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William Faulkner — LIGHT IN AUGUST forward, the red dust rising about his lean, chocolatecolored shanks and the frayed legs of the too short overalls; he began to chant, tuneless, rhythmic, musical, though on a single note: Say don’t didn’t. Didn’t don’t who. Want dat yaller gal’s Pudden don’t hide. Lying in a tangle of shrubbery a hundred yards from the house, Christmas heard a far clock strike nine and then ten. Before him the house bulked square and huge from its mass of trees. There was a light in one window upstairs. The shades were not drawn and he could see that the light was a kerosene lamp, and now and then he saw through the window the shadow of a moving person cross the further wall. But he never saw the person at all. After a while the light went out. The house was now dark; he quit watching it then. He lay in the copse, on his belly on the dark earth. In the copse the darkness was impenetrable; through his shirt and trousers it felt a little chill, close, faintly dank, as if the sun never reached the atmosphere which the copse held. He could feel the neversunned earth strike, slow and receptive, against him through his clothes: groin, hip, belly, breast, forearms. His arms were crossed, his forehead rested upon them, in his nostrils the damp rich odor of the dark and fecund earth. He did not look once again toward the dark house. He lay perfectly still in the copse for more than an hour before he rose up and emerged. He did not creep. There was nothing skulking nor even especially careful about his approach to the house. He simply went quietly as if that were his natural manner of moving and passed around the now dimensionless bulk of the house, toward the rear, where the kitchen would be. He made no more noise than a cat as he paused and stood for a while beneath the window where the light had shown. In the grass about his feet the crickets, which had ceased as he moved, keeping a little island of silence about him like thin yellow shadow of their small voices, began again, ceasing again when he moved with that tiny and alert suddenness. From the rear of the house a single storey wing projected. ‘That will be the kitchen,’ he thought. ‘Yes. That will be it.’ He walked without sound, moving in his tiny island of abruptly ceased insects. He could discern a door in the kitchen wall. He would have found it unlocked if he had tried it. But he did not. He passed it and paused beneath a window. Before he tried it he remembered that he had seen no screen in the lighted window upstairs. The window was even open, propped open with a stick. ‘What do you think about that,’ he thought. He stood beside the window, his hands on the sill, breathing quietly, not listening, not hurrying, as if there were no need for haste anywhere under the sun. ‘Well. Well. Well. What do you know about that. Well. Well. Well.’ Then he climbed into the window; he seemed to flow into the dark kitchen: a shadow returning without a sound and without locomotion to the allmother of obscurity and darkness. Perhaps he thought of that other window which he had used to use and of the rope upon which he had had to rely; perhaps not. Very likely not, no more than a cat would recall another window; like the cat, he also seemed to see in the darkness as he moved as unerringly toward the food which he wanted as if he knew where it would be; that, or were being manipulated by an agent which did know. He ate something from an invisible dish, with invisible fingers: invisible food. He did not care what it would be. He did not know that he had even wondered or tasted until his jaw stopped suddenly in midchewing and thinking fled for twenty-five years back down the street, past all the imperceptible corners of bitter defeats and more bitter victories, and five miles even beyond a corner where he used to wait in the terrible early time of love, for someone whose name he had forgot; five miles even beyond that it went, I’ll know it in a minute. I have eaten it before, somewhere. In a minute I will memory clicking knowing I see I 94

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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