Friday, April 9, 2010

EBENEZER FINDS A HOME! by Henriette Forester; April 1935; part 1

Night in the day coach passed quickly enough after Myrtle stopped trying to sleep. Instead she looked around at the other mothers on the car. How that redheaded woman yanked her baby's arm! She wouldn't treat her boy like that, nor sleep snoringly like that fat lump in the seat ahead, while her little one whimpered and tossed and finally closed his lips on his own shoe for comfort. One mother made a nest of coats and sweaters in her seat, covering all rough edges and closing the gap on the aisle with her own that if the baby woke she would know at once.

Myrtle whispered to her husband, sitting beside her, stiff and miserable in his city clothes. "That's the way I'll ride with Baby coming home."

"That letter didn't promise anything," Eben whispered tensely back. "Haven't you lived on a farm long enough not to start counting chicks at this stage of the game? Anyhow I reserved a lower for you coming back...just in case...

Think of it! To sleep with your baby between white sheets behind the privacy of curtains, with an electric light to turn on in case he woke! Ever since she decided to name Baby Ebenezer, after her husband, Eben had done his best to help. It seemed as though giving Baby that name made Eben feel more like he shared him. But as to planning beforehand--why even a mother hen planned for her chicks before they came! Myrtle had saved from her egg money for a whole year before she spoke to Eben.

Time and time again, while he was in the fields she said, looking about her big, bright kitchen, "It isn't a rich home, of course, but the country's the best place for a baby." As she scrubbed the figured linoleum that cost twice as much because of its pretty pattern, she saw her baby creeping across it. "These are our nursery and sun porch linoleums," the clerk had said. "Well, it'll be just as good on the kitchen floor, won't it?" Myrtle demanded. The kitchen would be Ebenezer's nursery and sun porch all winter. "And the older he grows the more fun he'll have," she said, when she hunted the cows that had broken through the fence and discovered them eating ferns beside the dark swiftness of the stream. And as she stood there a moment she saw Ebenezer beside her, in overalls and with a fishing-pole.

"The Society never promised you a kid in so many words, Myrt," Eben said again, seeing her peeping in the market-basket he had fixed to be baby's bed. Bent willow wands made a hood at one end to keep the sun from the baby's eyes and Myrtle had made a coverlet from a piece of silk too fine to use until now.

"Well, the letter said they never could really promise, Eben. You see I asked for a six-months-old boy and they wrote most all their babies were placed by the time they were six weeks old. But I'd be scared to make such a long trip with a tiny baby, and if he's older he'll be able to help you lots sooner, Eben. I won't be able to do much outside now; I'll have to stay and look after him."