a feeling of annoyance
“You keep it up and make us late for school, Mama’s gonna wear you out,” I threatened, pulling with
exasperation at the high collar of the Sunday dress Mama had made me wear for the first day of school—as if that event were something special.
counsel in terms of someone's behavior
“Ah, Cassie, leave him be,” Stacey
admonished, frowning and kicking testily at the road.
familiarize psychologically or physically
There was little I could do in a dress, and as for shoes, they imprisoned freedom-loving feet
accustomed to the feel of the warm earth.
a large indefinite number
Beyond the protective fencing of the forest, vast farming fields, worked by a
multitude of share-cropping families, covered two thirds of a ten-square-mile plantation.
thin and tattered with age
For it he would work the long, hot summer pounding steel; Mama would teach and run the farm; Big Ma, in her sixties, would work like a woman of twenty in the fields and keep the house; and the boys and I would wear
threadbare clothing washed to dishwater color; but always, the taxes and the mortgage would be paid.
marked by deception
Stacey, who generally overlooked T.J.’s
underhanded stunts, shook his head.
in an uncontrolled manner
frantically along the road looking for a foothold and, finding one, hopped onto the bank, but not before the bus had sped past enveloping him in a scarlet haze while laughing white faces pressed against the bus windows.
able or tending to extend in one or more directions
In the very center of the
expansive front lawn, waving red, white, and blue with the emblem of the Confederacy emblazoned in its upper left-hand corner, was the Mississippi flag.
gather, as of natural products
But even so, after today a number of the older students would not be seen again for a month or two, not until the last puff of cotton had been
gleaned from the fields, and eventually most would drop out of school altogether.
exist in large quantities
Patches on faded pants and dresses
abounded on boys and girls come so recently from the heat of the cotton fields.
ring or echo with sound
As the last gong of the bell
reverberated across the compound, I swooped up my pencils and notebook and ran inside.
something expected, as on the basis of a norm
anticipation at having my own book ebbed to a sinking disappointment.
angered at something unjust or wrong
He just stood staring down at the open book, shivering with
struck with fear, dread, or consternation
dismayed by Mama’s seeming unconcern for the seriousness of the matter, thrust her shoulders back and began moving away from the desk.
someone who exhibits independence in thought and action
Although Mama had been a teacher at Great Faith for fourteen years, ever since she had graduated from the Crandon Teacher Training School at nineteen, she was still considered by many of the other teachers as a disrupting
openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
The fact that she had not grown up in Spokane County but in the Delta made her even more suspect, and the more traditional thinkers like Miss Crocker were
wary of her.
But now, gazing upward at the most
formidable-looking being we had ever encountered, we huddled closer to Papa.
a person related to another or others
kin to the Berrys and she was with John Henry and Beacon when the trouble got started.
face and withstand with courage
If we had been faced only with the prospect of the rain soaking through our clothing each morning and evening, we could have more easily
endured the journey between home and school.
affected or marked by low spirits
Stacey and Christopher-John left to change into their work clothes, but Little Man sat on the side bench looking totally
dejected as he gazed at his pale-blue pants crusted with mud from the knees down.
Five minutes later we were skidding like frightened puppies toward the bank again as the bus
accelerated and barreled down the narrow rain-soaked road; but there was no place to which we could run, for Stacey had been right.
summon with a wave, nod, or some other gesture
As we crossed the school lawn, Stacey
beckoned Christopher-John, Little Man, and me aside.
lacking conscious awareness of
And for once in his life, Little Man was happily
oblivious to the mud spattering upon him.
capable of being detected
As I slipped into my seat Miss Crocker looked at me oddly and shook her head, but when she did the same thing as Mary Lou and Alma sat down, I decided that my mud was no more
noticeable than anyone else’s.
having one side lower or smaller or lighter than the other
Then it sputtered a last murmuring protest and died, its left front wheel in our ditch, its right wheel in the gully, like a
lopsided billy goat on its knees.
in a state of sulky dissatisfaction
No longer laughing, they moved spiritlessly toward their homes while a
disgruntled Mr. Grimes leaned moodily against the raised rear end of the bus.
easily diffused or spread as from one person to another
Yet just one glance at each other and we were lost, slumping on the table in helpless,
expect, believe, or suppose
“Oh, I’ll do, I
reckon,” said Big Ma, still ironing.
showing the wearing effects of overwork or care or suffering
He collapsed in silence by the door, breathing hard, and although I could not see him, I knew that his face was drawn and that his eyes had taken on a
calm by deception
Soon the chill of the cotton sheets beneath me began to fade and as Big Ma’s presence
lulled me into a security I did not really feel, I fell asleep.
unpredictably excitable, especially of horses
Jason whined loudly, growing
skittish as the lights approached, and when they slowed and braked before the house he slunk beneath the porch.
censure severely or angrily
Then, thrusting his arm around Stacey’s shoulders, he
chided, “Friends gotta trust each other, Stacey, ’cause ain’t nothin’ like a true friend.”
lean and wrinkled by shrinkage as from age or illness
The face had no nose, and the head no hair; the skin was scarred, burned, and the lips were
wizened black, like charcoal.
be a regular customer or client of
She also spoke of finding another store to
patronize, one where the proprietors were more concerned about the welfare of the community.
acquire or deserve by one's efforts or actions
This year I
earned me near two hundred dollars after Mr. Montier took his half of the crop money, but I ain’t seen a penny of it.