ENGL 102 Homework 5 Need assistance with ENGL 102 Homework. Please see attachments A JURY OF HER PEERS
By SUSAN GLASPELL
From Every Week
When Martha Hale opened the storm-door and got a cut of the north wind, she ran back for her big woolen scarf. As she hurriedly wound that round her head her eye made a scandalized sweep of her kitchen. It was no ordinary thing that called her away—it was probably farther from ordinary than anything that had ever happened in Dickson County. But what her eye took in was that her kitchen was in no shape for leaving: her bread all ready for mixing, half the flour sifted and half unsifted.
She hated to see things half done; but she had been at that when the team from town stopped to get Mr. Hale, and then the sheriff came running in to say his wife wished Mrs. Hale would come too—adding, with a grin, that he guessed she was getting scarey and wanted another woman along. So she had dropped everything right where it was.
“Martha!” now came her husband’s impatient voice. “Don’t keep folks waiting out here in the cold.”
She again opened the storm-door, and this time joined the three men and the one woman waiting for her in the big two-seated buggy.
After she had the robes tucked around her she took another look at the woman who sat beside her on the back seat. She had met Mrs. Peters the year before at the county fair, and the thing she remembered about[Pg 257] her was that she didn’t seem like a sheriff’s wife. She was small and thin and didn’t have a strong voice. Mrs. Gorman, sheriff’s wife before Gorman went out and Peters came in, had a voice that somehow seemed to be backing up the law with every word. But if Mrs. Peters didn’t look like a sheriff’s wife, Peters made it up in looking like a sheriff. He was to a dot the kind of man who could get himself elected sheriff—a heavy man with a big voice, who was particularly genial with the law-abiding, as if to make it plain that he knew the difference between criminals and non-criminals. And right there it came into Mrs. Hale’s mind, with a stab, that this man who was so pleasant and lively with all of them was going to the Wrights’ now as a sheriff.
“The country’s not very pleasant this time of year,” Mrs. Peters at last ventured, as if she felt they ought to be talking as well as the men.
Mrs. Hale scarcely finished her reply, for they had gone up a little hill and could see the Wright place now, and seeing it did not make her feel like talking. It looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome-looking place. It was down in a hollow, and the poplar trees around it were lonesome-looking trees. The men were looking at it and talking about what had happened. The county attorney was bending to one side of the buggy, and kept looking steadily at the place as they drew up to it.
“I’m glad you came with me,” Mrs. Peters said nervously, as the two women were about to follow the men in through the kitchen door.
Even after she had her foot on the door-step, her hand on the knob, Martha Hale had a moment of feeling she could not cross that threshold. And the reason it seemed she couldn’t cross it now was simply because she hadn’t crossed it before. Time and time again it had been in her mind, “I ought to go over and see Minnie Foster”—she still thought of her as Minnie Foster, though for twenty years she had been Mrs. Wright. And then there[Pg 258] was always something to do and Minnie Foster would go from her mind. But now she could come.
The men went over to the stove. The women stood close together by the door. Young Henderson, the county attorney, turned around and said, “Come up to the fire, ladies.”
Mrs. Peters took a step forward, then stopped. “I’m not—cold,” she said.
And so the two women stood by the door, at first not even so much as looking around the kitchen.
The men talked for a minute about what a good thing it was the sheriff had sent his deputy out that morning to make a fire for them, and then Sheriff Peters stepped back from the stove, unbuttoned his outer coat, and leaned his hands on the kitchen table in a way that seemed to mark the beginning of official business. “Now, Mr. Hale,” he said in a sort of semi-official voice, “before we move things about, you tell Mr. Henderson just what it was you saw when you came here yesterday morning.”
The county attorney was looking around the kitchen.
“By the way,” he said, “has anything been moved?” He turned to the sheriff. “Are things just as you left them yesterday?”
Peters looked from cupboard to sink; from that to a small worn rocker a little to one side of the kitchen table.
“It’s just the same.”
“Somebody should have been left here yesterday,” said the county attorney.
“Oh—yesterday,” returned the sheriff, with a little gesture as of yesterday having been more than he could bear to think of. “When I had to send Frank to Morris Center for that man who went crazy—let me tell you, I had my hands full yesterday. I knew you could get back from Omaha by to-day, George, and as long as I went over everything here myself—”[Pg 259]
“Well, Mr. Hale,” said the county attorney, in a way of letting what was past and gone go, “tell just what happened when you came here yesterday morning.”
Mrs. Hale, still leaning against the door, had that sinking feeling of the mother whose child is about to speak a piece. Lewis often wandered along and got things mixed up in a story. She hoped he would tell this straight and plain, and not say unnecessary things that would just make things harder for Minnie Foster. He didn’t begin at once, and she noticed that he looked queer—as if standing in that kitchen and having to tell what he had seen there yesterday morning made him almost sick.
“Yes, Mr. Hale?” the county attorney reminded.
“Harry and I had started to town with a load of potatoes,” Mrs. Hale’s husband began.
Harry was Mrs. Hale’s oldest boy. He wasn’t with them now, for the very good reason that those potatoes never got to town yesterday and he was taking them this morning, so he hadn’t been home when the sheriff stopped to say he wanted Mr. Hale to come over to the Wright place and tell the county attorney his story there, where he could point it all out. With all Mrs. Hale’s other emotions came the fear now that maybe Harry wasn’t dressed warm enough—they hadn’t any of them realized how that north wind did bite.
“We come along this road,” Hale was going on, with a motion of his hand to the road over which they had just come, “and as we got in sight of the house I says to Harry, ‘I’m goin’ to see if I can’t get John Wright to take a telephone.’ You see,” he explained to Henderson, “unless I can get somebody to go in with me they won’t come out this branch road except for a price I can’t pay. I’d spoke to Wright about it once before; but he put me off, saying folks talked too much anyway, and all he asked was peace and quiet—guess you know about how much he talked himself. But I thought maybe if I went to the house and talked about it before his wife,[Pg 260] and said all the women-folks liked the telephones, and that in this lonesome stretch of road it would be a good thing—well, I said to Harry that that was what I was going to say—though I said at the same time that I didn’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John—”
Now, there he was!—saying things he didn’t need to say. Mrs. Hale tried to catch her husband’s eye, but fortunately the county attorney interrupted with:
“Let’s talk about that a little later, Mr. Hale. I do want to talk about that, but I’m anxious now to get along to just what happened when you got here.”
When he began this time, it was very deliberately and carefully:
“I didn’t see or hear anything. I knocked at the door. And still it was all quiet inside. I knew they must be up—it was past eight o’clock. So I knocked again, louder, and I thought I heard somebody say, ‘Come in.’ I wasn’t sure—I’m not sure yet. But I opened the door—this door,” jerking a hand toward the door by which the two women stood, “and there, in that rocker”—pointing to it—”sat Mrs. Wright.”
Every one in the kitchen looked at the rocker. It came into Mrs. Hale’s mind that that rocker didn’t look in the least like Minnie Foster—the Minnie Foster of twenty years before. It was a dingy red, with wooden rungs up the back, and the middle rung was gone, and the chair sagged to one side.
“How did she—look?” the county attorney was inquiring.
“Well,” said Hale, “she looked—queer.”
“How do you mean—queer?”
As he asked it he took out a note-book and pencil. Mrs. Hale did not like the sight of that pencil. She kept her eye fixed on her husband, as if to keep him from saying unnecessary things that would go into that note-book and make trouble.[Pg 261]
Hale did speak guardedly, as if the pencil had affected him too.
“Well, as if she didn’t know what she was going to do next. And kind of—done up.”
“How did she seem to feel about your coming?”
“Why, I don’t think she minded—one way or other. She didn’t pay much attention. I said, ‘Ho’ do, Mrs. Wright? It’s cold, ain’t it?’ And she said, ‘Is it?’—and went on pleatin’ at her apron.
“Well, I was surprised. She didn’t ask me to come up to the stove, or to sit down, but just set there, not even lookin’ at me. And so I said: ‘I want to see John.’
“And then she—laughed. I guess you would call it a laugh.
“I thought of Harry and the team outside, so I said, a little sharp, ‘Can I see John?’ ‘No,’ says she—kind of dull like. ‘Ain’t he home?’ says I. Then she looked at me. ‘Yes,’ says she, ‘he’s home.’ ‘Then why can’t I see him?’ I asked her, out of patience with her now. ”Cause he’s dead,’ says she, just as quiet and dull—and fell to pleatin’ her apron. ‘Dead?’ says I, like you do when you can’t take in what you’ve heard.
“She just nodded her head, not getting a bit excited, but rockin’ back and forth.
“‘Why—where is he?’ says I, not knowing what to say.
“She just pointed upstairs—like this”—pointing to the room above.
“I got up, with the idea of going up there myself. By this time I—didn’t know what to do. I walked from there to here; then I says: ‘Why, what did he die of?’
“‘He died of a rope round his neck,’ says she; and just went on pleatin’ at her apron.”
Hale stopped speaking, and stood staring at the rocker, as if he were still seeing the woman who had sat there the morning before. Nobody spoke; it was as if every one[Pg 262] were seeing the woman who had sat there the morning before.
“And what did you do then?” the county attorney at last broke the silence.
“I went out and called Harry. I thought I might—need help. I got Harry in, and we went upstairs.” His voice fell almost to a whisper. “There he was—lying over the—”
“I think I’d rather have you go into that upstairs,” the county attorney interrupted, “where you can point it all out. Just go on now with the rest of the story.”
“Well, my first thought was to get that rope off. It looked—”
He stopped, his face twitching.
“But Harry, he went up to him, and he said, ‘No, he’s dead all right, and we’d better not touch anything.’ So we went downstairs.
“She was still sitting that same way. ‘Has anybody been notified?’ I asked. ‘No,’ says she, unconcerned.
“‘Who did this, Mrs. Wright?’ said Harry. He said it businesslike, and she stopped pleatin’ at her apron. ‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘You don’t know?’ says Harry. ‘Weren’t you sleepin’ in the bed with him?’ ‘Yes,’ says she, ‘but I was on the inside.’ ‘Somebody slipped a rope round his neck and strangled him, and you didn’t wake up?’ says Harry. ‘I didn’t wake up,’ she said after him.
“We may have looked as if we didn’t see how that could be, for after a minute she said, ‘I sleep sound.’
“Harry was going to ask her more questions, but I said maybe that weren’t our business; maybe we ought to let her tell her story first to the coroner or the sheriff. So Harry went fast as he could over to High Road—the Rivers’ place, where there’s a telephone.”
“And what did she do when she knew you had gone for the coroner?” The attorney got his pencil in his hand all ready for writing.[Pg 263]
“She moved from that chair to this one over here”—Hale pointed to a small chair in the corner—”and just sat there with her hands held together and looking down. I got a feeling that I ought to make some conversation, so I said I had come in to see if John wanted to put in a telephone; and at that she started to laugh, and then she stopped and looked at me—scared.”
At sound of a moving pencil the man who was telling the story looked up.
“I dunno—maybe it wasn’t scared,” he hastened; “I wouldn’t like to say it was. Soon Harry got back, and then Dr. Lloyd came, and you, Mr. Peters, and so I guess that’s all I know that you don’t.”
He said that last with relief, and moved a little, as if relaxing. Every one moved a little. The county attorney walked toward the stair door.
“I guess we’ll go upstairs first—then out to the barn and around there.”
He paused and looked around the kitchen.
“You’re convinced there was nothing important here?” he asked the sheriff. “Nothing that would—point to any motive?”
The sheriff too looked all around, as if to re-convince himself.
“Nothing here but kitchen things,” he said, with a little laugh for the insignificance of kitchen things.
The county attorney was looking at the cupboard—a peculiar, ungainly structure, half closet and half cupboard, the upper part of it being built in the wall, and the lower part just the old-fashioned kitchen cupboard. As if its queerness attracted him, he got a chair and opened the upper part and looked in. After a moment he drew his hand away sticky.
“Here’s a nice mess,” he said resentfully.
The two women had drawn nearer, and now the sheriff’s wife spoke.[Pg 264]
“Oh—her fruit,” she said, looking to Mrs. Hale for sympathetic understanding. She turned back to the county attorney and explained: “She worried about that when it turned so cold last night. She said the fire would go out and her jars might burst.”
Mrs. Peters’ husband broke into a laugh.
“Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worrying about her preserves!”
The young attorney set his lips.
“I guess before we’re through with her she may have something more serious than preserves to worry about.”
“Oh, well,” said Mrs. Hale’s husband, with good-natured superiority, “women are used to worrying over trifles.”
The two women moved a little closer together. Neither of them spoke. The county attorney seemed suddenly to remember his manners—and think of his future.
“And yet,” said he, with the gallantry of a young politician, “for all their worries, what would we do without the ladies?”
The women did not speak, did not unbend. He went to the sink and began washing his hands. He turned to wipe them on the roller towel—whirled it for a cleaner place.
“Dirty towels! Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?”
He kicked his foot against some dirty pans under the sink.
“There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm,” said Mrs. Hale stiffly.
“To be sure. And yet”—with a little bow to her—”I know there are some Dickson County farm-houses that do not have such roller towels.” He gave it a pull to expose its full length again.
“Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hands aren’t always as clean as they might be.”
“Ah, loyal to your sex, I see,” he laughed. He[Pg 265] stopped and gave her a keen look. “But you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors. I suppose you were friends, too.”
Martha Hale shook her head.
“I’ve seen little enough of her of late years. I’ve not been in this house—it’s more than a year.”
“And why was that? You didn’t like her?”
“I liked her well enough,” she replied with spirit. “Farmers’ wives have their hands full, Mr. Henderson. And then—” She looked around the kitchen.
“Yes?” he encouraged.
“It never seemed a very cheerful place,” said she, more to herself than to him.
“No,” he agreed; “I don’t think any one would call it cheerful. I shouldn’t say she had the home-making instinct.”
“Well, I don’t know as Wright had, either,” she muttered.
“You mean they didn’t get on very well?” he was quick to ask.
“No; I don’t mean anything,” she answered, with decision. As she turned a little away from him, she added: “But I don’t think a place would be any the cheerfuler for John Wright’s bein’ in it.”
“I’d like to talk to you about that a little later, Mrs. Hale,” he said. “I’m anxious to get the lay of things upstairs now.”
He moved toward the stair door, followed by the two men.
“I suppose anything Mrs. Peters does’ll be all right?” the sheriff inquired. “She was to take in some clothes for her, you know—and a few little things. We left in such a hurry yesterday.”
The county attorney looked at the two women whom they were leaving alone there among the kitchen things.
“Yes—Mrs. Peters,” he said, his glance resting on the woman who was not Mrs. Peters, the big farmer woman who stood behind the sheriff’s wife. “Of[Pg 266] course Mrs. Peters is one of us,” he said, in a manner of entrusting responsibility. “And keep your eye out Mrs. Peters, for anything that might be of use. No telling; you women might come upon a clue to the motive—and that’s the thing we need.”
Mr. Hale rubbed his face after the fashion of a show man getting ready for a pleasantry.
“But would the women know a clue if they did come upon it?” he said; and, having delivered himself of this, he followed the others through the stair door.
The women stood motionless and silent, listening to the footsteps, first upon the stairs, then in the room above them.
Then, as if releasing herself from something strange, Mrs. Hale began to arrange the dirty pans under the sink, which the county attorney’s disdainful push of the foot had deranged.
“I’d hate to have men comin’ into my kitchen,” she said testily—”snoopin’ round and criticizin’.”
“Of course it’s no more than their duty,” said the sheriff’s wife, in her manner of timid acquiescence.
“Duty’s all right,” replied Mrs. Hale bluffly; “but I guess that deputy sheriff that come out to make the fire might have got a little of this on.” She gave the roller towel a pull. “Wish I’d thought of that sooner! Seems mean to talk about her for not having things slicked up, when she had to come away in such a hurry.”
She looked around the kitchen. Certainly it was not “slicked up.” Her eye was held by a bucket of sugar on a low shelf. The cover was off the wooden bucket, and beside it was a paper bag—half full.
Mrs. Hale moved toward it.
“She was putting this in there,” she said to herself—slowly.
She thought of the flour in her kitchen at home—half sifted, half not sifted. She had been interrupted, and had left things half done. What had interrupted[Pg 267] Minnie Foster? Why had that work been left half done? She made a move as if to finish it,—unfinished things always bothered her,—and then she glanced around and saw that Mrs. Peters was watching her—and she didn’t want Mrs. Peters to get that feeling she had got of work begun and then—for some reason—not finished.
“It’s a shame about her fruit,” she said, and walked toward the cupboard that the county attorney had opened, and got on the chair, murmuring: “I wonder if it’s all gone.”
It was a sorry enough looking sight, but “Here’s one that’s all right,” she said at last. She held it toward the light. “This is cherries, too.” She looked again. “I declare I believe that’s the only one.”
With a sigh, she got down from the chair, went to the sink, and wiped off the bottle.
“She’ll feel awful bad, after all her hard work in the hot weather. I remember the afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.”
She set the bottle on the table, and, with another sigh, started to sit down in the rocker. But she did not sit down. Something kept her from sitting down in that chair. She straightened—stepped back, and, half turned away, stood looking at it, seeing the woman who had sat there “pleatin’ at her apron.”
The thin voice of the sheriff’s wife broke in upon her: “I must be getting those things from the front room closet.” She opened the door into the other room, started in, stepped back. “You coming with me, Mrs. Hale?” she asked nervously. “You—you could help me get them.”
They were soon back—the stark coldness of that shut-up room was not a thing to linger in.
“My!” said Mrs. Peters, dropping the things on the table and hurrying to the stove.
Mrs. Hale stood examining the clothes the woman who was being detained in town had said she wanted.[Pg 268]
“Wright was close!” she exclaimed, holding up a shabby black skirt that bore the marks of much making over. “I think maybe that’s why she kept so much to herself. I s’pose she felt she couldn’t do her part; and then, you don’t enjoy things when you feel shabby. She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively—when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls, singing in the choir. But that—oh, that was twenty years ago.”
With a carefulness in which there was something tender, she folded the shabby clothes and piled them at one corner of the table. She looked up at Mrs. Peters and there was something in the other woman’s look that irritated her.
“She don’t care,” she said to herself. “Much difference it makes to her whether Minnie Foster had pretty clothes when she was a girl.”
Then she looked again, and she wasn’t so sure; in fact, she hadn’t at any time been perfectly sure about Mrs. Peters. She had that shrinking manner, and yet her eyes looked as if they could see a long way into things.
“This all you was to take in?” asked Mrs. Hale.
“No,” said the sheriff’s wife; “she said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want,” she ventured in her nervous little way, “for there’s not much to get you dirty in jail, goodness knows. But I suppose just to make her feel more natural. If you’re used to wearing an apron—. She said they were in the bottom drawer of this cupboard. Yes—here they are. And then her little shawl that always hung on the stair door.”
She took the small gray shawl from behind the door leading upstairs, and stood a minute looking at it.
Suddenly Mrs. Hale took a quick step toward the other woman.
“Yes, Mrs. Hale?”
“Do you think she—did it?”[Pg 269]
A frightened look blurred the other thing in Mrs. Peters’ eyes.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, in a voice that seemed to shrink away from the subject.
“Well, I don’t think she did,” affirmed Mrs. Hale stoutly. “Asking for an apron, and her little shawl. Worryin’ about her fruit.”
“Mr. Peters says—.” Footsteps were heard in the room above; she stopped, looked up, then went on in a lowered voice: “Mr. Peters says—it looks bad for her. Mr. Henderson is awful sarcastic in a speech, and he’s going to make fun of her saying she didn’t—wake up.”
For a moment Mrs. Hale had no answer. Then, “Well, I guess John Wright didn’t wake up—when they was slippin’ that rope under his neck,” she muttered.
“No, it’s strange,” breathed Mrs. Peters. “They think it was such a—funny way to kill a man.”
She began to laugh; at sound of the laugh, abruptly stopped.
“That’s just what Mr. Hale said,” said Mrs. Hale, in a resolutely natural voice. “There was a gun in the house. He says that’s what he can’t understand.”
“Mr. Henderson said, coming out, that what was needed for the case was a motive. Something to show anger—or sudden feeling.”
“Well, I don’t see any signs of anger around here,” said Mrs. Hale. “I don’t—”
She stopped. It was as if her mind tripped on something. Her eye was caught by a dish-towel in the middle of the kitchen table. Slowly she moved toward the table. One half of it was wiped clean, the other half messy. Her eyes made a slow, almost unwilling turn to the bucket of sugar and the half empty bag beside it. Things begun—and not finished.
After a moment she stepped back, and said, in that manner of releasing herself:[Pg 270]
“Wonder how they’re finding things upstairs? I hope she had it a little more red up up there. You know,”—she paused, and feeling gathered,—”it seems kind of sneaking: locking her up in town and coming out here to get her own house to turn against her!”
“But, Mrs. Hale,” said the sheriff’s wife, “the law is the law.”
“I s’pose ’tis,” answered Mrs. Hale shortly.
She turned to the stove, saying something about that fire not being much to brag of. She worked with it a minute, and when she straightened up she said aggressively:
“The law is the law—and a bad stove is a bad stove. How’d you like to cook on this?”—pointing with the poker to the broken lining. She opened the oven door and started to express her opinion of the oven; but she was swept into her own thoughts, thinking of what it would mean, year after year, to have that stove to wrestle with. The thought of Minnie Foster trying to bake in that oven—and the thought of her never going over to see Minnie Foster—.
She was startled by hearing Mrs. Peters say: “A person gets discouraged—and loses heart.”
The sheriff’s wife had looked from the stove to the sink—to the pail of water which had been carried in from outside. The two women stood there silent, above them the footsteps of the men who were looking for evidence against the woman who had worked in that kitchen. That look of seeing into things, of seeing through a thing to something else, was in the eyes of the sheriff’s wife now. When Mrs. Hale next spoke to her, it was gently:
“Better loosen up your things, Mrs. Peters. We’ll not feel them when we go out.”
Mrs. Peters went to the back of the room to hang up the fur tippet she was wearing. A moment later she exclaimed, “Why, she was piecing a quilt,” and held up a large sewing basket piled high with quilt pieces.[Pg 271]
Mrs. Hale spread some of the blocks out on the table.
“It’s log-cabin pattern,” she said, putting several of them together. “Pretty, isn’t it?”
They were so engaged with the quilt that they did not hear the footsteps on the stairs. Just as the stair door opened Mrs. Hale was saying:
“Do you suppose she was going to quilt it or just knot it?”
The sheriff threw up his hands.
“They wonder whether she was going to quilt it or just knot it!”
There was a laugh for the ways of women, a warming of hands over the stove, and then the county attorney said briskly:
“Well, let’s go right out to the barn and get that cleared up.”
“I don’t see as there’s anything so strange,” Mrs. Hale said resentfully, after the outside door had closed on the three men—”our taking up our time with little things while we’re waiting for them to get the evidence. I don’t see as it’s anything to laugh about.”
“Of course they’ve got awful important things on their minds,” said the sheriff’s wife apologetically.
They returned to an inspection of the block for the quilt. …