“No. We ought to get outdoors.”

They stepped out the door. The wind was blowing a gale.

“The birds will lie right down in the grass with this,” Nick said.

They struck down toward the orchard.

“I saw a woodcock this morning,” Bill said.

“Maybe we’ll jump him,” Nick said.

“You can’t shoot in this wind,” Bill said.

Outside now the Marge business was no longer so tragic. It was not even very important. The wind blew everything like that away.

“It’s coming right off the big lake,” Nick said.

Against the wind they heard the thud of a shotgun.

“That’s Dad,” Bill said. “He’s down in the swamp.”

“Let’s cut down that way,” Nick said.

“Let’s cut across the lower meadow and see if we jump anything,” Bill said.

“All right,” Nick said.

None of it was important now. The wind blew it out of his head. Still he could always go into town Saturday night. It was a good thing to have in reserve.

Summer People

Halfway down the gravel road from Hortons Bay, the town, to the lake there was a spring. The water came up in a tile sunk beside the road, lipping over the cracked edge of the tile and flowing away through the close-growing mint into the swamp. In the dark Nick put his arm down into the spring but could not hold it there because of the cold. He felt the featherings of the sand spouting up from the spring cones at the bottom against his fingers. Nick thought, I wish I could put all of myself in there. I bet that would fix me. He pulled his arm out and sat down at the edge of the road, it was a hot night.

Down the road through the trees he could see the white of the Bean house on its piles over the water. He did not want to go down to the dock. Everybody was down there swimming. He did not want Kate with Odgar around. He could see the car on the road beside the warehouse. Odgar and Kate were down there. Odgar with that fried-fish look in his eye every time he looked at Kate. Didn’t Odgar know anything? Kate wouldn’t ever marry him. She wouldn’t ever marry any­body that didn’t make her. And if they tried to make her she would curl up inside of herself and be hard and slip away. He could make her do it all right, instead of curling up hard and slipping away she would open out smoothly, relaxing, untightening, easy to hold. Odgar thought it was love that did it. His eyes got walleyed and red at the edges of the lids. She couldn’t bear to have him touch her. It was all in his eyes. Then Odgar would want them to be just the same friends as ever. Play in the sand. Make mud images. Take all-day trips in the boat together. Kate always in her bathing suit. Odgar looking at her.

Odgar was thirty-two and had been twice operated on for varicocele. He was ugly to look at and everybody liked his face. Odgar could never get it and it meant everything in the world to him. Every summer he was worse about it. It was pitiful. Odgar was awfully nice. He had been nicer to Nick than anybody ever had. Now Nick could get it if he wanted it. Odgar would kill himself, Nick thought, if he knew it. I wonder how he’d kill himself. He couldn’t think of Odgar dead. He probably wouldn’t do it. Still people did. It wasn’t just love. Odgar thought just love would do it. Odgar loved her enough, God knows. It was liking, and liking the body, and introducing the body, and persuading, and taking chances, and never frightening, and assum­ing about the other person, and always taking never asking, and gentleness and liking, and making liking and happiness, and joking and making people not afraid. And making it all right afterwards. It wasn’t loving. Loving was frightening. He, Nicholas Adams, could have what he wanted because of something in him. Maybe it did not last. Maybe he would lose it. He wished he could give it to Odgar, or tell Odgar about it. You couldn’t ever tell anybody about any­thing. Especially Odgar. No, not especially Odgar. Anybody, anywhere. That had always been his big mistake, talking. He had talked himself out of too many things. There ought to be something you could do for the Princeton, Yale and Harvard virgins, though. Why weren’t there any virgins in state universities? Coeducation maybe. They met girls who were out to marry and the girls helped them along and married them. What would become of fellows like Odgar and Harvey and Mike and all the rest? He didn’t know. He hadn’t lived long enough. They were the best people in the world. What became of them? How the hell could he know. How could he write like Hardy and Hamsun when he only knew ten years of life. He couldn’t. Wait till he was fifty.

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Categories: Hemingway, Ernest