Five Sisters

Five Sisters

A Story by Kelly M.
"

An old fashioned, family fun and a romantic story. Hope you enjoy!

"

                                                      Five Sisters

Swinging back and forth on the old tire swing with long golden hair swaying, Emma watched out of chocolate brown eyes as the barnyard came awake.


Old Crow, their rooster, was just giving a second squawk to let the family know that it was way past five o'clock.  


The horses whinnied in agreement, shaking their long manes and stamping their hooves.  They were excited to get out of their stalls and run around the pasture for their morning exercise before they had to pull in the logs for the new tool house they were building.

The sunset was starting to rise and Emma knew that soon they would all be busy doing their morning chores before school starts.  Emma loved school.  She loved learning about things she hadn't heard of.  But she was out of school now and helping her mother with the extra chores that seemed to be a bit too much of a burden for her to do alone.  And besides, it was canning season and there was a lot of jellies and preserves that mother wanted to can this year.


Anna, who was fifteen and just a year younger than Emma, also stayed at home and helped mother.  She was responsible for cooking and cleaning and she was just like a second mother.     


Lily, who was thirteen, was still in school and she liked it.  She didn't like most of her subjects, but she loved recess when she could play baseball with the boys.  At first, they didn't want a 'sissy' in their group, but she turned out to be an excellent hitter, so they allowed her to join.


And Jenna always said over and over again, 'You never should of named her Lily.  She's such a tomboy and Lily is such a pretty and dainty name.' 


Jenna was their lovely lady.  She had the curly blonde curls, the big blue eyes and the personality.  She was a bit spoiled with her frilly dresses and long gloves, but she didn't take it to her head as some girls would've.  She always seemed to act like a well-behaved lady in public, but sometimes she forgot herself, but she always seemed to be able to cover it up with quick amends.  She truly didn't act like her twelve year old age.  


And May was their baby.  She was six going on seven, but her mother always referred to her as the baby of the family.  She loved to babble about the school happenings and she seemed to know a lot for her small age.  


One day she came home and told a most shocking detail about Mrs. Steel, their rather grouchy neighbor, who was the wife of Mr. Tow who was arrested for stealing two prized winning horses three months ago and Mrs. Steel 'dropped him dead' and married Mr. Steel, the blacksmith.


At first Emma could scarcely believe her for Mr. Steel was a man of loyalty and she was quite fond of him, but she realized that Mr. Steel probably had no idea that she was once married to Mr. Tow.  


Father had to have a little chat with May telling her that it wasn't nice to go around gossiping especially about their neighbors.  


May had listened, but only for a week until she came upon another 'interesting' detail.  So that time she had to do extra chores and her father sternly stated that if she was to say any other improper details she would have to have a strike from fathers' belt.  And after that May didn't say a word of gossip.  But she's still just as bubbly and full of chatter.  And Emma loved her laughing spirit for she seemed to lift theirs' when all seemed down.


"Well, I suppose it's time to get out of my day dreaming," Emma thought to herself as she eased herself out from the tire swing.


And just then she heard giggling voices in the kitchen.  "No doubt that May is up," Emma said to herself and she strolled to the house.


When she got in the door, sure enough, there was May giggling and chatting away to Lily.  And Anna already was starting breakfast while Jenna was trying her new hair style as she looked in the mirror.  Emma smiled at her sisters.  "So many different personalities even though we all seem to fit perfectly together," Emma thought.  Anna was the first to spot her.


"Hey, Emma.  Where've you been?  Breakfast is almost ready."


"I was just enjoying the sunrise," she said simply.  Anna just nodded knowingly.


"It's turnin' out to be a gorgeous day."


"Yes, indeed," Emma said with a smile.  "Smells good in here.  You making flapjacks?" she said changing the subject.


"Sure am."


"Want me to help you?" she asked.


"If you'd like, but I really don't mind doing it.  What you could do though is pack lunches for the kids.  I don't think I'll have time to finish them."


"Okay," Emma said as she pulled up her shirt sleeves and started to get to work.  Soon she had three lunches packed and ready to go.


"You know three doesn't seem like enough," Emma said more to herself then to Anna.


"Know what you mean.  Seems as if more and more the days go by and sooner than you know it your done with school."


"I hope not that soon," Lily said sneaking a lick of the flapjack batter which she was slapped for on the hand by Anna.


"No licking" was all she said.  Lily pretended to pout.  "None of that now," Anna said lifting Lily's chin.  "So what is Miss Tomboy going to do today?" Anna asked her changing the subject.


Lily smiled sheepishly.  "We're going to Melvin's creek.  We made rafts out of sticks and we're all excited about trying them out."


"They are, but not you," Anna said quietly.


"What do you mean?" Lily said with an apple in her mouth.


"Melvin's creek is dangerous.  Those currents can be rough and it's just too risky to go on.  Besides your rafts may not be able to carry you all and you could easily get a leak and--and drown," she said softly.


"I'll be careful," Lily said as if that settled it.


"I think you better talk to mother and father about that first," Anna said softly, but firmly.


Lily didn't say anything, but she seemed upset that she even told her.


Emma gave her a pat on the back and told her she should brush her hair for school that was now only a couple inches long after she asked for a cut.  Lily shook her head stubbornly and Emma pulled a chair next to her and brushed her hair with her own brush.  Lily squirmed, but Emma didn't seem to notice.  Soon she started humming while she brushed and Lily seemed to relax more until father and mother made an appearance.


"Well, what's making you lazy today?" father asked teasingly.


May spoke up.  "Lily wants to ride on her raft she made on Melvin's creek, but Anna says it's too dangrous and Lily not happy, so Emma is not happy.  So everyone lazy," she explained with young sisterly wisdom.


"I see," said father even though Emma could tell he seemed a bit confused at first.


"So, Lil, you want to go to Melvin's creek?"

"Yes, sir," Lily spoke confidently.


"And Anna says it's too dangerous, so your mad at her now?"


Lily's face turned red, but answered, "Yes, sir."


"I see," he said running his hand through his thick hair that he had a habit of doing when he didn't really know what to do.  


He turned to mother and asked, "What do you think?"


Emma could tell that mother wasn't very pleased with the arrangement, but she spoke firmly saying, "I'll leave it up to you, Nells."


Father seemed to know that she was going to say that and sat down beside Lily.


"Lily, do you see the danger in this party?  Not only that, but we have to get the logs from Dark Forest and get started on the shed.  We need that finished before winter sets in.  It seems a while off still, but we have a long way to go.  And for the danger risks, I must forbid you to go with them today or any other day.  Baseball is one thing, but rafting is another especially on Melvin's creek.  It's just too risky.  Do you understand?" he asked.


Lily nodded, but her face was even more red; probably from anger.  She stood, up took her lunch and then she said sharply, "I think it's time for us to be going."  It was meant to be said to Jenna and May, but it also seemed to be said to father.  


There was silence as the three took their bags and marched to the school-house until Emma said softly, "Well, there's a lot of work to be done.  We best get to it.  We have a--a long day."  Everyone nodded and stood up to finish their chores and one scary thought came to Emma, "What if Lily decides to disobey?"


          Trouble


Lily was more boy than girl and she was stubborn.  She was mad with her father.  She thought that since she was thirteen she could care for her own self.  And she would blame herself if there would be an accident which she thought was barely possible.  So she planned how she would outwit her two sisters and join the group to go rafting.  She thought it was a little risky, but she'd do it.


So when school was out, Lily had it all planned.  A guy in their group that they all called Porky was going to walk the white fence along the schoolhouse and boast to Lily saying, 'I bet you couldn't do this.'  Then Lily would try climb-ing the schoolhouse roof and pretend to fall in a pile of hay on the ground.  His friends were supposed to scream to Jenna and May to get help and then they'd run off to raft before they came back.  But that wasn't all.  Lily had a ready-made 'Lily' made out of sackcloth that she would bury in the hay.   


When it first happened, Jenna and May screamed.  And then they rushed to her.  But she whispered to get help, that she hurt her leg and couldn't walk.  To tell the truth, her leg did hurt a bit for she had landed a bit harder than she had thought she would.  


But as soon as the girls were out of sight, she jumped up buried her 'Lily' in the hay, grabbed her raft and joined the group for the quick run to Melvin's creek. 


When they got there, Lily noticed that the currents didn't seem as rough as Anna had said and she sighed in relief.  For she was a little worried that what she said was true.


She pulled out her rope which she tied herself to the raft.  It was for safety reasons just in case.  Then she slid herself off the bank and into the cool waters.  


The first five minutes went well and Lily loved sliding across the waters, but then it got more rough and faster.  Lily had a tight hold on her rope and steered easily, but soon she came to a waterfall which she didn't even know was there.  Before she could even call for help, she was under the rushing currents.  


The whole group was turned over in their rafts and some weren't really good swimmers.  Lily was one of them.  She had put her feet in the water and waded in shallow waters, but she didn't know how to swim.  She tried to keep her head above the water.  She waved her arms and kicked her feet, but it was too deep.  And she found herself sinking deeper and deeper.


The next time she opened her eyes was on the side of the bank.  She was looking into the friendly eyes of a man in his early twenties.  He was a stranger to her and she thought it strange for she knew everyone in town.  


"Who--who are you?" she asked.


"Just a friend," he answered simply with a smile.  "You feeling alright?"


She just nodded, but put her hand on her head and moaned softly.


The man chuckled softly.  "Hit your head on the rocks I suppose.  You're not in too much bad luck though.  Not compared to your friends."


Then Lily remembered the rest of the gang.  "They're alright?  My friends?"


"Oh, most of them will make it out.  But some have been badly injured and are probably going to need to be driven to the hospital," he said seriously.


"Where are they?" she asked quickly.


"With their parents, of course.  You were the last one I fished out," he said eyeing Lily.  "Well, come on.  Let's take you home if you don't mind showing me the way."


So Lily was helped up on his chestnut colored horse while Lily pointed out the way.


When the farm came in sight, Lily squirmed uneasily.  She was probably in for a big punishment.  Just when they pulled up, Lily spotted Emma and Anna who both had tears streaming down their faces.


The man helped Lily off and walked with him to his sad sisters.


When Emma caught sight of Lily, she cried out with joy.  Emma ran to her for an embrace with Anna close at her heels.  Many questions were asked as well as scoldings until they noticed the stranger standing to the side.


"Oh.  Hello, there," Anna said first realizing that they weren't alone.


"Anna, this is--is..." Lily couldn't go on for she hadn't gotten his name.


"Royce.  Clay Royce," the kind man said politely taking off his hat.


"Well, it's nice to meet you Mr. Royce.  I'm Anna Mayfield and these are my sisters, Emma and Lily.  And I suppose you were involved with Lily and her safety," Anna said with a smile.


"Yes.  Yes, I found her and her friends at the lake.  Lucky that they all survived," he said seriously.


"I thank you very much for her safety and for those other friends of hers.  We were quite worried," she said looking at Lily.  "Well, you must be starved," she said turning her glance to the handsome face of Clay's.  "Would you like a cup of lemonade and some oranges?  We just picked them, so they should be fresh."


"I'd be much obliged."


"Then may I lead the way?" she asked showing Mr. Royce to their home while Emma lingered behind with Lily.


"I was worried about you, Lily," Emma said after Mr. Royce and Anna were in the house.  "I honestly thought that something terrible happened.  And mother and father were even more upset.  Jenna and May said you badly hurt your leg falling off the schoolhouse.  When they found out you weren't there, they were even more upset.  Especially father.  He was raging mad and your mother was close to hysterics.  You really should think before you do something so dangerous and something that can almost tear your family's heart out," Emma said dabbing at her eyes.


"I'm sorry I caused that much trouble, but I just feel as if no one under-stands how I feel," Lily said.


"Oh, I once knew how you felt," Emma said softly.  "It comes and goes.  Oh, I never thought or felt like a tomboy, but I thought no one understood me.  But mother knew from the start.  So did Anna.  They could all sense my feelings and they comforted me.  That's why family is so important, Lily  To comfort and care for one another."


Lily nodded.  She was glad for her older sister Emma.  She was one to understand feelings.  She should of known all along. 


And then they strolled into the house where refreshments were waiting.


              Love

Mr. Royce left and father, mother, Jenna and May came back.


Father had a long talk with Lily.  And mother gave her extra chores.  But she didn't have to endure a swat from fathers' belt.


All seemed to fall back into place the next day.  Mother, Anna and Emma worked on the canning; while Jenna, Lily and May helped milk the cows, feed the chickens and clean out their coops and feed and muck up the horse stalls.  Jenna disliked mucking out the stalls and May wasn't very educated about what to do, so it was usually Lily who did that gross job.  


Lily also worked with father in the fields.  She didn't seem to mind for she was used to hard and dirty jobs, but mother thought it was rather improper for a lady to do such things.  But they couldn't afford hired help and Lily was the most likely person to do it.


Around five o'clock mother, Anna and Emma cleaned up the sticky cans and started on dinner.  Jenna and May were set out to get blackberries for a blackberry pie that Anna seemed most anticipated to try.  And Emma worked on cooking her potatoes while mother made the fruit salad.


Father and Lily came in sweaty and starved.  They ate ravenously and gave many compliments about the meal especially on the berry pie.


Then they took quick turns sharing the bath which they got hooked up three months back.  Emma still remembered mother's face when father gave it to her for a birthday present.  It was so much better than washing in the lake.


Mother, Anna and Emma washed the dishes while father got out his fiddle and played.  Lily, Jenna and May clapped and danced in a circle.  


Emma loved the sweet sound of the fiddle.  Especially the laughter and clapping of her three sisters.  


After they finished cleaning up, they danced and clapped right along with them.  Nothing could be better then dancing to the fiddle after a long, tiring day.


In the morning, Emma dressed into her best dress for church and pulled up her long hair into a bun.  She tied a white bonnet over her head and glanced at herself in the mirror.  She straightened her dress and then walked down the creaky, wooden stairs.


She found Anna already starting breakfast as usual.  Emma smiled.  Her sister was always so responsible.  She seemed like she was five years older than herself.


"Good morning, Anna.  How are you this morning?" she asked.


"Fine as I'll ever be.  You?" Anna asked without looking up from her special recipe for porridge.


"Quite well.  Did I tell you that there will be a preacher this morning?" Anna asked her.


"No.  No, I don't recall you have."


"Oh.  Well, Pastor Peters told me so.  He's taking a trip west for a little missionaries trip.  You knew that, right?"


"Yes.  Yes, I believe so.  And the pastor's name?"


"Mr. Moor.  He didn't give me his first name, but Pastor Peters says he's a fine lad."


"Lad?  The preacher is young?" Anna asked a little surprised.


"Not that young.  Pastor Peters says he's like twenty or twenty-one."


Anna nodded.  "He sounds like a good man," Anna said approvingly.


"Yes, indeed.  I'm a little worried though."


"Worried?"  Anna asked turning from her book.  "Why should you be wor-ried?"


"Oh, I'm not really worried.  But Pastor Peters talks so highly of him.  And mother says all the girls in town will be setting their caps for him.  And you know Jenna.." she didn't go on.


"Emma.  Oh, Jenna is only twelve," Anna said reassuringly.


"Thirteen in two weeks," Emma reminded her.


"Don't quicken your pulse about Jenna.  Besides, how do we know she'll be the first to fall for him?"


They both had to laugh.  


"Oh, Jenna," Emma said to herself.  "Oh, Jenna."


"It was silly of me," Emma said.


"Oh, you were only trying to look out for your sister.  Now we better get breakfast on before church starts without us," Anna said seriously.


Emma nodded and pitched in to help all go faster.


Soon they were all piled in the wagon riding to the church three miles away.  The ride was bumpy and Jenna seemed afraid for her hair she washed the other day.


When they got there, they were a little late for they could hear the voices of the choir outside the small, but humble church.


They quietly walked into the church and joined in with the singing.


Emma noticed, during the sermon, that Pastor Moor was indeed hand-some.  He had light brown hair, deep blue eyes and a cleft in his chin.  He smiled very nicely and she was touched by his sermon.


There were indeed girls with new dresses, hair pinned up and new bon-nets.  


"Oh how silly girls can be," thought Emma to herself.  


She was glad and a bit surprised to see that Jenna was acting proper like.  She sat straight and she didn't giggle and chatter to May next to her.  Emma felt proud of her and cast her a smile when she looked her way.  Jenna smiled back and turned back to the sermon.


When the sermon was over, Pastor Moor came up to each family and shook their hands and talked to each of them.  When he got to their family, he shook each of their hands.


"Hello.  I'm Mr. Moor, but you may call me Carter.  What a nice family you have," he said to father.  "And so many pretty smiling faces," he said smiling at them all.  "Well, it was so nice to meet you.  If you'll excuse me, there's a lot of people I still have to greet," he said giving them a last wave.


Emma knew that Jenna was definitely taken to him for she didn't answer to May's constant chatter or the big bump in the road that she had complained about on the way.  All she did was stare up at the blue sky.  


"Oh, dear.  Jenna's falling in love.  And so soon too," Emma thought.  


At home, Jenna was unusually silent.  The whole family noticed it.  She helped clear the dishes without being told and then she went up to her room for she claimed she was tired.  "Definitely doesn't sound like her," Emma thought again to herself.


She tried to shrug it off, but Jenna was just not herself lately.  She didn't eat much for she claimed she just wasn't hungry and she took many naps lately.  She even forgot to milk Lucy, her prized cow whom she loved to talk to.


Father and Mother were worried too.  They even considered to call a doc-tor, but they couldn't afford one and Jenna there was nothing to worry about.


The next Sunday, she pleaded father to invite him to dinner.  He consented and Mr. Moor was delighted and said that Tuesday would be perfect.  Every day before Tuesday, Jenna was a jumping bean.  


She saved her money to buy this cream that was meant to cover up 'red dots' or pimples on her face.  Mother said her face was pimple free, but Jenna wasn't satisfied, so mother finally allowed it as long as she used it sparingly and paid for it with her own money.  


Jenna got the cream and truly looked prettier.  Maybe it was all the baths she took or how many times she brushed her hair.  Or maybe it was just because she smiled all the time.  Emma didn't know.  All she knew was that Jenna was changing and quickly.


Tuesday at exactly twelve thirty, there was a knock on the door and Jenna, with a smile, gladly opened it.  She was rewarded with a smile from Carter.  


Jenna was very mannerly and polite and she made sure that she didn't chatter all the time for she thought that men didn't like constant chatter.


Carter gave her a wink and squeezed her cheek when she said something funny.  It wasn't the attention she wanted, but it was better than being ignored.  


But Emma noticed that his attention was mostly on Anna.  Anna didn't notice apparently unless they met each others gaze or he gave a fine compliment that made her blush.  Emma was thankful that Jenna didn't notice for she'd be in a rage.  


He thanked mother, Anna, Emma and Jenna (who insisted on helping with the cooking) for the delicious meal and said that he must be going, but that he'd love to come again.  And mother, knowing that Jenna would want him to come again, said that he was welcome to come next Tuesday as well, if he pleased.  He said he would gladly come and then he was gone.


Emma slept with Jenna and Anna.  And she could tell that Jenna couldn't sleep for she tossed and turned all night long.  She was afraid none of them would get any rest.  "What love can do to you," thought Emma.


      The Dance       


"Emma, Anna!  Mother, Father!  Guess what?" shouted May before she even stepped into the house.


"Now what's all of the noise for?" Anna asked while she stirred her choc-olate chip muffins.  Emma was beside her peeling apples. 


May stopped for a breath and went on excitedly, "There's a party!  Tom-orrow at school and the whole family is invited!  I'm going to wear my best dress!  I'm going to go look for my gloves too!" she said running up the stair-way.


Jenna came in behind her with Lily lingering behind.


"I suppose you heard and isn't it just marvelous?" Jenna said dreamily.


"I heard, but you could explain it better to us," Anna said in her practical voice.


"There's a dance at the school.  Everyone is invited!  Oh, do you suppose Carter will be there?" she asked and then waltzed up the stairs.


Emma was afraid of that.  "And now Jenna calls him Carter too," she thought.


"Something wrong, Lily?  You don't seem too excited about it," Emma said turning her concern on Lily.


"Oh, I'll have to dress up and sit up straight waiting for a partner.  Do I have to go?"  


Her question was upon Emma, but before she could say anything Anna spoke up, "I think it's an honor to be invited.  Besides you really haven't been acting very much like a lady.  I think it's time that you did.  You can't go on with life pretending to be a boy when you're not.  God made you just the way you are and He loves you just the way you are.  Why can't you accept the fact that you're a girl and always will be?" Anna said seriously.


Lily seemed to ponder about what she said and then asked her a question, "Does that mean I can't play baseball anymore and have to do lady things like Jenna?" 


"Well, I don't think that means you have to quit baseball.  You are good at it, but I think you should be more mannerly.  You don't have to be dreamy like Jenna.  You can be yourself, but try to be polite, sit up straight and respect your elders."


Lily had to smile.


"Oh, I've known that all my life," she said.  "But I think it's been confirmed now," she said with a chuckle.  Anna had to chuckle too.


"Well, change from your clothes and go start on some of your chores."


"Yes, ma'am!" he said and marched up the stairs.


Anna and Emma looked at each other and laughed.  "Maybe now Lily will be more proper," thought Emma.  "Oh, good old Anna."


The very next night, Emma dressed in her Sunday dress, pulled on her white bonnet and smiled at herself in the mirror.  She wasn't sure if she'd dance.  For one thing she really didn't have a beau and secondly she was afraid she'd step on her partners' toe.  But she'd enjoy herself.  She always did.  For fiddles and dancing were two of her favorite things.  


They got to the schoolhouse and saw lanterns of different colors gleaming inside with fiddle music and the clapping of many hands.


Emma mostly stood and watched.  She clapped to the music and she even took turns playing the fiddle for her father had taught her a few notes.


Anna partnered up with Carter Moor and Clay Royce.  "Anna has two beaus," Emma mused to herself.  Anna would likely have two beaus.  She had long golden brown hair which was now tied in a bun and she had bright blue eyes.  


Jenna apparently looked put out and neglected.  Emma went and sat with her on the bench.  Jenna knew she was trying to comfort her.  She didn't need to say anything.  Just her being there made her have more lifted spirits. 

     

Unexpectedly, a young man who Emma had known in her classes at school, came up and asked Jenna for a dance while he gave Emma a wink who smiled at him and worded a 'thank you.'  He nodded in understanding.  


His name was Nathaniel Thomas, Emma recalled.  Oh such a long time they had both seen each other.  


Nathaniel's brother, Robert was sweet on her the last year of school.  Oh, she had almost forgotten those days.  To tell the truth, she always disliked Robert.  He had this rather wicked charm to him.  Emma had tried her best to not have anything to do with him, but that was most unlikely.  Nathaniel had saved her plenty of times from going into his 'trap' and she was most grateful to him.  Oh, he always was the sweet one of his family.  "He is about seventeen or eighteen most likely," she thought to herself.


Then another unexpected surprise.  When Nathaniel dropped Lily off on the bench next to Emma, he asked her if she'd like to dance.  She could hardly say no.  Especially to and old friend, so she gladly accepted.


She was glad it wasn't one of those fast dances for she was sure she'd step on his toe or do a wrong move.  


        He was a most experienced dancer compared to Emma and he moved quite gracefully.


"It's been a while, hasn't it?" he asked.


"Yes.  Yes, it has.  Where've you been all these years?" she asked.


He chuckled.  "Oh, I went with my father and mother to Alabama.  My grandmother was feeling quite poorly.  We helped her on the farm.  But it wasn't going so smoothly, so she told us to sell it.  That took a while to accomp-lish, but when we did my grandmother was feeling very ill, so we had to take her to an inn where we kept her until she died last May.  We didn't know what to do at first.  My father and mother are still there, but I decided to come back here.  And it's good to be home."


"What about your brother?"


"Robert?  Oh, he lives in Kansas somewhere with his wife, Olivia."


"Oh, I see," she said simply.


"I sure have missed you, Em," he said seriously with emotion in his voice.


At first Emma was just a bit taken aback at how he used her name.  But then she remembered that all the school kids had called her that.  She smiled at the thought of it.


"Well, like you said, it's been a while."


"Yeah.  Good old days, huh?"


"Yes.  Such good times we've had.  If only they lasted longer."


Before he could say anything else the music stopped and they all clapped.


"Thank you so much for asking Jenna to dance.  Jenna was a little put out," she said softly.


"It's okay.  I wanted to do it," he said smiling.


Sarah smiled back and just then Jenna came running up to her.


"Oh, Emma, you won't believe it!"


"Believe what?" she asked.


"Carter!  He danced with me twice!  He said I am a wonderful dancer!" she said ecstatically.  "Oh," she said noticing Nathaniel.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't realize you were in the middle of conversation.  Oh, you're Nathaniel, aren't you?" Jenna said recognizing him quickly.


"Yes.  Yes, indeed I am.


Jenna giggled softly.  "I remember you quite well.  Especially with those stories Emma told me about you.  You were always the hero in them all."


Emma blushed.  "This wasn't like her at all," she thought.  "It's Carter.  He's set her off track."


Nathaniel smiled and blushed slightly.  "Well, I sure am glad you enjoyed the stories."


"Oh, I did.  Very much.  They were my favorites.  I always begged Emma to tell me more," she said and sighed.


Nathaniel looked at Emma who was beet red, but smiling besides.


"Well, if you'll excuse me.  I think I should cheer up Lily."  And then she was gone.  Emma was rather glad of it.  "What does Nathaniel think of me now?" she wondered.


"Well, Emma.  Would you care for another round of dancing?"


Emma smiled and looked up at him.  She nodded in delight.


On the ride back, statements and questions were going through Emma's mind.


"Nathaniel's back!  But for how long?  I missed him so.  Does he know how much I missed those lonely days without his teasing?  Does he-- or could he have feelings for me?  It can't be possible.  No, it can't be.  We're just old friends.  Just old friends," she sigh-ed.


          Calling


A surprise knock came at the Mayfield's door when mother, Anna and Emma were canning peaches which were fresh and a special treat in their house-hold.


Emma wiped her hands on her apron, patted her hair and answered it.


"Why Mr. Moor.  Do come in," Emma said motioning to the kitchen.


Mother and Anna were surprised when they saw their unexpected visitor.  They both stood up and wiped their hands on their aprons.


"So good for you to come and stop by for a visit," mother said.


"Well, I was hoping if I could speak with Mr. Mayfield if he's around."


"He is.  Right now he's in the barn checking on the new filly that was born last night," she explained.


"Oh, well I don't want to be a bother."


"No bother at all.  It's been a little while since we've seen you except for church that is," she said with a grin.


"Well, I'm glad I came then," he said smiling and glancing at Anna who smiled back though confused.


"Would he mind if I went out to see him?"


"Oh, I'm sure he wouldn't.  It's right out to the left," she directed.


"Thank you," he said tipping his hat as he walked out the door.


The three women looked at each other with odd perplexities.


Again they were surprised to see Mr. Moor step into the house again.


"Would you like some lemonade, Mr. Moor?" mother asked.


"No.  No thank you, ma'am.  If you don't mind I'd like to speak to Miss Anna alone."


Emma looked from Anna to Mr. Moor.  "What would he want to say to Anna?" she thought more perplexed.


"Why certainly.  If you wish.  Emma, why don't we knit in the living room?" mother asked taking her arm.


Emma sat on the sofa thoughts pounding at her brain, but she didn't have time to go through them.


"I have no idea what this is about, but something fishy is going on.  Appar-ently father and Anna are the first ones to know," mother said pulling out a hanker chief and dabbing at her face.


"Oh, what could he want to say to her?  It can't be that important.  Why we've only known him for a couple weeks."


"Now, now.  We won't know until Anna wants to tell us."


Just then Anna opened the door slowly.  Her face was white and she was sweating.


"Whatever could be the matter?" thought Emma worriedly.


"What is it, Anna?" Emma asked her concern filling her voice.  "Where is Mr. Moor?  He left so soon?"


"He's asked to--to call on me.  I--I said I'd be honored.  Two days from now."


"Oh, that's all?  Please don't scare me so, Anna.  I was worried.  You prob-ably scared the death out of mother."  And while she said it she looked over at mother who was crying soft tears.


"Why, mother!  Whatever is the matter?" Emma asked.


"Nothing.  Nothing.  I just wasn't quite prepared is all," she said dabbing at her eyes.


Jenna practically died when she heard the news.  It took a lot of consoling to cheer her up.  But she only cried for a week and then she seemed strangely at peace.  Her eyes were always dry and she tried her best to smile when her fam-ily teased her or did special things for her.

       

Carter not only called.  He took the whole family out to dine at the fanci-est restaurants in town.  He helped Jenna and May with their schoolwork, play-ed baseball with Lily and helped father with the farm chores.  


Emma respected him for he was very good to the family and he was Anna's new beau.  But she felt truly sorry for poor Mr. Royce who now rarely came to play baseball with Lily.  He was a good and kind man, but she really couldn't do anything about that.

     

Two months passed and another surprise visitor came.


"Why Nathaniel!  I wasn't expecting to see you, but do come in."


"Who were you expecting?  I didn't mean to intrude," he said quickly.


"Oh, Mr. Moor, the preacher in town.  And no intrusion.  Do come and sit.  I'll get you some lemonade.  It's hot out there."


"Yes.  But it'll be September soon," he said settling himself in a chair.


"I do hope the shed is finished in time."


"Oh, you're building a shed?" he teased.  "Don't mean to be rude, but don't you think that's a bit improper for a woman?"   He was still teasing and Emma couldn't help, but smile.


"Not me, silly.  My father and Lily."


"Lily?  Your sister?  That doesn't seem very proper either."


She turned from pouring the lemonade and made a face at him which he mimicked back to her.  She chuckled and handed him his lemonade.  He drank it slowly as Emma pulled up a chair.


"Where's your parents?  I mean..."


"Oh, my mother is usually in the kitchen, but she went over to give some bread to Mrs. Finch.  She has been feeling poorly lately."


"That's too bad.  What sickness?" he asked.


"I'm not sure," she said and frowned.  "A fever of some sort," she tried to explain.


He nodded.


"And why are you so interested in Mrs. Finch's health?" she asked.


"Well, for one I have sympathy for the old woman and second of all I plan to be a doctor."


"Really?  A doctor?  You're joshing."


He shook his head as he set his empty cup on the table.


"My.  I wouldn't know what to do if I were a doctor.  I mean I'm not that good around sick bodies.  It makes my stomach end up in knots," she said laugh-ing at her own statement.  He laughed with her.


"It's not too hard, but it's not too easy.  It mostly depends on the case.  But a fever shouldn't be hard."


Emma nodded.


"You are turning out to be sophisticated," she said for she had seen the word used in one of her books.


He laughed and she couldn't help, but laugh as well.


After chatting more, he said he must be going and she bid him farewell and told him to come again.


"I really enjoyed your visit.  Do please come again."


"I believe I will," he said smiling up into her chocolate brown eyes as she looked down into his soft blue ones.


"Good," she smiled; and for one magical moment she thought that he was going to take her hand and kiss it, but he just smiled, tipped his hat and walked down the dusty lane.


She wanted to cry right there.  He had not changed and that was what she was afraid of.  For she loved him as a school boy and now she was afraid that this love was stronger and warmer than ever before.  She had wanted him to change so that she wouldn't have the pain in her heart that he might not love her, but it was too late.  He had already captured her heart.  Now she prayed that he was captured by her heart.


Arrival


Anna was expecting Mrs. Pots, there next door neighbor, for she had just lost her son, Daniel and came to the Mayfields' for chats.  But when she got to the door she was surprised to see an elderly woman standing there.  Baggage and all.


"Well?  You don't recognize your own Aunt?" the white-haired woman ask-ed, sounding irritated.


"Why, Aunt March!" Anna said finally noticing her.  "Do come in.  I'm sorry.  It's just been so long."


"Don't fuss," Aunt March replied stoutly.


Anna remembered her.  But she remembered her as kind and generous.  Not grouchy.  


"Maybe it's from the long trip," she thought to herself.  


It had been about four years since the last they had saw her.  And they seldom heard from her which they thought strange.  They had written to her just the past week, but didn't receive an answer.  


"Why is she here then?" she thought again.


"Well, it's so nice to have you visit," Anna said sweetly.


"Humph!"


"Would you like me to take your things to the storage closet?  Or a glass of lemonade?"


"My things, I'll worry about.  The lemonade would be nice," she replied settling herself down on a kitchen chair.


Anna poured the lemonade and handed it to their guest.  Aunt March claimed it was too sweet when Anna thought it as sweet and sour.


Anna tried to make conversation about how the farm was she had in Mis-souri, but Aunt March said she should stay out of her business.  


Then she asked if she wanted a tour of the house since it had been a while since she had seen it.  When she did, Aunt March proclaimed that it was too old fashioned for her liking.  


Anna prayed that mother and Emma would hurry back from Mrs. Finch's.  She felt that it was so hard to please the woman.


Then she asked if she cared to help her start supper.  Aunt March said that she didn't see why she'd want to especially at her elderly age.  


Anna was almost at her wits end until mother and Emma finally returned with surprise and odd perplexities.


"Why, Aunt March!  It's been.."


"I know.  A long time," Aunt March interrupted mother.


"Yes.  Yes, it has," she replied.


"Aunt March," Emma said in barely a whisper.


"And you're Emma?  The eldest, right?"


"Yes," Emma said nodding her head slowly.


Aunt March nodded with her lips in a straight line.  And to her surprise, Emma ran to her and gave her a big, warm hug.  For a moment, Anna thought she saw Aunt March's eyes brighten.  And then they suddenly turned misty and Emma stepped back and looked up at her.


"The good Lord has brought you back to us," Emma said with a smile and tears in her own eyes.


"Good, you say?  My husband, children and now my house taken from me and you call him good?" Aunt March asked her face turning hard.  No one ans-wered her.  All they knew was that she had changed-- a lot.

               

Everyone went to bed early that night.  


Anna brushed Emma's hair as she lie on her bed.  They both thought in si-lence until Anna spoke up.


"Emma?"


"Yes?"


"You know, of course, about Aunt March's grouchiness, right?"


"I think so," Emma said softly as she played with a strand of hair.


"Well, you suppose she turned her back on God because of those things?"


"I suppose.  For she attended church with us before and she was always--well-- nicer."


"Yes, I agree.  But I still can't believe that-- that.."


"I know," Emma interrupted softly.  "I know," she said again patting her sisters' hand.  "We're just going to have to try our best to show her that even in the hardest times God is good and comforting.  And he's always there.  At least she believes there even is a God."


Anna looked a bit puzzled.


"She knows He's there because she once believed in Him.  Just now she claims he isn't good and that he can bring you know good,"  Emma explained.


Anna nodded slowly.


"So that's why she's here.  Because she needed comfort and her house is gone," Anna said softly.


Emma nodded.


"She may be here for quite a long time," Emma said.  "Well, we better get some sleep.  I don't know how Jenna can sleep through our talking," Emma whispered.


They looked over where Jenna's body lay to hear her contented snores.  They looked at each other and giggled softly.


The next morning there was a big storm cloud hovered over their home.  Soon drops of water splashed onto the roof.  It was strange to have storms es-pecially in the summer, but it rained and hard.  


Everyone seemed grouchy and claimed that it was the worst day of their life, but mother always gave them a warning look which made them shut their mouths and do whatever they could to keep busy.


Mother, Aunt March, Emma, Anna, Jenna and May sewed whatever they could with there small supply of yarn.  Lily couldn't sew.  She thought it was too hard to get the needle go through the loops, so she went to the attic, hoping to find something interesting.  


Father gave a quick check to make sure all of the animals were in their pens and that the barn doors were shut and then tried to find something to do.  He decided to fix the pipe in the kitchen sink which he had forgotten to do last month.  


'The rain sounds mad,' May had said.  And it did.  It poured continuously and the sound of the screeching of father's wrench made it even worse.  

Aunt March could not take it any longer and went up to her bedroom where she read a book.


Emma got everyone to play Blind Man's Bluff.  Even Aunt March, who had heard the bubbly laughter over the storm, joined in and she seemed to enjoy it.  They laughed so hard that tears formed in their eyes.  


And after that, Anna decided to make a special lunch which mother, Emma and, surprisingly, Aunt March helped with.  It was delicious!  Everyone gave a compliment.  


After another fun round of Blind Man's Bluff, the rained lessened until there were only a few droplets dripping off the roof.  The sun came out making the farmyard glisten and the muddy puddles dried up.


They all got back to work and when the sun started to set, they decided to take their simple, but tasty dinner outside for a picnic.  Aunt March was reluc-tant to eat her meal on the grass, but she apparently didn't want to eat alone, so she followed them out.


It was so much fun eating their small dinner on the grass outside the barn-yard with the horses neighing hello and the chickens squawking their welcome as well.  


But other than the sounds of their animals, it was a peaceful evening.  A full moon was shining above with a thousand stars that twinkled.  It was a lovely evening!  Emma sighed in pure delight.  How lovely it was to be surrounded by family, eating dinner under the stars.


        Adjustments


Mr. Moor, after months of calling, asked Anna, who had just turned sixteen, to be his wife.  She gladly said yes.  Of course, they weren't surprised, but Anna was still young, so the wedding wouldn't take place until she was seventeen years old, her father had firmly stated.  


Emma knew that sooner or later it would happen, but she was sad none-theless.  Her sister, married.  It was hard to comprehend her not being there to talk to.  She had been like an older sister to her even though she was a year younger.  


Anna seemed to feel both ways.  She was ecstatic and happy beyond her wildest dreams, but she couldn't imagine not being with her many sisters and mother and father.  She had always made sure that they were under control and now who would do that?  Emma?  She wasn't sure, but she felt a little lonely leaving her wonderful family.  


"At least it won't be for a year yet," she assured herself with the thought.  


She was content to know that they would only be two miles down the road for Carter had promised.  A year seemed to be enough for Carter was sure that the house would be finished by then.  Anna couldn't wait to see it, but Car-ter said it would be a surprise, so she reluctantly waited.


Emma and Anna were sewing one day out on the porch, watching Lily, Jenna and May wash Star, their black horse.  Anna had named her that for she had a star shaped, white spot on her forehead.  Anna said her soon-to-be new name over and over again.


"Anna Beth Moor.  Anna Beth Moor.  Doesn't it have a nice ring to it?" she asked Emma.


Emma nodded smiling.  Her sister was so happy.  


"And so young too," she thought to herself.


"Carter's coming over again today, right?" Emma asked.


"Yes, he is.  He says he's going to bring me a surprise.  I can't wait to see it," she said setting down her knitting and looking down the dusty lane as if she knew he'd soon appear.


"Maybe he'll bring you your engagement ring," Emma said musingly.  Car-ter promised to get her one soon for he hadn't found the right one quite yet.


"I don't know," Anna said, but a smile played about her lips.


Just then the sound of horses' hooves pounded through the August air.  And, sure enough, Carter and his mighty steed appeared.  Anna jumped from her chair and ran to meet him.  They caressed and Emma could only stand and watch shaking her head and smiling.  


"She's beginning to become more romantic," she thought to herself.


"You must be dying of thirst.  We have some cool lemonade in the house if you'd like some," Emma heard her say.


"Love some," he replied walking to the house with Anna beside him.


"Morning, Mr. Moor,"  Emma replied.


"I'd prefer Carter since we're to be family," he replied smiling.


"Okay then.  Carter it is," she replied leading the way into the kitchen.


They sat, drinking lemonade as they chatted about past or current events.


"Oh, and before I forget, I think I promised you something, Anna," he said reaching for his pocket.  It was a dark blue case and when he opened it up there was a diamond ring inside.  "I finally got around to finding the perfect one," he said smiling again showing straight, white teeth.


"Oh, it's lovely.  Thank you very much, Carter," Anna said slipping it on.  She showed it to Emma.  "Isn't it pretty?" she asked her.

Emma nodded smiling at them both.  They were both going to make one happy couple.


Carter stayed until late at night as always.  Mother and Emma planned something special for him and Anna.  They made them both take a walk, so they could get their surprise dinner on.  They made mashed potatoes, ham, string beans and blueberry pie.  It was their favorites!  


Then they decided to eat outside like they did that one night.  They went up to a grassy hill above the stars and set a checkered table cloth down.  Carter and Anna gave many compliments on the meal and scenery.  It was a lovely eve-ning.  More stars then you could imagine twinkled in a dark blue sky.  The moon shone brighter then ever before and crickets buzzed off in the distance.  Emma lied back on the grass and, to her surprise, she fell asleep without know-ing it.


The next minute she awoke to seeing the sun just starting to rise.  She yawned and placed her feet on the cold wood flooring.  She noticed that Anna and Jenna were still sleeping, so she quietly tiptoed down the stairs and into the kitchen.  She made some hot coffee and took it out to the porch where she rocked back and forth on the swing.  


She loved this time of the day.  Where everything slowly came awake.  It was so peaceful.  It was nice to have a relaxing minute of the day before getting busy with all of the chores.  It was also a perfect place to go through your thoughts and that's just what she did.


"Nathaniel sure hasn't been around lately.  I wonder if he has a doctor scholarship or if he went go back to his family in Alabama."  


She sure hoped he wouldn't go without saying good-bye even though it may be hard to see him leave.  She wanted to cry again.  Just have a good, hard cry, but this time she didn't allow it.  And it wasn't just Nathaniel that was trou-bling her mind.  What about Anna?  She would be leaving soon as well.  And how would she do without her?  It would be hard to get used to the idea.  


The days went so quickly.  Days, weeks, months and years.  They all went by so fast.  She herself was already seventeen.  And May seven.  Jenna's birth-day was in a month or so and Lily's was in three months.  Time goes so fast when you don't even realize it. 


She stood up.  "No use sitting here when there's breakfast to put on," she said to herself.  She took one last glance around her and then strolled into the kitchen.


Accident


One day, mother, Aunt March, Emma and Anna were canning when May rushed into the house her whole face pale.


"What is it?" mother asked concern filling her voice.


"Lily.  She--we found her under the hay bails.  She won't speak to us," May said her eyes filling up with tears.


The whole family ran out to the barn where Lily lay, ashen white and un-moving.  Anna held May in her arms and Emma stood beside her.  Mother went up to her and touched her.  


"Lily?  Lily, do you hear me?"  She slowly moved her position and checked for bones.


"Her arm.  I think it may need stitches," she said quickly.  "Get your father quick.  We need to take her to the hospital."


"But mother the hospital is twenty miles away," Emma said her voice qua-king.


"Get some cold cloth for her arm quickly, Emma," she said not answering her question.


"Yes, ma'am," she said and hurried to the house.


When she came back, mother had gotten her to a sitting position and fath-er was checking her arm.  Mother dabbed the cold cloth on her hand and then they quickly got the buggy hitched and ready to go.  Aunt March would stay and take care of the children while they're gone.


After the buggy was gone from sight, Aunt March made the children go back to their unfinished jobs as she Anna and Emma went back to the house to can.  But it wasn't easy to keep their minds on the sticky cans and many of times Aunt March said to quicken their step.  After the messy job was done, Emma went out to the porch to sew and wait for the buggy to appear.  Anna gladly came out of the hot kitchen and joined her.


"It's a nice night," Anna said rocking back and forth on the creaky rocking chair.


"Yes," Emma replied simply and put her attention back to her work before her.


She sewed, sewed and sewed some more until she thought her hands would fall off.  Father and Mother had not come yet and she started to worry.  Maybe something went wrong.  It's a long drive, so maybe they were just not hurrying back for they didn't want to upset Lily's arm again.  She didn't know, but she fretted and worried, so she sewed all the more as if that would help.  


Soon she fell asleep.  The next time she awoke was when the sound of the buggy wheels turned into the lane.  Emma got up, rubbed her sleepiness out of her eyes, picked up her skirts and hurried down to meet them.  She noticed that Lily was awake and smiling.  Relief rushed through her whole being.  She was going to be alright.


"She's okay?" her question was directed to father.  She wanted to be abso-lutely sure that nothing was wrong.


"Okay?  She's as tough as a horse whip.  Only two stitches and she didn't flinch, but she won't be able to move her arm for about two or three weeks," he answered.


"Three weeks?  That seems pretty long.  What about her chores and the shed?  You wanted to get that finished before winter sets in."


"I can handle it for that amount of time.  And I'm thinking of hiring a hand," he said without sounding worried.


"We can't afford that, father.  You know that.  And the stitches couldn't of costed nothing," she said.


"Actually it didn't cost anything for the stitches.  We got a very nice doc-tor.  And he wouldn't let me pay him besides," he answered.


"My.  He must of been really nice," she said.


"Yes.  By the way, I think you knew him a couple years past."


"Oh?" she asked confused.


"Yep.  His name was Nathaniel.  Nathaniel Thomas."


She gasped.


"Nathaniel?  He's a doctor now?  I didn't-- had no idea of that."


"He wanted to apologize for not being able to tell you himself.  But he's quite busy now and he didn't have time to come and stop by."


She nodded, but didn't seem to hear.  


"Nathaniel!  He's a doctor!  Oh, I do wish he could of told me himself," she thought.  "He must be quite busy.  Maybe I could stop by to see him.  But no.  No.  He was busy enough as it is and she would be even more so with Lily now being confined for a few weeks," she told herself.


"But the shed.  That doesn't fix our shed problem," she replied quickly getting out of her thoughts.


"Nathaniel wants to stop by next week and offer a hand.  He said it's the least he could do.  He apparently doesn't want me breaking my back," he chuckled as he unhitched the horse and put it in its stall.


"He's coming here?"  


he could scarcely believe the words.  Coming to their home next week!  She couldn't think of the extra chores now!  All she knew and was glad to know was that he would be coming!


            Picnic


Nathaniel did come the very next week and he appeared to be a fine work-er.  He and father talked and laughed as though they were old friends.  Mother seemed taken to him too.  He seemed to enjoy the work and the delicious meals.  He teased over Lily, Jenna and May who blushed and smiled.  But Jenna blush-ed the most for it was all so true about the primping she did in the mirror, but she seemed to like the extra attention.


When he had to go, they all made sad and protesting faces for he had brightened their day.  Emma was especially sad to see him go.  He seemed to know what was on all of their minds, so he made a promise he'd come the next week if that was okay with mother and father.  They said they'd be pleased to have him and he tipped his hat, bid his good-night and left.


The next week, he was even more full of surprises.  After helping father with the shed, he went to the kitchen, washed his hands, rolled up his sleeves and started helping.  Mother only laughed watching him and Anna and Emma couldn't help smiling and shaking their heads.


"Have you ever done this before?" Emma teased.


"No.  Actually I haven't, but everyone needs to learn sometime," he said looking over at her and smiled.  Emma laughed out loud for he had flour smear-ed on his chin and nose.  He rinsed it off in the sink and asked if it was gone.  She nodded and smiled.  


"He's always full of fun," she thought.


"Well if you want to help some more, you can help me pinch the stems off of the string beans."


"I'll gladly help you," he said taking the string beans with him out to the porch.  


Emma had never done it out on the porch before, but she resigned to do it more often for it was much better then staying in the claustrophobic kitchen.


"It's a lovely day," Emma sighed settling herself comfortably in a rocking chair beside Nathaniel.


"Yes.  Perfect for a picnic or walk through the shade," he said.


She nodded.  


"I love having picnics along Melvin's creek.  It's shady there and peaceful."


He nodded with his jaw twitching as though he were planning something.


"Want to take the lunch out there?" he asked looking up.


She looked into his soft, blue eyes.  There was something trustworthy, kind and loving there.  She had never seen such eyes.  She smiled.


"That would be nice," she replied softly.


He smiled back.


"Good."  


It was only one word, but it was said with a nice warmth that made her heart skip a beat.


They snapped the ends off the string beans with silence as they both drank in the afternoon sun.  Emma wished it wouldn't of ended, but soon the pile of string beans were all ready to be cooked and seasoned with some salt.  As she helped with the meal, she told the family of Nathaniel's idea.  They all loved it, except for Aunt March who said she'd stay at home and read.  And so each of them carrying something, skipped joyfully to Melvin's creek.


It was a glorious picnic as Emma had expected.  Nathaniel showed Lily how to catch a fish without a stick fishing pole by holding your hand in the lake until you felt the movement of a fish and grasp onto it tightly.  Lily wanted to try using her good hand and after coaxing mother she allowed it.  After holding her hand in the water for thirty minutes, she felt the movement of a fish, grasp-ed it and yanked it to the shore.  She had caught her first fish old fashioned sty-le!  She beamed at the complements and only said that she did it just the way Nathaniel taught her.


They ate, talked and laughed.  It was fun to get out of the house and enjoy an afternoon in the sun streaming through the trees beside the cool lake.  


After they finished their yummy meal, they all went wading in the water.  Jenna had refused at first.  She thought it so improper hoisting up your skirts.  She was even more worried about the cold temperature.  But after minutes of coaxing, saying it felt nice and cool on your feet, she went in.  


May seemed to enjoy it the most.  She giggled and splashed anyone near her.  


Jenna was quite upset that her hair was becoming moist, but she was even more angry when she was climbing up onto the bank when she slipped and fell into the water becoming drenched with water.  Everyone had to laugh when Jenna hoisted herself onto the green grass, her hair dripping wet and her clothes soaked to the bone.  Mother had dried her off and set her in the sun where she could dry.  Her teeth chattered, but she sat up straight and made a pledge to never go into that lake again.


After that, they cleaned up the food and started back to the house.  When they got back, they all talked at once telling Aunt March on how much fun they had.  Aunt March had to cover her ears, but smiled besides.  She seemed to en-joy the fun they had even though they made a lot of noise telling it.  


Emma and Anna smiled at each other.  These were the memories they should build before it came time for Anna to leave them.  Oh, she wouldn't even think about that.  When that time came, she would worry about it, but for now they would enjoy their fun and busy life style being together.


  Trouble and Peace


To their surprise, Clay Royce, who they hadn't seen in months, stopped by for a visit.  He congratulated Anna on her engagement and after he had a glass of lemonade he went out to have a couple swings of baseball with Lily for now her hand had finally healed completely which they were all glad of.


When they came in for glasses of lemonade, all sweaty, Lily excalimed on how well Mr. Royce hit and that he was a swell teacher.  Mr. Royce only chuck-led and said he had a lot of practice.   


To none of their surprise, Jenna, after doing her chores, sat on the porch and watched the game in progress.  Once, when Mr. Royce looked over at her, she flashed him a smile which he smiled back and winked.  Jenna was beside herself.  She was more bubbly then May as she said over and over again, 'Did you see that?  He winked at me!  He's a dear.'  


Emma did indeed see it for she herself was doing her knitting out on the porch.  She had noticed Jenna's facial expressions and her eyes shine as if they meant to say, 'Don't you see?  I won him over!'  


Jenna fell in 'love' with every boy from the county.  Why even Henry Stevenson won her over who was six and half feet tall, had bright red hair and a love for books.  Jenna said he was cute in a way and that Jenna Stevenson sounded divine.  Emma just hoped that she wouldn't keep this up.  She was be-coming too-- too improper.  She acted like a wild goose when she caught some boys eye or he'd give her a smile or wink.


The next day, Mr. Royce came again.  He seemed to enjoy Lily's company, May's bubbly spirit and Jenna's flashing smiles.


Three days later, Emma was surprised and joyful when Nathaniel came for a visit.  It had been a while since the last he came for he had become busier with his patients.


They talked and chatted when Mr. Royce knocked on the door.  Emma excused herself and went to open it.  He came in and accepted the offered cup of lemonade as always.


"Oh, I'm sorry.  I didn't realize you were expecting anyone," Nathaniel said standing up.


"Oh, don't go.  This is Clay Royce," Emma said quickly.  "Mr. Royce this is Nathaniel."


They shook hands, but Nathaniel wasn't convinced to stay.


"I really don't want to intrude," he said.


"It's no intrusion.  Really.  Mr. Royce comes here often to play baseball with Lily," she explained.


"Well, I have patients coming over anyway," he replied.


He appeared to want to go and Emma couldn't help, but wonder why.


"Well, go then.  I wouldn't want to keep you," Emma said turning away.  She felt a hurt in her heart and couldn't betray her small pang of disappoint-ment.


Nathaniel ran his hand through his hair.


"See ya," he finally said and then quickly walked out the door and closed it softly.


Emma tried not to show the sadness that filled her whole being, but it was not easy to betray Mr. Royce.


"You love him, don't you?" he asked.


At first, Emma was a bit off guard for someone she didn't know that well to ask her such a question, but she tried to answer as casually as possible.


"He's an old friend from school."


"I see, but that doesn't answer my question completely," he answered.


Emma wanted to run out of the room to her bedroom where she could have a good cry.  To her full relief, Anna came in just in time, so that Emma could drop the whole discussion.


"Why, hello, Mr. Royce.  Lily is still in school, but she should be back soon," Anna said.  "I see Emma helped you to the lemonade," she changed the subject as she eased her own body into a chair.


"Indeed she did," he answered placing the empty glass on the wooden table.


Emma washed her tired hands at the sink and was happy to see the figures of Lily, Jenna and May out of the small window.


"What a lovely morning it is.  No use wasting it," she said with a grin as she walked out the door and greeted her siblings.


They told her of the happenings at school as usual and then they bounded into the house to change into their clothes and out to finish the rest of their chores.


Emma decided to go check in on the farmyard animals in the barn for she always found peace there and right now she needed only that.  Maybe Nathaniel will be pushed to the back of her mind for the time being.  


As she walked into the barn door, two female cats came and rubbed their bodies against her.  She smiled and patted their soft fur.  Their names were Mit-tens and Boots for they both had white paws and the rest of them were gray.


"Where is Patch?" she wondered to herself.  


Patch was their pet puppy they found just last year with a thorn in its foot.  They had taken care of him and he soon followed everyone around.  May had named him Patch for the black patch on his left eye.  They all loved the little ras-cal and he was soon part of the barnyard family.


Emma then walked to Star and Chestnut's stall.  She was a bit disappointed not to see the lively bodies inside.  


"They're probably out carrying logs from the forest for the shed," she thought.


So she skipped past their stalls to their four cows.  There was fat and lazy Maggie and Peaches waiting patiently for her turn at the fresh hay that lay in front of greedy and impatient, Hog.  May had given Hog his name for she said he was just like one.  Everyone had laughed and the name stuck.  Lucy was like Peaches.  Patient, but also the leader for she had been around long before the other cows.  


Emma gave them all a pat on their heads and went to check on the chick-ens.  Emma never liked the job of gathering the dirty eggs and trying to do it before the rooster came out and pecked at you.  


She still remembered when she was four years old and she went to gather the eggs.  The rooster came out which made her fly out of there.  She cried because she had tried again and again, but she never could do it without the rooster pecking at her.  Father had found her sitting on the hay in tears.  He said that it was hard and too hard for just a little girl, so from then on she worked with mother and father got the eggs until Lily was older and more experienced.


Sometimes Emma felt sympathy for Lily for she always had to do the gross or difficult jobs, but Lily didn't seem to complain too much.  All she cared about was getting it done and then playing baseball with Mr. Royce.


"Oh dear!" she said aloud.  

"Mr. Royce probably thinks I'm hiding from him because what he asked me.  Oh I've been awfully impolite!" she thought as she hurried out of the barn.


She was relieved to know he didn't really notice for he was in a good game of baseball with Lily.  She sighed with relief and then got back to her kit-chen duties, but couldn't help, but be distracted for the earlier conversation with Nathaniel.


"What does he think of me now?  Why I was the one who practically forced him to leave!  Oh, what have I gotten into now?" she accused herself.  "I have to set things right," she said to herself.  "Yes.  I'll set things right--somehow.  Lord, help me to set things right," she silently prayed.  A soft peace filled her heart, but her mind was still troubled.  All she could do was pray for everything to go right.  That's all she could hope for.


    All's Well That Ends Well  


Emma was in the kitchen, as usual, helping Anna make a loaf of bread for her to-be-husband.  Carter had been working extra hard on the house and his faithful work slowly paid off.  Anna decided to make him something special for everything he's done.  She'd usually say that he's so faithful and considerate and he indeed seemed to be.


Emma only wished that Nathaniel would be more faithful in coming to see her and considerate for the pain in her heart.  For she spent nights crying herself to sleep for she still wept over the thought that she may never see him again.  Well, mother had come to the rescuse when Anna had told her about it.  Mother had sat down beside her and told her that Anna had said she was crying night after night and that they were starting to worry.  After Emma had said that she was afraid she'd never see him again, mother said that if he truly loved her then he'd definitely be back even though it may take some time.


Emma tried to accept the fact as best as she could and she only allowed herself to shed a single tear for it wasn't healthy to be crying all night, she had reasoned with herself.  Besides she didn't want to keep the others awake worry-ing about her, so she resoluted to think of more important things-- like Anna's wedding day.


Months were going by like days and fall had already settled in.  Anna would be seventeen sooner then they knew it and the house Carter was building was almost finished.  


And to all of their happiness, the shed was finished at the end of October and father was mighty pleased with his and Lily's handy work.  They now could store their delicious preserves and father could store his working tools for they had made a deal before they had started that they would both have half of the shed.  It was a rather silly bargain, but it worked out quite well.


Fall, like all the other seasons, had a specialness to it that no other season had.  The leaves turned shades of amber and crimson and the air became cool.  They usually had an autumn festival where each family in the county would bring a special dish like pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, squash with cinnamon sugar sprinkled over top.  The dishes prepared were always scrumptious and the family games were all so exciting.  It gave you time to have a wonderful day off of harvesting and joining in on the family fun.  The festival would begin in only two days and everyone was in a rush of anticipation preparing for it.


The day of the festival, mother made her famous apple pie.  Emma helped her, but Anna was to be escorted their by Carter, so mother made her go get ready and let Emma help her instead.  Soon the aroma of hot, delicious apple pies filled the kitchen.


Mother took over the kitchen to allow Emma to go up to her bedroom and get ready.  Anna awaited her upstairs, sitting beside the mirror, pinning her hair up.  They didn't chat and laugh as they usually did about such events, but in-stead focused on making themselves look properly attired for the night that lay ahead of them.


Emma wanted to look her best and wear her Sunday dress, but she thought again and she didn't think it would be wise to run around in it for she may get it dirty.  She reluctantly laid it aside and got out one of her everyday dresses and slipped it over her head.  


Then she worked on pinning up her hair.  She didn't know if she wanted to do the new style like Anna, but she didn't want to be a copycat, so she tried something new.  She was pleased with how it looked and then got out her bon-net and tied it into a secure knot around her neck.  She did one final check in the mirror of herself, smoothed her skirts and smiled at her reflection.  She was ready.


She and Anna walked down the steps to the kitchen where the busy figure of their mother moved quickly about.


"Don't tire yourself out, Mama," Anna said coming to her side.


It was surprising to Emma and mother for Anna had only called her mama when she was a small child.  It brought back so many memories.  Mother just smiled at her grown up daughter.


"Life can be a whirlwind, can't it?" her mother asked seating herself on a kitchen chair as Anna had suggested.


"Yes, it can be.  Why couldn't Aunt March help you?" Anna asked.


"Oh, she's not been feeling too well lately.  In fact, she says that we should go to the festival without her," mother said sadly.  Her shoulders sagged and her face suddenly looked worn.  Emma had never seen her mother like this.


"I hope you're not feeling ill as well," Emma replied quickly placing her small hand on her mother's forehead.


"I'm fine, dear.  You are both so caring," she said smiling patting both their hands.  


"Well, I think I'll take some good broth to Aunt March," Anna said turning the subject back on their ill aunt.


"Yes, I believe that would help," her mother answered.  "It's just so strange that she won't come to the festival with us.  She always enjoyed them," she said shrugging her shoulders as if nothing could be done.


"Maybe she's just worn out," Emma replied softly.  "This harvest has been busy."


Her mother nodded, but hadn't seemed to hear.


"Well, the festival will start without us if we don't hurry," her mother an-swered coming out of her daze.


Carter came for Anna and they both said they'd meet them at the festival as they drove off leaving a dust trail behind them.


The rest of the family gathered together as they bid their good-byes' to Aunt March and gathered into the wagon as Star and Chestnut pulled them to the busyness of the fair.


When they got there, it was full of lively chatter and games.  Emma had already spotted many families she knew and also noticed that Anna and Carter were coming toward them.


"Emma, you've got to try the ferris wheel.  It's so much fun!" Anna ex-claimed.  "It got my belly though and I held onto Carter's hand the whole time," she said and laughed to herself.


"Okay.  I'll be sure to try it out," Emma said stepping down from the wa-gon.


"Now," her father was saying to the eager children, "here's some tickets for each of you.  Use them wisely, make sure you don't get lost and meet us at the food grounds about three o'clock, so you don't miss out on who won the pie contest," he said grinning at mother.


The children bobbed their heads up and down and quickly were off.  May stayed with father and mother and Jenna and Lily went off to the dunk tank, so Emma was by herself.  She had hoped to enjoy this time with Anna, but she knew that she wanted to spend some time with Carter, so she decided to go to the ferris wheel-- alone.


A long line awaited her, so she had to be patient until her turn.  Emma watched as the passengers ascended onto the small 'car' and she couldn't help, but notice that each time they got in they were in two's.  Never had Emma thought that she would feel lonely or sad at the fair, but the more she watched and waited the more her lonely and troubling thoughts whirled at her.


"Why couldn't someone of accomponied me?" she demanded herself.


But she was soon not to be lonely no more for a soft familiar voice betrayed her thoughts.


"Having fun?"


She whirled around and to her utter surprise there stood Nathaniel with a light in his eyes and a grin on his lips.


"Why, Nathaniel!" she exclaimed.  She wanted to hug him, but held herself in check.  "I-- I'm surprised to see you."


"Oh, I could never miss a festival," he answered.


"Yes, they can be fun," she answered softly, but tears filled her eyes which she willed back.  "I-- I've been meaning to apologize to you for-- for what I said to you-- the other day.  I honestly didn't mean it," she said looking up into his blue eyes.


"It wasn't your fault, Emma," he said taking her hand unexpectedly.  "I'm sorry.  I was in too much of a hurry I guess or maybe it's just because of Mr. Royce," he chuckled.


Emma looked totally confused.


"Mr. Royce?  But what does he have to do with it?" she asked him.


"Why, he has everything to do with it," he answered.


Emma still looked puzzled and Nathaniel chuckled.  Slowly the truth came to her.  He was jealous of Mr. Royce! 


"I don't like him, Nathaniel!" she blurted out.  "I mean-- not in that way," she quickly amended her unexpectant outburst.


Nathaniel's chuckle turned into a soft smile as he held both of Emma's small hand's in his rather large ones.  And for a magical moment, he kissed her softly.


"Tickets, lovers!" the man at the ferris wheel booth shouted.


Nathaniel and Emma laughed and gave him their tickets.  


The ferris wheel went round in round and Anna was so right about it getting your stomach.  But it wasn't just her stomach that bothered her.  Very high heights didn't mix with Emma and she squeezed Nathaniel's hand so tight that it turned white.  Emma apologized after the ride, but he just chuckled.


Emma wasn't lonely anymore for Nathaniel and her did so many fun things together.  


And at the end of the day, she was engaged to the man she loved with all of her being.  The joy in her heart shone through her as she and Nathaniel told the family about it.  They were so pleased, but they cried anyway.  Anna and Emma would both be moving out of the house they had grown up in since they were babies.  Moving out of the house they had had special memories in.  The house they had learned to love God.  And now they were all growing up-- so quickly.


As Emma's mother always said, 'All's well that ends well.'  And it indeed ended well as Nathaniel and Emma, hand in hand, watched as the brightly colored fireworks splattered across the starry sky.


The End  

© 2011 Kelly M.


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Reviews

Omg, Kelly. I loved this. It took me a while to finish it, but this is brilliantly genious. I could read this over and over again. This was awesome! More like this please!

Posted 7 Years Ago


That was just amazing. I loved how in the end they finally realized they loved each other. It was so sweet.

Posted 8 Years Ago


have i really never reviewed this? i have read it like 6 times. Its one of my favorite stories on here because its so sincere and sweet. i suggest you make it like a full length novel because id buy it. good work!:)

Posted 8 Years Ago


Wonderful, Simply Wonderful. Not many stories hold my interest but this one did... I was attempting to do an editorial read of this, but I got glued in.. Just a remarkable piece, I hop you publish this someday, You are Remarkably talented!

Posted 8 Years Ago


I love this story and I am very happy that "God" did give you this talent!!!
Taylor your second cousin


Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on September 26, 2010
Last Updated on March 5, 2011
Tags: romance, fun, happiness, comfort, mischief, anime, festive, laughter, suspense, family saga, love

Author

Kelly M.
Kelly M.

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