Stepping out of the warm lodge onto the porch, Mrs. Shields glanced about. “Andrew,” she called to her son, “have you seen your father and Willie?”
Looking over the back of his pony, Andrew nodded. “They went fishing some time ago. Want me to ride Sugar and go find them?”
With a shake of her head, Mrs. Shields pulled her shawl about her shoulders and replied, “They’ll be home by supper time. By the way,” she called over her shoulder just before she stepped inside, “I’m afraid you’ll either have to get your snowman to come sweep the kitchen after supper or bring the broom in. We can’t have a dirty floor for Christmas Day.”
Andrew grinned and led his pony to the shed. “I wish that snowman could sweep the floor.” He chuckled at the thought. “Wouldn’t that be a funny sight, Sugar? Poor Mr. Snowman would melt if he stepped into Mom’s kitchen. I’m sure she and the girls are still busy baking.” As he talked, he rubbed his pony down and fed him. “You did so well pulling those sleds, Sugar,” Andrew went on, talking to the pony. “Maybe next year I’ll get a real sleigh you can pull. Wouldn’t the kids all like that?”
As though she understood, Sugar nickered and nudged Andrew’s shoulder.
With a final pat, Andrew left the shed and trudged across the yard through the snow. Standing beside the snowman he and his brothers had made, he gazed out across the valley where most of Garlandsburg lay. The hill on the other side rose in the gathering dusk, and the light from the lighthouse shone brightly. “I wonder if Mr. Donovan’s ship will come in for Christmas?” he thought. “It sure would make an exciting day if it did, what with the wedding in the evening and it being Christmas Day and all.”
A door shut behind him, and Andrew turned to see his sister, Ashley, hurrying down the steps. “Andrew, Mama said we are to go to the bookstore and get Whitney. She’s been gone all afternoon and it’s going to be dark very soon.” The girl had pulled on her mittens as she spoke.
“Is Jeanette coming too?”
Ashley shook her head. “No, she said she’d stay and help Mama, and Willie’s with Papa. If John wasn’t working, he could go with us. But he is.”
“If I had a sleigh built, Sugar could take us,” Andrew said, looking over at his pony. “We could fit the three of us in a small sleigh.”
“Well, maybe we can catch a ride in the stage, if it’s not too full,” Ashley suggested. “I love riding with Mr. Stathem, he tells such wonderful stories.” Then she added, “If we can get Whitney away from the books before the stage leaves.”
Andrew laughed. Their youngest sister was never happier than when she had a book in her hand. “Let’s hurry then. I’m getting hungry and can’t wait till supper.”
“And the Christmas Eve service,” Ashley added.
Stay tuned for another visit to Garlandsburg