Lennie came in through the door. He wore his blue denim coat over his shoulders like a cape, and he walked hunched way over.

“Hi, Lennie,” said George. “How you like the pup now?”

Lennie said breathlessly, “He’s brown an’ white jus’ like I wanted.” He went directly to his bunk and lay down and turned his face to the wall and drew up his knees.

George put down his cards very deliberately. “Lennie,” he said sharply.

Lennie twisted his neck and looked over his shoulder. “Huh? What you want, George?”

“I tol’ you you couldn’t bring that pup in here.”

“What pup, George? I ain’t got no pup.”

George went quickly to him, grabbed him by the shoulder and rolled him over. He reached down and picked the tiny puppy from where Lennie had been concealing it against his stomach.

Lennie sat up quickly. “Give ‘um to me, George.”

George said, “You get right up an’ take this pup back to the nest. He’s gotta sleep with his mother. You want to kill him? Just born last night an’ you take him out of the nest. You take him back or I’ll tell Slim not to let you have him.”

Lennie held out his hands pleadingly. “Give ‘um to me, George. I’ll take ‘um back. I didn’t mean no harm, George. Honest I didn’t. I jus’ wanted to pet ‘um a little.”

George handed the pup to him. “Awright. You get him back there quick, and don’t you take him out no more. You’ll kill him, the first thing you know.” Lennie fairly scuttled out of the room.

Slim had not moved. His calm eyes followed Lennie out the door. “Jesus,” he said. “He’s jus’ like a kid, ain’t he?”

Page 56

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck