25 October 1929
As I Lay Dying
Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file. <Anyone watching us from the cotton house
can see> Although I am 15 feet ahead of him, anyone watching us from the cotton house can see Jewel's frayed
and broken straw hat a full head above my own.
The path runs straight as a plumb-line, worn smooth and baked brick-hard by July, between the green rows
of laid-by cotton, to the cotton-house in the center of the field, where it turns and circles the cotton-house at
4 soft right angles and goes on across the field again, worn so by feet in fading <generations> precision.
The cotton-house is of rough logs, from between which the chinking has fallen. Square, with a broken roof
set at a single pitch, it leans in empty and <crazy shimmering dilap> dizzy dilapidation in the sunlight,
a single big window in two opposite walls giving onto the <path> approaches of the path. When we reach
it I turn and follow the path which circles the house. Jewel, 15 feet behind me, looking straight ahead,
steps <on the> in a single stride thru the window. Still staring straight ahead, his pale eyes like wood
set into his wooden face, he crosses the <loose and gaping> floor in 4 strides, with the rigid gravity of a
cigar-store Indian dressed in patched overalls and endued with life from the hips down, and steps in a
single stride thru the opposite window and into the path again just as I come around the <house> corner.
In single file and 5 feet apart and Jewel now in front, we go on up the path, <up to the house> to the
foot of the bluff. <At the foot>
<At the foot of the bluff [illegible] a wagon. Turpin's> Tull's wagon stands beside the spring, the team <in the> hitched to
the railing, the reins wrapped around a stanchion. In the bed are 2 chairs. Jewel stops at the spring
and takes the <cup> gourd from the willow-branch and drinks. I pass him and go up the path, beginning to hear
When I reach the top he has quit sawing. Standing in a litter of chips he is fitting <the> two of the boards to-
gether. <They are yellow> Between the shadow-spaces they are yellow as gold, like soft gold, bearing on their
flanks in smooth undulations the marks of the adze blade: a good carpenter, [illegible] Cash is. He holds the two
boards on the trestle, fitted along the edges in <the shape of half a box. The coffin> a quarter of the coffin,
He kneels and squints along the edge of them.
[margin: Then he lowers them and takes
up the adze again]
A good carpenter. Maw could not want a better one, a better
box to lie in. It will give her confidence and comfort. I go on to the house, followed by the <slow> Chuck.
Chuck. Chuck of the adze.