Our story is called "The Bride Comesto Yellow Sky." It was written by Stephen Crane. We will listen to thestory in two parts. Today we will hear the first part of the story. "TheBride Comes to Yellow Sky". The great train was rushing forward suchsteady dignity of motion that a glance from the window seemed simply to provethat the flatlands of Texas were pouring toward the east. A newly married pairhad come on this train at San Antonio. The man's face was reddened from manydays in the wind and sun. His roughened hands were continually moving over hisnew black clothes in a most nervous manner. From time to time he looked downrespectfully at his suit. He sat with a hand on each knee, like a man waitingin a shop for a haircut. The glances he gave to other passengers were few andquick. The bride was not pretty, nor was she very young. She wore a dress ofblue with many buttons. She continually turned her head to regard some part orother of her dress. It made her feel strange. One could tell that she hadcooked and that she expected to cook, dutifully. The searching glances of someof the passengers as she had entered the car had brought the blood rushing toher face. Her uncomfortable expression was strange to see upon this plain face,which was usually calm and almost emotionless.
They were evidently very happy. "Everbeen in a train like this before?" he asked, smiling with delight. "No,"she answered, "I never was. It's fine, isn't it?" "Great! Aftera while we'll go forward to the dining car and get a big dinner. Finest meal inthe world. Costs a dollar." "Oh, it does?" cried the bride."A dollar? Oh, that's too much for us, isn't it, Jack?" "Not onthis trip, at least," he answered bravely. "We're going to enjoyourselves." Later he explained to her about the trains. "You see,it's a thousand miles from one end of Texas to the other. The train runsstraight across it, and only stops four times." He had the pride of anowner. He pointed out to her the beauty of the car they were riding in. And intruth her eyes opened wider as she observed the rich, sea-green cloth coveringthe seats, the shining silver and glass, the wood that shone darkly like thesurface of a pool of oil. To the minds of the pair, their surroundings repeatedthe glory of their wedding that morning in San Antonio. This was the spirit oftheir new life, and the man's face in particular shone with a joy that made himappear foolish to certain passengers. In the minds of some, there was supposedto be something hugely funny in the pair's situation.
"We are due in Yellow Sky at3:42," he said, looking tenderly into her eyes。 "Oh, are we?"she said, as if she had not been aware of it。 To show surprise at her husband'sremark was part of her wifely duty。 She took from a pocket a little silverwatch。 As she held it before her, and stared at it with a look of attention,the new husband's face shone。 "I bought it in San Antonio from a friend ofmine," he told her proudly。 "It's 17 minutes past 12," she said,looking up at him with a happy expression which, nevertheless, showed a lack ofexperience in conversing with men。 A passenger, observing her small nervousness,laughed to himself。 At last they went to the dining car。 The man serving theirtable happened to take pleasure in directing them through their meal。 He viewedthem with the manner of a fatherly guide, his face shining with kindness。 Butthey did not understand his attentions。 As they returned to their seats, theyshowed in their faces a sense of escape。
It was evident that, as the distance fromYellow Sky grew shorter, the husband became more nervous. His red hands wereeven more noticeable. He was rather absent-minded and faraway when the bride leanedforward and spoke to him. As a matter of truth, Jack Potter was beginning tofind his deed weighing upon him like a great stone. He, the town policeman ofYellow Sky, was a man known, liked, and feared in his community. He, animportant person, had gone to San Antonio to meet a girl he believed he loved. Andthere he had actually married her without discussing any part of the matterwith Yellow Sky. He was now bringing his bride to a sure-to-be-surprised town. Ofcourse, people in Yellow Sky married as it pleased them. But Potter's thoughtsof his duty to his friends, or of their idea of his duty, made him feel he wassinful. He was guilty of a great and unusual crime. Face to face with this girlin San Antonio, he had leaped over all the social fences. At San Antonio he waslike a man hidden in the dark. A knife to cut any friendly duty was easy totake in his hand in that distant city. But the hour of Yellow Sky, the hour ofdaylight, was approaching.
He knew very well that his wedding was animportant thing to the town. It could only be equaled by the burning of the newhotel. His friends could not forgive him, he felt. And now the train washurrying him toward a scene of surprise, merriment, and blame. He glanced outof the window again. Yellow Sky had a kind of band, which played its horns anddrums painfully, to the delight of the people. He laughed without heart as hethought of it. If the citizens could dream of his arrival with his bride, theywould march the band at the station and accompany them, among cheers andlaughter, to his house. He decided that he would use all methods of speed andcleverness in making the journey from the station to his house. Once safely athome, he would announce the news. Then he would not go among the citizens untilthey'd had time to master their emotions. The bride looked anxiously at him."What's worrying you, Jack?" He laughed. "I'm not worrying,girl. I'm only thinking of Yellow Sky." She understood, and her faceturned red again. They shared a sense of slight guilt that developed a finertenderness. They looked at each other with eyes softly glowing. But Potteroften laughed the same nervous laugh. The deep red color upon the bride's facedid not lessen. "We're nearly there," he said.
As the train began to slow, they movedforward in the car. The long line of cars moved into the station of Yellow Sky."The train has to get water here," said Potter, from a tight throatand face, as one announcing death. Before the train stopped, his eye hadsearched the station, and he was glad and surprised to see there was no onethere except the station master. "Come on, girl," said Potter with athick voice. As he helped her down, they each laughed in a strained manner. Hetook her bag and told his wife to hold his arm. As they hurried away he sawthat the station master had turned and was running toward them, waving hisarms. Potter laughed, and sighed as he laughed, when he realized the firsteffect of his wedding upon Yellow Sky. He grasped his wife's arm firmly to hisside and they hurried away.
The California train was due at Yellow Skyin 21 minutes。 There were six men in the Weary Gentleman Saloon。 One was asalesman who talked a great deal and rapidly; three were Texans who did notcare to talk at that time; and two were Mexican sheep farmers who did notusually talk in the saloon。 The saloon-keeper's dog lay in front of the door。His head was resting on his feet, and he glanced sleepily here and there withthe ready watchfulness of a dog that is sometimes kicked。 Across the sandystreet were some bright green, grass spots, so wonderful in appearance next toburning sands in the hot sun。 At the cooler side of the railroad station, a manwithout a coat sat in a chair leaned back against the building。 He smoked hispipe。 The waters of the Rio Grande river circled near the town, and beyond itcould be seen great flatlands。 Except for the busy salesman and his companionsin the saloon, Yellow Sky was sleeping。
Thesalesman leaned easily upon a table and told many tales with the confidence ofa story teller who has found new listeners。 He was interrupted by a young manwho suddenly appeared in the open door。 He cried, "Scratchy Wilson'sdrunk, and has started to make trouble。" The two Mexicans at once put downtheir glasses and disappeared through the rear door of the saloon。 The salesman, not understanding the importanceof the warning, jokingly answered, "All right, old man。 Suppose he has? Comein and have a drink anyhow。" But the information had made such an apparentimpression upon everyone in the room that the salesman was forced to see itsimportance。 All had become instantly serious。 "Well," he said, filledwith mystery, "what is this?" His three companions started to tellhim, but the young man at the door stopped them。" "It means, myfriend," he answered as he came into the saloon, "that for the nexttwo hours this town won't be very healthy。" The saloon-keeper went to thedoor and locked it。 Reaching out of the window, he pulled in heavy woodenboards, which covered the windows and locked there。 The salesman was lookingfrom one to another。 "What is this, anyhow?" he cried。 "Youdon't mean there is going to be a gun-fight?" Come back to AmericanStories next week for the second half of "The Bride Comes to YellowSky" by Stephen Crane。