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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chapter 28

“Stop fidgeting.” 

“Yes Mrs. Beauchamp.” 

She was quiet as she measured and poked and prodded.  Then she put that thing on my arm again and pumped it up and counted with her stethoscope.  She sighed.  “This is one of the reasons I despise young girls getting pregnant.” 

I kept my mouth shut even though I wanted to tell her that it hadn’t exactly been my choice.  Nothing against you Bean but facts are facts.  Instead I told her, “Roman is making me liver to eat.” 

“He … he is?  Well …” 

“I feel better than I did.  He does stuff like that really good … er … well.  He does that stuff really well.” 

“Hmmm,” she said not quite looking at me.  “Tell him to keep it up.  I’ll see about making sure that you get some milk though with the weather being like it is there is little enough to go around.” 

“It’s ok.  I can’t really drink it.  I can eat it if it is in something else like bread but I can’t drink it straight or have too much pudding or custard.  I can drink goat milk though.” 

“I beg your pardon?” 

“We just had goat milk in Africa.  It wasn’t until we came back to the states that we found out I couldn’t drink cow milk.  Neither Tim nor I could.  My mom said you could have knocked her over with a feather because besides the polio I had as a baby neither Tim nor I were ever sick.” 

“You … had polio?” 

“Yes … er … ma’am.  I caught it from the sister of a girl that used to come help Mom in the village school before I had all my vaccinations.  Or that’s what they told me when I got older.” 

“You have all of your vaccinations now?” 

“Whatever I had to get to come back to the US.  The mission board made sure.  Then I got a couple of boosters before they would let me attend school.  And the … uh … the inspectors made us girls … get shots too.  It was the law.” 

“The inspectors?” 

“Something … that … you’d probably rather not know about.” 

“Oh.  Inspectors.  I … see.” 

I was quiet after that and she didn’t look like she knew what to say.  Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore.  “Well I’m sure you have lots of important stuff to attend to.  Roman says you really take care of things.  Soooo, I’d better get out of the way.  I’ll … uh … I’ll just go sit on the steps.  Outside.  Out of the way.” 

Which I almost got away with.  “One moment.  I will be sending someone over to look at that … house … and see what all is needed.” 


“Last time I was in there it was plainly not ready for habitation.” 

“Oh, yeah it was pretty dusty but there wasn’t anything really wrong with it or broken.  I got it washed up … when Roman wasn’t bossing me to sit down out of the way.  And I’m not allowed down the cellar stairs – Roman pitched a fit the first time I tried – so that part hasn’t been cleaned yet.  And the outhouse is still pretty disgusting but that’s because Roman says he needs to dig a new hole after the ground has thawed and repair the sitter part and roof but I got rid of all the wasp nests and cob webs and as much of the dirt as I could.  When he has to go hunting and I stay at the house he leaves me pictographs so I’ll know where he is at because one time I woke up and he was gone and … and I got scared.  But we’re figuring things out and all in all the place is really nice.  With polish and some vinegar to clean the glass with it will sparkle.  Roman has been working on furniture and I’ve been piecing together other stuff and …” 

She raised her hand and said, “Stop.  One thing at a time …”  So I had to go through the house room-by-room in my head and tell her that we were doing just fine but she still made a long list if all her scribbling means anything.   

Mrs. Beauchamp was still raking me over the coals, caught between telling me what not to do because of you Bean and telling me what just had to be done to keep house appropriately, when Roman stuck his head in the door and he didn’t look happy.  “You ready to go?” 

“Sure,” I said jumping up to escape. 

Mrs. Beauchamp nixed that idea by saying, “One moment.  You may wait outside but you will not leave until I attend to a few items.” 

I thought it strange that Roman didn’t even react to the way his mom was talking like he normally did and I followed him outside.  He wasn’t angry or anything.  He looked sad and embarrassed and upset all wrapped into one.   

“Roman was the meeting bad?” 

“Huh?  No.  Got out a while ago.  Dad and David said I should have come to them with my concerns about Donovan’s location choice to begin with and it would have saved all this trouble and I told them I had but that no one paid any attention and said I was making a mountain out of a mole hill.  I even reminded them which meeting it was in and David pulled the minutes to prove I was wrong … and then had to eat his words.  Not sure what to make of it but Saul is stirring something.  But mostly … uh … it was … Ok.”  He stopped for a minute then he said, “Except Alex was there.  He was sitting away from the table and I wasn’t the only one that wasn’t comfortable with him being there.  Peter almost got in trouble with Dad but then someone else from the enclave said something along the same line and Dad … let it go.  Alex … I don’t know.  He looked …” 

“Don’t worry about Alex.  Let’s go.  I want to go Roman.” 

“Hey?  You ok?” 

“Is he still here?” 

“What?  Oh … uh … Saul walked him back upstairs and … he’s locked in Thorn.  And when Saul locks something it stays locked.  There’s also someone sitting outside the door all the time.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“Yeah.  It’s not like it was last time.  He’s not allowed to talk to anyone anymore.” 

“How do you know?” 

“Because Alex told me.” 

“Uh … Roman if he isn’t allowed to talk to anyone how was he talking to you?” 

“It was after the meeting broke up before Saul made him go back upstairs.  That … that wasn’t really talking.  I didn’t talk to him, mostly Alex tried to talk to me.” 

“Let’s go.” 

“No.  Mom said something about wanting to do something or other and David and Peter are going with us.  The Peterson family has moved out west to join some group out there.  They had to leave almost everything behind.  The Council voted that except for a few items already spoken for, most of the house goods are going to come to us rather than take the chance on them going to waste.  That includes the wood pile though that is being split with some older folks that are running low on wood.” 

“Oh.  Why are they doing that?” 

“I guess they figure I can’t set you up right.” 

That was a very strange way to put it but I told him, “Obviously they don’t know you because you are why I am feeling better.  I told your mom about the liver and I think she was surprised that a man would think of it but she said for you to keep doing what you are doing.” 

That seemed to chirk him up a bit I could tell.  “Uh … she did?” 

“Yeah.  She was also surprised that we’ve got everything cleaned up though I hope you didn’t think she was going to let us get away without giving a lot of orders and advice.  Seemed kinda disappointed though that she didn’t need to give us more than she did.  I think she has a complex or something.” 

He almost smiled but then seemed to think of something and got depressed again.  “Roman what is it?  Did … did I embarrass you?  I tried not to.  I even said ma’am to your mother.” 

“What?  No.  So what if there’s some stiff rumped jackasses around here.  You find them no matter where you go.  If you are around people you can’t get away from ‘em.” 

“Then what is it?  Can I do something?” 

He sighed.  “I just look around and … and I wonder if you did the right thing by letting me push you into being with me.  It is plain that I am never going to measure up to all your experience.  Hell, you have to treat me like a damn baby sometimes or I pass out.” 

And I was furious, just like that.  “Roman?  Remember that tab of stupid things you’re trying to remember not to say?  Add that to the list.” 


“Who said what to you?” 

“Wait.  You lost me.  I guess I’m just slow about this stuff.  Can’t even read the hymnal and have to wait a couple of notes to figure out what we’re singing.” 

“Roman, I’m gonna ask one more … wait … was it him?  Did he …?”  I looked up involuntarily to the second floor and sure enough Alex’s smirking, smarmy face was at one of the windows staring down.   His smile got bigger and wider when he saw I’d realized how easy he had gotten to Roman.  What he didn’t count on was just how mad I was.  I’d fought with him but he didn’t think I had murder in my heart. 

I snatched up a brick from walk way border and heaved it so hard and fast at the window where he was standing that I fell down.  But I was satisfied to see he almost didn’t move fast enough. 

The crash had people running.  And a lot of squawking was going on with all the women in an uproar over me being some wild and crazy something or other but it was Andrew that broke in and said, “Alex … was playing tricks.  I’ve been concerned that he has been backsliding rather than moving forward.  I had suspected something of the sort when I saw him speaking to Roman before Saul escorted him away.” 

Peter who’d come from a different direction said, “Well that explains the chicken shit eating grin he had on his face before Thorny let fly.” 

“My name is not Thorny, it’s Thorn.  And he isn’t going to get Bean and he isn’t going to get Roman!  No!  No!  No!  I’ll leave first.  I’ll …” 

“You’re not going anywhere unless I say so,” Roman said interrupting my tantrum.  “And what I’m saying is that you are going home and get out of this weather.  You’re that funny color again.  Mom!” 

“For Heaven’s sake Roman, stop bellowing.  I’m right here.” 

“Why does she keep turning that funny shade of grey?  It ain’t natural.” 

“Isn’t natural,” she said on a long suffering sigh.  “Missy?  See if Fletcher is nearby and have him get a driver for the wagon that belonged to the Petersons.  It is barely suitable but it will have to do.  Narcissa will not be riding horseback.  Why someone allowed her to ride that way this morning is outside of good sense.  David, you should have thought of that and if not you, Andrew you should have.” 

I wanted to gripe again but Roman’s arm across my shoulder tightened and he shook his head which means basically that I need to pick my battles, preferably one I can win, and the name thing and his mother’s bossiness looks like one I’m not going to win. 

Mr. Beauchamp stomped around the corner of the house and asked angrily, “What is the meaning of this?” 

Mrs. Beauchamp said, “Your son …”  I felt Roman wince but Mrs. Beauchamp surprised us … just about everyone in the yard to be honest … by pointing a condemning finger to the broken window and saying, “Alex is reverting to childish antics and upsetting Roman and Narcissa.  His recent methods of manipulation may also explain why Patricia is acting like a …”  She stopped cleared her throat and continued.  “Why Patricia is unable to maintain her composure.”  Then she said the words that I hope she never says about me.  “Something must be done.” 

Roman leaned over to me and whispered, “Think we better get while the getting is good.” 

“Roman Douglas Beauchamp.” 

Roman sighed, “Too late.” 

“I wish a full report on the progress you are making from here on out as well as a list of supplies that you require to maintain the speed at which you are currently working.” 

Almost humiliated Roman said through clinched teeth, “Mom, you know I can’t write.” 

“I beg your pardon?  If you leave pictographs for Narcissa I do not see why you cannot afford the same courtesy to your mother.  If I can decipher your father’s hideous chicken scratch handwriting I certainly have the capacity to understand your system.” 

Roman looked at me and then told his mother cautiously, “Uh, yes ma’am.  I’ll be sure and get right on that.” 

“See that you do.  I am frankly appalled that those ridiculously expensive tutors that the school suggested did not attempt this years ago.  If they were here I would certainly be giving them a piece of my mind.  How dare they say that my son was not capable of …” 

She stomped off and everyone in the yard let out a collective sigh of relief that she was focusing her particular brand of energy in some other direction … namely in having the wagon loaded just the way she wanted it to be loaded and with what. 

Roman picked me up off the ground where I had remained and started carrying me around the house.  “I can walk.” 

“No you can’t ‘cause I’m carrying you.  Can’t do both at the same time.  Against the laws of nature.” 

“Roman, did I hit your head with that brick before I let fly with it?” 

“Deserve it if you did.  Now stop wiggling.  My hair is catching on fire.” 

“How can you possibly be thinking of that with me when your mom just about laid waste to a five mile radius?!” 

“That?  Oh, that’s nothing. That’s just mom being mom.  She’s really not such a bad ol’ gal all things considered.” 

Peter jogged up and whooped a laugh before saying, “Better not let her catch you saying that.  She’d turn loose on you like nobody’s business.” 

“She’d have to catch me first.” 

I told him in a falsely patient voice, “Well since I can’t run and keep up with you just lay off picking on your mom.  That’s a woman that were she so inclined she could have owned a piece of everything going on on the docks.  She’s scary.” 

Both men grinned which convinced me they were both definitely a few bricks shy of a full load.

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