TALES FROM HOME - Chapter Eleven
The three girls jumped down the stone steps into the freshly laundered morning and began filling themselves with strawberries.
As soon as three little tummies were full, the sisters continued their planning.
“OK,” Julia said taking charge, “Riley, Morgan! Can you be in charge of finding food and getting water?”
Morgan immediately piped up “Remember that pile of metal buckets in the barn? We can use those to get water from the spring by the little pond.”
Riley shivered for a moment remembering the cob-webby corner of the barn with the garden tools. Thinking she might be able to trick Morgan into getting them out, she said, “There were garden tools in the corner of the barn we can use to clean up the garden.”
With these words, both younger sisters started to run off!
“Stay together!” Julia instructed, “And bring me a pail of water right away so I can start cleaning.”
Morgan stopped. “Aren’t you forgetting something, Julia?”
Julia thought for a second, “Noooo…ooo..oooo…”
“Are you sure?” asked Morgan.
“Yessssssss…I’m sure,” said Julia, thoughtfully.
But Morgan wouldn’t move, even when Riley shouted from the garden gate, “C’mon Morgan, hurry up!”
“Morgan, go get a bucket of water so I can start cleaning,” Julia tried again.
But Morgan stood stubbornly and then sassed back “You aren’t the boss of me AND I think you forgot to say the magic word!”
Julia sighed with frustration. “Fine Morgan. OK! Please go get a bucket of water so I can clean. Please. Please. PLEASE!”
“You don’t have to shout!” Morgan called over her shoulder as she ran to catch up with Riley.
Julia shook her head and climbed the stone steps back into the kitchen to look for cleaning supplies. The pans, jars and lanterns she had already discovered wouldn’t be much help. She peeked into the cabinet with the baby chipmunks and was promptly scolded by their mother. “Everybody wants to yell at me today,” muttered Julia as she continued her search.
Beneath the chipped, white enamel sink was a tattered red and white checkered curtain that matched the one above the window.
Julia carefully pushed it to the side and let out an excited squeek. The space beneath the sink was stacked high with scrub brushes, rags, and boxes of grayish looking flakes with Ivory Soap and Dreft on the outside. A stack of six bars of Castile soap leaned into one corner, two cans labeled Stove Black and several glass bottles labeled White Vinegar filled the rest of the space.
Julia was just getting ready to drag a chair over to continue exploring the upper cabinets when she spied a tall, skinny door beside the giant black stove. It looked like a perfect place to store a broom…and it was!
Not only was there a broom, but the narrow space inside the cabinet held a bucket and a mop along with a feather duster wedged into the corner. A colorful cascade of material on a hook inside the door caught Julia’s eye and she quickly discovered that the fabric was actually three aprons. Julia looked at each one carefully. Did she want to wear the happy pink apron printed in red cherries? Or maybe the light blue apron with brown and black and white chickens would make cleaning easier. Finally Julia picked a blue and white checked apron patterned in blue teakettles and white kittens.
She had just finished wrapping it around herself and tying a big bow with the apron strings when Riley and Morgan burst into the kitchen. Each of them carried a sloshing pail of water…Riley’s almost half full and Morgan’s with only an inch or two of water in the bottom.
“Julia! Riley tricked me and made me reach into the cobwebs to get…”
Riley immediately interrupted, “Quit tattling Morgan! A few spider webs never hurt anybody. Don’t be a baby!”
Just as Morgan’s lower lip started to tremble, Julia held out a hand to stop the argument. “Look what I found!” She proudly twirled around in her blue and white apron and then showed her sisters the other two she had found. “And look,” she said, proudly displaying the broom and the mop and all the cleaning supplies. “Maybe we should all clean together?”
The slamming of the back kitchen door was her answer as the two younger girls fled to the garden to begin their search for food.
The rest of the day was filled with hard work and discoveries. Morgan and Riley ran back and forth from the spring to the house carrying water for Julia. They filled a bucket half full of asparagus and peas. Each stone and plant they found was carefully cleared and the pile of weeds at the corner of the garden grew higher as the afternoon grew later.
Julia dumped some of the soap flakes into a bucket and scrubbed and scrubbed the stained, yellow counter-tops. She searched the upper cabinets and found plates and bowls. Blue-ish-green mason jars filled with knives, forks and spoons, a stack of blue speckled metal mugs and a sealed jar of salt were carefully brought down and placed on the clean, shining counters.
After calling for yet more buckets of water all three girls gathered around the dark red hand pump bolted to the counter beside the chipped, white enamel sink.
Julia told her sisters, “I know this is to get water and I’ve pumped and pumped this handle but nothing happens.” Riley dragged a chair over and climbed up to try it herself. Of course, Morgan had to see if she might have the magic touch, too, but no matter how hard or how quickly they moved the handle up and down, nothing happened.
Julia climbed up on the chair and looked down into the opening. “Maybe it’s blocked,” she said thoughtfully. “Let’s pour a bucket of water in there and see if anything comes out.” Riley handed up one of the half-full buckets and Julia carefully poured it in. No water came out. She tried pumping the metal handle again.
All three girls look puzzled. “Why would this pump be here unless it was for water,” all the girls wondered.
Since there was no more water in the buckets, the girls walked together down the stone steps into the golden late afternoon light. Julia gave a small gasp of surprise at how much work her younger sisters had done. She could see that this had been some kind of a garden once and now asparagus, strawberries and even peas could be seen in the rectangular beds edged with stones. Julia grabbed a few spears of asparagus and some peas as she walked by the partially full bucket of vegetables sitting on the stone step.
“I can’t believe you got so much done,” she told her sisters as they all walked together toward the spring. The crispy bites of asparagus tasted like springtime and the peas tasted like little bubbles of sweetness in her mouth. Julia couldn’t remember eating anything so wonderful in a long time.
At the spring all the girls laid on their bellies and lapped water like puppies until their thirst was quenched. Then the filled their buckets and walked back toward the happy little house. Morgan saw Mr. Cat sitting on the porch and ran off to play with him while Julia and Riley went back into the kitchen.
The girls pumped the handle some more and then dumped another bucket of water into the top of the pump. The girls heard a funny sound. “Pump harder, Riley!” Julia shouted and then she dumped the second bucket of water into the opening. As Riley continued to move the handle up and down, water finally came gushing out of the spout of the pump. It was a horrible orange color.
“Julia, my arm is tired! You pump now!” Riley shouted. And as Julia continued to move the handle up and down the water cleared and started pouring out sparkling and clear. “Grab one of those metal cups!” Julia said. Riley rinsed the cup out in the flow of water and took a big drink! “Julia! It tastes just like the spring water!” Julia stopped pumping and took a big gulp, “Oh Riley, it’s wonderful!”
Morgan wandered through the kitchen door, with blue eyes wide open and questioning. “Morgan, Morgan,” her sisters cried, “We have water! We have water in our kitchen!”
To be continued on Tuesday, July 6.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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