The next morning John awoke around 6:00 a.m. That was his usual time to get up. There was so much for him to do today. He wondered how Jessie had managed all night on the small sofa. He quickly dressed; blue jeans and a white t-shirt, then ran downstairs.
Jessie was still sound asleep. She was at least half way lying down now. John decided he would make them a nice breakfast to start their first morning off on a good note. After all, he remembered he had some making up to do, from last night.
There wasn’t much food in the kitchen, seeing as he’d been gone for so long. He needed to go out to the barn for eggs. He managed to cook up the eggs and some bacon from the freezer. It wasn’t perfect but would have to do. He wasn’t sure how to prepare Jessie’s eggs, scrambled he supposed, that’s how he liked his.
He walked into the living room. Jessie was still asleep, even with all the noise he had made while cooking breakfast! John was amazed. The trip must have really worn her out, he thought. He contemplated whether or not to wake her. He had so much to do and he thought that maybe she would want to ride into town with him.
“Jessie, wake up Jessie.”
“Mm…yes?” Jessie was not an early riser, most times she and the “girls” slept till at least noon, after all it wasn’t even quite till after 2:00 a.m. at the Hotel.
“Come on Jessie, I made breakfast.” She sat up quickly, at that moment she remembered exactly where she was, Johns house!
“I’m sorry to wake you, but it’s nearly 7:00 now and there’s a lot be done today.”
“Seven in the morning!” Jessie could hardly believe her ears. She yawned and stretched, “O.K., I’m coming.” She had heard John say something about breakfast. There was no way she could think about eating this early in the morning, but she knew she’d better get moving and prepare some breakfast for him. She didn’t want any problems her first morning here.
She stopped at the bathroom downstairs, what a sight she was this morning! Maybe she’d scare John away with her morning appearance and get out of making breakfast! Then she heard him fidgeting in the kitchen. She would have to snap out of her morning blues and fast. If John wanted breakfast at 7:00 in the morning, that’s what she would have to do. She’d fix herself up a bit later.
As Jessie walked into the kitchen, she saw the table set perfectly for two. There was milk, eggs and bacon. For her? She never knew a man to wait on a woman like this.
“Are you hungry?” he asked, “There aren’t any biscuits, I need to get a lot at the market today.”
“Yes! I’m very hungry,” She lied, and sat down at the table.
“Jessie, about last night, I’m sorry for not properly showing you around the house, and for leaving you alone for so long on your first night here and well, for the bed situation.”
Jessie didn’t say a word. She stared directly down at her plate.
“I will start working on a bed frame for you today, it shouldn’t take too long to make and we can order the mattress today while we are in town.”
She was shocked. Here he was apologizing for not properly showing her the house! And for not having a bed for her! And he had made her breakfast! She was glad she fell asleep last night before he had returned or she may have confronted him completely in the wrong manner. John was a good man, just like Aunt Betsy said. Her original fears of being sent off with him were obviously wrong.
“You don’t have to apologize, I understand, now.” She smiled warmly and ate all of her breakfast, it was very good and she didn’t want to hurt his feelings by not eating.
“Would you like to come with me into town today? It will give you a chance to get to know where things are around here.”
“Sure!” she answered, though she would have rather to stay and go back to sleep.
John stood up and immediately began clearing the table. “I’ll take care of this, you go and get ready to leave.”
She brought her suitcase upstairs. She chose to go into the smaller bedroom. She quickly put on a pair of pants and shirt, pulled her hair back with her gold barrette. She remembered when Veronica had given it to her. It was her way of saying thank you for all the help Jessie gave her with the baby. She looked in the mirror at herself and began fussing more with her hair when she heard John call.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes, I’m coming.”
Things certainly moved a lot faster around here then Jessie was used to. She was not completely comfortable with her appearance yet, but it would have to do. She hesitated for a moment, thinking how pleased she was with John’s actions so far; the breakfast, cleaning up, making her a bed right away, and asking her to come to town. Maybe Aunt Betsy was right about her needing a new life somewhere else after all. But still, she couldn’t help but wonder why she was so suddenly sent off, and why with John? He was much too nice to her if she was simply to be hired help.
The trip to town would take about a half an hour, John had told her. They rode in the wagon, which made Jessie a bit nervous. She had never ridden in one before. She had no reason to. If she needed to go to the market she simply walked across the road from the Hotel. It was very bumpy, and she had to sit close to John, their bodies nearly touched as the horses raced onto town.
“Jessie this is a small town. Everyone here knows everyone. So people will ask about you . . .”
“What should I say? Why am I here?” she interrupted.
“Well, I decided we should say you’re a friend of mine from the city”, he hesitated for the right words. “I’d rather nobody knows where exactly you come from. We do not have those types of Hotels here and people may assume the wrong idea about you and me. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Jessie said shyly. She was not too happy with his response. It explained nothing to her.
As they arrived in town, Jessie scanned the streets. There were not many people or wagons on the roads. She saw a small market. A restaurant, church, bank, and supply store.
“Jessie, I need to go to the bank and then pick up some wood from the mill. Could you handle the market?”
“Sure, um . . . what do you need?”
“Everything! There’s nothing at home!” he laughed. “Here’s the money, if you run short, tell Dave to put it on my account.”
As Jessie headed off to the market, she thought John must already trust her to just hand her money like that. She never handled money with Aunt Betsy. Everything was on credit or trade. She giggled as she said to herself, “Here’s grown up lesson number two . . . money and responsibility.”
The market was small but fully stocked. As she walked down the isles she realized this was going to be harder than she thought. She had no idea what John liked to eat.
She did like to cook. A lot of the time she’d help out in the kitchen at the Hotel, but she never had to make the decisions on what to cook.
Well she picked out what she thought were necessities: milk, bread, flour, eggs, cheese, ham, and a few vegetables. She saw some delicious looking chocolates, but though it might be too frivolous of her. She’d better not. Jessie thought she’d gotten all they needed, it was just the two of them after all.
She went up to the man at the counter, she assumed it was Dave, as John had said. There was no one else in the store.
“Do I know you?” he questioned as he totaled up her items.
“No, I’m a friend of Johns. My name is Jessie, and you must be Dave.”
“Yes, I am,” he said a bit puzzled.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you. I’m in a bit of a hurry, but I’m sure I’ll see you again.”
Jessie hoped he didn’t think she was being rude. She was a little nervous that he would begin to question her as John had said people might.
She didn’t end up spending all the money that John had given her. Did she forget some things? Or was it maybe a test somehow, to see if she was honest? She would never steal from anyone. But then, John didn’t know that.
When Jessie returned to the wagon, John had not arrived yet. She loaded the groceries and sat waiting for him. She’d be sure to let him know she had change for him right away.
“Hey, have you been waiting long?” called John as he loaded wood into the wagon.
“No, just a few minutes.”
“Did you meet Dave?”
“Yes, and I have change for you.” She began digging into her pocket.
“Just hold on to it till we get back.” He hopped into the wagon and signaled the horses. “Did he ask you a lot of questions?”
“Not really, I didn’t give him a chance to. I told him I was in a hurry. I only said that I was a friend of yours, like you said to.”
John still wasn’t sure how to explain all this to everyone and worse, to his family. For now the townspeople would accept their story of being friends. But John knew he would certainly be asked more questions than Jessie was, especially from his mother. Where is she from? Where is she staying? Why is she not staying at the Inn? He’d have to sort this out later, right now he had another problem.
“Uh, Jessie, about your mattress . . . there’s a problem. You see, like I said this is a small town and things have to be ordered, from the city, so it’s going to take awhile . . . about a month.” John waited for Jessie’s response but she said nothing. “We’ll just have to work something else out for now. I’ve got all the wood I need for the frame.”
Jessie sat in silence the rest of the way. What else could possibly be worked out? She would just have to remain on the small sofa. It was not exactly comfortable, and for a whole month, she wasn’t sure she could.
As they arrived back at the house, John began to unload his supplies, mostly wood and feed for the animals. Jessie grabbed the groceries and entered the kitchen. She put everything away, helped herself to a glass of water, and then made sure to set the change on the table where John would see it.
“Well, looks like you were able to find out where everything goes,” John said as he walked into the kitchen. “You know you can change things around a bit if you want to.”
“O.K.” she tried to smile.
“Jessie, what did you buy at the store? There’s way too much money left here.”
“Well, I got milk, eggs and ham and . . .”
John started laughing hysterically, “Jessie! Don’t you realize what you’re saying?”
“What? Did I do something wrong?”
He continued to laugh and it was beginning to make her angry.
“Stop laughing and tell me what’s so funny.”
“Jessie, you . . . you bought milk! I have cows. You bought eggs! I have chickens. Ham! I have pigs,” and he continued laughing.
“WELL IM SORRY!” Jessie shouted. “Forgive me for being so stupid! Where I come from you don’t have pigs to slaughter, or cows to . . . to milk and . . . and . . .”
She couldn’t find the words to even describe how foolish she felt right now. She stormed out of the house and onto the front porch, slamming the door behind her.
John followed her outside. “I didn’t mean to . . .”
“Just leave me alone! I don’t want to hear any more of your laughing.”
“Jessie, don’t act like a child!”
He began to walk off the porch but then hesitated.
“Look, it’s no big deal. We’ll use what you bought and next time we’ll make a list before you go shopping again.”
He looked for a smile from Jessie, but there was none. He turned his back and walked away. He had more important things to do right now. He was sure that Jessie would be fine later.
Jessie did feel like a child. A child who could do nothing right and knew nothing about being on a farm. She thought to herself that she’d better start thinking a lot more before she attempted to do things around here. She felt bad for shouting at John. After all, he had been so kind to her already. She would have to find a way to make it up to him, but how?