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The Strength of an Inmate:
 WHO IS AGNES?


Lewis Hine Photo

Agnes and Mamma showed up at the same time. Mamma was stooped over, walkin’ slower than usual, while Agnes stared at her own hands in disbelief. “Miss Hodgdon, my hands… the lye and blisters hurt like nothin’ I’ve ever felt,” she said. “The first week is the most difficult.” Mamma held her rough red hands out before her and turned them over, showin’ her calluses—meaningful, proud badges. “The next thing to face will be the pain in your back, shoulders, and arms,” she said. “Everything aches,” Agnes said. “In time, you’ll be stronger, and it won’t bother you as much as it does now. It may be your least favorite chore, but your body will adapt,” Mamma said. “It will?” “Out there in the world, there are few women and girls who possess the strength of an inmate here at the County Farm. If you are of sound mind and right with God, you will learn to find gratitude and grace within these walls. You’re so young. You shouldn’t be here much longer. It’s only a matter of months before you’ll be placed out. It’s puzzlin’ to me that you’re still here. But while you are here, Agnes, learn all that you can, and carry it with you.” Even Agnes agreed, sometimes it was impossible to respond to Mamma. You might have a good, strong point to make, but it mattered not. When she shared her hard-earned wisdom, it required time, possibly years, to comprehend the fullness of it. —Samuel, June 25, 1878 Down from the Tree Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series: Book Three ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Keep your eye on Agnes. There is so much more to her than we read on the page. In time, we will join her on a long-awaited journey. The Crows’ Path, Book Four—in the making.

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