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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.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.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.And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Jefferson.A week later the mayor wrote her himself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that she no longer went out at all. They called a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
Up to the day of her death at seventy-four it was still that vigorous iron-gray, like the hair of an active man.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.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.