“… and she said, ‘If you ask me, that hat does something for you and you do something for that hat, and besides,’ she said, ‘with that hat, you won’t meet yourself coming and going.’”
“You remain what you are,” she said. “Your great-grandfather had a plantation and two hundred slaves.”
“There are no more slaves,” he said irritably.
“They were better off when they were,” she said…“It’s ridiculous. It’s simply not realistic. They should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence.”
It appeared in his dreams regularly. He would stand on the wide porch, listening to the rustle of oak leaves, then wander through the high-ceilinged hall in to the parlor that opened onto it and gaze at the worn rugs and faded draperies. It occurred to him that it was he, not she, who could have appreciated it. He preferred its threadbare elegance to anything he could name and it was because of it that all the neighborhoods they had lived in had been a torment to him – whereas she had hardly known the difference.
He thrust his face toward her and hissed, “True culture is in the mind, the mind,” he said, and tapped his head, “the mind.”
“It’s in the heart,” she said, “and in how you do things and how you do things is because of who you are.”
Behind the newspaper Julian was withdrawing into the inner compartment of his mind where he spend most of his time. This was a kind of mental bubble in which he established himself when he could not bear to be a part of what was going on around him. From it he could see out and judge but in it he was safe from any kind of penetration from without. It was the only place where he felt free of the general idiocy of is fellows. His mother had never entered it but from it he could see her with absolute clarity.
It gave him a certain satisfaction to see injustice in daily operation. It confirmed his view that with a few exceptions there was no one worth knowing within a radius of three hundred miles.
She kept her eyes on the woman and an amused smile came over her face as if the woman were a monkey that had stolen her hat.
Then all at once she seemed to explode like a piece of machinery that had been given one ounce of pressure too much. Julian saw the black fist swing out with the red pocketbook. He shut his eyes and cringed as he heard the woman shout, “He don’t take nobody’s pennies!”
“What all this means,” he said, “is that the old world is gone. The old manners are obsolete and your graciousness is not worth a damn.” He thought bitterly of the house that had been lost for him. “You aren’t who you think you are,” he said.
The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow.