Yep, today's my birthday, and by the time you are reading this, I will probably be on the train heading to Chicago! My grandparents have been wanting to take my sister and me up to Chicago for a few years and the timing was perfect for my birthday. One of my cousins is the stage manager for his college production of "The Tempest" which opens today. We'll go see it tomorrow. I'm not sure what else we'll be doing, but it will be fun.
I wrote on Monday. That was it. I was going to write on Tuesday, but the kiddos ended up coming over for supper and play. Then I was working in the nursery on Wednesday night at church, so no writing then. Thursday night I was helping set up for the Kansas City homeschool convention. No time to write.
I hope you enjoy the next part of this story.
Hymns in the Hills
Belle frowned thoughtfully. “I wonder why Uncle Benjamin didn’t come for me then? Mama wrote and said what train I would be arriving on. I hope the letter didn’t get misplaced.” There was genuine concern in the child’s voice and she looked from one cousin to the other. “What will I do if there is no room for me? Mama didn’t know about all the cousins.”
“One more head won’t matter none,” Ez reassured. “Can’t never keep track of ‘em all anyhow.”
“Let’s git.” Zeke took the carpetbag this time and, with grunts from both, the trunk was again lifted.
Feeling only partly refreshed, Belle rose and followed. The path led downhill until it reached a bubbling stream at the bottom. Here, Belle paused in dismay. There was no bridge and no stones to cross over on. It didn’t look very deep, but still she hesitated.
“Wait there.” Belle wasn’t sure which brother had given the directions, but she waited, watching as the sturdy boots splashed through the water.
Once the brothers had crossed the stream, the trunk was set down, and Ez strode back across, lifted his cousin, and carried her safely across the water. Again he heard those sweet words, “Thank you,” but he said nothing.
Belle hoped there would be no other streams to cross before the home of her aunt and uncle was reached. As she trudged on, she tried to distract her mind from thinking how her feet were beginning to ache and about how tired she was, by thinking of what the house would be like. Her mother had told her it was small. “But they must have added onto it with all those children,” thought Belle. “Oh, I wonder how much farther I can go!”
The quiet of the woods was broken by her soft voice singing.
“All my fears I give to Jesus!
Rests my weary soul on Him;
Tho’ my way be hid in darkness,
Never can His light grow dim.
The voice grew stronger, more confident, as Belle reached the chorus.
“I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetly trusting in His word,
I am trusting, fully trusting,
Sweetly trusting in His word.
All my joys I give to Jesus!
He is all I want of bliss:
He of all the worlds is Master
He has all I need in this.”
Then once again the air rang with the chorus of trust.
As the final words died away, Belle fell silent, her spirit was refreshed, and her joy, which had begun to grow dim, was renewed.
“Home’s jest a piece ahead,” Zeke volunteered presently.
Belle made no reply, but tried to quicken her pace so as not to lag behind her cousins. The woods had been growing darker, and she had wondered if they would reach home before darkness completely overtook them. Then a new thought struck her. Soon she would be meeting not just her aunt and uncle, but more cousins than she had ever known anyone to have. Her heart beat faster, and unconsciously she slipped her hand into the work hardened one of Ez.
Suddenly up ahead was a clearing, a large one, and to one side stood a house. But it wasn’t like anything Belle had imagined it would be. Made of logs, the building looked rough and dirty. A stone chimney on one end of the structure was sending smoke drifting heavenward. There were windows, but the panes of glass didn’t gleam in the setting sun.
Shouts and cries sounded as the three cousins emerged from the shelter of the woods and began to climb the hill towards the house. They had not gone more than a few yards before the door was flung open and out rushed a horde of children of all ages. In sudden shyness Belle pressed close to Ez, thankful for the sheltering form of Zeke before her.
“What’s that ye’s got?”
“What’cha so late fer?”
“What’s in the bag, Zeke?”
“Hey, who’d ya bring with ya?”
“Ez, do take Mattie. She’s been cryin’ and frettin’ so’s Ma’s jest fed up.”
Belle felt her cousin’s hand on hers tighten a little and heard him say, “Can’t. Tote’er ‘long ta the house ‘n I’ll take her then.” She stole a glance at the girl lugging along a crying tot and wished she was acquainted enough to take the child herself, for she had always borrowed the babies of their neighbors as often as she could.
“Kade, Rome, quit yer pickin’ fights with the young’uns. Git up ta the house. An’ the rest a ya’ll quit yer hollarin’.” Zeke issued his orders with a tone of command that left no doubt that he meant what he said. “Jess, Pa home?”
Zeke said no more, but his few words were obeyed and Belle, wondering more and more what her stay with her aunt and uncle was going to be like, kept close to Ez.
The children all reached the house before the newcomers and were all babbling at once. As Belle stepped up onto the wide porch she heard a sharp voice. “All a you’s git over there, si’down and stop talkin’. I don’t care if’n yer brothers brung home the president a the United States, nor a tiger from the circus, I can’t stand more a yer goin’s on!”
There was almost instant silence as Zeke and Ez stepped through the doors and lowered the trunk to the floor. Zeke set the carpetbag on top while Ez nudged Belle forward, saying in his quiet tones, “We brung Aunt Lynn’s girl with us, Ma.”
For a moment Belle hesitated. This wasn’t the introduction she had been expecting. The woman, standing by the fireplace, turned and looked from one of her tall sons to the other, and then her gaze rested on Belle. Instantly Belle forgot her shyness, for there was something in the woman’s face, though it was tired and old, that reminded her of her mother. “Oh, Aunt Lillian, I’m so glad I’m finally here!” cried the girl, rushing across the room to give her aunt a hug and kiss.
Would you like to be Belle?
Are you shy about meeting lots of new people?
Do you like to sing?