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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

IT DON’T MATTER Chapter 2 No Good Stranger

Up to No Good Stranger

I have some older sisters but they mostly ignore me. It isn’t that they don’t like males but I being kin and young don’t perk their interest.

I do have one younger sister who is seven and according to her she is smarter than me.  I think me being two years older than her should count for something but she don’t think so.

I have been trying to give her the chore of gathering the eggs but she won’t do it.  Ma says she is too little and sister agrees with Ma on this one.

She follows me around and tells me what I’m doing wrong on everything. What really bothers me is when she says, “I’m a woman and women are smarter.” 

I get that several times a day and when I tell Ma to make her stop Ma agrees that women are smarter than men.

My brother Jake is some older than me and for some reason finds girls interesting.  There are one or two who like him also or so it seems.  He sneaks off in the woods from time to time and if I see him I follow him.

For some reason there will be a girl in the woods also.  Sometimes when he tries to get friendly he gets slapped real hard.  I don’t know but that seemed more fun to him than it did to me.

Little Sis would follow me into the woods sometimes and I would have to come home for I didn’t thing she should see all that kissing and stuff as she wants to do what everybody else does.

A while back she stopped going down to the river and taking a bath with me. I asked Ma why she didn’t bathe with me anymore and she said little Sis was growing up and shouldn’t be doing that.

I didn’t understand that for it didn’t bother me that she washed with me.  I decided it was one of those things that I would understand when I got older or at least that are what Ma always says.

It seems there a lot of things I will understand when I get older and I’m looking forward to that time.

Our family only went to town twice a year that is all together.  For some reason Pa would take his shot gun with him and walk up and down where the young men would stand and gawk at my sisters.

I asked Ma why Pa walked with his shotgun on his shoulder back and forth in front of the boys and she said I would understand it when I got a little older.

The older brothers went to town more often than twice a year and the sisters would sneak off from time to time.  When I was with the older brothers they practiced their whistling every time a girl passed by and when I was with the sisters the guys whistled when they went by. 

I asked Ma if this some kind of mating ritual.  She said I would understand when I got older but for now to just observe it.  I finally decided it had something to do with age for when little sister walked by the guys looked the other way and just ignored her.  She seemed to get miffed by the way they acted toward her. 

She don’t talk to me about such stuff, but I think it had something to do with the different treatment she got from her older sisters for they had fun and she didn’t.

For me it was a treat just to see all the things for sale in the stores.  The ladies store had some interesting things and Ma caught me picking up some things and looking at them and wondering where they went.  She chased me out and told me, don’t go back in there until I was old enough to buy some of it for someone.

I told her I already seen it on the clothes line and didn’t mean any harm I just wanted to see it before it was washed. 

We had a local general store where we did most of our shopping partly because it were nearby and they gave us credit until the crops sold.  At times we would trade eggs and chickens for things we needed.  

Every so often Pa and the boys would get new overalls.   I would get the old ones; if they could be either sewed up or patched.  I always had more clothes than the rest of the family except little sister.  She would get dresses that were cut down to fit her.  The buttons would be passed down from dress to dress and would last for many years.

I liked to sort through the button box when the girls made a new dress for themselves and they would sew them on.  Cloth was only ten cents a yard so the new dresses only cost about a quarter to make.  Or sometimes they would pay for the yardage with two and a half dozen eggs.

The big day finally came when little sister took over the egg job.  Older brother got married and everyone moved up a notch.  I moved on up to taking care of the hogs.  

It was a big job for we raised a lot of hogs.  After a while I could tell which hog was singing by its voice and could tell what they were fussing about.  

Sometimes it was, “I’m hungry,” and then, “Someone is getting my food.”  To most people it would sound like a lot of unnecessary noise.

I made a big mistake one day, I grabbed a bucket and milked one of the cows.  Ma saw me and said from now on I could milk half of them and help her out.  I didn’t mean to get an extra job but you didn’t argue with Ma for not even Pa would do that.

I suppose I could have looked at it as a promotion for now I had two jobs instead of one.  I don’t pray much but I prayed that Ma wouldn’t get sick and I would have to milk her cows as well as mine.  

When the crops were to be harvested it was an exciting time for the whole family chipped in.  The harvest had to be finished quickly in case it would rain and spoil part of it.  I had to feed the hogs, milk the cows and then get to the fields as soon as I could.

At least I didn’t have to do the same thing all the time.  This evening after I fed the hogs ma said to chop some fire wood for the cook stove and then go milk all the cows.

It was quite a bit after dark when I was done and everyone else was in the bed.  I finally ate but my supper was cold.

After a few days the crops were in and I wanted to go to town with everyone else but I had to stay and guard the home place.  Pa gave me his shotgun and said, “Don’t be afraid to fire away if I thought I saw someone.”  He added, “Just don’t shoot the dog.”

So it was feed the hogs, gather the eggs and milk the cows and then cook some supper.  
There was a knock on the door and when I opened it up there stood a girl about my age who was wet and cold.  I started to ask her in but then I saw a big man walking around the place.  

I asked her, “Who is that man?” and she said it was alright he was her Pa.  

She said she was hungry and needed a place to sleep.  I told her I would see if there was anything left in the pot.  I took the pot out on the porch and she was eating fast till this man took the pot and finished it.

He said, “Where am I gonna sleep cause I’m tired.”  I told him he could lay down in the barn if he would not bother anything.  I gave the girl a quilt so she could sleep on the porch.

The next morning, I went down to the barn to milk the cows and immediately I knew some stuff was missing.  I couldn’t leave the place for I had my chores to do.  Once I was finished the girl had fixed us some breakfast and we ate.

There was an old shot gun on the wall which I loaded, and me and the girl took off with the wagon after the man.  

He was walking and carrying the stuff he stole.  We were riding and it wasn’t long before we caught up with him.  I slipped to the ground and when I cocked the gun he dropped everything and ran into the woods.  
A few minutes later Pa and the boys came along and after I told them the story Pa and Jake told every one to go on home and unload the supplies.  

He told me and Jake to come on and we would catch the thief.

About an hour we found the man who happened to be wearing Pa’s new shoes.  He had stopped to rest.  After staring at the man Pa asked me if that was the man and I said yep that’s him.  He told me to go on home while they talked to the man.

When I got home I was bombarded with a bunch of questions, then the subject came up.  What was I going to do with my girl?  I angrily said, “She ain’t my girl and I ain’t going to do anything with her.”  

They teased me until I was getting real mad when Ma said leave him alone or there won’t be any supper for anyone.

That shut them up and Ma said she was going to take care of her and the first thing she was going to do was give her a bath.  The girl wasn’t going to have any of that but Ma always has her way.

I peeked in the door until Ma saw me and slammed the door in my face causing me to have a nose bleed.  I figured what I saw was worth a door in the face.

It was late at night when Pa and Jake made it home.  They were looking like don’t you dare ask any questions so we were satisfied with the fact they were home.  

Although a few days later Pa said, “It don’t pay to steal from me.”  I noticed that Pa had a new watch and chain and Jake was wearing the feller’s new hat. 

I guess that the feller thought it don’t matter if he stole our stuff.

- - but in this situation it did matter.

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