Where Lilacs Still Bloom

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick Read Free Book Online

Book: Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jane Kirkpatrick
Cooley’s carried.
    “How many would you need?” Frank said.
    “Oh no. It was just a daydream, Frank. Truly.”
    We really couldn’t afford expensive French plants just for pleasure like that. Fritz outgrew his shoes and needed newones, and the girls planned a summer wedding, and we never knew how much milk the cows would give or what price the cheese would bring, even with the cooperative’s stabilizing help. Besides, we’d just bought the house my father had built, closer to Woodland proper, away from the Bottoms. We didn’t have money to spare as we planned to move into that house and have the wedding reception there. We were raising Papa’s house up three feet to weather the floods. No money or time to spare for hybridizing. And I’d be transplanting from our Bottoms farm to the house on Pekin Road so that was plenty to keep me busy.
    “Could you get enough starts that if successful, you could sell them in a catalog?”
    “Oh. No. I don’t think so. No. I … I wouldn’t do it for money. Just forget it, Frank.” I turned the page. I didn’t know why he was being like this, suddenly promoting my interest in plant breeding. Had I spoken too often out loud about my girls leaving home and the emptiness I thought that would bring?
    He got up and stood looking over my shoulder, reaching down to push back to the page I’d been perusing. “So, how many would you need?”
    “Fifteen,” I said before I could stop myself. “You couldn’t do much with fewer than fifteen. And I’d have to order a white one, hoping it shades to cream along with ones known for hardiness and a few with a heady scent. Five of each kindwould do it.” I caught my breath and my senses. “No, Frank, we really can’t afford—”
    “Yes, we can. I bought a new bull two years back; I guess you can buy a few posies.”
    “But the cost—”
    “We’ll sell a cow,” he said. “Carl’s been wanting that heifer from Daisy and the bull. She promises to be a good milker. If he still wants the heifer, you can order your lilacs. All the way from France.” Carl’s my sister Bertha’s husband and Frank’s best friend.
    “Oh, Frank, you are the dearest man alive!” I stood and kissed him, then over my shoulder I saw the boxes I’d gathered to pack up for our move. I stepped back. “No. I can’t justify the expense and neither can you. I won’t have it.”
    His neck colored red with my pronouncement. The wife isn’t supposed to have the last word, but I spoke the truth.
    “You may be right.” Frank shrugged. “You usually are. All right. I won’t talk to Carl.”
    I felt a twinge of regret with my certainty. My persuasive powers sometimes worked against me.
    That night I dreamed of a creamy lilac, the color of pale butter. And when I awoke, I knew that’s all there’d be, just the dream of one.

T EN

J ASMINE
1903
    Y ou gots to let this child go to school, sir,” Jasmine told the tailor in his Woodland shop. “She need brain work. Missing that’s why she behave so bad. She coming up with things to trouble you and me and her too.” Jasmine knew she ought not speak up to the man who had been her employer for years, but his head was buried in cloth, worryin’ over competition of store-bought goods, and she feared he’d forgotten about his Nelia. She had to stand for the child. She couldn’t stand well with her aching hips, but a body must do what it must for the happiness and well-being of children.
    “There are plenty of books at the house for her to read,” he said. “She’d probably be asked to leave school by the second day anyway, since she behaves so badly.” He glared at the child. “Cutting up perfectly good clothes. The child’s possessed.”
    “No sir; ain’t no possession. There a smart girl inside, andshe need ways to challenge her mind so it can get out without harming her. Or us.”
    “Then set her to work cooking. Mrs. Runyan can use the help. You too, can’t you?”
    “Yes sir, we needs

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