Anya had no idea of the horror behind Joe’s outburst as he tore into the cabin, though she knew plenty about the moods of men, none of it good. She covered her head and cowered on the far side of the bed, expecting a beating or rape, the way men had most often dealt with her. His previous kindnesses were forgotten in her shock.
“What’s going on here? Who the Hell are you and how did you get here? I thought you were my wife! Who are these kids?” He crossed the room shaking her by the shoulders as she waited for the blows to rain down. “
Despite her confusion, with him shouting directly into her face, there was no mistaking, “I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY WIFE!”
He was insane! Bracing for what was sure to come next, she covered her head with her good arm. God help me! Distraught and overwrought he fled the cabin, slamming the door before the boy could get out behind him.
The boy wailed and tore at the door. The baby cried and clung to her. The shock of the man’s outburst cleared her confusion a bit. She rushed to the door, and slid the wooden bar to lock the man out. At least that would give her a moment to think. She’d hoped to have a few more days to rest. In her clouded mind, the baby girl had become the little sister she’d so loved. She to figure a way to get herself and the girl away. The man might burn them in their beds tonight, but if they survived, she’d have to figure out a way to get them out of here in the morning.
By the time Joe pulled his mules to the door to unload his wagon, it was sleeting. His life had never looked more hopeless as he brushed the icy hay from the tattered quilt covering the children’s burning faces. Though it was unchristian, he’d half-hoped to find them already dead from the fever, solving the problem of their care.
He struggled to get them into the cold cabin where he heard the scurrying of a rat. “Damn it all. I got to bring the barn cat in.”
Laying them gently on his bed and covering them, he was able to rouse each enough to get a bit of water down. Setting the cup to the side, he moved on to the fireplace to uncover the banked ashes, put a stick or two next to the backlog, rekindling the fire. At least they wouldn’t die of thirst of cold. It angered him to feel pity for them. That’s all he could do for them for the moment.
He hurried in with the provisions, the pathetic mercy the town had shown, leaving to get his horses tended, milk the cow and tend the stock. Finishing his tasks, he miserably returned to the burden of the sick children fate had forced upon him. Upon entering the cabin, the sight meeting his eyes nearly undid him. A filthy, battered woman dressed in rags studied the little girl. God in Heaven! Would this nightmare never end? Had he buried the woman alive and now she’d scratched out of her grave?
Mutely, the woman clutched the child to her bosom protectively as though she thought he might put the two of them back in the grave.
“Oh my God. I thought you were dead!” This did nothing to set her at her ease. Shamed, he turned his back mumbling. “Poor wretch. What she must be thinking?” Shame at having buried her, then trying to get rid of her sick children shamed him, bringing him lower than he’d ever been before. I don’t know why I didn’t leave it alone when it was good enough. He fled from the cabin and made his way to the barn, tossed some hay on a saddle blanket settled in to try to get some sleep. Jack, his dog, and the barn cats settled in next to him, glad of the unexpected company. He lay awake a long time, thinking of the girl who’d made him want a wife in the first place.
When I was a kid, I was fortunate enough to get to go to the funeral of my Uncle Ben. I had very little interest in and had wasted no affection on him, but did appreciate getting the honor of being a “member of the family” at the funeral. I was knowledgeable now about Continue reading
Two old friends were spending their evening idling their time away, drinking in the graveyard, as they were fond of doing.
One of them drifted off to sleep as the other stumbled and fell into an open grave. All was well for a while till the fellow in the grave sobered up a little and called out to his sleeping friend above. Continue reading