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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.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.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.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.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.
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.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.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.Only a man of Colonel Sartoris' generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it.