Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chapter 9

"Well Teaghan, how is married life treating you?"

I turned around to find Mr. Burdock and a couple of his men blocking the light coming in through the barn door. I must have blushed because the men all snickered but Mr. Burdock told them to hush, that I was a good girl.

"I was disappointed to see that no one from the farm was at the market today."

"You'll have to speak with Mister about that. They're busy doing the accounting you asked for."

"Are they now. That's helpful to know. Most people don't seem to take that as seriously as the Board means for it to be taken."

I shook my head. "No sir, it was the topic of conversation at the dinner table last night every time I was in there."

"You don't eat with the menfolk?"

"Well ... I mean I did but there were the boys and then Mister and Mr. Dan that works for Mister."

Mr. Burdock nodded though I hadn't a clue what he was nodding about. I asked, "Would you care for some water or some tea Sir?"

Mr. Burdock smiled and I suddenly noticed how white his teeth were. "That would be fine Teaghan, real fine. Why don't you run along and do that and I'll hunt Sloan up myself."

I inched my way around the men and then walked as fast as I could without looking like I was running. Mr. Burdock on his own was ok but I can't say I liked his snickering men too much then or any other times either. I ran into Josiah and grabbed his arm. "Find Sloan would you? Mr. Burdock is looking for him."

"I know where he is. You might wanna stay in the house after this. Gonna be some strange men coming and going and you don't seem to care for that."

"I don't so thanks for the warning."

I had the tea poured and was bringing it out to the back porch when I heard steps coming up the front and turned that way instead. I peeked out the window and saw Sloan not looking too happy but trying to be polite about it. I stood at the screen door until Dan saw me and poked Sloan. He looked my way and I lifted the tray and looked a question at him. He nodded and I slid out the door and put the tray on the table next to the porch chairs and then went to go back inside but didn't make it.

"Teaghan, why didn't you tell Sloan it was Market Day and that your family always brought a truck? One week was understandable since it was only you and you were grieving but two missed deliveries? We had people expecting goods from this farm to fill their orders."

I swallowed never having heard that particular tone of censure from Mr. Burdock. "I ... I ... um ... I thought Mister would be busy taking care of his business first. It's not not my place to say what ... I mean ..."

Sloan interrupted and said, "Go in the house Teaghan."

I jumped at the chance and bolted inside not caring if it looked like I was running or not. I grabbed Cheeser and went down to the basement where it was cool and quiet. I'd been trying not to think of milestones like this ... two weeks since Dad and my brothers had been taken away ... but I should have thought about Market Day if for no other reason than the salesman in Sloan would have wanted to know.

I got myself under control and started turning cheese wheels to give my hands something useful to do until my brain could catch up. After that I set a few crates of jars by the stairs to take up and wash. Josiah had told me that he thought some of the cabbages would need to be picked tomorrow so I decided to can some slaw first thing. I also needed to replenish the supply of maraschino cherries so that I could use up the last of the peaches and pears to make fruit cocktail with later in the month. I started marking off things in my head that needed to be done and I got that same old sinking feeling I did every time I realized that there simply wasn't enough time in the day to do what needed doing.

I heard a conspiratorial whisper and looked up at the head of the stairs to see the two boys whispering as if they didn't know I was there. "She's in trouble now. She embarrassed Uncle Sloan."

"You think he'll spank her?"

"Don't be stupid, big girls don't get spanked. But he might slap her if she runs her stupid mouth at him like she does at us. I'd like to see that."

They snickered and walked off and I realized that maybe they weren't as much like my brothers as I thought. That made me sad because no one could ever replace my brothers but I thought I'd at least understand Sid and Silas ... but maybe I didn't after all. My brothers never would have put up with anyone hitting a girl; they sure wouldn't get excited at even the possibility of it.

I stayed down in the cellar cleaning what must have been two hours when the door at the head of the stairs jerked open again. I nearly dropped the broom. "Did you hear me calling you? Where the Sam Hill have you been?" Sloan snapped.

"I ... I ... no. I'm sorry. I've been down here ever since you told me to go in the house."

"For two hours?! Not possible. The boys said they'd been all over the house looking for you."

"Well I've been right here."

"Don't lie on top of it."

"On top of what? And I'm not lying. I've been right here."

I heard someone mumbling in the kitchen. It turned out to be Duncan who said, "She's been down there right enough. Saw her myself when I brought back the percolator."

I started up the stairs and heard Sloan snap, "Well why the hell didn't someone say where she was?"

"Maybe 'cause you asked the wrong party Boss."

I was about three-quarter of the way up when Sloan slammed the door. He hadn't seen me on the steps. He also didn't know about the bent nails I use to hang the canning equipment on to keep it out of the way. He found out about it though when the vibration made the handle of the big canner jump from the nail and fall right on me.

I didn't yell but there was a loud crack when I fell against the baluster. Sloan jerked the door opened just in time to seem my arms pinwheel as I failed to keep my balance as the baluster gave way and I toppled over. Some bushel baskets broke my fall so that I didn't hit the floor square on but the wind still got knocked out of me. I was trying to drag air into my lungs only there was too many people around. I finally got my foot against Sloan's stomach and pushed which had them all falling back like dominoes. I rolled over and got up on all fours and finally managed to drag in the first real breath. Sloan tried to come back over but I didn't want to have anything to do with anyone until I could breathe right.

When I could I sat back on my knees, coughed and asked, "Where's the canner? Is it cracked?"

Sloan said, "You're cracked! Is anything broken? Let me ..."

"Stop it. I need to check the canner. It was Gram's and is the biggest one I have ... I mean you have. I've got to ..."

It took a moment to push through them and get the canner and then check it over. "Oh thank goodness. It isn't even chipped. I was so worried."

"Dammit woman, stop worrying about an old pot. You just fell a good ten feet!"

"It wasn't ten feet, more like five or six. The bushel baskets broke my fall. Oh no! How many did I break?!"

I tried to go check the baskets but Sloan started acting crazy. He picked me up in front of God and every one and started carrying me up the stairs.

"Stop that. You're going to strain something!"

"My patience is already strained now be still." He was growling for real so not only did I get still, I shut up. He set me in a chair but I had to stand up real quick. "Sit!"

I tried but it hurt too much. "I can't."

"I said ..." He saw the miserable look on my face and said, "You are hurt."

"No. I'm ... I'm fine. So ... um ... go. Yeah go and I'll take care of everything and ..."

"Teaghan I am not in the mood."

I'd had enough ... of men in general and him in particular. "Well I don't care if you aren't in the mood. Leave me alone."

I tried to go to my old room but one foot on the stairs told me I'd pulled something and wouldn't be running that direction. I turned to go another direction but Sloan was right there in front of me. "Teaghan you are driving me crazy! Now sit down!"

"I told you I can't!"

I spied the two boys watching avidly. "Teaghan dammit!"

Through gritted teeth I told him, "I have a splinter."

"You ... !" He stopped and then said more calmly, "What? Did you just say you have a splinter? Where?"

"Where do you think?"

The boys were howling with glee at my predicament. I rounded on them even though it hurt to do it and yelled, "I thought you were like my brothers. It would have been alright if you were just hard headed. I could have lived with that but you aren't like them at all. My brothers never would have lied to our father about looking around the house but not seeing me just to get me in trouble. My brothers would never be waiting around with baited breath waiting for me to get slapped. You're just a couple of hateful brats and I'm done trying to understand you or be your friend. I'll take care of you for Sloan but that's it! Now GO AWAY!!"

I pushed passed several stunned faces and went miserably to the room where I shared a bed and shut the door then almost cursed when I remembered there was no lock to keep anyone out. I took the chair from the corner and shoved it under the door knob and nearly sobbed at the pain that was now stabbing at me. The shock had worn off and now the splinter was making itself felt.

I slid out of my overalls and it wasn't an easy thing to do and then when I reached back to peel down my underthings I realized they were wet. When I pulled my hand back it was bloody. I gritted my teeth and did what I had to do but when it came time to pull the splinter out I realized it wasn't a splinter at all but a piece of wire handle off of one of the bushel baskets. I tried to pull it out but by that time I was nauseous. It felt like it was hung up on something and wouldn't come out. I was nearly ready to panic when there was a knock on the door.

"Teaghan? Teaghan, let me in."

I knew there was no help for it. I couldn't do this by myself. I hobbled over to the door and slid the chair away. I held my overalls up the best I could while the straps fell down the back. "Come in and shut the door. I need some help."

"I brought some tweezers."

"You should have brought pliers."


"Pliers. I ..."

I barely made it to the waste basket. Every time I heaved the piece of metal had me whimpering in pain. I didn't even try to stop Sloan when he tried to see and then he bit out a curse and held me until there were no more heaves. I tried to put me on the bed but I wouldn't let him. "I'll get blood everywhere. I'll lean against the door, just please pull it out. I don't even care if you laugh."

"I'm not laughing. And you aren't leaning against the wall. I don't know how deep this is."

"Then I'll lay on the rug. At least I'll be able to take it outside and wash it."

"Rug might be better. Floor is more stable than a mattress is."

In the end he did wind up having to get a pair of pliers but by that time I didn't care.

"Teaghan drink this."

"Gawd ... no way. Dad would have a fit if he caught me drinking liquor."

"Well your father isn't here and I need you to drink this to deaden the pain."

When I still refused he pinched my nose and tossed several big swallows down my throat. "You're hateful ... just hateful, you know that? Just go away and I'll do it myself."

"Hush and be still."

Suddenly I wasn't caring again. I was too busy trying to not be sea sick. But I cared when he pulled the metal out. And I cared when he poured disinfectant on the puncture wound and cleaned it up. And I cared when that combined with the liquor caused me to puke again. But by the time that was over nothing mattered and I just wanted to be left alone.


  1. Oh the poor thing! a piece of metal! ouch! thank you for all...ALL the updates!!

  2. What rotten little monsters! I hate mean little people =/ poor Teaghan