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After the Civil War
(1865-1870)

Sarah and the Henhouse Guest, Part 3



Sarah and the Henhouse Guest, Part 3
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.25

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    consternation, fightin, grey-clad, missus, offal, rebs, searchin, tryin, nightcap, steely, callin, drumstick, hayloft, innards, rascal, henhouse
     content words:    But Mother


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Sarah and the Henhouse Guest, Part 3
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     As Sarah dressed out the hen, she made sure there were plenty of blood droplets around the henhouse. She left a dirty, clawed foot from the hen in the place Elijah had hidden. Then she stirred up the straw. The big spot of Elijah's blood was gone. She tossed the chicken feathers, head, and entrails over the fence into the yard.
 
2     Sarah dashed to the kitchen with the dressed hen. She cut it into pieces. Breast, wing, thigh, drumstick...then, into the frying pan. She had done it many times before. But Mother had always guided her. She hoped she had it right this time. The potatoes were next, peeled and into the pot.
 
3     From the parlor Sarah heard the clomp! clomp! of boots. Mother had delayed them as long as she could. But now the men were edgy. "That rascal is here!" Mr. Crumley insisted. "We tracked ‘im. We're searchin' the place!"
 
4     Mrs. Calhoun walked calmly out with them. "Of course, you must be thorough," she said. "I just hope you won't be too dejected when you don't find the one you seek." Mr. Crumley stared at her in consternation. Then he shrugged. The men tramped outside.
 
5     Almost instantly, howls of disgust arose from the group. The dogs they had left at the front door had scattered. From the mouths of two dogs dangled bloody chicken innards. Others licked their lips. Telltale feathers were scattered here and there.
 
6     The men became more disgusted. Every scent trail lead to a half-chewed chicken part. Crumley was excited to find a trail of dark red leading to the henhouse. But at the end of it was a dog chewing a yellow, scaly chicken foot. "Useless hound!" Crumley muttered. The men moved on. The hayloft and stables were empty. The war had taken both horses and feed. It was plain to see that the large, echoing spaces were hiding no one.
 
7     The searchers returned to the house, frustrated. "We followed ‘im here!" one said. "He's got to be here somewhere." "Wait a minute!" Crumley looked at Mrs. Calhoun. "You're that preacher's wife. The one that was too holy to own blacks." His eyes narrowed. "The only place we ain't looked is this house."
 
8     Mrs. Calhoun smiled serenely. "You're right, Mr. Crumley. My husband is too holy to own slaves. Our poor, dear friend upstairs is the only person of color on this farm. And she is my friend, not my property." She faced Crumley. "You may search to your heart's content. But I will not allow her to be disturbed," she said firmly. "Come with me."
 
9     At Beffie's door, Mrs. Calhoun put her finger to her lips. She opened the door and stepped back. Sarah held her breath. Crumley peered into the room. On the bed lay a figure swathed in blankets. One could barely glimpse a dark face beneath the white lace cap. The figure groaned and shifted slightly.

Paragraphs 10 to 20:
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After the Civil War
(1865-1870)

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