Collected stories, p.1
Collected Stories, p.1William Faulkner
WILLIAM FAULKNER’S WORKS
THE MARBLE FAUN (1924)
SOLDIER’S PAY (1926)
SARTORIS (1929) [FLAGS IN THE DUST (1973)]
THE SOUND AND THE FURY (1929)
As I LAY DYING (1930)
THESE 13 (1931)
LIGHT IN AUGUST (1932)
A GREEN BOUGH (1933)
DOCTOR MARTINO AND OTHER STORIES (1934)
ABSALOM, ABSALOM! (1936)
THE UNVANQUISHED (1938)
THE WILD PALMS [IF I FORGET THEE JERUSALEM] (1939)
THE HAMLET (1940)
GO DOWN, MOSES AND OTHER STORIES (1942)
INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1948)
KNIGHT’S GAMBIT (1949)
COLLECTED STORIES OF WILLIAM FAULKNER (1950)
NOTES ON A HORSETHIEF (1951)
REQUIEM FOR A NUN (1954)
A FABLE (1954)
BIG WOODS (1955)
THE TOWN (1957)
THE MANSION (1959)
THE REIVERS (1962)
UNCOLLECTED STORIES OF WILLIAM FAULKNER (1979, POSTHUMOUS)
FIRST VINTAGE INTERNATIONAL EDITION, NOVEMBER 1995
Copyright © 1934, 1950 by Random House, Inc.
Copyright © 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1939, 1943, 1948 by William Faulkner
Copyright © 1930 by Forum
Copyright © 1930, 1932, 1934, 1941, 1942, 1943 by Curtis Publishing Company
Copyright renewed 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962
by William Faulkner
Copyright renewed 1962, 1963, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971 by Estelle Faulkner and Jill Faulkner Summers
Copyright renewed 1976 by Jill Faulkner Summers
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published by Random House, Inc., in 1950.
Acknowledgment is here made to the following magazines, in which some of the stories included in this volume first appeared:
The American Mercury, Forum, Harper’s Magazine,
The Saturday Evening Post, Scribner’s Magazine, and The Sewanee Review.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Faulkner, William, 1897-1962.
Collected stories of William Faulkner.
[PZ3.F272C07] [PS3511.A86] 813′.5′2 76-40938
William Faulkner’s Works
Shingles for the Lord
The Tall Men
A Bear Hunt
Shall Not Perish
A Rose for Emily
Centaur in Brass
Mule in the Yard
That Will Be Fine
That Evening Sun
All the Dead Pilots
THE MIDDLE GROUND
Artist at Home
My Grandmother Millard
There Was a Queen
Divorce in Naples
William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Also by William Faulkner
Academic Resources for Educators
Shingles for the Lord
The Tall Men
A Bear Hunt
Shall Not Perish
THE STORE in which the Justice of the Peace’s court was sitting smelled of cheese. The boy, crouched on his nail keg at the back of the crowded room, knew he smelled cheese, and more: from where he sat he could see the ranked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shapes of tin cans whose labels his stomach read, not from the lettering which meant nothing to his mind but from the scarlet devils and the silver curve of fish—this, the cheese which he knew he smelled and the hermetic meat which his intestines believed he smelled coming in intermittent gusts momentary and brief between the other constant one, the smell and sense just a little of fear because mostly of despair and grief, the old fierce pull of blood. He could not see the table where the Justice sat and before which his father and his father’s enemy (our enemy he thought in that despair; ourn! mine and hisn both! He’s my father!) stood, but he could hear them, the two of them that is, because his father had said no word yet:
“But what proof have you, Mr. Harris?”
“I told you. The hog got into my corn. I caught it up and sent it back to him. He had no fence that would hold it. I told him so, warned him. The next time I put the hog in my pen. When he came to get it I gave him enough wire to patch up his pen. The next time I put the hog up and kept it. I rode down to his house and saw the wire I gave him still rolled on to the spool in his yard. I told him he could have the hog when he paid me a dollar pound fee. That evening a nigger came with the dollar and got the hog. He was a strange nigger. He said, ‘He say to tell you wood and hay kin burn.’ I said, ‘What?’ That whut he say to tell you,’ the nigger said. ‘Wood and hay kin burn.’ That night my barn burned. I got the stock out but I lost the barn.”
“Where is the nigger? Have you got him?”
“He was a strange nigger, I tell you. I don’t know what became of him.”
“But that’s not proof. Don’t you see that’s not proof?”
“Get that boy up here. He knows.” For a moment the boy thought too that the man meant his older brother until Harris said, “Not him. The little one. The boy,” and, crouching, small for his age, small and wiry like his father, in patched and faded jeans even too small for him, with straight, uncombed, brown hair and eyes gray and wild as storm scud, he saw the men between himself and the table part and become a lane of grim faces, at the end of which he saw the Justice, a shabby, collarless, graying man in spectacles, beckoning him. He felt no floor under his bare feet; he seemed to walk beneath the palpable weight of the grim turning faces. His father, stiff in his black Sunday coat donned not for the trial but for the moving, did not even look at him. He aims for me to lie, he thought, again with that frantic grief and despair. And I will have to do hit.
“What’s your name, boy?” the Justice said.
“Colonel Sartoris Snopes,” the boy whispered.
“Hey?” the Justice said. “Talk louder. Colonel Sartoris? I reckon anybody named for Colonel Sartoris in this country can’t help but tell the truth, can they?” The boy said nothing. Enemy! Enemy! he thought; for a moment he could not even see, could not see that the Justice’s face was kindly nor discern th
“No!” Harris said violently, explosively. “Damnation! Send him out of here!” Now time, the fluid world, rushed beneath him again, the voices coming to him again through the smell of cheese and sealed meat, the fear and despair and the old grief of blood:
“This case is closed. I can’t find against you, Snopes, but I can give you advice. Leave this country and don’t come back to it.”
His father spoke for the first time, his voice cold and harsh, level, without emphasis: “I aim to. I don’t figure to stay in a country among people who …” he said something unprintable and vile, addressed to no one.
“That’ll do,” the Justice said. “Take your wagon and get out of this country before dark. Case dismissed.”
His father turned, and he followed the stiff black coat, the wiry figure walking a little stiffly from where a Confederate provost’s man’s musket ball had taken him in the heel on a stolen horse thirty years ago, followed the two backs now, since his older brother had appeared from somewhere in the crowd, no taller than the father but thicker, chewing tobacco steadily, between the two lines of grim-faced men and out of the store and across the worn gallery and down the sagging steps and among the dogs and half-grown boys in the mild May dust, where as he passed a voice hissed:
Again he could not see, whirling; there was a face in a red haze, moonlike, bigger than the full moon, the owner of it half again his size, he leaping in the red haze toward the face, feeling no blow, feeling no shock when his head struck the earth, scrabbling up and leaping again, feeling no blow this time either and tasting no blood, scrabbling up to see the other boy in full flight and himself already leaping into pursuit as his father’s hand jerked him back, the harsh, cold voice speaking above him: “Go get in the wagon.”
It stood in a grove of locusts and mulberries across the road. His two hulking sisters in their Sunday dresses and his mother and her sister in calico and sunbonnets were already in it, sitting on and among the sorry residue of the dozen and more movings which even the boy could remember—the battered stove, the broken beds and chairs, the clock inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which would not run, stopped at some fourteen minutes past two o’clock of a dead and forgotten day and time, which had been his mother’s dowry. She was crying, though when she saw him she drew her sleeve across her face and began to descend from the wagon. “Get back,” the father said.
“He’s hurt. I got to get some water and wash his …”
“Get back in the wagon,” his father said. He got in too, over the tail-gate. His father mounted to the seat where the older brother already sat and struck the gaunt mules two savage blows with the peeled willow, but without heat. It was not even sadistic; it was exactly that same quality which in later years would cause his descendants to over-run the engine before putting a motor car into motion, striking and reining back in the same movement. The wagon went on, the store with its quiet crowd of grimly watching men dropped behind; a curve in the road hid it. Forever he thought. Maybe he’s done satisfied now, now that he has … stopping himself, not to say it aloud even to himself. His mother’s hand touched his shoulder.
“Does hit hurt?” she said.
“Naw,” he said. “Hit don’t hurt. Lemme be.”
“Can’t you wipe some of the blood off before hit dries?”
“I’ll wash to-night,” he said. “Lemme be, I tell you.”
The wagon went on. He did not know where they were going. None of them ever did or ever asked, because it was always somewhere, always a house of sorts waiting for them a day or two days or even three days away. Likely his father had already arranged to make a crop on another farm before he … Again he had to stop himself. He (the father) always did. There was something about his wolflike independence and even courage when the advantage was at least neutral which impressed strangers, as if they got from his latent ravening ferocity not so much a sense of dependability as a feeling that his ferocious conviction in the rightness of his own actions would be of advantage to all whose interest lay with his.
That night they camped, in a grove of oaks and beeches where a spring ran. The nights were still cool and they had a fire against it, of a rail lifted from a nearby fence and cut into lengths—a small fire, neat, niggard almost, a shrewd fire; such fires were his father’s habit and custom always, even in freezing weather. Older, the boy might have remarked this and wondered why not a big one; why should not a man who had not only seen the waste and extravagance of war, but who had in his blood an inherent voracious prodigality with material not his own, have burned everything in sight? Then he might have gone a step farther and thought that that was the reason: that niggard blaze was the living fruit of nights passed during those four years in the woods hiding from all men, blue or gray, with his strings of horses (captured horses, he called them). And older still, he might have divined the true reason: that the element of fire spoke to some deep mainspring of his father’s being, as the element of steel or of powder spoke to other men, as the one weapon for the preservation of integrity, else breath were not worth the breathing, and hence to be regarded with respect and used with discretion.
But he did not think this now and he had seen those same niggard blazes all his life. He merely ate his supper beside it and was already half asleep over his iron plate when his father called him, and once more he followed the stiff back, the stiff and ruthless limp, up the slope and on to the starlit road where, turning, he could see his father against the stars but without face or depth—a shape black, flat, and bloodless as though cut from tin in the iron folds of the frockcoat which had not been made for him, the voice harsh like tin and without heat like tin:
“You were fixing to tell them. You would have told him.” He didn’t answer. His father struck him with the flat of his hand on the side of the head, hard but without heat, exactly as he had struck the two mules at the store, exactly as he would strike either of them with any stick in order to kill a horse fly, his voice still without heat or anger: “You’re getting to be a man. You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you. Do you think either of them, any man there this morning, would? Don’t you know all they wanted was a chance to get at me because they knew I had them beat? Eh?” Later, twenty years later, he was to tell himself, “If I had said they wanted only truth, justice, he would have hit me again.” But now he said nothing. He was not crying. He just stood there. “Answer me,” his father said.
“Yes,” he whispered. His father turned.
“Get on to bed. We’ll be there tomorrow.”
To-morrow they were there. In the early afternoon the wagon stopped before a paintless two-room house identical almost with the dozen others it had stopped before even in the boy’s ten years, and again, as on the other dozen occasions, his mother and aunt got down and began to unload the wagon, although his two sisters and his father and brother had not moved.
“Likely hit ain’t fitten for hawgs,” one of the sisters said.
“Nevertheless, fit it will and you’ll hog it and like it,” his father said. “Get out of them chairs and help your Ma unload.”
The two sisters got down, big, bovine, in a flutter of cheap ribbons; one of them drew from the jumbled wagon bed a battered lantern, the other a worn broom. His father handed the reins to the older son and began to climb stiffly over the wheel. “When they get unloaded, take the team to the barn and feed them.” Then he said, and at first the boy thought he was still speaking to his brother: “Come with me.”
“Yes,” his father said. “You.”
“Abner,” his mother said. His father paused and looked back—the harsh level stare beneath the shaggy, graying, irascible brows.
“I reckon I’ll have a word with the man that aims to begin to-morrow owning me body and soul for the next eight months.”
They went back up the road. A week ago—or before last night, that is—he would have asked where they were going, but not now. His father had struck him before last night but never before had he paused afterward to explain why; it was as if the blow and the following calm, outrageous voice still rang, repercussed, divulging nothing to him save the terrible handicap of being young, the light weight of his few years, just heavy enough to prevent his soaring free of the world as it seemed to be ordered but not heavy enough to keep him footed solid in it, to resist it and try to change the course of its events.
Presently he could see the grove of oaks and cedars and the other flowering trees and shrubs where the house would be, though not the house yet. They walked beside a fence massed with honeysuckle and Cherokee roses and came to a gate swinging open between two brick pillars, and now, beyond a sweep of drive, he saw the house for the first time and at that instant he forgot his father and the terror and despair both, and even when he remembered his father again (who had not stopped) the terror and despair did not return. Because, for all the twelve movings, they had sojourned until now in a poor country, a land of small farms and fields and houses, and he had never seen a house like this before. Hit’s big as a courthouse he thought quietly, with a surge of peace and joy whose reason he could not have thought into words, being too young for that: They are safe from him. People whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are beyond his touch, he no more to them than a buzzing wasp: capable of stinging for a little moment but that’s all; the spell of this peace and dignity rendering even the barns and stable and cribs which belong to it impervious to the puny flames he might contrive … this, the peace and joy, ebbing for an instant as he looked again at the stiff black back, the stiff and implacable limp of the figure which was not dwarfed by the house, for the reason that it had never looked big anywhere and which now, against the serene columned backdrop, had more than ever that impervious quality of something cut ruthlessly from tin, depthless, as though, sidewise to the sun, it would cast no shadow. Watching him, the boy remarked the absolutely undeviating course which his father held and saw the stiff foot come squarely down in a pile of fresh droppings where a horse had stood in the drive and which his father could have avoided by a simple change of stride. But it ebbed only for a moment, though he could not have thought this into words either, walking on in the spell of the house, which he could ever want but without envy, without sorrow, certainly never with that ravening and jealous rage which unknown to him walked in the ironlike black coat before him: Maybe he will feel it too. Maybe it will even change him now from what maybe he couldn’t help but be.
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