Hard Time Marrying Part 15

!fireplace-3She had supper ready when Joe and the boy came in.  She’d cooked beans on in a cast-iron pot hanging over the fire and baked cornbread and some sweet potatoes in the coals, pleasant work she was accustomed to.  Joe’s brows lifted when he saw supper and bowls and cups out on the table.  She crumbled cornbread in a cup and Joe poured buttermilk over it for the baby before lifting her to Anya’s lap.  They all fell to with an appetite. 

“My name is Anya, not Anna.  I’ll stay and earn my keep till I can manage, but I ain’t no whore.  Don’t come sniffing around me.  I don’t want to owe you nothing.  I’m gittin’ better so I can do for the baby and tend the house, but you need to keep the boy with you.”  She looked him fiercely in the eye.

Joe looked her and raised his voice.  “I’ll thank you to call me Joe.  Don’t you think I could’a already done hurt you if I’d wanted? I don’t want nothin’ more from you than you take care of yourself and the baby.”  He dropped his voice, speaking more to himself.  “I been getting along without a woman for a long time, but I ain’t fell so low I got to take up with a stringy, beat-up neck bone like you.”

Poor Joe was unaware her hearing had improved and was surprised to have a hot sweet potato hit him in the jaw.  “I’ll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head,” she warned him through clinched jaws. 

“Yes, ma’am.”  He muttered.  “Beggin’ pardon, ma’am.  No call for me to be spiteful.  We are both in a pickle and battling ain’t gonna help.”

“You keep to your place and I’ll keep to mine till I can do better.”  The tension eased a bit now they understood each other.

They passed the evening watching the children at their play.  Joe had brought them a kitten from the barn.  The boy teased it with a bit of string, delighting the baby girl.  Joe and Anya caught themselves laughing at it a time or two.

“What’s the boy’s name?”  This was the first time it had occurred to her to ask.

“I don’t know.  I just been calling him boy.  His mama was sick when she got here and never told me nothing.  She died the next day.”  He stared into the fire.

“You mean these ain’t your young’uns?”  She was incredulous.

“No, I don’t know nuthin’ exceptin’ their mama up and died soon’s she got here.  I’d send ‘em back to her folk if I knew who they was.  She come with nuthin’ but my letter, a bundle of clothes, and these young’uns after I wrote off for a wife. I buried her out in the mesquite and tried to take the kids back to Talphus fer the town or the church to do for ‘em and them miserable bastards run me off like a scalded dog.  When I got back after doing chores that night, you was up in the house lookin’ at the baby.  I thought I’d done buried their mama alive.  It warn’t till just now the coyotes dug her body out of the grave till I knew you warn’t the woman I married.  Oh, Lordy.  I don’t know why I ain’t left well enough alone.”

 

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Hard Time Marrying Part 2

“These young’uns is got scarlet fever. You ain’t leaving ‘em for this town to deal with. Jist take ‘em on back where you come from.”  The sheriff steadfastly refused responsibility for the children.

“But they ain’t mine.  I don’t even know their names.”

“Ya married their ma ago ain’t cha?  Then they’s yourn!  I hate it for ‘ya, but I ain’t gonna letcha leave ‘em here to sicken the whole town.  We’ll getcha some provisions to help out, but that’s it.  Ya got to git out’a town with them sick young’uns.  Pull this wagon out to that mesquite tree ‘n  I’ll git ‘cha some supplies.

Morosely, Joe waited on the edge of the sorry town as a wagon pulled up.  Shouting at him to stay back, a gimpy old geezer rolled off a barrel of flour, putting a burlap bag of beans beside it, and piling a few cans of milk, a bolt of material, and a few paper wrapped parcels on top of it.  He went on his way, leaving Joe to wrestle them into the wagon the best he could, stowing them so they wouldn’t crush the burning children.

Joe felt as low as he’d ever had, pulling up to his rough cabin. He knew nothing about children or the sick.   Maybe these poor wretches wouldn’t suffer too long.

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.

Aunt Ader’s Place Part 5

Maw, Eddie, and Kids                       Mettie and Eddie Swain and three of their seven children.

was abandoned by her mother as an infant, leaving her with her own mother.  Though divorce was almost unheard of at that time, she was twice-divorced. Her father went on to remarry and took no responsibility for her.  He only visited her once, when she was the widowed mother of seven. Late one night, Mawmaw told this tale of her early years, the only time I ever heard this.

“I jist turned nine years old, ‘bout the age you are now. Me and Ma had picked some beans in the cool a’the mornin’ an’ I was a’helpin’ ‘er git ‘em ready fer canning. Ma set down in her rocker to rest jist a minute an’ I was a’playin’ with my kitten. I was glad she was a’sleepin’ a while since I didn’ want’a mess with them beans no how. After a spell, I saw Ma’s head was kinda hung to one side an’ spit was a’runnin’ out’a her mouth kinda foamy. She wouldn’ wake up. I got up to run over to git Miz Jone’s an’ seen there was a fire between our place an’ hearn. There warn’t nothin’ to do but run through it the best I could. Them flames was a’lickin’ at my feet an’ I was jist a’cryin’. I got Miz Jones, but it ain’t made no difference. When they got over to see ‘bout Ma, she was dead. They sent for Uncle Jeb to git’er buried.

I had to go to Uncle Jeb’s, then. He was awful good to me, but Aunt Lottie was jist hard down. She whooped on me ever chancet she got, an’ they was plenty. She made shore I ain’t done no sittin’ aroun’. I married soon’s I could, jist to git outta her way.

I never really had no home after Ma died.  I knowed Aunt Lottie didn’t want me around ‘lessen they was work to be done.  She’d put me out to help a woman that was having a baby, help with the canning, or help with the sick.  I never seen no pay, just worked for my keep.  Sometimes my mama would get settled and send for me, but I had to stay of her husband, so back I’d go to Uncle Jep and Aunt Lettie, till she could put me off on somebody else.  It was hard times for sure.

 

 

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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