A Preview of JOAB

Chapter 10
Give Them Heart

Joab woke early, even before the waking call promised by Mrs. Raines. He had slept well, at peace with yesterday’s decisions and promises to himself. He had a job, a place to pillow his head at night, food to eat. There was little more that he needed—there was yet more that he wanted. Aggie had promised to meet him at the tea room tonight. He must stop by at noon and tell her it would be near seven before he could get back from the sawmill, which was at the edge of town on the road that leads to Harrisburg.
He dressed and slipped out of the house thinking what a lovely southern lady, Mrs. Raines. Their home was quite comfortable, in Oxford town, a bungalow under shady oaks and huge magnolias, with ivy growing from the brick street to the front porch steps, a porch that wrapped around over half of the house, behind which was a small barn and a corncrib all fenced about.  He was blessed to have stepped into such a fine setting. He didn’t want to be cynical with thoughts that such extravagance was too good to be true. At the same time, he sought to release his skepticism to Divine Providence, believing the part about “every good and perfect gift.”
It was five o’clock. Joab rode Star to the University campus and turned her toward the stream. He had not wanted to disturb Mrs. Raines at such an early hour, besides, he wanted to remain as independent as he could. He was determined not to disrupt anyone’s life. Hiram was still on duty, and he would see him before his shift was over. He needed a pick and shovel and he needed to know the location of the town’s dumping place.
He dismounted at the stream and let Star drink. He already loved this place. And it was his favorite time of year. The trees were changing color and dropping their leaves en masse on the grounds of the University. Picturesque, he thought. This place is heavenly. He took his bag and scrounged for one last ham biscuit in the flour sack. He would get coffee with Hiram. He scarfed down the ham biscuit, washed his face and hands in the cold stream and rode downtown. He could go in the strength of the biscuit for the biggest part of the day. Tall and sturdy with wide shoulders, he could stand to lose a few pounds, but not many.
“Morning, Hiram!”
“Well, sir, there’s not a lazy bone in your body. How did you sleep in an unfamiliar bed?”
“Like a baby,” said Isaac. “Guess you’re ready to head towards home.”
“Right after I make us a pot of coffee. Else wise, I might fall asleep in the saddle on my way in.”
“I was hoping for a cup. Also, I’d like to borrow a pick and shovel until I can get dollars enough to purchase my own.”
“We’ve got one of everything they is in the shed out back,” Hiram said. “I’ll fetch you one of each, show you where everything is, and you can get what you need as you need it. Don’t go buyin’ nothin’.”
“Much obliged, Mr. Raines. I’ll return them each day before I head for the saw mill.”
“Now, son, don’t you think it would save time and energy if you just call me Hiram? Everybody else does.” He spoke in a slow southern drawl, pronouncing every word with an extra syllable or two.
“Well, I don’t want to be left behind, sir—Hiram. But you’re a giant of a man to me, and I don’t want to be disrespectful.”
“But you said we was brothers—Confederate brothers.”
“That I did, and I meant it—Hiram.” 

Joab finished a second cup of coffee, with cream and honey right out of the comb and in a quart fruit jar. They headed out the door to shuffle through the garden tools. Hiram laid out a pick and shovel, an old rake and a cotton hoe. Hanging on the side of the shed was an old wooden wheel barrow, in pretty good shape. It would suffice to carry scrap iron and tin and metal to the dumping place . . .

Coming Fall of 2012
Jane Bennett Gaddy
Trinity, FLA