The Lapedo Child

Morton Shawn Brown got off the train from Porterville. In Porterville he’d gotten off the train from Biloxi. In Biloxi he’d gotten off the train from Savannah, and before that, many trains earlier, he’d gotten on a train in Boston, to leave his family for the year. They were too poor during this depression to give him anything for his sixteenth birthday except fare to the southern end of Mississippi, where his cousins, almost as poor, awaited him.

These cousins, from his mother’s side, were called Smith. Browns were common enough in Boston, high and low, but when his cousins picked him up from this final station in a mule cart, he could see that these Smiths fit right in among whatever else had sunk to the bottom. They put him and his two suitcases in the back and said nothing to him except that he should expect to earn his keep.

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