The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #39746   Message #564978
Posted By: JenEllen
04-Oct-01 - 12:56 PM
Thread Name: Story: The Drinking Gourd I
Subject: RE: Story: The Drinking Gourd
The clang of pots and pans in the kitchen downstairs woke her with a start, still she lay curled on her side, her knees drawn up, and her arms clutching his feather pillow to her chest. "Is this what's to become of me then?" she thought, pulling the pillow tighter to her breast.

The sun was beginning it's slow crawl through the sky, through her window, and across her floor. With red raw eyes, too tired from crying, she watched the light take stock of everything in her room. The line edged it's way across the neatly scrubbed pine boards, to the heap of clothes, spattered with mud and blood, that someone had neatly shoved in a corner. She watched as the line of light crept towards the foot of her bed, sliding up the stout legs of the linen chest, the one with "William and Elizabeth: Heirs Together In The Grace Of Life" painted on it in a gay red, and then across the covers to where she lay.

She remembered the morning he'd come to her parents farm, she'd taken one look at him and went back to pulling weeds, but he kept coming day after day, and finally one night he'd asked her father for her hand. Her daddy had asked what she thought, and she surprised herself by answering "Yes." He'd come to fetch her finally in the town wagon, and the three of them covered the miles to the Miller farm in calm silence. She found it hard to believe that he'd driven this distance week after week to see her, maybe she'd misjudged him? She leaned over to him, in an effort to make talk, and said: "I didn't know you were rich enough to keep niggers..." The driver's back stiffened, and Elizabeth knew she'd done something wrong, but what? Will had tilted his head, looked at her, and replied kindly: "That is Samuel. He is a hired man who works at our farm. He was bought and sold once, sure, but none of that matters where he's at now, does it Sam?" to which the driver nodded affirmative. They were just reaching the outer fields of Will Miller's farm when he looked at Elizabeth again and said, "Colored, white, slave, master, hell, even man and wife....don't none of it mean a damn thing on this farm. We all work hard, try not to hurt each other, and do the best we can to make God happy. Can you manage that?" Elizabeth nodded and leaned forward to touch Samuel's arm. "I'm sorry." she said. Samuel smiled, and silence reigned again until Will began pointing out sights on his farm to her. The thicket, the creek, and the big field. Will asked Samuel to stop the wagon, and the three looked out over the freshly harvested earth. "There's still a lot of work to do," he said to Elizabeth, "there always is. Fences to mend, trees to pull out.."
"Like those there in that field?" offered Elizabeth
"Oh no! Not those two!" William glanced at her, his alarm bringing a startled look to her face. "Those two are special. If you squint your eyes up tight and look at them, they look like two people dancin', don't they?"
Elizabeth stood up in the wagon, shaded her eyes, and squinted at the trees. She cocked her head, and squinted tighter, before she turned to William and said, "I don't see it.."
"Me neither," replied William, barely able to stifle his laughter, "but it was worth it to see you wrinkle your face up like a little Chinee doll, wasn't it Samuel?" The two men laughed, first at her, then with her as she realized the overall good nature of the jest. When the wagon reached the main house, the change was complete. She was no longer Elizabeth Pritchett, Ed Pritchett's youngest daughter, she was Mrs. Elizabeth "Dolly" Miller, wife of Will Miller, the nicest man she'd ever met. But that was all long gone, with the winter came the fevers, and when the fevers finally went, they'd taken Will Miller with them, and left Elizabeth curled in bed, wishing she knew some way to follow him.