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Part 1 The Seventh Day

And the Spirit and the bride say,Come.
And let him that heareth sayCome.
And let him that is athirstcome.
And whosoever will, let himtake the water of life freely.

  I looked down the line,
    And I wondered

   Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. Ithas been so often that John, without ever thinking about it, had come to believe it himself. Notuntil the morning of his fourteenth birthday did he really begin to think about it, and by then it wasalready too late.

  His earliest memories—which were in a way, his only memories—were of the hurry andbrightness of Sunday mornings. They all rose together on that day; his father, who did not have togo to work, and led them in prayer before breakfast; his mother, who dressed up on that day, andlooked almost young, with her hair straightened, and on her head the close-fitting white cap thatwas the uniform of holy women; his younger brother, Roy, who was silent that day because hisfather was home. Sarah, who wore a red ribbon in her hair that day, and was fondled by her father.

  And the baby, Ruth, who was dressed in pink and white, and rode in her mother’s arms to church.

  The church was not very far away, four block up Lenox Avenue, on a corner not far fromthe hospital. It was to this hospital that his mother had gone when Roy, and Sarah, and Ruth wereborn. John did not remember very clearly the first time she had gone, to have Roy; folks said thathe had cried and carried on the whole time his mother was away; he remembered only enough tobe afraid every time her belly began to swell, knowing that each time the swelling began it wouldnot end until she was taken from him, to come back with an stranger. Each time this happened shebecame a little more of a stranger herself. She would soon be going away again, Roy said—heknew much more about such things than John. John had observed his mother closely, seeing no swelling yet, but his father had prayed one morning for the ‘little voyager soon to be among them,’

  and so John knew that Roy spoke the truth.

  Every Sunday morning, then, since John could remember, they had taken to the Streets, theGrimes family on their way to church. Sinners along the avenue watched tem—men still wearingtheir Sunday-night clothes, wrinkled and dusty now, muddy-eyed and muddy-faced; and thewomen with harsh voices and tight, bright dresses, cigarettes between their finger or held tightly inthe corners of their mouths. They talked, and laughed, and fought together, and the women foughtlike the men. John and Roy, passing these men and women, looked at one another briefly, Johnembarrassed and Roy amused. Roy would be like them when he grew up, if the Lord did notchange his heart. These men and women they passed on Sunday mornings had spent the night inbars, or in cat houses, or on the streets, or on the rooftops, or under the stairs. They had beendrinking. They had gone from cursing to laughter, to anger, to lust. Once he and Roy had watcheda man and woman in the basement of a condemned house. They did it standing up. The womanhad wanted fifty cents, and the man had flashed a razor.

  John had never watched again; he had been afraid. But Roy had watched them many times,and he told John he had done it with some girls down the block.

  And his mother and father, who went to church on Sundays, they did it too, and sometimesJohn heard them in the bedroom behind him, over the sound of rat’s feet, and rat screams, and themusic and cursing from the harlot’s house downstairs.

  Their church was called the Temple of the Fire Baptized. It was not the biggest church inHarlem, not yet the smallest, but John had been brought up to believe it was the holiest and best.

  His father was head deacon in this church—there were only two, the other a round, black mannamed Deacon Braithwaite—and he took up the collection, and sometimes he preached. Thepastor, Father James, was a genial, well-fed man with a face like a darker moon. It was he whopreached on Pentecost Sundays, and led revivals in the summer-time, and anointed and healed thesick.

  On Sunday mornings and Sunday nights the church was always full; on special Sundays itwas full all day. The Grimes family arrived in a body, always a little late, usually in the middle ofSunday school, which began at nine o’clock. This lateness was always their mother’s fault—atleast in the eyes of their father; she could not seem to get herself and the children ready on time,ever, and sometimes she actually remained behind, not to appear until the morning service. Whenthey all arrived together, they separated upon entering the doors, father and mother going to sit inthe Adult Class, which was taught by Sister McCandless, Sarah going to the Infants’ Class, Johnand Roy sitting in the Intermediate, which was taught by Brother Elisha.

  When he was young, John had paid no attention in Sunday school, and always forgot thegolden text, which earned him the wrath of his father. Around the time of his fourteenth birthday,with all the pressures of church and home uniting to drive him to the altar, he strove to appearmore serious and therefore less conspicuous. But he was distracted by his new teacher, Elisha, whowas the pastor’s nephew and who had but lately arrived from Georgia. He was not much older thanJohn, only seventeen, and he was already saved and was a preacher. John stared at Elisha allduring the lesson, admiring the timbre of Elisha’s voice, much deeper and manlier than his own, admiring the leanness, and grace, and strength, and darkness of Elisha in his Sunday suit,wondering if he would ever be holy as Elisha was holy. But he did not follow the lesson, andwhen, sometimes, Elisha paused to ask John a question, John was ashamed and confused, feelingthe palms of his hands become wet and his heart pound like a hammer. Elisha would smile andreprimand him gently, and the lesson would go on.

  Roy never knew his Sunday school lesson either, but it was different with Roy—no onereally expected of Roy what was expected of John. Everyone was always praying that the Lordwould change Roy’s heart, but it was John who was expected to be good, to be a good example.

  When Sunday school service ended there was a short pause before morning service began.

  In this pause, if it was good weather, the old folks might step outside a moment to talk amongthemselves. The sisters would almost always be dressed in white from crown to tow. The smallchildren, on this day, in this place, and oppressed by their elders, tried hard to play withoutseeming to be disrespectful of God’s house. But sometimes, nervous or perverse, they shouted, orthrew hymn-books, or began to cry, putting their parents, men or women of God, under thenecessity of proving—by harsh means or tender—who, in a sanctified household, ruled. The olderchildren, like John or Roy, might wander down the avenue, but not too far. Their father never letJohn and Roy out of his sight, for Roy had often disappeared between Sunday school and morningservice and has not come back all day.

  The Sunday morning service began when Brother Elisha sat down at the piano and raised asong. This moment and this music had been with John, so it seemed, since he had first drawnbreath. It seemed that there had never been a time when he had not known this moment of waitingwhile the packed church paused—the sisters in white, heads raised, the brothers in blue, headsback; the white caps of the women seeming to glow in the charged air like crowns, the kinky,gleaming heads of the men seeming to be lifted up—and the rustling and the whispering ceasedand the children were quiet; perhaps someone coughed, or the sound of a car horn, or a curse fromthe streets came in; the Elisha hit the keys, beginning at once to sing, and everybody joined him,clapping their hands, and rising, and beating the tambourines.

  The song might be: Down at the cross where my Savior died!

  Or: Jesus, I’ll never forget how you set me free!

  Or: Lord, hold my hand while I run this race!

  They sang with all the strength that was in them, and clapped their hands for joy. There hadnever been a time when John had not sat watching the saints rejoice with terror in his heart, andwonder. Their singing caused him to believe in the presence of the Lord; indeed, it was no longer aquestion of belief, because they made that presence real. He did not feel it himself, the joy theyfelt, yet he could not doubt that it was, for them, the very bread of life—could not doubt it, that is,until it was too late to doubt. Something happened to their faces and their voices, the rhythm oftheir bodies, and to the air they breathed; it was as though wherever they might be became theupper room, and the Holy Ghost were riding on the air. His father’s face, always awful, becamemore awful now; his father’s daily anger was transformed into prophetic wrath. His mother, hereyes raised to heaven, hands arked before her, moving, made real for John that patience, thatendurance, that long suffering, which he had read of in the Bible and found so hard to imagine.

   On Sunday mornings the women all seemed patient, all the men seemed mighty. WhileJohn watched, the Power struck someone, a man or woman; they cried out, a long, wordlesscrying, and, arms outstretched like wings, they began the Shout. Someone moved a chair a little togive them room, the rhythm paused, the singing stopped, only the pounding feet and the clappinghands were heard; then another cry, another dancer; then the tambourines began again, and thevoices rose again, and the music swept on again, like fire, or flood, or judgment. Then the churchseemed to swell with the Power it held, and, like a planet rocking in space, the temple rocked withthe Power of God. John watched, watched the faces, and the weightless bodies, and listened to thetimeless cries. One day, so everyone said, this Power would possess him; he would sing and cry asthey did now, and dance before his King. He watched young Ella Mae Washington, the seventeen-year-old granddaughter of Praying Mother Washington, as she began to dance. And then Elishadanced.

  At one moment, head thrown back, eyes closed, sweat standing on his brow, he sat at thepiano, singing and playing; and then, like a great black cat in trouble in the jungle, he stiffened andtrembled, and cried out. Jesus, Jesus, oh Lord Jesus! He struck on the piano one last wild note, andthrew up his hands, palms upward, stretched wide apart. The tambourines raced to fill the vacuumleft by his silent piano, and his cry drew answering cries. Then he was on his feet, turning, blind,his face congested, contorted with this rage, and the muscles leaping ands swelling in his long,dark neck. It seemed that he could not breathe, that his body could not contain this passion, that hewould be, before their eyes, dispersed into the waiting air. His hand, rigid to the very fingertips,moved outward and back against his hips, his sightless eyes looked upward, and he began to dance.

  Then his hands close into fists, and his head snapped downward, his sweat loosening the greasethat slicked down his hair; and the rhythm of all the others quickened to match Elisha’s rhythm; histhighs moved terribly against the cloth of his suit, his heels beat on the floor, and his fists movedbeside his body as though he were beating his own drum. And so, for a while, in the centre of thedancers, head down, fists beating, on, on, unbearably, until it seemed the walls of the church wouldfall for very sound; and then, in a moment, with a cry, head up, arms high in the air, sweat pouringfrom his forehead, and all his body dancing as though it would never stop. Sometimes he did notstop until he fell—until he dropped like some animal felled by a hammer—moaning, on his face.

  And then a great moaning filled the church.

  There was sin among them. One Sunday, when regular service was over, Father James haduncovered sin in the congregation of the righteous. He had uncovered Elisha and Ella Mae. Theyhad been ‘walking disorderly’; they were in danger of straying from the truth. And as Father Jamesspoke of the sin that he knew they had not committed yet, of the unripe fig plucked too early fromthe tree—to set the children’s teeth on edge—John felt himself grow dizzy in his seat and couldnot look at Elisha where he stood, beside Ella Mae, before the altar. Elisha hung his head as FatherJames spoke, and the congregation murmured. And Ella Mae was not so beautiful now as she waswhen she was singing and testifying, but looked like a sullen, ordinary girl. Her full lips were looseand her eyes were black—with shame, or rage, or both. Her grandmother, who had raised her, satwatching quietly, with folded hands. She of the pillars of the church, a powerful evangelistandverywidelyknown.Shesaidnothi(was) ngin(one) Ella Mae’s defense, for she must have felt,as the congregation felt, that Father James was only exercising his clear and painful duty; he wasresponsible, after all, for Elisha, as Praying Mother Washington was responsible for Ella Mae. It was not an easy thing, said Father James, to be the pastor of a flock. It might look easy to just situp there in the pulpit night after night, year in, year out, but let them remember the awfulresponsibility placed on his shoulders by almighty God—let them remember that God would askan accounting of him one day for every soul in his flock. Let them remember this when theythough he was hard, let them remember that the Word was hard, that the way of holiness was ahard way. There was no room in God’s army for the coward heart, no crown awaiting him who putmother, or father, sister, or brother, sweetheart, or friend above God’s will. Let the church cryamen to this! And they cried: ‘Amen! Amen!’

  The Lord had led him, said Father James, looking down on the boy and girl before him, togive them a public warning before it was too late. For he knew them to be sincere young people,dedicate to the service of the Lord—it was only that, since they were young, they did not know thepitfall Satan laid for the unwary. He knew that sin was not in their minds—not yet; yet sin was inthe flesh; and should they continue with their walking out alone together, their secrets andlaughter, and touching of hands, they would surely sin a sin beyond all forgiveness. And Johnwondered what Elisha was thinking—Elisha , who was tall and handsome, who played basket-ball,and who had been saved at the age of eleven in the improbable fields down south. Had he sinned?

  Had he been tempted? And the girl beside him, whose white robes now seemed the merest,thinnest covering for the nakedness of breasts and insistent thighs—what was her face like whenshe was alone with Elisha, with no singing, when they were not surrounded by the saints? He wasafraid to think of it, yet he could think of nothing else; and the fever of which they stood accusedbegan also to rage him.

  After this Sunday Elisha and Ella Mae no longer met each other each day after school, nolonger spent Saturday afternoons wandering through Central Park, or lying on the beach. All thatwas over for them. If they came together again it would be in wedlock. They would have childrenand raise them in the church.

  This was what was meant by a holy life, this was what the way of the cross demanded. Itwas somehow on that Sunday, a Sunday shortly before his birthday, that John first realized thatthis was the life awaiting him—realized it consciously, as something no longer far off, butimminent, coming closer day by day.

  John’s birthday fell on a Sunday in March, in 1935. He awoke on this birthday morning with thefeeling that there was menace in the air around him—that something irrevocable had occurred inhim. He stared at a yellow stain on the ceiling just above his head. Roy was still smothered in thebedclothes, and his breath came and went with a small, whistling sound. There was no other soundanywhere; no one in the house was up. The neighbors’ radios were all silent, and his mother hadn’tyet risen to fix his father’s breakfast. John wondered at his panic, then wondered about the time;and then (while the yellow stain on the ceiling slowly transformed itself into a woman’snakedness) he remembered that it was his fourteenth birthday and that he had sinned.

  His first thought, nevertheless, was: ‘Will anyone remember?’ For it had happened, once ortwice, that his birthday had passed entirely unnoticed, and no one had said ‘Happy Birthday,Johnny,’ or given him anything—not even his mother.

   Roy stirred again and John pushed him away, listening to the silence. On other mornings heawoke hearing his mother singing in the kitchen, hearing his father in the bedroom behind himgrunting and muttering prayers to himself as he put on his clothes; hearing, perhaps, the chatter ofSarah and the squalling of Ruth, and the radios, the clatter of pots and pans, and the voices of allthe folk nearby. This morning not even the cry of a bedspring disturbed the silence, and Johnseemed, therefore, to be listening to his own unspeaking doom. He could believe, almost, that hehad awakened late on that great getting-up morning; that all the saved had been transformed in thetwinkling of an eye, and had risen to meet Jesus in the clouds, and that he was left, with his sinfulbody, to be bound in hell a thousand years.

  He had sinned. In spite of the saints, his mother and his father, the warning he had heardfrom his earliest beginnings, he had sinned with his hands a sin that was hard to forgive. In theschool lavatory, alone, thinking of the boys, older, bigger, braver, who made bets with each otheras to whose urine could arch higher, he had watched in himself a transformation of which hewould never dare to speak.

  And the darkness of John’s sin was like the darkness of the church on Saturday evenings;like the silence of the church while he was there alone, sweeping, and running water into the greatbucket, and overturning chairs, long before the saints arrived. It was like his thoughts as he movedabout the tabernacle in which his life had been spent; the tabernacle hated, yet loved and feared. Itwas like Roy’s curses, like the echoes these curses raised in John: he remembered Roy, on somerare Saturday when he had come to help John clean the church, cursing in the house of God, andmaking obscene gestures before the eyes of Jesus. It was like all this, and it was like the walls thatwitnessed and the placards on the walls which testified that the wages of sin was death. Thedarkness of his sin was in the hardheartedness with which he resisted God’s power; in the scornthat was often his while he listened to the crying, breaking voices, and watched the black skinglisten while they lifted up their arms and fell on their faces before the Lord. For he had made hisdecision. He would not be like his father, or his father’s fathers. He would have another life.

  For John excelled in school, though not, like Elisha, in mathematics or basket-ball, and itwas said that he had a Great Future. He might become a Great Leader of His People. John was notmuch interested in His people and still less in leading them anywhere, but the phrase so oftenrepeated rose in his mind like a great brass gate, opening outward for him on a world where peopledid not live in the darkness of his father’s house, did not pray to Jesus in the darkness of hisfather’s church, where he would eat good food, and wear fine clothes, and go to the movies asoften as he wished. In this world John, who was, his father said, ugly, who was always the smallestboy in his class, and who had no friends, became immediately beautiful, tall, and popular. Peoplefell all over themselves to meet John Grimes. He was a poet, or a college president, or a moviestar; he drank expensive whisky, and he smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes in the green package.

  It was not only colored people who praised John, since they could not, John felt, in anycase really know; but white people also said it, in fact had said it first and said it still. It was whenJohn was five years old and in the first grade that he was first noticed; and since he was noticed byan eye altogether alien and impersonal, he began to perceive, in wild uneasiness, his individualexistence.

   They were learning the alphabet that day, and six children at a time were sent to theblackboard to write the letters they had memorized. Six had finished and were waiting for theteacher’s judgment when the back door opened and the school principal, of whom everyone wasterrified, entered the room, No one spoke or moved. In the silence the principal’s voice said:

  ‘Which child is that?’

  She was pointing to the blackboard, at John’s letters. The possibility of being distinguishedby her notice did not enter John’s mind, and so he simply stared at her. Then he realized, by theimmobility of the other children and by the way they avoided looking at him, that it was he whowas selected for punishment.

  “Speak up, John,’ said the teacher, gently.

  On the edge of tears, he mumbled his name and waited. The principal, a woman with whitehair and an iron face, looked down at him.

  ‘You’re a very bright boy, John Grimes,’ she said. ‘Keep up the good work.’

  Then she walked out of the room.

  That moment gave him, from that time on, if not a weapon at least a shield; he apprehendedtotally, without belief or understanding, that he had in himself a power that other people lacked;that he could use this to save himself, to raise himself; and that, perhaps, with this power he mightone day win that love which he so longed for. This was not, in John, a faith subject to death oralteration, nor yet a hope subject to destruction; it was his identity, and part, therefore, of thatwickedness for which his father beat him and to which he clung in order to withstand his father.

  His father’s arm, rising and falling, might make him cry, and that voice might cause him totremble; yet his father could never be entirely the victor, for John cherished something that hisfather could not reach. It was his hatred and his intelligence that he cherished, the one feeding theother. He lived for the day when his father would be dying and he, John, would curse him on hisdeath-bed. And this was why, though he had been born in faith and had been surrounded all his lifeby the saints and by their prayers and their rejoicing, and though the tabernacle in which theyworshipped was more completely real to him that the several precarious homes in which he and hisfamily had lived, John’s heart was hardened against the Lord. His father was God’s minister, theambassador of the King of Heaven, and John could not bow before the throne of grace without firstkneeling to his father. On his refusal to do this had his life depended, and John’s secret heart hadflourished in its wickedness until the day his sin first overtook him.

  In the midst of all his wonderings he fell asleep again, and when he woke up this time and got outof bed his father had gone to the factory, where he would work for half a day. Roy was sitting inthe kitchen, quarrelling with their mother. The baby, Ruth, sat in her high chair banging on the traywith an oatmeal-covered spoon. This meant that she was in a good mood; she would not spend theday howling, for reasons known only to herself, allowing no one but her mother to touch her.

  Sarah was quiet, not chattering to-day, or at any rate not yet, and stood near the stove, arms folded,staring at Roy with the flat black eyes, her father’s eyes, that made her look so old.

   Their mother, her head tied up in an old rag, sipped black coffee and watched Roy. Thepale end-of-winter sunlight filled the room and yellowed all their faces; and John, drugged andmorbid and wondering how it was that he had slept again and had been allowed to sleep so long,saw them for a moment like figures on a screen, an effect that the yellow light intensified. Theroom was narrow and dirty; nothing could alter its dimensions, no labor could ever make it clean.

  Dirt was in the walls and the floorboards, and triumphed beneath the sink where the cockroachesspawned; was in the fine ridges of the pots and pans, scoured daily, burnt black on the bottom,hanging above the stove; was in the wall against which they hung, and revealed itself where thepaint had cracked and leaned outward in stiff squares and fragments, the paper-thin undersidewebbed with black. Dirt was in every corner, angle, crevice of the monstrous stove, and livedbehind it in delirious communion with the corrupted wall. Dirt was in the baseboard that Johnscrubbed every Sunday, and roughened the cupboard shelves that held the cracked and gleamingdishes. Under this dark weight the walls leaned, under it the ceiling, with a great crack likelightning in its center, sagged. The windows gleamed like beaten gold or silver, but now John saw,in the yellow light, how fine dust veiled their doubtful glory. Dirt crawled in the gray mop hungout of the windows to dry. John thought with shame and horror, yet in angry hardness of heart: Hewho is filthy, let him be filthy still. Then he looked at his mother, seeing, as though she weresomeone else, the dark, hard lines running downward from her eyes, and the deep, perpetual scowlin her forehead, and the downturned, tightened mouth, and the strong, thin, brown, and bonyhands; and the phrase turned against him like a two-edged sword, for was it not he, in his falsepride and his evil imagination, who was filthy? Through a storm of tears that did not reach hiseyes, he stared at the yellow room; and the room shifted, the light of the sun darkened, and hismother’s face changed. He face became the face that he gave her in his dreams, the face that hadbeen hers in a photograph he had seen once, long ago, a photograph taken before he was born. Thisface was young and proud, uplifted, with a smile that made the wide mouth beautiful and glowedin the enormous eyes. It was the face of a girl who knew that no evikl could undo her, and whocould laugh, surely, as his mother did not laugh now. Between the two faces there stretched adarkness and a mystery that John feared, and that sometimes caused him to hate her.

  Now she saw him and she asked, breaking off her conversation with Roy: ‘You hungry,little sleepyhead?’

  ‘Well! About time you was getting up,’ said Sarah.

  He moved to the table and sat down, feeling the most bewildering panic of his life, a needto touch things, the table and chairs and the walls of the room, to make certain that the roomexisted and that he was in the room. He did not look at his mother, who stood up and went to thestove to heat his breakfast. But he asked, in order to say something to her, and to hear his ownvoice:

  ‘What we got for breakfast?’

  He realized, with some shame, that he was hoping she had prepared a special breakfast forhim on his birthday.

  ‘What you think we got for breakfast?’ Roy asked scornfully. ‘You got a special cravingfor something?’

   John looked at him. Roy was not in a good mood.

  ‘I ain’t said nothing to you,’ he said.

  ‘Oh, I beg your pardon,’ said Roy, in the shrill, little-girl tone he knew John hated.

  ‘What’s the matter with you to-day?’ John asked, angry, and trying at the same time to lendhis voice as husky a pitch as possible.

  ‘Don’t you let Roy bother you,’ said their mother. ‘He cross as two sticks this morning.’

  ‘Yeah,’ said John, ‘I reckon.’ He and Roy watched each other. Then his plate was putbefore him: hominy grits and a scrap of bacon. He wanted to cry, like a child: ‘But, Mama, it’s mybirthday!’ He kept his eyes on his plate and began to eat.

  ‘You can talk about your Daddy all you want to,’ said his mother, picking up her battlewith Roy, ‘but one thing you can’t say—you can’t say he ain’t always done his best to be a fatherto you and to see to it that you ain’t never gone hungry.’

  ‘I been hungry plenty of times,’ Roy said, proud to be able to score this point against hismother.

  ‘Wasn’t his fault, then. Wasn’t because he wasn’t trying to feed you. Than man shoveledsnow in zero weather when he ought’ve been in bed just to put food in your belly.’

  ‘Wasn’t just my belly,’ said Roy indignantly. ‘He got a belly, too, I know—it’s a shame theway that man eats. I sure ain’t asked him to shovel no snow for me.’ But he dropped his eyes,suspecting a flaw in his argument. ‘I just don’t want him beating on me all the time,’ he said atlast. ‘I ain’t no dog.’

  She sighed, and turned slightly away, looking out of the window. ‘Your Daddy beats you,’

  she said, ‘because he loves you.’

  Roy laughed. ‘That ain’t the kind of love I understand, old lady. What you reckon he’d doif he didn’t love me?’

  ‘He’d let you go right on,’ she flashed, ‘right on down to hell where it looks like you is justdetermined to go anyhow! Right on, Mister Man, till somebody puts a knife in you, or takes youoff to jail!’

  ‘Mama,’ John asked suddenly, ‘is Daddy a good man?’

  He had not known that he was going to ask the question, and he watched in astonishment asher mouth tightened and her eyes grew dark.

  ‘That ain’t no kind of question,’ she said mildly. ‘You don’t know no better men, do you?’

  ‘Looks to me like he’s a mighty good man,’ said Sarah. ‘He sure is praying all the time.’

  ‘You children is young,’ their mother said, ignoring Sarah and sitting down again at thetable, ‘and you don’t know how lucky you is to have a father what worries about you and tries tosee to it that you come up right.’

  ‘Yeah,’ said Roy, ‘we don’t know how lucky we is to have a father what don’t want you togo to movies, and don’t want you to play in the streets, and don’t want you to have no friends, and he don’t want this and he don’t want that, and he don’t want you to do nothing. We so lucky tohave a father who just wants us to go to church and read the Bible and beller like a fool in front ofthe altar and stay home all nice and quiet, like a little mouse. Boy, we sure is lucky, all right. Don’tknow what I done to be so lucky.’

  She laughed. ‘You going to find out one day,’ she said, ‘you mark my words.’

  ‘Yeah,’ said Roy.

  ‘But it’ll be too late, then,’ she said. ‘It’ll be too late when you come to be … sorry.’ Hervoice had changed. For a moment her eyes met John’s eyes, and John was frightened.. He felt thather words, after the strange fashion God sometimes chose to speak to men, were dictated byHeaven and were meant for him. He was fo............

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