I suppose since no one left a comment, that no one got on and read last weeks story. It is not too late to tell me what you think of it and if I should write any others to go with it.
Since I posted last Friday, things have been busy! On Sat. we drove home from KC, picked up the Cass girls on the way, and began to get the house ready to decorate. On Sun. the rest of the Cass and Morris and Yoders came, and we decorated after church. It sure looks pretty. Everyone left that night. Monday, I spent the morning finishing last touches on the decorating downstairs, then relaxing in the afternoon. Tues. I did the upstairs, then got to work on a quilt I'm doing for someone. Wednesday, I worked a lot on the quilt. Yesterday, Dad came home with a pile of green branches from Lowes that they had cut off of Christmas trees and were giving away! Yay! Now the house smells like Christmas. We baby-sat the three kids from 4:45 - 10:00. By the time J & M came back, K told me, "Mommy & Daddy were gone too long." :)
But that was then. I started this story last year, however, I got stuck and didn't finish it until this year. It will continue until Dec. 24th.
ATTENTION: Important notice. Throughout the month of December, Rebekah's Reading Room will not only have the regular posts every Friday, but will also be posting different things during the weeks!* The things during the weeks won't be long, but you might want to check back often.
*Special thanks for this idea goes to the Cass girls.*
And now, for your regularly scheduled program. Uh, I mean story.
Home for Christmas
It just wasn’t fair! She had barely tolerated it from the first and now all would be even worse. Twelve-year-old Susanna strode across the yard, climbed the fence into the pasture and frowned. Savagely she kicked a clump of frozen grass and then winced as her toe connected with a hidden rock. “I hate it here!” she spoke the words aloud and started across the field. She didn’t want to stay here any longer. Why couldn’t she go back to the city where she had always lived? Surely she could find someone among her friends to live with. It just wasn’t fair! Susanna could feel the tears rise, and her eyes smarted. Why did her father get drafted to go fight and her uncle get to stay home? And if that wasn’t bad enough, her father had to get killed only two weeks after he was shipped over to France while her cousin only got wounded and was coming home any day now. Irritably she twitched at her skirt as it became caught in a bramble.
A cheerful whistle was heard along with the sound of horses hooves. A quick glance showed her that Daniel was riding out to bring in the cows. With a look of disgust she turned her back on her approaching cousin and continued walking. That was another thing she disliked; all these smelly animals. It was a disgrace to have a dog in the house as well as two cats! She shuddered. All these relatives of hers thought about was work and animals, from Daniel down to the baby. Back when she had lived in the city with her papa there had been plenty of time for parties and friends. Now she hardly had time to breathe by herself!
“Susanna!” her cousin’s cheerful voice sounded beside her. “You want to ride with me to round up the cows?”
Susanna shook her head, her frown deepening into a scowl.
“Okay, suit yourself.” Daniel shrugged and turned his horse’s head. “Just don’t stay out too long, supper will be ready shortly, and it looks like a snow storm might be brewin’.”
Susanna made no reply and tramped steadily on, away from the house with its warmth, noise and joy. She felt miserable. There had been times over the last months that she had almost begun to let herself like this new home, but the feeling had never lasted. That was mostly her own fault though she refused to admit it and pushed away all love. Her aunt had a special place in her heart for this only daughter of her only brother. Susanna’s mother had died when she was just a baby, and thus it was that Susanna had never known the love and gentleness of a mother.
Reaching the far fence of the pasture, Susanna turned her head. She could see the smoke coming from the chimney of the large log house. Behind it the Rocky mountains towered high into the sky. Most peaks were invisible because of the clouds. A cold wind blew from the north making her shiver and pull her coat even closer around her. She jerked a scarf from her pocket and tied it around her blonde hair. At the sight of it a sob rose in her throat. Papa had given it to her only last Christmas. Papa! Why did he have to go? All the former thoughts came back to her again. Life wasn’t fair to her.
It all started when she had to leave the city. That was it! If she could only return to the city, any city, life would once again be what it used to. Suddenly, acting on an impulse, she turned, deliberately climbed the fence and set off across the open country toward the town. She would just leave. No one cared for her anyway.
She didn’t know how long she had walked, but it felt like it had been hours. Her feet ached, and she was cold, tired and hungry. The darkness was settling quickly all around, and she could hear the cry of a coyote. She shivered. Her eyes filled, but defiantly she blinked back the tears. She wouldn’t cry. She hadn’t cried since her papa had kissed her good bye before her train pulled out for Montana; even when word came of her father’s death, she had shed no tears.
She hadn’t heard her aunt talking about it to her uncle. “I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t even shed a tear though I know she loved him dearly. There is something wrong with her, Seth. There must be, for she doesn’t act like any child I have ever known.
“Just give her a little more time, Alice. This is quite a shock to her. Perhaps she just needs more love.”
“Love! I’ve given her all the love I have, yet she rejects it all. She wants nothing to do with us or this place, you can see it in her every look and action.”
“Then the only thing we can do is to pray for her more than ever we have before.”
Back in the barn, Daniel and Josh were milking the cows while their father tossed hay down from the loft. “Is Susanna out here?” Rosy-cheeked Martha stepped in out of the wind.
“No, I haven’t seen her,” replied her father.
Daniel stood up from the last cow. “Isn’t she home yet?”
Martha shook her head. “No one has seen her since before you set off for the cows. We thought maybe she was with you.”
Daniel frowned. “I did see her in the pasture and asked if she wanted to go with me, but she refused. I told her not to go far or stay out too long.” He paused and glanced out the door.
“Perhaps you should ride out and bring her back, Son.”
Daniel nodded and went to saddle up.
“Can I go too, Pa, please?” Josh pleaded eagerly. At his father’s nod, he too began to saddle up his horse.
It wasn’t long before the two brothers were riding off into the gathering darkness. Daniel held the lantern. Upon reaching the back fence they found a piece of her skirt, and Daniel realized with a growing dread that she was alone in the open range. Turning quickly to his younger brother, he ordered, “Josh, go back to the house and tell Pa I’m going out to find her. She can’t have gone far, not in this short of time. I’ll bring her back just as quick as I can. Now get.”
Susanna had sat down on a fallen tree to rest her weary feet. She heard the sound of approaching hooves and saw the light of a lantern. She knew it must be either her uncle or cousin. Her shoulders sagged. Why did they have to find her? Secretly she was relieved, but not for an instant would she admit it to anyone, not even herself. As Daniel swung off his horse beside her, she stiffened and looked away.
“Come on, Susanna, Ma has supper waitin’.”
“I don’t want to go,” her voice had a faint quiver in it despite all she could do.”
Daniel shrugged and reached out to pull her to her feet.
In an instant all the pent up frustration and anger, as well as sorrow and despair, that had been bottled up for so long burst forth. “I won’t go back! I hate it here! It’s the very worst place anywhere, and I won’t stay here with smelly animals in a crowded, noisy hut one more night! I’m going back to the city. That is where civilized people live. You can ride back and tell them I said so! And I don’t care one bit about your brother coming back. You don’t deserve him back! I hope he doesn’t come back, so there! It isn’t fair for him to only get wounded before he even goes over seas and Papa to be killed. And I don’t care about Christmas coming. No one here would even know how to celebrate it anyway. You are all just a bunch of . . . of ignorant, backwoods nobodys, and I can’t stand any of you!” As she finished her tirade, she crossed her arms over her chest and stood waiting for she knew not what.
For a moment Daniel was still. He had never heard this quiet, withdrawn cousin go on in this fashion. True, he had known, as had they all, that Susanna wasn’t happy, but never had he dreamed that she felt that way about it. “Well,” he spoke quietly, “there’s not much I can do about that now. Let’s get back to the house before it starts to snow.” He placed a hand on her shoulder.
To be continued next Friday.