Friday, February 22, 2013

A Slip on the Ice - Part 2

Good morning FFFs,
Well, we got some winter. The ground is covered with 1-2 inches of tiny ice balls. I would have preferred snow instead of sleet, but at least it wasn't an ice storm! I went "sledding" yesterday with my best friends and most of their siblings. We only went down once since we didn't really want to end up in the creek which is at the bottom of the hill since we were sledding on ice not snow. This morning there are faint patches of blue sky showing through the thinning clouds and the sun is supposed to shine. It still isn't supposed to get very warm, but the sun will sure make things pretty!

This is a very busy weekend for us. It really started on Wednesday when my Grandparents came down. We had my brother and his family over for supper that night and those kiddos sure made Grandpa tired. :) Yesterday it was just Grandma & Grandpa over and I went sledding. Today we are going out for breakfast, then to my brother's house so Grandma & Grandpa can see the kiddos once more before they head back up to KC (KC got 10 inches of snow!). Then this evening S & I go over to Brother's to babysit the kids while J & M go to a shower for one of her sisters. It will be late so we'll be putting the kids to bed. Then tomorrow evening we'll be babysitting for some friends from church and it will be another late day. On Sunday it will be a welcome day of rest. Monday brings Goofball's birthday party at our house and going roller-skating which he loves, and then out for ice cream to finish the "party." And on Tuesday I have writing classes. Told you I was busy.

I wrote all of the "April" story for "Project 12" in two days. "February"'s story is not going so well. I haven't worked on TCR or anything else. Haven't had much time to write. Hopefully next week I'll have more time.

The proof copy of my newest book came! Right now it is at my friend's so she and her mom can read and proof the proof copy for me. :)

I think since it is cold and slippery, this story is quite appropriate. Enjoy!

Part 2

Last week . . .
    “Trenton!” The voice rang out across the fields startling a flock of crows and causing several of the cows to look up. Nothing else moved. “Trenton Ashwell!” The voice came again, more sternly this time. “I know you are there. You had better start home this minute before I tell your father!”
    On the shed roof near the house two young boys crouched, suppressing their merriment as the young woman moved closer to the fields. “Come on, Tim,” whispered the darker haired lad, “let’s slip down and be sitting at the table when she comes.”
    The other nodded and quickly the two lads slipped off the far side of the shed and hurried into the kitchen. Never had hands been washed more quickly before they slid into their seats; two innocent boys hungry for their supper.
    “I wonder where Father is?” the shorter of the two boys whispered. “Aunt Isabel may have to wait until after supper.” His grin was wide.
    Hardly had he quit speaking than his aunt’s voice was heard in the hall. “Really Mason, you must do something with that boy!”
    A deep voice asked with a sigh, “What’s he done this time?”
    “Done? Refused to come home from his play for dinner. I rang the bell and when he didn’t come, I went out and called him.”
    “Where is he?”
    “Out in the field with that preacher’s boy.”
    “I gave Trenton permission to play with the boy. Timothy Thomas is a good lad, Isabel, and I’d rather have him my son’s friend than some others.”
    “I didn’t say he wasn’t good,” came the somewhat heated reply. “I simply was telling you that your son is out there playing when he was told to come in! If he were my son—”
    The deep voice interrupted and moved closer to the dining room. “I know, Isabel. But he is not your son. I’ll go out to the fields and fetch him home after dinner.”
    “And he can go without his dinner if he chooses to skip it.”
    Whether or not the conversation would have continued, Trenton didn’t wait to find out. “Father, aren’t we going to eat?”
    Mr. Ashwell stepped quickly into the dining room with the aunt closely behind him. “Did you come in while we were talking?”
    “No sir,” Trenton grinned. “We were here while Aunt was still calling us.”
    “How— What—” blustered the aunt in confusion.
    “We weren’t in the fields, Aunty,” grinned Trenton. “But Father, may we eat now?”

* * * *

    “Mr. Ashwell!”
    The older man blinked and turned to glare at his assistant. “I’m not deaf, Harrington. Now who is that boy?”
    “Mr. Ashwell,” the doctor interjected firmly, “You must calm down or I shall send everyone from the room and give you a sedative so that you will rest.”
    “Humph! Nonsense, Taylor. I’m not excited, I simply want to know who that boy is and what he’s doing here.”
    “Be as quick as you can, lad,” Dr. Taylor said quietly to the young man. “Mr. Ashwell needs rest.”
    Nodding with complete understanding, Trenton Thomas moved beside the bed. When he spoke his voice was clear, his words concise. “My name is Trenton Thomas Jr., Sir, and I’ve come to see if you might be able to help me find work. I have several references and I’m willing to do just about anything.”
    “Why did you come to me?”
    “I was told to, Sir.”
    “By whom?” Mr. Ashwell demanded.
    “Reverend Sadaro, Mr. Clayton and Judge Fristoe.”
    For a moment Mr. Ashwell lay back among the pillows with a frown of thought on his face. The others about the bed watched him and hoped he would rest.
    Pushing himself up on one elbow, the old man peered into the boy’s face and questioned, “Why did they send you to me?”
    With a slight laugh the young man shrugged. “I’m not sure, Sir. I think you would have to ask them. But,” he added hastily as Mr. Ashwell was about to speak, “I can come back another day when you are feeling better, if you wish.”
    Then the doctor moved closer. “That would be a good idea, Mr. Ashwell.”
    But the man on the bed didn’t appear to hear him. “Harrington,” he ordered, falling back onto his pillows, “feed the boy and make sure he has a place to sleep. I want to see him first thing in the morning!”
    “Yes sir, I’ll attend to it.” Felix made haste to answer as he motioned the boy to leave the room.
    In a few minutes more, Mr. Ashwell was sleeping.
    Promising to stop by in the evening, Dr. Taylor took his leave. Mrs. Collins returned to her kitchen and Felix turned to Trenton. “Have you a place to sleep tonight?”
    “No sir. But I can go find a place. I’ll be back here before it is light out.” The youth’s sure manner in spite of the bitter weather outside raised the assistant’s opinion of him. Nevertheless, he refused to allow it.
    “There is no need for that, lad. You are to sleep in the room next to mine. Mrs. Collins will be expecting you for supper and Mr. Ashwell said to have you ready for him first thing in the morning. I couldn’t do that very well if you were off who knows where. Now, you go out to the kitchen and see if Mrs. Collins can find work for you to do while I go park the car in the garage.”

* * * *

    The young man standing beside the newly made grave turned slowly around, his eyes were dull, his face haggard by the sudden tragic event.
    Trenton Ashwell bit his lip. The words he wanted to say seemed so hollow and cold. Instead he simply put out his hand and gripped that of his friend with both of his. They were alone beside the grave now. All was still except for a few acorns falling from the nearby oak tree. Sunshine filtered through the leaves which were changing color.
    “He’s gone, Trent.” Tim moaned. “Gone.” His lips trembled and his eyes filled.
    Suddenly Trent pulled his friend close and put his arm about his shoulders. “Let it out, Tim. You can’t keep going like this.” Looking down at the flowers on the grave, Trent felt his own eyes fill with tears and he whispered hoarsely, “He was a good man! A God-fearing man.”
    It was those words that came from the heart of his friend which brought the tears of healing to the mourning son, and the strong, manly frame shook with silent sobs. The arm about his shoulders tightened and Tim could feel his friend’s wordless love.

Questions or Comments?
Will you be back for Part 3?

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Slip on the Ice - Part 1

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans,
It's partly cloudy out an there's some light breezes blowing from the north. The sky is light but, since there are clouds on the horizon, there was no lovely sunrise. At least not here where I can see it. :) I'm sure there was somewhere this morning.
We had a bit of snow this week. One evening we had big, fat flakes falling and they were sticking. Alas, however, they were already starting to melt by morning and never got more than a dusting on the ground. I would so like one really good snowfall before spring comes. What about you? Do you like snow and cold? Or would you rather just skip to spring?

It was rather a busy week, though not much more than others. I taught writing classes on Tuesday and then went to the dentist on Wednesday. The days before were full of getting things on my list done. I'm really trying to get my next book "The Lower Lights and Other Stories" all together and uploaded so I can get the proof checked and order books before conference season starts again. S and I go babysit the kiddos this evening. That is always an adventure. :)

I find the poll I set up on the side of my blog to be quite interesting. Especially since someone clicked that they always comment and when that showed up, there were no comments. :P
     This story that you get Part 1 of, was supposed to be the first story for "Project 12" but when I was almost finished with it, I realized that the story didn't match the instructions. Therefore, I wrote another story. After giving them both to my best friend/photographer/illustrator for the book to read, she said she liked the second story best. So, now I'm going to let you all read this story. And for those of you wondering what "Project 12" is, let me tell you.
     I thought it would be fun to have a calendar with a story as well as a picture for each month. So one of my best friends and I are working on it. She is supplying the pictures for each month and I'm writing the stories. They will all be in a book when we're finished and we're hoping to also do a calendar. Another friend gave me instructions for 12 stories so that's what I'm using to write these stories.

But I have other things I need to get to work on, so I will end now and let you read Part 1 of

A Slip on the Ice

    Snow was falling heavily. Already the ground was covered with snow and the large, thick flakes continued to tumble from the heavy clouds overhead, promising to add several inches to what was already on the ground. A light but bitter wind blew with winter’s cunning, penetrating anything it could, seeking and finding cracks in walls and windows, discovering faces not sufficiently masked by scarves, sleeves which were too short, and holes in old shoes.
    A car, it’s top securely fastened to keep out the chilling white snow, drove carefully up to a large, three story, white house whose front steps were guarded by two fierce marble lions and stopped. Quickly the driver hurried out and around to assist someone out of the back seat. This figure, muffled carefully from head to toe and leaning on a cane, began to carefully make his way up the icy walk. The driver, dismissed by a wave of the hand, hesitated and watched the muffled form while ignoring the biting wind in his face. Suddenly he started forward with a slight cry. The figure had slipped and fallen before he reached the second step!
    The stately home’s front door opened as the young driver stooped over the figure. “Felix, is he much hurt?” It was obviously the housekeeper who hurried out with only a light shawl thrown over her shoulders.
    “I don’t know. He’s unconscious. Let me just carry him inside, Mrs. Collins, while you call for Doctor Taylor.” Gently the man was lifted in the strong arms of the driver and carried inside the house, up the stairs, and into a lavishly furnished bedroom.
    Soon he lay upon white pillows, still and nearly motionless except for his irregular breathing. With his wraps off, one could see that he was an older man; his hair and mustache grey and his face bearing the marks of many years. He appeared frail and thin and it was with an anxious face that Felix watched beside him until the housekeeper came.
    “The doctor is on his way,” she whispered.
    Felix nodded but hesitated to leave the bedside of the unconscious man.
    A ringing from the front door brought a surprised exclamation. “The doctor can’t be here already!” Felix hurried down the stairs and flung open the door.
    A young man, only barely out of boyhood, stood there. “Excuse me, but I saw the gentleman fall. Is there anything I can do to help?” He spoke respectfully, holding his hat in his hands.
    A rapid glance showed Felix much. The boy was as neat and tidy as he could be, though his clothes were too small and had been well worn and mended many times, his eyes were honest and his voice clear with the sound of a careful and thorough education. Beckoning him in, more to shut out the cold snow than because he needed him, Felix closed the door.
    “Thank you for your concern, but the doctor is on his way.”
    The young man nodded and stood twisting his hat uncertainly. At last he spoke with some hesitation. “This is Mr. Ashwell’s home, isn’t it?”
    Felix nodded. “Who are you and why do you ask?”
    “My name is Thomas, sir. Trenton Thomas Jr. I am looking for employment and was told that perhaps Mr. Ashwell could help me. I have references,” he added hastily, reaching into his jacket pocket. “Reverend Sadaro is an old friend of my mother.”
    Without a word, Felix took the papers and glanced over them. They were good references and Mr. Ashwell’s personal assistant, for so Felix was, took an immediate liking to the young man. “Tell me, Trenton, what do you know about Mr. Ashwell?”
    The young man shook his head. “Nothing, sir, except that he might help me. Is he much hurt?”
    Before any answer could be given, the doorbell sounded again and the doctor entered. Not wanting to leave the boy alone in the entry way, Felix instructed him to follow them upstairs.
    Pausing discreetly at the door of the bedroom, the young man waited. He was curious, who was this man he had been instructed to see? What was he like? That he was old, he was quite certain, though how he reached that conclusion, he wasn’t quite sure himself.
    The man on the bed was regaining consciousness as the doctor bent over him. “Doctor, what are you doing here?” The voice was rather weak, but demanding.
    “It was such a chilly day, I thought I would come pay a call,” was the cheery reply from the middle-aged doctor as he placed knowing fingers on his patient’s pulse.
    “Huh,” Mr. Ashwell grunted. “You did nothing of the sort. Quit fussing over me. I’m getting up.”
    “Indeed you are not,” quietly answered the doctor. “You managed to hit your head on those steps of yours and you will stay in bed the rest of the day.”
    “Rubbish! I will not!” Turning to the housekeeper he ordered, “See Dr. Taylor to the door, Mrs. Collins. Harrington—” He attempted to sit up, but was firmly pushed back down. “Bring me my cane.”
    “Calm yourself, Mr. Ashwell,” came the doctor’s soothing voice. “Excitement of this sort will keep you in bed for a week. Remember your heart.”
    “Oh bother my heart! I’m not going to lie here like a package of seeds waiting for spring planting. Let me up, I tell you.”
    In the doorway, Trenton smiled to himself. This man was acting worse than his neighbor’s grandfather had; indeed, he was more like his little sister when she was sick. In his interest he had unknowingly moved slightly into the room.
    Suddenly Mr. Ashwell caught sight of him. Leaving his complaining sentence half finished, he stared at him. “Who are you?” he demanded sharply.
    Before Felix could say a word, the young man came forward with an easy manner and a bright smile. “I’m Trenton Thomas Jr., sir.”

* * * *

    “Trenton!” The voice rang out across the fields startling a flock of crows and causing several of the cows to look up. Nothing else moved. “Trenton Ashwell!” The voice came again, more sternly this time. “I know you are there. You had better start home this minute before I tell your father!”

Will you be back?
Questions or comments so far?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Travels of Tracy - Winter

Good Morning FFFs,
I hope your week has been more relaxing and that you've gotten a lot accomplished! I did fairly well at the beginning, but I didn't get anything on my list done yesterday.

Here's my week.
We went to a wedding on Saturday. It was huge but really nice. One of the delightful things about weddings here is seeing friends you haven't seen sometimes for years! I really enjoyed visiting with different ones.
Sunday was usual.
Monday I got a good start on my list of things to do this week. I don't know about you, but I like to start out my week with getting a lot done. For some reason it seems to make the rest of the week productive.
When Tuesday arrived, I got more accomplished and finished grading all my writing students' papers. It is quite delightful to have them done already.
On Wednesday I got a lot done! I even read an entire book in the late afternoon and early evening while I was waiting for a project to upload. Don't worry, it was a fast paced, fairly short book. :) My project never did upload. My computer kept dropping the internet.
Then came yesterday. I didn't do a think I could cross off my list. But, one of my mom's friends came over to visit with her in the morning, then my brother dropped the kiddos off and I read stories and played, ate lunch and read more stories. I even made a pizza with Funny Boy. Well, let me clarify, he was the pizza. :) Then he wanted to make one with me. :D The kids didn't leave until after 2:00. I tried to upload the project again. No success. I had tried at least 5 or 6 times during the day, but it never would get finished. My grandpa came down last evening and he and I went to a concert. It was a quartet and they were charming. We heard "Quartet in E-flat Major" by Boccherini, (very delightful) "Quartet No. 6" by Bartok, (Intense, emotional and sad) and "Quartet in F Major" by Ravel. (soothing, enlivening, incredible)

You want to hear about my writing? Let me see. I finished a second try for the first story for "Project 12" but am wondering if I will have to try a third one. I started the second story for "Project 12," and then got tired of writing about them and started on TCR. I now have two TCR parts ready to transfer to the computer for printing and proofing. While I was writing TCR, I paused to think about how I should finish a sentence and all of a sudden, without the slightest inkling beforehand, a thought popped into my head. At first I thought it was rather interesting, then I shook my head and thought, "It just doesn't fit." But the idea persisted. So, switching to an empty file on NEO, I copied the last sentence and just let the idea start. It was nearly 200 words before I reached a pause. "It might be interesting," I mused. "But not for here. I think I'll save it for later." Then I went back and finished the sentence the way I was going to finish it.

This story was a fun, quick, write-it-all-in-one-evening story. Do any of you remember Tracy Linnet in "Ruined Shoes"? Well, my mom suggested that I keep the same character and her cat, but put them in a different setting. I finally did and here is the result. I have three more settings to put Tracy and her cat in, but they will be written later. I hope you enjoy this one.

Travels of Tracy - Winter

    “It’s a good thing Tad insisted I get snow tires put on before I tried driving to Grandma’s,” Tracy Linnet remarked. There was no reply, but Tracy didn’t expect one, for her companion who occupied the other front seat of her small, blue Road Runner, was Madalyn, a long-haired, yellow tabby and her almost constant companion.
    The sun was bright in the frosty blue sky and everywhere it could possibly lie, was snow. It was piled on bare branches and rail fences. Large evergreens stood weighted down with heaps of cold, white glitter. Everything looked cold and white.
    “How nice Grandma’s warm kitchen will be, won’t it, Lyn?” Tracy glanced over at her cat who purred from a soft little nest on one of Tracy’s college jackets.
    A sudden noise brought a worried frown to Tracy’s lips and a pucker to her forehead. The car gave a sporadic cough or two and then died.
    “Oh dear,” Tracy sighed, trying in vain to restart the little engine. “Lyn, what are we to do?” Picking up the cat, Tracy squinted about her at the snowy landscape, looking for a house or another car. Nothing but unbroken snow could she see until she saw the little covered bridge. As she peered at it, she thought she could see tracks leading either in or out of the bridge. Where they came from or where they were heading, she couldn’t make out from where she sat.
    “Lyn,” she rubbed her cheek softly against the furry motor that rumbled in her arms, “if you were bigger, you could run the car instead of the real engine, but you aren’t. What should we do? Should we sit here and hope someone comes along? That might not be until tomorrow.”
    Lyn yawned and flicked her tail.
    “That’s what I thought. It might be warm in here now with the sun shining, but it won’t be up many more hours and then it will be cold, and Tad would worry if he tried to call me at Grandma’s. Maybe there is a house on the other side of that bridge, hidden behind that pine tree. At least we can go to the bridge and take a look around.”
    Reaching back and picking up her warm coat from the seat behind her, Tracy managed to pull it on in the close confines of the car. Replacing her jaunty little cap at the correct angle on her head, she tied her scarf, pulled on her gloves and opened the door.
    “Come on Lyn,” she said, turning to scoop up the cat after she stepped out into the snow. “I’m not leaving you here alone.”
    Once the car door was shut and the keys were in her pocket, Tracy started forward. She was thankful her new, black GoGo boots came nearly to her knees because some of the drifts she was discovering were quite high. The wind was rather biting and Lyn meowed plaintively.
    “Oh, you poor thing,” murmured Tracy, unbuttoning her coat and tucking her beloved cat inside.
    Soon she came to a rail fence covered with snow. Most of this she brushed off before attempting to climb it. “I’m afraid these clothes weren’t designed for climbing fences,” she sighed as she heard the sound of tearing fabric. “Oh, brrr!” A bit of snow, knocked off the fence, had fallen down the top of her boot. “Perhaps I should have stayed in the car and waited for Tad to come along tomorrow.” Sadly she looked back across the fence at the bright blue car sitting so contentedly in the sunshine.
    Discovering that the footprints didn’t go farther than an unplowed road but returned again to the other side of the bridge, Tracy decided to follow them, but paused to read the sign above the bridge. “Please walk your horses across.” She gave a little laugh. “If I had a horse, I’d be happy to walk him if he just didn’t break down.”
    It was a neat old bridge and had Tracy not been anxious to find help, she would have stopped to admire it. As it was she trudged steadily on, feeling the nippy wind on her face, the rumbling purr of Lyn tucked snuggly in her coat, and the cold, wet snow in her boot.
    At last, rounding a bend in the road, she discovered to her great delight, a house. It wasn’t large, but there was smoke coming from its chimney and someone was outside with a snow shovel.
    “Hello,” Tracy called.
    The figure with the shovel turned around. “Hi! Where did you come from?”
    Tracy couldn’t help but laugh. The boyish figure and the blunt question reminded her of Tad’s younger brother. “I came from down the road. My car is stuck.”
    “In the snow?”
    “No, it just quit running.”
    “Hmm,” the boys pondered this while he leaned on his shovel. “Well, my brother’s at college and Dad’s still at work. Mom can mash potatoes and roast turkeys and bake the best tasting pies you ever had, but she’s no good with engines. Of course there’s Gramps. He can fix anything. Why don’t you come inside and I’ll ask him.”
    To this Tracy nodded agreement.
    “Mom!” the boy hollered as they stepped inside the warm house.
    A clear voice answered, “I’m in the kitchen, Dean.”
    At his beckon, Tracy followed Dean down the hall and into a snug little kitchen with cheery red walls. A pleasant faced woman turned from the sink.
    “Her car’s broke down. Got to see if Gramps’ll fix it.”
    Tracy blinked. The boy had spoken rapidly and then disappeared from the room.
    “Where did it break down?”
    “On the other side of the covered bridge.”
    “And you walked all this way in those shoes. You poor thing.”
    Lyn, disturbed from her nap, tried to stretch and Tracy unbuttoned her coat to let her out asking as she did so, “You don’t have a dog, do you?”
    “No.” The woman turned. “Well, so you carried your cat in your coat!”
    It was only a matter of minutes before Dean came back with Gramps.
    “Gramps’ll fix it.”
    “We’ll go in the truck,” Gramps said and Tracy quickly picked up Lyn, said a quick good-bye and hurried after the two figures.

    The ride in the truck was much quicker and to Tracy’s delight her car’s trouble was fixed in half an hour.
    “Well, Lyn,” she sighed when they were alone. “Here we are again. I wonder what Tad will say tomorrow when I tell him? Maybe I won’t tell him,” she decided. Then, reaching down and unzipping her boot, she pulled it off. Rummaging around in her bag on the back seat, she remarked to Lyn who was washing her face, “I’d rather drive with my slippers on than with a cold leg and foot.”

What did you think?
Comments or questions?
Suggestions for other travels for Tracy?
P.S. Please go to the top right of the page and answer the survey question that best fits you. Thanks.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Good Morning FFFs,
We have snow on the ground! Not more than about 1/4 of an inch, but it's pretty.
What a week! Have you ever had a week that you thought would be a little busy only to have it become crazy? I'm probably the only one who has experienced that, right? ;)
Saturday was pretty normal except that it was so nice out, that I went walking with my best friends.
On Sunday we had nearly everyone at church which hasn't happened yet this year. Families are finally getting well.
I thought Monday was going to be normal, but I ended up driving my mom and sister to JoAnns because my mom's knee started bothering her. That ended up taking about 2 hours of my morning which of course threw the rest of my day somewhat off.
Tuesday came along and with it a thunderstorm, cooler weather and writing classes. Busy. But I loved the thunderstorm!
Wednesday was very different. I went over to the N's house to surprise a young friend who had a birthday last week. I didn't come home until after 3:00. I had gone over about 9:00.
Yesterday, since Mom's knee was still bothering her, I had to drive her and Dad to the dentist. (Dad was having some work done and was under some kind of "don't remember" pill so he couldn't drive.) Then I had to drive Mom over later in the morning to pick him up, stop and get prescriptions filled and then head home. Needless to say, that took up most of my morning. I was also replying to my wonderful illustrator about illustrations for book #4! I'm hoping to have this book out before conference season starts. :) And oh wow! The illustrations are great!
So now it is Friday. We are going to clean the house and maybe I can get some other things done. Tomorrow we have a wedding to go to. :) It is the first of this year's weddings. :)

Since it appears that most of my readers, at least those who comment so I know someone read it, :) are really busy, I didn't think I should post TCR or Dr. Morgan. I wrote this "letter" back in 2003 maybe, when I was writing "pretend letters" with a friend. As you can see by the date of this letter, we were writing during the Civil War. Hope you enjoy it.

December 30th, 1864
Pineville, Texas

    . . .This December has been another quiet one without Papa. Ellen was asking what Christmas was like when Papa was home. Isn’t that sad that she doesn’t remember Papa being home for Christmas? . . .
    On the fifteenth, which was Maggie Beth’s birthday, the boys, Maggie Beth & Ellen went to the woods and found a beautiful little tree which they brought home. The boys set it up in the front room, and we decorated it with strings of popped corn and berries. Maggie Beth, Ellen, and I also had gathered several baskets of pine cones, and we hung them on the branches. Mama had Jonathan bring down an old trunk from the attic, and when it was opened, she took out a dozen beautiful silver candle holders for the tree along with twelve candles!
    “Mama!” I gasped, “Where did these come from?” I had never seen them before.
    Mama smiled. “They were my mother’s. She had three dozen of these, and each of her daughters was to receive a dozen on her wedding day.” A far away look came into Mama’s eyes, and we all quietly settled ourselves for the story we knew was coming. . . .

    “As you know, I was the baby of the family. A pet of my brothers and two sisters, and the delight of my darling Mother and Father. At sixteen I met your Papa. He was tall and handsome, strong and brave. He wasn’t rich, but he was honest and God-fearing. Mother loved him and felt he was the right man for her baby. Shortly after we became engaged, when I was seventeen, Mother became very ill. I wanted to put off the wedding until she was better, but she wouldn’t hear of it.  It was decided to have only the family there for the wedding because Mama was not strong enough for much. I remember going to her room the morning of my wedding. Mother was lying on her bed resting. I knelt at her bedside and let her clasp the pearls my Father had just given me around my neck. Her hands were white and thin, but her smile was bright. ‘Grace, darling,’ Mother said in her soft, gentle voice that had only grown gentler with her suffering. ‘I know I won’t be here on earth much longer. My Savior calls me. I’m not afraid to go. Don’t grieve for me, Dearest. I will wait for you to come to me with your husband and all your darling children. I know I can trust you to Henry and our Precious Lord! I leave you everything in the old blue trunk. Take it with your mother’s blessing.’ She kissed me then and smiled.”
    Here Mama’s voice broke, and Jonathan put his arm around her.
    In a few minutes Mama was able to go on. “That evening just before your Papa and I left for our honeymoon, Mother died in Father’s arms.”
    Ellen burst into tears and climbed into Mama’s lap to be comforted. Maggie Beth squeezed Jonathan’s hand, and I cuddled Robert, thinking of how hard Mama’s wedding day must have been. Even Peter lay perfectly still for once, beside the old blue trunk.
    Mama continued, “It was hard to get used to the idea that Mother was gone. I thought of the blue trunk during our honeymoon. When we got back home, I asked Father for it. He couldn’t remember where it was. Neither of my sisters could find it, so I wrote to my brothers asking about it. Charles, Jonathan, David, and Frank remembered the trunk but didn’t know where it was either. Caleb never received my letter, though I didn’t find that out until later. The thought of ever finding the old blue trunk with its gift from my Mother faded in my mind after Anna and Jonathan were born. When your Grandfather moved in with Uncle Caleb, and we moved out here, I forgot about it. That is until I received  a letter from Father. He said they had found the old blue trunk buried in Caleb’s attic. They knew it was all mine because they found a letter from Mother saying so. When Uncle Caleb brought his family out here for a visit four years ago, he also brought the chest. Only we were all so busy then that Papa & I decided to wait to open it until Christmas. But as you know, Papa left for the war in October and wasn’t here for Christmas, so I didn’t open it. I was wanting to wait for him. When Papa was home last year, he & I opened it one evening after all you children were in bed. I would have opened it last Christmas, but I was feeling so ill that I forgot, and so,” Mama smiled at us all, “let’s open it now.”
    At that, Peter sat up quickly, and Ellen slid off Mama’s lap. They were both eager to be the first to get something out of  Grandmother’s old blue trunk.
    “Wait!” Jonathan exclaimed. “If we all try to unpack this, something will get broken. Why don’t we let Mama unpack it while we watch.”
    Jonathan’s suggestion was carried out quickly . . . The room grew quiet as Mama began to take items out of the old blue trunk. If I tried to tell you everything that was in there, Christiana, this would be a very long letter. There were a few quilts and four pearl necklaces. Mama said she thinks they were her Grandmother’s!  There was one little box that Mama had never seen before. When she opened it, she began to cry. We all looked at her in amazement. She must have noticed our looks, for she smiled through her tears and showed us a beautiful ring.
    “Whose was it, Mama?” Maggie Beth asked.
    “Mine,” Mama said. “Mother  and Father gave it to me for my seventeenth birthday. The diamond in it is from a necklace that Mother’s mother gave her on her seventeenth birthday. I had lost it one night in the garden and never could find it. I was nearly heartbroken.” Mama smiled at the ring fondly.
    “Mama, what is that note peeking up from the lining?” Jonathan asked as he pointed to a little piece of paper.
    Mama pulled it out. It read,
    “My darling Grace, I found this ring in a rose that your Father brought me this morning. You must have dropped it by mistake. I think it must have been when you accepted Henry’s heart and hand and put his ring in this one’s place. Darling, we are so happy for you! I will put this ring in a safer place, so that when you are ready to give it to your own daughter, you might. May the Lord bless you and Henry, my darling. With all my love, Mother”
    Maggie Beth & I had tears in our eyes when Mama finished reading that letter. Peter was more inquisitive. “Did you really drop that ring, or did you put it in the rose on purpose?” Mama laughed a little. “I dropped it when I put on Papa’s ring, and then we couldn’t find this ring anywhere! We spent at least fifteen minutes looking all over the ground for it. Your papa was on his hands and knees searching. If it fell in the rose, that explains why we couldn’t find it. . . ."

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