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William Faulkner — LIGHT IN AUGUST That night they talked. They lay in the bed, in the dark, talking. Or he talked, that is. All the time he was thinking, ‘Jesus. Jesus. So this is it. He lay naked too, beside her, touching her with his hand and talking about her. Not about where she had come from and what she had even done, but about her body as if no one had ever done this before, with her or with anyone else. It was as if with speech he were learning about women’s bodies, with the curiosity of a child. She told him about the sickness of the first night. It did not shock him now. Like the nakedness and the physical shape, it was like something which had never happened or existed before. So he told her in turn what he knew to tell. He told about the negro girl in the mill shed on that afternoon three years ago. He told her quietly and peacefully, lying beside her, touching her. Perhaps he could not even have said if she listened or not. Then he said, ‘You noticed my skin, my hair,” waiting for her to answer, his hand slow on her body. She whispered also. “Yes. I thought maybe you were a foreigner. That you never come from around here.” “It’s different from that, even. More than just a foreigner. You can’t guess.” “What? How more different?” “Guess.” Their voices were quiet. It was still, quiet; night now known, not to be desired, pined for. “I can’t. What are you?” His hand was slow and quiet on her invisible flank. He did not answer at once. It was not as if he were tantalising her. It was as if he just had not thought to speak on. She asked him again. Then he told her. “I got some nigger blood in me.” Then she lay perfectly still, with a different stillness. But he did not seem to notice it. He lay peacefully too, his hand slow up and down her flank. “You’re what?” she said. “I think I got some nigger blood in me.” His eyes were closed, his hand slow and unceasing. “I don’t know. I believe I have.” She did not move. She said at once: “You’re lying.” “All right,” he said, not moving, his hand not ceasing. “I don’t believe it,” her voice said in the darkness. “All right,” he said, his hand not ceasing. The next Saturday he took another half dollar from Mrs. McEachern’s hiding place and gave it to the waitress. A day or two later he had reason to believe that Mrs. McEachern had missed the money and that she suspected him of having taken it. Because she lay in wait for him until he knew that she knew that McEachern would not interrupt them. Then she said, “Joe.” He paused and looked at her, knowing that she would not be looking at him. She said, not looking at him, her voice flat, level: “I know how a young man growing up needs money. More than p—Mr. McEachern gives you. ...” He looked at her, until her voice ceased and died away. Apparently he was waiting for it to cease. Then he said, “Money? What do I want with money?” On the next Saturday he earned two dollars chopping wood for a neighbor. He lied to McEachern about where he was going and where he had been and what he had done there. He gave the money to the waitress. McEachern found out about the work. Perhaps he believed that Joe had hidden the money. Mrs. McEachern may have told him so. Perhaps two nights a week Joe and the waitress went to her room. He did not know at first that anyone else had ever done that. Perhaps he believed that some peculiar dispensation had been made in his favor, for his sake. Very likely until the last he still believed that Max and Mame had to be placated, not for the actual fact, but because of his presence there. But he did not see them again in the house, though he knew that they were there. But he did not know for certain if they knew that he was there or had ever returned after the night of the candy. 81

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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