Lov’s wife was Jeeter Lester’s youngest daughter, Pearl. She was onlytwelve years old the summer before when he had married her.The Lesters watched Lov closely while he stood in the middle of theroad. He had dropped the sack from his shoulder, but he held the
neck of itin the rigid grasp of both hands. No one in the yard had changed his positionduring the past ten minutes. The next move was left entirely up to Lov.When Lov came to the house and stopped, he had a good reason for doing so; otherwise he would never have come within hailing distance. Hewanted to speak to Jeeter about Pearl.Pearl would not talk. She would not say a word, no matter how persuasive Lov tried to be, nor how angry he was; she even hid from Lovwhen he came home from the coal chute, and when he found her, she slippedaway from his grasp and ran off into the broom-sedge out of sight.Sometimes she would even stay in the broom-sedge all night, remaining outthere until Lov went to work the next morning.Pearl had never talked, for that matter. Not because she could not, butsimply because she did not want to. When she was at home, before Lov hadmarried her, she had stayed apart from the other Lesters and rarely openedher mouth from the beginning of one day to the next. Only her mother, Ada,had been able to converse with her, and even then Pearl had never used morethan the barest of negatives and affirmatives in reply. But Ada was herself like that. She had begun to talk voluntarily only during the past ten years.Before then, Jeeter had had the same trouble with her that Lov was nowhaving with Pearl.