Wind Song - Page 2

Now Rachel sat on the bed hand-stitching a quilt while her mother hunched over a sewing machine across the room rocking her feet backwards and forwards on a foot treadle that turned the shaft that moved the needle. The thumping counter pointed the wind outside. Laughter and giggling erupted from Rachel's younger brother and sister playing jacks on the floor and it brought a smile to their sister's face, but when she glanced back at their mother she stopped smiling.

Rachel felt that her parents worked too hard. They rarely had fun or relaxation like they had enjoyed in Philadelphia. Now her father was always in the fields. Her mother prepared meals on a wood-stoked stove, did the laundry on a washboard, baked flatbread and sewed clothes to trade for goods in town. Rachel remembered her mother singing and telling stories at one time but that was before she had begun complaining about the wind and the dirt and the mud. Eventually she had stopped complaining, but she had stopped singing, too.

The door swung open and it was Rachel's father. Entering in a puff of dust, he coughed and wiped his forehead. "Mighty hot day out there."

"Well, I've got ale for you and flatbread too," replied his wife. She rose from the sewing machine and began setting the table as her husband eased himself into a chair.

"I know. I could smell it from outside. Smelled so good I came in early. What else have you all been up to while I was clearing rows with Molly and Bell?"

"Rachel's done with her quilt."

"Oh?" Rachel's father turned to look as his older daughter proudly showed off her masterpiece. It was a cheerful blooming of color with stitches outlining the squares.

"That's a mighty fine piece of work." He nodded. "How 'bout us going into town this Saturday. You can show off your quilt, your mother can take her flatbread, and I've got a bushel of onions ready."

The young children whooped excitedly and Michael, the boy, began dancing around the room, lifting his knees and clapping. There was reason for jubilation. The 20-mile trip to town in the buckboard was a once-a-month affair to which everyone in the family looked forward.

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