Hard Time Marrying Part 7

spring-beauty-splashHe checked on the woman and children several times always finding them asleep.  The children’s breathing was regular and less shallow.  The pink of their cheeks faded as the fever dropped.  Twice more he fed and diapered them and assisted the woman to the pot.  The next two days were much the same, more feeding, more dosing with Dr. Marvel, more changing, and always, more washing.  The little boy rallied first, trailing Joe.  From time to time, he called for Mama, but overall seemed contented.  Joe looked forward to the woman regaining her strength and assuming her responsibilities.  She was attentive to the baby girl who still lay abed with her.  Thankfully, the baby finally got hungry enough to accept the bottle after a few tries.  It made it easier to get the Dr. Marvel’s in her, anyway.  The woman could barely stay awake long enough to feed the baby but kept it at her side.  On the fourth day, the woman began to eat regular food, though she mashed it first.  One day, she coughed and spit a cracked molar into her palm, increasing Joe’s guilt about burying her alive, though he still didn’t remember hitting her with the shovel.  Joe had hopes when she’d learn some English soon, since he didn’t understand a word she said when she did speak to the baby or cry out in pain upon moving.  She had picked up on coffee, milk, baby, hurt, boy, pot, and a few other words, but there was no conversation yet.  She never called him “Joe.”

Though there was no real talking between, Joe sensed a change.  The woman was able to leave the bed for longer and longer periods, and kept the baby on her hip as she padded around the cabin. Her bruises were fading and she was able to hold the baby with her left arm and feed it with her right. She was turning out to be a beauty, but looked so young to be a mother.  It warmed him to see the tiny girl laugh at her mother, though the boy clearly preferred Joe.  Joe had expected him to show more interest in his mother once she was out of bed, but he didn’t.  Maybe boys just liked men. Joe rigged a rough rope bed in the corner near the fireplace for the boy, thinking he could make a trundle when the girl was older. He was starting to think of her as “Anna” instead of “the woman.”  Anna only referred to the girl as “Baby” and the boy as “Boy.”  One day, he brought her the first Spring Beauty and she called him “Joe.”  Joe was glad of her and the children, glad of the life opening up to him.

That night the coyotes woke him.

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Hard Time Marrying

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Their union had a bleak start. Shivering miserably on the depot platform in the freezing rain, the woman folded and refolded his tattered letter.  Angered, he thought of driving on when he saw her cradling a small child and holding the hand of a grimy toddler, a few tattered bundles at her feet. In her letter, she’d not mentioned the  little ones, though with all fairness, the marriage was only one of need on both parts. He hadn’t promised her anything either, so after hesitating, he was mollified by the thought that the little fellows served as proof she wasn’t barren.  Hurriedly, married minutes later at the preacher’s house, he apologized for the weather as they shivered the two hours home in his open wagon and was surprised to learn the woman didn’t speak or understand English.  Maybe that wasn’t so bad for a man accustomed to his own company.

Burning with fever by the time they got to his homestead, his unknown wife was dead by the next sundown, leaving him with  little ones he had no taste for. Barely reaching his knee, they toddled mutely in perpetual soggy diapers, uttering gibberish only they understood. As soon as he could, he buried his quilt-wrapped wife and headed back to dusty Talphus, Texas to rid himself of burden of her orphaned little ones. The church or the town would have to do for them. Loading them in a snug in a bed of hay, wrapped in a ragged quilt, hay heaped over them. he pitied and grieved for them on the long trip back to town, knowing the hard life they faced. Stopping several times to make sure they were warmly covered, he was relieved to find them pink and warm.

He hardened his heart against them, knowing only too well the life they faced. He’d never known family, just been passed from hand to hand.  He grieved knowing that was their lot, but deception had landed them with him and a lone-farmer could hardly be expected to shoulder the brats of a deadwoman he’d never even shared a bed with.

Five Photos, Five Stories Day One Hard Time Marrying

Man and kids (2)Thanks Author S B Mazing for challenging me to join her Five Photos, Five Stories.  This is just the type challenge I love.  It stimulates me to do what I want to do.  I will be writing a series based on vintage photos.  This will eventually become a book.  I have four others in front of it.  Who knows if it might push itself further up the line? I don’t know the story behind this photograph since it came from an estate sale.  I just love it.  It hangs in my writing room.  I know I am not telling the true story, but at least I am giving my friends a voice.  Now, the best part, I’d like to challenge Mom, at Maybe someone should write that down to join me.  I just love her stories and pictures!

Hard Time Marrying

Their union had a bleak start.  Meeting at the train in the freezing rain, she clutched his letter.  They married minutes later at the preacher’s house, barely speaking as they shivered the two hours home in his open wagon.  In her letter, she’d not mentioned the two little ones, though with all fairness, the marriage was only one of need on both parts. They were proof she could bear the children he hoped for.  Burning with fever by the time they got to his homestead; dead by the next sundown, she left him with two little ones he had no taste for.  Barely reaching his knee, they toddled mutely in perpetual ,soggy diapers dragging to their knees, uttering gibberish only they understood.  As soon as he could get her wrapped in a quilt, he buried this stranger wife and headed back to dusty Talphus, Texas with the sad burden of her orphaned little ones.  The church or the town would have to do for them.  Loading them in a snug in a bed of hay, wrapped in a ragged quilt, hay heaped over them.  he pitied and grieved for them on the long trip back to town, knowing the hard life they faced.  Stopping several times to make sure they were warmly covered, he was relieved to find them pink and warm.

He hardened his heart against them, knowing only too well the life they were facing.  He’d never known family, just been passed from hand to hand.

to be continued

 

 

Five Photos, Five Stories – Day Two: Snowcovered Gum Trees

Challenge from  Author S B Mazing
I am taking you up on this. Thanks.

Author S B Mazing

FPFSChal5I took this picture when we first went skiing here in Australia. Up until today it amazes me when I see a gum trees in the snow. For me growing up in the Swiss Mountains The trees lose their leaves or then it is the trees with the needles. But skiing amongst snow covered gum trees was something special…

Skiing in Australia is pretty good, you know. Many Australians and non-Australians asked us how we can deal with the poor skiing down here, coming from Switzerland. And I usually tell them that it is not poor at all. The slopes are great and the way they look after them and groom them is outstanding. Cut yourself some slack, Aussies, your ski resorts are actually pretty good.

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A couple of days ago I received the following invitation:

Hi SB

I’m about to invite you to join in a challenge I…

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