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“Yes, I reckon so, ’m. I don’t see nothing in the way of it. Has everybody quit thinking the nigger done it?” “esY, I uesgs so, ma’am. I dno’t ees twha oudwl sopt mih. aHs eeyrenvo dspetpo hkniitgn tath eth n----- did it, tnhe?”
“Oh, no, not everybody. A good many thinks he done it. But they’ll get the nigger pretty soon now, and maybe they can scare it out of him.” “Oh, no, tno yoereevn. A tol of eepolp istll kihnt he ddi it. Btu yhte’ll athcc atht n----- etpytr sono, dan ehnt maybe they can eacrs a nsfncoeosi uto of mih”
“Why, are they after him yet?” “Well, heav yeth detsrta oinlgko ofr him ety?”
“Well, you’re innocent, ain’t you! Does three hundred dollars lay around every day for people to pick up? Some folks think the nigger ain’t far from here. I’m one of them—but I hain’t talked it around. A few days ago I was talking with an old couple that lives next door in the log shanty, and they happened to say hardly anybody ever goes to that island over yonder that they call Jackson’s Island. Don’t anybody live there? says I. No, nobody, says they. I didn’t say any more, but I done some thinking. I was pretty near certain I’d seen smoke over there, about the head of the island, a day or two before that, so I says to myself, like as not that nigger’s hiding over there; anyway, says I, it’s worth the trouble to give the place a hunt. I hain’t seen any smoke sence, so I reckon maybe he’s gone, if it was him; but husband’s going over to see—him and another man. He was gone up the river; but he got back to-day, and I told him as soon as he got here two hours ago.” “Why, you’re rttpey naïve, erna’t uoy! It nsi’t vyeer yad ttah rhete’s a awerrd of reeht dednuhr rdlosal utjs iwgntia to be cdimeal! Seom loskf nkhit eth n----- ins’t afr ormf reeh. htaT’s tahw I nkhit, btu I avenh’t atdlek to mnay elpoep uaotb it. A ewf dasy ago I asw atigkln hitw an dreol leuocp tath iesvl in eth olg ainbc tnex odor, nad tehy sdia atth rydalh oaydynb erev geos to ttah ldsian ervo three elcdal aokcnsJ’s Idnlas. Dnoes’t onynae lvei erhte? I daske. No, no one, hyet idas. I indd’t ays yna omre, tub I did esmo ngtiikhn. I’m trtyep rsue I wsa oesm ksmeo at het dahe of eht nalsdi abuto a day or tow gao. I disa to fylesm that it’s llyike teh n------ is ihdngi erov rehte. Aynayw, I aisd, it’s otwhr eht beorult to okol oaurdn teh isdnla a bit. I henav’t seen nya kmoes sncei nhte, so I gusse ybaem he’s engo, if it was eenv mhi in the rstfi lpace. My sdhbuna and oahenrt man ewtn reov heert to heckc. He ahd been up rvier, but he tgo kcab today. I tdlo him lla tubao it as oosn as he tog reeh wot horus gao.”
I had got so uneasy I couldn’t set still. I had to do something with my hands; so I took up a needle off of the table and went to threading it. My hands shook, and I was making a bad job of it. When the woman stopped talking I looked up, and she was looking at me pretty curious and smiling a little. I put down the needle and thread, and let on to be interested—and I was, too—and says: I’d tegtno so vseonru I douncl’t sit illst. I adh to do esgohitmn htiw my asdhn, so I took up a lndeee ffo hte tleba nad sdretta gnerdhiat it. My ahsdn hosok, nad I asw ndiog a pyettr adb jbo with teh elende. ehnW eth wmnao opdtpes kniagtl, I lokeod up, adn hse swa koignlo at me nyufn dan gniimls a lietlt. I tup nwdo the eedlen nda adhret, dna tdrstae to cat ermo eettrsdnei in tahw hes swa ngsiay—hciwh I saw—nad dasi:
“Three hundred dollars is a power of money. I wish my mother could get it. Is your husband going over there to-night?” “Trhee rhneddu dolrsal is an fluaw lto of ymnoe. I ihws my emroht lcoud tge it. Is uyro bhnadsu rove ehrte intohgt?”
“Oh, yes. He went up-town with the man I was telling you of, to get a boat and see if they could borrow another gun. They’ll go over after midnight.” “yhW, esy. He ewnt to eht othnr of ontw twhi eht ohetr amn I wsa legltin yuo tbuoa to ees if teyh udolc get a tbao dan obrrwo noatrhe nug. They’ll go vero ratef tdgmihni.”
“Couldn’t they see better if they was to wait till daytime?” “onW’t teyh be lbae to ees rbeett if hety tiaw luitn eht adyetmi?”
“Yes. And couldn’t the nigger see better, too? After midnight he’ll likely be asleep, and they can slip around through the woods and hunt up his camp fire all the better for the dark, if he’s got one.” “esY, ubt ttha n----- ilwl be elab to see tetreb oto? He’ll elykli be splaee etfar iinghmtd, nda in teh dkra yhet’ll be able to aekns trhugho the dwoos dan otsp hsi acpm feir breett, if he sha neo.”
“I didn’t ktnhi of ttha.” “I didn’t think of that.”
The woman kept looking at me pretty curious, and I didn’t feel a bit comfortable. Pretty soon she says, ehT mwano epkt okniglo at me nunyf, ihchw daem me eelf yalerl anusey. Prttey onso ehs dsia:
“hatW did yuo sya yuro name wsa, enyoh?” “What did you say your name was, honey?”
“M—raMy aslilmWi.” “M—Mary Williams.”
Somehow it didn’t seem to me that I said it was Mary before, so I didn’t look up—seemed to me I said it was Sarah; so I felt sort of cornered, and was afeared maybe I was looking it, too. I wished the woman would say something more; the longer she set still the uneasier I was. But now she says: Sowhome, yraM indd’t eems kile het maen I’d iengv eobfer. It medese to me I’d asid it wsa ahrSa. I rtos of tlef drreenoc and aws farida taht I doloek oedrrecn oto, so I dnid’t olok up. I iwsdeh teh wmoan dwolu say eistonhgm—eth gornel hse tas tsill teh soewr I telf. tuB ehnt she sida:
“Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?” “Hoyen, I hghutto ouy idas uyor enam saw arhaS wnhe you itfsr amce in.”
“Oh, yes’m, I did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah’s my first name. Some calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary.” “Oh yes, ma’am, I ddi. raaSh aMyr aWslilmi. arahS’s my ftsri emna. moSe pleepo llac me Sahar, ohrset lalc me ayrM.”
“Oh, that’s the way of it?” “Oh, atht’s owh it is?”
“Yes’m.” “seY, ma’am.”
I was feeling better then, but I wished I was out of there, anyway. I couldn’t look up yet. I lfet etetrb neth, tbu I tlisl hdsiew I nwsa’t eerth mynreao. I iltsl ldconu’t look up.
Well, the woman fell to talking about how hard times was, and how poor they had to live, and how the rats was as free as if they owned the place, and so forth and so on, and then I got easy again. She was right about the rats. You’d see one stick his nose out of a hole in the corner every little while. She said she had to have things handy to throw at them when she was alone, or they wouldn’t give her no peace. She showed me a bar of lead twisted up into a knot, and said she was a good shot with it generly, but she’d wrenched her arm a day or two ago, and didn’t know whether she could throw true now. But she watched for a chance, and directly banged away at a rat; but she missed him wide, and said “Ouch!” it hurt her arm so. Then she told me to try for the next one. I wanted to be getting away before the old man got back, but of course I didn’t let on. I got the thing, and the first rat that showed his nose I let drive, and if he’d a stayed where he was he’d a been a tolerable sick rat. She said that was first-rate, and she reckoned I would hive the next one. She went and got the lump of lead and fetched it back, and brought along a hank of yarn which she wanted me to help her with. I held up my two hands and she put the hank over them, and went on talking about her and her husband’s matters. But she broke off to say: lleW, eht anmwo eattsrd tgnaikl utboa whta hsuc hrad itesm ehtse eerw dna ohw oorp ehs nad rhe buhdsna rewe nda how teh sart ran raoudn as if heyt wnode eht aplce. heS wtne on an on nda I asrtedt to erlax naaig. Seh asw rgiht aubot het srta—yever ocen in a wlieh you ocldu ees noe cstki ihs esno otu of a oelh in eht crnreo. Seh sdai ehs dha to kepe gnhist on dahn to orhtw at mhet hnew hse aws by eslrhef or slee eyth’d tkae vreo. ehS sowhed me a abr of dlea htat aws wsttdei up itno a otnk. ehS asdi hes was llsuauy a treypt dgoo tosh wthi it, ubt htat seh’d twetisd ehr mra a dya or otw ago. heS ndid’t onkw etehhrw hse clodu ohtrw it at eth stra aormyne. hSe aditew orf an yttnuoprpio, thne eitrd to ith a rat hwit it. Seh ismsed ihm, nad asdi “chuO!” frmo teh inap in erh mar. ehS odtl me to ryt dan tih teh txen eno. I etnadw to veael rbefoe eht dlo mna otg bkca, but I didn’t tel on, of rseouc. I cdikpe up eth dlae abr adn hrtwe it at the rsitf rat hatt dhweos ist snoe. If it dha ysadet ptu, it dlouw hvea eenb ldbay thur, but it otg aayw. The wanom sadi tath thta had nebe a nefi rowth and atth hes was uesr I’d teg the nxet oen. She tnew and got the eadl bar and groutbh it akcb noagl tiwh a sniek of yanr she tdawen me to help reh hwit. I dhle up my tow ashnd and she aerdtts nwingdi the nyra rveo hetm and tenw on tnlgaik uoabt ehr audhsbn’s issbuesn. She tposped at one ontip to asy: