East of Eden Chapter 50
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 50

Kate is making Joe nervous. She sits and stares at her wall for hours upon end, not revealing a single thought. Joe's only plan is to keep his boss on edge, waiting for her to reveal more information to use against her. But hour after hour, Kate remains still and wordless. 

In reality, Kate is not thinking at all. Her mind simply drifts from image to impression. In her mind, she sees Aron's blonde head and angelic face. She hears his bitter words aimed more at himself than at her. She sees Cal too, the dark twin, leaning against her door frame, laughing. She wonders why he brought his brother. She does not know what he wants from her or the point of doing such a thing at all. 

Joe interrupts her musings when he brings in a pot of tea. Kate's arthritis is flaring, causing her pain like she has never before experienced. It startles Joe to see her in such a weakened and vulnerable state. He senses that he may be getting another one of "the breaks" and tells Kate, in a hedging way, that he has information about Ethel. 

Joe spins his lie carefully. He tells Kate that a man he did not know stopped him outside of a store. The stranger clandestinely told Joe that he had some information on the person Joe has been looking for. He hints that he knows about the judge's order that Ethel not return to Salinas. The man implies that Ethel has violated this order. 

Kate asks Joe if the man wanted money from him. Joe says he did not want money but did ask a puzzling question: "Does Faye mean anything to you?"

Kate steadily asks Joe if the name "Faye" does mean anything to him. Joe denies it. Kate, in mock surprise, wonders how he could not have known that a woman named Faye used to own this very house. Joe begins to panic. He knows that the denial was a miscalculation. He tries to backtrack but Kate is far too smart to miss his discomfort. 

Kate is pleased. Joe's betrayal gives her something new to focus on, something other than her sons and her pain. She pretends not to notice his fear-stricken expression and his shaking hands as he pours her a cup of tea. Instead she asks Joe, in a pleading voice, to help her. She says she will give him ten thousand dollars if he will "fix everything up." 

Joe licks his lips. Kate asks if she has "caught him out." He claims not to know what she is talking about. Kate assures him that he is smart and can figure it out, then dismisses him.

At her desk, Kate writes to the sheriff, telling him to check out Joe's record. Sealing the envelope, she calls Therese to come to her. Kate details a list of errands for her to run in town and asks Therese to drop the letter in a mailbox.

Despite her pain, Kate manages to open her bedroom door and finds the girls gathered in the kitchen for lunch. She tells them that she...

(The entire section is 782 words.)