Susan Higgins had married a boy from her village. Jas had a good job as a cow hand and had to get up early
in the morning to let the cows in who had gathered round the dairy and to help with the
milking in the afternoons as well. Sue was the last one left at home in her family and
she could almost hear the sigh of relief when she walked out of door for the
last time. When they got married the farmer offered them the cottage that her
own granddad had lived in before he died. Sue could barely remember her granddad now as he
had passed on when she was little. Her grandma now lived with her parents. Her
Mum confided in her that she was worse than all the kids together as nothing
was ever done right in the old ladies eyes as she moaned all the time. When she heard that Sue thought that her Mum would have liked to have her back home
again, but those times were passed for she had her own man to look after now.
Jas came home after he had mucked
out the dairy and the younger boys had taken the cows back to the paddock. He
brought home a pail with his allowance of milk. She took it looked at it and
sniffed it and said “I hope we can get a decent amount of butter from this
Jas, we are running out”.
“You only have to ask at master’s
kitchen door, girl.”
Susan shook her head. She wanted
to show that she could manage without knocking on their door all the time. She
had already got her garden dug up and growing veggies and there were a few
chooks in the run at the back already laying eggs. She loved having her own
home. She was proud to be married and being Jas’s wife.
“It’s bath night tonight Jas, so
get the tin bath in will you? The copper’s lit so we can both have one.”
Jas’s eyes lit up. He knew what
that would mean. Sue would have a bath as well and they would go to bed
afterwards and she would smell so sweet and he would sleep really well
afterwards when they had fondled each other and talked of babies and the names
they would call them when they came along. Susan had already decided on the
names if it was boy he would be called James like him and if it were a
girl her name would be Jasmine so she could called Jas too.
After the meal was over, Jas brought in the tin bath, Susan
turned down the oil lamps and bolted the door and filled the bath that was
placed in front of the fire with water from the copper. Their towels were laid in front of the fire to
warm up and as usual she had her bath first. When they first got married she
had told him to go and make sure the chickens were locked up while she bathed
and got out before he returned but now he was allowed to stay. He knew not to
say too much as that would come later in bed but he was to fetch the towel for her and wrap it round her and help her out of the bath. Then he would have
his bath while she dried off properly and combed and brushed her hair. She would scrub his back
and then would disappear upstairs while he emptied the bath and hung it up
again outside before locking the doors putting the guard in front of the fire and going to to bed himself. On this night they didn't
talk much as there was so much more to do before they fell asleep.
In the morning they were up
before six o’clock and she would be down first in the kitchen making porridge and toast.
Then off to work he would go and return mid morning after the milking. By then Sue had made the
bed, cleaned the fireplace, churned some of the milk to make butter and swept
everything out the door over the stone threshold. Then she grabbed the bucket
of ashes and threw them down on the path that led down to the chook house.
She checked that Jas had let the chickens out on the way to the dairy and
gathered the eggs from the nests and put them in her apron as she walked slowly
back to the house.
As she walked in through the door she
said to herself. “I expect Grandma used to do everything exactly the same as
me.” Then she laughed when she thought about Jas and her in bed last night.