The little evening breeze blew over the clearing and the leaves
rustled and the wind waves flowed up the green pool. And the shouts
of men sounded again, this time much closer than before.
George took off his hat. He said shakily, "Take off
your hat, Lenny. The air feels fine."
Lennie removed his hat dutifully and laid it on the
ground in front of him. The shadow in the valley was bluer, and the
evening came fast. On the wind the sound of crashing in the brush
came to them.
Lennie said, "Tell how it’s gonna be."
George had been listening to the distant sounds. For
a moment he was business-like. "Look acrost the river, Lennie an’
I’ll tell you so you can almost see it."
Lennie turned his head and looked off across the
pool and up the darkening slopes of the Gabilans. "We gonna het a
little place," George began. He reached in his side pocket and
brought out Carlson’s Luger; he snapped off the safety, and the hand
and gun lay on the ground behind Lennie’s back. He looked at the
back of Lennie’s head, at the place where the spine and skull were
A man’s voice called from up the river, and another
"Go on," said Lennie.
George raised the gun and his hand shook, and he
dropped his hand to the ground again.
"Go on," said Lennie. "How’s it gonna be. We gonna
get a little place."
"We’ll have a cow," said George. "An’ we’ll have
maybe a pig an’ chickens…an’ down the flat we’ll have a …little
"For the rabbits," Lennie shouted.
"For the rabbits," George repeated.
"And I get to tend the rabbits."
"An’ you get to tend the rabbits"
Lennie giggled with happiness. "An’ live on the
fatta the lan’."
Lennie turned his head.
"No, Lennie. Look down there acrost the river, like
you can almost see the place."
Lennie obeyed him. George looked down at the gun.
There were crashing footsteps in the brush now.
George turned and looked toward them.
"Go on, George. When we gonna do it?"
"Gonna fo it soon."
"Me an’ you."
"You…and me." Ever’body gonna be nice to you. Ain’t
gonna be no more trouble. Nobody gonna hurt nobody nor steal from ‘em."
Lennie said, "I thought you was mad at me, George."
"No," said George. "No, Lennie. I ain’t mad. I never
been mad, an’ I ain’t now. That’s a thing I want ya to know."
The voices came closer now. George raised the gun
and listened to the voices.
Lennie begged, "Le’s do it now. Le’s get that place
"Sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta."
George raised the gun and steadied it, and he brought the mussel of
it close to the back of Lennie’s head. The hand shook violently, but
his face set and his hand steadied. He pulled the trigger. The crash
of the shot rolled up the hills and rolled down again. Lennie
jarred, and then settled slowly forward to the sand, and he lay
George shivered and looked at the gun, and then he
threw it from him, back up the bank, near the pile of old ashes.
The brush seemed filled with cries and with the
sound of running feet. Slim’s voice shouted, "George. Where you at,
But George sat stiffly on the bank and looked at his
right hand that had thrown the gun away. The group burst into the
clearing, and Curley was ahead. He saw Lennie lying on the sand.
"Got him, by God." He went over and looked down at Lennie, and then
he looked back at George. "Right in the back of the head," He said
Slim came directly to George and sat down beside
him, sat very close to him. "Never you mind," said Slim. "A guy got
But Carlson was standing over George. "How’d you do
it?" he asked.
"I just done it," George said tiredly.
"Did he have my gun?"
"Yeah. Tha’s how." George’s voice was almost a
whisper. He looked steadily at his right hand that had held the gun.
Slim twitched George’s elbow. "Come on, George. Me
an’ you’ll go in an’ get a drink."
George let himself be helped to his feet. "Yeah, a
Slim said, "You hadda, George. I swear you hadda.
Come on with me." He led George into the entrance of the trail and
up toward the highway.
Curley and Carlson looked after them. And Carlson said, "Now what
the hell ya suppose is eatin’ them two guys?"