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and you'd laugh to see how I tried to
go to sleep. I might as well have
been a fishworm on a stove.
It was almost four in the morning
when I seen Annie standing over me
pulling at thelsheejs. "Listen, Jim,"
says she. Sure enough, there was a
thumping at the door and a man's
voice shouting over the wind: "Let
me in! Help! Open up!"
"Something's wrong at the fac
tory," says I, putting my two feet on
the floor and reaching for my clothes;
hut when I started down the stairs the
stairs the wife was holding a kero
sene lamp and she handed me my re
volver. "You'd best have it, Jim," he says.
"How'd we know who it is?"
And little w guessed. For when
the slap of the rain struck me and
I'd wiped it off my face there stood
old Joe Crane wet and white in the
lips and done for breath, and he had
my boy in his arms with a welt across
the forehead ,and his yellow hair with
dark streaks, and one of Joe's hands
had blood on it
"Bring him m," says Annie, hold
ing up the lamp. "Is he dead?" she
says. Old Joe's lips were moving, but
he didn't say anything, and he laid
the boy down on the sofa in the par
lor. I went down on my kilees beside
the lad, and then I knew for the first
time his heart was going, and I stood
up and says, "What done it?" and old
Joe kind of give way into a chair and
says, "God help me, I done it!"
With that the lad squirms out and
kind of weak and shaky falls up
against old Joe. "It's all right, Mr.
Crane," says he. "Don't you care,"
and the old man looks up and says,
"Praise God, he ain't dead!" and
opens up his arms and puts 'em
around the boy.
It seemed to me I'd never loved
that youngster so much as when I
seen he'd rather go to old Joe than
stay by me. "Here give the lad to me
he's mine, ain't he? I'm his dad,
.ain't I?" I said.
And I took him up to Annie, and
she grabs him up, kissing him and
talking and saying things and taking
him upstairs to do for him what a
mother's hands are handy to do.
"Jim," says old Crane, "you know
how it was."
"The same old thing?" says I, and
he says, "Yes, the same old thing."
"The little lad woke me up to let
him in. He come to me before like
that, and I ain't said anything, for
he was lonesome and I was lonesome,
too. God only knows how lonesome
"Then it was you he went to see
when he run away?" I says. "And
you never told it!"
"He was safe with me," he says,
"and he was the only one who want
ed to come to me, and who else is
there going to care for me?" he says.
"I used to whittle things for him out
of wood, and he'd sit on my knee," he
says, "and we was happy together,"
he says. "I knew it wasn't just right,
and tonight I told him to go back
to his home, and he wouldn't go, and
he tried to lock me out of the room
so's I couldn't put him out and send
him home. And then the devil came
over me hot and blind, and I struck
him!" says he.
"I want to tell you why the boy
came to me," he says. "Did you ever
feel thirst?" says he, 'or hanker for
food. 'Twas that way with the little
feller; he come to me because he
needed something he didn't get at
, "And what was that?" says Annie,
proud and cool and angry, but the old
man didn't seem to hear her. "I was
like that," he says kind of thought
ful. "I took after my mother. She
was kind of warm-hearted and sensi
tive and tuned high.- They said she
uster play on the piano great, but
she died before I could recollect. It
was different with my father. He was
well off when I can remember, but,
of course, he must be dead by now.
The world had used him tough, and I
guess he thought it used everybody
the same way. Maybe he was a gooJ-