For several days things remained in statu quo. Our lives went on evenly. The telephone
was at our service, without any of its past vagaries. Maggie's eyes ceased to look as if
they were being pushed out from behind, and I ceased to waken at night and listen for
Willie telephoned daily. He was frankly uneasy about my remaining there. "You know
something that somebody resents your knowing," he said, a day or two after the night
visitor. "It may become very uncomfortable for you."
And, after a day or two, I began to feel that it was being made uncomfortable for me. I
am a social being; I like people. In the city my neighborly instincts have died of a sort of
brick wall apathy, but in the country it comes to life again. The instinct of gregariousness
is as old as the first hamlets, I daresay, when prehistoric man ceased to live in trees, and
banded together for protection from the wild beasts that walked the earth.
The village became unfriendly. It was almost a matter of a night. One day the
postmistress leaned on the shelf at her window and chatted with me. The next she passed
out my letters with hardly a glance. Mrs. Graves did not see me at early communion on
Sunday morning. The hackman was busy when I called him. It was intangible, a matter of
omission, not commission. The doctor's wife, who had asked me to tea, called up and
regretted that she must go to the city that day.
I sat down then and took stock of things. Did the village believe that Miss Emily must be
saved from me? Did the village know the story I was trying to learn, and was it
determined I should never find out the truth? And, if this were so, was the village right or
was I? They would save Miss Emily by concealment, while I felt that concealment had
failed, and that only the truth would do. Did the village know, or only suspect? Or was it
not the village at all, but one or two people who were determined to drive me away?
My theories were rudely disturbed shortly after that by a visit from Martin Sprague. I
fancied that Willie had sent him, but he evaded my question.
"I'd like another look at that slip of paper," he said. "Where do you keep it, by the way?"
"In a safe place," I replied non-committally, and he laughed. The truth was that I had
taken out the removable inner sole of a slipper and had placed it underneath, an excellent
hiding-place, but one I did not care to confide to him. When I had brought it downstairs,
he read it over again carefully, and then sat back with it in his hand.
"Now tell me about everything," he said.
I did, while he listened attentively. Afterward we walked back to the barn, and I showed
him the piece of broken halter still tied there.