All Bedlam Courses Past (part seventy-one)

Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfire






All Bedlam Courses Past


Chapter Three
An Object in Motion
(part seventy-one) 







“But they’ve got a little house…on one of these ridgetops…”

“Lil cabin.”

“And Lawrence pays his visits…”

“Don’t think he does, much. Sends that boy of Mary Paton’s.”

Mary Paton, who couldn’t seem to be called Everard, was not welcome to her in-laws. As a servant she had been, in Ysonde’s judgment, “over-nice”. Meaning she would not pitch in, waited to do only what she was told. Then, she had those two children, some arrangement with a woman in town who kept them…

And Sarah, within family earshot, once: “No Mr. Paton in it. Never been, either.”

This was Élucide’s store of Mary Paton anecdote. Carolina was the one to ask, though…what did Shad care if Verbena scorned Lawrence’s wife, and Mary badmouthed his mother?

“And what about Richard? Why wouldn’t he live with them?”

“Don’t get on.”

“Now, Miss Luce,” Shad said also, reining up. “Don’t never you worry bout that one.”

Woods folks, he said, right-angled to her, leading and guarding as they went on foot, know what it means when the birds take off. And you don’t know yourself what critter you might not start. Be a favor to Old Everard, run a buck up the hill, if he got his gun loaded. Which he do.

“And dang that. Might have thought to bring mine.”

They came to a cut, a streambed littered in shingles. Scant water flowing, copious muck at the obvious crossing spot. Under a boulder uphill was a pool, and a boy, knees sunk in mud, raking with one of the flat stones.

“You git.”

“I’m allowed. I’m after crawdads,” the boy said…with a slooping noise rising. “Who’s that? I know who that is!”

He was pointing at Élucide.

“Lil halfwit, you git on!” Shad used his hat to slap encouragement across the boy’s shoulders.

“You gon visit them up there?”

“Now, what is your name?” she tried.

“Samuel. What’s your name?”

“Luce, dear.”

Samuel…Paton, she had no doubt of it…sucked in puzzlement at a muddy finger. Shad turned him round by the collar. “You go holler for your granny, so none of us don’t get plugged.”







Pastel drawing of bird flying away from bonfireAll Bedlam Courses Past (part seventy-two)















(2023, Stephanie Foster)




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