بخش 08کتاب: گور به گور / فصل 8
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After supper Jewel rode over to the Bend to get Peabody. I heard he was to be there today at Varner’s. Jewel come back about midnight. Peabody had gone down below Inverness somewhere, but Uncle Billy come back with him, with his satchel of horse physic. Like he says, a man aint so different from a horse or a mule, come long come short, except a mule or a horse has got a little more sense. “What you been Into now, boy?” he says, looking at Cash. “Get me a mattress and a chair and a glass of whisky,” he says.
He made Cash drink the whisky, then he run Anse out of the room. “Lucky it was the same leg he broke last summer,” Anse says, mournful, mumbling and blinking. “That’s something.”
We folded the mattress across Cash’s legs and set the chair on the mattress and me and Jewel set on the chair and the gal held the lamp and Uncle Billy taken a chew of tobacco and went to work. Cash fought pretty hard for a while, until he fainted. Then he laid still, with big balls of sweat standing on his face like they had started to roll down and then stopped to wait for him.
When he waked up, Uncle Billy had done packed up and left. He kept on trying to say something until the gal leaned down and wiped his mouth. “It’s his tools,” she said.
“I brought them in,” Darl said. “I got them.”
He tried to talk again; she leaned down. “He wants to see them,” she said. So Darl brought them in where he could see them. They shoved them under the side of the bed, where he could reach his hand and touch them when he felt better. Next morning Anse taken that horse and rode over to the Bend to see Snopes. Him and Jewel stood in the lot talking a while, then Anse got on the horse and rode off. I reckon that was the first time Jewel ever let anybody ride that horse, and until Anse come back he hung around in that swole-up way, watching the road like he was half a mind to take out after Anse and get the horse back.
Along toward nine oclock it begun to get hot. That was when I see the first buzzard. Because of the wetting, I reckon. Anyway it wasn’t until well into the day that I see them. Lucky the breeze was -setting away from the house, so it wasn’t until well into the morning. But soon as I see them it was like I could smell it in the field a mile away from just watching them, and them circling and circling for everybody in the county to see what was in my barn.
I was still a good half a mile from the house when I heard that boy yelling. I thought maybe he might have fell into the well or something, so I whipped op and come into the lot on the lope.
There must have been a dozen of them setting along the ridge-pole of the bam, and that boy was chasing another one around the lot like it was a turkey and it just lifting enough to dodge him and go flopping bade to the roof of the shed again where he had found it setting on the coffin. It had got hot then, right, and the breeze had dropped or changed or something, so I went and found Jewel, but Lula come out
“You got to do something,”’ she said. “It’s a outrage.”
“that’s what I aim to do,” I said.
“It’s a outrage,” she said. “He should be for treating her so.”
“He’s getting her into the ground the best he can,” I said. So I found Jewel and asked him if he didn’t want to take one of the mules and go over to the Bend and see about Anse. He didn’t say nothing. He just looked at me with his jaws going bone-white and them bone-white eyes of hisn, then he went and begun to call Darl.
“What you fixing to do?” I said.
He didn’t answer. Darl come out. “Come on,” Jewel said.
“What you aim to do?” Darl said.
“Going to move the wagon,” Jewel said over his shoulder.
“Dont be a fool,” I said. “I never meant nothing. – couldn’t help it” And Darl hung back too but nothing woulddn’t suit Jewel.
“Shut your goddamn mouth,” he says.
“It’s got to be somewhere,” Darl said. “Well take out soon as pa gets back.”
“You wont help me?” Jewel says, them white eyes of hisn kind of blaring and his face shaking like he had a aguer.
“No,” Darl said. “I wont Wait till pa gets back.” So I stood in the door and watched him push and pull at that wagon. It was on a downhill, and once I thought he was fixing to beat out the back end of the shed. Then, the dinner bell rung. I called him, but he didn’t look around. “Come on to dinner,” I said. ‘Tell that boy.” But he didn’t answer, so I went on to dinner. The gal went down to get that boy, but she come back without him. About half through dinner we heard him yelling again, running that buzzard out. It’s a outrage,” Lula said; “a outrage.” “He’s doing the best he can,” I said. “A fellow dont trade with Snopes in thirty minutes. They’ll set in die shade all afternoon to dicker.” “Do?” she says. “Do? He’s done too much, already.” And I reckon he had. Trouble is, his quitting was Just about to start our doing. He couldn’t buy no team from nobody, let alone Snopes, withouten he had something to mortgage he didn’t know would mortgage yet. And so when I went back to the field I looked at my mules and same as told them goodbye for a spell And when I come back that evening and the sun shining all day on that shed, I wasn’t so sho I would regret it
He come riding up Just as I went out to the porch, where they all was. He looked kind of funny: kind of more hang-dog than common, and kind of proud too. Like he had done something he thought was cute but wasn’t so sho now Bow otter folks would take it
“I got a team,” he said.
“You bought a team from Snopes?” I said.
“I reckon Snopes aint the only man in this country that can drive a trade,” he said.
“Sho,” I said. He was looking at Jewel, with that funny look, but Jewel had done got down from the porch and was going toward the horse. To see what Anse had done to it, I reckon.
“Jewel,” Anse says. Jewel looked back. “Come here,” Anse says. Jewel come back a little and stopped again,
“What you want?” he said.
“So you got a team from Snopes,” I said. “Hell send them over tonight, I reckon? You’ll want a early start tomorrow, long as you’ll have to go by Mottson.”
Then he quit looking like he had been for a while. He got that badgered look like he used to have, mumbling his mouth.
“I do the best I can,” he said. “Fore God, if there were ere a man in the living world suffered the trials and floutings I have suffered.”
“A fellow that just beat Snopes in a trade ought to feel pretty good,” I said. “What did you give him, Anse?”
He didn’t look at me. “I give a chattel mortgage on my cultivator and seeder,” he said.
“But they aint worth forty dollars. How far do you aim to get with a forty dollar team?”
They were all watching “him now, quiet and steady. Jewel was stopped, halfway back, waiting to go on to the horse. “I give other things,” Anse said. He begun to mumble his mouth again, standing there like he was waiting for somebody to hit him and him with his mind already made up not to do nothing about it.
“What other things?” Darl said.
“Hell,” I said. “You take my team. You can bring them back. Ill get along someway.”
“So thats what you were doing in Cash’s clothes last night,” Darl said. He said it just like he was reading it outen the paper. Like he never give a durn himself one way or the other. Jewel had come back now, standing there, looking at Anse with them marble eyes of hisn. “Cash aimed to buy that talking machine from Suratt with that money,” Darl said.
Anse stood there, mumbling his mouth. Jewel watched him. He aint never blinked yet.
“But that’s just eight dollars more,” Darl said, in that voice like he was just listening and never give a durn himself. “That still wont buy a team.”
Anse looked at Jewel, quick, kind of sliding his eyes that way, then he looked down again. “God knows, if there were ere a man,” he says. Still they didn’t say nothing. They just watched him, waiting, and hire sliding his eyes toward their feet and up their legs but no higher. “And the horse,” he says.
“What horse?” Jewel said. Anse just stood there. I be durn, if a man cant keep the upper hand of his sons, he ought to run them away from home, no matter how big they are. And if he cant do that, I be durn if he oughtn’t to leave himself. I be durn if I wouldn’t. “You mean, you tried to swap my horse?” Jewel says.
Anse stands there, dangle-armed. “For fifteen years I aint had a tooth in my head,” he says. “God knows it. He knows in fifteen years I aint et the victuals He aimed for man to eat to keep his strength up, and me saving a nickel here and a nickel there so my family wouldn’t suffer it to buy them teeth so I could eat
God’s appointed food. I give that money. I thought that if I could do without eating, my sons could do without riding. God knows I did.”
Jewel stands with his hands on his hips, looking at Anse. Then he looks away. He looked out across the field, his face still as a rode, like it was somebody else talking about somebody else’s horse and him not even listening. Then he spit; slow, and said “Hell” and he turned and went on to the gate and unhitched the horse and got on it. It was moving when he come into the saddle and by the time he was on it they was tearing down the road like the Law might have been behind them. They went out of sight that way, the two of them looking like some kind of a spotted cyclone. “Well,” I says. “You take my team,” I said. But he wouldn’t do it And they wouldn’t even stay, and that boy chasing them buzzards all day in the hot sun until he was nigh as crazy as the rest of them. “Leave Cash here, anyway,” I said. But they wouldn’t do that They made a pallet for him with quilts on top of the coffin and laid him on it and set his tools by him, and we put my team in and hauled the wagon about a mile down the road.
If well bother you here,” Anse says, “just say so.”
“Sho,” I said. “It’ll be fine here. Safe, too. Now let’s go back and eat supper.”
“I thank you,” Anse said. “We got a little something in the basket. We can make out,”
“Where’d you get it?” I said.
“We brought it from home.”
“But it’ll be stale now,” I said. “Come and get some hot victuals.”
But they wouldn’t come. 1 reckon we can make out,” Anse said. So I went home and et and taken a basket back to them and tried again to make them come back to the; house.
“I thank you,” he said. “I reckon we can make out.” So I left them there, squatting around a little fire, waiting; God knows what for.
I come on home. I kept thinking about them there, and about that fellow tearing away on that horse. And that would be the last they would see of him. And I be durn if I could blame him. Not for wanting to not give up his horse, but for getting shut of such a durn fool as Anse.
Or that’s what I thought then. Because be durn if there aint something about a durn fellow like Anse that seems to make a man have to help him, even when he knows hell be wanting to kick himself next minute. Because about a hour after breakfast next morning Eustace Grimm that works Snopes place come up with a span of mules, hunting Anse.
“I thought “him and Anse never traded,” I said.
“Sho,” Eustace said. “All they liked was the horse. Like I said to Mr Snopes, he was letting this team go for fifty dollars, because if his uncle Flem had a just kept them Texas horses when he owned them, Anse wouldn’t a never–”
“The horse?” I said. “Anse’s boy taken that horse and cleared out last night, probably halfway to Texas by now, and Anse–
1 didn’t know who brung it,” Eustace said. “I never see them. I just found the horse in the barn this morning when I went to feed, and I told Mr Snopes and he said to bring the team on over here.”
Well, that’ll be the last they’ll ever see of him now, sho enough. Come Christmas time they’ll maybe get a postal -card from nim in Texas, I reckon. And if it hadn’t a been Jewel, I reckon it’d a been me; I owe him that much, myself. I be durn if Anse dont conjure a man, some way. I be durn if he aint a sight.
Now there are seven of them, in little tall black circles.
“Look, Darl,” I say; “see?”
He looks up. We watch them in little tall black circles of not-moving.
“Yesterday there were just four,” I say.
There were more than four on the barn.
“Do you know what I would do if he tries to light on the wagon again?” I say.
“What would you do?” Darl says.
T wouldn’t let him light on her,” I say. “I wouldn’t let him light on Cash, either.”
Cash is sick. He is sick on the box. But my mother is a fish.
“We got to get some medicine in Mottson,” pa says. “I reckon well just have to.” “How do you feel, Cash?” Darl says. “It dont bother none,” Cash says. “Do you want it propped a little higher?” Darl says. Cash has a broken leg. He has had two broken legs. He lies on the box with a quilt rolled under his head and a piece of wood under his knee. “I reckon we ought to left him at Armstid pa says. I haven’t got a broken leg and pa hasn’t and Darl hasn’t and “It’s just the bumps,” Cash says. “It kind of grinds together a little on a bump. It dont bother none.” Jewel has gone away. He and his horse went away one supper time
“It’s because she wouldn’t have us beholden,” pa says. “Fore God, I do the best that ere a man” Is it because Jewels mother is a horse Darl? I said.
“Maybe I can draw the ropes a little tighter,” Darl says. That’s why Jewel and I were both in the shed ‘and she was in the wagon because the horse lives in the barn and I had to keep on running the buzzard away from
“If you just would,” Cash says. And Dewey Dell hasn’t got a broken leg and I haven’t. Cash is my brother.
We stop. When Darl loosens the rope Cash begins to sweat again. His teeth look out.
“Hurt?” Darl says.
“I reckon you better put it back,” Cash says.
Darl puts the rope back, pulling hard. Cash’s teeth look out.
“Hurt?” Darl says.
“It dont bother none,” Cash says.
“Do you want pa to drive slower?” Darl says.
“No,” Cash says. “Aint no time to hang back. It dont bother none.”
“Well have to get some medicine at Mottson,” pa says. “I reckon we’ll have to.”
“Tell him to go on,” Cash says. We go on. Dewey Dell leans back and wipes Cash’s face. Cash is my brother. But Jewels mother is a horse. My mother is a fish. Darl says that when we come to the water again I might see her and Dewey Dell said, She’s in the box; how could she have got out? She got out through the holes I bored, into the water I said, and when we come to the water again I am going to see her. My mother is not in the box. My mother does not smell like that. My mother is a fish
“Those cakes will be in fine shape by the time we get to Jefferson,” Darl says.
Dewey dell does not look around.
“You better try to sell them in Mottson,” Darl says.
“When will we get to Mottson, Darl?” I say.
“Tomorrow,” Darl says. “If this team dont rack to pieces. Snopes must have fed them on sawdust.”
“Why did he feed them on sawdust, Darl?” I say.
“Look,” Darl says. “See?”
Now there are nine of them, tall in’ little black circles.
When we come to the foot of the hill pa stops and Darl and Dewey Dell and I get out. Cash cant walk because he has a broken leg. “Come up, mules,” pa says. The mules walk hard; tie wagon creaks. Darl and Dewey Dell and I walk behind the wagon, up the hill. When we come to the top of the hill pa stops and we get back into the wagon.
Now there are ten of them, tall in little tall black circles on the sky.
I happened to look up, and saw her outside the window, looking in. Not close to the glass, and not looking at anything in particular; just standing there with her head turned this way and her eyes full on me and kind o£ blank too, like she was waiting for a sign. When I looked up again she was moving toward the door.
She kind of bumbled at the screen door a minute, like they do, and came in. She had on a stiff-brimmed straw hat setting on the top of her head and she was carrying a package wrapped in newspaper: I thought that she had a quarter or a dollar at the most, and that after she stood around a while she would maybe buy a cheap comb or a bottle of nigger toilet water, so I never disturbed her for a minute or so except to notice that she was pretty in a kind of sullen, awkward way, and that she looked a sight better in her gingham dress and her own complexion than she would after she bought whatever she would finally decide on. Or tell that she wanted. I knew that she had already decided before she came in. But you have to let them take their time. So I went on with what I was doing, figuring to let Albert wait on her when he caught up at the fountain, when he came back to me.
“That woman,” he said. “You better see what she wants.”
“What does she want?” I said.
“I dont know. I cant get anything out of her. You better wait on her.”
So I went around the counter. I saw that she was barefooted, standing with her feet flat and easy on the floor, like she was used to it. She was looking at me, hard, holding the package; I saw she had about as black a pair of eyes as ever I saw, and she was a stranger. I never remembered seeing her in Mottson before. “What can I do for you?” I said.
Still she didn’t say anything. She stared at me without winking. Then she looked back at the folks at the fountain. Then she looked past me, toward the back of the store.
“Do you want to look at some toilet things?” I said. “Or is it medicine you want?”
“That’s it,” she said. She looked quick back at the fountain again. So I thought maybe her ma or somebody-had sent her in for some of this female dope and she was ashamed to ask for it. I knew she couldn’t have a complexion like hers and use it herself, let alone not being much more than old enough to barely know what it was for. It’s a shame, the way they poison themselves with it. But a man’s got to stock it or go out of business in this country.
“Oh,” I said. “What do you use? We have–” She looked at me again, almost like she had said hush, and looked toward the back of the store again.
“I’d liefer go back there,” she said.
“All right,” I said. You have to humor them. You save time by it. I followed her to the back. She put her hand on the gate. “There’s nothing back there but the prescription case,” I said. “What do you want?” She stopped and looked at me. It was like she had taken some kind of a lid off her face, her eyes. It was her eyes: kind of dumb and hopeful and sullenly willing to be disappointed all at the same time. But she was in trouble of some sort; I could see that. “What’s your trouble?” I said. “Tell me what it is you want. I’m pretty busy.” I wasn’t meaning to hurry her, but a man just hasn’t got the time they have out there.
“It’s the female trouble,” she said.
“Oh,” I said. “Is that all?” I thought maybe she was younger than she looked, and her first one had scared her, or maybe one had been a little abnormal as it will in young women. “Where’s your ma?” I said. “Haven’t you got one?”
“She’s out yonder in the wagon,” she said.
“Why not talk to her about it before you take any medicine,” I said. “Any woman would have told you about it.” She looked at me, and I looked at her again and said, “How old are you?”
“Seventeen,” she said.
“Oh,” I said. “I thought maybe you were . . . She was watching me. But then, in the eyes all of them
look like they had no age and knew everything in the-world, anyhow. “Are you too regular, or not regular enough?”
She quit looking at me but she didn’t move. “Yes,” she said. “I reckon so. Yes.”
“Well, which?” I said. “Dont you know?” It’s a crime and a shame; but after all, they’ll buy it from somebody. She stood there, not looking at me. “You. want something to stop it?” I said. “Is that it?”
“No,” she said. “That’s it. It’s already stopped.”
“Well, what–” Her face was lowered a little, still, like they do in all their dealings with a man so he-dont ever know just where the lightning will strike-next. “You are not married, are you?” I said.
“Oh,” I said. “And how long has it been since it stopped? about five months maybe?”
“It aint been but two,” she said.
“Well, I haven’t got anything in my store you want to buy,” I said, “unless it’s a nipple. And I’d advise-you to buy that and go back home and tell your pa, if you have one, and let him make somebody buy you. a wedding license.. Was that all you wanted?”
But she just stood there, not looking at me.
“I got the money to pay you,” she said.
“Is it your own, or did he act enough of a man to-give you the money?”
“He give it to me. Ten dollars. He said that would be enough.”
“A thousand dollars wouldn’t be enough in my store-and ten cents wouldn’t be enough,” I said. “You take my advice and go home and tell your pa or your brothers if you have any or the first man you come to in the road.”
But she, didn’t move. “Lafe said I could get it at the drugstore. He said to tell you me and him wouldn’t never tell nobody you sold it to us.”
“And I just wish your precious Lafe had come for it himself; that’s what I wish. I dont know: I’d have had a little respect for him then. And you can go back and tell him I said so–if he aint halfway to Texas by now, which I dont doubt. Me, a respectable druggist, that’s kept store and raised a family and been a church-member for fifty-six years in this town. I’m a good mind to tell your folks myself, if I can just find who they are.”
She looked at me now, her eyes and face kind of blank again like when I first saw her through the window. “I didn’t know,” she said. “He told me I could get something at the drugstore. He said they might not want to sell it to me, but if I had ten dollars and told them I wouldn’t never tell nobody . , ,”
“He never said this drugstore,” I said. “If he did or mentioned my name, I defy him to prove it. I defy him to repeat it or I’ll prosecute him to the full extent of the law, and you can tell him so.” “But maybe another drugstore would,” she said. “Then I dont want to know it. Me, that’s–” Then I looked at her. But it’s a hard life they have; sometimes a man … if there can ever be any excuse for sin, which it cant be. And then, life wasn’t made to be easy on folks: they wouldn’t ever have any reason to be good and die. “Look here,” I said. “You get that notion out of your head. The Lord gave you what you have, even if He did use the devil to do it; you let Him take it away from you if it’s His will to do so. You go on back to Lafe and you and him take that ten dollars and get married with it.”
“Lafe said I could get something at the drugstore,” she said.
Then go and get it,” I said. “You wont get it here.”
She went out, carrying the package, her feet making a little hissing on the floor. She bumbled again at the door and went out. I could see her through the glass going on down the street.
It was Albert told me about the rest of it He said the wagon was stopped in front of Grummet’s hardware store, with the ladies all scattering up and down the street with handkerchiefs to their noses, and a crowd of hard-nosed men and boys standing around the wagon, listening to the marshal arguing with the man. He was a kind of tall, gaunted man sitting on the wagon, saying it. was a public street and he reckoned he had as much right there as anybody, and the marshal telling him he would have to move on; folks couldn’t stand it. It had been dead eight days, Albert said. They came from some place out in Yoknapatawpha county, trying to get to Jefferson with it. It must have been like a piece of rotten cheese coming into an ant-hill, in that ramshackle wagon that Albert said folks were scared would fall all to pieces before they could get it out of town, with that home-made box and another fellow with a broken leg lying on a quilt on top of it, and the father and a little boy sitting on the seat and the marshal trying to make them get out-of town.
“It’s a public street,” the man says. ‘1 reckon we can stop to buy something same as airy other man. We got the money to pay for hit, and hit aint airy law that says a man cant spend his money where he wants.” They had stopped to buy some cement. The other son was in Grummet’s, trying to make Grummet break a sack and let him have ten cents’ worth, and finally Grummet broke the sack to get him out. They wanted the cement to fix the fellow’s broken leg, someway.
“Why, you’ll kill him,” the marshal said. “You’ll cause him to lose his leg. You take him on to a doctor, and you get this thing buried soon as you can. Dont you know you’re liable to jail for endangering the public health?”
“We’re doing the best we can,” the father said. Then he told a long tale about how they had to wait for the wagon to come back and how the bridge was washed away and how they went eight miles to another bridge and it was gone too so they came back and swum the ford and the mules got drowned and how they got another team and found that the road was washed out and they had to come clean around by Mottson, and then the one with the cement came back and told him to shut up.
“Well be gone in a minute,” he told the marshal.
“We never aimed to bother nobody,” the father said.
“You take that fellow to a doctor,” the marshal told the one with the cement.
“I reckon he’s all right,” he said.
“It aint that we’re hard-hearted,” the marshal said. “But I reckon you can tell yourself how it is.”
“Sho,” the other said. “We’ll take out soon as Dewey Dell comes back. She went to deliver a package.”
So they stood there with the folks backed off with handkerchiefs to their faces, until in a minute the girl came up with that newspaper package.
“Come on,” the one with the cement said, “we’ve lost too much time.” So they got in the wagon and went on. And when I went to supper it still seemed like I could smell it. And the next day I met the marshal and I began to sniff and said,
1 reckon they’re in Jefferson by now,” he said.
“Or in jail. Well, thank the Lord it’s not our jail.”
“That’s a fact,” he said.
“Here’s a place,” pa says. He pulls the team up and sits looking at the house, “We could get some water over yonder.”
“All right,” I say. ‘You’ll have to borrow a bucket from them, Dewey Dell.”
“God knows,” pa says. “I wouldn’t be beholden, God knows.”
“If you see a good-sized can, you might bring it,” I say. Dewey Dell gets down from the wagon, carrying the package. “You had more trouble than you expected, selling those cakes in Mottson,” I say. How do our lives ravel out into the no-wind, no-sound, the weary gestures wearily recapitulant: echoes of old compulsions with no-hand on no-strings: in sunset we fall into furious attitudes, dead gestures of dolls. Cash broke his leg and now the sawdust is running out. He is bleeding to death is Cash,
“I wouldn’t be beholden,” pa says. “God knows.”
“Then make some water yourself,” I say. “We can use Cash’s hat.”
When Dewey Dell comes back the man comes with her. Then he stops and she comes on and he stands there and after a while he goes back to the house and stands on the porch, watching us.
“We better not try to lift him down,” pa says. “We can fix it here.”
“Do you want to be lifted down, Cash?” I say.
“Wont we get to Jefferson tomorrow?” he says. He is watching us, his eyes interrogatory, intent, and sad. “I can last it out.”
“It’ll be easier on you,” pa says. “It’ll keep it from rubbing together.”
“I can last it,” Cash says. “Well lose time stopping.”
“We done bought the cement, now,” pa says.
“I could last it,” Cash says. “It aint but one more day. It dont bother to speak of.” He looks at us, his eyes wide in his thin gray face, questioning. “It sets up so,” he says.
“We done bought it now,” pa says.
I mix the cement in the can, stirring the slow water into the pale green thick coils. I bring the can to the wagon where Cash can see. He lies on his back, his thin profile in silhouette, ascetic and profound against the sky. “Does that look about right?” I say.
“You dont want too much water, or it wont work right,” he says.
“Is this too much?”
“Maybe if you could get a little sand,” he says. “It aint but one more day,” he says. “It dont bother me none.”
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