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When he came to the high fence he stopped and peered. Mr. Paul was nowhere in sight. Henry walked along the fence a little way and tried to look in at the open windows. From where he stood now he could see nearly all of the lighted room, but Mr. Paul was nowhere in sight. Maybe he had fallen to the floor and was lying there, too weak to get up.
And then, out of the darkness came a quiet voice: "Is it you, Henry?" "Yassuh! . . . I jus' . .
Mr. Paul got out of the hammock under the Chinaball-tree and came close: "I'm going to get a pair of pliers from the store to-morrow," he said, "and make a hole in that fence."
But the next day Mr. Paul was in bed. The doctor came all the way out from town to see him and he stayed a long time. Mr. Guy and his wife, looking worried, were at the cabin too. When Henry came close to the fence with his mule and plow at midday, Mr. Guy came out and called him, telling him to run quick to the store and bring something. Henry didn't know what he went for, as Mr. Guy had written it on a piece of paper, but the clerk in the store whistled when he read it and gave Henry a small package: "Looks bad," the clerk said.
cabin until after midnight, and when he went, Aunt Dicey was left to watch. It was nearly daylight before Henry slipped into bed beside his wife, his overalls covered with dirt from the furrows in which he had lain for hours, on guard. But it was not so serious after all for in a few days Mr. Paul was out in the hammock again. He hadn't forgotten either:
"I've ordered those pliers," he said, "I'm going to cut a hole in that fence."
Henry went back to the store gallery that night to loaf and visit with the men again. He was more silent than usual. He lay back against one of the posts, scratching the dog between the ears, and puffing on his pipe. It was cooler here than in his cabin. And the river smelled so nice.
When he left, he rode home in a roundabout way through the field in order to pass Mr. Paul's cabin and see in at the windows from his position on horseback. There was a light burning, but the white man was nowhere in sight. The hammock flopped empty in the breeze and the moonlight made all the cabin-yard visible. Henry ventured to call out softly: "Oh, Mister Paul!" but there was no reply.
He rode along a little way. His beast shied suddenly and stumbled. A piece of wire had tripped his old white horse. A hole had been cut in the fence and the wire bent outward, into the field.
Had Mr. Paul gone out, through the furrows, down to the bank of the river?
Henry rode out to see. The bank was full of cactus and flowering yucca.
That night Mr. Guy sat up in the Young Chinaball-trees grew on the
"Yassuh!" Henry slipped down from the saddle and went quickly to the river's edge.
"You'll have to help me-I'm not strong enough to climb back into the boat."
Of all things! Poor Mr. Paul had tried to swim. He was clinging now to a rowboat which swung clear of the bank just beyond the shadow of a clump of elderberry trees dripping with white flowers. Mr. Paul's head and one arm were visible, his arm clinging to the boat.
Henry tried, first to reach the boat from the bank, but it was too far out. He slipped off his shirt and overalls and plunged in, sinking to his knees, at first, in the soft mud of the river's bottom. He reached the boat after a few rapid strokes, steadied it, and climbed in. The boat shipped water as he lifted the limp body of Mr. Paul from the river. Mr. Paul was breathing fast and his eyes were big and black. He lay naked in the moonlight, shivering, clutching Henry's arm with both hands. Finally he spoke:
"I couldn't have lasted... five minutes... longer, Henry. It's lucky for me... you came. If you want to call it luck."
"Oh, Mister Paul, yo' is too sick to try to swim. You might a-drowned
yo'se'f ... Gawd! Whut ud Mister Guy say den?"
Moonlight turned the wet body of the black man to bronze. He sat erect, one arm supporting the head and shoulders of the other man.
Two naked men, one white, one black, in a boat on a still river. Nobody else. Everybody asleep. And the world saturate with moonlight.
Henry felt as though he, too, were sleeping. "... Mister Paul ... Yo' is goin' to catch col' lyin' heah
"... It doesn't matter. Don't move. Stay here quietly and let me rest for a while. . . Don't let me cough
The boat drifted slowly, came closer to the bank and rested finally in the deep shade of the trees. Beyond the shadow the moonlight turned the water into hundreds of shiny ripples. The scent of the jasmine hung in the air, sickeningly sweet. From fig-trees across the river came the clear crowing of a cock, repeated a moment later by distant challenges. Again. Again. Then silence.
The white man spoke: "Stars are pretty things, aren't they, Henry?"
Henry knew he must answer. It was bad for Mr. Paul to talk. He made a great effort:
"Yassuh. Sittin' in my do'way night-times I often watches stars. De ole folks say dat when de Big Dipper tips 'way up, like it is tonight, dat rain is comin'. De crops need rain, Mister Paul."
"Yes-rain." He was making an effort to breathe quietly. "What else do the stars tell you, Henry?"
"Well, suh, de ole folks say dat yo' can read yo' future in de stars. But me, I don't know. Is dat
true, or is it jus' a way a-sayin' you'll go away, Henry things?"
The white man was coughing now. Not coughing hard, but somehow he didn't seem able to stop. His hands were clutching the negro's arm, his body was twisted. Finally he made an effort to sit up, then fell limp against the black man's shoulder. "... .. Strange . . . The air is miles high, they say . . . It runs away up. and stretches all around us... but I'm greedy . . . I don't seem able to get enough .
Or if not
you, your children. Do you want to go? To see things, to learn things?" "Oh yassuh, I want to go too bad. . ."
Now it was Henry who was breathless. He couldn't talk. He was like an animal trying to tell a man it is thirsty.
"It's come to me to-night. You and I stand for something that no longer exists-I mean that you came when I needed you. Your strength supports me. I can feel your strength.
"Lemme tek' yo' home, Mister Do you see? You have everything Paul!"
that I want in life-simplicity, health, Let me rest strength and—and interest in living. I no longer want anything.
"Please suh... I can feel yo' heart beatin' and bangin'. ..
"Like two shadows talking. .. I can't feel my body any longer. I can only feel your strength holding His voice became stronger. "It has always been like this in the South . . . I mean, white men leaning on black men . . . From the beginning. We made slaves of you; we made you work for us . . . You made us rich. . . In rising, we pushed you further away from us. from us. . . And yet, the system failed somehow... Not only the war and freeing the slaves... Something else." "Yassuh . . . ?››
"Black men began to think, to move about, to go away Why,
"But it was something else that I wanted to say. I-I am like this land. When your strength is taken away, I shall live no longer. Weeds will grow in the furrows-the fields will go back to the brush-Henry! This is why I couldn't get you out of my mind as I watched you sweating in the field-working for something that can never be yours because I have taken it from you!"
The negro tried to speak, but Mr. Paul went on talking. His hands quivered on the black man's arm: "I see now that I must help you. I can help you if you will let me. To-morrow I will take you from the field, take you to work for me. Your wages will go on, but I will teach you... I can give you your chance, Henry. Will you come?"
"I-I'd be too glad. Yo' cain't mean it, suh.... . . ?”
"Yes, I can give you something to go forward on. But I can't give you happiness, because I don't know what happiness is . . . It may be that when you sit in your doorway looking
at the stars that you are as happy as man was meant to be... I am happier now, this moment, than when I first knew success. But no! I must not tell you that. What I mean is this: I am happy now. Do you see? The river, the stars-a friend to show them to-"
"You don't mean me, Mister Paul?" "Yes, you, Henry-like brothers, maybe "
Henry would belong in this cabin with Mr. Paul. He felt very thankful. Now he knew what he wanted to pray for: "Please. . Jesus . . . But what was he thinking of, standing there like that? He must go and get Mr. Paul's clothes and his own. This was his job now, waiting on the white man, learning things from him. Ahead of him he saw happy years. Learning things.
"Please suh, yo' is cold. Lemme Going North. Seeing cities. tek' yo' in."
"Not yet. How sweet the jasmine smells everything is rustling and moving about-the moon is getting larger and smaller-"
"Oh Mister Paul, lemme carry yo' home. I'm afraid."
"Soon, Henry, soon. I'll be better in a little while."
"I can carry yo' easy, suh!" "I'm heavy, Henry."
"No suh, yo' don' weigh nuthin'.' Catching at the overhanging boughs of the trees, Henry pulled the boat to shore and carried Mr. Paul up the bank, along the cotton rows and to the wire fence. The yellow dog followed close at Henry's heels and the white horse raised his head.
Stooping, he put Mr. Paul through the opening in the fence, then crawled in afterward. The light was still burning in the cabin. The negro put the white man on the bed gently, wiping dry his feet, and covering him with a quilt. Mr. Paul lay with closed eyes. He was breathing easier now.
The black man stood looking about the cabin, looking at Mr. Paul's silver-backed hair-brushes, at the pictures turned with their faces to the wall. One of those canvases was the picture of Henry and his mule. To-morrow morning, like the picture,
He went back to the river bank, put on his clothes again and picked up Mr. Paul's robe and slippers from the grass. grass. The yellow cur had followed him and was running about, snapping at fireflies on the slope. Henry spoke to the cur happily: "We got us a new boss now, dawg!"
To-morrow morning! Everything was going to be different. This was the answer to everything. Henry was going to have his chance.
The dog darted on ahead, his tail erect, and ducked through the hole in the fence just as though he knew he were welcome at white folks's houses. Henry followed, holding the robe carefully away from the sharp ends of the broken wire. The dog was at the cabin door, standing in the lamplight, looking in. One fore paw was raised. He sniffed the air.
Then he raised his head and whined, retreated into the shadow and bayed,—a long, mournful howl.
Henry stopped short, his eyes wide, his breath indrawn. Suddenly he shivered, for, from far off, another dog had answered.
And then, from distant cabins, from beyond the river, and from down the lane came the howling of other dogs-as faint and as final as death cries heard in a dream.
THE EXPLORER PASSES
The Able Executive Is Superseding the Romantic Adventurer
OLUMBUS discovered America in the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. Commander Byrd flew for the first time to the north pole in a plane named the Josephine Ford. It cost Columbus $2115 to discover America. The "New York Times" and "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" paid approximately $200,000 for a north pole date line, or $2000 a word for Amundsen's radio message sent from the apex of the earth on May 12, 1926. These facts do not reflect on Byrd or Amundsen. They mark the passing of a romantic figure of forty centuries of human history-the explorer. Peace be to his collective ashes. Most of our modern joy, comfort, knowledge and health we owe to him and his heroic kind.
The explorer of yesterday was a man with a good digestion, strong heart and a burning aspiration to get somewhere. "Two pounds of pemmican and a half-gallon of tea a day," was Peary's formula. On them, he declared, a man could go around the world in any direction.
The successful explorer of yesterday emulated the savages who inhabited the wilderness he penetrated. In the tropics he ate hot spices to stimulate his liver, in the arctic he mixed blubber with his meat to increase the dietetic fuel, and in the
South Sea Islands he anointed his body with oil against the stings of deadly insects. Among the Mongols he slept naked in his furs in lieu of a bath, rubbing off his bodily filth and later airing the furs. Sir John Franklin recounts with gusto, how in a pinch he devoured steaks cut from leather breeches. Cortés ate monkey flesh and snakes.
To-day's traveler to the inaccessible corners of the globe, does well to have health; but that asset is of secondary importance. His first is his organizing and administrative ability backed by an engaging personality.
A fully equipped expedition to either pole, Tibet, Central Africa or the head waters of the Orinoco, costs from $100,000 to $500,000 depending on the size of ship and number of men. An expedition without private ship and first-rate scientists representing the major departments of research, can scarcely claim wide. public attention. It lacks dramatic potentialities. Emergency doesn't mean much unless many lives and a great deal of money are imperiled; though unique peril often reaches higher levels of news value. Witness the tragic case of Collins stuck in his cave a few years ago.
The leader of a modern expedition