Good news! The sun is shining. Jumping jubilation! Everything had to dry out: our clothes, our canvas, even Pap’s feet. Captain Walsh stopped the train yesterday because we weren’t making progress in such a downpour anyway.
The wagon wheels were caked with mud. That made it too hard on the mules to pull the wagons. Martha, Mama did something that was a wonder. Pap’s feet were bothering him something awful. His boots were soaked through, and he’d been out in the driving rain trying to help folks settle their wagons in the downpour. Mama helped him get his boots off, but it was a chore. The leather was tight, and Pap’s feet were swollen. Mama put some thick mud in the bottom of the washtub and hauled it up in the wagon.
She smoothed the mud flat and put a folded newspaper on top of the mud. Then, she stacked small pieces of fat lighter wood we had stored in a box under the seat of the wagon and lit a fire. She fixed a place for Pap to sit, so his feet were up over the washtub. In no time, Pap’s feet were dry, and he was smiling.
He said, “My feet are dryer than seven acres of parched corn!”
Can you believe Mama made such a good fire right up in the wagon? I wish I was smart like her. Today, she’s drying Pap’s boots, so he’s wearing his old plowing boots. We’re on the move again. Early this morning every man, woman, and child helped scrape mud from the wagon wheels. We had to scrape it off and sling it to the side, so the next family wouldn’t drive through it again once we got going.
I haven’t been able to write since Sunday. It was just too crazy with all this rain. We were crowded into the wagon, day and night. We kept warm by huddling together. Since we had nothing else to do, we played checkers. Pap beat us every game! I lit one of my candle stubs and read Little Women. Mama and I already knew the story, of course, but Pap had never heard it before.
The lightning crackled something awful. That scared Baby Dylan, and we took turns holding him and playing little games to keep him entertained. I felt sorry for most folk’s mules and oxen. They had to stand out in the rain the entire time, but not Jester, Jingo, Gabriel, and Girlie. Pap strung a big oilcloth between our wagon and the Carters’ wagon in front of us. He propped it up with poles, so our animals could be out of the rain.
Pap slept in the wagon with us because it was far too wet for him to sleep under the wagon. Before he went to bed, Mama rubbed his feet with lard. I was supposed to be asleep, but when they thought I wasn’t listening, I heard Pap say, “Grace, I love you more than the moon is round.”
Mama said, “Oh, go on.”
Pap said, “I do. I can’t help it. I love you more than the stars are bright.”
Mama said, “Hush now. Teddy will hear.”
Pap said, “So what if she hears? I love you, and I hope you love me, too.”
Mama didn’t say anything, so Pap said, “Well, do you?”
She still didn’t say anything, so Pap said again, “Well, DO YOU?”
I could hear Mama laughing real quiet. Then, she whispered, “Well, what woman wouldn’t love a man who keeps her milk cow out of the rain?”
Pap said, “Well, alright then.”
Great buckets of butterbeans! Mama and Pap sound like sweethearts.