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Lennie smiled to himself "Strong as a bull," he repeated. George scowled at him, and Lennie dropped his head in shame at having forgotten. The boss said suddenly, "Listen, Small!" Lennie raised his head. "What can you do?"
"You was pokin' your big ears into our business," George said. "I don't like nobody to get nosey." The old man looked uneasily from George to Lennie, and then back. "I jus' come there," he said. "I didn't here nothing you guys were sayin'. I ain't interested in nothing you was sayin'. A guy on a ranch don't never listen nor he don't ask no questions."
"We jus' come in," said Lennie softly. Curley stared levelly at him. "Well nex' time you answer when you're spoken to." He turned towards the door and walked out, and his elbows were still bent out a little. George watched him out, and then he turned back to the swamper. "Say, what the h***'s he got on his shoulder? Lennie didn't do nothing to him."
Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off. A girl was standing there looking in. She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers. "I'm lookin' for Curley," she said. Her voice had a nasal, brittle quality.
A tall man stood in the doorway. He held a crushed Stetson hat under his arm while he combed his long, black, damp hair straight back. Like the others he wore bluejeans and a short denim jacket. When he had finished combing his hair he moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master crafts men. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. This was Slim, the jerkline skinner.
A powerful, big-stomached man came into the bunkhouse. His head still dripped water from the scrubbing and dousing. "Hi, Slim," he said, and then stopped and stared at George and Lennie. "These guys jus' come," said Slim by way of introduction. "Glad to meet ya," the big man said. "My name's Carlson." Slim stood up slowly and with dignity. "You guys better come on while they's still something to eat. Won't be nothing left in a couple of minutes."
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