Ephraim and Mary
|Ephraim, a seventeen year old carpenter by trade, and James, his younger brother, are re-roofing James’ friend, Willie Jones, parent’s barn. Ephraim stops hammering; perched, straddling the peak and crosses his arms. James climbs to pick up a few more tiles for the side of the house he is working on and notices his brother taking a break.
“What’s wrong Mac, you ready for lunch?”
“No, not yet.”
“Thirsty? I brought some lemonade.”
“No, I’m not thirsty,” Ephraim, said, staring of in the distance. “James do you know who that is? I’ve seen her around town a few times.”
“Who, who is, James asks looking up at Ephraim to find which direction he is looking and sees the glint in his eyes.
“That girl there, walking up the road with the bundle in her arms.”
“She helps Mrs. Jones around the house to make a little money. She’s probably bringing the mending back to her. She also helps clean. Wash clothes, and cook, and serve at banquets, the Jones’ have.”
“Is she available?”
“As far as I know she is.”
“Do you know her name?”
“Willie told me her name a while ago, but I can’t recall it. You should meet her, she’s a nice girl from what I seen.”
“Yeah?” asked Ephraim, becoming more intrigued by what he was hearing.
“Yeah,” replied James grabbing the tiles and climbing back to continue working.
“She sure is a pretty thing, isn’t she,” asked James.
“Man, she’s beautiful,” replied Ephraim, hammering away on the roof.
They worked a couple of hours,, before coming down fir lunch. As they were finishing the meal, she stepped out of the door. Ephraim walk towards her and say, “Good day to you Miss.”
Smiling cordially, “well good day to you, sir,” Mary said as she walked by.
Ephraim rose, catching up to her said, “my name is Ephraim, Ephraim Mac Moore; people call me Mac,” offering his hand.
She turns toward him, daintily shakes his hand. “my name is Mary, Mary Brown.”
“Do you visit here often?” he asked.
“Weekly,” Mary replied, depending on how much work Mrs. Jones has for me; why do you ask?”
“Well, Miss Mary, I think I would like to get to know you better.”
“You think so, do?”
“I do. So do you have work here tomorrow?”
“What time will you be here?”
“Same time, Nine O’clock.”
“Will you come out and have lunch with me at noon, I’ll pack enough for you and bring it with me.”
“I don’t know about that, Mr. Moore, besides I’m not sure I’ll be able to take a break at that time.
“Well I’ll pack your lunch just in case you to get a chance and please call me Mac.”
“All right then, Goodnight Mac,” Mary said, heading back in the direction from which she came without looking back.
Mac went back to his roofing.
“Man she’s some looker, huh Mac?”
“It’s not just that James, there’s more to her than looks, behind those gorgeous hazel eyes. I can tell by the way she carries and conducts herself. It’s like a special virtue, that I didn’t quite catch in this brief encounter.”
“Well you didn’t waste any time meeting her.”
“What and give some other lucky fella’ a chance before I at least try. It’s not my style little brother and you’d do well to take notes,” Mac said, throwing a rag at James.
James, catching the rag in mid air, “I have my eye on a special little someone.”
“Betsy, from church.”
“Betsy! Does she know you’re interested in her?”
Not yet, I don’t want her to feel I’m trying to rush her into anything.”
“You better kick it into second gear before Charlie Gordon, sweeps her away from you.”
“Mac, Charlie couldn’t sweep dirt under a rug.”
“Don’t;’ be so sure, I talked to her brother Jeremiah, yesterday. He said, Charlie asked her to go to the ice cream social, Saturday morning.”
“And she accepted?”
“Not as of yesterday, according to Jeremiah, she isn’t interested in Charlie, but if now one else asks her she’s going to accept. I know she hasn’t said anything, but she’s been peeking at you out of the corner of her eye. Now if you two can get both eyes on one another, you might just have something.”
“You don’t say, she’s got an eye on me?”
“That’s what Jeremiah says. He hears her talking to her girlfriends about you.”
Mac and James wrap up working for the day as the sun goes down.
The next morning the brother’s start on the roof, promptly at 8:00 as usual; Mac keeps a watchful eye out for Mary. When he spots a form approaching in the distance; he heart beats faster, and his eyes train to better focus, but the shape gets lost in the high glare of the sun. He continues working, constantly glancing up, judging the space and distance of the figure’s identity. May is finally close enough for him o recognize her, a pleasant smile curls his lips and he climbs down to greet her. “Good morning, Miss Mary,” he says in a gentle tone.
“Good morning to you, Mac,” she replies in a quiet, yet strong voice.
“I brought lunch today as promised.” He said hopefully. ”I’m not sure what time I will be taking lunch, but that was a thoughtful gesture,” she said as she disappeared through the door.
Mac was slightly disappointed but he didn’t lose hope that he would get a chance to talk with Mary over lunch. He climbed back to his work.
“Are you two having lunch together,” James asked.
“I certainly hope so.”
“Well, what did she say?”
“She said bringing her lunch was a thoughtful gesture, but she didn’t said anything about coming out to eat it.
“I don’t know if that’s good or bad, Mac.
“Time will tell, time always tells how things will work out.”
They worked for a few more hours, but there was no sign of Mary.
Mary, inside measuring Mrs. Jones for a dress she will make for her to wear to the ice cream social.
“Mrs. Jones, do you know Ephraim?”
“Not personally, no, his brother is a friend on Willie’s is all I know about him and Mr. Jones is pleased with their work. Why are you enquiring about him, he catch you eye?”
“No, but I’ve seem to have caught his. He asked me to come out and have lunch with him today. He even brought lunch for me,”
“That’s sweet, are you going?”
“I don’t know; I don’t know anything about him. He seems awful forward, and I’m a God fearing woman, Mrs. Jones, I won’t play childish games with boys just because their hormones are dancing around their loins. They laugh as Mary waltzes in a circle, her arms lifting, alternately floating the ribbon she was measuring, up and down. “And besides, I have work to do.”
“That’s true; but the least you can do is go out there and tell him you’re not coming. It’s 1:00, I mage those two are getting pretty hungry by now.”
“I can do that.”
Mary puts the ribbon down and opens the door. Mac smiles, relieved she finally came out. James is happy that it’s time to eat; they both climb down from the roof.
”I’m glad you decided to join me,” he said.
“Mac, I’m afraid I won’t be able to have lunch with you today, I thought I should come out and let you know.”
“Ok. Maybe tomorrow then, we’ll be done working on the roof tomorrow; thanks for coming out and letting me know.”
“You’re welcome, Mac, but I’m don’t think I’ll have time tomorrow either.”
Mac couldn’t pass up the chance; “are you going to the ice cream social?”
“I plan to, I should be caught up on my work by then.” She replied.
“I would be honored if I could accompany you.”
“We’ll see; I’ll let you know before the social.”
“Good enough,” Mac smiled, as Mary turned to go back into the house.
Heading to the north side of the barn, Mac laughs at the sight of James gorging down his lunch. “Hungry?”
“I got started as soon as she said no.”
“She didn’t say no, she said not today,” Mac said as he sat on the other side of the bench.
“He is a persistent one, I’ll give him that, Mary said smiling. He asked me about having lunch tomorrow; I told him I didn’t think I would be able to. Then he asked me to the ice cream social.”
“Well is sound to me like he’s taken a shine to you.”
“He doesn’t even know me.”
“And he never will if you don’t give him the chance, Mrs. Jones said peering over her glasses at Mary.
“I will consider taking him up in the ice cream social. There’ll be plenty of people around in case he tried anything overly fresh.”
“Now that’s a good idea.”
That night, Mary got ready for bed; she got down on her knees beside her bed, and prayed,
I am thinking about accepting Mac’s invitation to the ice cream social, but I’m not sure if he is a Christian man. I don’t know anything about him. I pray that you give me a sign if I should accept his invite, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The final day to work on the Jones’ barn; Mac, again packs extra food, hoping Mary would be able to eat with him.
As lunchtime rolls around, there was no sign of Mary. Mac was slightly disappointed as he climbed down the ladder.
“Sorry, Mac,” James said.
“Sorry about what?”
“That you didn’t get to talk to Mary. You know this is the last day to work here, you haven’t gotten her address or even know if she is interested in you.”
“James, my boy; I see why you are single. You don’t understand anything about women. A good woman never says ‘yes’ right way. She has to think it over and discuss things with her friends and family; enquire about me. A good woman wants a good man.”
Inside, Mary is working but her thoughts are outside. She looks out of the window several times trying to steal a peek at Mac. There’s a strange force that draws me to that mystery man she thinks to herself.
“Why don’t you just go out there, girl. There’s no obligation in having lunch with a man.” Mrs. Jones’ interrupts her thoughts.
Mary finally pulled her nerves together enough to take the first step.
“Mrs. Jones, I’ll be back; I’m going to have lunch now.”
Mrs. Jones smiles politely and nods her head approvingly.
Mary casually walks to where Mac and James are eating. Mac the first to see her as he was glancing out the corner of the barn all along, praying she would come out; wipes his mouth and hands with a napkin, and stands; James does the same.
“Good day.” Mary smiles, as she gets closer.
“Good day to you,” Mac said.
“You are a sight for sore eyes,:
“Good day, Miss Mary,” James chimed in.
“I hope you came to have lunch with us.” Mac said, extending his arm as to usher her to a seat.
“I did,” Mary answered.
“Well, have a seat, handing her a napkin.
“Thank you sir.” Bowing her head while she accepted it. She glanced and smiled at James a quick second as she sat on the bench and daintily spread the napkin across her lap. Mac with drew the extra plate, wrapped in foil, and continued, some sweet potatoes, green beans, corn bread and cherry pie.
“My goodness, I could never eat all of this in one sitting. This is a meal for royalty.”
“I wasn’t sure want you fancied best, so I brought some of everything.”
“That was mighty thoughtful of you,” Mary replied and took small bites of all that was in front of her. “This is delicious,” she exclaimed. By the time she was done she had devoured half of it.
“Care for some lemonade,” James offered.
“Yes, thank you,” Mary could feel her heart start to fill with a sweet warmth of interest for Mac and was growing fond of James as well. I would like to get to know this family a little better, especially Mac, Mary thought to herself.
“I wanted to talk to you about the ice cream social,” Mary said, dabbing at her lips with the napkin.
Mac looked up from his last bite of lunch in anticipation and noticed for the first time, the light gleam in her eyes that made his heart beat even faster.
James’ ears perked, though he tried to keep non-chalet, lest his brother got turned down, in all his wishful thinking.
“Mac, I would be pleased to go with you.”
She could see the relief come over his face at her acceptance.
“Where should I pick you up, Mac asked, trying to contain the excitement he felt inside.
“Why don’t I meet you there,” she answered.
“That’s fine, I’ll see you there.”
“Alright,” Mary said standing holding the plate in one hand and brushing the front of herself off with the napkin in the other. Before dropping in on the plate and handing it back to Mac. “I really should be getting back to work. Have a good day, fellas,” and with that, she calmly strolled back into the house.
“Well, did you crush his ego,” Mrs. Jones asked, once Mary was inside and had closed the door.
“No, I accepted his invitation. There’s a good heart in that man, he’s very charming and his brother is gentlemanly too. I am curious about learning more about him. When he talks, he has such a smooth deep voice, I got all warm and fuzzy inside.”
“You mean he has a chance to melt that ice that’s frozen inside you?”
“I’m not cold Mrs. Jones, I’m cautious; it’s a difference.”
“Well, I suppose it is,” she said, not missing a stitch, hemming Mr. Jones britches.
Mary talked about lunch and what she thought of Mac for the rest of the afternoon; it warmed Mrs. Jones heart. Or the six years she had known Mary, she has never spoken of having an interest in a young fella, it’s about time, she thought, Mary is too nice a girl to be an old maid.