Wednesday, April 25, 2012

T. E. Story # 67

I walked out to meet the boys and the wagon.  I told them about the invitation to put the wagon in the carriage house and attend a picnic at the lady's house.  I got up on the wagon and followed the directions and when we got to the house the carriage door was open and a black man in a livery uniform was standing by the open door.  Josh drove the wagon into the shed and the black man shut the doors.  He came up to me and said," "Suh, De lady ob de house, she say to make your beds in de loft ob de shed heah.  I done got dat done suh."  He leaned into the side door and pointed at a set of stairs leading up to the second level.  Then he showed me the sliding bar lock on the door, and said, "Suh, if you and de udder gent'men will follow me...."  The butler led us around the end of the house and there on the lawn was as neat a layout as you could imagine, tables and chairs from a parlor somewhere, six or seven black men laying the table and bringing trays of food heaped high out. the kitchen.   Meanwhile all the ladies I had met at the alehouse were in attendance and as we walked up, the lady who had invited us, Mrs. Beatrice Semmes, brought us into the group and reintroduced us.  There were some other people there as well, and we met them all,  After shaking hands all around, Josh drew me off to one side.  He wrote a little note saying that he really didn't want to stay for dinner. He pointed to his mouth.  I took him gently by the arm and we sat down on a bench under one of the big trees that shaded the big yard.  I turned to him and said, "Now Josh, I want you to listen to me very carefully.  Everyone in this old world has some sort of problem.  Some not as apparent as yours, and some much. much. worse.  But each person must learn to deal with other people, because that's the way one gets through life.  These people have invited us to a nice supper and have offered the storage of the wagon for tonight.  I don't suppose that you would want to hurt their feelings would you?" Josh looked at me for a few seconds and then slowly shook his head. "Okay, then my friend, here's how we will do this.  Stay close to me and when the first person engages you in a conversation just give him or her a wide grin, and I will say something like 'the lad is rather shy but has a great appetite!'  You nod your head and that will bring a laugh.  Then tuck into whatever is served and I guarantee that you won't have any more trouble.  Do you think that you want to try that?"  Josh looked at the ground for a moment and then looked at me.  He nodded his head slowly and tapped me on the shoulder.  I replied, "You bet son, we are a team."  Josh gave me a great big grin and we got up from the bench and wandered over to the table.  The rest of the evening was very enjoyable.  A couple of people tried talking with Josh , but I mentioned that he was a little shy and as he shoveled another fork full of beans and greens into his mouth, he would grin widely and that would draw a chuckle from the guests.   To make a long story short, we garnered four more contracts over the evening, and almost everyone asked that we return at some future time.  Finally  as the servants were cleaning up the dishes and the folks were headed for home, I said good night to our hostess after flattering her in regards to dinner and thanking her about the carriage house.  I led the way around the house, having gotten a candle from one of the servants.  We went upstairs in the carriage-house and there were three beds all made up, and the room had been swept down and cleaned up a bit.    I checked all the doors locked from the inside in the carriage-shed downstairs and all the windows closed and locked as well.  Then I went up to the second deck to get some rest.  Josh looked a little nervous and I asked him what was wrong.  He said that he would feel better sleeping in the wagon.  Now, since we have been on this mission, Josh has been right on the ball, and I could not have asked for a better companion.  Not only that but he anticipated what needed to be done and then did it without needing any orders.  I was just about to tell him that it was okay to sleep out of the wagon for one night, but then I wondered what Hezzie would have said to that kind of a response?  "JJ" at that moment , asked me if I was ready for him to tell me about the mill and the blacksmith shop.  I gestured to Josh to wait a minute, and "JJ" started to give me the information that he had picked up. First, "JJ" asked me about some horses at the blacksmiths and I told him what Hezzie had said about that.  I asked him about the mill and he indicated that it was a small mill, but it would sure come in handy with a full crew to man it.  At the time he visited there were only two men there, using a single bladed up and down saw.  But he estimated that the mill could probably do three times what it was producing now.  In fact, he had seen a old three bladed gang-saw that was leaning against the wall in the mill house.  The blacksmith shop was the same, in that there was room there for three men working all three anvils and there was a large store of black iron for new projects.  Both places would be valuable to know about should the worst happen.   I thought again about what Josh had asked to do. So, I sat down with Josh, and asked, " Would you really feel better if you slept in the wagon?"  Josh nodded his head vigorously.  "Do you have any particular reason to be by yourself downstairs?"  Josh shook his head no.  He patted me on the shoulder and then patted his own shoulder and it was plain that he was saying I trusted you at dinner, now it's your turn to trust me.   He was right, and so we went downstairs again and I helped him to rig his bed.  Just before I left, I gave him my pistol, and told him just for safety sake. Then I went back upstairs to my bunk, but this time I left the door to downstairs open, and blew out the candle.

No comments:

Post a Comment