The mulatto started down the street with his footsteps quickened by a sense of spiritual adventure. On the corner, against the blank south wall of Hobbett's store, Peter Siner saw the usual crowd of negroes warming themselves in the soft sunshine. They were slapping one another, scuffling, making feints with knives or stones, all to an accompaniment of bragging, profanity, and loud laughter.
Half a dozen negroes lounged in the sunshine on Hobbett's corner as Peter came up. They were amusing themselves after the fashion of blacks, with mock fights, feints, sudden wrestlings. They would seize one another by the head and grind their knuckles into one another's wool. Occasionally, one would leap up and fall into one of those grotesque shuffles called "breakdowns."
They turned north at Hobbett's corner, drove around by River Street, and presently entered the northern end of the semicircle. The speed of the car was reduced to a crawl in the bottomless dust of the crescent. The head-lights swept slowly around the cabins on the concave side of the street, bringing them one by one into stark brilliance and dropping them into obscurity.
'Pears lak dat knife won't stay in any one han'." He looked at it, curiously. "I mean about Tump," said Peter, impatiently. "O-o-oh, yeah; you mean 'bout Tump. Well, I thought Tump mus' uv borrowed a gun fum you. He lef' Hobbett's corner wid a great big forty- fo', inquirin' wha you is."
An unusual stir among the negroes on Hobbett's corner caught Peter's attention and broke into his chain of thought. Half a dozen negroes stood on the corner, staring down toward the white church. A black boy suddenly started running across the street, and disappeared among the stores on the other side.
You think about ever'thing, in the woods. Damn it! I got to git out o' this little jay town. D' reckon I could git in the navy, Siner?" "Don't see why you couldn't, Sam. Have you seen Tump Pack anywhere?" "Yeah; on Hobbett's corner. Say, is Cissie Dildine at home?" "I believe she is." "She cooks for us," explained young Arkwright, "and Mammy wants her to come and git supper, too."