The Williams House; Chapter 4: The Bentley Family; Pgs. 99-104
. The rain continued to fall. October was soon over and November begun, and still more days passed, the rain becoming more sporadic but still falling every few days. The air grew colder still, though not cold enough to snow. Thanksgiving was a little under three weeks away, and most of the trees were now bare, with leaves, leaves, and more leaves piled along the ground.
. There were so many leaves that the Williamses knew they must rake them all away, lest all the grass die underneath. It was on a Saturday morning, feeling briskly in the air, when some of the olders had gotten up before the youngers and were currently eating a quiet breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup. Morning sunlight was streaming through the large window by the small breakfast table they were currently using.
. “Mum’s gone to the store,” said Lilly to Johnathon who had just gotten up and reached the table. He had a pile of pancakes on his plate, and the syrup was running all over it.
. “I suppose Father won’t be up for a while,” he said as he sat down. “He had a late work night last night.” “
. We’ve been ordered to clear the leaves,” said Will.
. “All of them?!?” exclaimed Johnathon.
. “Yes,” said Will, “but we will be gaining some help soon. The Bentley’s will be coming over in about an hour to help, and then afterwards we’ll be going over to their place to help with their yard.”
. “That shouldn’t take long,” said Johnathon.
. “Yes,” said Ann as she sighed, “but this will take a while.” She pointed outside.
. “Well, we’ll just have to make the best of it,” said Will. “We can plow into it long before the Bentleys arrive. It shouldn’t take more than half the afternoon. Then we can go over there.”
. Johnathon cut up his pancakes and started eating. “Will Father be helping?”
. “No,” said Will. “He had more work to do. He’ll be helping with the Bentley’s place though. I think they’ve invited us over to dinner.”
. Will got up and took his plate to the sink. “It’s a true clear day, at last,” he noted. “And with no rain yesterday, the leaves should be dry enough.”
. Johnathon continued eating. The pancakes were hot and warming down to the toes, and the syrup was extra sweet. There were sausages on the side, still steaming from the dish. Nearly everyone else was done in five more minutes, and Johnathon had to hurry. He was still done before Timothy or any of the youngers were up, and quickly he slunk into his room and changed his clothes, putting on a plaid checkered pattern shirt for the workday.
. When he reached the outdoors, Will and Ann were raking away. Lilly was helping the youngers, who had just gotten up, with breakfast. Johnathon joined. Then soon Lilly joined. And before long the rest were out.
. Back and forth and back and forth the Williams children raked, never seeming to stop or rest. The Bentleys soon arrived, and the children were dropped off to help. And again back and forth they now all raked, the sound of thousands upon thousands of leaves being crunched together. More and more leaves were piled together, and some were blowing in the wind.
. Downhill they raked, and over several grasslands, scraping and shoving the leaves, now sweat drizzling down their cheeks. Piles and heaps of leaves seemed to be everywhere, with trails of leaves in between. Maria and Susan and Daisy and Gloria were all jumping up and down in several of the piles (Margaret was wanting to but was helping Will at the moment carry a pile on a tarp to their dump).
. It approached noon, and the Bentley children were invited in to eat lunch, which consisted of what the Williamses called a ploughman’s lunch of cheese and apples and buns and milk. No one said a whole lot. They were all too tired and hungry to speak, and their thoughts generally remained on the remaining leaves that needed to be picked up.
. “We plan to burn the leaves,” said Will, “outside of a couple piles we will leave behind to play in or use for other purposes. Father will have to help us with that, but there are still plenty of leaves to pick up. We’ll have to work hard.” He finished his milk and stood up. Everyone else followed, though Maria and Susan were allowed a longer rest.
. “Put these on,” said Johnathon to Derek, handing him some gloves. “We’ll be going through a briar patch shortly.”
. Then everyone went back out to face the leaf wars again. It at least was a calm day in the sky, with hardly a cloud or a breeze. The sun warmed the air into the mid-fifties, and some rolled up their sleeves. Timothy’s suspenders were caught once or twice on stray limbs and branches, but he managed to pull them back out before they unbuckled or snapped.
. “Come along, everyone,” Will called. “It’s nearing two o’clock, and we want to be starting the burning at about 2:30.”
. A few of the younger children sighed, and some of the olders took a deep breath. Sarah and Kurk plunged forward and ahead to finish up the piles they were currently working on. Others saw their enthusiasm and likewise plunged ahead, working hard to finish their leaf piles and plunge into the last area that needed to be raked. Most were wishing they had eaten one more slice of bread and cheese for lunch, and Lilly seemed to have read their thoughts, for she gave each of them a bun from a bag she was carrying, saying “this should help with the last leg.”
. Everyone perked up slightly, and before the time to 2:30 was completely up, Will and Timothy were shoving the last of the leaves to burn on the huge gigantic pile.
. “I say,” said Timothy as he set down his rake. “That is big.”
. Will lowered his rake, which had been propped on his shoulder, and let out a relieved sigh. “I should think so, Tim.” He stared at the pile for a moment, and the others all gathered around. Maria, who had been resting the last half-hour, came running up and started to climb the monstrous mound.
. “Careful up there,” warned Ann as she started to climb up after her, and soon Margaret and then several of the Bentleys followed.
. Before long, everyone had climbed the mound and was sitting down around its peak, looking out as though lords and ladies of a great castle. No one said much, but they were all proud of their achievement.
. “We should notify Father,” Will said at last. And then he shouted, “hurray!” as he bounded down the leaf mountain. Everyone followed him and was soon gazing at the pile while Will went to the house for their father.
. When Mr. Williams looked at the pile, all he could say was “well done,” and that they all deserved an ice cream Sunday. Everyone cheered, yet he said they would have to wait till he had burned the leaves. Then he took some time preparing the fire and then set the whole thing ablaze. Orange and yellow light shot up in the air, and smoke billowed out. High reaching the flames rose, as though to reach the sky, yet there was nothing else close to the flames except the leaves, and they were soon dwindling.