The shovel stayed on the soil in the barrow until he needed the space for more stones. Jake carefully moved some of the good soil from the chapel grave site too the smaller hole and how dumped it to the side of the hole for use later. Roses need good soil and these roses were going to get it.
Jake woke with a start. Old Thing was on his bed and nipping at his nose. “Hungry?” Jack said as he got up. “Today you will have to get your own meals. I’m busy and I have no time to cook. Even I will be having cold cheese and bread today. Out you go and catch some field mice.” He closed the door after the cat scampered outside.
Dressing in his best suit of clothes Jake made his way to work. Normally he dressed in work clothes to fill the hole after the casket was placed in the grave. But today was a special day. He hurried on his way.
Only one woman was at the graveside that morning. The body of a small child was wrapped in her best coverlet and shawl. Jake lay her carefully into the grave. The woman wept bitterly at the side of her only child’s final resting place.
“Miss Lily, our Rose was the most beautiful child this town has ever seen. And so full of sunshine and goodness too. Everyone knew she wasn’t meant for a world as mean and mercenary as this one. The angels will take right good care of her now. Rose was special and belongs with them again.” Jake tried to sooth the woman with the only words he could think of.
Lily spoke through her tears. “But she was nothing more than a harlot’s daughter. Not worth enough to be buried in the chapel yard.” Lily’s tears choked her voice away again.
Jake patted Lily‘s arm, “I have a lovely pink rose bush to plant over her later on today. The petals are so light as to be almost white. But the fragrance is so pure and sweet. So like our little Rose here. You‘ll see when you come to visit her. Much better than an old cold stone marker.”
“My little Rose would like that. She loved the pale flowers best. I don’t know why you care so? She wasn‘t your daughter. Lord only knows who‘s but not your‘s.” Lilly shook her head to clear her thoughts and continued on. “Still, I thank you mightily for your part here.” She sat on the ground near by to wait as Jake finished dressing the little grave. She was still weak from being so deathly ill in the past week herself.
“Where is the man?” Parson Rankin asked the undertaker, Joseph Winston, under his breath. “The Bishop is waiting for a shovel of earth to be brought to him so he can toss it into the grave’ This thing must be done right and proper.”
Mr. Winston bumped arms with the parson to get his attention, “I see him coming round the chapel wall now.
“Get him to his place!” Parson Rankin squeaked at Mr. Winston.
Later that day Mr. Winston’s voice broke the quiet of the woods. The cat hissed and walked away disappearing in the autumn leaves. “I’ve been looking for you all over town, Jake. You where late to the graveside this morning. Your wages will be docked for this month.”
Jake ignored the reprimand and said, “I was in the wood collecting something precious I found there. A white rose for an innocent soul. Then I’ve been planting that rose bush over your daughter’s grave. Everyone in town knew it was you who‘d fathered her. You and Lily were the only ones not to admit it, but you were seen making your nightly visits… I see I‘ve angered you. It was not my place… I‘ll just finish watering the bush and I‘ll leave you to your grieving. If you have the heart for it.”
Jake bent over the sweet light pink rose bush to water it well as the shovel came down on the back of his neck. His blood flowed onto the child’s grave as Jake’s heart bumped its last.
Lily would often come to visit the little rose bush on the small outcast grave with the old cat. It has the most striking sweet roses for its blooms. Light pink, almost white and streaked with red like blood. Each beautiful petal shaped like the curved blade of Jake’s shovel.