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They rose when she entered--a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. I have no taxes in Jefferson." "But, Miss Emily--" "See Colonel Sartoris." (Colonel Sartoris had been dead almost ten years.) "I have no taxes in Jefferson. That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her --had deserted her.
Her skeleton was small and spare; perhaps that was why what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her. After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all.
When the Negro opened the blinds of one window, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray.
It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture.
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.
People in our town, remembering how old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt, had gone completely crazy at last, believed that the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. She looked back at him, erect, her face like a strained flag. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn't come back.
The little boys would follow in groups to hear him cuss the niggers, and the niggers singing in time to the rise and fall of picks. Whenever you heard a lot of laughing anywhere about the square, Homer Barron would be in the center of the group. We were a little disappointed that there was not a public blowing-off, but we believed that he had gone on to prepare for Miss Emily's coming, or to give her a chance to get rid of the cousins.
Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable. (By that time it was a cabal, and we were all Miss Emily's allies to help circumvent the cousins.) Sure enough, after another week they departed.
None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. When she opened the package at home there was written on the box, under the skull and bones: "For rats." IV So THE NEXT day we all said, "She will kill herself"; and we said it would be the best thing.