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William Faulkner — LIGHT IN AUGUST before he got them both into trouble; and the officers watching him and him talking faster and faster and more and more; about how he had been awake early Saturday morning and saw Christmas get up about dawn and go out. And Brown knew where Christmas was going, and about seven o’clock Christmas come back into the cabin and stood there, looking at Brown. ‘I’ve done it,’ Christmas says. ‘Done what?’ Brown says. ‘Go up to the house and see,’ Christmas says. And Brown said how he was afraid then, but that he never suspected the truth. He just said that at the outside all he expected was that maybe Christmas just beat her some. And he said how Christmas went out again and then he got up and dressed and he was making a fire to cook his breakfast when he happened to look out the door and he said how all the kitchen was afire up at the big house. “ ‘What time was this?’ the sheriff says. “ ‘About eight o’clock, I reckon,’ Brown says. ‘When a man would naturally be getting up. Unless he is rich. And God knows I ain’t that.’ “ ‘And that fire wasn’t reported until nigh eleven o’clock,’ the sheriff says. ‘And that house was still burning at three P.M. You mean to say a old wooden house, even a big one, would need six hours to burn down in?’ “And Brown was setting there, looking this way and that, with them fellows watching him in a circle, hemming him in. ‘I’m just telling you the truth,’ Brown says. ‘That’s what you asked for: He was looking this way and that, jerking his head. Then he kind of hollered: ‘How do I know what time it was? Do you expect a man doing the work of a nigger slave at a sawmill to be rich enough to own a watch?’ “ ‘You ain’t worked at no sawmill nor at anything else in six weeks,’ the marshal says. ‘And a man that can afford to ride around all day long in a new car can afford to pass the courthouse often enough to see the clock and keep up with the time.’ “ ‘It wasn’t none of my car, I tell you!’ Brown says. ‘It was his. She bought it and give it to him; the woman he murdered give it to him.’ “ ‘That’s neither here nor there,’ the sheriff says. ‘Let him tell the rest of it.’ “And so Brown went on then, talking louder and louder and faster and faster, like he was trying to hide Joe Brown behind what he was telling on Christmas until Brown could get his chance to make a grab at that thousand dollars. It beats all how some folks think that making or getting money is a kind of game where there are not any rules at all. He told about how even when he saw the fire, he never dreamed that she would still be in the house, let alone dead. He said how he never even thought to look into the house at all; that he was just figuring on how to put out the fire. “ ‘And that was round eight A.M.,’ the sheriff says. ‘Or so you claim. And Hamp Waller’s wife never reported that fire until nigh eleven. It took you a right smart while to find out you couldn’t put out that fire with your bare hands.’ And Brown sitting there in the middle of them (they had locked the door, but the windows was lined with folks’ faces against the glass) with his eyes going this way and that and his lip lifted away from his teeth. ‘Hamp says that after he broke in the door, there was already a man inside that house,’ the sheriff says. ‘And that that man tried to keep him from going up the stairs.’ And him setting there in the center of them, with his eyes going and going. “I reckon he was desperate by then. I reckon he could not only see that thousand dollars getting further and further away from him, but that he could begin to see somebody else getting it. I reckon it was like he could see himself with that thousand dollars right in his hand for somebody else to have the spending of it. Because they said it was like he had been saving what he told them next for just such a time as this. Like he had knowed that if it come to a pinch, this would save him, even if it was almost worse for a white man to admit what he would have to admit than to be accused of the murder itself. ‘That’s right,’ he says. ‘Go on. Accuse me. Accuse the white man that’s trying to help you with what he knows. Accuse the white man and let the nigger go free. Accuse the white and let the nigger run.’ 41

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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