“Except it wasn't Will Mayes,” a barber said. He was a thin, sand-colored man with a mild face, who was shaving a client. “I know Will Mayes. He's a
good nigger. And I know Miss Minnie Cooper, too.”
“It's this durn weather,” another said. “It's enough to make a man do anything.”
“Well,” he said, “are you going to sit there and let a black son rape a white woman on the streets of Jefferson?”
Then the town began to say: “Poor Minnie.” “But she is old enough to take care of herself,” others said.
“Kill him, kill the black son!” the voice murmured. They dragged the Negro to the car. The barber had waited beside the car. He could feel himself sweating and he knew he was going to be sick at the stomach. “What is it, captains?” the Negro said. “I ain't done nothing. ‘Fore God, Mr John.” Someone produced handcuffs.
“Let me out, John,” he said. “Jump out, nigger-lover,” McLendon said without turning his head.
“Do you feel strong enough to go out?” they said, their eyes bright too, with a dark glitter. “When you have had time to get over the shock, you must tell us what happened. What he said and did; everything.”
“That's the one: see? The one in pink in the middle.” “Is that her? What did they do with the nigger? Did they?” “Sure. He's all right.” “All right, is he?” “Sure. He went on a little trip.”
“Do you see?” the friends said. Their voices sounded like long, hovering sighs of hissing exultation. “There's not a Negro on the square. Not one.”
“Haven't I told you about sitting up like this, waiting to see when I come in?” “John,” she said. She laid the magazine down. Poised on the balls of his feet, he glared at her with his hot eyes, his sweating face. “Didn't I tell you?” He went toward her. She looked up then. He caught her shoulder. She stood passive, looking at him. “Don't, John. I couldn't sleep... The heat; something. Please, John. You're hurting me.”