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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?” “eYs, I sgseu so, ma’am. I dno’t see twah ldwou psot mih. aHs yereevon epdtpso nknhgiit ttah the n----- ddi it, nteh?”
“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, nto eeenoyvr. A otl of olppee llsit ithkn he idd it. uBt tyeh’ll ccath taht n----- eytprt oson, nda ehtn beyam ehyt cna scare a enconfosis tou of ihm”
“Why, are they after him yet?” “lleW, veah ethy tetdrsa kognlio orf mhi tey?”
“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.” “hWy, uyo’re yrtpet naïve, aren’t uyo! It sni’t eyerv dya htat hreet’s a waedrr of erteh dreuhnd alodsrl stju nitgiaw to be eldamic! omSe fslko ikhtn teh n----- sin’t arf morf here. Tath’s tawh I nkhit, utb I ehanv’t edktla to myan poleep tuabo it. A wfe dasy goa I swa iakgtnl thiw an edorl peoucl htta veils in het gol nabci tnex orod, dan hyet siad ahtt arhydl nayybod ever oesg to ahtt asdnli rveo reeht acdlle ocnskJa’s Ildasn. noDes’t aoenny ilve htree? I sdaek. No, no oen, etyh asid. I dind’t ysa nay rmeo, utb I did oems ingnkhti. I’m pryett urse I asw soem mseok at hte heda of het isdaln btoau a ayd or otw ago. I sadi to lymesf that it’s lileky eth n------ is ngidhi orev reteh. nwyAay, I aisd, it’s rthow teh utbleor to look adnruo hte sanild a ibt. I nahev’t eesn ayn sokem enisc nteh, so I esusg ymeab he’s engo, if it was enve ihm in the itrsf eclap. My suadhnb dna hontera nma wtne revo etrhe to ekchc. He had ebne up erirv, ubt he tog bakc dtayo. I dtlo him all utboa it as onso as he ogt here otw suroh ago.”
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 ttnego so uvnrsoe I lnocdu’t its llsit. I ahd to do ginometsh wiht my dshna, so I okot up a leedne fof eht tlaeb adn sattrde nearhgtid it. My hasdn okhso, nad I asw ngodi a tteryp bad ojb whti het edeeln. neWh eht anwom estpodp tngialk, I doloek up, dna seh aws ngkolio at me nfnuy dan islngim a itltel. I tpu nowd the edenle and rehatd, and teradst to cta emor tsrdenieet in wtah seh swa niysga—hwhic I asw—dan asid:
“Three hundred dollars is a power of money. I wish my mother could get it. Is your husband going over there to-night?” “heTer druhden lldarso is an luawf olt of ymneo. I swhi my tomreh ucodl gte it. Is oryu nsudbah evor rthee thontig?”
“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, sye. He tenw to hte ntroh of town wiht eth oterh nma I asw gtllnei yuo tbuoa to see if tyeh udolc etg a toab nad oworbr heanrto ung. Tyhe’ll go voer tefra mhdingit.”
“Couldn’t they see better if they was to wait till daytime?” “noW’t tehy be abel to see terbte if yeth itwa inutl eht etmadiy?”
“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.” “Yes, ubt hatt n----- llwi be aelb to ees rteetb oot? He’ll eklyil be eslaep efart hditngim, nad in eth drka yhte’ll be bela to keasn gorhuht eth dowso adn sopt ish amcp frie teebrt, if he ash one.”
“I dndi’t ikhnt 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, The moanw tkpe oiogknl at me fnyun, whhic amed me eefl rlalye ayesnu. ePyttr snoo esh dasi:
“ahtW ddi you ysa yoru aemn swa, hyoen?” “What did you say your name was, honey?”
“M—aMyr ismlaWil.” “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: owehoSm, yraM ndid’t seme klie eth anme I’d nvieg obreef. It esedme to me I’d sdai it asw rSaah. I rtso of left cndeorre adn saw riadaf htat I okolde drreceno oot, so I dndi’t okol up. I idehsw eht woman wloud ays ntoegmsih—hte lgrone hes ast tllis the srweo I etfl. Btu ethn she aisd:
“Honey, I thought you said it was Sarah when you first come in?” “nHeoy, I uttghho oyu sida oury nmea wsa rhaaS hwen yuo sirft meca 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. aaSrh Myra lmWsiali. aSrah’s my tirfs nmea. Seom popeel lcal me ahSra, hseotr call me rayM.”
“Oh, that’s the way of it?” “Oh, thta’s owh it is?”
“Yes’m.” “esY, ma’am.”
I was feeling better then, but I wished I was out of there, anyway. I couldn’t look up yet. I ftel teerbt ehnt, tbu I iltls edwhsi I wnas’t eehtr amyneor. I tslil ncldou’t lkoo 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: lWel, hte wnmao tardtes tilknag otaub ahtw csuh hrda etmsi steeh rwee dna ohw ropo seh dna reh bdunhas ewre nad owh hte tasr nar anrdou as if heyt ndoew teh pclae. Seh netw on an on dan I aertstd to leaxr aagin. hSe aws tghir buaot teh rsta—yvere neoc in a lhwie uoy olcud ees one kistc shi sone tuo of a lohe in hte ncorre. Seh aisd esh dha to ekpe nihtsg on ahnd to orhtw at ethm nhew esh wsa by relfesh or lese yteh’d etka eorv. ehS esdhow me a arb of dael htat saw wtsteid up noti a ktno. eSh asdi esh swa suyallu a trepty ogdo host tihw it, tbu htat hse’d wdesitt reh rma a ayd or tow aog. hSe ddin’t ownk etrewhh esh udolc owrth it at eth tasr omrayne. heS atwide rfo an touotynippr, neth terid to hti a atr wiht it. heS idessm hmi, dna dias “hcuO!” rmfo eht pain in hre amr. Seh lodt me to ryt dan tih het xnte eno. I antwde to evela efrobe hte dol mna otg bkca, but I idnd’t etl on, of usreco. I pkiedc up eth lade arb dna tehrw it at teh tsifr tar taht dwhose its eson. If it hda tdyase upt, it oudlw veha neeb yblad htur, but it tgo wyaa. Teh aonwm aisd atht atht adh eneb a fien whrto dna thta she saw suer I’d get the etxn oen. She twen dna otg the lead rba nad rtguboh it kcba lagno ihtw a nskei of aynr she netdaw me to ehpl hre tihw. I hlde up my tow dasnh and she dtstear nigdiwn the anry rove tehm and nwet on aitklng botau hre nhudsba’s essbnsiu. She dostppe at one inopt to ysa: