Watching, Glowering At The Children

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Jasper stood watching, glowering at the children. As they passed the store, laughing, he yelled at a couple of the older ones to slow down and keep their noise down. Instantly they all grew quiet. He had been furious to wake and find the girl asleep in a bedroll on the floor. What if he had stomped in and woken the baby, or caught her indecent? Carefully he had backed out of the store into his bedroom, breathing heavily. Noisily he walked out the back door, slamming it shut, and stomped over the white, crackly grass to the outhouse. He had sworn, counted to a hundred, stomped back out and around the store to leap onto the porch and tiptoe to the dusty window on the front. He was rewarded by a glimpse of the girl standing, shivering as she shimmied into her black dress. As she buttoned it up the front, she stared at the bedroom door in panic. He stayed out of sight, looked about at the silent, sleepy town. When he peered back inside, he watched her struggling to drag the bedroll under the counter gate without raising it and into the storeroom. He wondered what she had done with the boy, saw a tiny, angry fist waving in the air from the cradle and smiled. He couldn’t see into the back room, but could imagine her flurrying about to spread the covers and make the bed. He crept back off the porch and around, breathing in the cold sharp air of the crystalline morning. At least he was satisfied that she had been jarred awake as roughly as he had. He took his time, gathered a good pile of firewood before reentering through his room. He tried to act surprised when he saw her seated in one of the rush chairs, the naked boy squalling as she peeled off his gown to add to the wet diaper on the floor. She swaddled the child in her shawl, turned... ... middle of paper ... ...e day before. She could picture the commotion the men would have raised among the children. She nodded, looked at the day’s lesson that was still on the chalkboard, with its neat drawing of states with their carefully labeled capitols. She knew from her own school days, that the lessons for the older children usually came earliest in the day. Wondered if Charlotte had stayed after school to clean the room, put up the elaborate map to impress the board members. She remembered helping her sisters learn to make their letters and to read, after the teacher would give the younger ones their assignments. She wondered if Charlotte used the same technique, letting the older students help teach the younger. It must be different, since she was a graduate of a college for teachers. Suddenly the room grew silent as they heard loud voices outside. The Daniels had finally arrived.

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