Hard Time Marrying Part 25

 

big-wildflowerThey got home well before dark.  While Joe and Little Joe milked and tended the stock, Anya put Sally in her sling and walked across the meadow down to the creek.  The cow and calf grazed near the willows, the calf didn’t have to be kept up to protect the milk, though all it enjoyed was its mother’s company since she’d gone dry.  Joe hadn’t bothered to scythe down the weeds since he didn’t have to worry about the coming calf.  The stand of Queen Anne’s lace waved its graceful heads, its regal beauty given no hint of its hidden use.  Anya had often gathered wildflowers on her walk, bringing back an apron full of Black-Eyed Susan’s, bright Indian Blanket, and Texas Bluebonnets, loving the way their colors brightened the cabin.  She’d never been especially fond of white, but today, filled her apron with the lacy white flowers and nothing else.

Emma had sent home enough chicken and dumplings for another meal.  With biscuits from breakfast and Emma’s conserve, it made a festive supper.  Little Joe licked his plate and Sally kept squealing and reaching for the conserve, long after she plastered herself with hers.  They laughed as they cleaned the little ones up.  The children were reluctant to settle in bed after their exciting day and the hilarity at supper.  Joe lay on the cot with his little namesake was still while Anya rocked Sally.

He came back to the table and took Anya’s hand.  Looking pointedly at the pot of white flowers, he said, “You want to be careful with those.  You know they made the cow lose her calf.  I don’t want nothin’ happenin’ to you.  A baby is just a baby.”

Anya started crying.  “Joe, I don’t even know if I want this baby.  I was hopin’ things could go on the way they were.  You have already taken in your dead wife’s little ones and now this.  This baby was forced on me.  I don’t know if I can do right by it, let alone love it.  I think it might be better if you let me do what I need to do and after, if you want, we can figure somethin’ out.  We can make a clean start or I can leave once I am back on my feet if you want. We ain’t married and you done took care of me a long time.  You don’t owe me nothin’.  You could always look for a woman to come stay and help out till she’s bigger.  The West is full of women who need somebody to do for an’ a place to stay.”

Joe was a man of few words.  “Anya, I know what it is to be alone.  I never knew my pa, these younguns don’t know their pa.  You done without a ma. The world don’t have to be such a cold place. You’re are a good woman an’ I seen how you love these little fellers.  I want you, and that little feller you’re a’carrying if that’s the way you see it.”  He picked up his hat to go to the barn.

Anya looked from Sally to Joe as a tear dropped on Sally’s blonde head.  She reached out, putting a hand on Joe’s shoulder.  “Stay, Joe.  It’s time Sally started sleepin’ in with Little Joe.”

Tenderly, Joe tucked Sally in on the far side of the cot with Little Joe, then put out the light.

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Hard Time Marrying Part 24

frontier-woman-evelyn-cameron                                            Image of frontier woman in her kitchen pulled from internet.

 

“Are you havin’ more trouble?”

“I’m afraid it might come early.”

“Well, ain’t nothin’ to be done about that.  Just don’t overdo yourself and maybe it will hold.”  Emma reassured her.

“That’s not what I mean.  I think I was carrying this baby when I come here.”  Anya studied her lap.

“Well, Joe knowed you was a widow.  You don’t look too far along.  You been here long enough it might be Joe’s.”

“It ain’t.  Joe ain’t never touched me.  That’s why I ain’t told him about the baby.  It cain’t be his.  I wish I would just lose it!  I don’t want to Joe to put me out over this baby.  Our life is just starting to be good.”  Anya cried softly.

“Anya.  I know you a good woman the way you look after Joe and them young’uns.  Joe is a good man.  You are gonna have to talk to him about this.  Times is real hard out here.  They ain’t a town fer miles.  Good folks don’t just happen by.  You an’ Joe might have a chance.  I ‘spect Joe’s already suspicions ‘bout that baby.  I knowed you was in the family way the minute I seen you.  Rufus saw it, too.  The Lord has done joined you together and you don’t need to be parted, not without trying.  You’re a’thinkin’ Joe ain’t gonna want you with this baby comin’. You’re a figurin’ you gonna lose him anyway.  Joe’s a good man.  Even if it turns out he don’t want you with this baby, you need to talk to him.  He’s showed you kindness all this time.  He ain’t gonna grind you under his foot like a snake even if he don’t want you.  The two of you can figure out somethin’. Joe ain’t never had nobody to care about him before and that means a lot.” 

Even if Emma was wrong, her kindness eased Anya’s fears.

“I just don’t want to put no more on Joe.” She explained.

“Then don’t leave his feelings out of this.  Let’s get them dumplings started.  The menfolk is gonna be hungry.”  Emma was a good woman.