Robert and Bessie piled Charles’s car high for his trip back to town. Charles was the enviable object of a friendly competition between Cora and Bessie, so lots of eggs, milk, cream and butter filled an ice chest. Two gallons of dewberries, turnip greens, squash and green tomatoes, and a dozen jars of Bessie’s bread and butter pickles were safely tucked in the trunk. Bessie raised the ante by four quarts of pickled eggs, smugly aware Cora didn’t have fresh eggs. The biggest prize of all, the freshly dressed hen rode in the front seat with Charles. “I am sure proud of all these farm goods,” Charles told them. “I’d have been scared to go home without Cora’s hen and dewberries. Boys, I really appreciate the fish. I’m hoping Cora will cook’em for my supper. I do love white perch.”
”You’re sure welcome,” Robert answered. “They ain’t nothing like good country food. I’d hate to have to eat from a can like some folks do. The beans, corn, and tomaters is puttin’ on real good and should be ready in a couple of weeks. I’ll have ‘em ready for you next time.”
“If you don’t get back when they’re comin’ on, you know I’ll can ‘em up for you.” Bessie assured him.
” I’ll be back. I’ll want to see how Charley’s doing. Charley, make sure you learn all you can from Robert,” Charles answered. “But don’t lift anything too heavy. Go easy on your sore belly!”
”I will. It don’t hurt no more.” Charley answered.
”You say that now.” Robert laughed. “You just wait till it’s time to milk at four-thirty in the morning. That’s gonna hurt. You ain’t used to gittin’ up that early.”
”Why does milking have to come so early?” Charley challenged. “It’s not even light then.”
”Because we got six cows to milk and hogs to slop before breakfast. Bessie puts biscuits on the table at five-thirty so we can be working by daylight. We got to hoe them beans before it gits too hot, then work on that section of fence in the afternoon. It’s gonna be a long day.” Robert answered.
”Charley, you do everything Robert says and learn all you can. Robert is the best farmer around. He feeds two houses and puts money in the bank, too.” Charles told Charley.
“I will, Dad. I don’t know nothing now, and I aim to be a farmer.” Charley assured his dad and Robert.
Charles mused as he drove through the country. “Charley is in a good place. Robert and Bessie have known him since he was born.” Once again, he wished he’d left well-enough alone and left Charley the way God made him. His meddling had likely driven his wife crazy and left Charley’s life a mess.”