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EASY READING: While you were gone…


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EASY READING: While you were gone…

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“Now Nellie,” said Sarah Bottomsley, “I want you to tell me everything that has been going on.”“Not a lot, Miss Sarah. The Master buy chickens and cows because you going to need fresh milk and the chickens will lay eggs every day. We got a school too. Miss Ginger is the schoolteacher and she showing the children how to read and write.”“Who is Ginger?” asked Sarah.“I don’t know, Miss Sarah, but she talk real pretty; even some of the children now talking just like Miss Ginger.”“I guess I’ll meet her before the week is over.”“Miss Ella did not work in the house with me. The Master wanted more help in the fields, so Miss Ella work out there when you was away. We have an overseer now. Oh, I almost forget, Miss Sarah. He is Ginger brother. Thomas Hurley is his name and it look like he doing a good job.”“Why do you say that, Nellie?”“The Master never trust nobody, but he left him in charge when he went down to the docks. I wish the Master would find somebody else to run the food shop too.”“Don’t tell me you don’t like Polgreen.”“He ain’t very nice. He make us stand out in the hot sun while he doing this and doing that. He don’t let us into the shop together. I know it belong to the Master, but we wish we had somewhere else to buy food. Sometimes he try to steal our money.”‘How does he do that, Nellie?”“He charge more than the food cost. Last week I pick up a little lamp there and he charge me too much.”Sarah Bottomsley could only smile. Nellie had told her that nothing much had happened during her absence, but yet she narrated story after story.“How far along are you, Nellie?” she asked.“How far long?” she asked with a quizzical look on her face.“I mean the baby, Nellie.”“Oh that! He is about three months.”“Why do you say he? Would you like to have a son?”“It don’t matter, Miss Sarah.”Sarah smiled again. She had had short conversations with Nellie before, but now realised there was more to her housemaid than met the eye. Nellie was in her third month just as she was, and sadly she would have to find a replacement when she left.“I’m a little tired now, Nellie. Wake me when lunch is ready. And by the way, Nellie, did Ginger also come by for lunch?”“Just one time and she was with the Master parents, Reverend Allamby and Thomas Hurley.”“All right Nellie, I think I’ll take that nap now.”“Miss Ella,” said Nellie, “Something strange just happen.” “What happen, child?” “Mistress ask me if Miss Ginger ever come by for lunch.”“And what you say?” “I say only one time, with a few more people.”“And what she say?”“Nothing. She went in to take a nap.”“Don’t get mix up in their business. They would be like two peas in a pod and you would be out in the road, so keep your mouth shut.”“Alright, Miss Ella,” the young woman replied.Around three o’clock a racket could be heard coming from outside. School was over and the children left the classroom with much jubilation. They were laughing and reciting what they had learnt earlier that day:“Mary had a little lambIts fleece was white as snow.And everywhere that Mary went….”The child who had been reciting the poem had obviously forgotten the rest of it. Others tried to help but they too had forgotten. Ginger Hurley came out smiling.“Come on, Toby,” she said. “I know you haven’t forgotten.”He grinned and looked around at his classmates.“And everywhere that Mary went,The lamb was sure to go.”“I will teach you the second verse tomorrow. Don’t forget to tell your parents you need proper, dean clothes for school. I will see all you tomorrow bright and early.”“Alright, Miss Ginger.” they said in unison.Sarah looked down from her window at the goings-on. She saw Ginger Hurley with the children and guessed she was the schoolteacher Nellie had spoken about. She thought her name very appropriate. Her hair was reddish blonde. It was more like the colour of turmeric than it was of ginger. She seemed like a nice person and it looked as though she got along well with the children, and her mother-in-law’s comment flashed into her mind.“What would these children do with an education?”She thought of her husband and how kind he was to offer free education to these hapless youngsters, but her return did nothing to diminish the passion in her husband’s trousers. Every evening he found himself in Nellie’s hut for his dose of satisfaction and she patiently waited for him and administered it.“You still building the house for me in St. Lucy?” she asked one night.“Of course, Nellie, but not right now,” he said. “I have a lot of things to do before I can go up to there.”“Yes sir,” she said, her heart full of disappointment.“Will you still be able to work?” he asked.“The baby only three months old, just like Miss Sarah baby.Without a word, he got up and left.“I didn’t say nothing wrong,” she said to him.Outside the children were still playing. They were chasing and trying to catch the fireflies as they danced between the trees. John Bottomsley had taken a longer route in order to avoid the prying eyes of the likes of Miss Ella and Miss Una. He knew that they knew what was going on, but now that his wife was back and in the family way, he tried his hardest to be discreet.

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