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She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves." "But we have. Didn't you get a notice from the sheriff, signed by him? A few of the ladies had the temerity to call, but were not received, and the only sign of life about the place was the Negro man--a young man then--going in and out with a market basket. " "I'm sure that won't be necessary," Judge Stevens said.Her eyes, lost in the fatty ridges of her face, looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough as they moved from one face to another while the visitors stated their errand. She just stood in the door and listened quietly until the spokesman came to a stumbling halt. "Just as if a man--any man--could keep a kitchen properly, "the ladies said; so they were not surprised when the smell developed. "It's probably just a snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't.
A deputation waited upon her, knocked at the door through which no visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons eight or ten years earlier.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.On a tarnished gilt easel before the fireplace stood a crayon portrait of Miss Emily's father. I have no taxes in Jefferson." "But there is nothing on the books to show that, you see We must go by the--" "See Colonel Sartoris. "Show these gentlemen out." II So SHE vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.They were admitted by the old Negro into a dim hall from which a stairway mounted into still more shadow.It smelled of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell. It was furnished in heavy, leather-covered furniture.When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and aldermen, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction.
On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. They wrote her a formal letter, asking her to call at the sheriff's office at her convenience.Then they could hear the invisible watch ticking at the end of the gold chain. It was another link between the gross, teeming world and the high and mighty Griersons. I'll speak to him about it." The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. I'd be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we've got to do something." That night the Board of Aldermen met--three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation. .." "Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?A neighbor, a woman, complained to the mayor, Judge Stevens, eighty years old. " So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily's lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder.I WHEN Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant--a combined gardener and cook--had seen in at least ten years.It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street.But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores.