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by [?]

“Gimme some kivah heah, an’ git yo’ damn foots over on yo’ own side! Ah oughter mash you in yo’ mouf fuh drawing dat skillet on me.”

Delia went clear to the rail without answering him. A triumphant indifference to all that he was or did.


The week was as full of work for Delia as all other weeks, and Saturday found her behind her little pony, collecting and delivering clothes.

It was a hot, hot day near the end of July. The village men on Joe Clarke’s porch even chewed cane listlessly. They did not hurl the cane-knots as usual. They let them dribble over the edge of the porch. Even conversation had collapsed under the heat.

“Heah come Delia Jones,” Jim Merchant said, as the shaggy pony came ’round the bend of the road toward them. The rusty buckboard was heaped with baskets of crisp, clean laundry.

“Yep,” Joe Lindsay agreed.”Hot or col’, rain or shine, jes ez reg’lar ez de weeks roll roun’ Delia carries ’em an’ fetches ’em on Sat’day.”

“She better if she wanter eat,” said Moss.”Syke Jones aint wuth de shot an’ powder hit would tek tuh kill ’em. Not to huh he aint.”

“He sho’ aint,” Walter Thomas chime
d in.”It’s too bad, too, cause she wuz a right pritty lil trick when he got huh. Ah’d uh mah’ied huh mahseff if he hadnter beat me to it.”

Delia nodded briefly at the men as she drove past.

“Too much knockin’ will ruin any ‘oman. He done beat huh ‘nough tuh kill three women, let ‘lone change they looks,” said Elijah Moseley.”How Syke kin stommuck dat big black greasy Mogul he’s layin’ roun wid, gits me. Ah swear dat eight-rock couldn’t kiss a sardine can Ah done throwed out de back do’ ‘way las’ yeah.”

“Aw, she’s fat, thass how come. He’s allus been crazy ’bout fat women,” put in Merchant.”He’d a’ been tied up wid one long time ago if he could a’ found one tuh have him. Did Ah tell yuh ’bout him come sidlin’ roun’ mah wife–bringin’ her a basket uh pecans outa his yard fuh a present? Yessir, mah wife! She tol’ him tuh take ’em right straight back home, cause Delia works so hard ovah dat washtub she reckon everything on de place taste lak sweat an’ soapsuds. Ah jus’ wisht Ah’d a’ caught ‘im ‘dere! Ah’d a’ made his hips ketch on fiah down dat shell road.”

“Ah know he done it, too. Ah sees ‘im grinnin’ at every ‘oman dat passes,” Walter Thomas said.”But even so, he useter eat some mighty big hunks uh humble pie tuh git dat lil ‘oman he got. She wuz ez pritty ez a speckled pup! Dat wuz fifteen yeahs ago. He useter be so skeered uh losin’ huh, she could make him do some parts of a husband’s duty. Dey never wuz de same in de mind.”

“There oughter be a law about him,” said Lindsay.”He aint fit tuh carry guts tuh a bear.”

Clarke spoke for the first time.”Taint no law on earth dat kin make a man be decent if it aint in ‘im. There’s plenty men dat takes a wife lak dey do a joint uh sugar-cane. It’s round, juicy an’ sweet when dey gits it. But dey squeeze an’ grind, squeeze an’ grind an’ wring tell dey wring every drop uh pleasure dat’s in ’em out. When dey’s satisfied dat dey is wrung dry, dey treats ’em jes lak dey do a cane-chew. Dey throws em away. Dey knows whut dey is doin’ while dey is at it, an’ hates theirselves fuh it but they keeps on hangin’ after huh tell she’s empty. Den dey hates huh fuh bein’ a cane-chew an’ in de way.”