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The Poisonwood Bible

Just then a married couple of Baptists in tortoise-shell sunglasses came out of the crowd and shook our hands. They had the peculiar name of Underdown ---Reverend and Mrs. Underdown. They'd come down to shepherd us through customs and speak French to the men in uniforms. Father made it clear we were completely self-reliant, but appreciated their kindness all the same. He was so polite about it that the Underdowns didn't realize he was peeved. They carried on making a fuss as if we were all old friends, and presented us with a gift of mosquito netting, just armloads of it, trailing on and on like an embarrassing bouquet from some junior-high boyfriend who liked you overly much. As we stood there holding our netting and sweating through our complete wardrobes, they regaled us with information about our soon-to-be-home, Kilanga. Oh, they had plenty to tell, since they and their boys had once lived there and started up the whole of it, school, church and all. At one point in time Kilanga was a regular mission with four American families and a medical doctor who visited once a week. Now it had gone into a slump, they said. No more doctor, and the Underdowns themselves had had to move to Leopoldville to give their boys a shot at proper schooling-if, said Mrs. Underdown, you could even call it that. The other missionaries to Kilanga had long since expired their terms. So it was to be just the Price family and whatever help we could muster up. They warned us not to expect much. My heart pounded, for I expected everything. Jungle flowers, wild roaring beasts. God's Kingdom in its pure, unenlightened glory.

Demon Copperhead

The day we packed up to go home, Emmy pounced with all these instructions. I was to talk Mom into letting me call her. This being the nineties, no Facebook, no texting. Emmy said if I didn't call, she'd drop me and be in love with somebody else. Might as well learn that one early, I'm going to say. But I hadn't thought much about Mom since we left. Even though she was all, Don't forget me, which I thought was stupid. Who forgets his mom? But yet I had.

I made up for it by thinking about her a lot on the way home. It's two hours, but we stopped for gas and Cokes at Cumberland Gap, and at the park where they have the bison. Mr. Peg was the slowest driver imaginable. Finally we chugged up the driveway at a mind-shattering five miles an hour, and I was ready to open the door and roll out before he got to a stop. But Mrs. Peggot turned around and laid a hand on my arm while the others got out. She said she had something she was supposed to tell me. She was nervous, which I didn't like one bit.