man from Cook’s on a typewritten page in a sheaf of typewritten pages which he replaced in his pocket.

We followed the porter with the truck down the long cement platform beside the train. At the end was a gate and a man took the tickets.

We were returning to Paris to set up separate residences.

An Alpine Idyll

It was hot coming down into the valley even in the early morning. The sun melted the snow from the skis we were carrying and dried the wood. It was spring in the valley but the sun was very hot. We came along the road into Galtur carrying our skis and rucksacks. As we passed the churchyard a burial was just over. I said, “Grüss Gott,” to the priest as he walked past us coming out of the churchyard. The priest bowed.

“It’s funny a priest never speaks to you,” John said.

“You’d think they’d like to say ‘Grüss Gott.’ ”

“They never answer,” John said.

We stopped in the road and watched the sexton shovelling in the new earth. A peasant with a black beard and high leather boots stood beside the grave. The sexton stopped shovelling and straightened his back. The peasant in the high boots took the spade from the sexton and went on filling in the grave⁠—spreading the earth evenly as a man spreading manure in a garden. In the bright May morning the grave-filling looked unreal. I could not imagine anyone being dead.

“Imagine being buried on a day like this,” I said to John.

“I wouldn’t like it.”

“Well,” I said, “we don’t have to do it.”

We went on up the road past the houses of the town to the inn. We had been skiing in the Silvretta for a month, and it was good to be down in the valley. In the Silvretta the skiing had been all right, but it was spring skiing, the snow was good only in the early morning and again in the evening. The rest of the time it was spoiled by the sun. We were both tired of the sun. You could not get away from the sun. The only shadows were made by rocks or by the hut that was built under the protection of a rock beside a glacier, and in the shade the sweat froze in your underclothing. You could not sit outside the hut without dark glasses. It was pleasant to be burned black but the sun had been very tiring. You could not rest in it. I was glad to be down away from snow. It was too late in the spring to be up in the Silvretta. I was a little tired of skiing. We had stayed too long. I could taste the snow water we had been drinking melted off the tin roof of the hut. The taste was a part of the way I felt about skiing. I was glad there were other things beside skiing, and I was glad to be down, away from the unnatural high mountain spring, into this May morning in the valley.

The innkeeper sat on the porch of the inn, his chair tipped back against the wall. Beside him sat the cook.

Ski-heil!” said the innkeeper.

“Heil!” we said and leaned the skis against the wall and took off our packs.

“How was it up above?” asked the innkeeper.

Schön. A little too much sun.”

“Yes. There’s too much sun this time of year.”

The cook sat on in his chair. The innkeeper went in with us and unlocked his office and brought out our mail. There was a bundle of letters and some papers.

“Let’s get some beer,” John said.

“Good. We’ll drink it inside.”

The proprietor brought two bottles and we drank them while we read the letters.

“We better have some more beer,” John said. A girl brought it this time. She smiled as she opened the bottles.

“Many letters,” she said.

“Yes. Many.”

“Prosit,” she said and went out, taking the empty bottles.

“I’d forgotten what beer tasted like.”

“I hadn’t,” John said. “Up in the hut I used to think about it a lot.”

“Well,” I said, “we’ve got it now.”

“You oughtn’t to ever do anything too long.”

“No. We were up there too long.”

“Too damn long,” John said. “It’s no good doing a thing too long.”

The sun came through the open window and shone through the beer bottles on the table. The bottles were half full. There was a little froth on the beer in the bottles, not much because it was very cold. It collared up when you poured it into the tall glasses. I looked out of the open window at the white road. The trees beside the road were dusty. Beyond was a green field and a stream. There were trees along the stream and a mill with a water wheel. Through the open side of the mill I saw a long log and a saw in it rising and falling. No one seemed to be tending it. There were four crows walking in the green field. One crow sat in a tree watching. Outside on the porch the cook got off his chair and passed into the hall that led back into the kitchen. Inside, the sunlight shone through the empty glasses on the table. John was leaning forward with his head on his arms.

Through the window I saw two men come up the front steps. They came into the drinking room. One was the bearded peasant in the high boots. The other was the sexton. They sat down at the table under the window. The girl came in and stood by their table. The peasant did not seem to see her. He sat with his hands on the table. He wore his old army clothes. There were patches on the elbows.

“What will it be?” asked the sexton. The peasant did not pay any attention.

“What will you drink?”

“Schnapps,” the peasant said.

“And a quarter litre of red wine,” the sexton told the girl.

The girl brought the drinks and the peasant drank the schnapps. He looked out of the window. The sexton watched him. John had his head forward on the table. He was asleep.

The innkeeper came in and went over to the table. He spoke in dialect and the sexton answered him. The peasant looked out of the window. The innkeeper went out of the room. The peasant stood up. He took a folded ten-thousand kronen note out of a leather pocketbook and unfolded it. The girl came up.

Alles?” she asked.

Alles,” he said.

“Let me buy the wine,” the sexton said.

Alles,” the peasant repeated to the girl. She put her hand in the pocket of her apron, brought it out full of coins and counted out the change. The peasant went out the door. As soon as he was gone the innkeeper came into the room again and spoke to the sexton. He sat down at the table. They talked in dialect. The sexton was amused. The innkeeper was disgusted. The sexton stood up from the table. He was a little man with a mustache. He leaned out of the window and looked up the road.

“There he goes in,” he said.

“In the Löwen?”


They talked again and then the innkeeper came over to our table. The innkeeper was a tall man and old. He looked at John asleep.

“He’s pretty tired.”

“Yes, we were up early.”

“Will you want to eat soon?”

“Any time,” I said. “What is there to eat?”

“Anything you want. The girl will bring the eating-card.”

The girl brought the menu. John woke up. The menu was written in ink on a card and the card slipped into a wooden paddle.

“There’s the speise-karte,” I said to John. He looked at it. He was still sleepy.

“Won’t you have a drink with us?” I asked the innkeeper. He sat down. “Those peasants are beasts,” said the innkeeper.

“We saw that one at a funeral coming into town.”

“That was his wife.”


“He’s a beast. All these peasants are beasts.”

“How do you mean?”

“You wouldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t believe what just happened about that one.”

“Tell me.”

“You wouldn’t believe it.” The innkeeper spoke to the sexton. “Franz, come over here.” The sexton came, bringing his little bottle of wine and his glass.

“The gentlemen are just come down from the Wiesbadenerhütte,” the innkeeper said. We shook hands.

“What will you drink?” I asked.

“Nothing,” Franz shook his finger.

“Another quarter litre?”

“All right.”

“Do you understand dialect?” the innkeeper asked.


“What’s it all about?” John asked.

“He’s going to tell us about the peasant we saw filling the grave, coming into town.”

“I can’t understand it, anyway,” John said. “It goes too fast for me.”

“That peasant,” the innkeeper said, “today he brought his wife in to be buried. She died last November.”

“December,” said the sexton.

“That makes nothing. She died last December then, and he notified the commune.”

“December eighteenth,” said the sexton.

“Anyway, he couldn’t bring her over to be buried until the snow was gone.”

“He lives on the other side of the Paznaun,” said the sexton. “But he belongs to this parish.”

“He couldn’t bring her out at all?” I asked.

“No. He can only come, from where he lives, on skis until the snow melts. So today he brought her in to be buried and the priest, when he looked at her face, didn’t want to bury her. You go on and tell it,” he said to the sexton. “Speak German, not dialect.”

“It was very funny with the priest,” said the sexton. “In the report to the commune she died of heart trouble. We knew she had heart trouble here. She used to faint in church sometimes. She did not come for a long time. She wasn’t strong to climb. When the priest uncovered her face he asked Olz, ‘Did your wife suffer much?’ ‘No,’ said Olz. ‘When I came in the house she was dead across the bed.’

“The priest looked at her again. He didn’t like it.

“ ‘How did her face get that way?’

“ ‘I don’t know,’ Olz said.

“ ‘You’d better find out,’ the priest said, and put the blanket back. Olz didn’t say anything. The priest looked at him. Olz looked back at the priest. ‘You want to know?’

“ ‘I must know,’ the priest said.”

“This is where it’s good,” the innkeeper said. “Listen to this. Go on Franz.”

“ ‘Well,’ said Olz, ‘when she died I made the report to the commune and I put her in the shed across the top of the big wood. When I started to use the big wood she was stiff and I put her up against the wall. Her mouth was open and when I came into the shed at night to cut up the big wood, I hung the lantern from it.’

“ ‘Why did you do that?’ asked the priest.

“ ‘I don’t know,’ said Olz.

“ ‘Did you do that many times?’

“ ‘Every time I went to work in the shed at night.’

“ ‘It was very wrong,’ said the priest. ‘Did you love your wife?’

“ ‘Ja, I loved her,’ Olz said. ‘I loved her fine.’ ”

“Did you understand it all?” asked the innkeeper. “You understand it all about his wife?”

“I heard it.”

“How about eating?” John asked.

“You order,” I said. “Do you think it’s true?” I asked the innkeeper.

“Sure it’s true,” he said. “These peasants are beasts.”

“Where did he go now?”

“He’s gone to drink at my colleague’s, the Löwen.”

“He didn’t want to drink with me,” said the sexton.

“He didn’t want to drink with me, after he knew about his wife,” said the innkeeper.

“Say,” said John. “How about eating?”

“All right,” I said.

A Pursuit Race

William Campbell had been in a pursuit race with a burlesque show ever since Pittsburgh. In a pursuit race, in bicycle racing, riders start at equal intervals to ride after one another. They ride very fast because the race is usually limited to a short distance and if they slow their riding another rider who maintains his pace will make up the space that separated them equally at the start. As soon as a rider is caught and passed he is out of the race and must get down from his bicycle and leave the track. If none of the riders are caught the winner of the race is the one who has gained the most distance. In most pursuit races, if there are only two riders, one of the riders is caught inside of six miles. The burlesque show caught William Campbell at Kansas City.

William Campbell had hoped to hold a slight lead over the burlesque show until they reached the Pacific coast. As long as he preceded the burlesque show as advance man he was being paid. When the burlesque show caught up with him he was in bed. He was in bed when the manager of the burlesque troupe came into his room and after the manager had gone out he decided that he might as well stay in bed. It was very cold in Kansas City and he was in no hurry to go out. He did not like Kansas City. He reached under the bed for a bottle and drank. It made his stomach feel better. Mr. Turner, the manager of the burlesque show, had refused a drink.

William Campbell’s interview with Mr. Turner had been a little strange. Mr. Turner had knocked on the door. Campbell had said: “Come in!” When Mr. Turner came into the room he saw clothing on a chair, an open suitcase, the bottle on a chair beside the bed, and someone lying in the bed completely covered by the bedclothes.

“Mister Campbell,” Mr. Turner said.

“You can’t fire me,” William Campbell said from underneath the covers. It was warm and white and close under the covers. “You can’t fire me because I’ve got down off my bicycle.”

“You’re drunk,” Mr. Turner said.

“Oh, yes,” William Campbell said, speaking directly against the sheet and feeling the texture with his lips.

“You’re a fool,” Mr. Turner said. He turned off the electric light. The electric light had been burning all night. It was now ten o’clock in the morning. “You’re a drunken fool. When did you get into this town?”

“I got into this town last night,” William Campbell said, speaking against the sheet. He found he liked to talk through a sheet. “Did you ever talk through a sheet?”

“Don’t try to be funny. You aren’t funny.”

“I’m not being funny. I’m just talking through a sheet.”

“You’re talking through a sheet all right.”

“You can go now, Mr. Turner,” Campbell said. “I don’t work for you any more.”

“You know that anyway.”

“I know a lot,” William Campbell said. He pulled down the sheet and looked at Mr. Turner. “I know enough so I don’t mind looking at you at all. Do you want to hear what I know?”


“Good,” said William Campbell. “Because really I don’t know anything at all. I was just talking.” He pulled the sheet up over his face again. “I love it under a sheet,” he said. Mr. Turner stood beside the bed. He was a middle-aged man with a large stomach and a bald head and he had many things to do. “You ought to stop off here, Billy, and take a cure,” he said. “I’ll fix it up if you want to do it.”

“I don’t want to take a cure,” William Campbell said. “I don’t want to take a cure at all. I am perfectly happy. All my life I have been perfectly happy.”

“How long have you been this way?”

“What a question!” William Campbell breathed in and out through the sheet.

“How long have you been stewed, Billy?”

“Haven’t I done my work?”

“Sure. I just asked you how long you’ve been stewed, Billy.”

“I don’t know. But I’ve got my wolf back,” he touched the sheet with his tongue. “I’ve had him for a week.”

“The hell you have.”

“Oh, yes. My dear wolf. Every time I take a drink he goes outside the room. He can’t stand alcohol. The poor little fellow.” He moved his tongue round and round on the sheet. “He’s a lovely wolf. He’s just like he always was.” William Campbell shut his eyes and took a deep breath.

“You got to take a cure, Billy,” Mr. Turner said. “You won’t mind the Keeley. It isn’t bad.”

“The Keeley,” William Campbell said. “It isn’t far from London.” He shut his eyes and opened them, moving the eyelashes against the sheet. “I just love sheets,” he said. He looked at Mr. Turner.

“Listen, you think I’m drunk.”

“You are drunk.”

“No, I’m not.”

“You’re drunk and you’ve had D.T.s.”

“No.” William Campbell held the sheet around his head. “Dear sheet,” he said. He breathed against it gently. “Pretty sheet. You love me, don’t you, sheet? It’s all in the price of the room. Just like in Japan. No,” he said. “Listen Billy, dear Sliding Billy, I have a surprise for you. I’m not drunk. I’m hopped to the eyes.”

“No,” said Mr. Turner.

“Take a look.” William Campbell pulled up the right sleeve of his pyjama jacket under the sheet, then shoved the right forearm out. “Look at that.” On the forearm, from just above the wrist to the elbow, were small blue circles around tiny dark blue punctures. The circles almost touched one another. “That’s the new development,” William Campbell said. “I drink a little now once in a while, just to drive the wolf out of the room.”

“They got a cure for that,” “Sliding Billy” Turner said.

“No,” William Campbell said. “They haven’t got a cure for anything.”

“You can’t just quit like that, Billy,” Turner said. He sat on the bed.

“Be careful of my sheet,” William Campbell said.

“You can’t just quit at your age and take to pumping yourself full of that stuff just because you got in a jam.”

“There’s a law against it. If that’s what you mean.”

“No, I mean you got to fight it out.”

Billy Campbell caressed the sheet with his lips and his tongue. “Dear sheet,” he said. “I can kiss this sheet and see right through it at the same time.”

“Cut it out about the sheet. You can’t just take to that stuff, Billy.”

William Campbell shut his eyes. He was beginning to feel a slight nausea. He knew that this nausea would increase steadily, without there ever being the relief of sickness, until something were done against it. It was at this point that he suggested that Mr. Turner have a drink. Mr. Turner declined. William Campbell took a drink from the bottle. It was a temporary measure. Mr. Turner watched him. Mr. Turner had been in this room much longer than he should have been, he had many things to do; although living in daily association with people who used drugs, he had a horror of drugs, and he was very fond of William Campbell; he did not wish to leave him. He was very sorry for him and he felt a cure might help. He knew there were good cures in Kansas City. But he had to go. He stood up.

“Listen, Billy,” William Campbell said, “I want to tell you something. You’re called ‘Sliding Billy.’ That’s because you can slide. I’m called just Billy. That’s because I never could slide at all. I can’t slide, Billy. I can’t slide. It just catches. Every time I try it, it catches.” He shut his eyes. “I can’t slide, Billy. It’s awful when you can’t slide.”

“Yes,” said “Sliding Billy” Turner.

“Yes, what?” William Campbell looked at him.

“You were saying.”

“No,” said William Campbell. “I wasn’t saying. It must have been a mistake.”

“You were saying about sliding.”

“No. It couldn’t have been about sliding. But listen, Billy, and I’ll tell you a secret. Stick to sheets, Billy. Keep away from women and horses and, and⁠—” he stopped “⁠—eagles, Billy. If you love horses you’ll get horse-s⁠—, and if you love eagles you’ll get eagle-s⁠—.” He stopped and put his head under the sheet.

“I got to go,” said “Sliding Billy” Turner.

“If you love women you’ll get a dose,” William Campbell said. “If you love horses⁠—”

“Yes, you said that.”

“Said what?”

“About horses and eagles.”

“Oh, yes. And if you love sheets.” He breathed on the sheet and stroked his nose against it. “I don’t know about sheets,” he said. “I just started to love this sheet.”

“I have to go,” Mr. Turner said. “I got a lot to do.”

“That’s all right,” William Campbell said. “Everybody’s got to go.”

“I better go.”

“All right, you go.”

“Are you all right, Billy?”

“I was never so happy in my life.”

“And you’re all right?”

“I’m fine. You go along. I’ll just lie here for a little while. Around noon I’ll get up.”

But when Mr. Turner came up to William Campbell’s room at noon William Campbell was sleeping and as Mr. Turner was a man who knew what things in life were very valuable he did not wake him.

Today Is Friday

Three Roman soldiers are in a drinking-place at eleven o’clock at night. There are barrels around the wall. Behind the wooden counter is a Hebrew wine-seller. The three Roman soldiers are a little cockeyed.
1st Roman Soldier You tried the red?
2nd Soldier No, I ain’t tried it.
1st Soldier You better try it.
2nd Soldier All right, George, we’ll have a round of the red.
Hebrew Wine-seller Here you are, gentlemen. You’ll like that. He sets down an earthenware pitcher that he has filled from one of the casks. That’s a nice little wine.
1st Soldier Have a drink of it yourself. He turns to the third Roman soldier who is leaning on a barrel. What’s the matter with you?
3rd Roman Soldier I got a gut-ache.
2nd Soldier You’ve been drinking water.
1st Soldier Try some of the red.
3rd Soldier I can’t drink the damn stuff. It makes my gut sour.
1st Soldier You been out here too long.
3rd Soldier Hell, don’t I know it?
1st Soldier Say, George, can’t you give this gentleman something to fix up his stomach?
Hebrew Wine-seller I got it right here.
The third Roman soldier tastes the cup that the wine-seller has mixed for him.
3rd Soldier Hey, what you put in that, camel chips?
Wine-seller You drink that right down, Lootenant. That’ll fix you up right.
3rd Soldier Well, I couldn’t feel any worse.
1st Soldier Take a chance on it. George fixed me up fine the other day.
Wine-seller You were in bad shape, Lootenant. I know what fixes up a bad stomach.
The third Roman soldier drinks the cup down.
3rd Roman Soldier Jesus Christ. He makes a face.
2nd Soldier That false alarm!
1st Soldier Oh, I don’t know. He was pretty good in there today.
2nd Soldier Why didn’t he come down off the cross?
1st Soldier He didn’t want to come down off the cross. That’s not his play.
2nd Soldier Show me a guy that doesn’t want to come down off the cross.
1st Soldier Aw, hell, you don’t know anything about it. Ask George there. Did he want to come down off the cross, George?
Wine-seller I’ll tell you, gentlemen, I wasn’t out there. It’s a thing I haven’t taken any interest in.
2nd Soldier Listen, I seen a lot of them⁠—here and plenty of other places. Any time you show me one that doesn’t want to get down off the cross when the time comes⁠—when the time comes, I mean⁠—I’ll climb right up with him.
1st Soldier I thought he was pretty good in there today.
3rd Soldier He was all right.
2nd Roman Soldier You guys don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m not saying whether he was good or not. What I mean is, when the time comes. When they first start nailing him, there isn’t none of them wouldn’t stop it if they could.
1st Soldier Didn’t you follow it, George?
Wine-seller No, I didn’t take any interest in it, Lootenant.
1st Soldier I was surprised how he acted.
3rd Soldier The part I don’t like is the nailing them on. You know, that must get to you pretty bad.
2nd Soldier It isn’t that that’s so bad, as when they first lift ’em up. He makes a lifting gesture with his two palms together. When the weight starts to pull on ’em. That’s when it gets ’em.
3rd Roman Soldier It takes some of them pretty bad.
1st Soldier Ain’t I seen ’em? I seen plenty of them. I tell you, he was pretty good in there today.
The second Roman soldier smiles at the Hebrew wine-seller.
2nd Soldier You’re a regular Christer, big boy.
1st Soldier Sure, go on and kid him. But listen while I tell you something. He was pretty good in there today.
2nd Soldier What about some more wine?
The wine-seller looks up expectantly. The third Roman soldier is sitting with his head down. He does not look well.
3rd Soldier I don’t want any more.
2nd Soldier Just for two, George.
The wine-seller puts out a pitcher of wine, a size smaller than the last one. He leans forward on the wooden counter.
1st Roman Soldier You see his girl?
2nd Soldier Wasn’t I standing right by her?
1st Soldier She’s a nice-looker.
2nd Soldier I knew her before he did. He winks at the wine-seller.
1st Soldier I used to see her around the town.
2nd Soldier She used to have a lot of stuff. He never brought her no good luck.
1st Soldier Oh, he ain’t lucky. But he looked pretty good to me in there today.
2nd Soldier What become of his gang?
1st Soldier Oh, they faded out. Just the women stuck by him.
2nd Roman Soldier They were a pretty yellow crowd. When they seen him go up there they didn’t want any of it.
1st Soldier The women stuck all right.
2nd Soldier Sure, they stuck all right.
1st Roman Soldier You see me slip the old spear into him?
2nd Roman Soldier You’ll get into trouble doing that some day.
1st Soldier It was the least I could do for him. I’ll tell you he looked pretty good to me in there today.
Hebrew Wine-seller Gentlemen, you know I got to close.
1st Roman Soldier We’ll have one more round.
2nd Roman Soldier What’s the use? This stuff don’t get you anywhere. Come on, let’s go.
1st Soldier Just another round.
3rd Roman Soldier Getting up from the barrel. No, come on. Let’s go. I feel like hell tonight.
1st Soldier Just one more.
2nd Soldier No, come on. We’re going to go. Good night, George. Put it on the bill.
Wine-seller Good night, gentlemen. He looks a little worried. You couldn’t let me have a little something on account, Lootenant?
2nd Roman Soldier What the hell, George! Wednesday’s payday.
Wine-seller It’s all right, Lootenant. Good night, gentlemen.
The three Roman soldiers go out the door into the street.
Outside in the street.
2nd Roman Soldier George is a kike just like all the rest of them.
1st Roman Soldier Oh, George is a nice fella.
2nd Soldier Everybody’s a nice fella to you tonight.
3rd Roman Soldier Come on, let’s go up to the barracks. I feel like hell tonight.
2nd Soldier You been out here too long.
3rd Roman Soldier No, it ain’t just that. I feel like hell.
2nd Soldier You been out here too long. That’s all.

Banal Story

So he ate an orange, slowly spitting out the seeds. Outside, the snow was turning to rain. Inside, the electric stove seemed to give no heat and rising from his writing-table, he sat down upon the stove. How good it felt! Here, at last, was life.

He reached for another orange. Far away in Paris, Mascart had knocked Danny Frush cuckoo in the second round. Far off in Mesopotamia, twenty-one feet of snow had fallen. Across the world in distant Australia, the English cricketers were sharpening up their wickets. There was Romance.

Patrons of the arts and letters have discovered The Forum, he read. It is the guide, philosopher, and friend of the thinking minority. Prize short-stories⁠—will their authors write our bestsellers of tomorrow?

You will enjoy these warm, homespun, American tales, bits of real life on the open ranch, in crowded tenement or comfortable home, and all with a healthy undercurrent of humor.

I must read them, he thought.

He read on. Our children’s children⁠—what of them? Who of them? New means must be discovered to find room for us under the sun. Shall this be done by war or can it be done by peaceful methods?

Or will we all have to move to Canada?

Our deepest convictions⁠—will Science upset them? Our civilization⁠—is it inferior to older orders of things?

And meanwhile, in the far-off dripping jungles of Yucatan, sounded the chopping of the axes of the gum-choppers.

Do we want big men⁠—or do we want them cultured? Take Joyce. Take President Coolidge. What star must our college students aim at? There is Jack Britton. There is Dr. Henry Van Dyke. Can we reconcile the two? Take the case of Young Stribling.

And what of our daughters who must make their own Soundings? Nancy Hawthorne is obliged to make her own Soundings in the sea of life. Bravely and sensibly she faces the problems which come to every girl of eighteen.

It was a splendid booklet.

Are you a girl of eighteen? Take the case of Joan of Arc. Take the case of Bernard Shaw. Take the case of Betsy Ross.

Think of these things in 1925⁠—Was there a risqué page in Puritan history? Were there two sides to Pocahontas? Did he have a fourth dimension?

Are modern paintings⁠—and poetry⁠—Art? Yes and No. Take Picasso.

Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring.

There is Romance everywhere. Forum writers talk to the point, are possessed of humor and wit. But they do not try to be smart and are never long-winded.

Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual. He laid down the booklet.

And meanwhile, stretched flat on a bed in a darkened room in his house in Triana, Manuel Garcia Maera lay with a tube in each lung, drowning with the pneumonia. All the papers in Andalucia devoted special supplements to his death, which had been expected for some days. Men and boys bought full-length colored pictures of him to remember him by, and lost the picture they had of him in their memories by looking at the lithographs. Bullfighters were very relieved he was dead, because he did always in the bullring the things they could only do sometimes. They all marched in the rain behind his coffin and there were one hundred and forty-seven bullfighters followed him out to the cemetery, where they buried him in the tomb next to Joselito. After the funeral everyone sat in the cafés out of the rain, and many colored pictures of Maera were sold to men who rolled them up and put them away in their pockets.

Now I Lay Me

That night we lay on the floor in the room and I listened to the silkworms eating. The silkworms fed in racks of mulberry leaves and all night you could hear them eating and a dropping sound in the leaves. I myself did not want to sleep because I had been living for a long time with the knowledge that if I ever shut my eyes in the dark and let myself go, my soul would go out of my body. I had been that way for a long time, ever since I had been blown up at night and felt it go out of me and go off and then come back. I tried never to think about it, but it had started to go since, in the nights, just at the moment of going off to sleep, and I could only stop it by a very great effort. So while now I am fairly sure that it would not really have gone out, yet then, that summer, I was unwilling to make the experiment.

I had different ways of occupying myself while I lay awake. I would think of a trout stream I had fished along when I was a boy and fish its whole length very carefully in my mind; fishing very carefully under all the logs, all the turns of the bank, the deep holes and the clear shallow stretches, sometimes catching trout and sometimes losing them. I would stop fishing at noon to eat my lunch; sometimes on a log over the stream; sometimes on a high bank under a tree, and I always ate my lunch very slowly and watched the stream below me while I ate. Often I ran out of bait because I would take only ten worms with me in a tobacco tin when I started. When I had used them all I had to find more worms, and sometimes it was very difficult digging in the bank of the stream where the cedar trees kept out the sun and there was no grass but only the bare moist earth and often I could find no worms. Always though I found some kind of bait, but one time in the swamp I could find no bait at all and had to cut up one of the trout I had caught and use him for bait.

Sometimes I found insects in the swamp meadows, in the grass or under ferns, and used them. There were beetles and insects with legs like grass stems, and grubs in old rotten logs; white grubs with brown pinching heads that would not stay on the hook and emptied into nothing in the cold water, and wood ticks under logs where sometimes I found angleworms that slipped into the ground as soon as the log was raised. Once I used a salamander from under an old log. The salamander was very small and neat and agile and a lovely color. He had tiny feet that tried to hold on to the hook, and after that one time I never used a salamander, although I found them very often. Nor did I use crickets, because of the way they acted about the hook.

Sometimes the stream ran through an open meadow, and in the dry grass I would catch grasshoppers and use them for bait and sometimes I would catch grasshoppers and toss them into the stream and watch them float along swimming on the stream and circling on the surface as the current took them and then disappear as a trout rose. Sometimes I would fish four or five different streams in the night; starting as near as I could get to their source and fishing them down stream. When I had finished too quickly and the time did not go, I would fish the stream over again, starting where it emptied into the lake and fishing back up stream, trying for all the trout I had missed coming down. Some nights too I made up streams, and some of them were very exciting, and it was like being awake and dreaming. Some of those streams I still remember and think that I have fished in them, and they are confused with streams I really know. I gave them all names and went to them on the train and sometimes walked for miles to get to them.

But some nights I could not fish, and on those nights I was cold-awake and said my prayers over and over and tried to pray for all the people I had ever known. That took up a great amount of time, for if you try to remember all the people you have ever known, going back to the earliest thing you remember⁠—which was, with me, the attic of the house where I was born and my mother and father’s wedding-cake in a tin box hanging from one of the rafters, and, in the attic, jars of snakes and other specimens that my father had collected as a boy and preserved in alcohol, the alcohol sunken in the jars so the backs of some of the snakes and specimens were exposed and had turned white⁠—if you thought back that far, you remembered a great many people. If you prayed for all of them, saying a Hail Mary and an Our Father for each one, it took a long time and finally it would be light, and then you could go to sleep, if you were in a place where you could sleep in the daylight.

On those nights I tried to remember everything that had ever happened to me, starting with just before I went to the war and remembering back from one thing to another. I found I could only remember back to that attic in my grandfather’s house. Then I would start there and remember this way again, until I reached the war.

I remembered, after my grandfather died we moved away from that house and to a new house designed and built by my mother. Many things that were not to be moved were burned in the backyard and I remember those jars from the attic being thrown in the fire, and how they popped in the heat and the fire flamed up from the alcohol. I remember the snakes burning in the fire in the backyard. But there were no people in that, only things. I could not remember who burned the things even, and I would go on until I came to people and then stop and pray for them.

About the new house I remembered how my mother was always cleaning things out and making a good clearance. One time when my father was away on a hunting trip she made a good thorough cleaning out in the basement and burned everything that should not have been there. When my father came home and got down from his buggy and hitched the horse, the fire was still burning in the road beside the house. I went out to meet him. He handed me his shotgun and looked at the fire. “What’s this?” he asked.

“I’ve been cleaning out the basement, dear,” my mother said from the porch. She was standing there smiling, to meet him. My father looked at the fire and kicked at something. Then he leaned over and picked something out of the ashes. “Get a rake, Nick,” he said to me. I went to the basement and brought a rake and my father raked very carefully in the ashes. He raked out stone axes and stone skinning knives and tools for making arrowheads and pieces of pottery and many arrowheads. They had all been blackened and chipped by the fire. My father raked them all out very carefully and spread them on the grass by the road. His shotgun in its leather case and his game-bags were on the grass where he had left them when he stepped down from the buggy.

“Take the gun and the bags in the house, Nick, and bring me a paper,” he said. My mother had gone inside the house. I took the shotgun, which was heavy to carry and banged against my legs, and the two game-bags and started toward the house. “Take them one at a time,” my father said. “Don’t try and carry too much at once.” I put down the game-bags and took in the shotgun and brought out a newspaper from the pile in my father’s office. My father spread all the blackened, chipped stone implements on the paper and then wrapped them up. “The best arrowheads went all to pieces,” he said. He walked into the house with the paper package and I stayed outside on the grass with the two game-bags. After a while I took them in. In remembering that, there were only two people, so I would pray for them both.

Some nights, though, I could not remember my prayers even. I could only get as far as “On earth as it is in heaven” and then have to start all over and be absolutely unable to get past that. Then I would have to recognize that I could not remember and give up saying my prayers that night and try something else. So on some nights I would try to remember all the animals in the world by name and then the birds and then fishes and then countries and cities and then kinds of food and the names of all the streets I could remember in Chicago, and when I could not remember anything at all any more I would just listen. And I do not remember a night on which you could not hear things. If I could have a light I was not afraid to sleep, because I knew my soul would only go out of me if it were dark. So, of course, many nights I was where I could have a light and then I slept because I was nearly always tired and often very sleepy. And I am sure many times too that I slept without knowing it⁠—but I never slept knowing it, and on this night I listened to the silkworms. You can hear silkworms eating very clearly in the night and I lay with my eyes open and listened to them.

There was only one other person in the room and he was awake too. I listened to him being awake, for a long time. He could not lie as quietly as I could because, perhaps, he had not had as much practice being awake. We were lying on blankets spread over straw and when he moved the straw was noisy, but the silkworms were not frightened by any noise we made and ate on steadily. There were the noises of night seven kilometres behind the lines outside but they were different from the small noises inside the room in the dark. The other man in the room tried lying quietly. Then he moved again. I moved too, so he would know I was awake. He had lived ten years in Chicago. They had taken him for a soldier in nineteen fourteen when he had come back to visit his family, and they had given him to me for an orderly because he spoke English. I heard him listening, so I moved again in the blankets.

“Can’t you sleep, Signor Tenente?” he asked.


“I can’t sleep, either.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know. I can’t sleep.”

“You feel all right?”

“Sure. I feel good. I just can’t sleep.”

“You want to talk a while?” I asked.

“Sure. What can you talk about in this damn place.”

“This place is pretty good,” I said.

“Sure,” he said. “It’s all right.”

“Tell me about out in Chicago,” I said.

“Oh,” he said, “I told you all that once.”

“Tell me about how you got married.”

“I told you that.”

“Was the letter you got Monday⁠—from her?”

“Sure. She writes me all the time. She’s making good money with the place.”

“You’ll have a nice place when you go back.”

“Sure. She runs it fine. She’s making a lot of money.”

“Don’t you think we’ll wake them up, talking?” I asked.

“No. They can’t hear. Anyway, they sleep like pigs. I’m different,” he said. “I’m nervous.”

“Talk quiet,” I said. “Want a smoke?”

We smoked skilfully in the dark.

“You don’t smoke much, Signor Tenente.”

“No. I’ve just about cut it out.”

“Well,” he said, “it don’t do you any good and I suppose you get so you don’t miss it. Did you ever hear a blind man won’t smoke because he can’t see the smoke come out?”

“I don’t believe it.”

“I think it’s all bull, myself,” he said. “I just heard it somewhere. You know how you hear things.”

We were both quiet and I listened to the silkworms.

“You hear those damn silkworms?” he asked. “You can hear them chew.”

“It’s funny,” I said.

“Say, Signor Tenente, is there something really the matter that you can’t sleep? I never see you sleep. You haven’t slept nights ever since I been with you.”

“I don’t know, John,” I said. “I got in pretty bad shape along early last spring and at night it bothers me.”

“Just like I am,” he said. “I shouldn’t have ever got in this war. I’m too nervous.”

“Maybe it will get better.”

“Say, Signor Tenente, what did you get in this war for, anyway?”

“I don’t know, John. I wanted to, then.”

“Wanted to,” he said. “That’s a hell of a reason.”

“We oughtn’t to talk out loud,” I said.

“They sleep just like pigs,” he said. “They can’t understand the English language, anyway. They don’t know a damn thing. What are you going to do when it’s over and we go back to the States?”

“I’ll get a job on a paper.”

“In Chicago?”


“Do you ever read what this fellow Brisbane writes? My wife cuts it out for me and sends it to me.”


“Did you ever meet him?”

“No, but I’ve seen him.”

“I’d like to meet that fellow. He’s a fine writer. My wife don’t read English but she takes the paper just like when I was home and she cuts out the editorials and the sport page and sends them to me.”

“How are your kids?”

“They’re fine. One of the girls is in the fourth grade now. You know, Signor Tenente, if I didn’t have the kids I wouldn’t be your orderly now. They’d have made me stay in the line all the time.”

“I’m glad you’ve got them.”

“So am I. They’re fine kids but I want a boy. Three girls and no boy. That’s a hell of a note.”

“Why don’t you try and go to sleep.”

“No, I can’t sleep now. I’m wide awake now, Signor Tenente. Say, I’m worried about you not sleeping though.”

“It’ll be all right, John.”

“Imagine a young fellow like you not to sleep.”

“I’ll get all right. It just takes a while.”

“You got to get all right. A man can’t get along that don’t sleep. Do you worry about anything? You got anything on your mind?”

“No, John, I don’t think so.”

“You ought to get married, Signor Tenente. Then you wouldn’t worry.”

“I don’t know.”

“You ought to get married. Why don’t you pick out some nice Italian girl with plenty of money. You could get anyone you want. You’re young and you got good decorations and you look nice. You been wounded a couple of times.”

“I can’t talk the language well enough.”

“You talk it fine. To hell with talking the language. You don’t have to talk to them. Marry them.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“You know some girls, don’t you?”


“Well, you marry the one with the most money. Over here, the way they’re brought up, they’ll all make you a good wife.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“Don’t think about it, Signor Tenente. Do it.”

“All right.”

“A man ought to be married. You’ll never regret it. Every man ought to be married.”

“All right,” I said. “Let’s try and sleep a while.”

“All right, Signor Tenente. I’ll try it again. But you remember what I said.”

“I’ll remember it,” I said. “Now let’s sleep a while, John.”

“All right,” he said. “I hope you sleep, Signor Tenente.”

I heard him roll in his blankets on the straw and then he was very quiet and I listened to him breathing regularly. Then he started to snore. I listened to him snore for a long time and then I stopped listening to him snore and listened to the silkworms eating. They ate steadily, making a dropping in the leaves. I had a new thing to think about and I lay in the dark with my eyes open and thought of all the girls I had ever known and what kind of wives they would make. It was a very interesting thing to think about and for a while it killed off trout-fishing and interfered with my prayers. Finally, though, I went back to trout-fishing, because I found that I could remember all the streams and there was always something new about them, while the girls, after I had thought about them a few times, blurred and I could not call them into my mind and finally they all blurred and all became rather the same and I gave up thinking about them almost altogether. But I kept on with my prayers and I prayed very often for John in the nights and his class was removed from active service before the October offensive. I was glad he was not there, because he would have been a great worry to me. He came to the hospital in Milan to see me several months after and was very disappointed that I had not yet married, and I know he would feel very badly if he knew that, so far, I have never married. He was going back to America and he was very certain about marriage and knew it would fix up everything.


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Short Fiction
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