The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Eight, page 2 of 16)


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It was less frightening than I thought it would be. Soon we were above the swamp and traveling between the fields again.

The heat increased. I wished for a parasol, but had to content myself with my hat.

That evening we came to the place where we would spend the night; it was the same house where Cathy and I had stayed with Madam Fletcher the previous summer on our way to Fort Christopher.

Our hostess, Mrs. Copeland, welcomed us.

"Why-it's the young lady who was here last year, with Madam Fletcher, indeed it is!" she exclaimed. "Mr. Stewart, have you gone and got yourself a bride?"

"Indeed, I have, Mrs. Copeland," said Robbie. "May I present my wife, Jessamine."

"How lovely to see you again, Miss-ah-Mrs. Stewart!" she said.

"Mrs. Copeland." I curtsied. "How kind of you to welcome us."

"You'll be wanting a bath, I'm sure," she said, and I thanked her sincerely.

The bath turned out to be but a washtub placed on the bedroom floor; but I was too tired and too dirty to care. Rabbit assisted me quite competently; I felt that I would be much happier with her than I had ever been with Lily.

Supper was peas and cornbread and clabber; the food was good, and I managed to eat a few bites. When it was done Robbie informed us that he and Pete would sleep outside with the wagon; I took Rabbit into the room with me and she slept on the floor. The bed was very comfortable and I was asleep instantly.

It was still dark as night when Robbie shook me by my shoulder. We were on our way again before dawn.

It was the same journey that I had made last year with Madam Fletcher and Catherine, when we had gone to Fort Christopher to visit the Johnsons, but with a different conveyance; now I knew what it had been like for the servants, traveling behind in the cart with our baggage. I hoped that none of them had been with child at the time, for unsteadiness of my stomach caused by the jouncing of the wagon was excruciatingly uncomfortable and I did not wish it upon anyone, mistress or servant. But I vomited only once that day, Rabbit holding my head over the side of the wagon. Pete did not stop, and Robbie, riding ahead, did not notice.

On the third night of our journey, we again stopped at the same house where we had stayed the summer before. This was the larger house with the horde of children, which seemed to have increased; the youngest of the women, who was not as old as I, was heavy with child, the infant of last summer now toddling behind her. When she sat down and lifted him up to suckle, there was hardly room for him on her lap. The old man sat on the porch, dozing in a rocking chair.

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