After You, My Dear Alphonse
Mrs. Wilson was just taking the gingerbread out of the oven when she heard Johnny outside talk-
ing to someone. “Johnny,” she called, “you’re late. Come in and get your lunch.”
“Just a minute, Mother,” Johnny said. “After you, my dear Alphonse.”
“After you, my dear Alphonse,” another voice said.
“No, after you, my dear Alphonse,” Johnny said.
Mrs. Wilson opened the door. “Johnny,” she said, “you come in this minute and get your lunch.
You can play after you’ve eaten.”
Johnny came in after her, slowly. “Mother,” he said, “I brought Boyd home for lunch with me.
“Boyd?” Mrs. Wilson thought for a moment. “I don’t believe I’ve met Boyd. Bring him in, dear,
since you’ve invited him. Lunch is ready.”
“Boyd!” Johnny yelled. “Hey, Boyd, come on.
“I’m coming. Just got to unload this stuff.”
“Well, hurry, or my mother’ll be sore.”
“Johnny, that’s not very polite to either your friend or your mother,” Mrs. Wilson said. “Come sit
As she turned to show Boyd where to sit, she saw he was a Negro boy, smaller than Johnny but
about the same age. His arms were loaded with split kindling wood. “Where’ll I put this stuff,
Johnny?” he asked.
Mrs. Wilson turned to Johnny. “Johnny,” she said, “what is that wood?”
“Dead Japanese,” Johnny said mildly. “We stand them in the ground and run over them with
“How do you do, Mrs. Wilson?” Boyd said. “How do you do, Boyd? You shouldn’t let Johnny
make you carry all that wood. Sit down now and eat lunch, both of you.
“Why shouldn’t he carry the wood, Mother? It’s his wood. We got it at his place.”
“Johnny,” Mrs. Wilson said, “go on and eat your lunch.”
“Sure,” Johnny said. He held out the dish of scrambled eggs to Boyd. “After you, my dear
“After you, my dear Alphonse,” Boyd said. “After you, my dear Alphonse,” Johnny said. They
began to giggle.
“Are you hungry, Boyd?” Mrs. Wilson asked.