“Florence, you come here this instant!” Ms. Pringle yelled, “you must work before play!” Now when my mama says that, she really means you must work at all times, meaning, no play only work! I slowly pushed up off the ground and stroud over to the house. Ms. Pringle, as I call her, not mama, walked back into the house. I murmured something under my breath, and then moved into the house after her. She stared at me with dislike and then pointed to the sink. It was piled high with clean and dirty dishes for me to wash. I stumbled over to the kitchen sink and grabbed a pot. Scrubbing it with all my might, I rinsed it and moved on to the next dish. Ms. Pringle came wandering over, peered at the pot and stuck it back into the sink. “Child! You must learn to wash dishes and then polish them! Polish them all!” I nodded my head, and worked on the pot once more. My arms burned with the scalding hot water, but I would dare not complain. If I complained to Ms. Pringle, she would whip me, even though girls are not to be wiped. She broke the law when she whipped me. That is why she thinks that I should be whipped.
Ms. Pringle is not my real mama, she is my stepmama. Papa had died a few months before little Jep was born. Jep is the only thing that can soften Ms. Pringle’s heart of stone. He is her only joy and hope. She thinks that with Jep she will be able to find another husband. Jep is literally no were near cute. He farts and burps all the time, and you wouldn’t expect this to come out of Ms. Pringle’s mouth, but what she says about it, is the dumbest thing in the world. She says, “now isn’t that my good boy.” I was amazed the first time she said that, and kind of shocked to hear that come out of Ms. Pringle’s very own mouth.
Ms. Pringle had told me not to pack for the trip, it’s not like I wasn’t listening to her. I only packed things that I didn’t trust her with. I packed every last thing of Papa’s into my carpetbag. I had made that bag out of an old flour sack. It held every little thing that I had earned or found. If it was a rock, Ms. Pringle was sure to take it away and say, “what use is a rock? You are not acting the way I thought an eight year old child should act. You must set an example for Jep. Jep… my sweet darling!” Then she would go babbling about something that didn’t even make sense. Most of the time when she says, “Jep my sweet darling!” I don’t really think that he is her sweet darling, or whatever she calls him, because I take up most of my time taking care of him! I would think that if Ms. Pringle really did love Jep, she would spend most of her time with him.
Ms. Pringle doesn’t know what I cept in my carpetbag, so when she was just inches from the door, I stuck the rock that I found into my pocket and closed the carpetbag.
She was over me now, glaring at the carpetbag. She didn’t say anything till she saw a small book sticking out of the corner in the carpetbag, I probably hadn’t sowen that up very well. “I need that book, Florence!”
“Why?” Now, this was a perfectly normal question to ask. I mean, why does someone just want a book right then and there, when she already has five others. This book was special, and Ms. Pringle didn’t like it when special things didn’t come to her. My old school teacher had made this book, she had tied it all together with a tough piece of string.
“I told you to give it to me! You listen to me when I tell you something, girl!” Ms. Pringle called me girl, more than she should have. I tried to ignore her, but nodded my head slowly. She snatched the book from me, took one good look at it, dropped it on my bed, and stormed out of the room.
Ms. Pringle came back in not long after that. “Florence! You mind not to pack anything that is unnecessary and not useful. I will look through that carpetbag of yours when you are done packing it. She left, leaving me all alone to take out the stuff that she didn’t have to see. Most of Papa’s stuff I hid under the bed. Next, my favorite doll. Ms. Pringle had tried to take it away when I was at least three. I snatched up my favorite thing of all, a small wooden necklace that Papa had made for me, and hid it in my pocket with the stone. All that was left in my carpetbag that Ms. Pringle could see, were my favorite summer dress, a few pairs of socks, a petticoat, and a nice pair of gloves, that Ms. Pringle insisted on me taking.
Ms. Pringle stormed into the room, she frowned when she saw the small carpetbag in my hands. “Empty it! Florence, look at me!” I looked at her and nodded my head. “Good, now what have you packed that is useful?” I showed her the clothes that I had packed. Seeing that the frown on her face wasn’t changing I added a pretty vail, that I would never ever wear. She still frowned. “Dresses Florence! How many times must I tell you to bring your formal dresses!?” I looked at the ground, scurried over to the dresser and grabbed all the dresses that I hadn’t bothered to look at for months. “Florence!” I snapped my head up, and looked at her with worried eyes. “Stop that, this instant!” She grabbed all the dresses out of my hands, folded them, and put them in a proper bag on the ground. “You may keep your dirty childish clothes in your ugly little carpetbag, but you must give me all your other fine beautiful clothes!”
“Yes ma’am,” is all that came out of my mouth. I stumbled back to work, cleaning and scrubbing. When finally she let me go, my hands were parched and dirty with oil. I gasped at what I saw next, my hands were bleeding from all the work. Grabbed a toal for my parched, dirty, and bleeding hands, I washed them gently. Finally, they weren’t bleeding as bad. I wrapped my hands in bandages and stumbled to get back to packing.
You might be wondering why I stumble so much. Well, I have a twisted knee. So when I walk, it is mostly stumbling.
"Florence! Get into your bed! You need to be able to work tomorrow!" I stumbled my way to bed and lay there thinking for a long long time before I fell asleep.