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The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

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The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

Stephen Crane

The great Pullman was whirling onward with suchdignity of motion that a glance from the window seemed simply to provethat the plains of Texas were pouring eastward. Vast flats of greengrass, dull-hued spaces of mesquite and cactus, little groups of framehouses, woods of light and tender trees, all were sweeping into theeast, sweeping over the horizon, a precipice.

A newly married pair had boarded this coach at San Antonio. The man's face was reddened from many days in the wind and sun, and adirect result of his new black clothes was that his brick-colored hands were constantly performing in a most conscious fashion. From time to time he lookeddown respectfully at his attire. He sat with a hand on each knee, like a man waiting in a barber's shop. The glances he devoted to other passengers were furtive and shy.

The bride was not pretty, nor was she veryyoung. She wore a dress of blue cashmere, with small reservations ofvelvet here and there and with steel buttons abounding. She continuallytwisted her head to regard her puff sleeves, very stiff, straight, andhigh. They embarrassed her. It was quite apparent that she had cooked,and that she expected to cook, dutifully. The blushes caused by thecareless scrutiny of some passengers as she had entered the car werestrange to see upon this plain, under-class countenance, which wasdrawn in placid, almost emotionless lines.

They were evidently very happy. "Ever been in a parlor-car before?" he asked, smiling with delight.

"No," she answered, "I never was. It's fine, ain't it?"

"Great! And then after a while we'll go forward tothe diner and get a big layout. Finest meal in the world. Charge adollar."

"Oh, do they?" cried the bride. "Charge a dollar? Why, that's too much -- for us -- ain't it, Jack?"

"Not this trip, anyhow," he answered bravely. "We're going to go the whole thing."

Later, he explained to her about the trains. "Yousee, it's a thousand miles from one end of Texas to the other, and thistrain runs right across it and never stops but four times." He had thepride of an owner. He pointed out to her the dazzling fittings of thecoach, and in truth her eyes opened wider as she contemplated thesea-green figured velvet, the shining brass, silver, and glass, thewood that gleamed as darkly brilliant as the surface of a pool of oil.At one end a bronze figure sturdily held a support for a separatedchamber, and at convenient places on the ceiling were frescoes in oliveand silver.

To the minds of the pair, their surroundingsreflected the glory of their marriage that morning in San Antonio. Thiswas the environment of their new estate, and the man's face inparticular beamed with an elation that made him appear ridiculous tothe negro porter. This individual at times surveyed them from afar withan amused and superior grin. On other occasions he bullied them withskill in ways that did not make it exactly plain to them that they werebeing bullied. He subtly used all the manners of the most unconquerablekind of snobbery. He oppressed them, but of this oppression they hadsmall knowledge, and they speedily forgot that infrequently a number oftravelers covered them with stares of derisive enjoyment. Historicallythere was supposed to be something infinitely humorous in theirsituation.

"We are due in Yellow Sky at 3:42," he said, looking tenderly into her eyes.

"Oh, are we?" she said, as if she had not beenaware of it. To evince surprise at her husband's statement was part ofher wifely amiability. She took from a pocket a little silver watch,and as she held it before her and stared at it with a frown ofattention, the new husband's face shone.

"I bought it in San Anton' from a friend of mine," he told her gleefully.

"It's seventeen minutes past twelve," she said,looking up at him with a kind of shy and clumsy coquetry. A passenger,noting this play, grew excessively sardonic, and winked at himself inone of the numerous mirrors.

At last they went to the dining-car. Two rows ofnegro waiters, in glowing white suits, surveyed their entrance with theinterest and also the equanimity of men who had been forewarned. Thepair fell to the lot of a waiter who happened to feel pleasure insteering them through their meal. He viewed them with the manner of afatherly pilot, his countenance radiant with benevolence. Thepatronage, entwined with the ordinary deference, was not plain to them.And yet, as they returned to their coach, they showed in their faces asense of escape.

To the left, miles down a long purple slope, was alittle ribbon of mist where moved the keening Rio Grande. The train wasapproaching it at an angle, and the apex was Yellow Sky. Presently itwas apparent that, as the distance from Yellow Sky grew shorter, thehusband became commensurately restless. His brick-red hands were moreinsistent in their prominence. Occasionally he was even ratherabsent-minded and far-away when the bride leaned forward and addressedhim.

As a matter of truth, Jack Potter was beginning tofind the shadow of a deed weigh upon him like a leaden slab. He, thetown marshal of Yellow Sky, a man known, liked, and feared in hiscorner, a prominent person, had gone to San Antonio to meet a girl hebelieved he loved, and there, after the usual prayers, had actuallyinduced her to marry him, without consulting Yellow Sky for any part ofthe transaction. He was now bringing his bride before an innocent andunsuspecting community.

Of course, people in Yellow Sky married as itpleased them, in accordance with a general custom; but such wasPotter's thought of his duty to his friends, or of their idea of hisduty, or of an unspoken form which does not control men in thesematters, that he felt he was heinous. He had committed an extraordinarycrime. Face to face with this girl in San Antonio, and spurred by hissharp impulse, he had gone headlong over all the social hedges. At SanAntonio he was like a man hidden in the dark. A knife to sever anyfriendly duty, any form, was easy to his hand in that remote city. Butthe hour of Yellow Sky, the hour of daylight, was approaching.

He knew full well that his marriage was animportant thing to his town. It could only be exceeded by the burningof the new hotel. His friends could not forgive him. Frequently he hadreflected on the advisability of telling them by telegraph, but a newcowardice had been upon him.

He feared to do it. And now the train was hurryinghim toward a scene of amazement, glee, and reproach. He glanced out ofthe window at the line of haze swinging slowly in towards the train.

Yellow Sky had a kind of brass band, which playedpainfully, to the delight of the populace. He laughed without heart ashe thought of it. If the citizens could dream of his prospectivearrival with his bride, they would parade the band at the station andescort them, amid cheers and laughing congratulations, to his adobehome.

He resolved that he would use all the devices ofspeed and plains-craft in making the journey from the station to hishouse. Once within that safe citadel he could issue some sort of avocal bulletin, and then not go among the citizens until they had timeto wear off a little of their enthusiasm.

The bride looked anxiously at him. "What's worrying you, Jack?"

He laughed again. "I'm not worrying, girl. I'm only thinking of Yellow Sky."

She flushed in comprehension.

A sense of mutual guilt invaded their minds anddeveloped a finer tenderness. They looked at each other with eyessoftly aglow. But Potter often laughed the same nervous laugh. Theflush upon the bride's face seemed quite permanent.

The traitor to the feelings of Yellow Sky narrowly watched the speeding landscape. "We're nearly there," he said.

Presently the porter came and announced theproximity of Potter's home. He held a brush in his hand and, with allhis airy superiority gone, he brushed Potter's new clothes as thelatter slowly turned this way and that way. Potter fumbled out a coinand gave it to the porter, as he had seen others do. It was a heavy andmuscle-bound business, as that of a man shoeing his first horse.

The porter took their bag, and as the train beganto slow they moved forward to the hooded platform of the car. Presentlythe two engines and their long string of coaches rushed into thestation of Yellow Sky.

"They have to take water here," said Potter, from aconstricted throat and in mournful cadence, as one announcing death.Before the train stopped, his eye had swept the length of the platform,and he was glad and astonished to see there was none upon it but thestation-agent, who, with a slightly hurried and anxious air, waswalking toward the water-tanks. When the train had halted, the porteralighted first and placed in position a little temporary step.

"Come on, girl," said Potter hoarsely. As he helpedher down they each laughed on a false note. He took the bag from thenegro, and bade his wife cling to his arm. As they slunk rapidly away,his hang-dog glance perceived that they were unloading the two trunks,and also that the station-agent far ahead near the baggage-car hadturned and was running toward him, making gestures. He laughed, andgroaned as he laughed, when he noted the first effect of his maritalbliss upon Yellow Sky. He gripped his wife's arm firmly to his side,and they fled. Behind them the porter stood chuckling fatuously.


THE California Express on the Southern Railwaywas due at Yellow Sky in twenty-one minutes. There were six men at thebar of the "Weary Gentleman" saloon. One was a drummer who talked agreat deal and rapidly; three were Texans who did not care to talk atthat time; and two were Mexican sheep-herders who did not talk as ageneral practice in the "Weary Gentleman" saloon. The barkeeper's doglay on the board walk that crossed in front of the door. His head wason his paws, and he glanced drowsily here and there with the constantvigilance of a dog that is kicked on occasion. Across the sandy streetwere some vivid green grass plots, so wonderful in appearance amid thesands that burned near them in a blazing sun that they caused a doubtin the mind. They exactly resembled the grass mats used to representlawns on the stage. At the cooler end of the railway station a manwithout a coat sat in a tilted chair and smoked his pipe. The fresh-cutbank of the Rio Grande circled near the town, and there could be seenbeyond it a great, plum-colored plain of mesquite.

Save for the busy drummer and his companions inthe saloon, Yellow Sky was dozing. The new-comer leaned gracefully uponthe bar, and recited many tales with the confidence of a bard who hascome upon a new field.

" -- and at the moment that the old man felldown stairs with the bureau in his arms, the old woman was coming upwith two scuttles of coal, and, of course -- "

The drummer's tale was interrupted by a youngman who suddenly appeared in the open door. He cried: "ScratchyWilson's drunk, and has turned loose with both hands." The two Mexicansat once set down their glasses and faded out of the rear entrance ofthe saloon.

The drummer, innocent and jocular, answered: "All right, old man. S'pose he has. Come in and have a drink, anyhow."

But the information had made such an obviouscleft in every skull in the room that the drummer was obliged to seeits importance. All had become instantly solemn. "Say," said he,mystified, "what is this?" His three companions made the introductorygesture of eloquent speech, but the young man at the door forestalledthem.

"It means, my friend," he answered, as he cameinto the saloon, "that for the next two hours this town won't be ahealth resort."

The barkeeper went to the door and locked andbarred it. Reaching out of the window, he pulled in heavy woodenshutters and barred them. Immediately a solemn, chapel-like gloom wasupon the place. The drummer was looking from one to another.

"But, say," he cried, "what is this, anyhow? You don't mean there is going to be a gun-fight?"

"Don't know whether there'll be a fight or not,"answered one man grimly. "But there'll be some shootin' -- some goodshootin'."

The young man who had warned them waved hishand. "Oh, there'll be a fight fast enough if anyone wants it. Anybodycan get a fight out there in the street. There's a fight just waiting."

The drummer seemed to be swayed between the interest of a foreigner and a perception of personal danger.

"What did you say his name was?" he asked.

"Scratchy Wilson," they answered in chorus.

"And will he kill anybody? What are you going todo? Does this happen often? Does he rampage around like this once aweek or so? Can he break in that door?"

"No, he can't break down that door," replied thebarkeeper. "He's tried it three times. But when he comes you'd betterlay down on the floor, stranger. He's dead sure to shoot at it, and abullet may come through."

Thereafter the drummer kept a strict eye uponthe door. The time had not yet been called for him to hug the floor,but, as a minor precaution, he sidled near to the wall. "Will he killanybody?" he said again.

The men laughed low and scornfully at the question.

"He's out to shoot, and he's out for trouble. Don't see any good in experimentin' with him."

"But what do you do in a case like this? What do you do?"

A man responded: "Why, he and Jack Potter -- "

"But," in chorus, the other men interrupted, "Jack Potter's in San Anton'."

"Well, who is he? What's he got to do with it?"

"Oh, he's the town marshal. He goes out and fights Scratchy when he gets on one of these tears."

"Wow," said the drummer, mopping his brow. "Nice job he's got."

The voices had toned away to mere whisperings.The drummer wished to ask further questions which were born of anincreasing anxiety and bewilderment; but when he attempted them, themen merely looked at him in irritation and motioned him to remainsilent. A tense waiting hush was upon them. In the deep shadows of theroom their eyes shone as they listened for sounds from the street. Oneman made three gestures at the barkeeper, and the latter, moving like aghost, handed him a glass and a bottle. The man poured a full glass ofwhisky, and set down the bottle noiselessly. He gulped the whisky in aswallow, and turned again toward the door in immovable silence. Thedrummer saw that the barkeeper, without a sound, had taken a Winchesterfrom beneath the bar. Later he saw this individual beckoning to him, sohe tiptoed across the room.

"You better come with me back of the bar."

"No, thanks," said the drummer, perspiring. "I'd rather be where I can make a break for the back door."

Whereupon the man of bottles made a kindly butperemptory gesture. The drummer obeyed it, and finding himself seatedon a box with his head below the level of the bar, balm was laid uponhis soul at sight of various zinc and copper fittings that bore aresemblance to armor-plate. The barkeeper took a seat comfortably uponan adjacent box.

"You see," he whispered, "this here ScratchyWilson is a wonder with a gun -- a perfect wonder -- and when he goeson the war trail, we hunt our holes -- naturally. He's about the lastone of the old gang that used to hang out along the river here. He's aterror when he's drunk. When he's sober he's all right -- kind ofsimple -- wouldn't hurt a fly -- nicest fellow in town. But when he'sdrunk -- whoo!"

There were periods of stillness. "I wish JackPotter was back from San Anton'," said the barkeeper. "He shot Wilsonup once -- in the leg -- and he would sail in and pull out the kinks inthis thing."

Presently they heard from a distance the soundof a shot, followed by three wild yowls. It instantly removed a bondfrom the men in the darkened saloon. There was a shuffling of feet.They looked at each other. "Here he comes," they said.


A MAN in a maroon-colored flannel shirt, whichhad been purchased for purposes of decoration and made, principally, bysome Jewish women on the east side of New York, rounded a corner andwalked into the middle of the main street of Yellow Sky. In either handthe man held a long, heavy, blue-black revolver. Often he yelled, andthese cries rang through a semblance of a deserted village, shrillyflying over the roofs in a volume that seemed to have no relation tothe ordinary vocal strength of a man. It was as if the surroundingstillness formed the arch of a tomb over him. These cries of ferociouschallenge rang against walls of silence. And his boots had red topswith gilded imprints, of the kind beloved in winter by little sleddingboys on the hillsides of New England.

The man's face flamed in a rage begot of whisky.His eyes, rolling and yet keen for ambush, hunted the still doorwaysand windows. He walked with the creeping movement of the midnight cat.As it occurred to him, he roared menacing information. The longrevolvers in his hands were as easy as straws; they were moved with anelectric swiftness. The little fingers of each hand played sometimes ina musician's way. Plain from the low collar of the shirt, the cords ofhis neck straightened and sank, straightened and sank, as passion movedhim. The only sounds were his terrible invitations. The calm adobespreserved their demeanor at the passing of this small thing in themiddle of the street.

There was no offer of fight; no offer of fight.The man called to the sky. There were no attractions. He bellowed andfumed and swayed his revolvers here and everywhere.

The dog of the barkeeper of the "WearyGentleman" saloon had not appreciated the advance of events. He yet laydozing in front of his master's door. At sight of the dog, the manpaused and raised his revolver humorously. At sight of the man, the dogsprang up and walked diagonally away, with a sullen head, and growling.The man yelled, and the dog broke into a gallop. As it was about toenter an alley, there was a loud noise, a whistling, and something spatthe ground directly before it. The dog screamed, and, wheeling interror, galloped headlong in a new direction. Again there was a noise,a whistling, and sand was kicked viciously before it. Fear-stricken,the dog turned and flurried like an animal in a pen. The man stoodlaughing, his weapons at his hips.

Ultimately the man was attracted by the closeddoor of the "Weary Gentleman" saloon. He went to it, and hammering witha revolver, demanded drink.

The door remaining imperturbable, he picked abit of paper from the walk and nailed it to the framework with a knife.He then turned his back contemptuously upon this popular resort, andwalking to the opposite side of the street, and spinning there on hisheel quickly and lithely, fired at the bit of paper. He missed it by ahalf inch. He swore at himself, and went away. Later, he comfortablyfusilladed the windows of his most intimate friend. The man was playingwith this town. It was a toy for him.

But still there was no offer of fight. The nameof Jack Potter, his ancient antagonist, entered his mind, and heconcluded that it would be a glad thing if he should go to Potter'shouse and by bombardment induce him to come out and fight. He moved inthe direction of his desire, chanting Apache scalp-music.

When he arrived at it, Potter's house presentedthe same still front as had the other adobes. Taking up a strategicposition, the man howled a challenge. But this house regarded him asmight a great stone god. It gave no sign. After a decent wait, the manhowled further challenges, mingling with them wonderful epithets.

Presently there came the spectacle of a manchurning himself into deepest rage over the immobility of a house. Hefumed at it as the winter wind attacks a prairie cabin in the North. Tothe distance there should have gone the sound of a tumult like thefighting of 200 Mexicans. As necessity bade him, he paused for breathor to reload his revolvers.


POTTER and his bride walked sheepishly and with speed. Sometimes they laughed together shamefacedly and low.

"Next corner, dear," he said finally.

They put forth the efforts of a pair walkingbowed against a strong wind. Potter was about to raise a finger topoint the first appearance of the new home when, as they circled thecorner, they came face to face with a man in a maroon-colored shirt whowas feverishly pushing cartridges into a large revolver. Upon theinstant the man dropped his revolver to the ground, and, likelightning, whipped another from its holster. The second weapon wasaimed at the bridegroom's chest.

There was silence. Potter's mouth seemed to bemerely a grave for his tongue. He exhibited an instinct to at onceloosen his arm from the woman's grip, and he dropped the bag to thesand. As for the bride, her face had gone as yellow as old cloth. Shewas a slave to hideous rites gazing at the apparitional snake.

The two men faced each other at a distance of three paces. He of the revolver smiled with a new and quiet ferocity.

"Tried to sneak up on me," he said. "Tried tosneak up on me!" His eyes grew more baleful. As Potter made a slightmovement, the man thrust his revolver venomously forward. "No, don'tyou do it, Jack Potter. Don't you move a finger toward a gun just yet.Don't you move an eyelash. The time has come for me to settle with you,and I'm goin' to do it my own way and loaf along with no interferin'.So if you don't want a gun bent on you, just mind what I tell you."

Potter looked at his enemy. "I ain't got a gunon me, Scratchy," he said. "Honest, I ain't." He was stiffening andsteadying, but yet somewhere at the back of his mind a vision of thePullman floated, the sea-green figured velvet, the shining brass,silver, and glass, the wood that gleamed as darkly brilliant as thesurface of a pool of oil -- all the glory of the marriage, theenvironment of the new estate. "You know I fight when it comes tofighting, Scratchy Wilson, but I ain't got a gun on me. You'll have todo all the shootin' yourself."

His enemy's face went livid. He stepped forwardand lashed his weapon to and fro before Potter's chest. "Don't you tellme you ain't got no gun on you, you whelp. Don't tell me no lie likethat. There ain't a man in Texas ever seen you without no gun. Don'ttake me for no kid." His eyes blazed with light, and his throat workedlike a pump.

"I ain't takin' you for no kid," answeredPotter. His heels had not moved an inch backward. "I'm takin' you for a-- -- -- fool. I tell you I ain't got a gun, and I ain't. If you'regoin' to shoot me up, you better begin now. You'll never get a chancelike this again."

So much enforced reasoning had told on Wilson'srage. He was calmer. "If you ain't got a gun, why ain't you got a gun?"he sneered. "Been to Sunday-school?"

"I ain't got a gun because I've just come fromSan Anton' with my wife. I'm married," said Potter. "And if I'd thoughtthere was going to be any galoots like you prowling around when Ibrought my wife home, I'd had a gun, and don't you forget it."

"Married!" said Scratchy, not at all comprehending.

"Yes, married. I'm married," said Potter distinctly.

"Married?" said Scratchy. Seemingly for thefirst time he saw the drooping, drowning woman at the other man's side."No!" he said. He was like a creature allowed a glimpse of anotherworld. He moved a pace backward, and his arm with the revolver droppedto his side. "Is this the lady?" he asked.

"Yes, this is the lady," answered Potter.

There was another period of silence.

"Well," said Wilson at last, slowly, "I s'pose it's all off now."

"It's all off if you say so, Scratchy. You know I didn't make the trouble." Potter lifted his valise.

"Well, I 'low it's off, Jack," said Wilson. Hewas looking at the ground. "Married!" He was not a student of chivalry;it was merely that in the presence of this foreign condition he was asimple child of the earlier plains. He picked up his starboardrevolver, and placing both weapons in their holsters, he went away. Hisfeet made funnel-shaped tracks in the heavy sand.

這有人會嗎 = =?

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可以貼到知識問阿 應該有人翻譯的出來
2008-10-22 22:32:39
這是國外老師出的作業說 ..

2008-10-27 00:36:59



I Don’t Know !!!!!

不就得了 XD
2008-12-13 22:14:24
是 (若未登入"個人新聞台帳號"則看不到回覆唷!)
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