Greene Ward - Death in the Deep South

Author : Greene Ward
Title : Death in the Deep South : a novel about murder
Year : 1936

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THE SODA-JERKER'S smile was as brash as his gleaming hair. "What'll it be, ladies?" "Dope and cherry, Fred," said the taller girl. "Make mine a choc'late egg malted," said the little one. He looked back after he had started the stirrer, not at the one who had called him "Fred" but at the little one with the black eyes, the lipstick on her young mouth and the flowered hat that was like an actress's on a precocious child. The soda~jerker bet she would be hot stUff if it wasn't risky fooling with 'em under sixteen. "Here y'are, Half-Pint." He smiled again while she snubbed him with the haughty stare of the very ingenuous. Inside the drug store, with its patrons pressed double thick along the fountain, and outside where crowds from four comers pressed against the traffic, the pulse of noon leaped with a quicker throb than even the fine day warranted. People walked purposefully yet leisurely, the light of promise in their eyes. In the drug store April-and a holiday. "I'm off at two," said the soda-jerker to a second, loud enough for the little one to hear. "Wish I had somebody to see the parade with-or go to the ball game ... " . The little one went on talking-" 'n' he wasn't going to let us off a'tall, the big meanie, if it hadn't been for old Buxton. He was going to let us sit right there till five o'clock, making curlycues like any old day, when old Buxton walked in and said, 'Mr. Hale, the class is dismissed.'-'Why, sir, may I ask?' says Mr. Hale in his f unny vO.i ce . . . " , "He's Northern, ain't he?" said the taller girl. ''Yeah-but gosh, he's handsome! Old Buxton says, 'You may not know it, Mr. Hale, but this is Memorial Day.' We all laughed. 'Memorial Day?' says Mr. Hale, looking funny. "Yes, sir-for the Confederate dead,' says old Buxton. Mr. Hale still looked funny. 'In my part of the country,' he saysor something like that-ewe call it Decoration Day and it comes a month later.' Old Buxton kind of swelled up and says, 'In your part of the country, sir'- or whatever it was Mr. Hale said' they may call it what the damn Yankees please, but down here it's Memorial Day and at Buxton's Business College, sir, it's a half-holiday!' Boy, didn't we all give him the razz then!" "Mr. Hale you mean?" said the taller girl. "Yeah, Mr. Hale." The taller girl finished her drink with a shrill screek of the straw. ...

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