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Will Jamison and The Black Swan Mine Chapter 16 Something MoreTo Think About

Story ID:2287
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Medlin Iowa USA
Year:1895
Person:Will Jamison
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I'm posting this chapter a day earlier than usual. Tomorrow there will be another chapter, but then there will be a hiatus of a few weeks as I'm going to be on an overseas trip. Will Jamison will continue when I return the week of July 9th.

Chapter 16

Something More To Think About

When a hard object hit his back, Will stumbled, and his cap sailed off his head. He caught himself before he could fall face down in the dirt road and raised his head in time to see Leo running away.

"Watch yer step, Wee Will. Watch yer step," Leo called over his shoulder. He laughed and ran on, swinging his lunch bucket in a wide arc as he bolted past other miners walking to the Black Swan. One man shook his fist at Leo after the large, dirty boy knocked him aside.

Will retrieved his cap and slapped it on his head. He pulled it down firmly. "Why does he have to call me Wee Will?" he grumbled. "I don't call him Lumbering Leo even though it fits."

"That it does." Tom Scott bit his lip but soon a smile spread across his face. "But, Leo's to be pitied, Will. He lives a hard life and always has."

"I don't feel one bit sorry for him," Will said “He….”

Da broke in, "Leo's mother walked out when he was just a babe, left him with a no-good father. He doesn't have anyone to care about him or fix nice meals the way you have, Will."

"Besides that," Tom Scott added, "Leo's father blames everyone but himself for his own troubles. The man can't hold a job, and he can’t call any man a friend. He's lazy and mean, hates himself, and he takes it out on Leo."

What did Tom mean? How would Leo's father take it out on him? Will stopped abruptly. "You mean he beats Leo?"

Da laid his arm across Will's shoulder. "It's why Leo turns around and is mean to those smaller than himself. You know they live in a shack behind Bloomer's Boarding House. I would think the best food Leo gets is the scraps Bertha Bloomer tosses their way."

Will held up the lunch bucket he carried. "Gran always packs us a good lunch, doesn't she?"

Da smiled. "She does, Will."

"Doesn't hurt either that your Gran is about the best cook in or near Medlin," Tom Scott added. "Now, my Amanda is a wonderful woman, but she can't hold a candle to your Gran when it comes to cooking, Will. Fact is, Amanda burns as many dinners as not. Guess that's why I'm such a beanpole, eh? I kind of hope Emily learns how to cook at your house."

They had reached the mine, and, while he waited for the cage that would take him below ground, Will squatted down and lifted the lid on his lunch bucket. Gran had packed a sandwich of thick slices of the bread she’d baked on Saturday. Creamy butter covered each slice. Next to the sandwich rested a small tin dish of beans. Gran baked them all day to get just the right flavor. For dessert she had added three hermit cookies. So, Uncle Jack didn't eat them all. Gran must have saved some. Nobody packed a good lunch for Leo. Nobody cared, nobody loved him enough to make special things for him like Gran did. He patted the lid into place and headed to the cage.

When he reached the bottom, he walked right by Artie who was settling into his niche, grease pot and rag raised in futile greeting. Will's mind was full of tumbling thoughts, one getting in the way of another. He had to sort out Zena's encouraging words, Uncle Jack's offer, and this new thing—Gran showing her love through the food she prepared.