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Short-Straw Bride

Short-Straw Bride

Description : Short-Straw Bride
Anderson County, Texas—1870

Ten-year-old Meredith Hayes balled her hands into fists as she faced her tormentor. “Hiram Ellis! Give me back my lunch bucket this instant!”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Meri. Did you want this?” His voice dripped sarcasm as he dangled the small pail in front of her.

She lunged for it, but her hands met only air as the older boy snatched it away and tossed it over her head to his snickering brother. Meredith ricocheted between the two, never quite fast enough to get more than a finger on the tin.

Why was she always the one to get picked on? Meredith stomped her foot in frustration. She thought she’d gotten enough of a lead today after school, but Hiram must have been watching for her. He’d had it out for her ever since her family moved to the area last spring. Probably because the land they bought used to belong to his best friend’s family.

“Meri, Meri, quite contrary,” Hiram sang in a ridiculously high-pitched voice, skipping in a circle around her and swinging the lunch bucket back and forth. A group of girls came around the bend and stopped to giggle behind their hands. Meredith asked for help, but they just stood there smirking and whispering behind their schoolbooks. Even Anna Leigh, her desk mate and the one girl Meredith thought a friend. Angry tears pooled in her eyes, but Meredith blinked them away. She’d not let Hiram win.

“You’re a bully, Hiram Ellis.”

“Yeah?” Hiram stopped skipping and glared at Meredith. “Well,...

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