They crept quietly across the lawn and into the shadow of the locusts that lined the street. That was when people had begun to feel really sorry for her. But what you want--" "I want arsenic." The druggist looked down at her. But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for." Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up.
Now she too would know the old thrill and the old despair of a penny more or less. The men did not want to interfere, but at last the ladies forced the Baptist minister--Miss Emily's people were Episcopal-- to call upon her.
The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will. When we saw her again, her hair was cut short, making her look like a girl, with a vague resemblance to those angels in colored church windows--sort of tragic and serene. He would never divulge what happened during that interview, but he refused to go back again. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men's clothing, including a nightshirt, and we said, "They are married." We were really glad.
During the next few years it grew grayer and grayer until it attained an even pepper-and-salt iron-gray, when it ceased turning.
Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.
Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly. The town had just let the contracts for paving the sidewalks, and in the summer after her father's death they began the work. ." This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed: "Poor Emily." She carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was fallen. The next Sunday they again drove about the streets, and the following day the minister's wife wrote to Miss Emily's relations in Alabama. We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler's and ordered a man's toilet set in silver, with the letters H. We were glad because the two female cousins were even more Grierson than Miss Emily had ever been.
The construction company came with niggers and mules and machinery, and a foreman named Homer Barron, a Yankee--a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness. That was over a year after they had begun to say "Poor Emily," and while the two female cousins were visiting her. She was over thirty then, still a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's face ought to look. So she had blood-kin under her roof again and we sat back to watch developments. So we were not surprised when Homer Barron--the streets had been finished some time since--was gone.
They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings.
As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol.
At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer." But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige- -without calling it noblesse oblige. Her kinsfolk should come to her." She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. And as soon as the old people said, "Poor Emily," the whispering began. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed.