"I let go of that cart and ran off to see about my boy. I met Momma, who the baby had scared half to death with his screaming. She hadn't known what else to do but to carry him towards his mother in mortal fear that he would fall into cramps or somethin' equally as awful. That heavy baby, the frights and the running had taken the old woman's breath away."
"She did manage to say that it was high time someone took the baby off her hands. She said that she would never go through that again and that she would rather pull the cart her ownself."
"She said she had never seen a more determined baby in all my life than that Zacharias," said Esther.
"I'll say," said Jeremias. "We learned pretty quick what it was like to have a master in the house, even if it were a wee one. But that didn't upset the household much. Esther took real good care of things at home. She did a good deal of gardenin' and helped gather them eggs. She didn't overdo it none, but was always hard at it and got everythin' done real quick like. It seemed as if she never tired out. I was amazed how well off I was with a wife and how my income grow'd. After a while I got me a small plot of land, and Momma got her a goat or two."
"Even though I was the one what took care of them," said Esther.
"I still didn't want no donkey, but I did have to arrange with a truck farmer who drove to town every day. I made me a special rack to protect them eggs and had to pay him a little, which of course reduced my earnings somewhat."
"Mr. Jefferson regretted that a good deal, cause it pained him to see a single penny spent without need."
"My life once again went real smooth, the days followed one another like a line of ants gatherin' sugar, one scarcely different from the next. The number of hens I owned grew every year and Mrs. Jefferson give me a beautiful child almost every year without it seeming to bother her none."
"I would birth a baby, and put it in its cradle. It cried a little every day and grew a little every day, and in no time it could help out, too. Momma said she had never seen anything like it. They reminded her of kittens who could start to catch mice just about as soon as their eyes opened."
"How did you manage them all?" I asked.
"Well, you got to know some tricks is what," said Esther.
"Could you give me an example?"
"Well, let's suppose that all them young'uns but one is bein' taken care of and I had to go outside to do somethin' or other. Well, I would left up the foot of the bed and put it down on the hem of its dress, then I would put molasses on the tip of each of its fingers and hand it a little feather. That baby would try to shake off that feather, see, then he would pick it off with the other hand. But then he still couldn't shake it off, so he would pick it off again with the other hand. This would keep it occupied for thirty or so minutes and it couldn't get in no trouble."
"That's very smart," I said.
"And there was a blessin' in them young'uns. It seemed the more young'uns we had, the more money we had." He smiled broadly. "Momma even lived to see me buy her a cow."