Maryland
Bed of Grass

Fifteen minutes later she emerged cool and composed in a yellow-flowered cotton sun dress. Tadd's face and hands had been scrubbed and inspected by Clara, his shirt and pants changed to a clean set. Valerie couldn't help thinking that the three of them probably looked like the ideal American family, leaving on a day's outing to a tobacco auction in Lothian, Maryland. It hurt to know that they would never be a family in the legal sense, but Tadd's steady stream of chatter didn't give Valerie any time to dwell on that.

The sights, sounds and smells of the tobacco auction proved to be fascinating to Valerie as they were to Tadd. Various grades of Maryland tobacco were sold off in lots. The rhythmic cadence of the auctioneer's voice rang through the area, the slurring words punctuated by a clear "Sold!" at the end. The summer air was aromatically pungent with the smell of stacks of drying tobacco leaves.
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