Andrew and Molly Part 14

Aggie and Molly sat down with Bartles at the day’s end telling her troubling situation.

“Molly, if I had money, I’d gladly buy your bond.  We hardly have two pennies to rub together.  I’ll talk to Master Wharton for you.  He’s a fair man.  Losing two bondsmen has left him in a dire situation as well.  I will speak to him now.”  With that, he left the women, and strode to Master Barton’s house on his mission.  In an hour or so he was back.  “Molly, Master Wharton wants to speak with you.  Aggie, come with us as witness.”

Molly felt panicked, not prepared to deal with her fate so soon.  She had no idea what awaited her as she walked in his back door.  Master Wharton greeted them.

“Come in the front room.  This is no talk for the kitchen.”  Though she’d cleaned it every day since her arrival, Molly felt she was seeing the room for the first time with its golden pine walls, large fireplace, table and chairs, and bench.  A large quilt covered-bed filled one corner.   She’d swept and scrubbed the pine floor with lye-water till it was white-bleached.  Even though it had never been her home, it had become familiar and dear, especially since she and Andrew had so recently occupied the small bedroom off the kitchen.  It was certainly the most comfortable dwelling she’d ever lived in.

“Let’s get straight to our business.”  Molly felt a sense of doom at his terse demeanor. Battles has explained your situation.  You know mine. We have to assume Andrew is dead.  I have to engage another bondsman or a couple.  My cash stores are depleted.  A woman in your position is in peril.  I have two offers to buy your bond, both single men.  There is the possibility, but no promise you might be offered marriage, though of course, neither man is aware of your condition.  I cannot guess how that might change their offers.

I have grown fond of both you and Andrew over the past months.  I loathe the idea of your falling into peril.  Though I am an fifty-seven years old and you but a girl, I offer you marriage.  I realize you cannot expect the comfort a young man could give you, but offer I marriage if you desire it.  I would welcome your child as my own.  I had never thought to know the joy of a wife and children again after losing my family.  You can take some time to think before giving me your decision.

Molly had come in expecting to learn she’d be cast out, not offered marriage.  Even though she’d had little time to grieve Andrew’s loss, she knew she needed Master Wharton’s protection.  This was a time for reason, not emotion.  The welfare of her child was her main consideration.

“I’d be honored to be your wife.” She answered.

Wharton nodded.  “I’ll ask the minister to announce the banns.  Battles, can Molly reside with you till our marriage? I want no gossip.”

“Certainly, Master Wharton.  We’d be honored.”  He and Aggie were beaming.

“And call me James.  You are a free man now.” He directed.

“Yes indeed, James.  My name is Will. “The men shook hands heartily and James embraced Aggie.  He turned to Molly.  “I won’t kiss you till after we wed.  James, make sure there is no gossip on my wife’s good name.”  With that, he took both Molly’s hands in his.  “I will keep out of the house while you are about your duties until we marry.”

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.”

 

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 5

baconI dawdled a bit to talk to Miss Laura Mae one morning as she put plum butter and a piece of bacon on the hot biscuit she’d split for me. “Floyd died twenty years ago today. It shore don’t seem like it?”

That caught my attention. “Who shot him?”

She and Mother both burst out laughing. “Why nobody shot him, honey. He just got sick and died.”

“Looks like she’s been watching too much ‘Gunsmoke’.” Mother said, but I could tell she wasn’t really mad. “Linda, don’t be asking stuff that’s none of your business. Get your biscuit and go stand on the top step!” Mother sputtered. I certainly knew better than to ask nosey questions, but sometimes my curiosity got the best of me.

“She didn’t mean no harm,” Miss Laura chuckled, “But I tell you who I could’a shot.”

I lingered on the top step to listen in. I needed to know who Miss Laura Mae could’a shot.

“Floyd come in awful sick after work one Friday evenin’. He had a pain in his groin an’ it was all swole up. I couldn’t get him to let me call the doctor, but he was ready to go long before daylight. Betty Lou and the baby come to stay with the kids while me an’ her ol’ man Roy took Floyd in to the doctor in his truck. They done surgery soon as we got there, but Floyd had done got gangrene in his intestines. They wasn’t a thing they could do. I stayed with Floyd and Roy went on home to tend to stuff. I told him not to let on to the kids that Floyd was a’dyin’. I figured they’d find out soon enough when I was there to tell ‘em. Glomie was a’goin’ with Mack Thompson to the pitcher show that night like she’d been a’doin’ Saturdays for a while. They’d been a wantin’ to git married, but she wasn’t but sixteen and I told her she was too young. I got married at fifteen. I knowed what it meant to be tied down too young.

Well, Floyd died along about ten-thirty Saturday night. It was up in the morning before I got home. I let the kids sleep, and had biscuits in the oven before I went to wake ‘em up. When I went in the girl’s room, Glomie hadn’ ever come in. Myrt said she slept so hard she didn’ even know. I was scart to death. I didn’ know if her an’ Ray had had a wreck or what. Seems like we would have heard somethin’ though. Well, I had to go ahead an’ tell the other kids. O’ course they took it somethin’ awful. I was worried about Betty Lou. She was about four months along with a new baby, but she done alright. There wasn’t nothing to do but wait. After a while, Myrt came in a squallin’ an’ tol’ me she thought Glomie and Mack might’a run off and got married. Glomie had been talkin’ about it. I could’a shot her and Mack Thompson fer pullin’ such a trick.

Sure enough, about eleven-thirty that morning, just as neighbors was a’startin’ to bring food in for the mourners, here come Glomie and Mack, all nervous-like. Glomie thought all them folks was there to look for her. She was hurt that while her daddy was a’dyin’ she had slipped off and got married. I told her, ‘Well, you done made your bed. Now you got to lie in it.’

Mack turned out to be a purty good feller. He works and goes to church with ‘er ever Sunday and breaks up my garden ever’ spring. They been together ever’ since an’ had three kids. The oldest one is ‘bout to graduate, valedictorian of his class. You just can’t never tell how things is gonna turn out. Sometimes, it’s good God don’t let us run things.”

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/miss-laura-maes-house-part-6/

People Ought Not to Have to Live That Way

imageAfter his father died , Daddy told of his family moving in a battered old shack sitting in a open field occupied by a bull and herd of cows.  It was really not much better than a barn, just unpainted planks with unfinished walls inside, tin roof visible above the open rafters. The  cows offered little threat, but the Jersey bull raged when the cows were in heat.  Mettie and the kids had to always had to keep a look out for him when they stepped outdoors to do laundry or fetch water from the well.  Mettie kept the little girls close by in case they had to make a run for the house.  She and the older boys made sure he was nowhere around before starting across the open field to the road. Continue reading

I Ain’t Havin’ It!

Pointing finterJust this morning Mother told me this fascinating story.  Before she started school, she’d tagged along behind her father to the local blacksmith shop to have a bit of work done.   The blacksmith, Dud Baker, was fairly new to the community and newly-married.  His young wife was a widow.  She’d brought the men a cup of coffee.  As they were drinking and visiting over Continue reading

Hard Times

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My dad was born in rural Northwest Louisiana in 1924, growing up during the bleakest of The Great Depression.  Fourth of seven children born to a sharecropper who was barely scratching a living out of the red dirt, life got even harder for the family when his father died, leaving a destitute widow and six children under sixteen with only a mule, a Continue reading

Laughter and Life

parents wedding pic             Bill and Kathleen Holdaway Swain on their wedding day, June 29, 1946

http://pegoleg.com/2015/01/05/why-i-would-rather-try-to-find-the-funny-than-the-meaning-of-life/

http://yadadarcyyada.com/2015/01/10/having-the-last-laugh/

http://lindaghill.com/2015/01/01/just-jot-it-january-pingback-post-and-rules/

I have continued to think of Pegoleg’s post  and Yadadarcyyaday posts yesterday. Laughter has saved me in some of the most stressful situations of my life.  It is cathartic.  On the way to my father’s funeral, my mother was sitting between me and my husband.  Of course, it was a somber time.  I was anxious to be of support to her, mindful of her grief and all the problems loss of a Continue reading