| A wealthy
landowner, driving through the valley his
family owned, rounded a turn
in the road just in time to see a large,
dry-rotted bin full give way,
spilling a huge heap of unshucked corn out
onto the ground. Pulling
in to investigate, he noticed an angel-faced
little sharecropper girl,
in pigtails and overalls, kneeling crying
beside the hill of corn.
recognize her but she immediately
recognized him as he walked up, jumping
to her feet and stammering through her
tears, "Good afternoon Mister Goldman
sir!" to the man for whom her Pa
worked, who was hence just slightly
below God in her childish
your name, little girl? And why are you
Rebecca, sir, but folks all calls me
Becky. Sir, th-that corn just
came a-tumblin' out, it weren't nothin' I
done wrong, honest, sir, and-"
boomed Mr. Goldman, charmed by the little
girl's comely features and her
impeccably respectful manners, "Becky is a
very pretty name. Pleased
to meet you, Becky. Now you wipe
those tears away. There's
no use crying over spilled corn, is
there! Of course it's
not your fault. I should have
replaced that bin five years gone."
"But Mr. Goldman, sir.
"Don't you worry about
a thing, Becky. I'll get some of the
hired hands down here later
today and take care of this whole
mess. But first I've got to have
some lunch. I'm starving. Are
you hungry Becky?" Becky
had been brought up never to interrupt her
elders, and always to answer
a direct question from her elders.
"Well, yes sir.
I reckon I'm at least a little bit hungry
pretty near most of the time,
sir. And sometimes more than just a little
"In that case, Becky,
I'd like you to ride up to the Big House
with me and have lunch with me
and the missus. What do you say?"
"Thank you very much,
sir. But my Pa wouldn't want me to
tenant farmer Pa, was not of much account
in the world. But whatever respect
he didn't get from the rest of
humanity he strove to make up for
as much as possible with his
young'uns. Becky and her brothers
sisters addressed their parents as "sir"
and "ma'am", did as they were
told the first time they were told without
complaining, and never dared
sass or disrepect their parents to the
least degree, or else Pa would haul
them straight to the woodshed for a
pants-down lickin' with a hickory switch.
"Don't you worry about
your Pa, Becky," chimed Mr. Goldman.
"If there's any trouble for
you with your Pa, I will take full
responsibility." Becky's mouth
began to form the word's "no thank you
sir" but before her words had a
chance to take voice, Mr. Goldman jovially
added, "I insist!"
Becky froze inside.
The most exalted adult she had ever met
had just given her a direct order.
All of her upbringing left her with only
one permissable response.
"Yes sir." her lips whispered, as if of
their own accord. And as
if of their own accord, her legs carried
her over to Mr. Goldman's
Volvo and obediently sat her in its
passenger seat, despite her inner
As Mr. Goldman steered his Volvo back onto
the road towards his mansion,
Becky looked back anxiously over her
shoulder. "Mr. Goldman, sir,
I am mighty appreciative... powerful
grateful to for invitin'
me to lunch and all. And I don't
mean you no disrespect, honest
I don't! But my Pa-"
"Becky, I don't want
to hear one more word about your Pa." said
Mr. Goldman in a kindly but
firm tone. "You just leave that kind
of worrying to me. Relax
and have a good time. You're a sweet
kid and I know my wife is gonna
love the heck outa you."
The most powerful adult
in the whole valley had just forbidden her
to say anything more about her
Pa. Becky responded in the only way
she believed she could.
"Yes sir," she murmured, and looked down
at her lap, her face still creased
As they drove up the
switchbacks to the head of the valley, Mr.
Goldman gradually manage to
coax Becky out of her shell, getting her
talking about her school, her
brothers and sisters, and her
interests. She was awed by the
mansion once they'd arrived, never
imagining how big it truly was up close,
although she had seen it from afar.
The bathroom where Becky was
sent to wash up for lunch, (which was one
of several) was bigger than Becky's
family's living room and kitchen combined.
adored Becky, as predicted, and fussed
over her at lunch, filling her with
more different kinds of unfamiliar
delicious food than Becky had ever seen
at once. The Goldmans, charmed by
Becky's unfeigned expressions of
childlike wonder and delight at their
home, ended up giving her a grand
tour of their house and grounds. But
just under the surface, little
Becky was fearful and ill at ease, and her
anxiety grew and grew as the
afternoon wore on. Finally, when
Mrs. Goldman asked Becky what the
matter was, Becky burst into tears and
sobbed and sobbed in Mrs. Goldman's
When she'd recovered
to speak, she said, "I'm plumb grateful to
you, Mr. and Mrs. Goldman, for
bringin' me here and all. But I just
got to be a-gettin' back.
I'm powerful scared 'cuz I'm already in
for the most awful lickin' of my
life from my P-... from... Oh Mr. Goldman,
sir. Please please
take me on back where you found me!"
"Of course," said Mr.
Goldman, kindly. "I'll bring you
straight back there now. And
don't you worry your pretty little head
about a lickin'. I'll just
have a few words with your Pa and
straighten all that right out for
Do you know where your Pa is right now?
"Yes sir. He's back
there, sir," replied Becky,
"Under that pile of