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Behind the table an irregular piece of mirror hangs

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Behind the table, an irregular piece of mirror hangs on the wall. A loose something that looks to be a gaudy ball costume dangles from a near-by hook. To the front, a second table holds a lamp and several whiskey glasses. Six rickety chairs are near this table. Two old wagon wheels rest on the floor. To the left, sitting in a high-backed chair which stands upon a low platform, the old man. He is like a bust in black walnut. Gray-bearded. Gray-haired. Prophetic.
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Immobile. Lewis’ eyes are sunk in him. The others, unconcerned, are about to pass on to the front table when Lewis grips Halsey and so turns him that the candle flame shines obliquely on the old man’s features. Lewis: And he rules over— Kabnis: Th smoke an fire of th forge. Lewis: Black Vulcan? I wouldnt say so. That forehead. Great woolly beard. Those eyes. A mute John the Baptist of a new religion—or a tongue-tied shadow of an old. Kabnis: His tongue is tied all right, an I can vouch f that. Lewis: Has he never talked to you? Halsey: Kabnis wont give him a chance. He laughs. The girls laugh. Kabnis winces. Lewis: What do you call him? Halsey: Father. Lewis: Good. Father what? Kabnis: Father of hell. Halsey: Father’s th only name we have fer him. Come on. Lets sit down an get t th pleasure of the evenin. Lewis: Father John it is from now on... Slave boy whom some Christian mistress taught to read the Bible. Black man who saw Jesus in the ricefields, and began preaching to his people. Moses- and Christ-words used for songs. Dead blind father of a muted folk who feel their way upward to a life that crushes or absorbs them. (Speak, Father!) Suppose your eyes could see, old man. (The years hold hands. O Sing!) Suppose your lips... Halsey, does he never talk? Halsey: Na. But sometimes. Only seldom. Mumbles. Sis says he talks— Kabnis: I’ve heard him talk. Halsey: First I’ve ever heard of it. You dont give him a chance. Sis says she’s made out several words, mostly one—an like as not cause it was “sin.”
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Kabnis: All those old fogies stutter about sin. Cora laughs in a loose sort of way. She is a tall, thin, mulatto woman. Her eyes are deep-set behind a pointed nose. Her hair is coarse and bushy. Seeing that Stella also is restless, she takes her arm and the two women move towards the table. They slip into chairs. Halsey follows and lights the lamp. He lays out a pack of cards. Stella sorts them as if telling fortunes. She is a beautifully proportioned, large-eyed, brown-skin girl. Except for the twisted line of her mouth when she smiles or laughs, there is about her no suggestion of the life she’s been through. Kabnis, with great mock-solemnity, goes to the corner, takes down the robe, and dons it. He is a curious spectacle, acting a part, yet very real. He joins the others at the table. They are used to him. Lewis is surprised. He laughs. Kabnis shrinks and then glares at him with a furtive hatred. Halsey, bringing out a bottle of corn licker, pours drinks.
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