“Good-by, Aunt Halley.”

“Good-by,” she said and kissed him. She smelt wonderful when she kissed him. It was the way the kitchen smelled when they were baking. Mrs. Packard smelled like her kitchen and her kitchen always smelled good.

“Don’t worry and don’t do anything bad.”

“I’ll be all right.”

“Of course,” she said. “And Packard will figure out something.”

They were in the big hemlocks on the hill behind the house now. It was evening and the sun was down beyond the hills on the other side of the lake.

“I’ve found everything,” his sister said. “It’s going to make a pretty big pack, Nickie.”

“I know it. What are they doing?”

“They ate a big supper and now they’re sitting out on the porch and drinking. They’re telling each other stories about how smart they are.”

“They aren’t very smart so far.”

“They’re going to starve you out,” his sister said. “A couple of nights in the woods and you’ll be back. You hear a loon holler a couple of times when you got an empty stomach and you’ll be back.”

“What did our mother give them for supper?”

“Awful,” his sister said.


“I’ve located everything on the list. Our mother’s gone to bed with a sick headache. She wrote our father.”

“Did you see the letter?”

“No. It’s in her room with the list of stuff to get from the store tomorrow. She’s going to have to make a new list when she finds everything is gone in the morning.”

“How much are they drinking?”

“They’ve drunk about a bottle, I guess.”

“I wish we could put knockout drops in it.”

“I could put them in if you’ll tell me how. Do you put them in the bottle?”

“No. In the glass. But we haven’t got any.”

“Would there be any in the medicine cabinet?”


“I could put paregoric in the bottle. They have another bottle. Or calomel. I know we’ve got those.”

“No,” said Nick. “You try to get me about half the other bottle when they’re asleep. Put it in any old medicine bottle.”

“I better go and watch them,” his sister said. “My, I wish we had knockout drops. I never even heard of them.”

“They aren’t really drops,” Nick told her. “It’s chloral hydrate. Whores give it to lumberjacks in their drinks when they’re going to jack roll them.”

“It sounds pretty bad,” his sister said. “But we probably ought to have some for in emergencies.”

“Let me kiss you,” her brother said. “Just for in an emergency. Let’s go down and watch them drinking. I’d like to hear them talk sitting in our own house.”

“Will you promise not to get angry and do anything bad?”


“Nor to the horses, it’s not the horses’ fault.”

“Not the horses either.”

“I wish we had knockout drops,” his sister said loyally.

“Well, we haven’t,” Nick told her. “I guess there aren’t any this side of Boyne City.”

They sat in the woodshed and they watched the two men sitting at the table on the screen porch. The moon had not risen and it was dark, but the outlines of the men showed against the lightness that the lake made behind them. They were not talking now but were both leaning forward on the table. Then Nick heard the clink of ice against s bucket.

“The ginger ale’s gone,” one of the men said.

“I said it wouldn’t last,” the other said. “But you were the one said we had plenty.”

“Get some water. There’s a pail and a dipper in the kitchen.”

“I’ve drunk enough. I’m going to turn in.”

“Aren’t you going to stay up for that kid?”

“No. I’m going to get some sleep. You stay up.”

“Do you think he’ll come in tonight?”

“I don’t know. I’m going to get some sleep. You wake me when you get sleepy.”

“I can stay up all night,” the local warden said. “Many’s the night I’ve stayed up all night for jack lighters and never shut an eye.”

“Me, too,” the down-state man said. “But now I’m going to get a little sleep.”

Nick and his sister watched him go in the door. Their mother had told the two men they could sleep in the bedroom next to the living room. They saw when he struck a match. Then the window was dark again. They watched the other warden sitting at the table until he put his head on his arms. Then they heard him snoring.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest