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“Daddy’s a-huntin’ a wild skirt is all...”

"All right, boys! Papooses now!"

"It makes them ferget their little troubles," the guard explained to the ladies.

The boys bowed their heads to their knees and murmured:
"Sleep, little Indian, safe from harm
Daddy's a-hunting the wild fawn."
"Daddy's a-huntin' a wild skirt is all," States offered under his breath. Silly Louie's hands flew to his mouth; when Louie started giggling he couldn't stop. The piano paused and the guard's earnest voice dropped discreetly; then everything stopped but the papooses' persistent murmuring. They rose heavily, one by one, and began a disordered out-of-tune clomping, toothbrushes bobbing, and went on clomping bravely, to minimize Louie's irrepressible tittering.

- Nelson Algren, "The Children" (from The Neon Wilderness)

November 2, 2017 in Books | Permalink