April 11, 1892 - Day 35


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Dear Martha,

This morning, it was my turn to drive. Our train moves so slowly that I could work on some of my sketches. I drew Mrs. Carter as a girl, gathering herbs and plants in the forest with her mother. I sketched some of the plants and berries she had shown me. I drew the bundles of herbs hanging upside down from the rafters in the barn while they dried. I drew Mrs. Carter crushing some of the herbs in a mortar and pestle to grind them into a fine powder. My favorite drawing was of the cute little glass bottles she uses for storing her liniments, tonics, and tinctures.

After her piano lesson, Mama slid up on the seat beside me. “What are you drawing?”

I showed her my sketchbook.

She said, “You never told me you could draw so well, Teddy.”

She flipped the pages, looking this way and that. I felt a little shy about her seeing my sketches.

I said, “How are your piano lessons coming?”

She smiled from ear to ear. “I love learning to play.”

 “Miss Melman said I’ve taken to it like a duck to water. Teddy, I’m learning a beautiful new piece. It’s difficult, but I’m taking it slow. It’s called ‘Narcissus.’”

I said, “By Ethelbert Nevin.”

She said, “How did you know? Girl, you are a sponge!”

I said, “Will you play it for me?”

Mama acted shy. “Maybe—when I get a little better.”

Mama took over the driving, so I could fix our noon meal.

At breakfast, I had made oatmeal while Mama milked Girlie. While the oatmeal was cooking, I made some corn cakes and fried them in a skillet over the fire. I wrapped the corn cakes in brown paper, so we could have them later and not have to stop and build a fire. Mama had given Dylan a cup of milk and put the rest in her “ice box.” Leave it to Mama to think of something good. She had bought an enormous chunk of ice from the supply wagon two days ago. She lined our wood box with sawdust and buried the slab of ice down in the shavings. When she wants to keep something cold, like Girlie’s milk, she exposes part of the ice and sets the milk pitcher on top of it. Then, she covers it with a woolen quilt, folded thick.

“That quilt’s too hot to use as cover, but it will make ice last almost a week,” she said.

For our noon meal, I buttered two corn cakes for each of us and stuck them together with syrup. I put Mama’s cakes on a tin plate with two strips of jerky. I put Pap’s meal in the tin box Mama and I carry to him each day. I cut an apple for Gabriel and one for Girlie and poured a cup of milk for Mama and Dylan. I poured Pap’s milk into a canteen and another canteen for me. I wrapped my lunch in brown paper.

When I took Pap his lunch, he said, “What’s that you’ve got with you?” I told him it was my lunch. He said, “Get on up here with me. I’ve got an idea.” He took our lunches and hauled me up behind him.

Pap told Captain Walsh that he would go ahead and scout awhile.

Captain Walsh said, “I see you’ve got company.”

Pap and I rode ahead until our wagon train was out of sight. We stopped for a picnic.

“See that line of willow trees?” Pap said, pointing. “They’re telling us where the river is. Willows like water. Captain Walsh says to watch for willows if you want to find water.”

When we finished our lunch, we rode ahead, and sure enough, there was a river. There were people, too. Several men worked a flat, wooden ferry that was surrounded by ropes and pulleys. Pap pulled a folded map from his pocket and studied it.

He said, “Yep. This is the Apalachicola. This is where we’ll cross with the wagons.”

I wonder what it will be like to cross a river.