Friday, July 27, 2012

Triple Creek Ranch - Part 23

Good Morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
We got a bit of rain yesterday! It was so wonderful. And it only got up to the upper 90s yesterday! I know, when you have to say "only upper 90s" it tells you how hot is has been. The rain is all gone and it looks like today will be another really hot day.

This week has been busy so I haven't gotten much writing done at all.
On Monday evening we attended the Lincoln Ladies Ice Cream Social to hear the candidates who are running for office in the county and some state wide offices speak while we enjoyed cookies and ice cream. We always enjoy the Ice Cream Social. By the way, if you live in Missouri, you want to vote for Todd Akin for U.S. Senate!
On Tuesday afternoon a good friend and her three little ones ages 2 and under came over to hang out. Sweet Pea and J-J had a wonderful time playing with the toys. They loved the play food and Sweet Pea made "chocolate cake to share." :) Sweetheart was just that. Even if she is only 4 months old, she seemed to think she should be in on all the action too. :)
Wednesday came and we had the kiddos over so Brother and Sis-in-law could go out on a date. The kids were here for supper and so were my best friends and their sisters. It was fun having them all here for homemade pizza. The girls didn't leave until about 8:00 while the kiddos were here until after 9:00. We had fun though.
Yesterday no one came over and I got some writing done. But I had to work on Priscilla's letter and it's still not done.
The rest of the days this week were "normal."

Writing. Last Thursday I got out my research books, my notebooks, my idea page, NEO and sat down to really work on "Ria and the Gang." Usually when I get my books out and start doing some research, I get lots of ideas and am able to write some that night and the stories just come. Well, I was able at last to get past the block I had for that one story in "Ria and the Gang," but when I went to write on Friday, I was stuck again. What was going on? Why couldn't I get this story to work? I had all kinds of ideas for stories for it and I wanted to know what happened, but for some reason, that book is just not coming together. I've tried to think of another way to write it, but my mind is blank. It is almost a chore to have to write "Ria and the Gang" now, and if you've ever written anything because you "had" to, you know that it usually doesn't end up very well written. I reread what I had written of that story and it was boring. :( Usually if I get stuck and I force myself to write a few more sentences, I'll suddenly be able to write again. Kind of like hiking on a trail and coming to a tree or some large rocks in the path. You can force your way over and then it is easy again or you can remain there. I've tried to cross the obstacles but I think the trail is completely washed away on the other side. So, I talked about it with Mom on Saturday. I felt like I had to write it, but every time I tried, I got stuck and things didn't flow. They were choppy and rough and I might get 200 words written in one evening whereas usually when I sit down with "TCR," "Dr. Morgan," or even a short story I can get 500 - 1,000 words in one evening without really trying.  Mom told me that I should give myself permission to not write "Ria and the Gang." So I did. I'm sorry for those of you have been looking forward to reading more about Emma Foster Mitchell. I was too. But now this story is stopped. Perhaps someday I'll get inspired to write it again. Perhaps I'll discover what is wrong and why I can't write. Perhaps someday I'll be able to sit down and the words will just flow as they do for other stories. But for now at least, I'm putting it aside. Thank you all for your questions, your interest and your patience. I hope you will enjoy the other stories that are being written now.

I debated for quite a while about what story to post this morning. Should I post TCR or start another story? At last I decided to give you another TCR. I hope you enjoy it. Next week I'm going to start a story that I got many good laughs out of writing it. I hope you'll be back.

Part 23

    “We will be eating in the bunkhouse with the men tonight since Jenelle is not feeling well.”
    Then Orlena’s indignation come forth in a burst. Her book fell to the floor with a thud as she sprang to her feet and placed her hands on her hips. “I will tell you what I told your wife. I do not associate socially with hired help!”
    Norman had risen also and now stood facing his angry sister. “Would you rather not eat?” he questioned quietly.
    “I would rather starve than eat with the help!” she snapped.
    “So be it then,” and Norman turned to go.
    “Norman Mavrich, don’t you dare leave until I’m through talking!” Orlena stamped her foot.
    Turning, Norman regarded her with a feeling of irritation and anger struggling for mastery. “I wasn’t aware that you had anything left to say.” His voice was low and he could feel his temper slowly rising. He sent up a swift though silent prayer for help and waited.
    Orlena was furious. All the emotions which had been stewing inside her for several days had risen, and seeing her brother’s outwardly calm face only added to her wrath. He didn’t care a thing about her or he would never calmly tell her she could starve! All he cared about was himself, his darling wife and his precious ranch. Well, she would set him straight!
    “What more do you want to say, Orlena?” Norman broke into her thoughts. “Please say them quickly for even if you don’t wish to eat, I am quite hungry.”
    “Of course that is all you care about. All that matters to you is that you have everything your own way. You don’t even make your hired help treat your own sister with respect and let your wife speak rudely to me when I have done nothing.”
    Norman’s eyebrows shot up, “Jenelle, speak rudely?”
    “Yes, Jenelle, your precious wife, who it appears, in your eyes, can do no wrong has rudely spoken to me and forced me to do things which are disagreeable because she won’t spend the money to hire someone else to do them. She seems to think that I’ve come to be her personal slave and I tell you I won’t stand for it any longer!” Again she stamped her foot.
    “What things did my wife make you do, Orlena?” Norman’s eyes flashed but he managed to keep his voice quiet though his hands clenched and unclenched at his sides.
    “Sewing! Now fetch my trunk from the attic; I wish to pack tonight. Then tomorrow you may take me to the train. I’m going to Madam Viscount’s and will board there until school starts.”
    Instead of replying, Norman strode across the room and stared out the window. For several minutes the only sound in the room was the ticking of the small clock on the mantle in the front room. Then the sound of a dinner bell rang through the still room where the brother and sister stood, each waiting a move or word from the other. At last Norman turned. When he spoke, his voice was still low. “We will discuss this after supper. Are you coming to eat?”
    For answer Orlena gave a snort and glared at her brother’s back when, without another word or look at her, he walked from the room and she heard the kitchen door shut.
    Left alone Orlena paced about the room muttering, and then giving way to the hunger and the loneliness which pressed upon her, she burst into tears.

    It was with heavy steps and a troubled heart that Norman walked to the bunkhouse. How could he cope with a sister who was as spoiled as Orlena? Would it not be better to send her to some good school? Pushing your work off onto someone else, his conscience chided. Perhaps he should let her go to Madam Viscount’s Seminary this coming term, if she did her share of work now. “Rescue Orlena from herself, I beg you.” The words from his grandmother’s letter rang through his mind. “No,” he muttered, “I will not send my sister to that school! I’ve seen the ‘young ladies’ they turn out!”
    Someone touched his arm.
    He gave a start and looked up quickly. Lloyd was standing beside him at the door.
    “Is Mrs. Mavrich worse, sir? Should I ride for the doc?”
    Norman managed a slight smile. “No. Thanks though, Hearter. I was just thinking.”
    “Must be some heavy thinking the way your shoulders stoop and with that frown on your face,” Hardrich said, motioning to an empty chair near him at the long table.
    Sitting down in the offered chair, Norman sighed. “You’re right. It was pretty heavy.”
    St. John brought in a plate of food for the ranch boss and joined the others at the table. There was no talking for several minutes as the men ate hungrily. Even Norman forgot his worries momentarily, but they came back in full force with the continued silence.
    Norman turned, “Sorry, St. John, what were you asking?
    “Isn’t your sister coming?”
    Again silence filled the room except for the sound of knives and forks. Norman didn’t notice the glances exchanged between the men around the table but ate without thinking about what he was doing. Had his plate held sawdust and water instead of mashed potatoes and gravy, it is doubtful he would have noticed. Conversations sprang up among the men as the keen edge of hunger was dulled. But Norman, usually one of the men, full of talk and plans, was silent.
    “Mr. Mavrich!”
    Blinking, Norman looked up. Every eye was fastened on him, some questioningly, others with concern. He smiled wryly. “Sorry, men. That’s the third time, isn’t it? Was someone talking to me?”
    “St. John just asked if you would like more to eat,” Hardrich replied. Then he added in a lower tone after Norman had declined seconds, “Is it something you can share, sir?”
    Norman hesitated a moment before replying.

What did you think?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Triple Creek Ranch - Part 22

Good Morning FFFs!
It is hot here! Last evening it was 110 degrees! And that's not counting the heat index. Did I mention it was hot?

Do you ever feel like you have twenty things you want to do all at once? Or thirty? That's about how I'm feeling. There are so many things to do or that I want to do, but they aren't getting done. I could try a schedule, but they usually drive me crazy. I do better with routines. The hard part is figuring out a new routine and then sticking to it because it seems that every time I try, something else comes up several days in a row and interrupts everything!
And I won't give you a list of all the things I'm wanting to at least work on. :)

Now, what did I do last week? I mentioned that on Friday we were going to babysit the N. children. Well, we did, from 8:20 - 2:40. And some played with legos the entire time!

 I did get to play some other games. The one girl and I played Mouse Trap with the two little boys twice and the youngest one won both times. :) He was quite pleased.
Saturday was usual things I think.
On Sunday, however, we had Ice Cream Sunday at church. Since July is National Ice Cream month, we've enjoyed having a Sunday where every family brings ice cream to share for their dessert. (We always share a meal after church.) Miss S. and several of the younger/middle ones got to serve the ice cream after everyone had eaten. It was such fun and very good. Many people brought homemade ice cream.
I know I did somethings on Monday and Tuesday but, like Saturday, I can't remember what.
Wednesday Dad & I had election training. Well, it was training to use the i-Pads for the Aug. elections. Very easy and it should be faster than the books. We'll see how it really goes. Then that night we invited my two best friends (who live just down the street from us) and their two sisters to have supper with us since the rest of their family was gone for a week. It was a lot of fun and we all sat around and talked for quite a while.

Yesterday I posted a new letter on Priscilla's blog about the "trip." Oh, and last night. This picture was taken. Can you guess what I was working on?

Today I clean house and try to get some other things done.
But, you are wanting TCR, aren't you? Well, thanks for taking time to read this blog and for those few of you who faithfully leave a comment or at least a reaction to the stories.

Part 22

    Norman felt tired as he thought of talking to his sister, but having once made up his mind to do something that needed done, he wasn’t the sort of man to back out of it no matter how difficult it was.
    Finding Orlena in the cool parlor curled up on a chair with a book as he had left her, Norman drew a deep breath, dropped into a nearby chair and began.
    “Orlena, we need to talk about some things.”
    Curiously, Orlena looked up from her book. Norman wanted to talk? She wondered what it was about. Aloud she said, “I hope it is about my future for there is only so much a person of good breeding can stand.”
    “It is about your future,” he agreed unsure quite how to go about it, for he didn’t want another explosion to occur as it had in the city. “You have now been at the Triple Creek Ranch for a week. Jenelle and I have tried to make things easy so you could have a chance to adjust yourself, but now you will have to start pulling your own weight. To begin with,” he went on quickly for he saw that his sister seemed about to speak. “To begin with, you will eat breakfast with us each morning. Jenelle doesn’t have the time to prepare breakfast for you at all hours of the morning. She has enough to do without that. Second you will be expected to do a few chores about the place, either in the house or outside. Which chores they will be I will leave up to you and Jenelle.”
    Norman paused, collecting his thoughts, and before he could speak again, Orlena broke the silence.
    “That is what you think,” she flashed, shutting her book with a thud. “Well, I will have you know a few things Norman Mavrich which you seem to have forgotten. In the first place, I am not your servant nor a hired hand! I am a guest, granddaughter and sole heir of the late Mrs. Marshall Mavrich, and I was not bred to be a ranch drudge. Secondly, I will not be staying here long enough to be bothered by chores. As soon as the new term opens at Madam Viscount’s Seminary I will be leaving here and will herafter spend my vacations with my friends unless you decide to leave this place and live in the city like you should. Have I made myself clear?” Nothing could have been more haughty that Miss Orlena Mavrich’s voice, nor more regal than the toss of her brown ringlets as she looked at her brother with raised eyebrows.
    “There there is nothing more to be said, is there?” and Orlena opened her book once more.
    “Actually there is more to be said.” Norman’s jaw squared and his shoulders straightened. It appeared to be another battle of wills and Norman was determined not to lose it. “You are right when you say you are the granddaughter of Mrs. Marshall Mavrich; however, you are not her sole heir, and until you reach the age of twenty-one, which is not for another ten years, I am your legal guardian and will decide where you will live, where you will attend school and what you are to do. And you may as well know now that you will not be going back to that seminary this school term nor any other term. No,” he held up his hand as his sister again opened her mouth. “Let me finish. When you say you are not a servant nor a hired hand, you are right. You are a member of the Triple Creek Ranch and as a member you have certain responsibilities. You have claimed that you were not bred to be a ranch drudge. Neither was I. Don’t forget Orlena that I am your brother and the only son and heir of Marshall Norman Mavrich and spent the first twelve years of my life attending the finest schools back east before I was moved to Blank City. There I was tutored for three years. After our parents’ death I was sent to live out here with Uncle Hiram where I worked and learned until I was able to send myself to college where I graduated second in my class.” Norman was not one who boasted about his accomplishments, and few references did he ever make of his childhood, but now it was different. If Orlena thought living on a ranch meant one was an ignorant person, he would be happy to enlighten her.
    For a moment after he stopped talking, Orlena simply stared at him. She had never known her brother was a college graduate. True she had never inquired into it. But if Norman was so well educated, why had he married Jenelle and why on earth had he stayed on this stupid ranch? Shutting her book again she pushed her feet off the chair to the floor and faced her bother. “If you have so much knowledge,” she snorted, “why did you ruin the honored family name by marrying an ignorant country nobody and continuing to live out in the middle of nowhere?”
    The mention of Jenelle in those belittling tones brought a flash to Norman’s eyes and a set to his jaw that the few troublemakers in town knew too well. He swallowed hard and struggled to keep his voice low and steady. “If you think that Jenelle is an ignorant country nobody, you had better think again. She attended Sheldon’s Academy for young ladies, speaks three foreign languages fluently, and is a descendent of a French nobleman. As for living out here, it is because I happen to greatly enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors and working on a ranch is something I enjoy. Now is there anything else you wish me to set explain to you? If there is nothing else, perhaps we should prepare for our dinner.”

What do you think of this part?
Any questions?
Thoughts or feelings?
Does it answer any questions or give you new ones?

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Medford's Independence Day - Part 2

Good Morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans!
I hope you all have had a charming week. Did any of you get rain? We did!!! It was so wonderful! I wanted to go out and take a walk in it but along with the rain came the thunder and lightning, so . . . I stayed indoors. I went up to write Saturday night (when we got the rain) and it was so pleasant to sit up there and write while listening to the pitter-patter of the water drops on the window and the skylight.

Friday and Saturday were just normal days.
On Sunday we again had to go to church in Dad's truck because my brother still has our van and had to have it if they were coming to church.
But, on Monday we made an appointment to use the van in the morning so we could do a few things. We went to Connie's, Jo-Ann's and Hobby Lobby. That was fun. We haven't been able to go anywhere except in the truck to church for a few weeks now.
The rest of the week was pretty much the same as it always is. I'm looking forward to seeing pictures from my illustrators before too long! I've heard from them and they are working.
I have been working on a new project. I'm compiling old letters that my grandparents wrote to their parents while my mom and her siblings were growing up. I've gotten the 50s done and laid out in a book except for adding pictures and I'm working on the 16s. It's rather fun reading about what was going on in their lives back then.

Today the N. children are coming over to spend a couple of hours. Don't know how long.

Writing Update: I finished writing the last short story for the younger short story book. And no, I'm not posting it. There are two stories in that book which are not going to be posted on here. That way it'll give you all something new to read if you get the book once it's published.
Last night I was going to work on TCR, but I realized I hadn't printed the last part yet and it had been a while so I couldn't remember what had happened. Then I was going to work on Dr. Morgan, but I couldn't decide if it should be the next morning, afternoon or the next day. (Any suggestions?) So I just worked on another short story that I think you all will enjoy. It is rather fun and I've laughed a bit as I've written. I don't know how long it will be. Right now it is 3,500 words long. How long do you all want it?

Oh yes, I'm still looking for a few one or two sentence reviews to put on the back of the short story books. If you would like to write one (please!) I'd love to have it! But I'm going to need it soon. So either e-mail it or leave it in a comment. Thanks!

Here is the last of the Medford's Independence Day. I hope you enjoy it.
Last week:

    The quiet of the early afternoon didn’t last more than an hour and a half for the children couldn’t remain quiet any longer. Their backyard, the only one in the neighborhood with a real playground, swings and forts, was the gathering place for every child around and soon the yard was teeming with shouts, laughter and children.
    Walter and his best friend, Frank, organized the battle of Yorktown while Lillian, Alice, Helen and their friends reenacted the dumping of tea in the Boston harbor. All in all it was a lively afternoon and when the telephone of the Medford home began to ring, Mr. Medford send all the extra children home for their suppers.
    “It is too nice to eat inside,” Mr. Medford began to his wife and Mary Rose.
    “And the children are much too excited to sit at the dining room table,” Mrs. Medford returned laughing.
    “Eating outside will be just the thing!” exclaimed Mary Rose, pausing in her work of cutting up a watermelon.
    As was expected, the rest of the Medfords agreed that eating outside was the best thing to do on the 4th of July, and a merry meal they made.
    “Hurry up with the dishes, girls,” Walter urged as Lillian and Alice set about their evening task slowly. “It won’t be dark for a while, and I think we should have time for our own parade.”
    “Oh yes!” Alice exclaimed, flying about the kitchen. “I had forgotten all about that!”
    “What about the others?” Lillian asked as she began washing the dishes with haste.
    “Frank said they’d be over as soon as they could after they had eaten. I’m going to run over and remind a few of the others. Just hurry.”
    “We are!”

    The other children began arriving just as Lillian and Alice were finishing the last of the dishes.
    “We haven’t swept the floor!” wailed Alice mournfully.
    “I’ll do that,” Mary Rose offered. “We didn’t eat inside so it won’t need much. You two go on.”
    After a quick thanks to their sister, the girls flew out the door and joined the others.
    Sitting on the front porch, Mr. and Mrs. Medford smiled at the sight of the new parade, for Walter, the undisputed leader of the neighborhood children, carried the American flag, and beside him, playing his trumpet marched Frank while behind them a dozen or so children marched, eyes before them, proudly singing,
    “My country tis of thee,
    Sweet land of liberty
    Of thee I sing.”

    Down the street the children’s parade marched, singing the songs of their country loudly as they followed the stars and stripes. All about the neighborhood Walter and Frank led them and everywhere they went, friends, neighbors, older and younger brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents came out of their houses to stand or sit on their porches and watch and listen until the parade ended at last where it had started, before the Medford home.

    As soon as it began to grow dark, the Medford family again left their home. This time to walk up the street to the corner where they were joined by Grandma and Grandpa Medford as well as most of the neighbors.
    “Mary Jo,” Grandma Medford asked Mrs. Medford, “did you know about the children’s parade?”
    Mrs. Medford shook her head, “Not until they started,” she replied smiling.
    “Well, they certainly did a fine job,” Mrs. Rochester put in.
    And Mrs. Burton, Frank and Katie’s mother, agreed.

    The fireworks display was grand and many were the cries of delight from those gathered on the grass or in the trees to watch. When at last, the final glittering light faded into the dark but star-spangled sky, most of the crowd hurried home. The Medford children were especially excited.
    As Mrs. Medford tucked the younger three, who had fallen asleep, into bed, Mr. Medford, Mary Rose, Walter, Lillian, Alice and Helen brought out their fireworks. The sparklers were handed out to the girls while Walter and his father prepared the others. All down the street other families were getting ready as well.
    “I’m sure glad that our street is the first connecting street between Main and Broadway,” Alice exclaimed excitedly to Mary Rose. “Because now we can put on our own show.”
    “Yes,” Lillian agreed. “This is always my favorite part of the day.”
    It was indeed a show to all those cars driving down the street that night. On either side, sparklers glittered and glowed waving in spirals, circles or other shapes from eager hands while from the driveways bright colored lights shot up into the sky with loud booms, whizzes, whistles and pops. Shrieks and shouts came from children in the passing cars, and the children on the sidewalks returned the calls until they were hoarse.
    Finally the last car disappeared and the last firework was sent whizzing up to disappear in the darkness. Good nights were called among the neighbors and Mr. Medford directed his weary but still excited children into the house.
    “The younger three are already asleep,” Mrs. Medford reminded them as they prepared to troop upstairs to their beds after saying good night to their parents. “I don’t see how noise would wake them after sleeping through all the racket that went on, but leave the lights off.”
    “We will, Mama,” Mary Rose assured her. “I don’t think Helen will get any farther than the door of her room before she’s asleep,” she smiled as Helen stumbled with eyes nearly closed towards the stairs.
    Walter turned in the doorway and said, with a grin for his father, “Are we going to wake everyone up in the morning again, Dad?”
    Mr. Medford chuckled and winked while Mrs. Medford retorted, “Only if you don’t want to sit down tomorrow.” And she shook her head with a fond smile at her husband and son.
    “Good night, Mom, Dad,”
    “Good night.”   
    Silence settled down over the neighborhood, lights turned off in the houses and only the sound of a few crickets and cicadas broke the silence of the last half an hour of that glorious Independence Day.

What did you think of it?
Did you like it?
Would you like to read more about the Medford family?

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Medford's Independence Day - Part 1

Good Morning Faithful Friday Fiction Fans!
Did you all have a glorious 4th! Did you watch parades, walk in parades, have a cookout, shoot off fireworks, watch fireworks, and celebrate America's birthday with lots of noise and fun? I watched fireworks. I also ate watermelon and ice cream (two July 4th foods). It was HOT here on the 4th. 104 degrees with a heat index of I don't know what! When we headed out to watch fireworks from a bridge only a few blocks away, it was still 94 degrees. Did I mention it was hot?

I have to tell you about last Friday. It was even busier and more exciting than I had thought it would be when I posted. First, a friend came over bringing things for a sewing project for S & I for the Republican HQ. Then, one of my best friends called to tell me they weren't out of town and if I wanted to, I could go out to lunch with them. Then some customers of S came to pick up some dresses. And did I mention that during that time we were trying to get the house cleaned? Once I finished cleaning I was scrambling to get my BFs (best friends) birthday present together and wrapped. Headed down the alley to their house. We left in the car and took younger sister with us. Drove to an art gallery to see pictures of the tornado. On the way to the restaurant, the AC in the car quit and it was making strange noises. So, we stopped at their house and switched to the van. Out to eat which was fun. Then went to a book store, then to pick up younger brothers at the farmers market.
I got dropped off at home and the others went home. I heard from younger sister who came to get something that Special Friend was at their house. Hmm, does that mean a ring? Yep!!!! BF2 (My best friends are twins thus the number.) called to say she had said yes!!! So excited for her! After supper we headed down to their house for the surprise birthday get together. :) They were surprised. :) It was a fun, crazy, day. (By the way, BF1 is the one who did the Alphabet book.)

After that busy Friday, Saturday was slow and relaxing.
On Sunday after church I went out to the park with BFs, Special Friend, younger sister and other friend for a photo shoot of the engaged couple. Oh, it was so hot!
Monday evening S and I babysat the kiddos. :) They are fun. It had cooled off enough to let them play outside after supper for 30 minutes.
Tuesday was busy working on the project for HQ.
Independence Day was pretty quiet. No parades, no get togethers, no cookouts, only fireworks at night.
As for yesterday I did normal things.

I have gotten some writing done. Got this story written. :) The idea for it came from a "pretend letter" I had written to a friend several years before. We picked a time in history, created our "families" and wrote letters to each other. Well, I had been wanting to write a 4th of July story, but was having a hard time thinking of what to write, so when I read that letter, I knew I could change it into 3rd person and add a bit here and there to make it more interesting. And I did. I hope you enjoy it.

The Medford's Independence Day
Part 1

    The sun was just peeking above the horizon when Mr. Medford softly awakened his oldest son.
    “Walt,” he whispered, “come on.”
    Sleepily Walter sat up and blinked. Why was Dad waking him so early? Then he remembered. Today was the 4th of July! Suddenly every bit of tiredness fled and he was wide awake. He nodded with a wide grin to his father and slipped out of bed. Pulling his clothes on quietly so as not to wake the two little boys, he stifled a laugh and hurried softly from the room and down to the kitchen.
    “Does Mom know?” he asked in low tones as his father handed him a pot and a large spoon.
    “She will in a few minutes,” Mr. Medford chuckled, looking, Walter thought, like a school boy up to some prank. “We’ll wait until the top of the hour,” Mr. Medford instructed with a whisper.
    All was silent. There was no noise from the bedrooms upstairs, and from the open windows the only sounds were a few birds singing and a cicada or two. All the neighboring houses were dark and still. Only the sound of the seconds ticking away on the clock was to be heard indoors and the two conspirators stood with eyes fastened on the second hand.
    Tick. Tick. Tick.
    Forty-five seconds until the hour.
    Tick. Tick. Tick.
    Thirty seconds. Walter took a good grip on his spoon.
    Tick. Tick. Tick.
    Twenty seconds. Mr. Medford lifted his pot and pan.
    Tick. Tick. Tick.
    Ten seconds left. Walter held his breath.
    Dong! Crash! Bang, crash, clatter, bang, crash!
The noise was almost deafening as father and son beat upon the metal pans with great vigor.
    From upstairs came the thud of pounding feet, the excited sound of voices and soon the entire family came pouring down the stairs to see what all the racket was about.
    “It’s Independence Day!” Mr. Medford exclaimed, stopping his pounding and grinning. “We can’t have you all sleeping late today of all days. This is a gala day. Hurry up everyone! Get dressed and let’s eat breakfast!”
    “You two,” Mrs. Medford laughed, shaking her head at them as she picked up Henry and turned towards the stairs.
    Hardly had the family disappeared back to the upper regions of the house than a knocking was heard on the front door.
    “Lawrence,” someone called, “is everything all right?”
    Mr. Medford flung open the door to see four or five neighbors in bathrobes standing on his porch. “Happy Independence Day! Glorious morning for the 4th, isn’t it? All right? Of course it is. Walt and I were just waking up the family. No use sleeping late on the birthday of our country!”
    With some laughs and good natured grumbling, the startled neighbors returned to their own homes, but it is doubtful if any returned to bed, for their awakening had roused them well.

    After the Medford family finished eating breakfast and had had their family Bible time, Mr. Medford looked about the table. “Mary Rose and Walter, Mr. Glover will be here to pick you up at 10:00 so make sure you are both ready and in costume. Lillian and Alice, you two help your mother get the lunch ready. Helen, can you find the picnic basket and bring down the large blanket?”
    “Sure Daddy,” seven-year-old Helen replied, delighted to be doing something important.
    “Then let’s fall to it,” Mr. Medford stood up.
    Mary Rose, nearly fifteen, hurried to clear off the table so the dishes could be washed quickly. All was flurry and bustle, laughter, and several frantic dashes after Henry who was almost twelve-months old and who kept getting into things. Finally Mr. Medford took him and two-year-old James outside to play with Eve, who was five.
    “Now maybe we can get something done,” Mrs. Medford sighed, pushing back her hair from her face.
    “Mom,” Walter called from the stairs, “I can’t figure out how this thing goes,” and Mrs. Medford hurried out to help.
    When Mr. Glover arrived, both Mary Rose and Walter were ready and they soon departed.
    “I wish I could be in the parade,” Lillian sighed.
    “Next year you will be, most likely,” eleven-year-old Alice assured. “Since Walt is thirteen and next year you’ll be thirteen, I think they’ll want you.”
    Lillian sighed again. “I hope so. But,” she added briskly, “we had better get these things finished so Mama can pack them in the basket.”

    It was nearly 11:00 when the Medford family, with the exception of the two oldest children, found a place to watch the parade. There were the two high school bands, the boy scout troop in the area, veterans from the Great War and even some from the Spanish-American War, the city’s fire engines went by, as did the Mayor in his car. But for most of the Medford children, the floats were the best part. Walter was in the float of George Washington crossing the Delaware while Mary Rose made a lovely Betsy Ross, sewing diligently on a flag for her country. The nearby college had come up with a very creative idea. They represented the history of the United States. Each president was portrayed by a college fellow while other fellows and girls were dressed for events in the nation’s past.
    There was so much excitement and cheering, as at last the end of the parade passed by, that scarcely anyone heard the city bells ringing noon.
    Lunch was eaten by the Medfords under a tree near where they had watched the parade, and there Mary Rose and Walter joined them, still in costume.

    Back at home, Mrs. Medford insisted that everyone take a nap if they wanted to stay up late that night. To this Mr. Medford heartily agreed for, though he had initiated the early rising, all the excitement had made even him tired.
    The quiet of the early afternoon didn’t last more than an hour and a half for the children couldn’t remain quiet any longer. Their backyard, the only one in the neighborhood with a real playground, swings and forts, was the gathering place for every child around and soon the yard was teeming with shouts, laughter and children.

Come back next week to read what happens in the afternoon!
What did you think of this first part?
Would you have liked to watch that parade? I would!