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Evans, Mildred (ed.) / Wisconsin literary magazine
Volume XVIII, Number 2 (November 1918)

Ochsner, Bertha
Felicia Delmore,   pp. 35-37

Page 35

As I listened bp the lilacs to the thrush this spring,
The good gra_ poet said another thing:
0 mothers, mothers, mothers, 'tis you I'd tell:
They're filing with your boys and all is well.
Madison, Wis., April 17-20.
Felicia Delmore'
TI WAS old Clem Daily who came shuffling down
over the dingy, rotten wharf logs. His gaunt length
seemed an endless series of joints that fell into grotesque
angles under loose, ill-fitting clothes,-grey jeans and a
yellow grease-stained shirt. A pair of calloused hands,
grimy and warped swung pendulum-like at his sides.
Clem was not beautiful. The gods must have forgot-
ten him, until some more compassionate deity endowed
his shambling body with a pair of eyes, strangely fem-
inine in their hidden depth.
A sultry fog hung in thick strata over the muddy
river, turning the red, clay-stained water into a sickly
yellow, and the first pale, timid lights of Richmond
began to gleam halfheartedly thru the heavy mist filled
air. Some twenty yards up the dock, quavering strains
of "Gone But not Forgotten" were doing their best in
beguiling some trustful stranger to partake of a special
thirty cent steak dinner. Clem was beginning to won-
der for the hundredth time that day just exactly why
the Lord made man-and then, there was an impatient
tugging at his hand.
"Oh, Clem-, I've been waitin' on ye ever since
afore dinner. Did ye git 'em-did ye?"
After the proper moments of suspense, Clem
reached into his pocket and brought to light a little
sheath of colored crayons.
"Well-ain't ye glad, honey-? Seems to me yer
takin' things mighty smooth-like."
He looked down at the fair haired girl beside him
where she clutched the new found treasure in her
slender fingers. There was an unbelieving light in the
blue eyes, as tho such precious things were only gifts
in dreams. Mere strangers could catch an indefinable
suggestion of hunger ever present in the lines of her
delicate oval face-not starvation from lack of daily
1Thts was the winning story submitted in last year's narra-
tive contest for students registered in English 2. Miss Mar-
garet Ashum, herself a writer of fiction and a former in-
structor in the English Department here, contributed the
prize of $15.00.
food, but a dull longing for the golden threads of life.
Clem was the only living being who understood her
passing moods, her childish ambitions and the infinite
fragility of her soul. He did not smile when she had
cried because her name was Randy Dunbeck instead
of Felicia Delmore. But Clem could only sense her
dreams crudely in a blind sort of instinct, groping and
indelicate for all its sympathetic capability. The old
deck hand had spent the greater part of his plodding
days torn between conflicting emotions of hate and
adoration,-in worshiping each careless, furtive smile
that played about the child's lips and in loathing even
the thick, stained pipe that hung between Cap Dun-
beck's yellow teeth.
Cap Dunbeck was the bloated owner of the "Jo-
nah", a stolid, square-nosed barge that sauntered up
and down the James in open season and turned in each
November at the Richmond docks to hibernate. At
such times "Cap" would shuffle down the gang-plank
with a sordid satisfaction in his puffy eyes, a well-fed
roll of bills in his trouser's pocket and the season's crew
hating him like bad coffee. The only reason Clem
stayed on was for the little Girl, Miranda.  "Cap"
was Randy's father, quite evidently by no further to-
ken than that of law, but it gave the old sinner all he
wanted and Randy spent her summer days pealing po-
tatoes, and washing for the crew.
It was no great wonder then that now the girl stood
tense and unbelieving as she felt the packet of colored
crayons in her fingers. They had been the desire of
her wildest dreams and she had wished for them until
it hurt.
"Clem, I don't guess ye could possibly know how
I feels jest about now. Ye ain't that conceited."
"Aw-hesh-up, honey. I was tickled enough to
git 'em for ye. 'Twasn't no bother at all."
Randy smiled up at him in her shy "round the cor-
ner" way, as Clem called it, and taking his rough cal-
loused hand in hers, she led him up the slippery run-
November, 1918

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