That Which Wills Thee [Chapter 7]
Despite her city upbringing, Jane O’Malley began to learn and adapt to nature and the facts of living among it and the lack of all things that would have been given in the city. She dealt with the dirt and the mud which covered her shoes and clothes. She dealt with the insects that buzzed everywhere, especially after the rains. She dealt with the lack of modern facilities used to cook upon, and also those used for cleaning herself and her children. At least for the last part, the Mills had and allowed them use of their spring and their basins of its water.
It was a little over a month of time before the land the O’Malleys had chosen was cleared of brush, and the walls and roof of their would-be home came together. The floor inside was still dirt, the windows only covered by cloth, and they had hardly a piece of furniture to sit or sleep upon, but it was finally their own.
With his wife’s sense of comfort growing, and the shelter complete, William determined that a short departure was possible. It was a two-day journey in the cart, to the little village to the west, where he could purchase for all of them some simple pieces of furniture and more supplies with which to cook and make home.
The four days and a little more seemed only a short time, but Jane couldn’t help but feel uneasy most of the waking hours. The sounds outside seemed louder than ever before. Despite never seeing more than some squirrels and a skunk or two in the neighboring woods since their arrival, the stories from the Mills hung in her mind. While the old couple told her that a visit would be no issue during the time of her husband’s departure, she decided that she would not let her irrational fears overcome her. Furthermore, in those long days of waiting, little James’ active mind and body kept her busy, not to mention the needs of the restless Marie.
William returned on the day he was expected. With the comfort of his presence, he also brought some small bits of furniture, a couple of thick blankets and rugs, some tools to replace the ones worn out, and seeds to plant for the late summer months. Soon enough, with the fresh supplies, they had a bed upon which to sleep, a place to keep their clothes, and a safer and more comfortable space for their children to play in.
It was that fall, while William was chopping wood for their fires, that little Marie took her first steps. James, who had always had varying amounts of interest in his little sister, found his father to relay the news. “Marie is walkin!”
William managed to take in a few of the clumsy steps before the little girl settled back down to all fours. Jane smiled just as she had when James had undertaken the same challenge, and William couldn’t help but take the moment to sit and relax with his family.
“It bet it wasn’t that hard for me!” James chimed in, watching Marie struggle to balance on her little feet once again.
“Well,” Jane smirked. “You fell a good few times. But that sort of thing can’t be helped before you get it down perfect,” she concluded, rubbing her hands on the bristly rug made of rough woven fibers.
“It may be for the better if we had a slightly more fine rug for this sort of thing.”
William shrugged. “That’s all they had, but next time I’m away…”
James rolled on his back on the surface, ruffling up his shirt. “We usedta’ have a nice one… a red one. Where did that go, papa?”
“It got left back in Manchester. It was too much to bring with.”
James rolled his eyes in thought and sat up, splaying his hands out across the rough surface. “We ever goin’ back there?”
Jane looked at her husband, having never thought of the answer to such a question. “Likely, yes. My dad… grandpa Flint still lives there, your uncles too.”
“I wanna see grandpa Flint again… the tall smokestacks too.”
William sighed. “We’ll visit back there someday, that’s a sure thing. Maybe after your sister is a little bit older, though.”
James pushed himself up and marched on all fours to his mother’s lap, where Marie was reposed, looking up at the ceiling. “Get big and strong, okay? It’s lonely playin’ all by myself.”
Autumn came to rest upon the countryside. Despite the late start, the virgin land, and Jane O’Malley’s untrained hands, the crops came in just fine. The majority of the earth’s bounty were tubers and root vegetables; things able to keep over the winter months.
After finishing construction on the home, William went to work with Lewis to hone his hunting and trapping, both for meat and for the animal’s furs that would be a necessity for keeping the family warm during the coming cold months. The Mills’ experience and knowledge of the land proved invaluable during those times, and William’s youthful strength and energy made sure that both families would benefit.
Between both families, they attempted to share the best they could and keep watch out for each other. Preceding the cold months of winter, William departed again for the village to the west for their remaining needs to last them; matches, candles, fresh and warmer sets of clothes for everyone, and supplies for preserving the meats brought in from the various hunts. For young James, who was coming of schooling age, even received his first book that could be read to him by his father.