Tumbleweed Dreams: Part 5
Paying For Room And Board
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Rolling up the selves of her dress Daisy started with the dirty dishes piled high. The first thing to go was that pan full of liquid. Clearly, Mr. Miller had not taken it upon himself to straighten up in some time. There seemed to be enough dishes for a whole team of ranch hands, something she had yet to have seen. After scrubbing every dish clean she dried them and put them in neat stacks on the table. Not knowing where things went she felt it best to leave them until she did. Next she took a deep bowl and filled it with water and emptied it on the floor. The dust and dirt was so thick that the water quickly soaked in, turning into a muddy mess. How anyone lived like this, even piggish men who didn't seem to mind, was beyond her understanding. While the water continued to soak in she found a broom and started sweeping as best she could. After flinging several clumps of wet dirt against the wall she realized that wetting the floor first was not the best idea. She had assumed the water would go through the floor. Wasn't that how all of the homes in the west were designed? Slight spacing in the floor to allow things to drop through to the ground below? Perhaps Mr. Miller hadn't thought of this. Or maybe his own home had been constructed by someone else. She had read that most men in the Wild West built their own homes, but maybe he didn't have the knowledge to do so. She made a note to possibly mention it to him later. With a sigh she sat down at one of the two benches that accompanied the kitchen table. Her arms ached from all the scrubbing and washing she had done. She thought of the maids back home in her beautiful town house. They never showed any sighs of being tired. Maybe she was going about it all the wrong way. Maybe there was a way to make things easy. The opening of the door caught her attention as the sunlight poured in and across the floor, showing her hard work to the world outside, and to a pair of very dirty boots. She gasped in horror as Mr. Miller walked right across the freshly cleaned floor, not showing for a moment that he even noticed what she had done.
Standing up sharply from her seat she loudly announced, "Mr. Miller!" That seemed to catch his attention. He stopped in his tracks and looked her way. "Your boots are covered in dirt and I have just cleaned this floor."
He calmly looked down at first his boots, the floor, and then back to her as if she had said nothing at all before looking to the stove and the table still stacked with the clean dishes. "I take it you can't cook."
It was more of a statement rather than an answer. "That is correct."
He nodded again. "The girls will handle that when they get home."
He continued on again as if she hadn't spoken, "You know anything about washing or mending?" He jerked a thumb over his shoulder to a pile of clothes in the corner.
"No. I do not." She was starting to feel very inadequate. "My talents with a needle are better suited in other areas."
His chuckle was one of disgust and amusment. "Looks like you've got a lot of learning to do."
"My talents with a needle are better suited in other areas." Bradley wasn't sure weather he wanted to laugh at the woman or pity her lack of intelligence. Where ever it was she came from he sure hoped they got her back, and rather quickly. The wagon bounced and rolled over the rocky dirt trail to the school house, the horses snorting as if in agreement to his thoughts. What kind of woman went through like not knowing how to get her hands a little dirty? He slowed the horses as he rounded the bend and the school came into site, children all running out the door as if it the small building had been set ablaze. Eight of those children ran in his direction. Four girls and four boys. Things had been outnumbered at first, but had eventually evened themselves out. Pepper and Polly, the two youngest, raced each other to the wagon, both of them calling out their want for the seat next to his. Jenny, the oldest girl in the group, lingered just outside the door talking to one of the boys. Bradley recognized him as the mercantile owners son. She was growing up faster than he cared to admit. His plan to give her a few more minutes was altered when Pepper stood up and yelled, "Come on Jenny! We ain't got all day!" Bradley quickly hushed the young boy and instructed him to sit down. It was bad enough that Jenny barely got time away from home. Having her rushed in front of a young man she admired would only make it worse.. By the time she got to the wagon the others had all settled down. She climbed up on the bench seat and kept her head low, her cheeks a dark shade of red. He kept his thoughts on the matter to himself. She was plenty old enough to decide how she felt. He gently slapped the reigns to get the horses going before mentioning what he really wanted to talk to her about.
"We got company back at the ranch."
"Company?" She looked up, her cheeks still red but her clearly eyes full of curiosity.
"She came in late last night. Must of slipped my mind at breakfast."
"It's been a while since we've had anyone visit. How old is she?"
Bradley thought about how to best answer the question. Miss Daisy Mason was a hard one to pinpoint age wise. She had the figure of a woman and beauty to match. Her attitude however was another thing. He slapped the reigns a bit to pick up the pace as he answered. "Old enough."
-To Be Continued-
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