The mornin’ skies were pitch black, and like woeful tears, the rain spilled from the clouds, leavin’ behind deep, murky puddles. Others complained, but I loved to splash barefoot in them and did so whenever I could. The constant drippin’ thundered in pots throughout the house, and a new leak was discovered in the great room, where I sat beside a cheerful old woman named Mrs. Taylor. She used to run away, only to get caught beggin’ in front of the feed store, then she’d wind up right back at the Farm.
Before her uncle died, he used to visit her and smuggle gin inside a hollowed-out book right into her room. Mamma said that the poor woman was inconsolable when she drank liquor. It was durin’ those times that she went into lock-up. I s’posed it was to protect her from herself. Mamma said that just like Dolly May, she had lost the will to live. Only Mrs. Taylor didn’t slip away unnoticed, into a silent pond, never to take another breath. Her triumph over Death was because of the curious handiwork of angels and time. In the end, what haunted her in her youth had become what she lived for. She managed to get old and feeble, perhaps forgettin’ about losin’ the will to live.
When she wasn’t talkin’ about her husband, a handsome gambler who left when she was with child, she rocked and sang to a balled-up blanket that she referred to as baby Earline. No one really knew what happened to Earline. When others questioned or tried to reason with her, Mamma stopped them. There’s no sense in pryin’; it’s her truth, and she’s happy with it. Samuel Hodgdon, II 1878 Excerpt: Down from the Tree Etched in Granite (3)