You are currently browsing the daily archive for February 1, 2009.

This first story in the collection The Wide Net is about a boy who watches Aaron Burr as he dances and conspires his way through Natchez in the days leading up to his trial, a trial from which Burr escapes at the last minute by disguising himself in part with the boy’s boot polish. It’s one of those “what happens off stage in history” stories. It’s intriguing to imagine how a charmer like Burr might have been seen by the boot polishing boy in a small river town.

I’m as intrigued by how Welty sees the river. She has some great lines about it:

“The Mississippi shuddered and lifted from its bed, reaching like a somnambulist driven to go to new places; the ice stretched far out over the waves.”

“There was one hour when the river was the color of smoke, as if it were more a thing of the woods than an element and a power of itself.”

And so on…

If I were feeling a little less lazy this morning (and if I’d had a little less cold medicine) I would look up when this story was written in relation to The Robber Bridegroom. Welty obviously went through a time of fascination with the territorial days of Natchez. We can all be grateful.