Heytheres ladies here, move onyou! The tone was authoritative, and old John, the village drunkard, crouched away.
I warnt doin nothin, he clutched feebly at the loose hanging rags that clothed him, only wanted to see same s them. Guess this piers big enough to hold us all.
Halloo, John, have a drink? A grinning boy held a can of salt water toward him.
The quick maudlin tears sprang to the old mans eyes. Little fellers, he muttered, little fellers, they oughtnt ter act that way.
Give him a new necktie; hes gotta go to dinner with the Lodge. A handful of dank sea-weed writhed around the old mans neck. Thats a turtle, that is, the boy went on, the need for imparting information justifying his lapse from ragging the drunkard.
Thereswimming roundits tied to that stake. You orterve seen it at low tide when it was on the beach. It weighs ninety pounds.
I seen a turtle onct, the drunkard quavered. It was biggern that. En they tied it to a stakeen it swam rounden it swam round His sodden brain clutched for something more to say, some marvel with which to hold the interest of the gathered boys. It was good to talk. If only they would let him talk to them. If only they would let him sit on the store porch and smoke and gossip. He wouldnt be the town disgrace
Wellgo onwhat d t do?
Hey you!the boys were interrupted by the authoritative voiceI told you to move on, didnt Inow if I tell you again Ill run you in. D yer hear? What you boys let that old bum hang around you for anyway? Whats he doin here?
Aw, hes fun. He warnt doin nothin. He was just awatchin it swim. Its tied to that post.It dont come up no more.
Watchin it swim, eh, was he? Aright. Whose dog is it?The officer turned and sauntered away.
Sudden horror seized the old man. The liquor seemed drained out of his veins: his brain worked almost quickly. Whose dogwhose dog? Say! he darted after the retreating boys. Saythat aint no dogis itno dog? Tied up like that to drownsay
Awkeep offI told you onctits a turtle for the Lodge dinner. The boy shook himself free.
The old man stood a moment, shaken. His pulpy brain worked dimly toward the conception of the pain that was consuming him. Whose dog that man had askedand he hadnt meant to help itwhose dog? They could do ittie up a dog to drown in sight of peoplelike thatcruel. He saw the policeman coming toward him again. In a sudden frenzy he clutched his tattered garments about him and began to run, to run toward the end of the pier.
The boys raced after him. What yer gonter do? they shouted. What yer gonter do?
The old man turned and looked at them a moment with twitching features. Im gonter die, he said.
Come on, you fellarscome onthe drunks gonter divecome onhes cryin!
There was a splash. A surge of green filth and mud spread and dyed the water. A row of expectant heads leaned over the rail. Sayhe aint come up. They waited.
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