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Across the Fruited Plain by Means

Beechams don't run off nobody knows where

"All together!" whooped Dick. "And not any school!"

"Now, hold your horses," Grandma cautioned. "Beechams don't run off nobody knows where, without anyway sleeping over it."

But though they "slept over" the problem and talked it over as hard as they could, going to the cranberry bogs was the best answer they could find for the difficulty. It seemed the only way for them to stay together.

"Something will surely turn up in a month or two," Daddy said. "And without my kids"--he spread his big hands--"I haven't a thing to show for my thirty-two years."

"The thing is," Grandpa summed it up, "when we get out of this house we've got to pay rent, and I'm not making enough for rent and food, too. No place to live, or else nothing to eat."

Finally it was decided that they should go.

Now there was much to do. They set aside a few of their most precious belongings to be stored, like Grandma's grandma's painted dower chest, full of treasures, and Grandpa's tall desk and Rose-Ellen's dearest doll. Next they chose the things they must use during their stay in Jersey. Finally they called in the second-hand man around the corner to buy the things that were left.

Poor Grandma! She clenched her hands under her patched apron when the man shoved her beloved furniture around and glanced contemptuously at the clean old sewing machine that had made them so many nice clothes. "One dollar for the machine, lady."

Rose-Ellen tucked her hand into Grandma's as they looked at the few boxes and pieces of furniture they were leaving behind, standing on stilts in Mrs. Albi's basement to keep dry.

"It's so funny," Rose-Ellen stammered; "almost as if that was all that was left of our home."

"Funny as a tombstone," said Grandma. Then she went and grabbed the old Seth Thomas clock and hugged it to her. "This seems the livingest thing. It goes where I go."

At last, everything was disposed of, and the padrone's agent's big truck pulled up to their curb. Two feather beds, a trunk, pots, pans, dishes and the Beechams were piled into the space left by some twenty-five other people. The truck roared away, with the neighbors shouting good-by from steps and windows.

Grandma kept her eyes straight ahead so as not to see her house again. Grandpa shifted Jimmie around to make his lame leg more comfortable, just as they passed the cobbler's shop with "TO LET" in the window. Grandpa did not lift his eyes.

"I hope Mrs. Albi will sprinkle them Bronze Beauty chrysanthemums so they won't all die off," Grandma said in a choked voice.


The truck rumbled through clustering cities, green country and white villages. All the children stared in fascination until Jimmie grew too tired and huddled down against Grandma's knees, whining because he ached and the sun was hot and the truck was crowded.

Grandpa kept pointing out new things-holly trees; muskrat houses rising in small stick-stacks from the ponds; farms that made their own rain, with rows and rows of pipes running along six feet in air, to shower water on the vegetables below.

It was late afternoon, and dark because of the clouds, when the truck reached the bogs. These bogs weren't at all what Rose-Ellen and Dick had expected, but only wet-looking fields of low bushes. There was no chance to look at them now, for everyone was hurrying to get settled.

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