April 15, 1892 - Day 39

Dear Martha,

Travis and I are both in big trouble.

Mama is still pretty mad. Last night she had to stay in her wet clothes until we could get the wagon hooked back up to Jeb and January and make our way to the new campsite. She wouldn’t talk to me and didn’t want to hear a word I had to say.

Pap whispered, “Let her stew awhile. She’ll come around.”

At bedtime, I tried again.

I said, “Mama, I really am sorry.”

She said, “Teddy, sometimes you can be a vexation of a girl. You almost scared the life out of me.”

I said, “I didn’t mean to. I just wasn’t thinking.”

Mama said, “Well, you had better think next time.”

I am confined to the wagon for two days. I can’t go anywhere, not even to school, which means I will miss the next installment of Tom Sawyer. Rats! I’m just sick about it, but Mama won’t budge.

She said, “A day or two in this wagon is just the schooling you need.” She won’t let me sketch or read, either. “You just sit there on that wagon seat and think about how to behave properly.”

I was bored out of my mind. I just had to sit there mile after mile, watching the scenery go by. There was nothing to do. Absolutely nothing.

I thought about our life in Mississippi. We had a good life there, but it was a hard life. Pap had to work day and night, and most of his hard work went toward making money for Mr. Albritton. Mr. Albritton was a good man, but Pap and Mama wanted to own their own land.

I remembered the day Pap came home with the news of the land deed. He said, “Grace, you know things have been hard. Since the crops failed, Mr. Albritton has taken a terrible loss. He can’t pay me in money, but he gave me something that might mean a new life for our family. It’s a deed for some land. Not here in Mississippi. In Florida. But it’s 40 acres, and it’s ours.”

I thought about how it had been to prepare for the new adventure. Leaving Mississippi for Florida meant giving up our friends, our school, our church, our life. I thought and thought, mostly about those things and about leaving you. And about the adventures we’ve had so far.

About mid-afternoon, Travis Lark caught up with our wagon. I was shocked to see how short his hair was. His mother must have cut it this very morning. He was going to speak to me, but he saw the look on Mama’s face.

“Mrs. Bodain, I’ve come to apologize, ma’am. I am truly sorry for the terrible trouble I caused you and your family yesterday.”

Mama said, “You children put a terrible scare in us. But I accept your apology. I appreciate the fact that you came over.”

Travis said, “May I speak to Teddy, please?”

Mama said, “No, you may not. Teddy is being punished.”

Travis said, “I’m being punished, too. My ma only let me come over so I could apologize.”

Mama said, “Well, you have apologized. Now, good day, Travis.”

I told myself I would not talk to him, ever, ever, ever again. He ruined Veronica, my most prized possession. He was acting like a big old show-off, and now he’ll have to pay for it.

But I couldn’t help but notice how sad he looked, how ashamed. I almost felt sorry for him.