After a long day in the sun beating rugs, hanging laundry and churning butter, Catherine was pretty tired and in no mood to be toyed with. She didn’t hear her husband return from town on his horse, probably due to the deafening BOREDOM this new married life had filled her with.
She was surprised when she went back into the cabin to see him standing there in the spacious living – dining room slash kitchen or whatever you want to call it, as it was all one room anyway.
“Hi Honey cakes!” she said. “How nice to see you. I didn’t expect you back so soon.” She dropped her basket of laundry and went over to hug him. “You smell funny.”
“I just took a bath with that new soap you made me. Are you sure you did it right?” Johnny answered.
“I used plenty of lard and beef tallow, just like your Ma told me to. You took a bath? Did you save that water? The ox died today, and I was gonna boil it and make us a fine stew as soon as I git it skinned. No time to go to the well and fetch more water now.”
“I saved it, Puddin, that sounds lovely! I love a fine dead oxen stew. You were still sleeping when I left this morning, you look right purty in the same dress I’ve seen you wear every day for the last week.”
“Why land sakes, Johnny. You do flatter me, don’t you?” Catherine said, blushing.
“Where is everyone?” Johnny said, looking around.
“Your Ma and Pa are in the field, Grammy has been in the garden all afternoon looking for her teeth, and your Grandpa has decided to chop down that old oak tree and whittle it into toothpicks. I think all of your brothers and sisters are at the river, trying to catch trout with their bare hands or some such nonsense.”
“Good! I have a couple of surprises, first, look in that there box.” Johnny pointed to a box on the big table.
“Oh my! It’s a chocolate cake! How wonderful.” Catherine said, reaching out to sneak a little frosting with her finger.
“No, no no no NO!” Johnny said, grabbing her hand.
“Why Johnny! What’s the matter with you?”
“Don’t eat that! Any of it! You hear me?” He had a devilish look in his eye.
“What on Earth are you talking about? Why not?”
“It’s got sleeping powder in it. If’n everyone but you and I eat it, they’ll be dead as a doornail until sun up tomorrow, so you and I won’t have to sneak out to the barn to make whoopee.” He said, winking.
“How thoughtful and romantic of you, Darling.” She had to give him points for that, but making whoopee in the loft where all nine of them slept together on mattresses filled with straw didn’t sound much better even though the family would be comatose. She hoped her wan smile wouldn’t give away her feelings that just a sliver of that chocolate cake would have been infinitely more tempting.
“So, you said there was another surprise, what is it?” Catherine said, shifting focus from their upcoming amorous adventure.
“Looky here, my little cornhusk doll.” Johnny proudly held up a piece of paper marked LAND DEED. “I done got us a homestead. We now have 160 acres all to ourselves. As soon the crops are in the ground, Pa, Grampa, and my brothers and I are gwina build us a fine home out of them mud bricks we’ve been curing all spring in the smoke house. ”
Catherine’s crest fell with such a loud thud she was sure Johnny must have heard it. 160 acres? 160 acres of absolutely nothing to look at, no one to talk to. 160 acres of land to “farm” perish the thought, with no one but Johnny. She could see in her mind’s eye Johnny behind a plow, cracking a whip as she pulled it , bit in her teeth, blinders on.
But she loved him dearly, this idiot frontier man. She wanted to please him. So, she reminded herself that once the fine sod house was built with those smelly bricks, they would have their peace and finally some privacy. Until they filled up their little house on the prairie with a herd of idiot children of their own, they would never have to sneak off to the barn or drug someone to make whoopee.
Now don’t go ruining this story for yourself by worrying about it’s historical accuracy. That will just suck all the fun right out of it, and nobody likes a fun-sucker.
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