To catch you up to date.........Tom and Mary have married.
They have a baby daughter.
They have been living in a cramped room in a boarding house.
Tom has a surprise for Mary.
They bundled against the nippy air and walked over to borrow John's Ford. Tom cranked it and headed out of town, the car chugging along as fast as it dared, past the last store in town, down the winding country road, then past Sweeney's Point where Tom had proposed to Mary. There were open fields, brown from the winter cold and pastures where cows stood, their breath forming great clouds of moisture as they watched the noisy old Ford go thundering by. They passed the Strickland farm. Dale had a nice spread, as Tom put it. Forty acres, good pasture land, a whitewashed clapboard house and a big barn full of hay. Mary knew that Tom would love to have a place like that.
They drove by a grove of tall pine trees, the needles carpeting the ground beneath and then by a thick mass of undergrowth. You could barely see a ramshackled cabin mostly hidden from view behind the unkept surroundings. A chicken ran from the yard and went squalking across the road. Tom braked to keep from hitting it.
‘We could of had chicken and dumplings tonight if that hen hadn’t been so quick,’ Tom chuckled.
Presently Tom turned left off the main dirt road and into a small, overgrown lane. He braked to a stop before an old dilapidated farmhouse. It appeared to be empty and Mary was sure that she had heard somewhere that the family had moved to Oklahoma. The building was rundown, a few boards hanging loose in places, lacking paint, a couple of windows cracked, the yard overgrown with tall, dead weeds. She had never seen such a scary looking place in her life.
‘Come.’ Tom said as he came around and opened her car door.
‘Tom,’ she whispered as she hung back, ‘No one lives here and there are weeds tall enough in that yard to swallow us up whole and I bet there are snakes crawling around under all that debris. I don't think we ought to.’
‘Come on,' he urged, ‘I have something to show you.’
Mary wasn’t sure at all, however, she got out of the car with the baby held tightly in her arms. There were no telling what dangers lurked in the shadows, in the weeds, from inside the house. Tom must be out of his mind to put the baby in such a perilous situation. Tom took her other hand and she gingerly followed him, the cockleburrs grabbing hold of her skirt and her stockings. When they approached the porch, Mary stopped. The steps looked rickety and very unsafe, the boards were half rotten, the nails now loosened by time and wear. She was afraid every moment that the boards would give way and she and the baby would fall through but Tom braced her elbow and guided her up each step. He swung open the door then stood aside, a huge grin on his face.
'We just went into someone else's house, Tom,‘ Mary cried out full of alarm. ‘Let’s go, Tom. We are going to get into so much trouble.’
‘Me get in trouble?’ he was laughing at her. ’Somebody else’s house, huh? Okay. If you say so, Mrs. Jackson, but I beg to differ with you. This is our new home, Mary.’