You have come back! Does that mean you really like this story or you wanted to hear about my trip to Chicago? If you wanted both, that's okay. :)
The trip was so much fun! I loved the train ride. We sat in the observation car while we crossed the Mississippi river. I couldn't help trying to imagine being on that river in only a small canoe, paddling against the current and wondering were it started.
Chicago was a completely different world than what I'm used to. There were people everywhere! From all walks of life: Hindu, Muslim, European, Oriental, Indian, but I never heard Spanish. You had to pay to park anywhere in downtown. (And it was expensive.) And driving! I felt like I was in a canyon because of the huge sky scrapers on either side of the street. Not to mention many one way streets that left you mixed up, and did I mention the people? Oh, and the tracks for the elevated trains that you had to drive under were like tunnels. I have reached the conclusion that I am NOT a big city girl! :P Nope, give me wide open places, room to breath, places to park, and quiet.
But we did get to enjoy a 90 min boat ride on the river, we visited the lake though it was much too cold to wade. And my grandpa and I went up in Willis Tower. And yes, I went out on the sky deck (a glass box-like-thing) 103 stories above the street. I could see all the way across the lake to the state of Michigan!
Most of our time was spent about 45 minutes north of Chicago in Evanston. But there was nowhere to park there either. :P All in all, it made a very memorable and fun birthday trip. :)
As far as writing goes, well last night was the first time I had written in 10 days. Hmm. I guess I've been a little busy. But what do you want posted next week? Do you want more of the Hymns in the Hills or would you rather have more about the Woods, Dylan and Fern? Let me know in the comments if you have a preference. After my trip I came back with new ideas for some short stories. Now if I can just find the time to write them . . . But while I'm looking for that time, enjoy this next part.
Hymns in the Hills
“I’m Belle, and Mama was quite relieved to know you would let me come visit while–” The child’s voice broke suddenly and she drew a deep breath.
“What are you talking about, Child?” Aunt Lillian held the girl off at arm’s length and looked at her. “You’re Lynn’s daughter all right, I can see that in yer face, but I ain’t never told yer mother we’d take ya.”
“Oh, but you didn’t say I couldn’t come. And that’s what Mama wrote. She said to let her know if I couldn’t come, and there was never any word, so, of course, I came.” And Belle smiled brightly.
Without answering, her aunt gave a tired smile. “Reckon yer hungry. Jest sit down at the table. Git ta the table, boys. I kept yer supper hot. Jess, Ali, serve it up. Riss, get Mattie, so’s Ez can eat.”
Belle looked at her tall cousin. The little one, Mattie, they had called her, had nestled her head on her brother’s shoulder, her thumb in her mouth. The other arm was around his neck and she looked sleepy. It seemed a shame to wake her.
“I’ll keep ‘er, Riss,” Ez said quietly, sitting down on the chair at the head of the table while Zeke sat on the bench opposite Belle. “I kin eat one handed, Ma.”
When no word of protest came, Belle assumed her aunt had agreed. One of the girls, she wasn’t sure which one, set a steaming bowl before her. “Thank you,” she whispered with a smile. It smelled appetizing, and she was hungry after her long journey and the unexpected walk to the house. She noticed that Zeke and Ez had both begun eating right away. “Perhaps they forgot to give thanks,” she thought, bowing her own head for a brief moment.
A low murmur was coming from the line of younger cousins, and Belle looked at them all. They all looked much alike, differing only in size, and length and color of hair. Most heads were covered with sandy colored locks, but a few bore darker tresses like Zeke and Ez. Some of them stared at the newcomer, and Belle smiled. It was going to be enjoyable getting to know them all.
Aunt Lillian sank down into a rocking chair, and a little fellow ran to her, begging to sit in her lap. That seemed to be the move needed to release the other children, and they began to scatter about the large room. Belle, focused on her meal, wondered if she would be introduced to each one of her cousins later. Perhaps they were waiting for Uncle Benjamin to arrive.
Her thoughts were startled by Zeke’s voice. “Kade, Rome, keep yer hands off what ain’t yers. Move along and leave yer cousin’s things be.”
The two younger boys backed away from Belle’s luggage, glancing at their older brother.
Zeke kept his eyes on them until they were on the other side of the room, before returning to his supper.
“Zeke, Ez, when yer both finished, ye can set Belle’s things in the girls’ room. I reckon it’ll be a might smaller’n she’s used ta, but we ain’t got anywheres else.”
“Oh, Aunt Lillian,” Belle exclaimed, dropping her fork in her excitement. “Do you really mean I can share a room with the girls? I have always wished I could share a room with someone.” The light of her eyes was unmistakeable and, giving a little bounce of delight, she quickly finished the last of her supper.
The evening passed in a succession of new things for Belle. She watched her older cousins take her trunk and bag through a door she hadn’t noticed before. The sun was nearly gone when Aunt Lillian said it was time for bed. There were no family prayers, and again Belle wondered if that was because her uncle wasn’t home. She hoped he was all right. Kissing her aunt good night, Belle whispered, “I just know I’m going to love being here, Auntie!”
In her room with the other girls, Belle smiled. “You all know who I am, but I don’t know who anyone is. Except Mattie.”
After tucking the covers over Mattie who was sound asleep, one of the girls offered a shy smile. “I’m Jess. That’s Riss and Tabby.” She pointed to the girl who had been carrying Mattie earlier, who was now engaged in helping get a very sleepy young one ready for bed. “Tabby’s jest four. This one here is Sade. She and Si is twins.”
Sade stuck a finger in her mouth and clung to her sister’s skirt.
Crouching down, Belle asked softly, with her most winning smile, “How old are you, Sade?”
For answer, the little one looked up at Jess.“Reckon she’s ‘bout five.”
“Five years old? You must be such a help with the little ones.” Sade gave no answer, but Belle didn’t expect one and stood back up. There was only one other girl in the room
“That’s Ali,” Jess nodded. “She’s ten, an’ the two a ya kin share a bed.”
None of the girls said another word as they prepared for bed. But when Jess would have blown out the lamp, Belle said, “Can’t we leave it on just a little longer, please? I haven’t gotten to read my verse yet.”
At that, Ali sat up in bed. “Kin ya really read?”
“Yes. Can’t you?”
Ali shook her head. “Ain’t none a us kin read, ‘cept Ma a little an’ Pa. But he don’t like the idea of us trampin’ all the way ter town jest ta learn some letters an’ numbers. Said it’s too far fer the young’uns an’ Ma’s got too much ta do ‘thout us ta help out.”
“Well, maybe if we have time, I can help you,” offered Belle, feeling that this visit was not going to be anything like she had envisioned. She opened her small Bible and read a verse aloud in a soft voice. Then, without taking time to think about what her cousins would say, she knelt down beside the bed and prayed as she had at her mother’s knee.
After the light was put out and the house was still, Belle heard a soft whisper near her ear.
“Belle, are ye awake?”
“I’m glad ya came.”
“So am I, Ali.” Belle hesitated a moment and then added honestly, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to come at first, but Mama and Papa thought it was best, so I had to trust that Jesus knew what was best for me.”
Would you want to learn to read if you didn't know how?
Which characters are you most interested in?
Do you want more of this story or about the Woods next week?