prose_classicFaulknerSound and the FuryFaulknerSound and the Fury
Introduction for The Sound and the FurySouthern Review 8 (N.S., 1972) 705-10.wrote this book and learned to read. I had learned a little about writing from Soldiers' Pay--how to approach language, words: not with seriousness so much, as an essayist does, but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite; even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions. But when I finished The Sound and the Fury I discovered that there is actually something to which the shabby term Art not only can, but must, be applied. I discovered then that I had gone through all that I had ever read, from Henry James through Henty to newspaper murders, without making any distinction or digesting any of it, as a moth or a goat might. After The Sound and The Fury and without heeding to open another book and in a series of delayed repercussions like summer thunder, I discovered the Flauberts and Dostoievskys and Conrads whose books I had read ten years ago. With The Sound and the Fury I learned to read and quit reading, since I have read nothing since.do I seem to have learned anything since. While writing Sanctuary, the next novel to The Sound and the Fury, that part of me which learned as I wrote, which perhaps is the very force which drives a writer to the travail of invention and the drudgery of putting seventy- five or a hundred thousand words on paper, was absent because I was still reading by repercussion the books which I had swallowed whole ten years and more ago. I learned only from the writing of Sanctuary that there was something missing; something which The Sound and the Fury gave me and Sanctuary did not. When I began As I Lay Dying I had discovered what it was and knew that it would be also missing in this case because this would be a deliberate book. I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word, I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall. Before I began I said, I am going to write a book by which, at a pinch, I can stand or fall if I never touch ink again. So when I finished it the cold satisfaction was there, as I had expected, but as I had also expected the other quality which The Sound and the Fury had given me was absent that emotion definite and physical and yet nebulous to describe: that ecstasy, that eager and joyous faith and anticipation of surprise which the yet unmarred sheet beneath my hand held inviolate and unfailing waiting for release. It was not there in As I Lay Dying. I said, It is because I knew too much about this book before I began to write it. I said, More than likely I shall never again have to know this much about a book before I begin to write it, and next time it will return. I waited almost two years, then I began Light in August, knowing no more about it than a young woman, pregnant, walking along a strange country road. I thought, I will recapture it now, since I know no more about this book than I did about The Sound and the Fury when I sat down before the first blank page.did not return. The written pages grew in number. The story was going pretty well: I would sit down to it each morning without reluctance yet still without that anticipation and that joy which alone ever made writing pleasure to me. The book was almost finished before I acquiesced to the fact that it would not recur, since I was now aware before each word was written down just what the people would do, since now I was deliberately choosing among possibilities and probabilities of behavior and weighing and measuring each choice by the scale of the Jameses and Conrads and Balzacs. I knew that I had read too much, that I had reached that stage which all young writers must pass through, in which he believes that he has learned too much about his trade. I received a copy of the printed book and I found that I didn't even want to see what kind of jacket Smith had put on it. I seemed to have a vision of it and the other ones subsequent to The Sound and The Fury ranked in order upon a shelf while I looked at the titled backs of them with a flagging attention which was almost distaste, and upon which each succeeding title registered less and less, until at last Attention itself seemed to say, Thank God I shall never need to open any one of them again. I believed that I knew then why I had not recaptured that first ecstasy, and that I should never again recapture it; that whatever treenovels I should write in the future would be written without reluctance, but also without anticipation or joy: that in the Sound and The Fury I had already put perhaps the only thing in literature which would ever move me very much: Caddy climbing the pear tree to look in the window at her grandmother's funeral while Quentin and Jason and Benjy and the negroes looked up at the muddy seat of her drawers.is the only one of the seven novels which I wrote without any accompanying feeling of drive or effort, or any following feeling of exhaustion or relief or distaste. When I began it I had no plan at all. I wasn't even writing a book. I was thinking of books, publication, only in the reverse, in saying to myself, I wont have to worry about publishers liking or not liking this at all. Four years before I had written Soldiers' Pay. It didn't take long to write and it got published quickly and made me about five hundred dollars. I said, Writing novels is easy. You dont make much doing it, but it is easy. I wrote Mosquitoes. It wasn't quite so easy to write and it didn't get published quite as quickly and it made me about four hundred dollars. I said, Apparently there is more to writing novels, being a novelist, than I thought. I wrote Sartoris. It took much longer, and the publisher refused it at once. But I continued to shop it about for three years with a stubborn and fading hope, perhaps to justify the time which I had spent writing it. This hope died slowly, though it didn't hurt at all. One day I seemed to shut a door between me and all publishers' addresses and book lists. I said to myself, Now I can write. Now I can make myself a vase like that which the old Roman kept at his bedside and wore the rim slowly away with kissing it. So I, who had never had a sister and was fated to lose my daugher in infancy, set out to make myself a beautiful and tragic little girl.Introduction to The Sound and the FuryQuarterly 26 (Summer 1973): 410-415.is no part of southern life. In the North it seems to be different. It is the hardest minor stone in Manhattan's foundation. It is a part of the glitter or shabbiness of the streets. The arrowing buildings rise out of it and because of it, to be torn down and arrow again. There will be people leading small bourgeois lives (those countless and almost invisible bones of its articulation, lacking any one of which the whole skeleton might collapse) whose bread will derive from it--polyglot boys and girls progressing from tenement schools to editorial rooms and art galleries, men with grey hair and paunches who run linotype machines and take up tickets at concerts and then go sedately home to Brooklyn and suburban stations where children and grandchildren await them--long after the descendants of Irish politicians and Neapolitan racketeers are as forgotten as the wild Indians and the pigeonof Chicago too: of that rhythm not always with harmony or tune lusty, loudvoiced, always changing and always young; drawing from a river basin which is almost a continent young men and women into its living unrest and then spewing them forth again to write Chicago in New England and Virginia and Europe. But in the South art, to become visible at all, must become a ceremony, a spectacle; something between a gypsy encampment and a church bazaar given by a handful of alien mummers who must waste themselves in protest and active self-defense until there is nothing left with which to speak--a single week, say, of furious endeavor for a show to be held on Friday night and then struck and vanished, leaving only a paint- stiffened smock or a worn out typewriter ribbon in the corner and perhaps a small bill for cheesecloth or bunting in the hands of an astonished and bewildered tradesman.this is because the South (I speak in the sense of the indigenous dream of any given collection of men having something in common' be it only geography and climate, which shape their economic and spiritual aspirations into cities, into a pattern of houses or behavior) is old since dead. New York, whatever it may believe of itself, is young since alive; it is still a logical and unbroken progression from the Dutch. And Chicago even boasts of being young. But the South, as Chicago is the Middlewest and New York the East, is dead, killed by the Civil War. There is a thing known whimsically as the New South to be sure, but it is not the south. It is a land of Immigrants who are rebuilding the towns and cities into replicas of towns and cities in Kansas and Iowa and Illinois, with skyscrapers and striped canvas awnings instead of wooden balconies, and teaching the young men who sell the gasoline and the waitresses in the restaurants to say O yeah? and to speak with hard r's, and hanging over the intersections of quiet and shaded streets where no one save Northern tourists in Cadillacs and Lincolns ever pass at a gait faster than a horse trots, changing red-and-green lights and savage and peremptory bells.this art, which has no place in southern life, is almost the sum total of the Southern artist. It is his breath, blood, flesh, all. Not so much that it is forced back upon him or that he is forced bodily into it by the circumstance; forced to choose, lady and tiger fashion, between being an artist and being a man. He does it deliberately; he wishes it so. This has always been true of him and of him alone. Only Southerners have taken horsewhips and pistols to editors about the treatment or maltreatment of their manuscript. This--the actual pistols--was in the old days, of course, we no longer succumb to the impulse. But it is still there, still within us.it is himself that the Southerner is writing about, not about his environment: who has, figuratively speaking, taken the artist in him in one hand and his milieu in the other and thrust the one into the other like a clawing and spitting cat into a croker sack. And he writes. We have never got and probably will never get, anywhere with music or the plastic forms. We need to talk, to tell, since oratory is our heritage. We seem to try in the simple furious breathing (or writing) span of the individual to draw a savage indictment of the contemporary scene or to escape from it into a makebelieve region of swords and magnolias and mockingbirds which perhaps never existed anywhere. Both of the courses are rooted in sentiment; perhaps the ones who write savagely and bitterly of the incest in clayfloored cabins are the most sentimental. Anyway, each course is a matter of violent partisanship, in which the writer unconsciously writes into every line and phrase his violent despairs and rages and frustrations or his violent prophesies of still more violent hopes. That cold intellect which can write with calm and complete detachment and gusto of its contemporary scene is not among us; I do not believe there lives the Southern writer who can say without lying that writing is any fun to him. Perhaps we do not want it to be.seem to have tried both of the courses. I have tried to escape and I have tried to indict. After five years I look back at The Sound and The Fury and see that that was the fuming point: in this book I did both at one time. When I began the book, I had no plan at all. I wasn't even writing a book. Previous to it I had written three novels, with progressively decreasing ease and pleasure, and reward or emolument. The third one was shopped about for three years during which I sent it from publisher to publisher with a kind of stubborn and fading hope of at least justifying the paper I had used and the time I had spent writing it. This hope must have died at last, because one day it suddenly seemed as if a door had clapped silently and forever to between me and all publishers' addresses and booklists and I said to myself, Now I can write. Now I can just write. Whereupon I, who had three brothers and no sisters and was destined to lose my first daughter in infancy, began to write about a little girl.did not realise then that I was trying to manufacture the sister which I did not have and the daughter which I was to lose, though the former might have been apparent from the fact that Caddy had three brothers almost before I wrote her name on paper. I just began to write about a brother and a sister splashing one another in the brook and the sister fell and wet her clothing and the smallest brother cried, thinking that the sister was conquered or perhaps hurt. Or perhaps he knew that he was the baby and that she would quit whatever water battles to comfort him. When she did so, when she quit the water fight and stooped in her wet garments above him, the entire story, which is all told by that same little brother in the first section, seemed to explode on the paper before me.saw that peaceful glinting of that branch was to become the dark, harsh flowing of time sweeping her to where she could not return to comfort him, but that just separation, division, would not be enough not far enough. It must sweep her into dishonor and shame too. And that Benjy must never grow beyond this moment; that for him all knowing must begin and end with that fierce, panting, paused and stooping wet figure which smelled like trees. That he must never grow up to where the grief of bereavement could be leavened with understanding and hence the alleviation of rage as in the case of Jason, and of oblivion as in the case of Quentin.saw that they had been sent to the pasture to spend the afternoon to get them away from the house during the grandmother's funeral in order that the three brothers and the nigger children could look up at the muddy seat of Caddy's drawers as she climbed the tree to look in the window at the funeral, without then realising the symbology of the soiled drawers, for here again hers was the courage which was to face later with honor the shame which she was to engender, which Quentin and Jason could not face: the one taking refuge in suicide, the other in vindictive rage which drove him to rob his bastard niece of the meagre sums which Caddy could send her. For I had already gone on to night and the bedroom and Dilsey with the mudstained drawers scrubbing the naked backside of that doomed little girl--trying to cleanse with the sorry byblow of its soiling that body, flesh, whose shame they symbolised and prophesied, as though she already saw the dark future and the part she was to play in it trying to hold that crumbling household together.the story was complete, finished. There was Dilsey to be the future, to stand above the fallen ruins of the family like a ruined chimney, gaunt, patient and indomitable; and Benjy to be the past. He had to be an idiot so that, like Dilsey, he could be impervious to the future, though unlike her by refusing to accept it at all. Without thought or comprehension; shapeless, neuter, like something eyeless and voiceless which might have lived, existed merely because of its ability to suffer, in the beginning of life; half fluid, groping: a pallid and helpless mass of all mindless agony under sun, in time yet not of it save that he could nightly carry with him that fierce, courageous being who was to him but a touch and a sound that may be heard on any golf links and a smell like trees, into the slow bright shapes of sleep.story is all there, in the first section as Benjy told it. I did not try deliberately to make it obscure; when I realised that the story might be printed, I took three more sections, all longer than Benjy's, to try to clarify it. But when I wrote Benjy's section, I was not writing it to be printed. If I were to do it over now I would do it differently, because the writing of it as it now stands taught me both how to write and how to read, and even more: It taught me what I had already read, because on completing it I discovered, in a series of repercussions like summer thunder, the Flauberts and Conrads and Turgenievs which as much as ten years before I had consumed whole and without assimilating at all, as a moth or a goat might. I have read nothing since; I have not had to. And I have learned but one thing since about writing. That is, that the emotion definite and physical and yet nebulous to describe which the writing of Benjy's section of The Sound and The Fury gave me--that ecstasy, that eager and joyous faith and anticipation of surprise which the yet unmarred sheets beneath my hand held inviolate and unfailing--will not return. The unreluctance to begin, the cold satisfaction in work well and arduously done, is there and will continue to be there as long as I can do it well. But that other will not return. I shall never know it again.I wrote Quentin's and Jason's sections, trying to clarify Benjy's. But I saw that I was merely temporising; That I should have to get completely out of the book. I realised that there would be compensations, that in a sense I could then give a final turn to the screw and extract some ultimate distillation. Yet it took me better than a month to take pen and write The day dawned bleak and chill before I did so. There is a story somewhere about an old Roman who kept at his bedside a Tyrrhenian vase which he loved and the rim of which he wore slowly away with kissing it. I had made myself a vase, but I suppose I knew all the time that I could not live forever inside of it, that perhaps to have it so that I too could lie in bed and look at it would be better; surely so when that day should come when not only the ecstasy of writing would be gone, but the unreluctance and the something worth saying too. It's fine to think that you will leave something behind you when you die, but it's better to have made something you can die with. Much better the muddy bottom of a little doomed girl climbing a blooming pear tree in April to look in the window at the funeral..
August, 1933.7, 1928the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting. Then they put the flag back and they went to the table, and he hit and the other hit. Then they went on, and I went along the fence. Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.
"Here, caddie." He hit. They went away across the pasture. I held to the fence and watched them going away.
"Listen at you, now." Luster said. "Aint you something, thirty three years old, going on that way. After I done went all the way to town to buy you that cake. Hush up that moaning. Aint you going to help me find that quarter so I can go to the show tonight."were hitting little, across the pasture. I went back along the fence to where the flag was. It flapped on the bright grass and the trees.
"Come on." Luster said. "We done looked there. They aint no more coming right now. Les go down to the branch and find that quarter before them niggers finds it."was red, flapping on the pasture. Then there was a bird slanting and tilting on it. Luster threw. The flag flapped on the bright grass and the trees. I held to the fence.
"Shut up that moaning." Luster said. "I cant make them come if they aint coming, can I. If you dont hush up, mammy aint going to have no birthday for you. If you dont hush, you know what I going to do. I going to eat that cake all up. Eat them candles, too. Eat all them thirty three candles. Come on, les go down to the branch. I got to find my quarter. Maybe we can find one of they balls. Here. Here they is. Way over yonder. See." He came to the fence and pointed his arm. "See them. They aint coming back here no more. Come on.went along the fence and came to the garden fence, where our shadows were. My shadow was higher than Luster's on the fence. We came to the hroken place and went through it.
"Wait a minute." Luster said. "You snagged on that nail again. Cant you never crawl through here without snagging on that nail."
.1uncaught me and we crawled through. Uncle Maury said to not let anybody see us, so we better stoop over, Caddy said. Stoop over, Benjy. Like this, see. We stooped over and crossed the garden, where the flowers rasped and rattled against us. The ground was hard. We climbed the fence, where the pigs were grunting and snuffing. I expect they're sorry because one of them got killed today, Caddy said. The ground was hard, churned and knotted. Keep your hands in your pockets, Caddy said. Or they'll get froze. You dont want your hands froze on Christmas, do you.
"It's too cold out there." Versh said. "You dont want to go outdoors."
"What is it now." Mother said.
"He want to go out doors." Versh said.
"Let him go." Uncle Maury said.
"It's too cold." Mother said. "He'd better stay in. Benjamin. Stop that, now."
"It wont hurt him." Uncle Maury said.
"You, Benjamin." Mother said. "If vou dont be good, you'll have to go to the kitchen."
"Mammy say keep him out the kitchen today." Versh said. "She say she got all that cooking to get done."
"Let him go, Caroline." Uncle Maury said. "You'll worry yourself sick over him."
"I know it." Mother said. "It's a judgment on me. I sometimes wonder."
"I know, I know." Uncle Maury said. "You must keep your strength up. I'll make you a toddy."
"It just upsets me that much more." Mother said. "Dont you know it does."
"You'll feel better. " Uncle Maury said. "Wrap him up good, boy, and take him out for a while."Maury went away. Versh went away.
"Please hush." Mother said. "We're trying to get you out as fast as we can. I dont want you to get sick."put my overshoes and overcoat on and we took my cap and went out. Uncle Maury was putting the bottle away in the sideboard in the diningroom.
"Keep him out about half an hour, boy." Uncle Maury said. "Keep him in the yard, now."
"Yes, sir." Versh said. "We dont never let him get off the place."went out doors. The sun was cold and bright.
"Where you heading for." Versh said. "You dont think you going to town, does you." We went through the rattling leaves. The gate was cold. "You better keep them hands in your pockets." Versh said. "You get them froze onto that gate, then what you do. Whyn't you wait for them in the house." He put my hands into my pockets. I could hear him rattling in the leaves. I could smell the cold. The gate was cold.
"Here some hickeynuts. Whooey. Git up that tree. Look here at this squirl, Benjy." I couldn't feel the gate at all, but I could smell the bright cold. "You better put them hands back in your pockets."was walking. Then she was running, her booksatchel swinging and jouncing behind her.
"Hello, Benjy." Caddy said. She opened the gate and came in and stooped down. Caddy smelled like leaves. "Did you come to meet me." she said. "Did you come to meet Caddy. What did you let him get his hands so cold for, Versh." "I told him to keep them in his pockets." Versh said. "Holding on to that ahun gate."
"Did you come to meet Caddy." she said, rubbing my hands. "What is it. What are you trying to tell Caddy." Caddy smelled like trees and like when she says we were asleep.
.2are you moaning about, Luster said. You can watch them again when we get to the branch. Here. Here's you a jimson weed. He gave me the flower. We went through the fence, into the lot.
"What is it." Caddy said "What are you trying to tell Caddy. Did they send him out, Versh."
"Couldn't keep him in." Versh said. "He kept on until they let him go and he come right straight down here, looking through the gate."
"What is it." Caddy said. "Did you think it would be Christmas when I came home from school. Is that what you thought. Christmas is the day after tomorrow. Santy Claus, Benjy. Santy Claus. Come on, let's run to the house and get warm." She took my hand and we ran through the bright rustling leaves. We ran up the steps and out of the bright cold, into the dark cold. Uncle Maury was putting the bottle back in the sideboard. He called Caddy. Caddy said,
"Take him in to the fire, Versh. Go with Versh." she said. "I'll come in a minute."went to the fire. Mother said,
"Is he cold, Versh."
"Nome." Versh said.
"Take his overcoat and overshoes off." Mother said. "How many times do I have to tell you not to bring him into the house with his overshoes on.
"Yessum." Versh said. "Hold still, now." He took my overshoes off and unbuttoned my coat. Caddy said,
"Wait, Versh. Cant he go out again, Mother. I want him to go with me.
"You'd better leave him here." Uncle Maury said. "He's been out enough today."
"I think you'd both better stay in." Mother said. "It's getting colder, Dilsey says."
"Oh, Mother." Caddy said.
"Nonsense." Uncle Maury said. "She's been in school all day. She needs the fresh air. Run along, Candace."
"Let him go, Mother." Caddy said. "Please. You know he'll cry."
"Then why did you mention it before him." Mother said. "Why did you come in here. To give him some excuse to worry me again. You've been out enough today. I think you'd better sit down here and play with him."
"Let them go, Caroline." Uncle Maury said. "A little cold wont hurt them. Remember, you've got to keep your strength up.
"I know." Mother said. "Nobody knows how I dread Christmas. Nobody knows. I am not one of those women who can stand things. I wish for Jason's and the children's sakes I was stronger."
"You must do the best you can and not let them worry you. " Uncle Maury said. "Run along. you two. But dont stay out long, now. Your mother will worry."
"Yes, sir." Caddy said. "Come on, Benjy. We're going out doors again." She buttoned my coat and we went toward the door.
"Are you going to take that baby out without his overshoes." Mother said. "Do you want to make him sick, with the house full of company."
"I forgot." Caddy said. "I thought he had them on. We went back. "You must think." Mother said. Hold still now Versh said. He put my overshoes on. "Someday I'll be gone, and you'll have to think for him." Now stomp Versh said. "Come here and kiss Mother, Benjamin."took me to Mother's chair and Mother took my face in her hands and then she held me against her.
"My poor baby." she said. She let me go. "You and Versh take good care of him, honey."
"Yessum." Caddy said. We went out. Caddy said,
"You needn't go, Versh. I'll keep him for a while."
"All right." Versh said. "I aint going out in that cold for no fun." He went on and we stopped in the hall and Caddy knelt and put her arms around me and her cold bright face against mine. She smelled like trees.
"You're not a poor baby. Are you. Are you. You've got your Caddy. Haven't you got your Caddy."
.3you shut up that moaning and slobbering, Luster said. Aint you shamed of yourself, making all this racket. We passed the carriage house, where the carriage was. It had a new wheel.
"Git in, now, and set still until your maw come." Dilsey said. She shoved me into the carriage. T.P. held the reins. "Clare I dont see how come Jason wont get a new surrey." Dilsey said. "This thing going to fall to pieces under you all some day. Look at them wheels."came out, pulling her veil down. She had some flowers.
"Where's Roskus." she said.
"Roskus cant lift his arms, today." Dilsey said. "T.P. can drive all right."
"I'm afraid to." Mother said. "It seems to me you all could furnish me with a driver for the carriage once a week. It's little enough I ask, Lord knows."
"You know just as well as me that Roskus got the rheumatism too bad to do more than he have to, Miss Cahline." Dilsey said. "You come on and get in, now. T.P. can drive you just as good as Roskus."
"I'm afraid to." Mother said. "With the baby." Dilsey went up the steps. "You calling that thing a baby." she said. She took Mother's arm. "A man big as T.P. Come on, now, if you going."
"I'm afraid to." Mother said. They came down the steps and Dilsey helped Mother in. "Perhaps it'll be the best thing, for all of us." Mother said.
"Aint you shamed, talking that way." Dilsey said. "Dont you know it'll take more than a eighteen year old nigger to make Queenie run away. She older than him and Benjy put together. And dont you start no projecking with Queenie, you hear me. T.P. If you dont drive to suit Miss Cahline, I going to put Roskus on you. He aint too tied up to do that."
"Yessum." T.P. said.
"I just know something will happen." Mother said. "Stop, Benjamin.
"Give him a flower to hold." Dilsey said. "That what he wanting." She reached her hand in.
"No, no." Mother said. "You'll have them all scattered."
"You hold them." Dilsey said. "I'll get him one out." She gave me a flower and her hand went away.
"Go on now, fore Quentin see you and have to go too." Dilsey said.
"Where is she." Mother said.
"She down to the house playing with Luster." Dilsey said. "Go on, T.P. Drive that surrey like Roskus told you, now.
"Yessum." T.P. said. "Hum up, Queenie."
"Quentin." Mother said. "Dont let "
"Course I is." Dilsey said.carriage jolted and crunched on the drive. "I'm afraid to go and leave Quentin." Mother said. "I'd better not go. T.P." We went through the gate, where it didn't jolt anymore. T.P. hit Queenie with the whip.
"You, T.P." Mother said.
"Got to get her going." T.P. said. "Keep her wake up till we get back to the barn."
"Turn around." Mother said. "I'm afraid to go and leave Quentin."
"Cant turn here." T.P. said. Then it was broader.
"Cant you turn here." Mother said.
"All right." T.P. said. We began to turn.
"You, T.P." Mother said, clutching me.
"I got to turn around some how." T.P. said. "Whoa, Queenie." We stopped.
"You'll turn us over." Mother said.
"What you want to do, then." T.P. said.
"I'm afraid for you to try to turn around." Mother said.
"Get up, Queenie." T.P. said. We went on.
"I just know Dilsey will let something happen to Quentin while I'm gone." Mother said. "We must hurry back."
"Hum up,' there." T.P. said. He hit Queenie with the whip.
"You, T.P." Mother said, clutching me. I could hear Qucenie's feet and the bright shapes went smooth and steady on both sides, the shadows of them flowing across Queenie's back. They went on like the bright tops of wheels. Then those on one side stopped at the tall white post where the soldier was. But on the other side they went on smooth and steady, but a little slower.
"What do you want." Jason said. He had his hands in his pockets and a pencil behind his ear.
"We're going to the cemetery." Mother said.
"All right." Jason said. "I dont aim to stop you, do I. Was that all you wanted with me, just to tell me that."
"I know you wont come." Mother said. "I'd feel safer if you would."
"Safe from what." Jason said. "Father and Quentin cant hurt you."put her handkerchief under her veil. "Stop it, Mother." Jason said. "Do you want to get that damn looney to bawling in the middle of the square. Drive on, T.P."
"Hum up, Queenie." T.P. said.
"It's a judgment on me." Mother said. "But I'll be gone too, soon.
"Here." Jason said.
"Whoa." T.P. said. Jason said,
"Uncle Maury's drawing on you for fifty. What do you want to do about it."
"Why ask me." Mother said. "I dont have any say so. I try not to worry you and Dilsey. I'll be gone soon, and then you "
"Go on, T.P." Jason said.
"Hum up, Queenie." T.P. said. The shapes flowed on. The ones on thc other side began again, bright and fast and smooth, like when Caddy says we are going to sleep.
.4baby, Luster said. Aint you shamed. We went through the barn. The stalls were all open. You aint got no spotted pony to ride now, Luster said. The floor was dry and dusty. The roof was falling. The slanting holes were full of spinning yellow. What do you want to go that way, for. You want to get your head knocked off with one of them balls.
Keep your hands in your pockets." Caddy said. "Or they'll be froze. You dont want your hands froze on Christmas, do you."went around the barn. The big cow and the little one were standing in the door, and we could hear Prince and Queenie and Fancy stomping inside the barn. "If it wasn't so cold, we'd ride Fancy." Caddy said. "But it's too cold to hold on today." Then we could seethe branch, where the smoke was blowing. "That's where they are killing the pig." Caddy said. "We can come back by there and see them." We went down the hill.
"You want to carry the letter." Caddy said. "You can carry it." She took the letter out of her pocket and put it in mine. "It's a Christmas present." Caddy said. "Uncle Maury is going to surprise Mrs Patterson with it. We got to give it to her without letting anybody see it. Keep your hands in your pockets good, now." We came to the branch.
"It's froze." Caddy said. "Look." She broke the top of the water and held a piece of it against my face. "Ice. That means how cold it is." She helped me across and we went up the hill. "We cant even tell Mother and Father. You know what I think it is. I think it's a surprise for Mother and Father and Mr Patterson both, because Mr Patterson sent you some candy. Do you remember when Mr Patterson sent you some candy last summer.was a fence. The vine was dry, and the wind rattled in it.
"Only I dont see why Uncle Maury didn't send Versh." Caddy said. "Versh wont tell." Mrs Patterson was looking out the window. "You wait here." Caddy said. "Wait right here, now. I'll be back in a minute. Give me the letter." She took the letter out of my pocket. "Keep your hands in your pockets." She climbed the fence with the letter in her hand and went through the brown, rattling flowers. Mrs Patterson came to the door and opened it and stood there.
.1Patterson was chopping in the green flowers. He stopped chopping and looked at me. Mrs Patterson came across the garden, running. When I saw her eyes I began to cry. You idiot, Mrs Patterson said, I told him never to send you alone again. Give it to me. Quick. Mr Patterson came fast, with the hoc. Mrs Patterson leaned across the fence, reaching her hand. She was trying to climb the fence. Give it to me, she said, Give it to me. Mr Patterson climbed the fence. He took the letter. Mrs Patterson's dress was caught on the fence. I saw her eyes again and I ran down the hill.
"They aint nothing over yonder but houses." Luster said. "We going down to the branch."were washing down at the branch. One of them was singing. I could smell the clothes flapping, and the smoke blowing across the branch.
"You stay down here." Luster said. "You aint got no business up yonder. Them folks hit you, sho."
"What he want to do."
"He dont know what he want to do." Luster said. "He think he want to go up yonder where they knocking that hall. You sit down here and play with your jimson weed. Look at them chillen playing in the branch, if you got to look at something. How come you cant behave yourself like folks." I sat down on the bank, where they were washing, and the smoke blowing blue.
"Is you all seen anything of a quarter down here." Luster said."What quarter."
""The one I had here this morning." Luster said. "I lost it somewhere. It fell through this here hole in my pocket. If I dont find it I cant go to the show tonight."
"Where'd you get a quarter, boy. Find it in white folks' pocket while they aint looking."
"Got it at the getting place." Luster said "Plenty more where that one come ftom. Only I got to find that one. Is you all found it yet."
"I aint studying no quarter. I got my own business to tend to."
"Come on here." Luster said. "Help me look for it."
"He wouldn't know a quarter if he was to see it, would he.""He can help look just the same." Luster said. "You all going to the show tonight."
"Dont talk to me about no show. Time I get done over this here tub I be too tired to lift my hand to do nothing."
"I bet you be there." Luster said. "I bet you was there last night. I bet you all be right there when that tent open."Be enough niggers there without me. Was last night."
"Nigger's money good as white folks, I reckon."
"White folks gives nigger money because know first white man comes along with a band going to get it all back, so nigger can go to work for some more."
"Aint nobody going make you go to that show."
"Aint yet. Aint thought of it, I reckon."
"What you got against white folks."
"Aint got nothing against them. I goes my way and lets white folks go theirs. I aint studying that show."
"Got a man in it can play a tune on a saw. Play it like a banjo."
"You go last night." Luster said. "I going tonight If I can find where I lost that quarter."
"You going take him with you, I reckon."
"Me." Luster said. "You reckon I be found anywhere with him, time he start bellering."
"What does you do when he start bellering."
"I whips him." Luster said. He sat down and rolled up his overalls. They played in the branch.
"You all found any balls yet." Luster said.
"Aint you talking biggity. I bet you better not let your grandmammy hear you talking like that."got into the branch, where they were playing. He hunted in the water, along the bank.
"I had it when we was down here this morning." Luster said.
"Where bouts you lose it."
"Right out this here hole in my pocket." Luster said. They hunted in the branch. Then they all stood up quick and stopped, then they splashed and fought in the branch. Luster got it and they squatted in the water, looking up the hill through the bushes.
"Where is they." Luster said.
"Aint in sight yet."put it in his pocket. They came down the hill.
"Did a hall come down here."
"It ought to be in the water. Didn't any of you boys see it or hear it."
"Aint heard nothing come down here." Luster said. "Heard something hit that tree up yonder. Dont know which way it went."looked in the branch.
"Hell. Look along the branch. It came down here. I saw it."looked along the branch. Then they went back up the hill.
"Have you got that ball." the boy said.
"What I want with it." Luster said. "I aint seen no ball."boy got in the water. He went on. He turned and looked at Luster again. He went on down the branch.man said "Caddie" up the hill. The boy got out of the water and went up the hill.
"Now, just listen at you." Luster said. "Hush up."
"What he moaning about now."
"Lawd knows." Luster said. "He just starts like that. He been at it all morning. Cause it his birthday, I reckon."
"How old he."
"He thirty three." Luster said. "Thirty three this morning."
"You mean, he been three years old thirty years.
"I going by what mammy say." Luster said. "I dont know. We going to have thirty three candles on a cake, anyway. Little cake. Wont hardly hold them. Hush up. Come on back here." He came and caught my arm. "You old looney." he said. "You want me to whip you."
"I bet you will."
"I is done it. Hush, now." Luster said. "Aint I told you you cant go up there. They'll knock your head clean off with one of them balls. Come on, here." He pulled me back. "Sit down." I sat down and he took off my shoes and rolled up my trousers. "Now, git in that water and play and see can you stop that slobbering and moaning."hushed and got in the water [ ]
[ ]and Roskus came and said to come to supper and Caddy said,'s not supper time yet I'm not going.was wet. We were playing in the branch and Caddy squatted down and got her dress wet and Versh said,
"Your mommer going to whip you for getting your dress wet."
"She's not going to do any such thing." Caddy said.
"How do you know." Quentin said.
"That's all right how I know." Caddy said. "How do you know."
"She said she was." Quentin said. "Besides, I'm older than you."
"I'm seven years old." Caddy said. "I guess I know."
"I'm older than that." Quentin said. "I go to school. Dont I, Versh."
"I'm going to school next year." Caddy said. "When it comes. Aint I, Versh."
"You know she whip you when you get your dress wet." Versh said.
"It's not wet." Caddy said. She stood up in the water and looked at her dress. "I'll take it off." she said. "Then it'll dry."
"I bet you wont." Quentin said.
"I bet I will." Caddy said.
"I bet you better not." Quentin said.came to Versh and me and turned her back.
"Unbutton it, Versh." she said.
"Dont you do it, Versh." Quentin said.
"Taint none of my dress." Versh said.
"You unbutton it, Versh." Caddy said. "Or I'll tell Dilsey what you did yesterday." So Versh unbuttoned it.
"You just take your dress off." Quentin said. Caddy took her dress off and threw it on the bank. Then she didn't have on anything but her bodice and drawers, and Quentin slapped her and she slipped and fell down in the water. When she got up she began to splash water on Quentin, and Quentin splashed water on Caddy. Some of it splashed on Versh and me and Versh picked me up and put me on the bank. He said he was going to tell on Caddy and Quentin, and then Quentin and Caddy began to splash water at Versh. He got behind a bush.
"I'm going to tell mammy on you all." Versh said.climbed up the bank and tried to catch Versh, but Versh ran away and Quentin couldn't. When Quentin came back Versh stopped and hollered that he was going to tell. Caddy told him that if he wouldn't tell, they'd let him come back. So Versh said he wouldn't, and they let him.
"Now I guess you're satisfied." Quentin said. "We'll both get whipped now."
"I dont care." Caddy said. "I'll run away."
"Yes you will." Quentin said.
"I'll run away and never come back." Caddy said. I began to cry.turned around and said "Hush" So I hushed. Then they played in the branch. Jason was playing too. He was by himself further down the branch. Versh came around the bush and lifted me down into the water again. Caddy was all wet and muddy behind, and I started to cry and she came and squatted in the water.
"Hush now." she said. "I'm not going to run away." So I hushed. Caddy smelled like trees in the rain.
.6is the matter with you, Luster said. Cant you get done with that moaning and play in the branch like folks.'t you take him on home. Didn't they told you not to take him off the place.still think they own this pasture, Luster said. Cant nobody see down here from the house, noways.can. And folks dont like to look at a looney. Taint no luck in it.
.2came and said to come to supper and Caddy said it wasn't supper time yet.
"Yes tis." Roskus said. "Dilsey say for you all to come on to the house. Bring them on, Versh." He went up the hill, where the cow was lowing.
"Maybe we'll be dry by the time we get to the house." Quentin said.
"It was all your fault." Caddy said. "I hope we do get whipped." She put her dress on and Versh buttoned it.
"They wont know you got wet." Versh said. "It dont show on you. Less me and Jason tells."
"Are you going to tell, Jason." Caddy said.
"Tell on who." Jason said.
"He wont tell." Quentin said. "Will you, Jason."
"I bet he does tell." Caddy said. "He'll tell Damuddy."
"He cant tell her." Quentin said. "She's sick. If we walk slow it'll be too dark for them to see."
"I dont care whether they see or not." Caddy said. "I'm going to tell, myself. You carry him up the hill, Versh."
"Jason wont tell." Quentin said. "You remember that bow and arrow I made you, Jason."
"It's broke now." Jason said.
"Let him tell." Caddy said. "I dont give a cuss. Carry Maury up the hill, Versh." Versh squatted and I got on his back.
.7you all at the show tonight, Luster said. Come on, here. We got to find that quarter.
"If we go slow, it'll be dark when we get there." Quentin said.
"I'm not going slow." Caddy said. We went up the hill, but Quentin didn't come. He was down at the branch when we got to where we could smell the pigs. They were grunting and snuffing in the trough in the comer. Jason came behind us, with his hands in his pockets. Roskus was milking the cow in the barn door.
.1cows came jumping out of the barn.
"Go on." T.P. said. "Holler again. I going to holler myself. Whooey." Quentin kicked T.P. again. He kicked T.P. into the trough where the pigs ate and T.P. lay there. "Hot dog." T.P. said. "Didn't he get me then. You see that white man kick me that time. Whooey."wasn't crying, but I couldn't stop. I wasn't crying, but the ground wasn't still, and then I was crying. The ground kept sloping up and the cows ran up the hill. T.P. tried to get up. He fell down again and the cows ran down the hill. Quentin held my arm and we went toward the barn. Then the barn wasn't there and we had to wait until it came back. I didn't see it come back. It came behind us and Quentin set me down in the trough where the cows ate. I held on to it. It was going away too, and I held to it. The cows ran down the hill again, across the door. I couldn't stop. Quentin and T.P. came up the hill, fighting. T.P. was falling down the hill and Quentin dragged him up the hill. Quentin hit T.P. I couldn't stop.
"Stand up." Quentin said. "You stay right here. Dont you go away until I get back."
"Me and Benjy going back to the wedding." T.P. said. "Whooey."hit T.P. again. Then he began to thump T.P. against the wall T.P. was laughing. Every time Quentin thumped him against the wall he tried to say Whooey, but he couldn't say it for laughing. I quit crying, but I couldn't stop. T.P. fell on me and the barn door went away. It went down the hill and T.P. was fighting by himself and he fell down again. He was still laughing, and I couldn't stop, and I tried to get up and I fell down, and I couldn't stop. Versh said,
"You sho done it now. I'll declare if you aint. Shut up that yelling.".P. was still laughing. He flopped on the door and laughed. "Whooey." he said. "Me and Benjy going back to the wedding. Sassprilluh." T.P. said.
"Hush." Versh said. "Where you get it."
"Out the cellar." T.P. said. "Whooey."
"Hush up." Versh said. "Where bouts in the cellar."
"Anywhere." T.P. said. He laughed some more. "Moren a hundred boftles lef. Moren a million. Look out, nigger, I going to holler."said, "Lift him up."lifted me up.
"Drink this, Benjy." Quentin said. The glass was hot. "Hush, now." Quentin said. "Drink it."
"You shut your mouth." Versh said. "Mr Quentin wear you out."
"Hold him, Versh." Quentin said.held me. It was hot on my chin and on my shirt. "Drink." Quentin said. They held my head. It was hot inside me, and I began again. I was crying now, and something was happening inside me and I cried more, and they held me until it stopped happening. Then I hushed. It was still going around, and then the shapes began. Open the crib, Versh. They were going slow. Spread those empty sacks on the floor. They were going faster, almost fast enough. Now. Pick up his feet. They went on, smooth and bright. I could hear T.P. laughing. I went on with them, up the bright hill.
.4the top of the hill Versh put me down. "Come on here, Quentin." he called, looking back down the hill. Quentin was still standing there by the branch. He was chunking into the shadows where the branch was.
"Let the old skizzard stay there." Caddy said. She took my hand and we went on past the barn and through the gate. There was a frog on the brick walk, squatting in the middle of it. Caddy stepped over it and pulled me on.
"Come on, Maury." she said. It still squatted there until Jason poked at it with his toe.
"He'll make a wart on you." Versh said. The frog hopped away.
"Come on, Maury." Caddy said.
"They got company tonight." Versh said.
"How do you know." Caddy said.
"With all them lights on." Versh said. "Light in every window."
"I reckon we can turn all the lights on without company, if we want to." Caddy said.
"I bet it's company. " Versh said. "You all befter go in the back and slip upstairs."
"I dont care." Caddy said. "I'll walk right in the parlor where they are.
"I bet your pappy whip you if you do." Versh said.
"I dont care." Caddy said. "I'll walk right in the parlor. I'll walk right in the dining room and eat supper."
"Where you sit." Versh said.
"I'd sit in Damuddy's chair." Caddy said. "She eats in bed."
"I'm hungry. " Jason said. He passed us and ran on up the walk. He had his hands in his pockets and he fell down. Versh went and picked him up.
"If you keep them hands out your pockets, you could stay on your feet." Versh said. "You cant never get them out in time to catch yourself, fat as you is."was standing by the kitchen steps.
"Where's Quentin." he said.
"He coming up the walk." Versh said. Quentin was coming slow. His shirt was a white blur.
"Oh." Father said. Light fell down the steps, on him.
"Caddy and Quentin threw water on each other. " Jason said.waited.
"They did." Father said. Quentin came, and Father said, "You can eat supper in the kitchen tonight." He stooped and took me up, and the light came tumbling down the steps on me too, and I could look down at Caddy and Jason and Quentin and Versh. Father turned toward the steps. "You must be quiet, though." he said.
"Why must we be quiet, Father." Caddy said. "Have we got company.
"Yes." Father said.
"I told you they was company." Versh said.
"You did not." Caddy said. "I was the one that said there was. I said I would "
"Hush." Father said. They hushed and Father opened the door and we crossed the back porch and went in to the kitchen. Dilsey was there, and Father put me in the chair and closed the apron down and pushed it to the table, where supper was. It was steaming up.
"You mind Dilsey, now." Father said. "Dont let them make any more noise than they can help, Dilsey."
"Yes, sir." Dilsey said. Father went away.
"Remember to mind Dilsey, now." he said behind us. I leaned my face over where the supper was. It steamed up on my face.
"Let them mind me tonight, Father." Caddy said.
"I wont." Jason said. "I'm going to mind Dilsey."
"You'll have to, if Father says so." Caddy said. "Let them mind me, Father."
"I wont." Jason said. "I wont mind you."
"Hush." Father said. "You all mind Caddy, then. When they are done, bring them up the back stairs, Dilsey."
"Yes, sir." Dilsey said.
"There." Caddy said. "Now I guess you'll mind me.
"You all hush, now." Dilsey said. "You got to be quiet tonight."
"Why do we have to be quiet tonight." Caddy whispered.
"Never you mind." Dilsey said. "You'll know in the Lawd's own time." She brought my bowl. The steam from it came and tickled my face. "Come here, Versh." Dilsey said.
"When is the Lawd's own time, Dilsey." Caddy said.
"It's Sunday." Quentin said. "Dont you know anything."
"Shhhhhh." Dilsey said. "Didn't Mr Jason say for you all to be quiet. Eat your supper, now. Here, Versh. Git his spoon." Versh's hand came with the spoon, into the bowl. The spoon came up to my mouth. The steam tickled into my mouth. Then we quit eating and we looked at each other and we were quiet, and then we heard it again and I began to cry.
"What was that." Caddy said. She put her hand on my hand.
"That was Mother." Quentin said. The spoon came up and I ate, then I cried again.
"Hush." Caddy said. But I didn't hush and she came and put her arms around me. Dilsey went and closed both the doors and then we couldn't hear it.
"Hush, now." Caddy said. I hushed and ate. Quentin wasn't eating, but Jason was.
"That was Mother." Quentin said. He got up.
"You set right down." Dilsey said. "They got company in there, and you in them muddy clothes. You set down too, Caddy, and get done eating."
"She was crying." Quentin said.
"It was somebody singing." Caddy said. "Wasn't it, Dilsey."
"You all eat your supper, now, like Mr Jason said." Dilsey said. "You'll know in the Lawd's own time." Caddy went back to her chair.
"I told you it was a party." she said.said, "He done et all that."
"Bring his bowl here." Dilsey said. The bowl went away.
"Dilsey." Caddy said. "Quentin's not eating his supper. Hasn't he got to mind me."
"Eat your supper, Quentin." Dilsey said. "You all got to get done and get out of my kitchen."
"I dont want any more supper. Quentin said.
"You've got to eat if I say you have." Caddy said. "Hasn't he, Dilsey." The bowl steamed up to my face, and Versh's hand dipped the spoon in it and the steam tickled into my mouth.
"I dont want any more." Quentin said. "How can they have a party when Damuddy's sick."
"They'll have it down stairs." Caddy said. "She can come to the landing and see it. That's what I'm going to do when I get my nightie on.
"Mother was crying. " Quentin said. "Wasn't she crying, Dilsey."
"Dont you come pestering at me, boy." Dilsey said. "I got to get supper for all them folks soon as you all get done eating."a while even Jason was through eating, and he began to cry.
"Now you got to tune up." Dilsey said.
"He does it every night since Damuddy was sick and he cant sleep with her." Caddy said. "Cry baby."
"I'm going to tell on you." Jason said.was crying. "You've already told." Caddy said. "There's not anything else you can tell, now."
"You all needs to go to bed." Dilsey said. She came and lifted me down and wiped my face and hands with a warm cloth. "Versh, can you get them up the back stairs quiet. You, Jason, shut up that crying."
"It's too early to go to bed now." Caddy said. "We dont ever have to go to bed this early."
"You is tonight." Dilsey said. "Your paw say for you to come right on up stairs when you et supper. You heard him."
"He said to mind me. " Caddy said.
"I'm not going to mind you." Jason said.
"You have to." Caddy said. "Come on, now. You have to do like I say.
"Make them be quiet, Versh." Dilsey said. "You all going to be quiet, aint you.
"What do we have to be so quiet for, tonight." Caddy said.
"Your mommer aint feeling well." Dilsey said. "You all go on with Versh, now."
"I told you Mother was crying. " Quentin said. Versh took me up and opened the door onto the back porch. We went out and Versh closed the door black. I could smell Versh and feel him. You all be quiet, now. We're not going up stairs yet. Mr Jason said for you to come right up stairs. He said to mind me. I'm not going to mind you. But he said for all of us to. Didn't he, Quentin. I could feel Versh's head. I could hear us. Didn't he, Versh. Yes, that right. Then I say for us to go out doors a while. Come on. Versh opened the door and we went out.went down the steps.
"I expect we'd better go down to Versh's house, so we'll be quiet." Caddy said. Versh put me down and Caddy took my hand and we went down the brick walk.
"Come on." Caddy said. "That frog's gone. He's hopped way over to the garden, by now. Maybe we'll see another one." Roskus came with the milk buckets. He went on. Quentin wasn't coming with us. He was sitting on the kitchen steps. We went down to Versh's house. I liked to smell Versh's house. [ ]
[ ]There was a fire in it and T.P. squatting in his shirt tail in front of it, chunking it into a blaze.
.1I got up and T.P. dressed me and we went to the kitchen and ate. Dilsey was singing and I began to cry and she stopped.
"Keep him away from the house, now." Dilsey said.
"We cant go that way." T.P. said.played in the branch.
"We cant go around yonder." T.P. said. "Dont you know mammy say we cant."was singing in the kitchen and I began to cry.
"Hush." T.P. said. "Come on. Les go down to the barn." Roskus was milking at the barn. He was milking with one hand, and groaning. Some birds sat on the barn door and watched him. One of them came down and ate with the cows. I watched Roskus milk while T.P. was feeding Queenie and Prince. The calf was in the pig pen. It nuzzled at the wire, bawling.
"T.P." Roskus said. T.P. said Sir, in the barn. Fancy held her head over the door, because T.P. hadn't fed her yet. "Git done there." Roskus said. "You got to do this milking. I cant use my right hand no more.".P. came and milked.
"Whyn't you get the doctor." T.P. said.
"Doctor cant do no good." Roskus said. "Not on this place."
"What wrong with this place." T.P. said.
"Taint no luck on this place." Roskus said. "Turn that calf in if you done."
.1no luck on this place, Roskus said. The fire rose and fell behind him and Versh, sliding on his and Versh's face. Dilsey finished putting me to bed. The bed smelled like T.P. I liked it.
"What you know about it." Dilsey said. "What trance you been in."
"Dont need no trance." Roskus said. "Aint the sign of it laying right there on that bed. Aint the sign of it been here for folks to see fifteen years now.
"Spose it is." Dilsey said. "It aint hurt none of you and yourn, is it. Versh working and Frony married off your hands and T.P. getting big enough to take your place when rheumatism finish getting you."
"They been two, now." Roskus said. "Coing to be one more. I seen the sign, and you is too."
"I heard a squinch owl that night." T.P. said. "Dan wouldn't come and get his supper, neither. Wouldn't come no closer than the barn. Begun howling right after dark. Versh heard him."
"Going to be more than one more." Dilsey said. "Show me the man what aint going to die, bless Jesus."
"Dying aint all." Roskus said.
"I knows what you thinking." Dilsey said. "And they aint going to be no luck in saying that name, lessen you going to set up with hi