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William Faulkner — LIGHT IN AUGUST let alone any given individual in it Again Brown makes an indescribable gesture. He is almost running now, back toward the porch, pawing at his shirt pocket. “I want you to take a note to town and bring me back an answer,” he says. “Can you do it?” But he does not listen for a reply. He has taken from his shirt a scrap of soiled paper and a chewed pencil stub, and bending over the edge of the porch, he writes, laborious and hurried, while the negress watches him: Mr. Wat Kenedy Dear sir please give barer My reward Money for captain Murder Xmas rapp it up in Paper 4 given it toe barer yrs truly He does not, sign it, He snatches it up, glaring at it, while the negress watches him. He glares at the dingy and innocent paper, at the labored and hurried pencilling in which he had succeeded for an instant in snaring his whole soul and life too. Then he claps it down and writes not Sined but All rigt You no who and folds it and gives it to the negro. “Take it to the sheriff. Not to nobody else. You reckon you can find him?” “If the sheriff don’t find him first,” the old negress says. “Give it to him. He’ll find him, if he is above ground. Git your dollar and go on, boy.” The negro had started away. He stops. He just stands there, saying nothing, looking at nothing. On the porch the negress sits, smoking, looking down at the white man’s weak, wolflike face: a face handsome, plausible, but drawn now by a fatigue more than physical, into a spent and vulpine mask. “I thought you was in a hurry,” she says. “Yes,” Brown says. He takes a coin from his pocket. “Here. And if you bring me back the answer to that inside of an hour, I’ll give you five more like it.” “Git on, nigger,” the woman says. “You ain’t got all day. You want the answer brought back here?” For a moment longer Brown looks at her. Then again caution, shame, all flees from him. “No. Not here. Bring it to the top of the grade yonder. Walk up the track until I call to you. I’ll be watching you all the time too. Don’t you forget that. Do you hear?” “You needn’t to worry,” the negress says. “He’ll git there with it and git back with the answer, if don’t nothing stop him. Git on, boy.” The negro goes on. But something does stop him, before he has gone a half mile. It is another white man, leading a mule. “Where?” Byron says. “Where did you see him?” “Just now. Up yon at de house.” The white man goes on, leading the mule. The negro looks after him. He did not show the white man the note because the white man did not ask to see it. Perhaps the reason the white man did not ask to see the note was that the white man did not know that he had a note; perhaps the negro is thinking this, because for a while his face mirrors something terrific and subterraneous. Then it clears. He shouts. The white man turns, halting. “He ain’t dar now,” the negro shouts. “He say he gwine up ter de railroad grade to wait.” “Much obliged,” the white man says. The negro goes on. Brown returned to the track. He was not running now. He was saying to himself, ‘He won’t do it. He can’t do it. I know he can’t find him, can’t get it, bring it back. He called no names, thought no names. It seemed to him now that they were all just shapes like chessmen—the negro, the sheriff, the money, all—unpredictable and without reason moved here and there by an Opponent who could read his moves before he made them and who created spontaneous rules which he and not the Opponent, must follow. He was for the time being even beyond despair as he turned from the rails and entered the underbrush near the crest of the grade. He moved now without haste, gauging his distance as though there were nothing else in the world or in his life at least, save that. He chose his place and sat down, hidden from the track but where he himself could see it. 176

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)  

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)  

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)

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