One Dark December
Author's note: This book for me was a joy to write as I got to know a special little girl named Stephanie and... Show full author's note »
A Trip to Peggy's CoveThursday, November 1st, 1917
Well what a happy way to start off November. A letter from Hugh! I will paste it here!
I am thinking you will be getting this around Halloween. Happy trick or treating! In this letter, I have decided to tell you a story a British soldier told me. It may sound unbelievable, but he said it was true, so here goes. It happened on Christmas Eve, 1914, the first Christmas of the war. Some German troops lit candles on little Christmas trees and the British, French and Belgian troops started singing carols. The front lines were so close that the Germans heard them singing, ‘Silent Night’ and joined in. They sang other carols too, all in their own language. Then something wonderful happened. They threw down their weapons and came together in ‘No Man’s Land’. It was a Christmas miracle. The troops ate and drank together and even exchanged addresses. Here is the sad part. The generals got mad and ordered the troops to start shooting again. You may not hear from me till after Christmas, so I just wanted to tell you that, Stephanie. Never give up hope. If that REALLY did happen then this war will soon end
All my love,
Boy, did I cry buckets after that letter. I showed it to Alexis when we were down by the creek today and she just shook her head. ‘That’s beautiful,’ she said – and it is.
Friday, November 2nd, 1917
Lobsters and a kettle o’ fish! I am so excited right now! Okay, I am going to calm down and tell you the story. Well, today I was walking out of church and Alexis stopped me at the door. She asked me if I wanted to come down by the creek. Mother said yes, so I agreed. We walked down together and when we sat down on the bank, Alexis got all excited. She said that she and her family are going to Peggy’s Cove to visit some friends for a week. They are going to be in a cottage right by the water. Her mother said that since Alexis may be lonely she could invite a friend to come along. She said she had invited me! I practically fell into the creek because I was jumping up and down so much! I have always wanted to go to Peggy’s Cove and now I am actually going. Mother said I could go, so hallelujah!
Saturday, November 3rd, 1917
It was the first snowfall today! All of us kids ran outside and played around in the snow until we were practically freezing. Mother made us hot cocoa. In two days I will be at Peggy’s Cove with Alexis! I was able to catch a few minutes with Abby today and told her about Peggy’s Cove. Well, I thought she would be happy for me, but she just mumbled and said her mother wanted her home. She has been acting strange lately. Today our whole family went to the arena to see a moving picture, it was a news reel called, ‘Canadians Capture Vimy Ridge’, the big battle that had happened this past April. Mother and Father wanted to go to see if they could spot anyone they knew. They pointed out a few people I did not know but we did not see Hugh either – too bad. He fought at Vimy Ridge and amazingly came out without a scratch! At times it seems unfair that our Hugh survived when so many of our boys died. How does God choose which ones will be spared? How does He decide? I asked mother and she shook her head and said, ‘Only He can answer that.’
Sunday, November 4th, 1917
Tomorrow I will be at Peggy’s Cove with Alexis! I was just reading over my diary and realized how much I have written and how much I enjoy it! Did I mention that I am reading Little Women? Oh, it is such a good book, but I think maybe Beth is a little too good. I asked Mother who she thought I was most like and she looked at me for a minute, smiled and said, ‘Jo, definitely Jo.’
Well, I guess I am a little spunky but I do not jump fences for goodness sake! I would say I am like Meg and Amy in a way, with a bit of Jo mixed in. But not Beth! No, not me! Well, just at that moment Emily Belle walked in and asked, ‘Who am I?’
Mother smiled, picked her up and said, ‘You are my little Beth.’
She was certainly right about that!
Saturday, November 10th, 1917
I am so sorry, dear friend, I forgot you when I went to Peggy’s Cove. Oh, it was wonderful! It took us a day to get there but once we pulled up to the cottage I just knew it was worth it. Alexis’s mother’s friend had a few children who were our ages, Jenny who was eleven and Jasper who was thirteen. We all played fairly well together. Alexis and I shared a room and we played by the waterfront and ate out some nights. I am going to record what I did each day.
Sunday, November 4th, 1917
Got up early and Aaron and the twins walked me down to Alexis’s house. When we arrived, all piled onto her wagon and off we went! It took us almost the whole day to get there and I was tired from hardly getting any sleep the night before, being so excited and everything. We got to Mrs. Goll’s friends’ place, the Longinburrows and there were a lot of screams between the two ladies. We met their children. Then we all sat down for a supper of beef stew. After that the Longinburrows showed us to the place where we would be staying. It was just lovely, dear friend. It is on the Longinburrows’ property and they built it themselves. It sure is a cute little place with an outhouse, two bedrooms (Alexis and I sleep in the attic), a kitchen and a dining room complete with a parlour. Alexis and I were downright happy when it came to bedtime and were asleep in a matter of seconds after our heads hit the pillows.
Monday, November 5th, 1917
We awoke with the sun and ate a yummy breakfast. We met up with the Longinburrows and all headed for the beach. Oh dear friend, the ocean was just BEAUTIFUL!!! We had a grand time collecting seashells of all different shapes and sizes! We even walked a mile up the beach to explore. They have these HUGE piles of sand that Alexis said are called sand dunes. They sure were fun to climb on! After a fun-filled day we all packed up and headed into town for dinner. It was luxurious! The way the food was arranged on the plate. Oh, and I looked just grand! Mrs. Goll had curled my hair beforehand and boy, did I look like a princess. Another day well spent.
Tuesday, November 6th, 1917
Today, Jenny and Jasper took us fishing by the creek. Alexis was not as squeamish as I and she baited her own hook. Well, in my case, Jasper baited mine. Guess what, dear friend? Before, I thought fishing was boring and a waste of time, but not today! No siree. I even caught two small fish! I let them go of course, they fishes, just for fun. After that we pulled our hooks in and ate lunch. Then we walked into town and I bought everyone a souvenir with the money I had saved up. Eventually, Jasper and Jenny left so Alexis and I went into pretty much every shop on the block! I got a new hat for Colleen, some liquorice and hard candy for Emily Belle, some ribbon for Susannah, some horse figurines for Charlie, some little toy cars for Aaron, a new bible for Father and a pretty new overwrap for Mother. I also got myself a cheap doll. Alexis got one too and they are identical. We went out for supper AGAIN and Mrs. Longinburrow treated us all to ice cream! Mmm!!
Wednesday, November 7th, 1917
Today I got up early, ate breakfast and went on an all day hike. We got to a very pretty lookout that overlooked a little valley with a creek running through. We had lunch and hiked back. Supper was fish.
Thursday, November 8th, 1917
Today we went on a ferry ride across the cove. We had a guide and I learned a lot of new things. Mrs. Goll bought everyone lunch – fish and chips. Afterward, we played with our dolls and went to bed.
Friday, November 9th, 1917
On my second last day we packed up a picnic complete with ginger ale and cake! We hiked to a pretty spot up on a mountain and spent the day playing tag, reading and eating cake – yum!
Saturday, November 10th, 1917
Today, we woke up an hour before dawn and packed up our things and left just as the sun was coming up. We got back to Halifax around suppertime and I was greeted by a running mob. I was showered with kisses and hugs. I thanked Alexis a million times and then they drove away. We got in and had supper, then after we all gathered in the parlour and I told everyone about my trip. I gave out my presents and then Mother sent us to bed. And that is what I am going to do right now, dear friend. Good night.
Monday, November 12th, 1917
Sorry I missed yesterday. I was too tired and I slept all day. I am so excited, I can hardly speak! Guess what Mother just told us a few minutes ago! Okay, to keep the suspense I will start from the beginning.
Susannah and I were getting ready for school when Father appeared at the doorway and said in a stern voice, ‘Family meeting, and now.’
Susannah and I looked nervously at each other because family meetings are almost never a good thing. We followed Father down to the parlour and joined the rest of the family. I sat down in the comfy arm chair and Susannah sat on the floor. Father walked over to Mother and put his arm around her. The suspense was killing me. I wanted to yell out, ‘What the heck is it already? What did we do?’ but knew better. Finally, after what seemed centuries, Mother took a deep breath and Father smiled.
‘We are going to have a baby.’
At first everyone just stared and then all of a sudden Emily Belle said, ‘Does that mean I will be a big sister?’ (She has always wanted to become one.)
After that everyone started talking at once and hugging each other and laughing and crying. After that Father quieted us down and told us that the baby would be due around August. Imagine that – another sister or brother! We will be a family of ten! Imagine! And I already have three younger siblings. I also have three older ones, including Aaron. I was the middle child of the family, smack dab in the middle. Just then I had another thought and I blurted out, ’What if it is twins?’
Susannah must have been thinking the same thing because we said it at the same time. Emily Belle answered that one for us.
‘Then we will just have to sell one of them,’ she said sarcastically. What do you think? Then it will be twins and there is nothing more to it!” Then she pretended to act all mad.
‘Then we will just have to make room,’ Mother said.
I have not seen her as happy as this in years. So what do you think dear friend? Pretty exciting, eh? Well, I will be off to school to tell Abby and Alexis!!