April 16, 1892 - Day 40

Dear Martha,

Another long day of punishment, only today’s punishment was a little better than yesterday’s.

Mama gave me every single chore she could think of. I had to reinforce all the buttons on Pap’s work shirts. I had to clean the lamp chimney and fill the base with oil. I had to sift the sugar to get the lumps out. I had to brush all the dust off the supply boxes in the wagon with a stiff brush, sweep the floor, and cut the mold off the cheese. I had to pour the salt out on a tray to dry in the sun, put lemon juice on the stains on Mama’s apron, and pull the wicks out of the candle stubs.

But no matter what she gave me to do, it was better than just sitting there with NOTHING to do.

Late this afternoon Mama said, “Teddy, I think that’s enough. Come on up here and sit with me.”

I crawled up on the seat and sat beside her. Dylan was in his little seat leaning back against a blanket, sound asleep. Mama said, “Have you learned your lesson?”

I said, “I have. I’m sorry. Real sorry. I’ll think next time.”

We rode for a while. Mama said, “You are so much like me.”

I liked the sound of that. I was going to ask her what she meant, but Travis caught up with us again. He had a package, wrapped in brown paper and tied with white string. I noticed his short haircut again.

He said, “Mrs. Bodain, please, would you let me talk to Teddy today?”

Mama said, “You may say what you’ve come to say, Travis.”

He probably hoped Mama would go back in the wagon, but she stayed right where she was. He handed me the package and said, “Teddy, I never meant to drop your doll in the river. I’m sorry. My ma had Miss Emily Carter fix her as best as she could.” I didn’t answer. I sat as quiet as a mouse. Travis finally realized I wasn’t going to say anything, so he turned and left.

I stared at the package. It could sit there forever. I didn’t want to see Veronica all ruined and dirty. I wanted to fling that package under the wagon wheels.

Mama said, “Well, I see you’ve chosen not to forgive Travis. I think that’s a fine idea. Hold a grudge. Stay mad. Keep all that bitterness bundled up inside. Try to hurt him as much as he hurt you. Isn’t that what the Good Book says?”

I felt ashamed. I hung my head. She was right, of course. Travis had apologized.

It was just that I dreaded so much what Veronica would look like now that she was ruined.

Mama said, “You’ve got to look at her sooner or later.”

I untied the string and opened the brown paper. I stared in amazement.

Veronica was more beautiful than ever.

Miss Emily must be a miracle worker! She made a new dress out of some fancy, blue material. She cleaned and polished Veronica’s leather shoes, like new. Miss Emily made pantalettes and lace stockings.

All the traces of the muddy water had been washed away from Veronica’s porcelain head, hands, and feet. Miss Emily fastened them to a new shapely body, fashioned from clean muslin, and stuffed her with kapok. I examined every part of her. I was totally amazed.

But the thing that I couldn’t figure out was Veronica has hair! It was glued on just so, all lovely and curled, and the same color as before. I had clearly seen her in the river with most of her hair washed away. Just a few strands had been left. Now, she has a full head of hair.

I said, “Where on earth did Miss Emily get real hair?”

Mama and I sat wondering. Then, it finally dawned on us, both at the same time, and we burst out laughing!

Poor Travis. He’s suffered enough.

Love,

Teddy