بخش 02کتاب: گور به گور / فصل 2
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They all looked like Jewel might have give him his old ones. Not Jewel, though. He’s long-armed, even if he is spindling. Except for the lack of sweat. You could tell they aint been nobody else’s but Anse’s that way without no mistake. His eyes look like pieces of bumt-out cinder fixed in his face, looking out over the land.
When the shadow touches the steps he says “Ifs five oclock.”
Just as I get up Cora comes to the door and says it’s time to get on. Anse reaches for his shoes. “Now, Mr Bundren,” Cora says, “dont you get up now.” He puts his shoes on, stomping into them, like he does everything, like he is hoping all the time he really cant do it and can quit trying to. When we go up the hall we can hear them clumping on the floor like they was iron shoes. He comes toward the door where she is, blinking his eyes, kind of looking ahead of hisself before he sees, like he is hoping to find her setting up, in a chair maybe or maybe sweeping, and looks into the door in that surprised way like he looks in and finds her still in bed every time and Dewey Dell still a-fanning her with the fan. He stands there, like he dont aim to move again nor nothing else.
“Well, I reckon we better get on,” Cora says. “I got to feed the chickens.” It’s fixing to rain, too. Clouds like that dont lie, and the cotton making every day the Lord sends. That’ll be something else for him. Cash is still trimming at the boards. “If there’s ere a thing we can do,” Cora says.
“Ansell let us know,” I say.
Anse dont look at us. He looks around, blinking, in that surprised way, like he had wore hisself down being surprised and was even surprised at that. If Cash just works that careful on my banu
“I told Anse it likely wont be no need,” I say. “I so hope it.”
“Her mind is set on it,” he says. “1 reckon she’s bound to go “
“It comes to all of us,” Cora says. “Let the Lord comfort you.”
“About that corn,” I say. I tell him again I will help .him out if he gets into a tight, with her sick and all. Like most folks around here, I done holp him so much already I cant quit now.
“I aimed to get to it today,” he says. “Seems like I cant get my mind on nothing.”
“Maybe she’ll hold out till you are laid-by,” I say.
“If God wills it,” he says.
“Let Him comfort you,” Cora says.
If Cash just works that careful on my barn. He looks up when we pass. “Dont reckon I’ll get to you this week,” he says.
” Taint no rush,” I say. “Whenever you get around to it.”
We get into the wagon. Cora sets the cake box on her lap. It’s fixing to rain, sho.
“I dont know what he’ll do,” Cora says. “I just dont know.”
“Poor Anse,” I say. “She kept him at work for thirty-odd years. I reckon she is tired.”
“And I reckon she’ll be behind him for thirty years more,” Kate says. “Or if it aint her, hell get another one before cotton-picking.”
“I reckon Cash and Darl can get married now,” Eula says.
“That poor boy,” Cora says. “The poor little tyke.”
“What about Jewel?” Kate says.
“He can, too,” Eula says.
“Hmph,” Kate says. “I reckon he will. I reckon so. I reckon there’s more gals than one around here that dont want to see Jewel tied down. Well, they needn’t to worry.”
“Why, Kate!” Cora says. The wagon begins to rattle. “The poor little tyke,” Cora says.
It’s fixing to rain this night. Yes, sir. A rattling wagon is mighty dry weather, for a Birdsell. But that’ll be cured. It will for a fact.
“She ought to taken them cakes after she said she would,” Kate says.
Durn that road. And it fixing to rain, too. I can stand here and same as see it with second-sight, a-shutting down behind them like a wall, shutting down betwixt them and my given promise. I do the best I can, much as I can get my mind on anything, but durn them boys.
A-laying there, right tip to my door, where every bad luck that comes and goes is bound to find it. I told Addie it want any luck living on a road when it come by here, and she said, for the world like a woman, “Get up and move, then.” But I told her it want no luck in it, because the Lord put roads for travelling: why He laid them down flat on the earth. When He aims for something to be always a-moving,
He makes it longways, like a road or a horse or a wagon, but when He aims for something to stay put, He makes it up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man. And so he never aimed for folks to live on a road, because which gets there first, I says, the road or the house? Did you ever know Him to set a road down by a house? I says. No you never, I says, because it’s always men cant rest till they gets the house set where everybody that passes in a wagon can spit in the doorway, keeping the folks restless and wanting to get up and go somewheres else when He aimed for them to stay put like a tree or a stand of corn. Because if He’d a aimed for man to be always a-moving and going somewheres else, wouldn’t He a put him longways on his belly, like a snake? It stands to reason He would.
Putting it where every bad luck prowling can find it and come straight to my door, charging me taxes on top of it. Making me pay for Cash having to get them carpenter notions when if it hadn’t been no road come there, he wouldn’t a got them; falling off of churches and lifting no hand in six months and me and Addie slaving and a-slaving, when there’s plenty of sawing; on this place he could do if he’s got to saw.
And Darl too. Talking me out of him, durn them It aint that I am afraid of work; I always is fed me and mine and kept a roof above us: it’s that they would short-hand me just because he tends to his own business, just because he’s got his eyes full of the land all the time. I says to them, he was all right at first, with his eyes full of the land, because the land laid up-and-down ways then; it wasn’t till that ere road come and switched the land around longways and his eyes still full of the land, that they begun to threaten me out of him, trying to short-hand me with the law.
Making me pay for it. She was well and hale as ere a woman ever were, except for that road. Just laying down, resting herself in her own bed, asking naught of none. “Are you sick, Addie?” I said. “I am not sick,” she said.
“You lay you down and rest you,” I said. “I knowed you are not sick. You’re just tired. You lay you down and rest.”
“I am not sick,” she said. “I will get up.” “Lay still and rest,” I said. ‘You are just tired. You can get up tomorrow.” And she was laying there, well and hale as ere a woman ever were, except for that road.
“I never sent for you,” I said. “I take you to witness I never sent for you.”
“I know you didn’t,” Peabody said. “I bound that. Where is she?”
“She’s a-laying down,” I said. “She’s just a little tired, but she’ll”
“Get outen here, Anse,” he said. “Go set on the porch a while.”
And now I got to pay for it, me without a tooth in my head, hoping to get ahead enough so I could get my mouth fixed where I could eat God’s own victuals as a man should, and her hale and well as ere a woman in the land until that day. Got to pay for being put to the need of that three dollars. Got to pay for the way for them boys to have to go away to earn it. And now I can see same as second sight the rain shutting down betwixt us, a-coming up that road like a durn man, like it want ere a other house to rain on in all the living land.
I nave heard men cuss their luck, and right, for they were sinful men. But I do not say it’s a curse on me, because I have done no wrong to be cussed by. I am not religious, I reckon. But peace is my heart: I know it is. I have done things but neither better nor worse than them that pretend otherlike, and I know that Old Marster will care for me as for ere a sparrow that falls. But it seems hard that a man in his need could be so flouted by a road.
Vardaman comes around the house, bloody as a hog to his knees, and that ere fish chopped up with the axe like as not, or maybe throwed away for him to lie about the dogs et it. Well, I reckon I aint no call to expect no more of him .than of his man-growed brothers. He comes along, watching the house, quiet, and
sits on the steps. “Whew,” he says, “I’m pure tired.” “Go wash them hands,” I say. But couldn’t no
woman strove harder than Addie to make them right,
man and boy: 111 say that for her. “It was full of blood and guts as a hog,” he says.
But I just cant seem to get no heart into anything,
with this here weather sapping me, too. “Pa,” he says,
“is ma sick some more?” “Go wash them hands,” I say. But I just cant seem to get no heart into it.
He has been to town this week: the back of his neck is trimmed close, with a white line between hair and sunburn like a joint of white bone. He has not once looked back.
“Jewel,” I say. Back running, tunnelled between the two sets of bobbing mule ears, the road vanishes beneath the wagon as though it were a ribbon and the front axle were a spool. “Do you know she is going to die, Jewel?”
It takes two people to make you, and one people to die. That’s how the world is going to end.
I said to Dewey Dell: “You want her to die so you can get to town: is that it?” She wouldn’t say what we both knew. “The reason you will not say it is, when you say it, even to yourself, you will know it is true: is that it? But you know it is true now. I can almost tell you the day when you knew it is true. Why wont you say it, even to yourself?” She will not say it. She just keeps on saying Are you going to tell pa? Are you going to kill him? “You cannot believe it is true because you cannot believe that Dewey Dell, Dewey Dell Bundren, could have such bad luck: is that it?”
The sun, an hour above the horizon, is poised like a bloody egg upon a crest of thunderheads; the light has turned copper: in the eye portentous, in the nose sulphurous, smelling of lightning. When Peabody comes, they will have to use the rope. He has pussel-gutted himself eating cold greens. With the rope they will haul him up the path, balloon-like up the sulphurous air.
“Jewel,” I say, “do you know that Addie Bundren is going to die? Addie Bundren is going to die?”
When Anse finally sent for me of his own accord, I said “He has wore her out at last.” And I said a damn good thing, and at first I would not go because there might be something I could do and I would have to haul her back, by God. I thought maybe they have the same sort of fool ethics in heaven they have in the Medical College and that it was maybe Vernon lull sending for me again, getting me there in the nick of time, as Vernom always does things, getting the most for Anse’s money like he does for his own. But when it got far enough into the day for me to read weather sign I knew it couldn’t have been anybody but Anse that sent. I knew that nobody but a luckless man could ever need a doctor in the face of a cyclone. And I knew that if it had finally occurred to Anse himself that he needed one, it was already too late.
When I reach the spring and get down and hitch the team, the sun has gone down behind a bank of black cloud like a topheavy mountain range, like a load of cinders dumped over there, and there is no wind. I could hear Cash sawing for a mile before I got there. Anse is standing at the top of the bluff above the path. “Where’s the horse?” I say.
“Jewel’s taken and gone,” he says. “Cant nobody else ketch hit. You’ll have to walk up, I reckon.”
“Me, walk up, weighing two hundred and twenty-five pounds?” I say. “Walk up that durn wall?” He stands there beside a tree. Too bad the Lord made the mistake of giving trees roots and giving the Anse Bundrens He makes feet and legs. If He’d just swapped them, there wouldn’t ever be a worry about this country being deforested someday. Or any other country. “What do you aim for me to do?” I say. “Stay here and get blowed clean out .of the county when that cloud breaks?” Even with the horse it would take me fifteen minutes to ride up across the pasture to the top of the ridge and reach the house. The path looks like a crooked limb blown against the bluff. Anse has not been in town in twelve years. And how his mother ever got up there to bear him, he being his mother’s son.
“Vardaman’s gittin the rope,” he says. After a while Vardaman appears with the plowline. He gives the end of it to Anse and comes down the path, uncoiling it.
“You hold it tight,” I say. “I done already wrote this visit onto my books, so I’m going to charge you just the same, whether I get there or not.”
“I got hit,” Anse says. “You kin come on up.”
I’ll be damned if I can see why I dont quit. A man seventy years old, weighing two hundred and odd pounds, being hauled up and down a damn mountain on a rope. I reckon it’s because I must reach the fifty thousand dollar mark of dead accounts on my books before I can quit. “What the hell does your wife mean,” I say, “taking sick on top of a durn mountain?”
“I’m right sorry,” he says. He let the rope go, just dropped it, and he has turned toward the house. There is a little daylight up here still, of the color of sulphur matches. The boards look like strips of sulphur. Cash does not look back. Vernon Tull says he brings each , board up to the window for her to see it and say it is all right. The boy overtakes us. Anse looks back at him. “Where’s the rope?” he says.
“It’s where you left it,” I say. “But never you mind that rope. I got to get back down that bluff. I dont aim for that storm to catch me up here. Td blow too durn far once I got started.”
The girl is standing by the bed, fanning her. When we enter she turns her head and looks at us. She has been dead these ten days. I suppose it’s having been a part of Anse for so long that she cannot even make that change, if change it be. I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind and that of the minds of the ones who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.
She looks at us. Only her eyes seem to move. It’s like they touch us, not with sight or sense, but like the stream from a hose touches you, the stream at the instant of impact as dissociated from the nozzle as though it had never been there. She does not look at Anse at all. She looks at me, then at the boy. Beneath the quilt she is no more than a bundle of rotten sticks,
“Well, Miss Addie,” I say. The girl does not stop the fan. “How are you, sister?” I say. Her head lies gaunt on the pillow, looking at the boy. “You picked out a fine time to get me out here and bring up a storm.” Then I send Anse and the boy out. She watches the boy as he leaves the room. She has not moved save her eyes.
He and Anse are on the porch when I come out, the boy sitting on the steps, Anse standing by a post, not even leaning against it, his arms dangling, the hair pushed and matted up on his head like a dipped rooster. He turns his head, bunking at me.
“Why didn’t you send for me sooner?” I say.
“Hit was jest one thing and then another,” he says. ‘That ere corn me and the boys was aimin to git up with, and Dewey Dell a-takin good keer of her, and folks comin in, a-offerin to help and sich, till I jest thought . . .”
“Damn the money,” I say. “Did you ever hear of me worrying a fellow before he was ready to pay?”
“Hit aint begrudgin the money,” he says. “I jest kept a-thinkin . . . She’s goin, is she?” The durn little tyke is sitting on the top step, looking smaller than ever in the sulphur-colored light. That’s the one trouble with this country: everything, weather, all, hangs on too long. Like our rivers, our land: opaque, slow, violent; shaping and creating the Me of man in its implacable and brooding image. “I knowed hit,” Anse says. “All the while I made sho. Her mind is sot on hit.”
“And a damn good thing, too,” I say. “With a trifling” He sits on the top step, small, motionless in faded overalls. When I came out he looked up at me, then at Anse. But now he has stopped looking at us. He just sits there.
“Have you told her yit?” Anse says.
“What for?” I say. “What the devil for?”
“Shell know hit. I knowed that when she see you she would know hit, same as writing. You wouldn’t need to tell her. Her mind”
Behind us the girl says, “Paw.” I look at her, at her face.
“You better go quick,” I say.
When we enter the room she is watching the door. She looks at me. Her eyes look like lamps blaring up just before the oil is gone. “She wants you to go out,” the girl says.
“Now, Addie,” Anse says, “when he come all the way from Jefferson to git you well?” She watches me: I can feel her eyes. It’s like she was shoving at me with them. I have seen it before in women. Seen them drive from the room them coming with sympathy and pity, with actual help, and clinging to some trifling animal to whom they never were more than pack-horses. That’s what they mean by the love that passeth understanding: that pride, that furious desire to hide that abject nakedness which we bring here with us, carry with us into operating rooms, carry stubbornly and furiously with us into the earth again. I leave the room. Beyond the porch Cash’s saw snores steadily into the board. A minute later she calls his name, her voice harsh and strong. “Cash,” she says; “you, Cashl”
Pa stands beside the bed. From behind his leg Vardaman peers, with his round head and his eyes round and his mouth beginning to open. She looks at pa; all her failing life appears to drain into her eyes, urgent, irremediable. “It’s Jewel she wants,” Dewey Dell says.
“Why, Addle,” pa says, “him and Darl went to make one more load. They thought there was time. That you would wait for them, and that three dollars and all …” He stoops laying his hand on hers. For a while yet she looks at him, without reproach, without anything at all, as if her eyes alone are listening to the irrevocable cessation of his voice. Then she raises
herself, who has not moved in ten days. Dewey Dell leans down, trying to press her back.
“Ma,” she says; “ma.”
She is looking out the window, at Cash stooping steadily at the board in the failing light, laboring on toward darkness and into it as though the stroking of the saw illumined its own motion, board and saw engendered.
“You, Cash,” she shouts, her voice harsh, strong, and unimpaired. “You, Cash!”
He looks up at the gaunt face framed by the window in the twilight. It is a composite picture of all time since he was a child. He drops the saw and lifts the board for her to see, watching the window in which the face has not moved. He drags a second plank into position and slants the two of them into their final juxtaposition, gesturing toward the ones yet on the ground, shaping with his empty hand in pantomime the finished box. For a while still she looks down at him from the composite picture, neither with censure nor approbation. Then the face disappears.
She lies back and turns her head without so much as glancing at pa. She looks at Vardaman; her eyes, the life in them, rushing suddenly upon them; the two flames glare up for a steady instant. Then they go out as though someone had leaned down and blown upon them.
“Ma,” Dewey Dell says; “ma!” Leaning above the bed, her hands lifted a little, the fan still moving like it has for ten days, she begins to keen. Her voice is strong, young, tremulous and clear, rapt with its own timbre and volume, the fan still moving steadily up and down, whispering the useless air. Then she flings herself across Addle Bundren’s knees, clutching her, j shaking her with the furious strength of the young before sprawling suddenly across the handful of rotten bones that Addie Bundren left, jarring the whole bed into a chattering sibilance of mattress shucks, her arms outflung and the fan in one hand still beating with expiring breath into the quilt
From behind pa’s leg Vardaman peers, his mouth full open and all color draining from his face into his mouth, as though he has by some means fleshed his own teeth in himself, sucking. He begins to move slowly backward from the bed, his eyes round, his pale face fading into the dusk like a piece of paper pasted on a failing wall, and so out of the door.
Pa leans above the bed in the twilight, his humped silhouette partaking of that owl-like quality of awry-feathered, disgruntled outrage within which lurks a wisdom too profound or too inert for even thought. “Durn them boys,” he says.
Jewel, I say. Overhead the day drives level and gray, hiding the sun by a flight of gray spears. In the rain the mules smoke a little, splashed yellow with mud, the off one clinging in sliding lunges to the side of the road above the ditch. The tilted lumber gleams dull yellow, water-soaked and heavy as lead, tilted at a steep angle into the ditch above the broken wheel; about the shattered spokes and about Jewel’s, ankles a runnel of yellow neither water nor earth swirls, curving with the yellow road neither of earth nor water, down the hill dissolving into a streaming mass of dark green neither of earth nor sky. Jewel, I say Cash comes to the door, carrying the saw. Pa stands beside the bed, humped, his arms dangling. He turns his head, his shabby profile, his chin collapsing slowly as he works the snuff against his gums. ‘“She’s gone,” Cash says.
“She taken and left us,” pa says. Cash does not look at him. “How nigh are you done?” pa says. Cash does not answer. He enters, carrying the saw. “I reckon you better get at it,” pa says. “You’ll have to do the best you can, with them boys gone off that-a-way.” Cash looks down at her face. He is not listening to pa at all. He does not approach the bed. He stops in the middle of the floor, the saw against his leg, his sweating arms powdered lightly with sawdust, his face composed. “If you get in a tight, maybe some of themll get here tomorrow and help you,” pa says. “Vernon could.” Cash is not listening. He is looking down at her peaceful, rigid face fading into the dusk as though darkness were a precursor of the ultimate earth, until at last the face seems to float detached upon it, lightly as the reflection of a dead leaf. “There is Christians enough to help you,” pa says. Cash is not listening. After a while he turns without looking at pa and leaves the room. Then the saw begins to snore again. “They will help us in our sorrow,” pa says.
The sound of the saw is steady, competent, unhurried, stirring the dying light so that at each stroke her face seems to wake a little into an expression of listening and of waiting, as though she were counting the strokes. Pa looks down at the face, at the black sprawl of Dewey Dell’s hair, the outflung arms, the clutched fan now motionless on the fading quilt. “I reckon you better get supper on,” he says. Dewey Dell does not move. “Git up, now, and put supper on,” pa says. “We got to keep our strength up. I reckon Doctor Pea-body’s right hungry, coming all this way. And Cash’11 need to eat quick and get back to work so he can finish it in time.”
Dewey Dell rises, heaving to her feet. She looks down at the face. It is like a casting of fading bronze upon the pillow, the hands alone still with any semblance of life: a curled, gnarled ineptness; a spent yet alert quality from which weariness, exhaustion, travail has not yet departed, as though they doubted even yet the actuality of rest, guarding with horned and penurious alertness the cessation which they know cannot last.
Dewey Dell stoops and slides the quilt from beneath them and draws it up over them to the chin, smoothing it down, drawing it smooth. Then without looking at pa she goes around the bed and leaves the room.
She will go out where Peabody is, where she can stand in the twilight and look at his back with such an expression that, feeling her eyes and turning, he will say: I would not let it grieve me, now. She was old, and sick too. Suffering more than we knew. She couldn’t have got well. Vardaman’s getting big now, and with you to take good care of them all. I would try not to let it grieve me. I expect you’d better go and get some supper ready. It dont have to be much. But they’ll need to eat, and she looking at him, saying You could do so much for me if you just would. If you just knew. I am I and you are you and I know it and you dont know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you and then nobody would have to know it except you and me and Darl
Pa stands over the bed, dangle-armed, humped, motionless. He raises his hand to his head, scouring his hair, listening to the saw. He comes nearer and rubs his hand, palm and back, on his thigh and lays it on her face and then on the hump of quilt where her hands are. He touches the quilt as he saw Dewey Dell do, trying to smoothe it up to the chin, but disarranging it instead. He tries to smoothe it again, clumsily, his hand awkward as a claw, smoothing at the wrinkles which he made and which continue to emerge beneath his hand with perverse ubiquity, so that at last he desists, his hand falling to his side and stroking itself again, palm and back, on his thigh. The sound of the saw snores steadily into the room. Pa breathes with a quiet, rasping sound, mouthing the snuff against his gums. “God’s will be done,” he says. “Now I can get them teeth.”
Jewel’s hat droops limp about his neck, channelling water onto the soaked towsack tied about his shoulders as, ankle-deep in the running ditch, he pries with a slipping two-by-four, with a piece of rotting log for fulcrum, at the axle. Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead.
Then I begin to run. I run toward the back and come to the edge of the porch and stop. Then I begin to cry. I can feel where the fish was in the dust. It is cut up into pieces of not-fish now, not-blood on my hands and overalls. Then it wasn’t so. It hadn’t happened then. And now she is getting so far ahead I cannot catch her.
The trees look like chickens when they ruffle out into the cool dust on the hot days. If I jump off the porch I will be where the fish was, and it all cut up into not-fish now. I can hear the bed and her face and them and I can feel the floor shake when he walks on it that came and did it. That came and did it when she was all right but he came and did it.
“The fat son of a bitch.”
I jump from the porch, running. The top of the barn comes swooping up out of the twilight. If I jump I can go through it like the pink lady in the circus, into the warm smelling, without having to wait My hands grab at the bushes; beneath my feet the rocks and dirt go rubbling down.
Then I can breathe again, in the warm smelling. I enter the stall, trying to touch him, and then I can cry then I vomit the crying. As soon as he gets through, kicking I can and then I can cry, the crying can.
“He kilt her. He kilt her.”
The Me in him runs under the skin, under my hand, running through the splotches, smelling up into my nose where the sickness is beginning to cry, vomiting the crying, and then I can breathe, vomiting it. It makes a lot of noise. I can smell the life running up from under my hands, up my arms, and then I cart leave the stall.
I cannot find it. In the dark, along the dust, the walls I cannot find it. The crying makes a lot of noise. I wish it wouldn’t make so much noise. Then I find it in the wagon shed, in the dust, and I run across the lot and into the road, the stick jouncing on my shoulder.
They watch me as I run up, beginning to jerk back, their eyes rolling, snorting, jerking back on the hitch-rein. I strike. I can hear the stick striking; I can see it hitting their heads, the breast-yoke, missing altogether sometimes as they rear and plunge, but I am glad.
“You kilt my maw
The stick breaks, they rearing and snorting, their feet popping loud on the ground; loud because it is going to rain and the air is empty for the rain. But it is still long enough. I run this way and that as they rear and jerk at the hitch-rein, striking.
“You kilt her!”
I strike at them, striking, they wheeling in a long lunge, the buggy wheeling onto two wheels and motionless like it is nailed to the ground and the horses motionless like they are nailed by the hind feet to the center of a whirling plate.
I run in the dust.. I cannot see, running in the sucking dust where the buggy vanishes tilted on two wheels.
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