Hands on fence, in pockets, on coat lapel

“The Untold Lie”, pp.127 “Darkness began to spread over the fields as Ray Pearson ran on and on. His breath came in little sobs. When he came to the fence at the edge of the road and confronted Hal Winters, all dressed up and smoking a pipe as he walked jauntily along, he could not have told what he thought or what he wanted.

Ray Pearson lost his nerve and this is really the end of the story of what happened to him. It was almost dark when he got to the fence and he put his hands on the top bar and stood staring. Hal Winters jumped a ditch and coming up close to Ray put his hands into his pockets and laughed. He seemed to have lost his own sense of what had happened in the corn field and when he put up a strong hand and took hold of the lapel of Ray’s coat he shook the old man as he might have shaken a dog that had misbehaved.

‘You came to tell me, eh?’ he said. ‘Well, never mind telling me anything. I’m not a coward and I’ve already made up my mind.’ He laughed again and jumped back across the ditch. ‘Nell ain’t no fool,’ he said. “She didn’t ask me to marry her. I want to marry her. I want to settle down and have kids.’

Ray Pearson also laughed. He felt like laughing at himself and all the world.”

*

Pipes… Not a lot of pipe smoking goes on in Winesburg (George Willard brings a pipe out in The Thinker, Dr. Reefy smokes a cob pipe, we’re told, and Tom Foster’s grandmother smokes a clay pipe) but both Hal (here) and Ray (124) are said to smoke pipes. Tobacco smoking most arises as a theme in Winesburg with the story of Kate Swift, whose smoking in bed concerns Curtis Hartman (Strength of God.)


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