A Spinner in the Sun (Chapter 9, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 9

The brisk, steady tap sounded at Miss Evelina's door. It was a little after eight, and she opened it, expecting to find her breakfast, as usual. Much to her surprise, Miss Mehitable stood there, armed with a pail, mop, and broom. Behind her, shy and frightened, was Araminta, similarly equipped.

The Reverend Austin Thorpe, having carried a step-ladder to the back door, had then been abruptly dismissed. Under the handle of her scrubbing pail, the ministering angel had slipped the tray containing Miss Evelina's breakfast.

"I've slopped it over some," she said, in explanation, "but you won't mind that. Someway, I've never had hands enough to do what I've had to do. Most of the work in the world is slid onto women, and then, as if that wasn't enough, they're given skirts to hold up, too. Seems to me that if the Almighty had meant for women to be carrying skirts all their lives, He'd have give us another hand and elbow in our backs, like a jinted stove-pipe, for the purpose. Not having the extra hand, I go short on skirts when I'm cleaning."

Miss Mehitable's clean, crisp, calico gown ceased abruptly at her ankles. Araminta's blue and white gingham was of a similar length, and her sleeves, guiltless of ruffles, came only to her dimpled elbows. Araminta was trying hard not to stare at Miss Evelina's veil while Aunt Hitty talked.

"We've come," asserted Miss Mehitable, "to clean your house. We've cleaned our own and we ain't tired yet, so we're going to do some scrubbing here. I guess it needs it."

Miss Evelina was reminded of the Piper, who was digging in her garden because he had no garden of his own. "I can't let you," she said, hesitating over the words. "You're too kind to me, and I'm going to do my cleaning myself."

"Fiddlesticks!" snorted Miss Hitty, brushing Miss Evelina from her path and marching triumphantly in. "You ain't strong enough to do cleaning. You just set down and eat your breakfast. Me and Minty will begin upstairs."

In obedience to a gesture from her aunt, Araminta crept upstairs. The house had not yet taken on a habitable look, and as she stood in the large front room, deep in dust and draped with cobwebs, she was afraid.

Meanwhile Miss Mehitable had built a fire in the kitchen stove, put kettles of water on to heat, stretched a line across the yard, and brought in the step-ladder. Miss Evelina sat quietly, and apparently took no notice of the stir that was going on about her. She had not touched her breakfast.

"Why don't you eat?" inquired Miss Hitty, not unkindly.

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