Chapter 11 is about harvesting grain at Uncle Henry's house. Uncle Henry's boy, Charley who is eleven years old, is naughty because he is not struck frequently enough.
Chapters so far: 11. Mentions of corporal punishment: I've lost track. Five? Six? Seven? And keep in mind I still have no idea what they are eating in the non-Fall. But damned if I know how often and in what ways each child we encounter are struck.
After that he followed them around, talking and asking questions. They were working too hard to pay any attention to him, so they told him to go away and not bother them.
But they dropped their cradles and ran to him across the field when they heard him scream. The woods were all around the field, and there were snakes in the oats.
When they got to Charley, there was nothing wrong, and he laughed at them. He said:
“I fooled you that time!”
Pa said if he had been Uncle Henry, he would have tanned that boy’s hide for him, right then and there. But Uncle Henry did not do it.
So they took a drink of water and went back to work.
Three times Charley screamed, and they ran to him as fast as they could, and he laughed at them. He thought it was a good joke. And still, Uncle Henry did not tan his hide.
And you know what? Charley is not a child I would want to take care of over a long afternoon. I don't know what shaped his life prior to this moment. I don't know if he's the product of his environment, or of a parenting methodology, or if he has A.D.D. or something similar that actively prevents him behaving well. All I know is, I'm glad I don't have to babysit him.
But jeebus cripes, Charley gets into a yellow jacket nest and screams. And because of his Boy Who Cried Wolf act, Pa and Uncle Henry reasonably let him be for several minutes (possibly longer?) until it becomes clear that, no, there really is something wrong. And Charley is COVERED with wasp stings and has to be wrapped in mud and tied in sheets and his fever has to be brought down as quickly as possible and for all we know he may have died. Who knows?
They made a big panful of mud, and plastered him all over with it. They rolled him up in an old sheet and put him to bed. His eyes were swollen shut and his nose was a funny shape. Ma and Aunt Polly covered his whole face with mud and tied the mud on with cloths. Only the end of his nose and his mouth showed.
Aunt Polly steeped some herbs, to give him for his fever. Laura and Mary and the cousins stood around for some time, looking at him.
And this is what Pa has to say about it:
“It served the little liar right.”
I ... just ... you ... what.
I mean, again, not a boy I would want to babysit. Again, I understand the appeal of schadenfreude. But this is an eleven year old boy. Haley Joel Osment was that age when he did Sixth Sense. Even granting that Charley was probably not as cute as HJO, I cannot for the life of me imagine looking on that much suffering of anyone, let alone a child, and thinking HA HA FUCK YOU like Pa does here.