The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

  Then they taught me. They finally got me segregated into a classroom, and I sat there for a while all by myself (that’s how far segregated I was) and then a few other girls came in, all wearing tailored suits (I was wearing a red velvet afternoon frock) and we sat down and they taught us. They gave us each a big book with R. H. Macy written on it, and inside this book were pads of little sheets saying (from left to right): “Comp. keep for ref. cust. d.a. no. or c.t. no. salesbook no. salescheck no. clerk no. dept. date M.” After M there was a long line for Mr. or Mrs. and the name, and then it began again with “No. item. class. at price. total.” And down at the bottom was written ORIGINAL and then again, “Comp. keep for ref., and “Paste yellow gift stamp here.” I read all this very carefully. Pretty soon a Miss Cooper came, who talked for a little while on the advantages we had in working at Macy’s, and she talked about the salesbooks, which it seems came apart into a sort of road map and carbons and things. I listened for a while, and when Miss Cooper wanted us to write on the little pieces of paper, I copied from the girl next to me. That was training.

  Finally someone said we were going on the floor, and we descended from the sixteenth floor to the first. We were in groups of six by then, all following Miss Cooper doggedly and wearing little tags saying BOOK INFORMATION. I never did find out what that meant. Miss Cooper said I had to work on the special sale counter, and showed me a little book called The Stage-Struck Seal, which it seemed I would be selling. I had gotten about halfway through it before she came back to tell me I had to stay with my unit.

  I enjoyed meeting the time clock, and spent a pleasant half-hour punching various cards standing around, and then someone came in and said I couldn’t punch the clock with my hat on. So I had to leave, bowing timidly at the time clock and its prophet, and I went and found out my locker number, which was 1773, and my time-clock number, which was 712, and my cash-box number, which was 1336, and my cash-register number, which was 253, and my cash-register-drawer number, which was K, and my cash-register-drawer-key number, which was 872, and my department number, which was 13. I wrote all these numbers down. And that was my first day.

  My second day was better. I was officially on the floor. I stood in a corner of a counter, with one hand possessively on The Stage-Struck Seal, waiting for customers. The counter head was named 13-2246, and she was very kind to me. She sent me to lunch three times, because she got me confused with 13-6454 and 13-3141. It was after lunch that a customer came. She came over and took one of my stage-struck seals, and said “How much is this?” I opened my mouth and the customer said “I have a D. A. and I will have this sent to my aunt in Ohio. Part of that D. A. I will pay for with a book dividend of 32 cents, and the rest of course will be on my account. Is this book price-fixed?” That’s as near as I can remember what she said. I smiled confidently, and said “Certainly; will you wait just one moment?” I found a little piece of paper in a drawer under the counter: it had “Duplicate Triplicate” printed across the front in big letters. I took down the customer’s name and address, her aunt’s name and address, and wrote carefully across the front of the duplicate triplicate “1 Stg. Strk. Sl.” Then I smiled at the customer again and said carelessly: “That will be seventy-five cents.” She said “But I have a D. A.” I told her that all D. A.’s were suspended for the Christmas rush, and she gave me seventy-five cents, which I kept. Then I rang up a “No Sale” on the cash register and I tore up the duplicate triplicate because I didn’t know what else to do with it.

  Later on another customer came and said “Where would I find a copy of Ann Rutherford Gwynn’s He Came Like Thunder?” and I said “In medical books, right across the way,” but 13-2246 came and said “That’s philosophy, isn’t it?” and the customer said it was, and 13-2246 said “Right down this aisle, in dictionaries.” The customer went away, and I said to 13-2246 that her guess was as good as mine, anyway, and she stared at me and explained that philosophy, social sciences and Bertrand Russell were all kept in dictionaries.

  So far I haven’t been back to Macy’s for my third day, because that night when I started to leave the store, I fell down the stairs and tore my stockings and the doorman said that if I went to my department head Macy’s would give me a new pair of stockings and I went back and I found Miss Cooper and she said, “Go to the adjuster on the seventh floor and give him this,” and she handed me a little slip of pink paper and on the bottom of it was printed “Comp. keep for ref. cust. d.a. no. or c.t. no. salesbook no. salescheck no. clerk no. dept. date M.” And after M, instead of a name, she had written 13-3138. I took the little pink slip and threw it away and went up to the fourth floor and bought myself a pair of stockings for $.69 and then I came down and went out the customers’ entrance.

  I wrote Macy’s a long letter, and I signed it with all my numbers added together and divided by 11,700, which is the number of employees in Macy’s. I wonder if they miss me.


  The ignorant Looker-on can’t imagine what the Limner means by those seemingly rude Lines and Scrawls, which he intends for the Rudiments of a Picture, and the Figures of Mathematick Operation are Nonsense, and Dashes at a Venture, to one uninstructed in Mechanicks. We are in the Dark to one another’s Purposes and Intendments; and there are a thousand Intrigues in our little Matters, which will not presently confess their Design, even to sagacious Inquisitors.

  Joseph Glanvil: Sadducismus Triumphatus

  The Witch

  THE COACH was so nearly empty that the little boy had a seat all to himself, and his mother sat across the aisle on the seat next to the little boy’s sister, a baby with a piece of toast in one hand and a rattle in the other. She was strapped securely to the seat so she could sit up and look around, and whenever she began to slip slowly sideways the strap caught her and held her halfway until her mother turned around and straightened her again. The little boy was looking out the window and eating a cookie, and the mother was reading quietly, answering the little boy’s questions without looking up.

  “We’re on a river,” the little boy said. “This is a river and we’re on it.”

  “Fine,” his mother said.

  “We’re on a bridge over a river,” the little boy said to himself.

  The few other people in the coach were sitting at the other end of the car; if any of them had occasion to come down the aisle the little boy would look around and say, “Hi,” and the stranger would usually say, “Hi,” back and sometimes ask the little boy if he were enjoying the train ride, or even tell him he was a fine big fellow. These comments annoyed the little boy and he would turn irritably back to the window.

  “There’s a cow,” he would say, or, sighing, “How far do we have to go?”

  “Not much longer now,” his mother said, each time.

  Once the baby, who was very quiet and busy with her rattle and her toast, which the mother would renew constantly, fell over too far sideways and banged her head. She began to cry, and for a minute there was noise and movement around the mother’s seat. The little boy slid down from his own seat and ran across the aisle to pet his sister’s feet and beg her not to cry, and finally the baby laughed and went back to her toast, and the little boy received a lollipop from his mother and went back to the window.

  “I saw a witch,” he said to his mother after a minute. “There was a big old ugly old bad old witch outside.”

  “Fine,” his mother said.

  “A big old ugly witch and I told her to go away and she went away,” the little boy went on, in a quiet narrative to himself, “she came and said, ‘I’m going to eat you up,’ and I said, ‘no, you’re not,’ and I chased her away, the bad old mean witch.”

  He stopped talking and looked up as the outside door of the coach opened and a man came in. He was an elderly man, with a pleasant face under white hair; his blue suit was only faintly touched by the disarray that comes from a long train trip. He was carrying a cigar, and when the little boy said, “Hi,” the man gestured at him with the cigar a
nd said, “Hello yourself, son.” He stopped just beside the little boy’s seat, and leaned against the back, looking down at the little boy, who craned his neck to look upward. “What you looking for out that window?” the man asked.

  “Witches,” the little boy said promptly. “Bad old mean witches.”

  “I see,” the man said. “Find many?”

  “My father smokes cigars,” the little boy said.

  “All men smoke cigars,” the man said. “Someday you’ll smoke a cigar, too.”

  “I’m a man already,” the little boy said.

  “How old are you?” the man asked.

  The little boy, at the eternal question, looked at the man suspiciously for a minute and then said, “Twenty-six. Eight hunnerd and forty eighty.”

  His mother lifted her head from the book. “Four,” she said, smiling fondly at the little boy.

  “Is that so?” the man said politely to the little boy. “Twenty-six.” He nodded his head at the mother across the aisle. “Is that your mother?”

  The little boy leaned forward to look and then said, “Yes, that’s her.”

  “What’s your name?” the man asked.

  The little boy looked suspicious again. “Mr. Jesus,” he said.

  “Johnny,” the little boy’s mother said. She caught the little boy’s eye and frowned deeply.

  “That’s my sister over there,” the little boy said to the man. “She’s twelve-and-a-half.”

  “Do you love your sister?” the man asked. The little boy stared, and the man came around the side of the seat and sat down next to the little boy. “Listen,” the man said, “shall I tell you about my little sister?”

  The mother, who had looked up anxiously when the man sat down next to her little boy, went peacefully back to her book.

  “Tell me about your sister,” the little boy said. “Was she a witch?”

  “Maybe,” the man said.

  The little boy laughed excitedly, and the man leaned back and puffed at his cigar. “Once upon a time,” he began, “I had a little sister, just like yours.” The little boy looked up at the man, nodding at every word. “My little sister,” the man went on, “was so pretty and so nice that I loved her more than anything else in the world. So shall I tell you what I did?”

  The little boy nodded more vehemently, and the mother lifted her eyes from her book and smiled, listening.

  “I bought her a rocking-horse and a doll and a million lollipops,” the man said, “and then I took her and I put my hands around her neck and I pinched her and I pinched her until she was dead.”

  The little boy gasped and the mother turned around, her smile fading. She opened her mouth, and then closed it again as the man went on, “And then I took and I cut her head off and I took her head—”

  “Did you cut her all in pieces?” the little boy asked breathlessly.

  “I cut off her head and her hands and her feet and her hair and her nose,” the man said, “and I hit her with a stick and I killed her.”

  “Wait a minute,” the mother said, but the baby fell over sideways just at that minute and by the time the mother had set her up again the man was going on.

  “And I took her head and I pulled out all her hair and—”

  “Your little sister?” the little boy prompted eagerly.

  “My little sister,” the man said firmly. “And I put her head in a cage with a bear and the bear ate it all up.”

  “Ate her head all up?” the little boy asked.

  The mother put her book down and came across the aisle. She stood next to the man and said, “Just what do you think you’re doing?” The man looked up courteously and she said, “Get out of here.”

  “Did I frighten you?” the man said. He looked down at the little boy and nudged him with an elbow and he and the little boy laughed.

  “This man cut up his little sister,” the little boy said to his mother.

  “I can very easily call the conductor,” the mother said to the man.

  “The conductor will eat my mommy,” the little boy said. “We’ll chop her head off.”

  “And little sister’s head, too,” the man said. He stood up, and the mother stood back to let him get out of the seat. “Don’t ever come back in this car,” she said.

  “My mommy will eat you,” the little boy said to the man.

  The man laughed, and the little boy laughed, and then the man said, “Excuse me,” to the mother and went past her out of the car. When the door had closed behind him the little boy said, “How much longer do we have to stay on this old train?”

  “Not much longer,” the mother said. She stood looking at the little boy, wanting to say something, and finally she said, “You sit still and be a good boy. You may have another lollipop.”

  The little boy climbed down eagerly and followed his mother back to her seat. She took a lollipop from a bag in her pocketbook and gave it to him. “What do you say?” she asked.

  “Thank you,” the little boy said. “Did that man really cut his little sister up in pieces?”

  “He was just teasing,” the mother said, and added urgently, “Just teasing.”

  “Prob’ly,” the little boy said. With his lollipop he went back to his own seat, and settled himself to look out the window again. “Prob’ly he was a witch.”

  The Renegade

  IT WAS EIGHT-TWENTY in the morning. The twins were loitering over their cereal, and Mrs. Walpole, with one eye on the clock and the other on the kitchen window past which the school bus would come in a matter of minutes, felt the unreasonable irritation that comes with being late on a school morning, the wading-through-molasses feeling of trying to hurry children.

  “You’ll have to walk,” she said ominously, for perhaps the third time. “The bus won’t wait.”

  “I’m hurrying,” Judy said. She regarded her full glass of milk smugly. “I’m closer to through than Jack.”

  Jack pushed his glass across the table and they measured meticulously, precisely. “No,” he said. “Look how much more you have than me.”

  “It doesn’t matter,” Mrs. Walpole said, “it doesn’t matter. Jack, eat your cereal.”

  “She didn’t have any more than me to start with,” Jack said. “Did she have any more than me, Mom?”

  The alarm clock had not gone off at seven as it should. Mrs. Walpole heard the sound of the shower upstairs and calculated rapidly; the coffee was slower than usual this morning, the boiled eggs a shade too soft. She had only had time to pour herself a glass of fruit juice and no time to drink it. Someone—Judy or Jack or Mr. Walpole—was going to be late.

  “Judy,” Mrs. Walpole said mechanically, “Jack.”

  Judy’s hair was not accurately braided. Jack would get off without his handkerchief. Mr. Walpole would certainly be irritable.

  The yellow-and-red bulk of the school bus filled the road outside the kitchen window, and Judy and Jack streaked for the door, cereal uneaten, books most likely forgotten. Mrs. Walpole followed them to the kitchen door, calling, “Jack, your milk money; come straight home at noon.” She watched them climb into the school bus and then went briskly to work clearing their dishes from the table and setting a place for Mr. Walpole. She would have to have breakfast herself later, in the breathing-spell that came after nine o’clock. That meant her wash would be late getting on the line, and if it rained that afternoon, as it certainly might, nothing would be dry. Mrs. Walpole made an effort, and said, “Good morning, dear,” as her husband came into the kitchen. He said, “Morning,” without glancing up and Mrs. Walpole, her mind full of unfinished sentences that began, “Don’t you think other people ever have any feelings or—” started patiently to set his breakfast before him. The soft-boiled eggs in their dish, the toast, the coffee. Mr. Walpole devoted himself to his paper, and Mrs. Walpole, who wanted desperately also to say, “I don’t suppose you notice that I haven’t had a chance to eat—” set the dishes down as softly as she could.

  Everything was going
smoothly, although half-an-hour late, when the telephone rang. The Walpoles were on a party line, and Mrs. Walpole usually let the phone ring her number twice before concluding that it was really their number; this morning, before nine o’clock, with Mr. Walpole not half-through his breakfast, it was an unbearable intrusion, and Mrs. Walpole went reluctantly to answer it. “Hello,” she said forbiddingly.

  “Mrs. Walpole,” the voice said, and Mrs. Walpole said, “Yes?” The voice—it was a woman—said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but this is—” and gave an unrecognizable name. Mrs. Walpole said, “Yes?” again. She could hear Mr. Walpole taking the coffeepot off the stove to pour himself a second cup.

  “Do you have a dog? Brown-and-black hound?” the voice continued. With the word dog Mrs. Walpole, in the second before she answered, “Yes,” comprehended the innumerable aspects of owning a dog in the country (six dollars for spaying, the rude barking late at night, the watchful security of the dark shape sleeping on the rug beside the double-decker beds in the twins’ room, the inevitability of a dog in the house, as important as a stove, or a front porch, or a subscription to the local paper; more, and above any of these things, the dog herself, known among the neighbors as Lady Walpole, on an exact par with Jack Walpole or Judy Walpole; quiet, competent, exceedingly tolerant), and found in none of them a reason for such an early morning call from a voice which she realized now was as irritable as her own.

  “Yes,” Mrs. Walpole said shortly, “I own a dog. Why?”

  “Big brown-and-black hound?”

  Lady’s pretty markings, her odd face. “Yes,” Mrs. Walpole said, her voice a little more impatient, “yes, that is certainly my dog. Why?”

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