Chapter 3 - The Start of Something Beautiful

Chapter 3 - The Start of Something Beautiful

A Chapter by Patricia Gayle

Caleb finds a new start with a new family.


Now Caleb really was alone.  The tall man did not come that morning or the next.  Caleb was somewhat relieved by this.  He did not want the men to take him from his home and make him live with a family who would never really accept him.  He was thirteen years old and felt he was old enough to make it on his own. 

He remained at the cabin for a couple of days but quickly ran out of provisions.  He had not been to town since he was a small child, but with his father’s old horse he made his way into Boston. 

There he was, thirteen years old, without a person in the world, and left to make it completely on his own.  For a boy his age with no education, it might have been impossible for him to make it.  Luckily, his father had a reputation for being hardworking and willing, and those his father had worked for were more willing to take a chance on Caleb.

A man by the name of William Meyers hired Caleb to work his land.  He paid ten dollars a month and provided meals and a room in the barn where Caleb could sleep.  Caleb worked hard for Mr. Meyers and on some occasions he was given special rewards and privileges.  This included being allowed to take part in family celebrations and having Sundays off to go to church with the Meyers family.  Caleb enjoyed this very much because, for the first time, since his mother’s death, he had a sense of belonging.  This is also how he met Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was the oldest of five Meyers’ children.  She was born to William and Anna Meyers on January 26, 1836.  She was only nine years old when Caleb first met her on Christmas Eve in 1845, but she still took his breath away.


Caleb sat in his tiny room in the loft of the old barn looking out the foggy panes of the barn window.  It was Christmas Eve and he could hear the sound of Christmas hymns played on the Grand Piano in the Meyers’ sitting room.  The sounds of laughter and singing floated across the lawn and into the barn through cracks in the walls and around the windows. 

Caleb thought of past Christmas’s.  It had been a long time past, but Caleb could remember it clearly.  Christmas had been his mother’s favorite time of year and though there was little money, they made the most of what they had.  He, Christopher, and their father went into the woods and cut a pine tree which they brought back to the cabin for their mother to decorate.  She took great care in decorating it with ribbons and antique Christmas ornaments passed down through the family.  On the night of Christmas Eve they lit candles and set them in the windows, an old Irish tradition the family had held onto when they came to America.  Caleb remembered his mother had told him and Christopher every year as she lit the candles, “These are to guide Mary and Joseph.”  Margaret then read the Christmas story from a tattered old bible and they sat in front of the fire singing Christmas Carols until Margaret told them, “Alright, it is time to go to bed boys.”  She put them to bed, kissed them goodnight, and blew out the lantern.  They fell asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillow and would awoke in the morning to the smell of fresh baked bread.  After Margaret died, so did Christmas. 

The barn door opened with a screech and Mr. Meyers entered.  He climbed the ladder to the loft and stepped into Caleb’s tiny room.  “Caleb,” he said in his booming voice, shaking him from his thoughts. 

Caleb turned from the window and rose to his feet.  “Yes Sir,” he replied.

“I would like you to join the family for dinner tonight.”

Caleb was surprised by the request.  He looked at Mr. Meyers who was dressed in a black suit with a red velvet vest and long black coat.  A gold watch chain hung from his left breast pocket.  Caleb looked down at himself.  He wore a thin blue shirt, dirty ragged brown pants, and a pair of scuffed and cracked leather boots.  He looked back at Mr. Meyers who just smiled and said, “There is a suit waiting for you in the house.  Go in through the kitchen and the ladies there will get you all fixed up.” 

“Thank you sir,” Caleb said, unable to hide his joyfulness. 

Mr. Meyers smiled again, then turned and left the room.

Caleb stood there a moment then followed Mr. Meyers out of the barn.  Mr. Meyers proceeded to the front door of the house while Caleb made his way through the glistening snow to the back.  Three women dressed in black skirts with white aprons met him at the door.  He was brought in and directed to a small room next to the kitchen.  In the center of the room sat a large tub of hot water with a bar of soap and a brush sitting next to it.  He was bathed and dressed in a suit resembling that which Mr. Meyers wore. 

A short plump old lady, wearing the same black dress and white apron, then escorted him through the house to the sitting room where the family was gathered around the piano, laughing and singing.  To his right a fire crackled and popped in the fireplace.  The mantle was beautifully decorated with a garland of pine branches, red ribbons and bows, and tall white candles.  Across the room, in front of a huge bay window, stood a lavishly decorated tree lit up with what seemed to be a hundred candles strategically placed on each branch.  Caleb looked up at the ceiling and saw above his head hung a huge candle chandelier.  To his left sat a long cushioned couch and two high backed chairs and behind them sat the ebony piano, which the family was gathered around. 

A woman wearing an emerald green dress with white lace trim sat on the bench in front of the piano.  Beautiful notes rose from the piano as her fingers moved gracefully back and forth across the keys.  Mr. Meyers stood behind her with one hand on her shoulder.  Next to the piano, with her back to Caleb, stood a girl in a blue velvet dress with a big white bow tied in the back.  A shiny blue bow was tied in her golden curls which hung half way down her back.  A little boy stood next to her.  He looked to be about six years old.  Sitting on the bench next to the woman sat another girl dressed in the same blue dress as the first.  She looked to be about three or four years old.  On the floor next to Mr. Meyers sat two little boys, both about two years old.

As they finished their carol Mr. Meyers looked up and saw Caleb standing in the doorway, mesmerized by all that surrounded him.  “There you are Caleb.  Just in time to join us for a few carols before dinner.”  All eyes turned on Caleb.  “Well I suppose I should introduce everyone,” he continued.  “You’ve already met Mrs. Meyers, I believe.”

The lady in the emerald dress smiled and said, “Hello, dear.”

Then Mr. Meyers continued.  “This is Dianna,” he said picking up the little girl who sat on the bench next to her mother.  “This is Elizabeth,” he said motioning to the girl standing next to the piano.  Elizabeth smiled sweetly at him, her blue eyes sparkling.  “That is Samuel,” he continued pointing at the boy standing next to Elizabeth.  “And these two are Edward and Jonathon,” he told Caleb motioning to the two little boys sitting on the floor.  Mr. Meyers turned back to his family and announced, “Everyone, this is Caleb.”

“Hello,” the children replied back.

Caleb smiled shyly.

“Why don’t you come join us?”  Mrs. Meyers said sweetly.  Elizabeth moved over and made room for Caleb beside her.  He slowly stepped up next to the piano and Mrs. Meyers began to play a familiar tune.  It was a hymn his mother had sung at Christmas when he was younger, but he could not remember the words so he just stood there listening as the family sang.  It brought back many memories and he could almost smell his mother’s perfume.  This was the only luxury she allowed herself, and even then she only wore it on the most special occasions. 

Mrs. Meyers played a couple more tunes and then the family made their way to the dinning room for dinner.  Caleb almost could not wait to see what the next room of the house would be like.  When he entered he paused in the doorway and took in his surroundings.  In the center of the room was a long table covered with an abundance of foods.  China dishes had been set in front of each seat, along with crystal glasses, and silver spoons, knives and forks.  A huge chandelier like the one in the sitting room hung over the table.  At one end of the long room was another fireplace lit up with a warm crackling fire.  At the other end of the room were a couple of big heavy wooden doors, which he soon learned led into the kitchen. 

“Well, are you going to join us?”  Mr. Meyers said with a chuckle.  Caleb looked back to the table to see Mr. Meyers holding a chair for him.  He sat down and looked over the table at all the food.  There sat ham, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, rolls, and much more.  When Caleb ate so much he did not think he could possibly eat anymore, one of the ladies in black came out of the kitchen with a cart of desserts.  There were pies, cookies, puddings, and all sorts of sweets and goodies. 

After dessert the family moved back into the sitting room and sat next to the fire while Mrs. Meyers read the children the Christmas story from a gold leaf bible.  Mr. Meyers sat in his chair smoking his pipe and sipping his coffee.  Caleb was filled with warmth and happiness.  This had to be the best Christmas he had ever had.  He only wished for one thing; that his mother could have been there to enjoy it with him.


          The night’s excitement came to an end as a grandfather clock somewhere down the hall chimed twelve.  The children were shuffled off to bed and Caleb headed back toward the barn.  Mr. Meyers stopped him as he stepped out the door.  “Caleb, it is Christmas Eve.  Do you think I could let you sleep in that drafty ol’ barn on Christmas Eve?”

          Caleb turned toward him with a hint of confusion drawn on his face.  Mr. Meyers flashed him a smile then said, “You’ll sleep in our guest room tonight.  In the morning you can come down stairs and join us for the rest of our Christmas celebrations.”

          One of the ladies in black and white led Caleb up the stairs, down a long dark hallway, and into a huge bedroom.  A yellow flickering glow, from the fireplace dimly lit the room.  In the dim lighting he could see the room was lavishly decorated in dark red.  The wallpaper, drapes, and wood, of which the furniture was made, were all the same crimson color.  The posts on the bed stretched high to the ceiling and draped across them was a sheet of red velvet.  The bed was covered in pillows and looked like a person could just lie down on it and disappear.  A tall chair next to the fireplace looked just as comfortable.  Caleb undressed and climbed into bed falling asleep almost instantly.


          Caleb awoke as light flooded in through the bedroom window.  At first he could not remember where he was or how he had gotten there, but he quickly regained his memory of the past night.  The short plump lady, from the night before, came into the room.  She was dressed in the same black dress and white apron.  She fed more firewood into the fireplace and the flames shot back up.  “The family is ready for you at breakfast,” she said softly, turning toward him. 

          Caleb got out of bed, dressed, and then made his way down the hall to the stairs.  As he descended the stairs, he was surrounded by the smell of fresh baked bread, pie, and other goodies.  He took in a deep breath and then stepped into the sitting room.  No one was there, but he could hear voices coming from the dinning room so he followed the sounds.  The family was already seated at the table, but had waited to load their plates until he arrived.  Mr. Meyers looked up as Caleb entered the room.  “There you are,” he said, “I trust you slept well.” 

          “Yes sir,” Caleb replied.  He took his place at the table and after Grace was said, the family passed around the bowls and platters full of food and began filling their own plates.  Caleb could not believe, after the night before, there could still possibly be so much food left.  There was ham and eggs prepared several ways, toast and rolls, a dozen different kinds of fruit, and pies.  To drink there was milk, tea, and coffee.

          After breakfast, the family went back to the sitting room where the children sat on the floor by the tree and opened their gifts.  Caleb watched as they ripped through the beautiful paper to find the toys they had been wishing for.  He noticed Elizabeth’s bright blue eyes light up even more when she pulled the lid off a long box to find a doll dressed from head to toe in velvet and lace.  There was even something for Caleb.  Mrs. Meyers handed him a small box wrapped in silver paper with a red bow tied around it.  “This is for you Caleb,” she said.  Caleb sat on the floor starring at the package in his hands for a moment, then went to ripping the paper like the other children had done.  He lifted the lid from the box and inside found a gold pocket watch.  Carved on the case was a running stallion.  Caleb opened it.  The face of the watch was silver and the hands made of ivory.  Caleb was not sure what to think of such a gift.  He had never even seen anything like it.  His father had an old pocket watch, but it was plain with no expensive metals used in its construction.  In fact, as long as he could remember the old watch had never even been wound. 

          “It was hand crafted in London,” Mr. Meyers informed him.  “Each of my children will receive one when they are old enough and I thought you should have one too.”

          Caleb was speechless.  He sat and stared at the watch for a few moments, running his fingers over the design on the cover, then he looked up at Mr. Meyers and nearly whispering said, “Thank you, sir.”

          Caleb would always remember his first Christmas with the Meyers’ and he would always keep the watch. 

© 2010 Patricia Gayle

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Added on January 1, 2010
Last Updated on March 19, 2010
Tags: family, Christmas, new beginning

Burning Bridges


Patricia Gayle
Patricia Gayle

College Station, TX

I'm 25 and have been writing for close to 10 years now. Writing is my therapy. I've written and self published one book, a regional non-fiction I completed in the summer after highschoo.. more..