“Bring all the .22’s you can find,” Nick Adams said. Then quickly, “Come on back. Get out of sight.” He had seen a buggy coming down the road.

Behind the cedars they lay flat against the springy moss with their faces down and heard the soft noise of the horses’ hooves in the sand and the small noise of the wheels. Neither of the men in the buggy was talking but Nick Adams smelled them as they went past and he smelled the sweated horses. He sweated himself until they were well past on their way to the dock because he thought they might stop to water at the spring or to get a drink.

“Is that them, Littless?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Crawl way back in,” Nick Adams said. He crawled back into the swamp, pulling his sack of fish. The swamp was mossy and not muddy there. Then he stood up and hid the sack behind the trunk of a cedar and motioned the girl to come further in. They went into the cedar swamp, moving as softly as deer.

“I know the one,” Nick Adams said. “He’s a no good son of a bitch.”

“He said he’d been after you for four years.”

“I know.”

“The other one, the big one with the spit tobacco face and the blue suit, is the one from down state.”

“Good,” Nick said. “Now we’ve had a look at them I better get going. Can you get home all right?”

“Sure. I’ll cut up to the top of the hill and keep off the road. Where will I meet you tonight, Nickie?”

“I don’t think you ought to come, Littless.”

“I’ve got to come. You don’t know how it is. I can leave a note for our mother and Say I went with you and you’ll take good care of me.”

“All right,” Nick Adams said. “I’ll be where the big hemlock is that was struck by lightning. The one that’s down. Straight up from the cove. Do you know the one? On the shortcut to the road.”

“That’s awfully close to the house.”

“I don’t want you to have to carry the stuff too far.”

“I’ll do what you say. But don’t take chances, Nickie.”

“I’d like to have the rifle and go down now to the edge of the timber and kill both of those bastards while they’re on the dock and wire a piece of iron on them from the old mill and sink them in the channel.”

“And then what would you do?” his sister asked. “Somebody sent them.”

“Nobody sent that first son of a bitch.”

“But you killed the moose and you sold the trout and you killed what they took from your boat.”

“That was all right to kill that.”

He did not like to mention what that was, because that was the proof they had.

“I know. But you’re not going to kill people and that’s why I’m going with you.”

“Let’s stop talking about it. But I’d like to kill those two sons of bitches.”

“I know,” she said. “So would I. But we’re not going to kill people, Nickie. Will you promise me?”

“No. Now I don’t know whether it’s safe to take her the trout.”

“I’ll take them to her.”

“No. They’re too heavy. I’ll take them through the swamp and to the woods in back of the hotel. You go straight to the hotel and see if she’s there and if everything’s all right. And if it is you’ll find me there by the big basswood tree.”

“It’s a long way there through the swamp, Nickie.”

“It’s a long way back from reform school, too.”

“Can’t I come with you through the swamp? I’ll go in then and see her while you stay out and come back out with you and take them in.”

“All right,” Nick said. “But I wish you’d do it the other way.”

“Why, Nickie?”

“Because you’ll see them maybe on the road and you can tell me where they’ve gone. I’ll see you in the second-growth wood lot in back of the hotel where the big basswood is.”

Nick waited more than an hour in the second-growth timber and his sister had not come. When she came she was excited and he knew she was tired.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest