Ilda Weatherford & Co-author Cora Brantner

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ISBN 13 (TP): 9781477278437
ISBN 13 (HB): 9781477278413
ISBN 13 (eBook): 9781477278420

A SNEAK PEEK INSIDE:

Lillian looked up from her bucket of sudsy water as Alice came in. She got up from her knees, leaving a puddle on the floor. “Alice, your face is so red! Are you alright? What’s the matter?” She rushed over to comfort her friend, who had collapsed on her bed, tears streaming down her face. “What is it? Has someone done something awful to you?” Lillian was frantic with worry.

Alice turned over, so Lillian could see that she was shaking from laughter, not distress. She sat up, trying to control herself. “Oh, I did it! We’re both going to have jobs! We can save our husbands’ wages by using ours for living expenses. Mr. Harney thinks I’m a great, fine Lady, and he can’t do enough for me!”

Using her best acting mannerisms to exaggeration, she recounted her meeting with the Superintendant. The two young women rocked in each other’s arms with merriment. They had a difficult time sobering up to receive the messenger with the bedding and disinfectant.

When he had gone, Lillian conducted Alice on a tour of the shack. She showed her the cracks between the floorboards, where the light shone through from under the house. There was no sub-floor, just plain boards over the joists. Knots in the wood had fallen out, here and there, leaving holes for even more drafts. By holding a candle next to the corners, they could see more bedbugs between the wall planks.

“Look,” Lillian showed her roommate, “our luxurious household effects!” She pulled back threadbare curtains to expose the rough, unpainted shelves.

“Oh, no! Not all this! How privileged we are!” Alice covered her mouth with mock amazement. “Four, whole warped tin plates, three forks, one knife, six spoons and two tin cups!”

“With a hole in the bottom of one cup, Milady,”  giggled Lillian. “We must call the tinker to have it mended. Oh, yes, and our utensils, fit for royalty!” She pulled out a huge, rusty, cast iron frying pan and a cooking pot that would hold barely two cups of fluid.

When they had finally managed to stop laughing, they set to work to make the shack livable. Alice drained the kerosene from a lamp. She soaked a cloth in the smelly stuff and poked it along all the cracks that might harbor the bedbugs.

Lillian finished scrubbing the floors. “We’d better not wash the windows.” she said “The dirt on them will serve to give us some privacy until we can make some curtains.”

By this time, they were so exhausted that they ate a cold supper and fell into deep sleep as soon as the lamp was out.