Jum rode tall in the saddle as he entered the town of Lightning. Some folks thought the community of 300 people was destined to be a center of trade. Already boasted a bank and grocery store and 3 churches, but the train bypassed Lightning by ten miles. Jum thought that would keep Lightning from developing. What did he know…
He knew her name was Madge. He knew little else about her. No need in knowing more as there was little chance he would see her again.
It never occurred to Jum that he could be considered handsome. At twenty-six years of age he stood well over six foot with blue eyes that sparkled in stark contrast to the dark coloring of his Cherokee heritage.
Jum had little time for ladies as he helped Ma as much as he could. That was his choice; not Ma’s. Ma said she could take care of herself. Ma said God would provide. Jum hoped so; they sure couldn’t count on Pa. Matter of fact, no one even knew where Pa was most of the time. Pa would show up when they had all decided he was dead for sure.
Fact was that Ma had six kids and no man in the house. Ma took in washing and ironing and cleaned houses. Sometimes, she chopped wood with Jum. Ma sure could work considering she weighed less than 100 pounds.
Jum couldn’t concentrate. He wondered if he was “normal.” He shouldn’t be that nervous about meeting this girl. His mind wandered as he thought about his recent date with Chantelle.
Jum decided he STILL didn’t know what made her so persnickety. He had acted like a gentleman, leastways how he thought gentlemen were supposed to act. Not that he had ever seen a “real” gentleman, much less been around one for any length of time. He had arranged it so everything would be perfect when he went to call on Chantelle.
Everyone knew the smithy had the prettiest horse-drawn buggy in Smithville. Jum worked for the smithy one week in exchange for the use of the buggy for one afternoon.
Jum had dressed in his best clothes before going to Chantelle’s house. She was ready to go when he arrived.
“No, you don’t really need to meet my parents,” Chantelle had said. ” That really isn’t necessary. We, modern girls don’t go in for that old fashioned stuff any more.”
Jum thought he really should meet her folks. But, Chantelle ought to know. She had fixed a picnic lunch. Jum thought the basket was not like any basket he had ever seen. This one had cloth in it and there were plates and cups and silverware packed in it. And the food! Why, he had never seen so much fried chicken, potato salad, and apple pie! Jum remembered feeling guilty and wishing Ma and the kids could have shared it. But, he didn’t say a word about that to Chantelle.