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The Block – Chapter II Part 2: Lexington, Aingland October 21, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in The Block - Chapter 2.
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A married man with a family
will do anything for money.

–  Charles de Talleyrand

The Block – Chapter II Part 2:  Lexington, Aingland

Debt and Indenture in the Empire of Uppsala

© D. Erick Emert

debt

Edsil and Remy Farmer owned a twenty acre farm that provided for the family and livestock.  It supported their two children, Tom and Elizabeth and, to a degree, Edsil’s card playing.  On the homestead sat a two story frame house, a good size barn and three outbuildings.  The Farmers owned two cows, four horses, two goats, and about fifty chickens that were given the run of the property.  Also included in their domestic animals were two proper boxer dogs and fourteen or so barn cats of dubious parentage.

Their residence was set only slightly back from the main road; with the barn about ten meters back from the house and to the right.  There was a plank porch on the right side of the home, covered by the roof.  The main entrance sat just to the right of center under the porch roof.  Russell Jones pulled up his horse at the porch.  He dismounted, tying his horse to the hitch post in front.  When he rode up, he scattered some of the chickens who made enough noise in objection to being disturbed that anyone inside the house would have known that a visitor had arrived.  Then came the loud barking of the two boxers that sniffed at his heels between yapping.  Remy Farmer stepped outside the door, her daughter Elizabeth just behind her.  She eyed the stranger with some suspicion before speaking.

“Slope, Burns, down!  Thet’s enough from both a ya!”  She looked at Russell and said, “May Ah be ‘elpin’ ya?”

Russell had been reaching into his right saddlebag, pulling out an envelope and keeping an eye on the dogs when Mrs. Farmer appeared.  He walked up to the porch step but did not advance farther.  The dogs stayed to his left and right, but did not cause any more commotion.

“Yes, my name is Russell Jones.  Is your husband Edsil about?  I have some business we must discuss.”

Mrs. Farmer looked to be a plain woman, certainly older than her thirty years would suggest.  She sported brown hair, tied up in a bun in the back.  Her eyes were slits, looking into the morning sunshine.  Her skin appeared very pale, even in the shade of the porch.  She didn’t answer Russell at first, only staring at him with a pained expression on her face.

“Yer from the Empire, ain’t cha?” she finally asked, speaking in a low, slow voice.

“Yes, I am,” Russell said.

She nodded.  “Yer ‘ere ta tyke ‘im ‘way?”

“No, Mam.  I’m here to sit down with you and your husband and go over your options.  He’s involved in a sticky problem that will require some decisions concerning you and your household.”

“Ya ‘ere ta tyke ‘way the ‘ouse and the farm?”

Russell tried to smile.  “No again, Mam.  I won’t be taking anything away from you.  I’m here to help you reach a decision that would be most beneficial to you and your family.”

Again, she nodded her head.  “Edsil ain’t ‘ome at the moment.  ‘E and Tom took one of the ‘orses over ta Jeremy Myers farm ta git it shod.”

“How long ago did he leave.”

“Two ‘ours or thar ‘bouts.”

“Do you mind if I wait for him here on the porch?”

“Ah don’t mind.  Ya can come inside if’n ya like.  Ah can send Elizabeth ta fetch ‘em.  Otherwise it might be a spell ‘fore they return.”

“That’s okay, Mam.  I can wait.”

“’E won’t run, if’n that’s what yer thinkin’.  We been expectin’ ya fer days on end.  We just wanna git it over with, ya know?”

“Then Elizabeth can fetch them if she’d like.”

Her mother turned and cuffed Elizabeth on the back of the head.  She reacted by running around the side of her and jumping off the porch.  She raced to the barn and came out moments later riding bareback on what looked to be an older saddle horse.  They disappeared together down the road to the right of the house.

Russell followed Mrs. Farmer into the house at her bidding.  Crossing the threshold, he stepped down onto a wood floor.  He saw a large room set out as both kitchen and commons.  The kitchen was to the right with an old cook stove, ice chest, sink and cabinets.  In front of him stood a large oak dining room table with six wood chares around it.  Mrs. Farmer pulled one of the chairs out and motioned him to have a seat.

“Wouldya like coffee or juice?”

Russell sat down.  “Coffee would be fine, thank you.”

She nodded once and set a metal pot onto the cook stove.  A cabinet door was opened and two cups were brought to the dining table.  She placed one before Mr. Jones and set one in front of a chair where she sat down.

Looking into her cloudy eyes, Russell could see both pain and inquiry.  “You know, I really can’t discuss much about this until your husband arrives.”

“Ah know.  ‘E’s a good man, really.  Just gits tied up with easy ways ta try and make more cash.  ‘E sez he don’t want ‘is kids ta ‘afta work as ‘ard as ‘e ‘as ta.”

“Do you know anything about the place where he plays cards?”

A slight nod of her head.  “Yeah.  Thet man, Miklin’s a lyin’ cheat.  Ah tell Edsil not ta go, plead with ‘im, really.  But it’s like ‘E’s pulled thar by somethin’ ah can’t explain.”

Russell felt bad for the woman.  He’d heard stories like this so many times in the past.  Households ruined by the husband’s compulsion to gamble at any cost to the family.

Mrs. Farmer pushed herself away from the table.  She went to the stove and retrieved the coffee pot.  It had a wood handle so she didn’t need a cook glove to pick it up.  Walking carefully to the table, she poured the contents into both cups.  Finished, she returned the pot to the stove, placing it away from the heated surface.

“Do ya need anythin’ wit yer cuppa?”

“No, Mam.  This will do fine.”

She went to the ice box taking out a small pitcher.  Back at the table, she poured some cream into her drink and sat down again.

“Nice and hot,” Russell said.

“Ya speak such good Anglich.  Makes a body a bit embarrassed.”

“Don’t be.  Government training is all it is.”

“Wish there was jobs like yer’s what Edsil could do.  Might turn ‘im ‘round.”

“Might be something to look into some day.  But you’d all have to move to New London.”

“Yeah, don’t know if’n ‘e’d like movin’ ‘way from the farm.  Suppose it’s in ‘is blood.”

With that I heard hoof beats outside and dogs barking.

“Edsil and Tom’s ‘ome.”

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