“John John, stop cryin’. I want you tuh come, but you sho’ to git us both in a heap of trouble if you come wit’ me dis time. Momma already gone be lookin’ fo’ me, ‘cuz I only picked half a bag dis morning, but if you gone, too, she gone send duh hounds out afta’ us.”
“I’ll go back and finish pickin’ fo’ me and you…if you tell me where you goin’.”
Merry thought about it. Johnson’s slight hands and long fingers made cotton picking easy for him. Every day, he picked three bags to Merry’s one. It was a game to her brother. He would squat low to the wet ground and be so quick snatching the soggy bulbs, that the thorns didn’t have time to stick him. But Merry, short, stubby fingers and all, knew cotton picking wasn’t a game. It was work. And every morning, she nearly bled to death just so she could fill up one bag.
“Merry, you hear whut I say?”
“I ain’t deaf, boy. I heard you.”
“Den why you ain’t talkin’?”
Johnson stood in her face, demanding an answer. Merry heard the familiar sound of Mr. Sammy’s old horse and wagon trotting up the road and quickly decided he didn’t need one. She shoved Johnson, sending him flailing into a neighbor’s tobacco field, then knelt down to tie her frayed shoelaces.
“Merry! Why you…”
“Stay down, boy. Don’t move.”
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