CHAPTER 2 - TALKING

Milly was startled to hear someone climbing the stairs, but she had been expecting it for quite a while now. Unless the Pontipee's had a much later bedtime than most other folks around here, they were at least an hour late. Maybe Adam had been putting this conversation off too. Suddenly there were three knocks at the door.

"Who is it?" Milly asked, not intending on making it easy for her groom.

"It's Adam, your husband," she heard the deep voice reply, knowing it was probably deeper than it should've been.

"Showing off for his brothers, goodness," she thought to herself, before replying in a slow, sweetly drawn-out voice, "Come in Adam."

"G'night boys," said Adam, and then the door whipped open. He paused, not expecting her to be fully dressed and rocking in the chair, appearing to be reading intently. He slowly shut the door behind him, choosing his next words carefully.

"I––uh––I thought you'd be in bed," he stuttered.

"Did you?" Milly replied, seeing how long it would take him to get the picture.

"Been a right busy day… you must be kinda tuckered out," Adam replied, unknowingly walking into her trap.

"That's right," she responded.

"Shall I––uh––turn down the covers?" Adam wasn't sure how a woman got ready for bed, but it couldn't be that different from a man, could it?

"You can if you like…" she answered, waiting until he had moved towards the bed and began fumbling with the blankets to finish her sentence, "…but I'm not going to bed."

Adam's smirk fell off his face, and a confused, truly befuddled look replaced it.

"You don't want a wife Adam, you want a cook, a washer woman, a hired girl! Well, a hired girl's got a right to a sleepin' place of her own." Milly looked up, and felt the anger boiling up in her again. She wasn't sure she wanted to shove it down just yet.

Adam began to respond, "Well I reckon that's so, Milly–"

"Oh and in the wagon you let me talk!" Milly interrupted, "Made a fool of myself, talking about you and me. You should've stopped me!"

Adam looked down, and said ashamedly, but honestly, "Maybe I should've, but it sounded real pretty. Besides, if I had told you beforehand you might not have married me…and I wanted you to marry me Milly…I wanted it real bad." He knew he had tricked her, but he needed to smooth this over before his brothers heard any of this. They wouldn't let him live down a big fight on the first night of being married.

Milly quickly stood up and though she was several feet shorter than her husband, looked him square in the eye.

"Sure you did, 'cause you knew I was young and strong and there was lots of work left in me." The words tasted like fire in her mouth, and though she knew they were true, she saw them cut deep.

"Well, I suppose that's partly true," Adam said, partly to his wife, and partly to himself. He thought the situation over. "It's a hard life out here Milly. There's trees waitin' to be felled, land to be plowed and fenced, stock to be fed––a man needs a wife who can work alongside him!"

Adam looked carefully at his wife, hoping to see the anger wipe off her face. She slowly walked towards him, then stopped and turned to go the chest of drawers. He sat for a moment, and then went back to turning down the covers.

Milly heard the blankets shuffling behind her, and spelled out her next words very carefully.

"Well I'll work alongside you Adam," she paused, hearing him stop, "but I won't sleep alongside you."