TEARS OF THE FOOT GUARDS
SCHERZO - STAVE XXXIII
S T A V E
They thought Mary had run away, the first night missing attributed to the rum, but as days passed, it was obvious she was gone; if she’d become a whore, she would’ve been spotted.
Gone back to Philadelphia, the women thought. For the best. But when the pickets found her at the foot of the bluffs, she became the wives’ scandal. She said she’d do it. By God, she did.
Murder, some women said, and the Murderer dragged her there and threw her to her death with a Heartless Tongue. One must lay Blame – Jaruesha. And they hated her, openly, the veteran women too. They looked to Obedience, who said nothing (tacit consent they figured), increasing her prominence all the more, one she did not seek.
Jaruesha’s a shrew, Obedience thought, but that’s between her and me. We’re not so far apart, but damn her tongue. Truth’s isn’t goodness when it’s cruel. And who’s virtuous enough to speak it? Mary Hammell, she thought, I shouldn’t have let her go. God, forgive me. Forgive me for everything I’ve done . . . Forgive Jaruesha.
Jaruesha drank all the more, to Tom Tree’s alarm. “Drunken bitch! What’ve you to do with the Hammell woman? What did you say this time?” And slapped her.