Breakfast was soon over, and as we arose from the table, I stepped around the end to where the lady sat to address her.
"Pardon me, I didn't get your name," I said quietly, but pleasantly, to her.
"I don't believe I gave it either, young man!" she snapped back.
With that she walked off with a slight limp in her gait.
Whoa! That was an unexpected response, to say the very least.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Zeb, I should have warned you about Miss Carter. She doesn't really mix with others very well. Her bark is much worse than her bite. She keeps others at a distance with that attitude. That is all I can say right now without gossiping about her.
I determined to get to know her better during my stay here. Perhaps I could help her in some way. She intrigued me because I recognized her as a hurting and battered soul. I had known soldiers with that same pain coming from somewhere in their inner being.
Katy could give me some insights, I was sure. With her clear childish perception, not much escaped her.
The day stretched before me. What to do with it until supper at Glenny's home? Perhaps a trip to a book store would be in order to buy another Testament to give to the neighbor in exchange for mine. It would give me another opportunity to visit with him sooner than later. He might have some questions to ask me.
In the meantime, I helped clear the table, rather just get up and leave all that mess of dishes.
"You don't have to do that, Zeb! The children and I can make short work of it."
"My Ma would tan my hide if I just ate and run, ma'am. We always helped set and clear the table at home. It's no problem for me, and you sure do set a good table! That's one good breakfast we had this morning! Do you fix that kind of breakfast every morning?"
"I usually make oatmeal and buttered toast for weekday breakfast. The kids have school to get to early, and tenants quite often have jobs to get to as well. Then, of course, I have a house and rooms to change linens and clean."
"Ah, I see! Can you tell me where I could find a local used bookstore? I have a bit of browsing I'd like to do."
"There is one over on Union near the drug store on the corner of Jefferson Street. You know where that is?"
"You mean Lander's Drug Store? Yeah, I used to stop in there and look at all the candy they had that I couldn't buy. Old Mrs. Landers would take pity on me and give me a lemon drop. She had a soft spot in her heart for us kids. She knew my Da never gave us any money for anything. I guess all the neighborhood knew about our situation." My face burned even then with the mere mention of the memory.
"Yes, that's the one. Mrs. Landers is still there, by the way. I'll bet she would be happy to see you."
(To be continued)