“There’s worse ’an redskins,” Rev. Jackdaw said. “Whores.” He wiped the beard around his mouth with his sleeve cuff and looked directly at Pa. “I’ll take your daughter’s hand in marriage.”
Effie needed a moment to make sense of what she’d heard. Then felt something she hadn’t in over a week: the urge to laugh.
Pa wasn’t laughing, and Ma’s eyes widened as if she’d been slapped. Neither parent spoke.
The quiet grew, clutching at Effie’s throat. Why was no one roaring objections? Why wasn’t Pa using the barrel of his shotgun to nudge Rev. Jackdaw across the floor and out the door?
Granny clapped her bony hands together. “God-a-mercy!” she shrieked. “If-fee, you’re to be a preacher’th wife.”
Pa’s eyes still didn’t lift. He still didn’t rise from his chair, bang on the table, and shout, No! Not my daughter.
Rev. Jackdaw went on eating. Across the table, Johnny’s face looked fixed to weep. Skeet leaned closer to Effie. “Istressmay Ackdawjay.” Mistress Jackdaw.
“God-a-mercy!” Granny cried a second time. As though she’d just received the white dove that failed to descend on Effie at the pond. “A preacher’th wife.”
“Pa?” Effie managed. What did he suppose she’d done with the preacher? He’d sent her to Jury. He’d stood in the dark that night holding the reins of a saddled horse. “Go,” he’d ordered. “Go see that boy. Go see that boy. Wife him, need be. He’ll do what’s right by you.”
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