River Saga Book One
On a southern Nebraska prairie in 1919, in small-town Darkwater Creek, an abandoned housemaid with vaudeville memories, a railroad magnate’s neglected son, and a runaway Pawnee boy come of age where money is power, the right name brings privilege, and the color of your skin can make you disappear.
Witnesses to criminal tragedy, Margaret Rose, Jack and Kuruk gather in their riverside treehouse for courage. Their love and loyalty are strong, but will the town’s corruption divide them?
Book One of the River Saga, Seven Kinds of Rain revives three unwanted children’s voices, a tall-grass prairie scarred by railroad tracks, the mythic frontier’s fading heartbeat, and the violence that stole the West.
I’m glad for my own place up here. I’ve got no stove, but a feather mattress on the floor, good sheets and three blankets, so if I take a flannel-wrapped brick off the coal stove, I’m warm in bed. It’s quiet, though, with only rafters creaking, wind whistling and pigeons cooing in the window nooks. I do miss the orphanage girls and their sounds in the dark.
I keep my books and homework on an old chair beside my bed, like a bureau, and there’s a cord with electricity, so I have a little bulb to study and read by. My three dresses hang on nails on the wall. I even have a little lock at the top of the attic stairs I can click to keep the children out. I never had my own place and it’s a fine thing.READ MORE
In one carton of books up here, I found Fowles’ New Easy Latin Primer. It teaches a funny language nobody speaks, but it’s a mother to other languages. It has no letter W. Latin is confusing, so I asked my teacher about declensions. She said it’s not a usual question for an eight-year-old girl, but she explained well.
Trying to forget about Florence, I sit on my mattress to look at the Latin book. My teacher says I’m lucky to have a special talent to remember everything I read and with Latin, I have my own secret language. Maybe for a diary, or if I have a friend someday, we can use it for secrets. To help me feel better, I also found some little swears nobody will understand, but nothing bad enough to send me to hell. Like puter anus, which means rotten old woman but sounds worse. And verres and clunis, hog and buttock.
Remembering Florence’s red, crying face distracts me from the Latin on the pages. I’m sorry for her and want to forgive the whippings and missed school. The Latin swears help a little, like letting steam out of my hot kettle, but I can only say them in the closet or up here. It doesn’t help that Florence’s little pointy teeth and long nose remind me of a fox, vulpes. If she looked softer, more like a rabbit, lepus, I’d feel more like petting her, and less like trapping her and pelting her out.
The hardest thing to forgive is as clear as the windows I wash every Saturday: Florence will never want me for her child. Her jealous heart is shut. Even for her son and daughter, she only cracks it like a window in winter, to air out the stinking loneliness. Being Mrs. Amsel’s child is a sad lot in life, nothing for me to be jealous about.
Someday the whippings I take for Adolph and Greta will pass over to them, with Florence’s disappointment. Like Mrs. Endicott says about many things, That will be a rude awakening. I hate to think of it.
For now, those little children’s welts and aches are mine, like in last Sunday’s Bible lesson. Jesus bore the stripes of the whip for us, even when He could have said, No. Then He had to die and go to hell and get raised up again, before He got lilies and colored eggs.
I’m not sure Easter’s coming soon for me. Pretty soon Adolph, who’s not even two years old, will be breaking windows and stealing candy, and I’ll catch heck for it. A little vulpes like her mother, Greta’s only three, but she knows how to use the Rules against me.
It’s a terrible thing, getting punished for other people’s sins. Shit-fire. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d make some trouble, have some fun of my own and make these welts mean something.COLLAPSE