As I Lay Dying

Free As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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Authors: William Faulkner
inches, about,” Cash says. I move over beside him.
    “A fellow can sho slip quick on wet planks,” Quick says.
    “It’s too bad,” I say. “But you couldn’t a holp it.”
    “It’s them durn women,” he says. “I made it to balance with her. I made it to her measure and weight.”
    If it takes wet boards for folks to fall, it’s fixing to be lots of falling before this spell is done .
    “You couldn’t have holp it,” I say.
    I dont mind the folks falling. It’s the cotton and corn I mind .
    Neither does Peabody mind the folks falling. How bout it, Doc?
    It’s a fact. Washed clean outen the ground it will be. Seems like something is always happening to it .
    Course it does. That’s why it’s worth anything. If nothing didn’t happen and everybody made a big crop, do you reckon it would be worth the raising?
    Well, I be durn if I like to see my work washed outen the ground, work I sweat over .
    It’s a fact. A fellow wouldn’t mind seeing it washed up if he could just turn on the rain himself .
    Who is that man can do that? Where is the color of his eyes?
    Ay. The Lord made it to grow. It’s Hisn to wash up if He sees it fitten so .
    “You couldn’t have holp it,” I say.
    “It’s them durn women,” he says.
    In the house the women begin to sing. We hear the first line commence, beginning to swell as they take hold, and we rise and move toward the door, taking off our hats and throwing our chews away. We do not go in. We stop at the steps, clumped, holding our hats between our lax hands in front or behind, standing with one foot advanced and our heads lowered, looking aside, down at our hats in our hands and at the earth or now and then at the sky and at one another’s grave, composed face.
    The song ends; the voices quaver away with a rich and dying fall. Whitfield begins. His voice is bigger than him. It’s like they are not the same. It’s like he is one, and his voice is one, swimming on two horses side by side across the ford and coming into the house, the mud-splashed one and the one that never even got wet, triumphant and sad. Somebody in the house begins to cry. It sounds like her eyes and her voice were turned back inside her, listening; we move, shifting to the other leg, meeting one another’s eye and making like they hadn’t touched.
    Whitfield stops at last. The women sing again. In the thick air it’s like their voices come out of the air, flowing together and on in the sad, comforting tunes. When they cease it’s like they hadn’t gone away. It’s like they had justdisappeared into the air and when we moved we would loose them again out of the air around us, sad and comforting. Then they finish and we put on our hats, our movements stiff, like we hadn’t never wore hats before.
    On the way home Cora is still singing. “I am bounding toward my God and my reward,” she sings, sitting on the wagon, the shawl around her shoulders and the umbrella open over her, though it is not raining.
    “She has hern,” I say. “Wherever she went, she has her reward in being free of Anse Bundren.” She laid there three days in that box, waiting for Darl and Jewel to come clean back home and get a new wheel and go back to where the wagon was in the ditch. Take my team, Anse, I said .
    We’ll wait for ourn, he said. She’ll want it so. She was ever a particular woman .
    On the third day they got back and they loaded her into the wagon and started and it already too late. You’ll have to go all the way round by Samson’s bridge. It’ll take you a day to get there. Then you’ll be forty miles from Jefferson. Take my team, Anse .
    We’ll wait for ourn. She’ll want it so .
    It was about a mile from the house we saw him, sitting on the edge of the slough. It hadn’t had a fish in it never that I knowed. He looked around at us, his eyes round and calm, his face dirty, the pole across his knees. Cora was still singing.
    “This aint no good day to fish,” I said. “You come on home

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