"They grew up like a well-watered corn stalk and were happy and healthy. We didn't have much time to fondle them young'uns, but they knew we loved them and could see our pleasure when they done good by their chores. We prayed with them, and on Sundays I read to them from the Good Book, explaining what I read as best I could," said Jeremias.
"Them young'uns had a great respect for Mr. Jefferson. They looked on him as the king of his castle who talked to the Lord and told the Lord if they didn't behave proper."
"The true respect of young'uns for their parents depends very much on the parents' relationship with the Lord and on how the young'uns can see that relationship. If only all parents kept that in mind," said Jeremias.
Esther lay a hand on her husband's forearm. "Mr. Jefferson here was respected by more people than just his young'uns. He was so honest, so dependable, sensible, and always acted so decently, not puttin' on airs or actin' like a beggar neither. When many a highbrowed city woman heard that the Egg Man was there, she would come to the kitchen just to hear how things were goin' in the country and to hear all the details of this or that. Many a household in town hired him to deliver their winter food stuffs, which brought us some nice extra cash."
"Well, except for that pastor's wife. She drove me up a tree most days," said Jeremias.
"What pastor's wife?" I asked.
"Well, it's a matter of pure fact that around these parts back then, most every pastor's wife accepted more gifts from the congregation than was fittin'," explained Jeremias. "She had so much food they could hardly find room to put it all. She seemed a bit uppity when she come into the kitchen. Sometimes she would ask me to step into the parlor, and then we chatted away pleasantly a half hour or so over some sweet elderberry...ah, lemonade. Most pastor's wives thought they had the right to gossip with whoever they pleased."
"Even the mayor's wife, a white woman, chatted with Mr. Jefferson. It had become, so to speak, a matter of burnin' need for her to see him every Saturday."
"Well, it does even a mayor's wife good to have a bit of intelligent conversation once a week," he said with a smile.
"Then one day it happened," said Esther dreamily.
"What happened?" I jotted the description of the old woman's odd expression.
"It was a Friday," said Jeremias.
"It was a Saturday," she corrected.
Both old people paused.
"And?" I prodded.
"I didn't show up," said Jeremias.
"Were you sick?"
The older people laughed.
Jeremias looked at me.
"Don't rush us. This is the good part."