OF MICE AND MEN
by John Steinbeck
Copyright John Steinbeck, 1937.
Copyright renewed by John Steinbeck, 1965.
Published by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin
Books USA Inc.
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to
the hillside bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too,
for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight
before reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden
foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan Mountains,
but on the valley side the water is lined with trees- willows fresh
and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures
the debris of the winter's flooding; and sycamores with mottled,
white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the
sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a
lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come
out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats
are covered with the night tracks of 'coons, and with the spread
pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer
that come to drink in the dark.
There is a path through the willows and among the sycamores, a
path beaten hard by boys coming down from the ranches to swim in the
deep pool, and beaten hard by tramps who come wearily down from the
highway in the evening to jungle-up near water. In front of the low
horizontal limb of a giant sycamore there is an ash pile made by
many fires; the limb is worn smooth by men who have sat on it.
Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the
leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand
banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray sculptured stones. And
then from the direction of the state highway came the sound of
footsteps on crisp sycamore leaves. The rabbits hurried noiselessly
for cover. A stilted heron labored up into the...