40+ Best Where the Crawdads Sing Quotes by Delia Owens

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PART 1 | The Marsh

“Kya couldn’t eat. She sat on the porch steps, looking down the lane. Tall for her age, bone skinny, she had deep-tanned skin and straight hair, black and thick as crow wings. “

“But as she looked to the end of the lane, she never cried. “

“It’ll be okay, Jodie said, trying to reassure her. “

“I hafta go, Kya. Can’t live here no longer. “

“Just keep out of the way, don’t let him see you, dart from sunspots to shadows. “

“This here’ll get ya food fer the week. Thar ain’t no such thang as handouts, he said. “

“Where’s your mama at. Doin’ chores, ma’am. “

“Never run in town or people’ll think you stole something. “

“Surely Ma would come back for her birthday, so the morning after the harvest moon she put on the calico dress and stared down the lane. Kya willed Ma to be walking toward the shack, still in her alligator shoes and long skirt. “

“It’s Chase, all right. Sam and Patti Love won’t survive this. “

“At least ten hours. The coroner’ll know for sure. He must’ve climbed up last night, then. Fell from the top. They had known Chase since he was born. “

“It’s okay, you can go barefoot, other chillin do, but ’cause you’re a li’l girl, you have to wear a skirt. “

“When she was led into the school office, they found her name but no date of birth in the county birth records, so they put her in the second grade, even though she’d never been to school a day in her life. “

“Where ya been, marsh hen. Where’s yo’ hat, swamp rat. “

“She dropped her hands to her sides, staring at the empty lane. “

“I gotta do sump’m. I’ll lock up for sure waitin’ for Pa. “

“First thing I’m gonna do is boss my crew to pick up all them nails. “

“At some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. “

“Before moving, Vern stared for a long minute at Chase, as though he had overlooked something. As a doctor, he should fix this. “

“unless somebody planned to push somebody else to their death, [the open grate] had to be left open to look like an accident. “

“I’m not saying there was foul play. Way too early. But besides that, I can’t think of anyone who’d want to kill Chase. “

“When in trouble, just let go. Go back to idle. “

“She steered around the old fallen cypress, putt, putt, putt beyond the piled sticks of the beaver lodge. Then, holding her breath, she steered toward the lagoon entrance, almost hidden by brambles. “

“Hey, he said. Hey. She looked beyond his shoulder into the reeds. Which way you headed, anyhow. he asked. Not out, I hope. That storm’s comin’. “

“The calmness of the boy. She’d never known anybody to speak or move so steady. So sure and easy. Just being near him, and not even that close, had eased her tightness. “

“Sure. They and the crew busied about, loading shrimp into crates, toting them to the wharf, calling out to one another about grabbing beers at the Dog-Gone, asking Tate about school. “

“I like biology, but I don’t like English class. We’re doing poetry in English class, and I don’t like it much. We each have to read one out loud. I used to recite some, but I don’t remember them. “

“When possible, Kya avoided Mrs. Singletary, using the other checkout lady, who didn’t show any interest except to say kids shouldn’t come to the market barefoot. “

“It ain’t hardly worth ma trouble for such a piddly sum, but c’mon, give it here. “

“So ya wanta go fishin’. “

“Go on now, scratch some worms from the can, he said, a hand-rolled cigarette hanging at the corner of his mouth. He taught her to snag the bait, to cast and reel. It seemed he contorted his body in odd postures to avoid brushing against her. “

“One a’ Jodie’s friends, before he left, she said. Ya gotta watch out for folks ’round here, he said. Woods’re full a’ white trash. “

“But it was too cold for any mother; unbearable for any wife. Both women had to be helped from the room. “

“Anyway, I’m confident now, this was no accident. “

“It coulda been that woman lives out in the marsh. Crazy ‘nough for the loony bin. I jus’ bet she’d be up to this kinda thing. . “

“Hello, Mister Jake. How ya doin’. Well, Ah woke up on the right side of dirt, Pa answered. Jumpin’ laughed as if he’d never heard the worn-out phrase. “

“So full, Kya thought she might get sick, but figured it’d be worth it. “

“If Ma came back now, when Pa was acting decent, maybe they could start over. “

“Even the postmark was gone. Now she’d never know where Ma was. “

“It ain’t none a’ yo’ bidness. “

“Maybe if I pray, Ma and Jodie will come home. Even with all the shouting and fussing, that life was better than this lumpy-grits. “

“Clear as a picture, but besides our rigs, not a thing man-made. “

“I guess he’s gone for good. “

“It seemed like more candy than would be in the world. “

“Wherever she glided through the waterways, she scanned for him. “

“The girls—Tallskinnyblonde, Ponytailfreckleface, Shortblackhair, Alwayswearspearls, and Roundchubbycheeks—hung back in a little covey, walking slower, chattering and giggling. Their voices lifted up to Kya like chimes. “

“I’m sorry as can be, Miss Kya, he said. But they beatcha to it. I got my week’s quota of mussels, cain’t buy no mo’. “

“After about three miles he could smell the smoke from cookfires drifting through the pines and hear the chatter of some of his grandchillin. “

“It’s mighty fine to meet ya, Miss Kya. Jumpin’s told me what a fine girl ya are. One a’ de best oryster pickers. “

“When Kya motored up to Jumpin’s wharf the next morning, he was alone. Perhaps the large form of his wife and her fine ideas had been an illusion. “

“’Cause of him sneaking ’round, I didn’t catch any fish ta smoke. “

“She is a patient, solitary hunter, standing alone as long as it takes to snatch her prey. Or, eyeing her catch, she will stride forward one slow step at a time, like a predacious bridesmaid. “

“Since she couldn’t read Ma’s old guidebook, she didn’t know the names for most of the birds or insects, so made up her own. “

“Even from some distance she could see a long, striped tail feather of a wild turkey. It caught her up. “

“Against the wall, Kya wanted to whimper but held her breath. They could break through the door easy. One hard yank, and they’d be in. “

“So somebody did destroy all the foot- and fingerprints. Anything else. “

“A’ course. I gotta leave something for him. “

“Now don’t turn it over, girls, don’t turn it over, they hauled on the boat until it was free, squealing at one another’s muddy faces. It took some doing to get back in, flopping over the side like so many landed fish. “

“It’s just me, Tate, he said very quietly, slowly, like she was dumb or something. “

“You’re welcome. Well, I better be going, getting late. I’ll drop by now and then, if that’s okay. “

“Jest an ol’ nigger walkin’ to town. Watch out, nigger-boy, don’t fall down. “

“You can read, Kya. There will never be a time again when you can’t read. “

“What if there be no more goose music. Kya asks Tate. What if the geese and cranes are just figments of our imagination. Then we’ll just have to find other ways to enjoy their music, Tate says. “

“Now at last Kya could label all her precious specimens. “

“What comes after twenty-nine. Here, I’ll show you the numbers and we’ll do some basic arithmetic. It’s easy. I’ll bring you some books about it. “

“Don’t ya worry none. I’ll get this fixed up in no time. “

“Once sure and cocky, handsome and fit, he could no longer wear the man he had become and he’d take a swig from his poke. “

“Now, Miss Kya, there’s sump’m else. Some men been pokin’ ’round, askin’ ’bout ya. “

“Better than going to a foster home. Pa used to say he’d farm us out to one if we were bad. “

“Truths everyone should know, yet somehow, even though they lay exposed all around, seemed to lie in secret like the seeds. “

“Don’t worry, he’d say, you’ll get a little more every time you read it. “

“It might be, you know, what happens to girls your age. Remember, a few months ago I brought you a pamphlet about it. It was with those biology books. “

“It’ll be okay, Kya. Every girl goes through this just fine. You go on home. I’ll follow way back to make sure you get there. “

“When Kya heard Tate’s boat the next afternoon, she hid in thick brambles and watched him. For anyone to know her at all seemed strange enough, but now he knew about the most personal and private occurrence of her life. Her cheeks burned at the thought of it. “

“I like being out here in the quiet and I like the way you’re so interested in the marsh, Kya. Most people don’t pay it any attention except to fish. They think it’s wasteland that should be drained and developed. “

“Do you want to be. he asked. Yes, she said. I know feathers. I bet the other girls don’t know feathers. “

“Now, every new word began with a squeal, every sentence a race. Tate grabbing Kya, the two of them tumbling, half childlike, half not, through sourweed, red with autumn. “

“Easy does it. Go slow, now, Scupper called out as Tate, surrounded by fishing nets, oil rags, and preening pelicans, powered the winch. “

“When shall I see the dusky Lake, and the white canoe of my dear. “

“Sometimes [Tate’s] desire to protect her was as strong as the other. “

“Once you can read anything, you can learn everything. “

“It’s not. Not by a long shot, he lied. Come on, it’s not much. “

“When, then, if not now. When can we. “

“Kya, you know why. I just can’t do that. I want to study the marsh, be a research biologist. “

“I’m going to miss you, Kya. Every day, all day. “

“I got something from several sources that Chase had something goin’ on in the marsh. Going on. What do you mean. “

“Listlessly, she shifted her eyes, and though she listened for Tate’s boat, she was no longer coiled. “

“Why, Tate, why. You were supposed to be different. To stay. You said you loved me, but there is no such thing. There is no one on Earth you can count on. “

“I have to get back into the marsh, and she took the boat out, easing along the channels and slipstreams, searching for bird nests, feathers, or shells for the first time since Tate abandoned her. “

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PART 2 | The Swamp

“Ya need some girlfriends, hon, ’cause they’re furever. Without a vow. A clutch of women’s the most tender, most tough place on Earth. “

“When will the sea touch me. Where will it touch me first. “

“Since Chase had glanced at her on the beach, she’d already gone to Jumpin’s wharf twice in one week. Not admitting to herself that she hoped to see Chase there. Being noticed by someone had lit a social cord. “

“She suddenly sprang to her feet, sand spilling from her fingers, and looked upstream, away from Tate. He could barely hear the low churn of an outboard motor coming their way, probably a fisherman or marsh dweller headed to town. A purring sound, common and calm as doves. “

“Kya, Kya, I just can’t do this, he whispered. I’m sorry. “

“The night after seeing Chase Andrews on Jumpin’s wharf, Kya sat at her kitchen table in the easy flicker of lantern light. She’d started cooking again, and she nibbled on a supper of buttermilk biscuits, turnips, and pinto beans, reading while she ate. “

“When I got an audience leanin’ against driftwood on the beach. . Chase plays Shenandoah on his harmonica and has an audience of Kya and the other beachgoers. “

“It’s an ornate scallop, Pecten ornatus, Kya said. I only see them rarely. There are many of that genus here, but this particular species usually inhabits regions south of this latitude because these waters are too cool for them. “

“It’s okay, he said as he stood. It’s okay. “

“How much do you trade to defeat lonesomeness. “

“When they reached the last step, Chase pushed open the iron grate covering the stairwell. After they climbed onto the platform, he eased it down again. Before stepping on it, Kya tested it by tapping it with her toes. Chase laughed lightly. “

“Most kids, even the guys, would’ve been too scared. “

“We agree there’s evidence enough to suspect foul play. But it’s an ongoing investigation and nothing definite yet. “

“The Clark woman. Just trying to be clear,, Ed asked. Brows bunched. I don’t know her name. Or even if she has one. People do call her the Marsh Girl. You know, she sold mussels to Jumpin’ for years. Right. “

“I just don’t know if a woman could’ve pushed a big guy like Chase through that hole. “

“Dag-nabit, heard us coming. She can probably hear a rabbit sleeping. “

“I’m painting their flowers. “

“Home from college, I guess, she whispered. She’d seen him a few times over the years, but never this close. But now there he was, his untamed hair struggling with another red cap. Tanned face. “

“As if inspired by the music, the porpoises swam closer and circled the boat, their keen eyes fixing on Kya’s. “

“It’s okay if I kiss you now. he asked, and she nodded, so he leaned down and kissed her softly at first, and then like a man. “

“Finally, he was going to find her, tell her he’d never stopped loving her and beg her to forgive him. “

“Usually the males with the most prominent secondary sexual characteristics, such as the biggest antlers, deepest voices, broadest chests, and superior knowledge secure the best territories because they have fended off weaker males. “

“Nature is audacious enough to ensure that the males who send out dishonest signals or go from one female to the next almost always end up alone. “

“But Kya said none of this. Unfortunately, gravity holds no sway on human thought, and the high school text still taught that apples fall to the ground because of a powerful force from the Earth. “

“If we’re gonna get married, ya might as well start gettin’ out in tha world a bit. Spread those long wings of yours. “

“The houses. You’ve never seen anything like ’em, huh. “

“It’s time, don’t you agree, Kya. It’s time. “

“I was hoping maybe I could. . you know, go to some of the parties and things. At least maybe Christmas dinner with your family. “

“Kya, please, there’re things you should know about him. “

“Just like you said. You were right. I was a chicken shit. And I had no right to bring up Chase. It’s none of my business. And I’ll never bother you again. I just need to apologize and explain things. I’ve been sorry for years, Kya, please. “

“Kya, these are wonderful, beautifully detailed. You could publish these. This could be a book—lots of books. “

“I know. Thank you for listening to me, for giving me this chance to apologize. He waited for a beat, but she said no more. At least he was leaving with something. The hope for a publisher was a reason to contact her again. Good-bye, Kya. “

“Now her ghost wheels her barrow through the streets broad and narrow, singing cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o. “

“It was the very night he died, well, I was crewing for Tim, and we were comin’ into the bay late, way past midnight, and me and Allen Hunt seen that woman, the one people call the Marsh Girl, motoring just outta the bay. “

“I think the judge may issue a warrant on this. Not sure, and I’d like to be sure before I ask. “

“So here we are, Chase said. I don’t want to interrupt anything. I’ve just come for supplies, then back home. “

“I’ll see you then, she said, but he’d already turned to catch the others. She hurried toward the market, stepping around a family of mallard ducks waddling down Main Street, their bright feet surprisingly orange against the dull pavement. “

“You mean, SHIT. . “

“I have to do life alone. But I knew this. I’ve known a long time that people don’t stay. “

“Only you know how one side of a moment is stretched by loneliness for miles to the other edge, and how much sky is in one breath when time slides backward from the sand. “

“Finally one morning, she found a bulky manila envelope and slid the contents—an advance copy of The Sea Shells of the Eastern Seaboard, by Catherine Danielle Clark—into her hands. “

“What if Ma came back and her stove was gone. He made kitchen cabinets of heart pine, hung a new front door, a new screen on the porch, and made shelves for her specimens from floor to ceiling. “

“It [the land] was surveyed proper and bought up in 1897 by a Mr. Napier Clark. “

“When you see me out in the marsh, please don’t hide in the grass like a spotted fawn. Just call out to me and we can do some exploring together. “

“It was the first time she’d seen him speechless. “

“So, Joe, you had something to tell me. Sure do. I found out where Miss Clark will claim she was the night Chase died. “

“Afternoon, Miss Pansy. Good afternoon, Ed. Joe. May I have a seat. I won’t take long. I believe I have important information concerning the case. Yes, of course. Sit down, please. “

“In an instant she returned to the Easter Sunday about six months before Ma left for good. Singing Rock of Ages, she and Ma walked arm in arm through the sitting room to the kitchen and gathered up the brilliantly colored eggs they had painted the night before. “

“Kya screamed as loud as she could and grabbed at Pa’s arm as he slammed the poker across Ma’s chest. Blood popped out on the flowery sundress like red polka dots. “

“Kya, it’s okay. You were just a kid yourself. What could you do. “

“She had leukemia. Rosemary said it was possibly treatable, but she refused all medication. She just became weaker and weaker, and slipped away two years ago. Rosemary said she died much as she had lived. In darkness, in silence. “

“I brought them in case you were still here. Rosemary sent these to me. She said that for years, day and night, Ma painted us. “

“Some things can’t be explained, only forgiven or not. “

“Just keep it that way. “

“If you love Tate, take a chance. “

“I never thought I’d see you again. I thought you were gone forever. “

“It’s going to be tedious, that’s for sure, the sheriff said as he carefully looked behind a row of bird nests. I’ll start back in her bedroom. “

“If these fibers match, we’ll bring her in for questioning. “

“Sunsets are never simple. Twilight is refracted and reflectedBut never true. Eventide is a disguiseCovering tracks,Covering lies. “

“Go ahead, the sheriff said. But please sit down, Rodney. We’d all feel more comfortable if you sat. “

“Just days before Christmas and earlier in the morning than usual, Kya motored slowly and quietly toward Jumpin’s. “

“When he first visited Kya in jail two months ago, he’d been led into a small dark room, where she sat at a table. She had not looked up at him. Tom had introduced himself, saying he would represent her, but she didn’t speak or raise her eyes. “

“With easy patience, he explained the court procedures and even drew a picture of the courtroom, showing the jury box, the judge’s bench, where the attorneys and she would sit. “

“The courtroom itself, designed to replicate the original, was imposing. “

“In capital cases, the State of North Carolina allows a juror to be excused if he or she does not believe in the death penalty. Please raise your hand if you will not or cannot impose the death sentence if a guilty verdict is delivered. “

“Since I had dealings with her, I don’t know if that means I should be excused. “

“There’s my lynx. Wilder than ever. “

“Just like Pa hitting Ma. “

“The woman started hollerin’ so we motored over to get a better look. See if she was in trouble. “

“So, Rodney, no matter whether certain behavior was consensual or not between the two of them, is it accurate to say that the defendant, Miss Clark, was extremely mad at the deceased, Chase Andrews. Yeah, plenty mad. “

“If only I could join in, belong to them. Kya knew it wasn’t so much that the herd would be incomplete without one of its deer, but that each deer would be incomplete without her herd. “

“She’d brought this on herself. “

“I will never live like that—a life wondering when and where the next fist will fall. “

“For two months before the trial, she’d been held in this cell without bail because of her failed attempt to escape the sheriff in her boat. “

“They’d brought her here after court, so it might be six by now. Only one hour passed. Or maybe not even that. “

“It’s like never having seen the stars, then suddenly seeing them. “

“Come on, Kya. Just have a cup of coffee. He’d already moved into the kitchenette and poured water into a machine that dripped out a strong brew. “

“But as she passed by, the gulls spotted her and swarmed the boat. Big Red landed on the bow, bobbing his head. She laughed. ‘Okay then, you win. “

“Do you know what I’m referring to. Not exactly. “

“Sundee Justice. Sometimes he slips in wif me and I don’t see ‘im ’cause of carryin’ the suppa trays. I end up closin’ ‘im in with y’all. “

“Here’s yo’ food now, Miz Clark. Fried chicken, mashed taters wif gravy from the diner. Hope ya can eat sump’m tonight, now. “

“Kya, you look good. I’ve been so worried. Thank you for seeing me. Sit down. “

“So we can also conclude that if Chase Andrews was standing with his back to the opened grate and was pushed by someone, he would have fallen backward, not forward. “

“Yes. Strands of Miss Clark’s hair were found in the cap. “

“There is, of course, heavy bruising over his entire body from the fall. Mostly on the back of his body and legs. There are none that can be identified specifically as developing from a push or shove. “

“I’ve always protected myself before; I just slipped up this time because I didn’t hear him coming. I’ll stay safe, Jumpin’. If I decide to go to Greenville, when I come back, maybe I could live out at my reading cabin awhile. “

“So when the lab reports proved that red wool fibers from Miss Clark’s hat were found on Chase’s clothing that night, you. . Objection, Your Honor,. Leading the witness. “

“In my professional opinion, it seems unlikely that a normal cycle of rising groundwater would completely wash away footprints to the extent that they disappeared in this case. “

“It’s true that the grate by the stairs and occasionally the others were left open so often and considered so dangerous that your office submitted a written request to the U. S. Forest Service to remedy the situation. Is this the official request to the Forest Service on July 18 of last year. “

“So, the next morning, October 31, as she pulled up to Jumpin’s wharf, she called to him, and he stepped out from the small store. “

“Then, those two young’uns that found Chase, well, they heard the sheriff say thar weren’t no footprints at the scene. Nary a one. Like somebody done rubbed out evidence. Them boys been yappin’ all over town ’bout it. “

“When Kya was led into the courtroom the next day, she glanced toward Tate, Jumpin’, and Mabel and held her breath at seeing a full uniform, a slight smile across a scarred face. Jodie. “

“That’s a painting of Chase and Miss Clark on the top of the fire tower. What else is going on. There—between their hands, she is giving him the shell necklace. “

“The language of the court was, of course, not as poetic as the language of the marsh. “

“Oh. You weren’t near enough to see her clothes. Tom looked at the jury as he said this. Well, how far away were you. I reckon we was a good sixty yards away at least. Sixty yards. . Tom looked at the jury again. “

“Then what did she do. She walked to the wharf, got in her boat, and headed south. “

“It’s possible that Miss Clark left her room, walked to the bus station, bused to Barkley Cove, murdered Chase Andrews, and returned to her room, and you never saw her because you were very busy doing your job. “

“My name is Robert Foster, and I’m a senior editor for Harrison Morris Publishing Company in Boston, Massachusetts. “

“Remembering it now, she was astonished how she had carried it off. But in fact, the restaurant, with all its glitter, wasn’t nearly as grand as her favorite picnic. “

“Objection, Your Honor. Mr. Foster is not an authority on the layout of Greenville. “

“The prosecution is claiming that Miss Clark snuck out of her motel late at night and walked from the Three Mountains Motel to the bus station—a trip of at least twenty minutes. That she then took the 11:50 P. M. “

“It would’ve been tight, that’s true. But she could’ve jogged from her boat to the tower and back, she could’ve cut a minute here and there. “

“It was dark. There was no moon until later. And that boat was too far away to recognize with any certainty. I know everybody ’round here with that kinda boat, and I’ve seen Miss Clark in hers plenty a’ times, and known right away it was her. “

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you are members of a community, of a proud and unique town. Last year you lost one of your own sons. A young man, a shining star of your neighborhood, looking forward to a long life with his beautiful. . “

“It is time, at last, for us to be fair to the Marsh Girl. “

“Just as they spread colorful quilts on the ground and unpacked biscuits and sausage from paper bags, a rain shower sent them grabbing things and running for cover under the overhang of the Sing Oil. “

“After Jacob closed her cell with the clank of bars, disappeared down the hall, and locked the heavy door with a final thud, a cold silence settled. Waiting for the verdict of her own murder trial brought a loneliness of a different order. “

“The bus drivers are key, of course, and both said they were certain Kya was not on their respective buses and weren’t certain about the disguises either. Sometimes seeing testimony in black and white makes it more definitive to the jurors. “

“We the jury find Miss Catherine Danielle Clark not guilty as charged in the first-degree murder of Mr. Chase Andrews. “

“Them jurors have some explainin’ to do. “

“She didn’t wait for an answer but walked from the shack and into the oak forest. Knowing it was futile, he didn’t go after her. He would wait. “

“You can’t get hurt when you love someone from the other side of an estuary. “

“I should’ve had you cremated like Sam McGee, Tate said, almost smiling. “

“I love you, Kya, you know that. You’ve known it for a long time. “

“They slept the first night on the beach, and he moved into the shack with her the next day. Packing and unpacking within a single tide. As sand creatures do. “

“I know, and he was my pa. “

“Almost every shop had a special table displaying the books by Catherine Danielle Clark ~ Local Author ~ Award-Winning Biologist. “

“Sometimes Kya walked alone to the beach, and as the sunset streaked the sky, she felt the waves pounding her heart. She’d reach down and touch the sand, then stretch her arms toward the clouds. Feeling the connections. “

“Kya, Kya, no. No!He got special permission for her to be buried on her land under an oak overlooking the sea, and the whole town came out for the funeral. “

“The Firefly is a poem about a firefly that lures a man in with its flashing lights, but then dies a secret death. “

“Still kneeling on the floor, he read it again. He held the paper next to his heart, throbbing inside his chest. He looked out the window, making certain no one was coming down the lane—not that they would, why would they. But to be sure. “

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