Sugarbush Road, Early Spring, 1900. "Mama, why do you cry so?" Oscar stared at me, his blue eyes orbs in which I beheld my own distraught reflection. Four sets of eyes peered at me, slumped in my rocking chair, weeping. While the twins eyed me with curiosity, Helen and Oscar's faces displayed grave concern, as they had rarely, if ever, seen their mother in such a state of complete disarray.
A rage burned within. Visions of shrieking and throwing plates, smoldered beneath my stinging tears. I had reached the boiling point with regard to Sam's continued lapses in judgment. Treading on dangerous ground, I had decided to take a stand. I trembled at the thought of confronting him, but I simply could no longer bear his loutish behavior. It had at last come to this, and the children now witnessed my overpowering dread.
The new year had begun with such promise. Sam occasionally disappeared in the evenings, but his demeanor had been so much more agreeable, I had tolerated his questionable absences--until now. I replayed in my mind our latest exchange at supper last night.
"Frankly Maggie, there are times when I need to get away for a few hours. An evening of cards or conversation with other men improves my attitude on the farm. You should be aware how monotonous farming can be and I find my brain needs company after days of repeated drudgery."
"Sam, can I not help relieve this drudgery? I would be pleased to play cards with you, discuss current events or go into town along with you for the evening. Life for me is often humdrum and tedious as well." I did not believe one whit of his purported "need" to be with other men and had called his bluff.
"Your understanding of my needs is obviously limited." He scoffed as he turned and walked away.
Somehow he had missed the point. Or, had I?
This morning, my heart breaking, I gazed upon my brood. "Oh, children, I love you so. No matter what might happen, I will always love you."
"What do you mean? What might happen, Mama?" asked Helen, alarmed.
In an instant, I recovered and pulled myself together. Sam would return from the fields at any moment and I needed to steady myself. "Oh, nothing will happen, dear one."
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