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Wash Day and Washington

Secondary Kids Stories | 9-12 yrs | Reading Pod

It was wash-day at Ware’s Wigwam; the first that Joyce and Jack had personally conducted, as it was the first Monday after moving from Lee’s ranch. Out in the back yard a big tin wash-boiler sat propped up on stones, above a glowing camp-fire. From time to time Jack stooped to poke another stick of mesquite into the blaze, or give the clothes in the boiler a stir with an old broom-handle. Then tucking up his shirt-sleeves more firmly above his elbows, he went back to the tub by the kitchen door, and, plunging his arms into the suds, began the monotonous swash and rub-a-dub of clothes and knuckles on the wash-board.

“We allee samee lak Chinamen,” he said to Joyce, who was bending over another tub, rinsing and wringing. “Blimeby, when we do heap more washee, a cue will glow on my head. You’ll be no mo’ Clistian lady. You’ll be lil’l heathen gel.”

“I believe you’re right,” laughed Joyce. “I certainly felt like a heathen by the time I had finished rubbing the first basket full of clothes through the suds. The skin was off two knuckles, and my back was so tired I could scarcely straighten up again. But it won’t be so bad next week. Mamma says that we may draw enough out of the bank to buy a Washing-machine and a wringer, and that will make the work lots easier.”

A long, shrill whistle out in the road made them both stop to listen. “It’s Phil,” said Jack.

“He said he would ride past this morning to show us the new horse he is going to buy.

My! It’s a beauty bright!” he exclaimed, peering around the corner of the kitchen, “Come out and look at it.”

Hastily wiping the suds from his arms, and giving a hitch to the suspenders of his old overalls, he disappeared around the house. Joyce started after him, then drew back, remembering her old shoes and wet, faded gingham, as she caught sight of Phil, sitting erect as a cavalryman on the spirited black horse. From the wide brim of his soft, gray hat to the spurs on his riding-boots, he was faultlessly dressed. A new lariat hung on the horn of his saddle, the Mexican quirt he carried had mountings of silver on the handle, and the holster that held his rifle was of handsomely carved leather. While he talked to Jack, the Horse stepped and pranced and tossed its head, impatient to be off.

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