Cover

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Title Page/Copyright/Dedication

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1

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pp. 1-9

Occasionally — sometimes twice in a year, sometimes not for two or three years — Nat Stonebridge (Nat Hunter, she was before she married.) comes home to Philippi for a visit. No one ever knows how long she will stay. She may be in town overnight or for a week or a month. ...

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2

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pp. 10-21

"Well, Clakey, she ought to be here any minute now," she said. "It's past two o'clock, and she said on the phone last night . . . It was after nine when she called, and it put me in a pinch for supper tonight. If Aubrey hadn't happened to stop by the Shotwells'— you know, this year Morris has a garden, ...

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3

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pp. 22-34

The "home" toward which Nat set out, when she got out of jail that September evening, after a pleasant game of blackjack and an excellent supper of greens, sweet potatoes, and fatback, was a modestly-scrolled, late-Victorian cottage shaded by two ancient water oaks ...

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4

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pp. 35-56

"Nat, you know I don't hear anything about you except from Cousin Louise, and she's not going to tell me Jeff broke your jaw." Wilburn Griffith looked skeptically at Nat and began doodling on the pad on his desk. They were in the small back office of the Hunters' Refuge commissary, ...

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5

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pp. 57-69

The gin and commissary on Hunters' Refuge are only a mile from the comfortable, two-story, clapboard farmhouse, built in the late twenties on the site of the old Hunter mansion, where Wilburn Griffith and his family live. Quite often, in all kinds of weather, Wilburn leaves his car at the commissary when the day is over and walks home. ...

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6

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pp. 70-86

"We usually sit on the gallery this time of the year" Miss Louise said to Wilburn as she led him into her parlor, "or the back sitting room, if the weather is cool. But I'm painting." She smiled dimly and apologetically at him. "This is the only dry room in the house. ...

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7

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pp. 87-108

In a nightclub the first thing Wilburn usually paid attention to was the music. He had his generation's nostalgia for the style of bands like Glenn Miller's or Hal Kemp's; he enjoyed dancing, and he always hoped to hear a good dance band. Tonight, however, the blare (clearly audible in the parking lot outside Sarelli's) ...

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8

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pp. 109-122

The conversation between Floyd Shotwell and The General which produced this curious proxy courtship had taken place the preceding week and was the result, not simply of Floyd's having gotten drunk, although that was a contributory factor, but of a tangle of apparently irrelevant circumstances …

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9

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pp. 123-140

The Monday following Nat's party at Sarelli's, Aubrey Hunter came home to lunch in a mood even more abstracted than his usual one. He walked briskly, hurrying along the sidewalk with quick birdlike steps and nodding his head as if he might be looking for a worm. …

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10

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pp. 141-155

Driving to Jackson for the football game the following weekend, Floyd and Nat traveled east and then south through farm and pasture and forest lands, the blue Cadillac racing at seventy and eighty miles an hour through the dead November Delta. Fall — frost — had come early that year. ...

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11

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pp. 156-165

And they went that day from party to game to party, Nat coaxing and cozening him along with her. The houses they wandered through were set among rolling pine hills; pine straw was fragrant underfoot. The gardens, cultivated as religiously as if each one harbored the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, …

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12

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pp. 166-183

"The Star-Spangled Banner" boomed out across the stadium; hundreds of Confederate flags flickering in the hands of the crowd were still for a moment; hats came off, hands went to hearts, and thirty thousand voices burst into song. Afterwards, the loudspeakers crackled with a broken roaring thunder and a voice was lifted in prayer. ...

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13

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pp. 184-193

At the hospital they lifted Sunny out of the car and onto a rolling stretcher. She was moaning continuously now, and shivering, and she lay on the stretcher with her legs drawn up against her belly, a lump of pain, her black cocktail dress hiked up so that a broad expanse of soft white thigh was visible. ...

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14

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pp. 194-205

Afterwards the three of them left the hospital, down the humming elevator shaft in the chrome-trimmed cage, along the throbbing bright corridors and out into the hospital parking lot. ...

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15

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pp. 206-213

The fluorescent tube over the mirror in the motel bathroom pulsed, flickered, dimmed, and swelled to brilliance. In the next room Nat lay in darkness, the pillow pressing like earth on her eyelids. She breathed carefully into the pocket between pillow and mattress. ...

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16

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pp. 214-229

On Friday afternoon of the weekend that Nat and Floyd spent in Jackson, General Pershing Pruitt went downtown to the Mid-South Hardware Store to call on Aubrey. He had dressed carefully for the occasion in a new shiny blue shantung suit, shot with iridescent greenish threads, and a wide-brimmed, western-style hat of a slightly darker shade of blue. ...

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17

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pp. 230-253

Sunday night when he had called home, Wilburn had told his mother that Nat was staying over to help him with Sunny — that nurses were hard to find and Sunny needed someone with her constantly. Mrs. Griffith had relayed the message to Miss Louise Hunter. Tuesday, Nat went home on the bus. ...

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18

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pp. 254-275

In spite of the confusion and misery in her household during the weeks that followed Aubrey's attack, Miss Louise continued to follow her ordinary routine. She went to market on Monday and Friday, attended the meetings of the Blue Stockings and of her Episcopal Guild, paid her regular Tuesday afternoon visit …

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19

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pp. 276-290

When Wilburn stopped outside his kitchen door at noon the next day to scrape the mud from his boots before coming in for lunch, Sarah Henry was striding about the kitchen, clashing pots together and singing in a strong contralto: …

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20

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pp. 291-303

The next morning, when Nat arrived at Hunters* Refuge, there was a festive air about the house. It was the end of the third week in November now, and the following Thursday would be Thanksgiving. The children, to celebrate their mother's return from the hospital in Jackson, had gathered armfuls of autumn leaves ...