At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, "Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer." But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige- -without calling it noblesse oblige. Her kinsfolk should come to her." She had some kin in Alabama; but years ago her father had fallen out with them over the estate of old lady Wyatt, the crazy woman, and there was no communication between the two families. And as soon as the old people said, "Poor Emily," the whispering began. And, as we had expected all along, within three days Homer Barron was back in town. The Negro man went in and out with the market basket, but the front door remained closed.
A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening. Now and then we would see her at a window for a moment, as the men did that night when they sprinkled the lime, but for almost six months she did not appear on the streets.
Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town, dating from that day in 1894 when Colonel Sartoris, the mayor--he who fathered the edict that no Negro woman should appear on the streets without an apron-remitted her taxes, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity. Colonel Sartoris invented an involved tale to the effect that Miss Emily's father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying.
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.
They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings.
As they recrossed the lawn, a window that had been dark was lighted and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her, and her upright torso motionless as that of an idol.
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?