Widow Ricketts: “Exit, pursued by a bear." - William Shakespeare
The oil just keeps rising like a dream. We can't seem to fill buckets fast enough. I tried to keep the laundry going, but now, I'm giving up. Diana and I need to focus on the oil that is coming out in a steady flow. It's day two and already every single tub has been filled with oil. Laundry is piled from ceiling to floor all over the house. We need to get proper equipment now. So what that means is the word will have to get out. So, yesterday I went into town to the general store and asked if I could purchase an oil drum. You should have seen the look on Mr. Stokes face.
“A what?” He said. “What you gonna do, wash laundry in it?”
I just politely answered, yes, I was thinking about it, trying to suppress the smile blooming across my face.
“There something you want to tell me about Widow Ricketts?” He asked and I just smiled and said.
“Yes, Mr. Stokes, you know how we had that fire night before last? Well, we used my well to put it out. In fact, we used it until it went dry. Funny thing is next morning when I went out to check to see if it had refilled, it had, but not with water, it had refilled with oil.”
“Well I'll be goddamned,” he said. “The Widow Ricketts has struck it rich. Who would have ever thought to drill right under the washer ladies house?” I just smiled and cleared my throat.
“So, about that drum, do you know where I could get one, say later today? We are in a real hurry as you might imagine.”
Just then, his eyes start to sparkle and he says. “You bet ma'am. I'll bring one over later today.”
“Thank you.” I said before I turned and walked away.
It was only a few hours later when Mr. Stokes and two other men arrived carrying a large drum on a wagon. All three men quickly dismounted and got to work setting it with a line to the well before Diana or I could say a word. While we were looking on, Mr. Stokes walks over stroking the shiny part of his sweating head with a handkerchief.
“There is something I've been meaning to ask you Widow Ricketts. Do you think we could have a private word?” He says, clearing his throat.
I can see his discomfort and the way the sun is punishing him so I say, “yes, why don't we sit down over here in the shade.”
“Thank you ma'am” he says. And we sit under the Hemlocks.
“Ma'am,” he says, “you know we both alone and this here project with the oil and all will likely be more than you and an old prostitute can handle. I was thinking, out of your protection, you might want to give me your hand in marriage? I 'll bet we could go down to the Methodist church and have Pastor Steadman perform the service tonight if you was so inclined.” He said almost out of breath by the end from all of the words he had forced out of his mouth.
I was so shocked by his proposal, the only thing I could think to do was stand and the only thing I could think to say was to quote Shakespeare,"I suggest you exit, Mr.Stokes unless you wish to be pursued by a bear!"
Well, you should have seen that man’s face. He turned beat red, huffed and turned fast on his heel together up his men. I just laughed and walked back to Diana.
“What was that about?” She says.
“Oh Lordy, I say, I have a feeling me and you are gonna have us a lot of new suitors once word gets out.” I say, laughing to myself.