William Faulkner LIGHT IN AUGUST Usually they met outside, went somewhere else or just loitered on the way to where she lived. Perhaps he believed up to the last that he had suggested it. Then one night she did not meet him where he waited. He waited until the clock in the courthouse struck twelve. Then he went on to where she lived. He had never done that before, though even then he could not have said that she had ever forbidden him to come there unless she was with him. But he went there that night, expecting to find the house dark and asleep. The house was dark, but it was not asleep. He knew that, that beyond the dark shades of her room people were not asleep and that she was not there alone. How he knew it he could not have said. Neither would he admit what he knew. ‘It’s just Max,’ he thought. ‘It’s just Max.’ But he knew better. He knew that there was a man in the room with her. He did not see her for two weeks, though he knew that she was waiting for him. Then one night he was at the corner when she appeared. He struck her, without warning, feeling her flesh. He knew then what even yet he had not believed. “Oh,” she cried. He struck her again. “Not here!” she whispered. “Not here!” Then he found that she was crying. He had not cried since he could remember. He cried, cursing her, striking her. Then she was holding him. Even the reason for striking her was gone then. “Now, now,” she said. “Now, now.” They did not leave the corner even that night. They did not walk on loitering nor leave the road. They sat on a sloping grassbank and talked. She talked this time, telling him. It did not take much telling. He could see now what he discovered that he had known all the time: the idle men in the restaurant, with their cigarettes bobbing as they spoke to her in passing, and she going back and forth, constant, downlooking, and abject. Listening to her voice, he seemed to smell the odorreek of all anonymous men above dirt. Her head was a little lowered as she talked, the big hands still on her lap. He could not see, of course. He did not have to see. “I thought you knew,” she said. “No,” he said. “I reckon I didn’t.” “I thought you did” “No,” he said. “I don’t reckon I did.” Two weeks later he had begun to smoke, squinting his face against the smoke, and he drank too. He would drink at night with Max and Mame and sometimes three or four other men and usually another woman or two, sometimes from the town, but usually strangers who would come in from Memphis and stay a week or a month, as waitresses behind the restaurant counter where the idle men gathered all day. He did not always know their names, but he could cock his hat as they did; during the evenings behind the drawn shades of the diningroom at Max’s he cocked it so and spoke of the waitress to the others, even in her presence, in his loud, drunken, despairing young voice, calling her his whore. Now and then in Max’s car he took her to dances in the country, always careful that McEachern should not hear about it. “I don’t know which he would be madder at,” he told her; “at you or at the dancing.” Once they had to put him to bed, helpless, in the house where he had not even ever dreamed at one time that he could enter. The next morning the waitress drove him out home before daylight so he could get into the house before he was caught. And during the day McEachern watched him with dour and grudging approval. “But you have still plenty of time to make me regret that heifer,” McEachern said.