Authors: Dorothy Garlock
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General
The Edge of Town
A Time Warner Company
This book is a work of historical fiction. In order to give a sense of the times, some names of real people or places have been included in the book. However, the events depicted in this book are imaginary, and the names of nonhistorical persons or events are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of such nonhistorical persons or events to actual ones is purely coincidental.
HE EDGE OF TOWN. Copyright © 2001 by Dorothy Garlock. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
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A Time Warner Company
A hardcover edition of this book was published in 2001 by Warner Books.
First eBook edition: April 2001
Visit our Web site at www.iPublish.com
The Edge of Town
A Gentle Giving
Love and Cherish
Ribbon in the Sky
River of Tomorrow
The Searching Hearts
Sins of Summer
The Listening Sky
This Loving Land
Wild Sweet Wilderness
Wind of Promise
After the Parade
More than Memory
To a very special lady, my editor,
FREDDA S. ISAACSON
You have been my teacher and my guide during the 31 books we have worked on together. I could never have done it without you.
With this dedication goes my appreciation and my admiration.
The Edge of Town
There’s loamy earth in Fertile, MO.
Men who seed, reap what they sow.
But where the dusty road grows narrow,
The rocky soil resists the harrow.
The yield is meager, profit down,
Farming on the edge of town.
If your name is Julie Jones,
You’ve learned to stifle inward groans,
Tending all your dead mom’s brood
As a proper daughter should.
You must not let it get you down
Living on the edge of town.
But in the night by gaslight’s glow
Your fears come rushing as you sew
That’s when the dreadful mem’ries rise,
And bitter tears bedim your eyes.
You cut a patch and mend a gown,
Existing on the edge of town.
From children’s beds comes dreaming laughter.
This farm is not “forever after.”
You smile with hope that someone strong
Will someday, somehow come along
To smooth away your troubled frown
With loving on the edge of town.
March 17, 1918
OR THE PAST WEEK SHE HAD FELT AN ACHE
in her lower back but not as sharp as this one. When the muscles of her body relaxed, she lowered herself to the stool to start milking the cow. Her strong fingers grasped the cow’s teats, and streams of milk hit the bucket. It was only half filled when a sharp pain knifed through her abdomen, and she realized she could no longer ignore what was happening.
Her time had come.
Clinging to the patient cow, she pulled herself to her feet and then, holding to the stall railing, inched her way to the barn door. An agonizing spasm of pain brought her to her knees and she feared that she would never make it back to the house. She tried to push open the barn door but had no strength.
Oh, Lord! It hurt so bad. She’d never dreamed that there could be such overpowering, racking pain. She fought to keep fear from clouding her mind. She was alone, and the baby inside her was tearing her apart.
“Remember,” she muttered. “Remember to take deep breaths, remember to push down.”
Oh, Lord, when it comes out, it will drop down onto the dirt floor.
Grasping the rail, she dragged herself back past the two big friendly workhorses, who neighed a greeting. In an empty stall covered with fresh straw, she shrugged out of her old sweater and quickly pulled the loose dress off over her head. When the cold air hit her damp body, she scrambled to pull the sweater back on again. First she got to her knees, then rolled over onto her back with her knees raised. She panted for breath and tried hard to remember everything she knew about childbirth.
Lord, help me!
“Help me! Somebody help me.” She tried to shout, but her voice came out in a whimper.
I can’t breathe!
She began to panic and rolled back onto her knees and, holding the stall post, positioned herself with her feet far apart. She remembered Mrs. Johnson, their neighbor, saying that Indian women gave birth in a squatting position.
The surge of water came first. From that moment on, her only reason for existing was to push from her body the thing that was causing the excruciating pain. She sobbed, she yelled, she prayed.
“Why me, Lord? What did I ever do to deserve this?”
She felt between her legs and realized the lump emerging from her was the baby’s head.
She drew in quick, gasping breaths. Holding tightly to the railing to ease her cramping legs, she concentrated on pushing the child out of her. After what seemed an eternity, the wet, bloody lump dropped from her body.
Sweating, exhausted and relieved, she hung there until she could get her breath. Movement alerted her to the live bundle between her knees. She picked it up, dug into its mouth with her finger to remove the mucus and saw with relief that it was breathing. The cord was still attached. Having nothing to cut it with, she severed it with her teeth and wrapped the baby in her dress. Too weak to stand, she squatted there, having completely forgotten about the afterbirth until she felt the surge of liquid between her legs.
Not even checking to see the sex of the child, she hugged it in the dress against her body and pulled the sweater around it to keep it warm. She was cold and tired but knew that she had to get to the house and prayed that she had the strength to climb the slight rise.
Jethro Jones was standing at the cookstove when the door opened.
“It’s about time. I was thinking ya hadn’t gone to milk yet.” He turned to look at her and saw her pale face and bloody clothes. “What the hell?” he exclaimed. His mouth remained open.