up when she was twelve, I reckon, than Joy was when she died.

The Jimersons went past, waving, and then the car stopped up ahead. Prentiss got out and they went on. When the wagon came up to where he was waiting beside the road, Mitch stopped the team and looked down at him. The youth was wearing his Sunday suit for the funeral, and now he looked up with the brown eyes slightly abashed as usual.

“You mind if I ride back with you, Mitch? I’d kind of like to ride in the wagon.”

Mitch looked at him gravely. I reckon she is growing up, he thought.

“Sure,” he said. “Go on around and climb in. I reckon we can make room, can’t we, Jessie?”

* * *

Cass had not come home. He had run across the yard that tragic afternoon and pushed his way into the departing ambulance and then had disappeared. The funeral had come and gone without the man who had cried out so, piteously in his grief, and now, two days after the funeral, he still had not returned. When Mitch had gone to claim Sewell’s body for burial, he had asked, but no one seemed to know anything about him. Yes, they said, he had come in to town in the ambulance, but as to where he was now, they couldn’t say. Each time, the question had met with a puzzled glance and a quick changing of the subject, as if the person asked had not understood or did not want to say.

Mitch and Jessie sat on the front porch in the early evening resting after supper and watching the shadows thicken into dusk among the pines. Mitch had been cutting wood all day, waiting for the fields to dry out enough for plowing. The river was back to normal now, but it would be several days before he could do any work in the bottom.

“Where do you suppose he is, Mitch?” Jessie asked.

Mitch threw the cigarette into the yard. “I don’t know, Jessie,” he began, then stopped, listening. There was an automobile coming down off the hill, and the sound of it was different from that of the Jimerson car.

Without a word between them, they both began to know then. They watched with growing horror as it came into the yard and stopped and Cass got out, grinning at them with a sort of lost and foolish happiness. It was an old Buick, a four-door sedan with one crumpled and ironed-out fender, but polished all over until it gleamed and by far the largest and most impressive of all the secondhand cars he had ever brought home.

“Ain’t she a beauty, Mitch?” he asked with childlike pride. “Got good rubber, too, the man said. Right new tires all around.” He kicked one of them and looked at Mitch and Jessie happily.

Jessie was staring at him as if she were going to be ill. Mitch touched her arm. “Wait,” he said. “Don’t say nothing.”

It ain’t that simple this time, he thought. It ain’t like all the land he sold to buy them other seven cars, or when he sold Mexico to buy the radio. It looks almost the same, them five days it would take him to get it squared around in his mind till it would be all right and the only thing to do, but it probably wasn’t that. It probably took him the five days to collect the money. God knows where he had to go to get it.

Cass went back around to the driver’s side and blew the horn. “Listen to that, Mitch. Got a nice sound, ain’t it? And you ought to hear her growl when she gets in the sand. Got more power’n a truck.”

We could leave, Mitch thought. I could take Jessie and we could go somewhere else, and I reckon we could get along, but what would become of him? No, we couldn’t ever leave him; he’s living in another world, but he’s got to get his meals in this one. I guess we wouldn’t want to, anyhow. This is home, what there’s left of it, and all you can do is hang tight and keep on trying.

Cass took a last loving look at the car and came up on the porch with his vacant and happy grin. Jessie drew aside as he passed.

“Why don’t you take a ride in her, Mitch? You and Jessie. Take a little spin up the road and try her out.”

He stopped then, the childish pride of possession slowly fading from his face as he gazed at the window of his room. Somewhere he had lost the monstrous and insane hat, and he looked like a forlorn and blankly staring doll in the gathering dusk.

“I got to listen to the news,” he said. “Ain’t heard nothing in some time.” He walked to the window, bent over like a folding rule, and stepped through it into his room.

“Mitch, how could he?” Jessie asked in whispered anguish. “How could he?”

Mitch was silent for a minute. “I don’t think he really did, Jessie,” he said. “I think he won it on the radio.”

It was just a prize they gave away in that game he was listening to, he thought. At least, that’s as near as I can figure it. God knows, it might have been better the other way, if he had deliberately sold Sewell for the reward the way he sold all the land and Mexico. I don’t think, the way it is, he even knows that Sewell’s dead. Not all the time, anyway.

He looked across the yard, seeing all the times in years ahead when he would hear the shout, and turn, waiting patiently in the endless furrow through cotton yet unborn while the same lost figure stumbled down the hill through the ever deepening and unvarying furrow of its own with the frozen arm outstretched and pointing toward the river. “It’s Sewell! It’s Sewell, Mitch! Just come over the radio!”

Well, he thought, it ain’t no use to run. If running did you any good, he wouldn’t be there himself.

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