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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 353 pages of information about O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920.

Some one moaned with terror—­a woman screamed.  “De hand ob death!” shrieked a man.  “Run—­run fo’ yo’ lives!”

The stampede was spontaneous!  Chairs were overturned and tables smashed in this frightful panic in the dark.  No one thought of turning on the lights—­everyone’s sole aim was to leave that appalling shining hand—­and get out!

A crashing on the stairway marked where Raffin, chair and all, was making his fear-stricken way to the street.  In one brief minute the place was apparently empty save for Ambrose.  Still tied to his chair, he inquired:  “Is any one hyar?”

For a second there was silence, then the dulcet tones of Miss Aphrodite fell on the big negro’s ear:  “Ah’s hyar, Ambrose,” she said.

“Well, den”—­recognizing her voice—­“would you mine lightin’ de gas till Ah can tie mahself loose from dis hyar throne ob glory?”

In a moment a feeble gaslight shone, disclosing Aphrodite—­somewhat disarranged by the panic—­standing smiling in front of the erstwhile Voodoo.  She looked down at his feet.  There, sure enough, one huge member was unshod and stockingless; the elastic-slit congress gaiter, lost in the shuffle, lay out of the radius of Ambrose’s long leg.  Miss Aphrodite picked it up and, stooping, slipped it over his mighty toes, noticing as she did so the thick coating of phosphorescent paint that still covered them.

“Ambrose,” she whispered, “Ah wasn’t scaired.  No ghos’ eber was bohn dat had han’s de size ob yo’ feet!”

An embarrassed silence followed; the gas jet flickered weakly; then Ambrose said:  “Untie mah han’s, Aphrodite—­Ah’d jes’ lak to hug you!”

“Oh, Ambrose,” she cried coyly.  But she untied the rope just the same.

Again came silence, broken only by a certain strange sound.  Then Ambrose’s voice came softly through the gloom:  “Aphrodite,” it said, “yo’ lips am jes’ lak plush!”

THE JUDGMENT OF VULCAN

BY LEE FOSTER HARTMAN

From Harper’s Monthly Magazine

To dine on the veranda of the Marine Hotel is the one delightful surprise which Port Charlotte affords the adventurer who has broken from the customary paths of travel in the South Seas.  On an eminence above the town, solitary and aloof like a monastery, and deep in its garden of lemon-trees, it commands a wide prospect of sea and sky.  By day, the Pacific is a vast stretch of blue, flat like a floor, with a blur of distant islands on the horizon—­chief among them Muloa, with its single volcanic cone tapering off into the sky.  At night, this smithy of Vulcan becomes a glow of red, throbbing faintly against the darkness, a capricious and sullen beacon immeasurably removed from the path of men.  Viewed from the veranda of the Marine Hotel, its vast flare on the horizon seems hardly more than an insignificant spark, like the glowing cigar-end of some guest strolling in the garden after dinner.

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