Democratic watchman. (Bellefonte, Pa.) 1855-1940, August 07, 1931, Image 2

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    jon a farm anywhere. Nash knew
{she didn't. They hadn't quarreled,
|only pulled against each other. Now
| Nash spoke out.
| “You know what I think about
| colleges. More and more they breed
= |atheism-—stuff up a boy's head with
things he'll never use—make him
critical of his own people. I did my
best to keep Joie at home, you know
that. When I sold his horse four
ago, I didn't need the money;
Se to keep him out of that Uni-
versity bunch.”
“ 1 know,” Rachael murmured.
"It almost killed Joie—and me.”
“You knew it!" Nash stopped eat-
ing; his slate-gray eyes grew hard.
“And you raised a field of dahlias to
sell—worked like a dog
heat and frost—to outwit me?”
“Not to outwit you, Ira, to give
Joie his chance. It isn't that I hate
the farm; in a way I love it. But
it is a hard master. If Joie m-mar-
ried and lived here, he'd never be
any company for his wife, nor for
“What, then?"
“All that was left of him, after
the first season, would be stooping
around the cotton crop—shoveling
cotton-seed, chopping cotton, picking
cotton. His nights would be a blank.
If he didn't get up before daylight,
you'd chase over where he was and
drag him out of bed. There would
be no holidays—no nothing.”
Nash's smooth-shaven face turned
There's & queer little house
That stands in the sun;
When the good mother calls,
The children all run. :
‘While under her roof
It is cozy and warm,
Though the cold wind may whistle
And bluster and storm,
In the daytime this queer
Little house moves away,
And the children run after,
So happy and gay;
But it comes back at night,
And the children are fed,
And tucked up to sleep
In their warm, cozy bed.
This queer little house
Has no windows nor doors;
The roof has no shingles,
The rooms have no floors;
- No fireplaces, chimneys,
No stoves can you see,
Yet the children are cozy
And warm as can be,
The story of this
Little house is quite true;
I have seen it myself. |
And I'm sure you have, too,
You can see it tonight, a TY think it hurts a man
If you'lh watch the old hen, “ .
While her downy wings cover die think it hurts any one—to
Her chickens again, “What about me?"
—Author Unknown | .pjave I ever wanted you
| slave?"
When Ira Nash was concerned, he
was furious. Now he got up so vio-
lently as to upset his chair. “You
can make up your mind, my girl, to
let me be boss for once. It's the
There was one window where
Rachel Nash could embroider with-
out being “fussed at,” and that was
in her son's bedroom at the
of the house. It wasn't comfortable finding his mate when he's
up there—no seat but a rickety If Joie wants to marry Reddy Laugh-
chair or the edge of a bed lin, I'll build him the best house on
—but it was safe. If the man of Bear Creek. I told him so, last
the house stepped in unexpectedly, summer.”
she could run down to see what Rachel Nash met her husband's
was wanted, and no questions ask. anger with steadiness, but she didn't
ed say anything more. No use. Bet-
ter not have answered back at all.
It had been bad for her nerves—
| for her eyes. The tablecloth must
'be !
It seemed she only felt her way
through dang wp after dinner.
Ira Nash never exerted himself
to climb the dim stair unless Joie
were at home and overslept. But Joie
ash wasn't at home now. Since
the first of September—he had been
in the University, his “forest of a
thousand h pry Put awa tes, her hand
Mother had been afraid ghe touched her ttle. Se Bible with
wouldn't get Margaret Foss's table- 'its too-fine print. Once for her
cloth embroidered before Joje's girl, thia Ann, Mother had told
birthday; maybe not before com- & flat lie, and the sin of it lingered
mencement. It had been awful the between herself and her Maker. Still
summer before and during Christ- there were times when all she had to
mas holidays, hiding her despised hold to was this old, almost-to-
‘fancy work” from both her men- pieces Book.
folks. And this table spread was, No help there today. The page-
you might say, a debt of honor. If fell open at a e in Jeremiah
she hadn't pledged
herself to work she had marked for its sheer beauty.
the rarest piece of linen an Standing by the o cupboard,
in the country, and that for a wild away from the light' of oh and
night trip to Stillwater, Joie Liv she could not see the words
he distinctly, but she knew them:
“Give glory to the Lord your God
before he Foi Sark Huss, and be-
fore your feet stum upon the dark
mountains, and, while ye look for
. light he turn it into the shadow of
death and make it gioss darkness.”
Rachel Nash cl her Bible.
Give God the glory for what? Where
was the glory: Where was any-
thing but failure and dimness and
—oh, she prayed not that! ‘gross
It was stumbly on the stairs.
When she went up hurriedly, she
caught ac the wall, at the shaky
banisters. Maybe it was half past
one—not late. Four hours yet in
which to embroider. A month be-
fore—a week, even—she could have
worked the four re flowers
with their maze of frail leafage in an
hour easily. Now it was going to
take the whole long afternoon.
Rachel Nash worked cautiously—
‘she didn't hurry. When a dozen or
so stitches had been set, she closed
her eyes to rest them. Not to grow
impatient, she allowed a train of
thought to possess her. Of course,
she thought about Joie. Joie was
a Culpepper; he was herself. From
the ous but proud morning she
had tucked his First Reader under
his arm and started him for school
among the jack-oaks, to the eve-
ning before his high-school com-
mencement, she had filled him with
a rich alchemy he did not realize;
lifted him on wings he could not
With the coming of Reddy Laugh-
lin it had suddenly been different.
Joie wasn't making good in the
university. His sister, Cynthia Ann
—Mrs. Field Houston—admitted they
were worried about his credits.
Mother knew where her boy's am-
bition had come to rest. Sitting
there on the edge of his bed, she
‘visualized a prose poem in last year's
Daily O' Collegian, “My task accom-
plished and the long day done; my
wages taken and in my heart some
late bird singing”—oh, beautiful!
.... "In the
memory shadows rise. It
ovember, once. Wild crowds
Mud-splashed, her
roughened hands, gripping each
un the 2 ellow rag gr
ross her lap, she had faced Da
Porter, Superintendent of Wo
and out-talked facts themselves,
No, not quite Joie hadn't
had kept her
If they hadn't oe Tig
of wounding Joie's pride—for no boy
of eighteen wants a woman, even his
mother, getting him out of trouble
—if she had told the boy, flat, why
she had to use every spare minute
of daylight and all her badly-lighted
evenings to embroider a spread, it
would have been different. She
Peednt Jive 40figeq Sreut as she
rough a long, blisteri .
mer. Oh, well—! ii
Almost a vear, now, Rachel Nash
had been laying fragile, yet firm,
Hve-petajed blossoms
arou e scalloped edge of a lon,
oval. One gorgeous swirl in the
center and she would be done.
should have worn lasses.
was a pair of old blue goggles that
rested her eyes. But Nash didn't
like her to wear them. Experimenting
with spectacles of any kind was had
—he used them oniy when breaking
rock. The dav Rachel left off fin-
ishing the tablecloth to get dinner,
and he saw her flinching away from
the blast of the oven door, burning
herself Ji popping grease—o f
course. she couldn't see in goggles!
he had a fit.
“I'm going to break those danged
things.” he told her. “If you want
glasses, whv don’t you sav so?”
Mrs. Nash smiled doubtfully. dab- |
bing her burns with iodine. “Huh,
mavbe I do want glasses.” Valle
Nash had never lost the privilege was
of kissing his wife's young mouth, |
and he Stovued to her now. But his i thlotes BOLL
voice was edgy. grimy a were jostled about on
“Mavbe vou onlv think vou do.” shoulders—an Aggie student sitting
Rachael changed the subject. She by a study table at midnight—lights
brought out Joie’s birthday cake. a twinkling at 2 o'clock in Engineering
huge souare of aneel food. Tf her Hall; students bending over draw-
voung student didn't come home, ing-boards—the barns on a wintry
she was going to parcel-post his night—Aggieland in moonbeams; the
trent, lo id i any case the cake beloved person at our Ede 3 tareas
3 — professor;
Nash thought he might get some philosophy of life he never gave in
powdered sugar at the Corners. (the class-room—a dean lending a
“But what makes vou mess with helping hand when you had
it?” he grumbled graphically. “Jo- dropped out.
seph will be home this summer, and “And they ask, ‘What is College
it be vour steadv job to make for?”
cakes for him. If he marries the Joie had answered the question.
Laughlin girl. vou'll have them both Up and down the margins was
to stuff till T get around to bufld” scrawled in his square-topped hand,
Rachel Nash felt a sudden trem- “Reddy, Reddy, ”
bling.” ‘“Jole's {ust nineteen,” she |
ventured—*“a hov.” | Redd
“How about vour voungest broth-|/to
That was true. Joseph Culpepper, heart for the girl who had taken
for whom Jole was named, had be-|Joie in her own roadster to the
gun the study of law at eighteen, track meet at Oklahoma City. It
married at nineteen, and Planted had come to be a joke, the Nash
himself forever on a farm in Ohlo. boy's poverty. Cynthia Ann confided
Mother didn't want her Jole planted jt he had been dubbed, coarsely,
Laughlin when she went up
tillwater to commencement.
peak best thing ever ha ed to a boy,
pen ag eyes and set another stitch. She
almost |
Mother had known she would meet
| “stingy-gut.” And here was a girl
out of the dim hills—not a Stillwater
girl, at all—who bad taken him up
(and made him the fashion.
| That was dear of her, and Mother
{had not meant to criticize. But it
did seem strange for Reddy to breeze
in before them all, the only ev
they had together at Cynthia's, and
run Joie off to the country club.
Girls did those things. did
‘the asking and, if they chose, the
|spending. If a girl were brilliant,
she did anything at all.
| Not that Reddy Laughlin was so
| wonderful. thia explained after-
{ward tha. beauty was all in know-
ing how. Reddy's hair was red,
not, as Mother expressed it, a cap of
| burnished flame. Reddy's cheeks
‘only seemed to be poppies; her
mouth, a bleeding heart. Any girl's
eyes could be dancing gipsies under
purple shadowed tents of fringy
| black; her neck a stem of snow
disappearing into a jealous, gold-
green sheath. All knees shimmer-
ed; all pum were not slippers,
but little pitchers on stilts.
As for Reddy's intimately greet-
ing Dad, “Why, hello, Big Man!"
that was “fearless youth.”
Of course, Joie was crazy about
Reddy Laughlin. One thing Moth-
er noticed with hope—he hadn't
'learned to fetch and carry. When
Reddy tossed him a wad of loose-
woven wool-—“Here, kid, slip my
bathing-suit in your pocket—" he
hadn't jumped to catch it.
| Before the web of crimson not
much bigger than her two hands,
and meant to stretch into a complete
garment for a full grown girl, Rachel
Nash had grown a little sick. Still,
'didn't the nicest girls wear one-piece
bathing-suits? Hadn't Cynthia Ann
once borrowed a married man’s rain
coat to cover her cowering naked-
ness? Such a thing as being too
Here Mother opened her flinching
was working on linen, the perfect
weave of blue flax, and she coaxed
the blossoms into a part of the
warp and woof. Just two more
flowers now-—plenty of time. It
wasn't late; it only seemed late.
She had brought up a pan of salt
water with a soft washcloth, and
she made herself use them. The
minute she stopped embroidering
Again and Jresiy She cold cloth to
er stinging e a little sto
read in installments, t a
right there—thought of Joie.
Joie's father had considered it a
waste of time going to Stillwater
just to see his boy graduate. But
as there was always something to
learn about cotton at that division
of Oklahoma's Agricultural and
Mechanical College, Whitehurst Hall,
he had driven up the day before
.commencement—fine. Not that he
had attended the exercises. Mother
had gone with Field and Cynthia
Living it over, she felt her breath
‘coming faster. She was pushing
through gates to the blast of silver
trumpets in the hands of little
plumed knights. roses—the
‘shimmer of bronze and blue rib!
—-throb of music. The program
‘read “Spirit of Freedom,” by Wheel-
er; “War Eagle,” Berry. How she
had leaned to the marching of it, to
counting couple after couple and one
to spare-—ninety-five in all! Oh, she
mustn't miss that lean Culpepper
shoulder under its straight gray
gown; that thin, whimsical face un-
der its tasseled cap—Joie, the only
boy who wore a red rose!
t was a story in itself how Joie
Nash came to be w it.
ago, when Mother had said foolishly
she was going to give him a whole
bushel of blood-red blossoms at his
commencement, that was “talk”.
They knew she wouldn't have a cent
to buy even one flower. But there
are ways and means. The five dol-
lars Joie earned soncHing
boy in Latin was the y money
that ever stayed hidden around the
Nash household; a pocket in the nar-
‘row sash of the new dress had kept
the secret Mother had gone to the
‘green house herself and selected her
bushel of roses.
come mumbling that Reddy wanted
to carry them. Hadn't Reddy run
him around in her car? Had he
ever given Reddy an ’
to Mother!
Strange how thought unwinds it-
self, like thread; breaks off; knots
|itself together and reels on.
recalled how Joie had slipped off to
a party after commencement, leav-
ing them to drive home without
him; how his father had been.
'But a man doesn't lie awake for
anger. The minute Nash had fal-
‘len into bed he slept soundly. Mother
Lying |
(hadn't closed her eyes.
| straight and still by the south win-
dow, she had felt the soft June wind
in her lively hair;
late hours the furni-
| ture; sleepy birds half awake; a far-
off train hooted and the slopes an-
| swered. And finally she had heard
She purr of an automobile in the
' lane.
| It was three in the
‘hoarse voices cheered, sweating door and stepped out in the star.
(light. Always Joie
tell her; never before,
His mother had made
| him to free his mind.
| “Reddy bring you home?” she
| murmured.
Uh-huh, she had
“And drive back alone?”
No, Bill Simms was along.
| “Bill?"—and right there Joie had
burst out:
“Gosh, Maw, you turned parrot?
Can't you say a thing but what I
say? I know you don't like Reddy.
She knows it, too—well, she does.
She saw that look you gave her
| bathing-suit”.
| Rachel Nash had stiffened. “What
| look, son?"
Joie hadn't wanted to hurt his
had things to
it easy for
| There had heen a warm spot in her | hadn't.
“I don't like to see girls’ knees
any better than do,” he mutter-
ed; “they're darned silly. But, Maw,
you remember that ne oa me in
the papers winning rd dash
—naked almost? Was that & any de-
Then Joie had
If only Joie hadn't ked mean’
listened how the
mother; but—the young savage of it |
—wouldn't have been satisfied if he
Ain't legs—legs?”
Right here Rachel began to em-
Now, a blue flax flower is a bit of
June sky, and through its exquisite
azure run threadlets of royal purple.
Rachel wasn't working in colors, but
the effect was color. Close work,
putting in the purple. Maybe she
had worked half the last flower
when she ha. to close her eyes again
and take up the story—
It had been dear, making up with
Joie. Not that Mother wanted to
‘force herself on him. She had
taken his clean socks up late when
he should have been sleeping, and
found him writing to Reddy Laugh-
lin. Now she recalled how he had
been hunched forward on the edge
of his bunk, right where she was
finishing the tablecloth; how he had
covered the page with his elbow—
“Gosh, Maw, can't a fellow—?" And
when she had stood whitely and
smiled down at him-—anybody would
have trusted that smile—he had
thrust the writing tablet toward her.
“Aw—Maw, I never wrote to a girl
That was in June. Even then
Mother's eyes had been blurring.
Maybe the Lord for that moment
laid on them nus healing hand. The
square-topped writing had sprung
“Dear Reddy:"
“I guess maybe you are dancing
with old Bill now. It's only ten-
thirty, or sc. I been dancing with
the cotton-rows since before day-
light, so that's all right. Where I
sit on my bunk up in the peak I
can see the stars shine through the
roof and feel the wind in the plum-
tree grab at my paper.
“Reddy, you're so darned good to
me—to one. No wonder the
Stillwater kids are crazy about you.
I'd like to have you come down here
for squirrel-hunting—you know that.
(Joie had scraw-
I wished Maw-—" her Joie had
crossed out “Maw” and written
“she"—"liked you—"
Mother had not failed Joie. She
had groped for the pencil and writ-
ten firmly,
“Dear Girl,
I do llke you and —I can beat you
Rachel Nash.”
And Reddy had come to the
jack-oaks—target-rifie, tight little
breeches, gay shirt, and her favorite
slang phrase, “Sweet Papa!” Yes,
and the red-woolen bathing suit for
the murky waters of Bear Creek.
Mother had polished the already
painfully clean house and hung fresh
curtains in Cynthia Ann's white
cubby of a bedroom. She had fried
| platters of chicken. Mother had
not meant to frown at an
Reddy Laughlin did; but there is
such a thing as a chip on the should-
er. Because of Reddy Joie had
drawn away from a life-long com-
radeship and become $s with his
father. Dad liked !
Tears are for the young. If Joie
hd, watten aa usyal Winel he went
e ve , Mother's eyes
Wouldn't have ecome 80 inflamed.
Of course, no boy can love a girl,
keep up a college course, and write
his mother often. Rachel
Nash knew that.
help being a little unreasonable.
Cynthia Ann wrote every week. She
didn't wani to worry Mother, only
to keep the shock from being too
great if Joie slumped in his credits.
The Laughlin girl could be up nights
and go right on. Maybe Joie wasn't
very strong-—still, Field said it
wasn't that. Joie Nash was all one
thing or another. Once it was Latin;
now it was Reddy Laughlin.
It was Cynthia who took the
trouble to telephone that Joie was
coming home for his birthday. He
wasn't coming expressly for his
r; more to see about some
long-tinted cotton-seed for the ex-
periment station. The phone had
while they were
rung that Moraine
at breakfast. ell, Mother would
have the tablecloth off her mind.
Maybe she could smile back the Joie
that was; joke and feast him back,
love him back. She must remem-
ber an eighteen-year-old boy isn't
himself yet. His will is the wind's
will, coming from no place, going
» ling) though with fu
Smilingly now, t m-
blings, Rachel Nash set the last
| stitch. When she sighed with relief
,and looked up, it seemed very late,
yet it wasn't. Still, if dusk hadn't
come, what had? The attic seemed
to have drawn away in a gray blur
—into nothingness. When she look-
ed at her pattern, it had buried it-
| self like flowers under dead leaves.
She could feel the petals, of course.
Feeling was all she had to go by.
She couldn't see one single thing!
Quite a while 1 r Rachel Nash
sat on the edge of Jolie's bunk, wait-
ing for her t to return. Maybe
‘it was a onged spell of silver
| flies—the shimmer that occasionally
I blinds the best of eyes. No, there
Iwasn’t any shimmer. It couldn't be
| the silver blindness; it was the real
Tremblingly she folded the
i thing, blind-
(ness. If this had been night-dark-
ness, Rachel Nash would have step-
ped across the warped boards with
‘confidence; have gone down the
| steps nimbly. Now she dreaded to
| touched this and that. Her fingers
jcame to her apron pocket and
| found the little package, still in its
wrappers, that Ira had
| brought up from the post box. Moth-
er had a birthday, too. She was
| forty-seven. This present was from
her sister, “Aunt Ad.” Too bad she
{had put off opening it. Clumsily
she stripped off the seals, the little
| rubber d, the silky paper. It
was a jewel-box—Ad had sent her a
cameo breast-pin with six sets around
!it—what kind of head-—what kind of
gems? No matter.
Absently Rachel pinned the brooch
lat the V-neck of her starched blue
| house-dress. When she got to her
| feet, she stood irresolutely before
| stepping out. Moving, she ed
| Jole's reading-table; moving er,
|she bumped her forehead against the
| optag roof. Here were the banis-
But she couidn’t 8one
She was afraid. Groping she
center than Reddy's red wool suit? 'ters—the first step—she was going rain.
!down from darkness to darkness.
| Reaching the kitchen, she faced
toward the living-room and groped
into it. A bookcase was on the
farther side with a big heater and a
{wooden rocker between. What she
wanted was to handle the book she
had been going to read just as soon
as the tablecloth was finished. As
through a shining doorway she had
glimpsed the pages with rare words
that had to do with cloud bastions;
foam of crab-apple bloom, clans of
grass, perfumed secrets of the wind.
Tall wings of gold pressed into the
blue cover, plain to the touch. With
her mind's
letters golden on the back,” Where
the Forest Murmurs, by Fiona Mac-
When Cynthia Ann's husband sent
this book, he had written.
“I'll bet a penny, Mother, you
never find time to read it.”
Well, here was her time, and she
couldn't read.
Life breaks a heart and goes on.
Numbly Rachel Nash groped her
way back to the kitchen. She
found the water bucket and stum-
bled out to the well; pumped water
she couldn't see; went in and filled
a tea-keattle she could only feel.
Coal still smoldered in the range.
Stirring it, she had to burn herself
again. No matter. It wasn't real
burn— nothing was real. She wasn’t
even trying to start supper, but was
back in Joie's peak of a room, where
eyesight had flickered out like a
candle in the wind. Maybe sight
darkening like that retains an inner
picture. It seemed that before her
were chining tendrils of ivy curling
back to the open window—Joie's
dark lantern fixed clumsily to keep
the light from glancing down through
a knot-hole in the r after his
father thought him asleep—the hole
itself, a queer, irregular place shap-
ed like an old man’s head with
nose and upjutting whiskers. She
had the whimsical impulse that
she went back where her sight was
lost, she might find it again; even
started up the stumbly stairs. Too
Rachel Nash turned back and went
into the yard. Here she searched
out and touched familiar things; the
bench under the junipers; the click-
ing of last year's seed-pods of the
trumpet-vine; the plum-tree near
Joie’s window. She heard the cir-
cling blue-jays calling querulously
for rain. There must be strange
clouds now, gray clouds that over-
lapped each other like frightened
wild geese; smoke that streamer-
eye she could see the
if |
Lucky that rain walks with
sleep. Rachel Nash slept and for-
got she was blind. The next she
w, her husbnad was coming heav-
ily up the stairs.
“I had to fill this darned lamp,”
Ira grunted, stooping under the slop-
ing roof; “got oil all over me.”
Rachel sprang up, and stared.
“Lamp!” she cried. “Are you carry-
ing a light?”
Of course, he was. “Take hold
of the back of me,” he told her
gruntingly. “We're going down now.
of the steps. I don't see
why you made me come up here.
Don't you think I ever get tired?”
Ira Nash wouldn't have it that his
wife was blind. A good night's rest
(would make a difference. But it
didn’t. There wasn't much break-
fast, just some coffee and burnt
toast. Nasa wasn't a cook and
didn't want to be. He hadn't
brought the powdered sugar—not in
the rain—but Rachel said never mind
(that now; icing had to be put om
Just so. They'd roast a big turkey
with dressing. Too bad they couldn't
have pie!
Getting dinner wasn't so bad.
| Maybe the turkey wasn't as crusty
/brown as Joie might expect, and no
oysters in the dressing, but a boy
in love doesn't think much of what
he eats.
Nash struck early. He said let
the biscuits go. But when Rachel
came smiling, with two litle cans—
which was soda and which baking-
| powder /—he flung down his Farm
Journal and set the table by a
series of thumps and jerks. t
if things were crooked? He'd no-
|ticed that young hound managed to
| eat straight enough.
| They wondered how the “young
h " would get there. Field
‘taught English in the University,
and Cynthia Ann had never learned
/to drive a car. They argued about
Mother's eyes; should they tell Joie
or let him find it out? Rachel said
knowing what had happened would
ruin the year's work utterly. Nash
‘held that knowing wouldn't hurt the
kid any worse than it had him. But
he gave in. When a car homed
into the yard, they planned to at
the table. Dinner had begin. &
The strange part was, they d
keep Joie from knowing what was
wrong. The boy did wonder about
some things—the dab of black or
Maw's cheek, the crooked tablecloth
| Maw's hair not right at all.
| “Sorry we're late,” he said, com-
ing to give Mother a rough squeeze:
(“had to get the cotton-seed. Wie
got to make this dinner party snap
ed as from mighty engines; phan- PY—"
toms that trooped together. There “We?
was a spatter of rain; then— Joie stiffened. “Reddy brough!
you doing out here
bareheaded ?” Nash cried, coming out
of no 5
And, w he had stamped into
the house and come right out: “Why
ain't supper on the table? I got to
(80 back to the gin and finish load-
ing that car with cotton-seed.
What's the matter with you, girl?
You gone crazy!"
Rachel Nash turend toward the
voice. Her face looked frozen, and
around her eyes were smudges black-
jer than her long lashes—the finger-
prints of despair. py e
‘tried to smile. I—I've
“My God!" Nash prayed. Then
he swore. “You've put your eyes
out on that blanked tablecloth.
Where you been keeping it? I'll
take it home and tell that old maid
what I think of her.”
Rachel said where it was.
didn't want the house upset and
Joie's birthday right there. Ira
wouldn't say much to Margaret's
face; likely he'd try to get her to
help with the dinner. Not that she
could come-—out in the truck night
and day.
“I've got the coffee perking,” she
told her husband when he came
‘slamming back alone. “Maybe you'd
better slice the bacon. Good thing
Ira Nash ate hurriedly. “I've got
to go—be home as soon as I can,”
he said and started.
But at the door he thought of
something important. When was
Margaret Foss to pay for
embroidering the tablecloth.
Rachel had been expecting this.
argaret paiu me,” she stated,
“quite a while ago—not in money.”
“How, then?"
“No Ira,
“I'd rather not talk about it now.
I'll tell you—when I feel better.”
“Is it something about Joseph?"
Rachel Nash wasn't smiling now.
“Ill tell you when I can,” she re-
peated firmly.
Nash was mad, but he couldn't
stay to have it out. “Well. Better
bathe your eyes, girl,” he gave up.
'“I guess you're more scared than
hurt. Maybe wild hairs in your
lids. I had an aunt—" The door
Mrs. Nash sat listening to outside
sounds—the working of the pum
handle, the splashing of water in
the horse-trough, the jangle of
harness and the jar of a moving
wagon. “Wild hairs!” That gave
her the ghost of a hope, though she
knew, in reason, it was not wild
‘hairs. Of course, she would bathe
‘her eyes. The basin of salt water
‘was up in Joie’s room. Stiffly she
moved around the table toward the
stairs; put her hand on a dish, and
| flinched back. Grease—ugh!
‘rainy coolness. Lying on Jolie's
| sagging bed with a wet cloth on her
eyes, she drew the coverlet over her.
How uncomfortable the bunk was
id te the raw cotton she had
stuffed into the mattress! How many
times she had planned to buy a new
bed for the attic; it wasn't right for
a boy to tie himself in knots to
sleep! Jole's father thought chil-
dren's sleeping place didn't matter.
‘Hadn't he slept where the snow
sifted an inch thick and his breath
froze on the blanket? Wasn't he
the picture of health?
Mother made herself lie still on
(the lumps that had gouged Joie.
She was so close to the roof the
| rain, seeping through, spattered her
face; 80 near the window she heard
/the birds, nesting in the ivy, protest
|at the storm. It was soothing to lie
[in natural darkness-—the darkness of
She |
It had grown decidedly cool, a
me, Maw. Can't you see her?”
“Why, of course.”
| Rachel looked where the girl migh!
be and started to hold out her hand
No, better not. She heard the tw«
(silting down; a brisk stirring o
forks and plates.
For the first time in his life, Joi:
| grumbled at the table fare.
| “Why ain't we got pie, Maw?”
| “This is my dinner, young gob
|bler,” Ira interposed. He turned tr
| Reddy Laughlin. “Don't you lik
my cool »
| “You bet I do, Big man,” Redd;
{flashed back. “This bird is scrump
tious. Thank you for more of th
| dressing.”
“Got to start in a pair of min
utes,” Joie mumbled over a drum
stick, flavored with smoke. “It:
‘begun to rain again.”
Mother tried not to be so stil
But talking in the dark made he
'mervous. What if she should knoc
something off the table; Behind th
| blue goggles she visualized them all
‘Joie, no longer undersized and n
longer a ‘“rack-a- bones" —his wid
mouth with upquirked corners, wav
(hair that wouldn't stay glosse
‘back. Reddy Laughlin, slim as
‘whip—poppy cheeks and bl
heart moutu. Man-of-the-house i
his comfortable shirt-sleeves, big
fresh, heavy-shouldered-
“You're not eating,” Joie com
plained; “not a blamed thing, |
she, Reddy” Just sitting there lik
'an owl in goggles. Maw, you sick?
Rachel's young mouth smile
“Huh, do I look sick”
Joie wanted to say she did—sic
and queer-combed. e was sore @
Haw What a Higau} Even i 5
| Reddy, no use in shaming hi:
before her.
“By, Maw!’ He came dabbing
kiss on her cheek. “We gotta go
So this was all!
“By, Mrs. Nash,” Reddy tosse
back. ‘’By, Big Man.”
Rachel felt the blown wetness ¢
rain; heard a slam. There was tt
(starting of an engine, the back-fi:
|ing of a contrary motor, a stead:
diminishing purr. Then her straigh
ly-held body relaxed, wavered: fe
face down am the dishes. Whe
Nash jumped and caught her, st
‘hung limp in his arms. The Cu
| peppers were not the fainting kin
|but this wasn't exactly fainting.
was like going into a room alreac
‘dark and cl the door.
Mother put her hand to her ey:
and touched cloth that had bes
| wet—now stiffened with fever; fina
‘ly ventured to lift the cloth. Ni
| that she could see anything.
| racuously familiar sound came fro
| the living room—Ira sleeping in h
chair. Suddenly a chair creake:
| steps came toward the bed.
“Awake, girl?”
“Yes. What'd I do, Ira—go o
jon you?”
| “Pd say you did. How feel?”
| “P-fine. You might wet this re
| again.”
| Clumsily Nasn got the bandage
| place. Water dripped on the p:
| low. Rachel shrugged away fro
| it, then she spoke.
| “What time might it be?”
“What time do you want it to be
The youngsters just getting in
the party if they haven't skidd
{down some bank.” The man tri
|to speak reasonably and couldn
| “Now,” he hesitated, “now you knc
{what I've always told you—"
| “What, Ira? Know what?"
| “About this higher education
| you, blind; Joseph—run off to
| shindig!"
(Continued on page 8, Col. 4.