An Excerpt of Rose’s Assignment
An excerpt from Chapter 5 from Rose’s Assignment by Melina Druga
“Hello, Mama,” Rose said, maneuvering up the aisle trying to prevent her voluminous dress from injuring the tender plants.
Her mother looked up from her work and turned toward the voice. “Rose. It’s a Monday. What do you want?”
Rose stopped walking and let go of her skirts. They shot out and hit the squash plants, shaking their leaves. “Why would you say that?”
The older woman stood. “I know you are working with that association of yours, and when you want something for it, you call at odd times.”
Rose and Claire ceased getting along when Rose joined the vigilance committee. It wasn’t so much the society Claire objected to; it was the corrupting influence of American books. They breed religious fanatics and incited hatred for the British. As the daughter of a man who died during the War of 1812, Claire simply could not stand for Rose reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and other abolitionist literature.
“Mama, I know how you feel about Americans, but the refugees have no rights in the United States. They shouldn’t be blamed for their predicament. We should help them became Canadian.”
“My, you do recite a good speech. We women have no rights either, in any nations. I don’t see anyone helping us.”
“My refugee is a woman. She has been abused by men. All I would like to do is give her the opportunity to live a normal life.”
“I know your heart is in the right place, daughter, but the Americans will not change,” Claire said, shaking her head. “There will be a thousand more people for every one you resettle, probably more. It is a lost cause.”
Rose glanced behind herself to be certain Anabel wasn’t in earshot. “What I am to do? Let her die? All because I refuse to take action. She is a human being, and I refuse to be like them, viewing her as an animal unworthy of even the most basic courtesy. No, they treat her worse than an animal. Look at Anabel. She cares for those piglets. Who cared for my refugee? Whom? If not me, whom?”
Rose exhaled, a bit surprised by her own convictions and not believing she managed to voice her concerns.
Claire pursed her lips. “Are you quite finished?”
“I have been on this earth for nearly 50 years, and I know there are injustices in it. I also know there will be injustices 50 years hence. You may yet save this woman, but what of all the others? You have children, and God willing you will have more, but you can’t keep on like this.”
“I’ll do whatever I can for as long as I can.”
“Well, I see there is no stopping you.”
Rose shook her head. “No, Mama.”
Mother and daughter eyeballed each other for a moment. Rose swallowed but refused to be the first to blink. Her mother wiped her hands on her apron.
“My, you are stubborn,” Claire said. “What do you need?”
“I need a presentable dress. Hers is tattered beyond the edges of modesty. I don’t want her virtue called into question.”
“I think you’re reciting another fine speech, but you may have a few rags. That is all.”
“Thank you, Mama. I won’t soon forget your generosity.”
Her mother waved her hand dismissively. “Enough with the speeches. Retrieve what you need and go home to the boys.”