Where The Lilies Bloom
Hot and tired John Will Sparks batted at the flies that buzzed around his sweaty face. Countless times he had reached up and wiped the sweat beads from his forehead but more continued to form and run down his dirt stained face. He lifted the old hammer in his hand and struck the heated horseshoe. He struck it several times and paused for a moment as a buggy drove by his little blacksmith building. Laying down the hammer, John walked over and leaned up against one of the support beams of the open building and watched as the buggy drove by.
"Howdy John!" Mr. Piketon, the heavy set driver of the buggy, said as he passed by.
"Evening Mr. Piketon," John called out as he rubbed his dirty hands down the front of his breeches.
Mr. Piketon and his buggy passed by and went on into town and John stood outside watching Mr. Piketon leave. It was a hot day and John longed for a cold glass of ice water but he didn't want to go and get it. He reached up and rubbed his sweaty neck and sighed.
"Well, better get back to work," he muttered to himself.
Ever since he was but a little boy John had accompanied his father to the old blacksmith shop. His father, Jeremiah, had built the blacksmith shop when he had turned twenty-one and ever since then the blacksmith shop had been in service. It was the only blacksmith shop in town so it got quite a bit of customers. Practically all of his young life John had helped in the shop and now, at the age of nineteen, he run the shop. His father came and helped out occasionally but lately he had been down in his back and couldn't come to help John very much. The money that John earned from working at the shop paid for food and other items for his parents and himself. It wasn't much money but it was enough to get buy.
John's family had never been rich. They did not own a big plantation house like the ones in Richmond, Kentucky. But instead they lived in a simple and plain farm house with white siding and a black tin roof. John's father had built the house and had enjoyed the little farm that the house was on. But now the only thing they had at the farm was an old milk cow, Hannah, and a few chickens and a rooster. John's mother, Lily, would sell the eggs and milk in town for some personal items.
After John had been born his mother was told that she could never bear another child. This situation made Jeremiah and Lily cherish John even more and often times his mother would tell people, "He's a gift from the Lord Almighty". Lily had decided on the name John because she said her favorite Bible character was John, the beloved, and so it seemed only right to name her little baby boy after such a blessed man of the Bible.
At the age of nineteen John was tall with broad shoulders and hair as dark as the night sky. He had inherited his mother's bluish eyes and his father's musical talent. John enjoyed singing and often times he and his father would sit in the living room of the old farmhouse and sing old hymns. But their favorite song of all was "Wayfaring Stranger". His father had grown up singing that song and when he had taught the words to John, John had loved the song and he found himself singing it when he was by himself working. His father could also play the banjo and he was teaching John some of the chords and notes but it was taking John a long time to get the hang of it.
As John worked in the blacksmith shop his best friend, twenty-year-old Jim Stone, stepped into the shop.
"Hey there John!" Jim said with a smile.
Jim was a sturdy young man with brownish hair. He was a jolly young fellow and always seemed to be happy and smiling. Him and John had been good friends ever since Jim and his family had moved to Kentucky.
"Why hello Jim! It's good to see you. When did you and your family get back from Charleston?" John asked laying down his tools and coming over to stand beside his friend.
"We just got back last night. It's good to be back home. Charleston is just too sophisticated for me," Jim said chuckling.
Jim's father owned a large plantation in Charleston, South Carolina and for a year the Stone family had stayed at their plantation. But they would always come back to stay a few months in their home in Kentucky during the summer. It had been a year since John had seen Jim and he was very pleased that his friend had stopped by. The two had been inseparable when they were little boys. Jim's mother had died two years ago and it had hit the family very hard.
"How's your family doing?" John asked.
"They're all doing fine. Papa is just as cantankerous as ever. But Anne, you won't recognize her. She's grown into quite the young lady," Jim said with a smile.
"Oh really? I'll have to come by and see your father and sister soon," John replied.
"We're having a little neighborhood get-together tomorrow evening. Papa loves get-togethers and he's planned a big barbeque and he's inviting all the neighbors. You should come and bring your parents too," Jim said.
"I may come," John said.
"Well, I'd better get going. Papa's waiting for me to bring the mail to him. I'm twenty-years-old and still my daddy's got me running errands," Jim said laughing as he walked over to his horse.
"Be sure and come to the barbeque tomorrow evening alright? We've got some checking up to do," Jim said as he climbed upon his black stead and rode off with a wave.
After he was gone John got back to work.
"I aint never going to get nothin' done," he said scratching his head.
His mind soon drifted off too Anne Stone, Jim's sister. She was but two years younger than Jim.
"Let's see. . .that'd make her about eighteen by now," John mumbled.
It had been a long time since he had seen Anne. The last time he had seen her she had been but a little girl with blonde pigtails and a pink lacey dress.
"I wonder if she'll remember me?" John wondered aloud.
Then he chuckled remembering back when he was but a little boy and about the time him and Jim had pulled a prank on Anne. She had been sitting outside on a little swing in the front yard of their house in Kentucky reading a book. She was always reading and John had often thought that she was going to read her life away.
When Jim saw his sister sitting on the swing in the front yard he got the wild idea to scare her with the frog that he and John had caught down at Red Creek.
"Now you just go up to her and hold out your hand and let this little frog jump on her," Jim said laughing.
"I aint going to do that! I'll get in trouble," John said backing away.
"Come on you big chicken! Just do it," Jim said placing the slimy green frog into John's hands.
Finally John gave in and started walking towards Anne, clutching the frog in his hands so it couldn't escape. He walked right up to her and she looked up from her the book she was reading and smiled.
"Hi John. What are you doing?" she asked.
Quickly John opened his hands and threw the frog right in her face. She screamed as the frog landed in her lap.
"Somebody help me!" she screamed.
At that moment Minnie, the house slave, came running out of the house. She ran over to Anne to see what was wrong.
John figured he should leave before he got into trouble so he took off running and Jim followed him. Both boys were snickering and Jim slapped John on the back.
"We got her that time!" Jim had said laughing.
Now as John remembered back on that time, he laughed to himself.
"We sure were little rascals," he thought to himself with a smile.
To Be Continued. . .