“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.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest