Can you believe it is the last Friday of October already? Where has the year been going? I'm not ready for 2015 yet, but I can't find the brakes. :)
How was your week? Mine was good, busy, not very productive as far as writing goes, but I did get something written for next week. *sigh of relief*
Our weather has turned cold. Tonight we're supposed to get our first frost. Does this mean we are really into fall? Some of the days this past week have felt like spring. I expect the trees will be dropping their leaves very soon. Some in the neighborhood already have, but our trees are still covered.
Well, I was trying to figure out what in the world I was going to post this week. I had thought of telling you all I was going to take a vacation, but I was afraid I'd lose my loyal readers if I tried that. :) Besides, I would ruin my record. I've been posting every Friday for several years now except for one time when I re-posted about a dozen parts of "The Unexpected Request" (known then as Meleah's Western) the story or poem has been new. With that kind of record, I decided not to break it.
The only thing is, I'm not sure if I like this story. This would have been the very first story in "Ria and the Gang." I do hope you will tell me if you like it or not. Of course, if you haven't read "Home Fires of the Great War" you might get confused with all the names. Sorry. I guess you'll have to read the book. :)
The Arrival of Ria
The dining room was crowded. Nearly all of the family was gathered about the two tables. Lawrence Foster, known to the younger generation as Grandpa, leaned back in his chair with a sigh of pleasure. He always enjoyed having his children all under one roof again. Well, not everyone was there. Carrie had married a year ago and was living in Massachusetts now. The only other ones missing from the noisy group were Emma and her husband Mitch.
The sudden harsh honking of a car horn outside alerted those at the tables that someone else had arrived.
“That sounds like Uncle Philip,” Edmund remarked laying his napkin down and pushing back his chair.
“Daddy, did he bring Phil?” Pete asked.
Edmund laughed. “I’ll see. Don’t bother getting up, Mama,” he added as she was about to rise. “If it’s Uncle Philip, he’ll come in.”
That was true, for Uncle Philip Vincent Bartholomew Wallace III, the youngest brother of Helen Foster, adored his big sister and didn’t need an excuse to stop by and see her.
Edmund only had time to open the front door before Uncle Philip, with eight-year-old Phil right behind him, came in stomping his wet boots on the mat.
“Ah, Edmund, it is indeed a momentous day, is it not?” Uncle Philip exclaimed, shaking him heartily by the hand.
Raising his eyebrows in surprise, Edmund hardly had time to blink before the new arrivals were in the dining room.
A chorus of greetings rose from the tables and Phil quickly joined his second cousins.
“Ah, lief sister,” Uncle Philip exclaimed, bending down to drop a kiss on Grandma’s cheek, “you must be extremely proud of your daughter.”
“Which one, Philip?” Grandma asked laughing, “I do have several.”
“Why, is it possible that . . . methought the news must surely have flown here on wings. Surely there was a pigeon which could have brought the news, but I am fain to be the bearer of such magnificent tidings.”
“Philip,” Grandpa Lawrence broke in. “Are you talking about Emma or Carrie? They being the only daughters who are not here.”
“I speak of Emma. Having essayed once more, she has at last triumphed and a petit jeune fille is now a demeurer of the Mitchell castle!”
Silence and blank faces met this announcement. What in the world was he talking about? It was Phil who clarified his father’s words by saying disgustedly, “Emma has a girl baby.”
“A girl!” shrieked Evie springing from her chair and clapping her hands ecstatically.
“A girl!” Grandma breathed in delight, her face aglow with joy at the thought.
All around the room came exclamations of delight and surprise. Seven years and fourteen grandsons later, a girl had at last arrived among the Foster grandchildren.
“Eddy,” Uncle David asked, looking across the table at the eldest grandson, Emma and Mitch’s seven-year old son, “what do you think of this?”
Eddy’s arms were crossed, and he scowled. “What’s Mom want with a girl?”
“What’s a girl?” Jimmy demanded.
“Philip,” Grandma was asking, “what is her name?”
“Her name?” Philip scratched his head. “How perfunctory of me, I cannot recall in this babble of noise. Fain would I tell, could I but gather my perspicacity and bring to mind Jennie’s words. Ah, one moment--” He held up his hand and silence fell on the room.
“What’s a girl?” Jimmy demanded loudly into the silence.
Amused glances were exchanged and Rosalie attempted to answer his question. “It’s like me,”
“And me,” Kirsten added.
“And me,” burst in Evie, giving him an exuberant kiss.
Jimmy looked at his twin brother and Johnny looked back at him soberly. Both little boys, were thinking. At last, with almost five-year-old wisdom Johnny declared, “We don’t need it.”
And Jimmy added, “Grandma can have the girl.”
“I want the girl,” Albert called out. He was only about two months older than the twins, but he decided a girl must be a good thing because everyone had gotten so excited over the announcement.
Uncle Edmund laughed. “Somehow I don’t think Emma is going to part with this girl, so Eddy, Jimmy, Johnny and little Chris are going to have to get used to her.”
Before more could be said on the subject, Uncle Philip smacked his fist into his other hand as he exclaimed, “Eureka! I have at last recalled to my scattered memory the name of this first, and hopefully not last granddaughter.” Everyone looked at him expectantly as he paused for a breath. “Her name is Maria Helen Mitchell.”
A chorus of exclamations followed this announcement and Karl remarked, “I figured if Emma ever had a girl her name would be Maria.”
Laughing, Edmund agreed. “Ever since I can remember it’s been ‘Maria this and Maria that.’ Though I must say we did have a great time up in Nova Scotia.”
“Grandpa!” Peter’s high voice carried the length of the long table.
“Yes?” Grandpa looked about to see which of his fourteen grandsons had called him.
Peter stood up on his chair, trying to make himself able to see over his uncles and aunts. “What can Eddy and Jimmy and Johnny and Chris do with a sister?”
“Now there’s a good question, Dad,” George chuckled, glancing at his own sisters.
Evie made a face at him and the elder members of the Foster family laughed.
“I think,” Grandpa replied with a smile, “that you should ask your daddy that question.”
Upon being asked, Edmund suggested that they all disperse to the porch and he would offer his advice. This the young boys were delighted to do and, leaving the ladies to the task of clearing away the remains of the lunch, the male contingent trooped out to the porch. It was raining lightly and now and then the wind would blow a fine mist onto anyone sitting near or on the railing.
“Daddy,” Peter began again, “what can they do with a sister?”
“Well, for one,” Edmund began pulling Davy and Chris onto his lap, “they can love her. Then, no sister can get along without a bit of teasing from her brothers, so . . .”
“I think Kirsten got along just fine,” Karl remarked.
“Yep,” Edmund answered with a grin. “That’s because she got teased a bit. And,” he added before Karl could argue the point, “sisters have to be protected.”
“From what?” Phil wanted to know. He was an only child with only boys to play with.
“From snakes and bugs that might crawl on her.”
“Spiders? Tommy asked, remembering how his dad had knocked a spider off his mom’s apron one time and she had called him her hero.
Edmund nodded. “Also from those who might be mean to her.”
“What else can we do, Uncle Edmund?” little Edmund asked. Maybe a sister wasn’t such a bad thing after all, not if it meant fighting and squishing bugs.
“Well, she is just a baby right now, but you can try to keep her happy and can share with her.”
“Aw,” Eddy grumbled, not sure now that a girl was worth the effort, “I have to share with the boys. Why doesn’t some one share with me?”
A few days later, the three Mitchell boys were brought back home from their Uncle Edmund’s and were introduced to their new sister. All were hesitant at first, but on seeing how small she was, something inside of them seemed to wake, some protective instinct which God has placed inside of each person, especially the boys and men, for anything helpless and tender. Eddy yielded first to little Maria’s charms and soon the twins followed. Two-year-old Chris didn’t care if there was a girl baby in the house as long as his teddy bear didn’t have to be given to her.
One day, a few weeks after Maria’s arrival, Emma was down in the kitchen preparing supper when Chris heard his sister crying in her crib. Trotting down the hall he hollered, “Mama, that Ria crying!”
Emma turned. She had been thinking of something else, so she asked, “What did you say, Chris?”
“That Ria crying,” Chris repeated.
“Ria,” Emma murmured softly to herself as she cuddled her baby daughter in her arms. “I like that. What do you think, Little Ria? Do you like the new name your brother gave you?”
For answer, Maria Helen Mitchell, the first daughter, granddaughter and girl cousin of the Foster relations, smiled sleepily and yawned.
It wasn’t long before everyone was calling her Ria and as she grew older she seldom heard the name “Maria,” except from her teachers or when she was in trouble.
So, what did you think?
Was it terrible?