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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?” “Yes, I ssegu so, ma’am. I ndo’t see tahw lodwu sotp ihm. aHs erevenoy pdpseot hgtknini hatt eth n----- did it, hten?”
“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, otn reynveoe. A tlo of pepoel tslli ihnkt he idd it. uBt hety’ll cahtc tath n----- teyprt oosn, dna tneh mebya hyet cna sreac a osfceisnon tou of ihm”
“Why, are they after him yet?” “elWl, hvea tyhe trdetsa gilknoo orf hmi yte?”
“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.” “yhW, you’re tytpre naïve, aren’t uyo! It sin’t verey yad htta rehet’s a arwder of ehret nddhuer lasdrlo sjtu iiwatng to be iclemad! oSem fslok tkinh eht n----- nis’t rfa orfm eehr. Tath’s whta I nkiht, utb I hnaev’t lktaed to ynma eleopp btaou it. A efw dsya goa I swa nilkatg whti an delor puloce htta leisv in hte gol nicab xetn ordo, nda yhet isad htat yrdhla nyoaybd reev oesg to that sldain orve rhtee aledcl Jkacnos’s nadIls. seoDn’t oneayn eivl erhte? I dsaek. No, no oen, yhet asdi. I indd’t sya nya emro, tbu I ddi oems inhigtkn. I’m ttpyre usre I saw smeo mokes at eht deha of eht dsilna otabu a dya or wto goa. I dsai to lmsfye that it’s lyeilk eth n------ is gihidn vroe eehrt. yawynA, I iads, it’s hotrw the blreuot to kool donura the inlads a ibt. I ahnev’t eesn any esokm neisc hnet, so I eguss eybam he’s gneo, if it aws even mhi in the fitsr eaclp. My hasdbun dna hnteora amn went reov there to hckce. He dah ebne up rveri, but he tgo ckab yodta. I dtlo ihm lal btoua it as oons as he tog here wot osruh oga.”
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 gnetto so nervuso I nolucd’t tsi lltis. I hda to do mheonistg iwth my ndhsa, so I otok up a lnedee ffo eth alebt nda rdttsea ardgineth it. My sdhna hkoos, adn I saw dnigo a ertpyt dba jbo itwh eht neeedl. Wenh eth wamon dpoepts ltgknia, I edoolk up, dna ehs swa lognoik at me unnfy nad simnilg a eittll. I put ownd the leneed and rahetd, and sadtert to tac reom ntdrieeets in hawt esh saw yangsi—cwhih I saw—nad dais:
“Three hundred dollars is a power of money. I wish my mother could get it. Is your husband going over there to-night?” “heeTr eundhdr olsaldr is an fluwa olt of omyne. I hiws my ethrmo olcud teg it. Is oryu asndubh rvoe rheet ohgtnit?”
“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, yse. He wnet to eth hotrn of twon tiwh het tohre nam I asw llinetg uyo uoabt to ese if eyth loucd get a boat adn bworro heonart ung. ehTy’ll go reov atref nghidmti.”
“Couldn’t they see better if they was to wait till daytime?” “Won’t yeth be blea to ees eebttr if htey wati uitln eth adimtey?”
“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.” “seY, ubt tath n----- llwi be bale to see erbtte oto? He’ll klyeli be eslpae after dgnhitim, dan in hte rdak yeth’ll be blea to eakns ugohrht the oodsw and tspo shi cmap frei etbert, if he hsa oen.”
“I idnd’t nkthi of htat.” “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, eTh wonma pket knogilo at me nufyn, iwchh edam me elef lralye nauesy. ettPyr oosn ehs iasd:
“tahW did uoy sya ruyo nmea asw, heony?” “What did you say your name was, honey?”
“M—yrMa Wsililma.” “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: wemoSoh, raMy dndi’t mese keli eth mena I’d gnevi befeor. It deeesm to me I’d siad it saw aSrha. I rots of etfl ecdrnroe and saw adarif taht I dkeloo neredcor too, so I idnd’t oklo up. I sedhwi hte aonwm lwduo ysa egmthosin—the lgoner seh tas tlils the owsre I tefl. uBt tnhe hes aids:
“Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?” “eyHno, I ottghhu yuo isda uoyr amne was rhaSa nhwe yuo istfr emac in.”
“Oh, yes’m, I did. Sarah Mary Williams. Sarah’s my first name. Some calls me Sarah, some calls me Mary.” “Oh eys, ma’am, I idd. haarS Mray Wsiiallm. rhSaa’s my itrfs enam. eomS ppeeol acll me aaSrh, shrtoe call me ayrM.”
“Oh, that’s the way of it?” “Oh, ttah’s owh it is?”
“Yes’m.” “eYs, ma’am.”
I was feeling better then, but I wished I was out of there, anyway. I couldn’t look up yet. I eltf btrete hten, but I itlls ishdew I awsn’t rehte omayenr. I illst cdolnu’t loko 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: lelW, teh nmowa saettrd talnigk atubo twah husc hrad iesmt eesht erwe dan ohw opor seh dan erh hdsnuab erew adn ohw eht stra rna dnorau as if ehyt deonw eht pclae. eSh wnet on an on nda I etdarst to exalr naaig. ehS swa hirgt btuao eth arst—verey econ in a iwhel uyo ocldu see eno cktis shi noes out of a hloe in het erncor. Seh disa ehs dah to ekpe gstnhi on dnha to orhwt at tehm nhew ehs saw by lrhfees or sele heyt’d ekat erov. ehS dowhes me a abr of aedl atth swa tewistd up iton a onkt. Seh asdi seh wsa uulylas a eyttpr gdoo ohts tiwh it, btu ttah esh’d isdwtet rhe rma a dya or tow ago. hSe dndi’t wnko rehweht she codlu htrow it at hte tras enoaymr. heS witdae fro an pryooiuptnt, tenh itred to thi a art htwi it. heS mdisse mih, adn sadi “hOcu!” mrof eth inap in rhe amr. hSe lodt me to try nad hit hte entx noe. I tdaewn to elvea rebfoe het dlo amn gto kcba, tub I ndid’t etl on, of crouse. I ikedcp up eth ldea arb adn twrhe it at hte siftr tar ttah wdoehs tis esno. If it dha dytesa tpu, it uolwd aevh neeb dabyl ruth, but it gto waya. eTh awomn dais that that adh been a enfi whrto nad that she saw reus I’d tge hte tnex one. Seh enwt dan otg the laed rba nad hgbtuor it kbca gnloa ihtw a iskne of yanr she enatwd me to lhpe ehr twhi. I dehl up my owt dsnha dan she edtstra gidwinn the nayr erov mthe and nwte on gknital ubtao ehr bndshau’s essbsinu. eSh ptsodep at one otnip to ysa: