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It was Just “before sundown. We were sitting on the porch when the wagon came up the road with the five of them in it and the other one on the horse behind. One of them raised his hand, but they was going on past the store without stopping.
“Who’s that?” MacCallum says: I cant think of his name: Rate’s twin; that one it was.
It’s Bundren, from down beyond New Hope,” Quick says. “There’s one of them Snopes horses Jewel’s riding.”
“I didn’t know there was ere a one of them horses left,” MacCallum says. “I thought you folks down there finally contrived to give them all away.”
“Try and get that one,” Quick says. The wagon went on.
“I bet old man Lon never gave it to him,” I says.
“No,” Quick says. “He bought it from pappy.” The wagon went on. “They must not a heard about the bridge,” he says.
“What’re they doing up here, anyway?” MacCallum. says.
“Taking a holiday since he got his wife buried, I reckon,” Quick says. “Heading for town, I reckon, with Tull’s bridge gone too. I wonder if they aint heard about the bridge.”
“They’ll have to fly, then,” I says. “I dont reckon there’s ere a bridge between here and Mouth of Ishatawa.”
They had something in the wagon. But Quick had been to the funeral three days ago and we naturally never thought anything about it except that they were heading away from home mighty late and that they hadn’t heard about the bridge. “You better holler at them,” MacCallum says. Durn it, the name is right on the tip of my tongue. So Quick hollered and they stopped and he went to the wagon and told them.
He come back with them. “They’re going to Jefferson,” he says. “The bridge at Tull’s is gone, too.” Like we didn’t know it, and his face looked funny, around the nostrils, but they just sat there, Bundren and the girl and the chap on the seat, and Cash and the second one, the one folks talks about, on a plank across the tail-gate, and the other one on that spotted horse. But I reckon they was used to it by then, because when I said to Cash that they’d have to pass by New Hope again and what they’d better do, he just says,
1 reckon we can get there.”
(As I Lay Dying)
I aint much for meddling. Let every man run his own business to suit himself, I say. But after I talked to Rachel about them not having a regular man to fix her and it being July and all, I went back down to the barn and tried to talk to Bundren about it.
“I give her my promise,” he says. “Her mind was set on it.”
I notice how it takes a lazy man, a man that hates moving, to get set on moving once he does get started off, the same as he was set on staying still, like it aint the moving he hates so much as the starting and the stopping. And like he would be kind of proud of whatever come up to make the moving or the setting still look hard. He set there on the wagon, hunched up, blinking, listening to us tell about how quick the bridge went and how high the water was, and I be durn if he didn’t act like he was proud of it, like he had made the river rise himself.
“You say it’s higher than you ever see it before?” he says. “God’s will be done,” he says. “I reckon it wont go down much by morning, neither,” he says.
“You better stay here tonight,” I says, “and get a early start for New Hope tomorrow morning.” I was just sorry for them bone-gaunted mules. I told Rachel, I says, “Well, would you have had me turn them away at dark, eight miles from home? What else could I do,” I says. “It wont be but one night, and they’ll keep it in the barn, and they’ll sholy get started by daylight.” And so I says, “You stay here tonight and early tomorrow you can go back to New Hope. I got tools enough, and the boys can go on right after supper and have it dug and ready if they want” and then I found that girl watching me. If her eyes had a been pistols, I wouldn’t be talking now. I be dog if they didn’t blaze at me. And so when I went down to the barn I come on them, her talking so she never noticed when I come up.
“You promised her,” she says. “She wouldn’t go until you promised. She thought she could depend on you. If you dont do it, it will be a curse on you.”
“Cant no man say I dont aim to keep my word,” Bundren says. “My heart is open to ere a man.”
“I dont care what your heart is,” she says. She was whispering, kind of, talking fast. “You promised her. You’ve got to. You–” then she seen me and quit, standing there. If they’d been pistols, I wouldn’t be talking now. So when I talked to him about it, he says,
“I give her my promise. Her mind is set on it.”
“But seems to me she’d rather have her ma buried close by, so she could–”
“It’s Addie I give the promise to,” he says. “Her mind is set on it.”
So I told them to drive it into the barn, because it was threatening rain again, and that supper was about ready. Only they didn’t want to come in,
“I thank you,” Bundren says. “We wouldn’t discommode you. We got a little something in the basket. We can make out.”
“Well,” I says, “since you are so particular about your womenfolks, I am too. And when folks stops with us at meal time and wont come to the table, my wife takes it as a insult.”
So the girl went on to the kitchen to help Rachel. And then Jewel come to me.
“Sho,” I says. “Help yourself outen the loft. Feed him when you bait the mules.”
“I ratter pay you for him,” he says.
“What for?” I says. “I wouldn’t begrudge no man a bait for his horse.”
“I rather pay you,” he says; I thought he said extra.
“Extra for what” I says. “Wont he eat hay and corn?”
“Extra feed,” he says. “I feed him a little extra and I dont want him beholden to no man.”
“You cant buy no feed from me, boy,” I says. “And if he can eat that loft clean, I’ll help you load the ham onto the wagon in the morning.”
“He aint never been beholden to no man,” he says. “I rather pay you for it.”
And if I had my rathers, you wouldn’t be here a-tall, I wanted to say. But I just says, “Then it’s high time he commenced. You cant buy no feed from me.”
When Rachel put supper on, her and the girl went and fixed some beds. But wouldn’t any of them come in. “She’s been dead long enough to get over that sort of foolishness,” I says. Because I got just as much respect for the dead as ere a man, but you’ve got to respect the dead themselves, and a woman that’s been dead in a box four days, the best way to respect her is to get her into the ground as quick as you can. But they wouldn’t do it
“It wouldn’t be right,” Bundren says. “Course, if the boys wants to go to bed, I reckon I can set up with her. I dont begrudge her it.”
So when I went back down there they were squatting on the ground around the wagon, all of them. “Let that chap come to the house and get some sleep, anyway,” I says. “And you better come too,” I says to the girl. I wasn’t aiming to interfere with them. And I sholy hadn’t done nothing to her that I knowed.
“He’s done already asleep,” Bundren says. They had done put him to bed in the trough in a empty stall.
“Well, you come on, then,” I says to her. But still she never said nothing. They just squatted there. You couldn’t hardly see them. “How about you boys?” I says. “You got a full day tomorrow.” After a while Cash says,
“I thank you. We can make out.”
“We wouldn’t be beholden,” Bundren says. “I thank you kindly.”
So I left them squatting there. I reckon after four days they was used to it. But Rachel wasn’t.
“It’s a outrage,” she says. “A outrage.”
“What could he a done?” I says. “He give her his promised word.”
“Who’s talking about him?” she says. “Who cares about him?” she says, crying. “I just wish that you and him and all the men in the world that torture us alive and flout us dead, dragging us up and down the country–”
“Now, now,” I says. “You’re upset.”
“Dont you touch me!” she says. “Dont you touch me!”
A man cant tell nothing about them. I lived with the same one fifteen years and I be durn if I can. And I imagined a lot of things coming up between us, but I be durn if I ever thought it would be a body four days dead and that a woman. But they make Me hard on them, not taking it as it comes up, like a man does.
So I laid there, hearing it commence to rain, thinking about them down there, squatting around the wagon and the rain on the roof, and thinking about Rachel crying there until after a while it was like I could still hear her crying even after she was asleep, and smelling it even when I knowed I couldn’t. I couldn’t decide even then whether I could or not, or if it wasn’t just knowing it was what it was.
So next morning I never went down there. I heard them hitching up and then when I knowed they must be about ready to take out, I went out the front and went down the road toward the bridge until I heard the wagon come out of the lot and go back toward New Hope. And then when I come back to the house, Rachel jumped on me because I wasn’t there to make them come in to breakfast. You cant tell about them. Just about when you decide they mean one tiling, I be durn if you not only haven’t got to change your mind, like as not you got to take a rawhiding for thinking they meant it.
But it was still like I could smell it. And so I decided then that it wasn’t smelling it, but it was just knowing it was there, like you will get fooled now and then. But when I went to the barn I knew different When I walked into the hallway I saw something. It kind of hunkered up when I come in and I thought at first it was one of them got left, then I saw what it was. It was a buzzard. It looked around and saw me and went on down the hall, spraddle-legged, with its wings kind of hunkered out, watching me first over one shoulder and then over the other, like a old bald-headed man. When it got outdoors it begun to fly. It had to fly a long time before it ever got up into the air, with it thick and heavy and full of rain like it was.
If they was bent on going to Jefferson, I reckon they could have gone around up by Mount Vernon, like MacCallum did. Hell get home about day after tomorrow, horseback. Then they’d be just eighteen miles from town. But maybe this bridge being gone too has learned him the Lord’s sense and judgment.
That MacCallum. He’s been trading with me off and on for twelve years. I have known him from a boy up; know his name as well as I do my own. But be durn if I can say it.
The signboard comes in sight. It is looking out at the road now, because it can wait. New Hope. 3 mi. it will say. New Hope. 3 mi. New Hope. 3 mi. And then the road will begin, curving away into the trees, empty with waiting, saying New Hope three miles. \JL heard that my mother is dead. I wish I had time to let her die. I wish I had time to wish I had. It is because in the wild and outraged earth too soon too soon too soon. It’s not that I wouldn’t and will not it’s that it is too soon too soon too soon. ]
Now it begins to say it. New Hope three miles. New Hope three miles. That’s what they mean by the womb of time: the agony and the despair of spreading bones, the hard girdle in which lie the outraged entrails of events Cash’s head turns slowly as we approach, his pale empty sad composed and questioning face following the red and empty curve; beside the bade wheel Jewel sits the horse, gazing straight ahead.
The land runs out of Darl’s eyes; they swim to pinpoints. They begin at my feet and rise along my body to my face, and then my dress is gone: I sit naked on the seat above the unhurrying mules, above the travail. Suppose I tell him to turn. He will do what I say. Dont you know he will do what I say? Once I waked with a black void rushing under me. I could not see. I saw Vardaman rise and go to the window and strike the knife into the fish, the blood gushing, hissing like steam but I could not see. He’ll do as I say. He always does. I can persuade him to anything. “You know I can. Suppose I say Turn here. That was when I died that time. Suppose I do. We’ll go to New Hope. We wont have to go to town. I rose and took the knife from the streaming fish still hissing and I killed Darl.
When I used to sleep with Vardaman I had a nightmare once I thought I was awake but I couldn’t see and couldn’t feel I couldn’t feel the bed under me and I couldn’t think what I was I couldn’t think of my name I couldn’t even think I am a girl I couldn’t even think I nor even think I want to wake up nor remember what was opposite to awake so I could do that I knew that something was passing but I couldn’t even think of time then all of a sudden I knew that something was it was wind blowing over me it was like the wind came and blew me back from where it was I was not blowing the room and Vardaman asleep and all of them back, under me again and going on like a piece of cool silk dragging across my naked legs
It blows cool out of the pines, a sad steady sound. New Hope. Was 3 mi. Was 3 mi. I believe in God I believe in God.
“Why didn’t we go to New Hope, pa?” Vardaman says. “Mr Samson said we was, but we done passed the road.”
Darl says, “Look, Jewel.” But He is not looking at me. He is looking at the sky. He buzzard is as still as if He were nailed to it.
We turn into Tull’s lane. We pass the barn and go on, the wheels whispering in the mud, passing the green rows of cotton in the wild earth, and Vernon little across the field behind the plow. He lifts his hand as we pass and stands there looking after us for a long while.
“Look, Jewel,” Darl says. Jewel sits on his horse like they were both made out of wood, looking straight ahead.
I believe in God, God. God, I believe in God.
After they passed I taken the mule out and looped up the trace chains and followed. They was setting in the wagon at the end of the levee when I caught up with them. Anse was setting there, looking at the bridge where it was swagged down into the river with just the two ends in sight. He was looking at it like he had believed all the time that folks had been lying to him about it being gone, but like he was hoping all the time it really was. Kind of pleased astonishment he looked, setting on the wagon in his Sunday pants, mumbling his mouth. Looking like a uncurried horse dressed up: I dont know.
The boy was watching the bridge where it was mid-sunk and logs and such drifted up over it and it swagging and shivering like the whole thing would go any minute, big-eyed he was watching it, like he was to a circus. And the gal too. When I come up she looked around at me, her eyes kind of blaring up and going hard like I had made to touch her. Then she looked at Anse again and then back at the water again.
It was nigh up to the levee on both sides, the earth hid except for the tongue of it we was on going out to the bridge and then down into the water, and except for knowing how the road and the bridge used to look, a fellow couldn’t tell where was the river and where the land. It was just a tangle of yellow and the levee not less wider than a knife-back land of, with us setting in the wagon and on the horse and the mule.
Darl was looking at me, and then Cash turned and looked at me with that look in his eyes like when he was figuring on whether the planks would fit her that night, like he was measuring them inside of him and not asking you to say what you thought and not even letting on he was listening if you did say it, but listening all right. Jewel hadn’t moved. He sat there on the horse, leaning a little forward, with that same look on his face when him and Darl passed the house yesterday, coming back to get her.
“If it was just up, we could drive across,” Anse says, “We could drive right on across it.”
Sometimes a log would get shoved over the jam and float on, rolling and turning, and we could watch it go on to where the ford used to be. It would slow up and whirl crossways and hang out of water for a minute, and you could tell by that that the ford used to be there.
But that dont show nothing,” I say. It could he a bar of quicksand built up there.” We watch the log. Then the gal is looking at me again.
“Mr Whitfield crossed it,” she says.
“He was a-horseback,” I say. “And three days ago. Its riz five foot since.”
“If the bridge was just up,” Anse says.
The log bobs up and goes on again. There is a lot of trash and foam, and you can hear the water.
“But its down,” Anse says.
Cash says, “A careful fellow could walk across yonder on the planks and logs.”
“But you couldn’t tote nothing,” I say. “Likely time you set foot on that mess, it’ll all go, too. What you think, Darl?”
He is looking at me. He dont say nothing; just looks at me with them queer eyes of hisn that makes folks talk. I always say it aint never been what he done so much or said or anything so much as how he looks at you. It’s like he had got into the inside of you, someway. Like somehow you was looking at yourself and your doings outen his eyes. Then I can feel that gal watching me like I had made to touch her. She says something to Anse. “. . . Mr Whitfield . ..” she says.
1 give her my promised word in the presence of the Lord,” Anse says. “I reckon it aint no need to worry.”
But still he does not start the mules. We set there above the water. Another log bobs up over the jam and goes on; we watch it check up and swing slow for a minute where the ford used to be. Then it goes on. , “It might start falling tonight,” I say. “You could lay over one more day.”
Then Jewel turns sideways on tie horse. He has (As I Lay Dying)
not moved until then, and he turns and looks at me. His face is kind of green, then it would go red and then green again. “Get to hell on back to your damn plowing,” he says. “Who the hell asked you to follow us here?”
“I never meant no harm,” I say.
“Shut up, Jewel,” Cash says. Jewel looks back at the water, his face gritted, going red and green and then red. “Well,” Cash says after a while, “what you Want to do?”
Anse dont say nothing. He sets humped up, mumbling his mouth. “If it was just up, we could drive across it,” he says.
“Come on,” Jewel says, moving the horse.
“Wait,” Cash says. He looks at the bridge. We look at him, except Anse and the gal. They are looking at the water. “Dewey Dell and Vardaman and pa better walk across on the bridge,” Cash says.
“Vernon can help them,” Jewel says. “And we can Bitch his mule ahead of ourn.”
“You aint going to take my mule into that water,” I say.
Jewel looks at me. His eyes look like pieces of a broken plate. Ill pay for your damn mule. I’ll buy it from you right now.”
“My mule aint going into that water,” I say.
“Jewel’s going to use his horse,” Darl says. “Why wont you risk your mule, Vernon?”
“Shut up, Darl,” Cash says. “You and Jewel both.”
“My mule aint going into that water,” I say.
He sits the horse, glaring at Vernon, his lean face suffused up to and beyond the pale rigidity of his eyes. The summer when he was fifteen, he took a spell of sleeping. One morning when I went to feed the mules the cows were still in the tie-up and then I heard pa go back to the house and call him. When we came on back to the house for breakfast he passed us, carrying the milk buckets, stumbling along like he was drunk, and he was milking when we put the mules in and went on to the field without him. We had been there an hour and still he never showed up. When Dewey Dell came with our lunch, pa sent her back to find Jewel. They found him in the tie-up, sitting on the stool, asleep.
After that, every morning pa would go in and wake him. He would go to sleep at die supper table and soon as supper was finished he would go to bed, and when I came in to bed he would be lying there like a dead man. Yet still pa would have to wake him in the morning. He would get up, but he wouldn’t hardly have half sense: he would stand for pa’s jawing and complaining without a word and take the milk buckets and go to the barn, and once I found him asleep at the cow, the bucket in place and half full and his hands up to the wrists in the milk and his head against the cow’s flank.
After that Dewey Dell had to do the milking. He still got up when pa waked him, going about what we told him to do in that dazed way. It was like he was trying hard to do them; that he was as puzzled as anyone else.
“Are you sick?” ma said. “Dont you feel all right?”
“Yes,” Jewel said. “I feel all right.”
“He’s just lazy, trying me,” pa said, and Jewel standing there, asleep on his feet like as not. “Aint you?’ lie said, waking Jewel up again to answer.
“No,” Jewel said.
“You take off and stay in the house today,” ma said.
“With that whole bottom piece to be busted out?” pa said. ‘If you aint sick, what’s the matter with you?”
“Nothing,” Jewel said. “I’m all right.”
“All right?” pa said. “You’re asleep on your feet this minute.”
“No,” Jewel said. “I’m all right.”
“I want him to stay at home today,” ma said.
“Ill need him,” pa said. “It’s tight enough, with all of us to do it.”
“You’ll just have to do the best you can with Cash and Darl,” ma said. “I want him to stay in today.”
But he wouldn’t do it. “I’m all right,” he said, going on. But he wasn’t all right. Anybody could see it. He was losing flesh, and I have seen him go to sleep chopping; watched the hoe going slower and slower up and down, with less and less of an arc, until it stopped and he leaning on it motionless in the hot shimmer of the sun.
Ma wanted to get the doctor, but pa didn’t want to spend the money without it was needful, and Jewel did seem all right except for his thinness and his way of dropping off to sleep at any moment. He ate hearty enough, except for his way of going to sleep in his plate, with a piece of bread halfway to his mouth and his jaws still chewing. But he swore he was all right
It was ma that got Dewey Dell to do his milking, paid her somehow, and the other jobs around the house that Jewel had been doing before supper she found some way for Dewey Dell and Vardaman to do them. And doing them herself when pa wasn’t there. She would fix him special things to eat and hide them for him. And that may have been when I first found it out, that Addie Bundren should be hiding anything she did, who had tried to teach us that deceit was such that, in a world where it was, nothing else could be very bad or very important, not even poverty. And at times when I went in to go to bed she would be sitting in the dark by Jewel where he was asleep. And I knew that she was hating herself for that deceit and hating Jewel because she had to love him so that she had to act the deceit.
One night she was taken sick and when I went to the barn to put the team in and drive to “lull’s, I couldn’t find the lantern. I remembered noticing it on the nail the night before, but it wasn’t there now at midnight. So I hitched in the dark and went on and came back with Mrs Tull just after daylight. And there the lantern was, hanging on the nail where I remembered it and couldn’t find it before. And then one morning while Dewey Dell was milking just before sunup, Jewel came into the barn from the back, through the hole in the back wall, with the lantern in his hand.
I told Cash, and Cash and I looked at one another.
“Rutting,” Cash said.
“Yes,” I said. “But why the lantern? And every night, too. No wonder he’s losing flesh. Are you going to say anything to him?”
“Wont do any good,” Cash said. “What he’s doing now wont do any good, either.” “I know. But he’ll have to learn that himself. Give him time to realise that it’ll save, that there’ll be just as much more tomorrow, and he’ll be all right. I wouldn’t tell anybody, I reckon.”
“No,” I said. “I told Dewey Dell not to. Not ma, anyway.” “No. Not ma.”
After, that I thought it was right comical: he acting so bewildered and willing and dead for sleep and gaunt as a bean-pole, and thinking he was so smart with it. And I wondered who the girl was. I thought of all I knew that it might be, but I couldn’t say for sure.
“‘Taint any girl,” Cash said. “It’s a married woman somewhere. Aint any young girl got that much daring and staying power. That’s what I dont like about it.”
“Why?” I said. “She’ll be safer for him than a girl would. More judgment.”
He looked at me, his eyes fumbling, the words fumbling at what he was trying to say. “It aint always the safe things in this world that a fellow . . .”
“You mean, the safe things are not always the best things?”
“Ay; best,” he said, fumbling again. “It aint the best things, the things that are good for him … A young boy. A fellow kind of hates to see . . . wallowing in somebody else’s mire . . .” That’s what he was trying to say. When something is new and hard and bright, there ought to be something a little better for it than just being safe; since the safe things are just the things that folks have been doing so long they have worn the edges off and there’s nothing to the doing of them that leaves a man to say, That was not done before and it cannot be done again.
So we didn’t tell, not even when after a while he’d appear suddenly in the field beside us and go to work, without having had time to get home and make out he had been in bed all night. He would tell ma that he hadn’t been hungry at breakfast or that he had eaten a piece of bread while he was hitching up the-team. But Cash and I knew that he hadn’t been home at all on those nights and he had come up out of the woods when we got to the field. But we didn’t tell. Summer was almost over then; we knew that when the nights began to get cool, she would be done if he wasn’t.
But when fall came and the nights began to get longer, the only difference was that he would always be in bed for pa to wake him, getting him up at last in that first state of semi-idiocy like when it first started, worse than when he had stayed out all night.
“She’s sure a stayer,” I told Cash. “I used to admire her, but I downright respect her now.”
“It aint a woman,” he said.
“You know,” I said. But he was watching me. “What is it, then?” /
“That’s what I aim to find out,” he said.
“You can trail him through the woods all night if you want to,” I said. “I’m not.”
“I aint trailing him,” he said.
“What do you call it, then?”
“I aint trailing him,” he said. 1 dont mean it that way.”
And so a few nights later I heard Jewel get up and climb out the window, and then I heard Cash get up and follow him. The next morning when I went to the barn, Cash was already there, the mules fed, and he was helping Dewey Dell milk. And when I saw him I knew that he knew what it was. Now and then I would catch him watching Jewel with a queer look, like having found out where Jewel went and what he was doing had given him something to really think about at last. But it was not a worried look; it was the kind of look I would see on him when I would find him doing some of Jewel’s work around the house, work that pa still thought Jewel was doing and that ma thought Dewey Dell was doing. So I said nothing to him, believing that when he got done digesting it in his mind, he would tell me. But he never did.
One morning–it was November then, five months since it started–Jewel was not in bed and he didn’t join us in the field. That was the first time ma learned anything about what had been going on. She sent Vardaman down to find where Jewel was, and after a while she came down too. It was as though, so long as the deceit ran along quiet and monotonous, all of us let ourselves be deceived, abetting it unawares or maybe through cowardice, since all people are cowards and naturally prefer any kind of treachery because it has a bland outside. But now it was like we had all–and by a kind of telepathic agreement of admitted fear—flung the whole thing back like covers on the bed and we all sitting bolt upright in our nakedness, staring at one another arid saying “Now is the truth. He hasn’t come home. Something has happened to him. We let something happen to him.””
Then we saw him. He came up along the ditch and then turned straight across the field, riding the horse. Its mane and tail were going, as though in motion they were carrying out the splotchy pattern of its coat: he looked like he was riding on a big pinwheel, bare-hacked, with a rope bridle, and no hat on his head. It was a descendant .of those Texas ponies Flem Snopes brought here twenty-five years ago and auctioned off for two dollars a head and nobody but old Lon Quick ever caught his and still owned some of the blood because he could never give it away.
He galloped up and stopped, his heels in the horse’s ribs and it dancing and swirling like the shape of its: mane and tail and the splotches of its coat had nothing whatever to do with the flesh-and-bone horse inside them, and he sat there, looking at us.
“Where did you get that horse?” pa said.
“Bought it,” Jewel said. “From Mr Quick.”
“Bought it?” pa said. “With what? Did you buy that thing on my word?”
‘It was my money,” Jewel said. “I earned it. You wont need to worry about it”
“Jewel,” ma said; “Jewel.”
“It’s all right,” Cash said. “He earned the money, He cleaned up that forty acres of new ground Quick laid out last spring. He did it single handed, working at night by lantern. I saw him. So I dont reckon that horse cost anybody anything except Jewel. I dont reckon we need worry.”
“Jewel,” ma said. “Jewel . . .” Then she said: “You come right to the house and go to bed.”
“Not yet,” Jewel said. “I aint got time. I got to get me a saddle and bridle. Mr Quick says he .,. .”
Jewel,” ma said, looking at him. I’ll give–I’ll give. . .give . . .” Then she began to cry. She cried hard, not hiding her face, standing there in her faded wrapper, looking at him and him on the horse, looking down at her, his face growing cold and a little sick looking, until he looked away quick and Cash came and touched her.
“You go on to the house,” Cash said. “This here ground is too wet for you. You go on, now.” She put her hands to her face then and after a while she went on, stumbling a little on the plow-marks. But pretty soon she straightened up and went on, She didn’t look back. When she reached the ditch she stopped and called Vardaman. He was looking at the horse, land of dancing up and down by it.
“Let me ride, Jewel,” he said. “Let me ride, Jewel.”
Jewel looked at him, then he looked away again, holding the horse reined back. Pa watched him, mumbling his lip.
“So you bought a horse,” he said. “You went behind my back and bought a horse. You never consulted me; you know how tight it is for us to make by, yet you bought a horse for me to feed. Taken the work from your flesh and blood and bought a horse with it.” Jewel looked at pa, his eyes paler than ever. “He wont never eat a mouthful of yours,” he said. “Not a mouthful. Ill kill him first. Dont you never think it. Dont you never.”
“Let me ride, Jewel,” Vardaman said. “Let me ride, Jewel.” He sounded like a cricket in the grass, a little one. “Let me ride, Jewel.”
That night I found ma sitting beside the bed where he was sleeping, in the dark. She cried hard, maybe because she had to cry so quiet; maybe because she felt the same way about tears she did about deceit, hating herself for doing it, hating him because she had to. And then I knew that I knew. I knew that as plain on that day as I knew about Dewey Dell on that day.
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