She carried her head high enough--even when we believed that she was
fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her
dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to
reaffirm her imperviousness. Like when she bought the rat poison, the
arsenic. That was over a year after they had begun to say "Poor Emily," and
while the two female cousins were visiting her.
"I want some poison," she said to the druggist. She was over thirty then, still
a slight woman, though thinner than usual, with cold, haughty black eyes in
a face the flesh of which was strained across the temples and about the
eyesockets as you imagine a lighthouse-keeper's face ought to look. "I want
some poison," she said.
"Yes, Miss Emily. What kind? For rats and such? I'd recom--"
"I want the best you have. I don't care what kind."
The druggist named several. "They'll kill anything up to an elephant. But
what you want is--"
"Arsenic," Miss Emily said. "Is that a good one?"
"Is . . . arsenic? Yes, ma'am. But what you want--"
"I want arsenic."
The druggist looked down at her. She looked back at him, erect, her face like
a strained flag. "Why, of course," the druggist said. "If that's what you want.
But the law requires you to tell what you are going to use it for."
Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye
for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it
up. The Negro delivery boy brought her the package; the druggist didn't
come back. When she opened the package at home there was written on the
box, under the skull and bones: "For rats."
So THE NEXT day we all said, "She will kill herself"; and we said it would