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Where is God?
Author's note: I actually decided to write this, based on a poem I wrote. My poem "when I am, You are". This is only the first chapter of my book. I have 3 more written, almost done with the fifth one, but there are many more to come. I will probably be writing a lot over the summer, so this will probably be finished by next school year, Lord willing. Well, Thank You all for reading my book! Please comment and rate, but if you give a bad rating, could you please at least tell me what you see wrong with it. So that I could maybe fix the error in chapters to come. ~God Bless
The sun beat down on her back. The mid-summer wind blew the grass in swirls. Memories filled her mind, blocking out the rest of the world. She thought and she thought, how could God let this happen! If he truly loved her, how? She had seen the accident, heard her mother's scream. What would become of her now?
Cindy wept as she watched the men lower the two coffins into the large holes. She silently stood there, not paying attention to the friends and family walking past her--after giving their regards. She just didn't understand! If God loved her, what could he mean by this? She kept wondering and crying as her mothers dear friend, Mrs. Anne Crabtree, led her blindly away from the graves.
The fourteen-year old girl was small, but was--normally--very strong spirited. She felt very weak as Anne's husband, Adam, lifted her into the back of the wagon. She was set on some--rough, but soft--straw. Her vision was blurred from tears as she watched the graves grow further away. She was going to live with the Crabtree's, in the next town. It was a warm, summer, afternoon, and she soon cried herself to sleep, lying on the straw with her hands folded under her head. She was so tired, from all going on, that she drifted off to sleep.
While she was asleep mister and misses Crabtree discussed her fate.
"What are we going to do with her?", Adam wondered, glancing back at the sleeping girl.
"Well, give her a home of course!", Anne replied.
"I know, I meant, her heart is broken. She is lonely, how can we help heal her?"
"Teach her that she still has a heavenly father who loves her.", Anne continued, "I know for a fact that Rose and Micheal are waiting for her in Heaven. She told me, right before the accident", Anne's eyes began to fill with tears, and her voice got shaky. "She told me, that, they had both excepted Jesus into their hearts, and prayed that they could lead Cindy to him as well. They already taught her a lot, and she was close to excepting him when....this happened."
"Then we need to finish their wish. We will make sure to lead her to the Lord, so that one day, she will see her parents again.", Adam concluded as they were nearing their home.
He picked Cindy up, and carried her in the house. He carried her to the extra bedroom, in the attic, and lay her on the bed. Anne covered her with the blankets, and they left her alone. Praying that she would sleep well, and would soon be led to Christ. Because her best friend couldn't, Anne resolved to finish her dream of leading Cindy to salvation, so that they could be together in Heaven someday.
Cindy sat in the house waiting for her parent's to return from town. Her father had told her that when they returned he would take her horseback riding. She couldn't wait! Horseback riding was her favorite thing in the world.
Standing up, walking in circles around the kitchen table, then walking back to her chair and sitting down. Restlessness was a plague to her when she was anticipating something. Especially now, when it was past noon, and her parent's were supposed to have been home for lunch.
Now she was starting to worry that she wouldn't get to go horseback riding today, and tomorrow was Sunday, so she couldn't.
Finally, Cindy stood up and went outside. She walked around the house to a large oak tree, and leaned up against it.
She found a foothold in the side of the tree and leaped up, turning a little and landed on a large branch. It wasn't lady-like, she knew, but she didn't care. She sat there her head leaning against the strong tree trunk by her side. She felt the winds moving the tree branches, and blowing through her hair.
As she sat waiting, she saw in the distance a wagon coming. A big smile shone on her face at the realization that it was her parent's. However, that smile was quickly whisked away when she saw that the horses were going very fast.
She craned her neck to see over the distance, the wagon was now coming very close. Racing towards home the horses were now in clear sight. Cindy now saw the horses going off the beaten path and into the sea of grass.
They were now close enough for Cindy to see her mother's pale face and her father's usually calm face now wrinkled with worry. Cindy wanted to scream, but her throat suddenly want dry.
As Cindy watched clinging to the tree branch so her knuckles were white. They were coming ever closer, right in her direction.
Meanwhile in the wagon, Cindy's parents were praying. Rose sat pale, silently praying, "Dear Jesus, please help us through this. Let us see our daughter one more time. If we die, let us at least speak to her again. Please take care of her, but I pray that your will be done Lord, Amen."
Micheal also was silently praying a similar thing, but he was also straining to hold onto the reigns. He was half standing holding with all his might to those horses. He was worried. Worried he would never see his daughter again, never again tell her he loved her, never again, take her horseback riding.
He glanced at Rose momentarily and saw that she was pale, but could tell by the peace in her eyes that she had been praying, and still was. In that moment the horses decided to lead themselves. They turned off the dirt road and into the field of tall grass.
Now with the horses racing towards their home, they prayed that Cindy would be in a safe spot. As they got near the house, they saw that the horses weren't stopping. They went passed the side of the house and into the back yard, headed straight for the tree Cindy was sitting in.
When Cindy realized that the horses weren't slowing down, and were headed straight for her, she jumped down from the tree and ran out of the way. The horses were heading straight for the tree, like they didn't even see it there!
In a split second the horses turned slightly right, the left horse scrapping the tree, and the wagon crashing it's side into the tree.
Finally a scream escaped from Cindy's mouth. She screamed and cried as she ran towards the wreck. The horses were in a tangle stomping their feet, trying to escape the wreckage.
Cindy ran to her parents. They were laying in the wreckage, badly hurt, but still breathing.
"Cindy....", her mother whispered.
"I'm here! I'm here!", she cried frantically taking Rose's hand.
"We love you sweet heart."
"I love you too! But you're gunna be ok! You're gunna be okay....", Cindy cried frantically.
A few feet away her father lay sprawled on the ground. He now groaned, and whispered Rose and Cindy's names.
"We're here Pa! Right here", Cindy said going around her mother to be in between them. Taking both their hands she whispered, "I'm right here, it's going to be okay....".
"Cindy, God will take care of you from now on. God will take care, God will.....", her father said.
Cindy suddenly woke up. It was the middle of the night, there was wind whistling under the eves outside, but she couldn't see anything in the dark. She rolled over on her side, as tears formed in her eyes again.
She silently cried, remembering the death of her parents. They died right there, as she was holding their hands, and they died at the same moment. Her fathers last words stuck in her head. How would God take care of her? She lost her parents, everybody she loved. Well, she still loved Abby, her best friend, but she was in Montana.
Cindy slipped into a fresh round of tears as her parents faces slipped through her mind's eye. She lay there, crying, until she cried herself to sleep. Now she slept soundly the rest of the night.
She woke up the next morning and stared at the ceiling trying to remember what was going on, and where on earth she was! Then she remembered, she was now living with her mother's friends, the Crabtrees. Her parents were both gone, dead, and all because of those runaway horses! Cindy, being an only child, was all alone in the world. Her relatives could not afford to take her in because the times were so tough. The Crabtree's were one of the few fortunate families, in the area, who were still well employed. Adam had a good job at the depot, although the newer equipment was not as familiar to him.
The Civil War had just ended a few years back, and the country was still in shambles. Cindy barely remembered the time, but she had lost her Uncle in that war. She didn't know why, but death hadn't seemed that hard to handle back then. Now, she just couldn't take it. Her parents loss was so much harder than anything else in her life. How would she move on in life?
On top of her parent's death, she didn't have any close friends. Well, at least not any who lived here. Her best friend, Abigail, had moved on to Montana last year. After Abby had to move Cindy had not really tried to make new friends. Now she realizes that she hasn't written a letter to Abby in a while. She would have to do this soon, she needed to tell Abby about her parents, and that she is now an orphan.
She threw back the covers, and swung her feet over the edge of the bed. She sat up so quickly that she was a little dizzy, but she soon steadied herself. Then she walked to her chest that was set out for her in the corner of the room, near the single attic window. As she walked to the chest, she realized that she was still in the dirty, crumpled gray dress from the day before. She opened the chest and pulled out a pretty pink dress that her mother had helped her make a few weeks earlier.
She slowly pulled the gray dress over her head, and hung it on the hook above her chest. She changed her underclothes quickly, because there was a chill in the early morning air. She pulled the pink dress over her head and straightened her skirts. She picked her soft bristle brush from the chest, and walked to the dresser across the room. She brushed out her thick brown hair that fell to her waste as she stared in the mirror atop the dresser.
As she looked in the mirror, she saw her mother staring back at her, but no, it was only her reflection. It had always been said that she was the small replica of her mother, but she didn't see the truth in that until now. The soft brown eyes, shimmering brown hair, and small slender figure was, in fact, identical to her mother. "Why?", she startled herself, accidentally speaking her thoughts aloud. Cindy sighed as she set the brush on the dresser, turned and walked out of the room.
Out the door and down the attic steps she walked. She soon found herself in the kitchen, watching Mrs. Crabtree frying bacon and eggs on the small black stove by the far wall. Cindy cleared her throat a little. She didn't know if it was because she was going to cry--because it smelled so much like her mother's cooking--or because she didn't trust her voice to announce her presence. Mrs. Crabtree stopped what she was doing, and slowly turned to face Cindy. "Good morning, Cindy", Mrs. Crabtree said, "How are you doing this morning?".
"Ok, I guess...", Cindy replied as she sadly shrugged her shoulders, and looked at the floor trying to hide the tears that were starting to pour from her eyes once again.
"Oh, it will be okay.", Mrs. Crabtree attempted to comfort Cindy.
"But, Mrs. Crabtree,"
"Cindy, you know you can call me Anne.", she gently interrupted.
"But, if God truly loves me, how could he do this to me?", Cindy burst into a fresh round of tears. She choked back the tears as best she could to say, "My father....always....assured me that...he said that...God would always....protect and...take care of us....and wouldn't let....anything harm us.", she spoke quickly in between her quick sharp breaths.
"Oh, Cindy, God does love you! And he will never let anything harm you against his will and plan. You must believe that he will take care of you! No matter what trials you face."
Anne was cut off here, when her husband Adam appeared in the doorway. He stood there for a moment, trying to think of what he was going to say.
"Adam, why aren't you at the the train depot, working?" Anne asked with a worried tone in her voice.
"I, have to go away for a while.", he replied, "The depot found a new man, with more experience and knowledge with the new equipment. I am leaving for Illinois first thing after lunch. I need to find a new job soon, but there is nothing around here. We must have money and food to make it through the winter which may seem far away, but will be here soon enough."
"Oh no!", Anne replied, "I will pack food for your journey right away."
After Adam left to prepare the horses, and his things for the trip, Cindy asked Anne, "How can you be so calm? Aren't you worried?"
"No", Anne smiled, "I am not worried. God tells us in the Bible, 'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of Peace, and not of Evil, to give you an expected end.', I trust that God will provide a job for Adam, and that he will be safe, and earn money to help us through the winter. Always believe, God will be there for you Cindy, even if it seems like nobody is, never despair."
"Oh.", Cindy said slowly.
"Come now, we must get food packed for Adam's trip.", Anne said, as she rose from her chair. Cindy hadn't even noticed that they, at some point, had sat down.
The rest of the morning was spent baking bread, gathering tidbits here and there, and packing them in a basket for Adam. As they worked, Cindy was silent, thinking about what Anne had said. Does God really care? Will he be there for her? What will become of her? She is just a small fourteen-year old girl, an orphan, in the western territories of the United States of America.
First thing after dinner, Adam saddled up his single riding horse and rode away from the small house, leaving the wagon and pair of horses for the girls. The girls watched as he slowly disappeared on the horizon. As they stood in the yard watching, Anne spoke her thoughts aloud. "What are we going to do? It will take him a few days to reach Illinois, and then it will take time to find work and get paid. We need to have money soon, or we will be out of food."
"We could go into town and find small jobs. We can earn enough money to keep us on our feet until Adam can send money.", Cindy suggested.
"That's an idea, but I don't know how easy it would be to find work for us. It's wortha try anyway, we have nothing else to do.", Anne considered.
"Could we go right away? The sooner we find work the better."
"Yes, we may prepare and leave right now.", Anne replied, as she turned to go inside the house.
Cindy rushed after her to gather what she would want. She climbed the attic stairs to her small bedroom, and walked to her chest. She lifted the lid and pulled out the small draw string bag which held the small amount of money she had left from her parents--most of it was spent on their funeral. She took her mothers old basket, and placed her brown crocheted shawl inside--she knew there would be a chill in the air when they returned home. She took her pink bonnet, and carried her things down to the kitchen. She placed them on the table, and set to getting a small snack for their afternoon adventure.
Anne walked into the kitchen a few moments later as Cindy placed the last items in her basket. They tied their bonnets under their chins, and walked out of the house. They made sure the door was securely latched, and set out on their mile and a half walk into the town. When they started the sky was clear and the midday sun was beating down on their backs. However, as they walked, they were not conscience of the huge black cloud creeping up behind them.
They walked away from the house--along a wide, rutted, dirt road--towards town. The countryside was beautiful and full of color. The summer season was in full bloom on the trees. The lone trees that stood among the waist high flowing grass were a deep yet bright green. The green grass blew and swirled in the breeze, the golden sunlight making them seemingly shine. The clear blue sky stretching as far as the eye could see before them, but behind them, the black clouds crept--unnoticed--closer and closer.
It took them about half an hour to walk all the way to town. It wasn't until they reached the edges of Salvation--'what kind of town name is that', Cindy thought, 'for that matter, what is salvation?'--that they became conscience of the cloud, now upon them. The ominous cloud blocked out the cheerful sunlight, making the town seem gloomy and hopeless. Suddenly, as Cindy was staring up at the sky, a large lone rain drop fell from the sky and hit the tip of her nose. When it made contact with an object it seemingly exploded in all directions. Now the drops fell many and near together. They knew they must find shelter or get soaked.
They rushed forward on the, now nearly empty street, and took cover under the porch of the Hotel. This was a fairly new and small settlement, it was still growing, but it has been home for a few years. Now that they are out of the weather, the girls calmed themselves and smoothed their skirts. Anne leading the way, they now entered the hotel.
People looked up as they walked in, but from behind the counter a woman rushed forward and embraced Anne. Anne returned the warm embrace while greeting the lady, "Winni! We haven't seen each other in quite some time! How are you? How is Will?"
"We are very well, Thank You! How are you and Adam? And how is Cindy doing?", she added as she glanced at the girl staring out the blank window.
"That's why we are in town. Adam lost his job, and has gone to Illinois to find work. Cindy and I came into town trying to find odd work to earn a little money. At least enough to keep us on our feet until Adam has time to find a job, and send us some money.", Anne went on, "Cindy, I think is just trying to get her mind off of her parent's deaths."
"Oh, I pray for her every day since the accident, but, you aren't going out in this stor-", Winni was cut off by a sharp flash of lightning followed by a loud clap of thunder that shook the building. "I mean, it can't be safe! You are welcome to stay the storm out here. I would love some time to catch up.", Winni concluded with a bright smile.
Now Will came in the backdoor with an armload of small wood to kindle the coals in the fireplace. He smiled and nodded to the girls politely, but kept right on with his work. He soon had a warm fire leaping about, luckily concealed inside the fireplace. The chill that had crept into the air, was slowly pushed back out of the building. The women sat visiting around the fire until it was late afternoon.
Suddenly they realized that the storm had passed, and the sun was sparkling on the raindrop spattered window pane. They stood in awe staring out the window--toward the hills in the distance. The black cloud was now above the hills, but the sun was peeping over the top of the black mass. It was a breathtaking sight as the sunlight flew out in every direction. The light collided with the mist in the air and ignited in the most beautiful and vivid rainbow ever!
"Well", Anne spoke, "we should be going. We need to find work soon, we will be...". Anne stopped in mid sentence as a man, soaked and panting, burst through the door. He looked around, saw Will, and walked hurriedly over to talk to him.
"Please, sir, ", he gasped for air, "please help me. My three children and I were walking into town when the storm hit, it got so dark that we could barely see. We wandered off the road somewhere and got separated, and now I can't find them. We just moved here, and my wife is back at our homestead waiting for us to bring home some food. I need help, I need to find my children and get the errands done, but if only I had my horse I could look for my children."
By now Anne, Winni, and Cindy had wandered over by the men. "We'll help.", said Cindy suddenly.
"How can we help?", Anne asked Cindy.
Cindy figured it out in her head, and replied thoughtfully. "My father took me horseback riding a lot. I am very good with horses. If I can borrow a horse, and get directions, I can ride to their homestead, tell his wife what is going on, and lead his horse back here. While I am gone, Anne can go to the general store and pick up anything they need. Meanwhile you men can plan where to search first. Figure out the possible places the children could be."
"I think that is a good idea", Will agreed, looking at the man, the man nodded.
"Ok, Mr.....", Cindy said as she turned to the man, "I'm sorry, but I don't know your name."
"Mr. John Hillegas", he said.
"Ok, Mr. Hillegas. Where is your homestead? What do you need from town? What is your wife's name? and Will, can I borrow a horse?", Cindy inquired.
Mr. Hillegas started explaining which roads to take as Will turned and silently walked out to the stable, behind the building, to saddle a horse for Cindy. He said that his homestead was about a mile out of town, and his wife's name was Emma. He turned to Anne, and started listing things that he was supposed to pick up from town. Basic things such as; flour, sugar, salt, vinegar, yeast, and other necessities. He thanked them for all they were doing, and turned as Will came in the back door to announce that Cindy's horse was ready.
"It's tethered out front ready to go", he concluded.
"Thank You", Cindy said as she turned to go out the door, "I'll be back as soon as I can."
As she turned to go out the door, she remembered her bonnet back in the main room. Suddenly she saw a vision of her father, smiling up at her, as he was leading the horse around the pasture with her riding atop it. She remembered the cool breeze blowing through her hair as she--later in her life--galloped through the fields, the sun beating down on her. Those were the fun days, when she was as tan as an Indian. She decided, as she continued out the door, that she wouldn't worry about her bonnet today.
As promised, there was a horse tethered outside the hotel--waiting for her. She mounted the horse, and turned to go north--where Mr. Hillegas had instructed. She took it easy through town, but as soon as she was out of town she let the horse go, only for a short distance though. She hadn't seen this horse in a long time, not since last autumn. She had been very busy, and couldn't visit when her father went to town. It had been a long time, and she couldn't remember the horses real name, but she instantly remembered that she and Abby had nicknamed him freckle. Because he was a creamy white, doused in small black 'freckles' that looked like ink blotches. Freckle's flowing white mane shimmered in the golden afternoon sunlight.
About a half mile from town she turned off to the east, this path led towards the woods, but right on the edge of the woods she could see a small homestead and barn. Old, unwelcome, memories suddenly flooded her mind. She studied the land around her to get the thought out of her head. Within the mile she had travelled, the flat plain had slowly grown into softly rolling hills. These hills soon gave way to trees. They were sparse, but soon grew thicker. The trees were bright green, even more vivid than the trees coming in on the other side of town.
As she got closer to the homestead memories pounded their way back into her mind. There were two large stumps in the yard, suddenly two girls appeared playing around the stumps. One had strawberry blond hair, and was wearing a dark green dress. The other with brown hair, just like her own, and wearing a pink dress--she had always loved that color. She was now reigning in the horse to stop, they were now in the center of the yard, the small building starring at her.
She jumped down from the saddle, not worrying about being a lady, because there was only the possibility of a woman seeing her. She brushed off her skirt, and walked over to the door. She normally would have been shaking with nervousness, but the adventure had made her forget about her nerves. She quietly knocked on the door, and soon a small lady came to the door. She was wearing her work clothes, and appeared as though she had been busy dusting. She stared in bewilderment at having a guest so, unexpectedly!
"Hello...", the young lady said softly, a question in her voice.
"Hello, Mrs. Hillegas, lemme explain.", Cindy spoke so quickly that some of her words jumbled together. "I am here for your husband. He and your children got caught on the road in the storm, and it was so dark 'n' hectic that they got separated. But don't worry!", she added quickly as a flood of fear came over Mrs. Hillegas' face. "Your husband is in town, I volunteered to come tell you, and get his horse so he can go search the fields. Could you show me where his horse and saddle are kept?"
"Of course! Oh thank you for coming! You can call me Emma by the way.", she added with a smile. She turned, and set her dusting rag inside on a table, then she returned, and led the way to the barn. Inside the barn it took a few seconds for Cindy's eyes to adjust to the dim amount of light. She followed Emma inside, and to the nearest stall.
"Here is his horse, and his saddle is right there.", she pointed to a rack in an empty stall about fifteen feet away. "I haven't saddled a horse for a long time", she said, "are you able to?"
"Yes, I can.", Cindy replied with a smile. "I'm sorry, but I must hurry. It will be dark in about an hour and a half, so I need to get this horse to your husband to find your children before dark."
"Oh Yes! Please hurry! And thank you, again, so much for helping! May God Bless You.", Emma said as a motherly smile filled her face.
"Don't worry, we'll find your children before dark. I promise. I will help search.", Cindy said as she saddled the new horse.
She led the horse out of the barn, and to the center of the yard. She handed the reigns to Emma as she mounted her own horse. Emma handed the reigns to Cindy and called after her, "God Speed!".
As Cindy rode out of the yard the girls were now gone, the conversation had gotten old memories out of her head. She rode for a half mile, daydreaming that she was riding through the wide open prairies to absolutely nowhere. Her daydreaming changed when she turned south towards town again. The town didn't seem to far away now. When she was about 1/4 mile from town she slowed her horse to let it rest.
No sooner had she slowed it, then she saw a bright blue dot bouncing among the weeds, about 20 yards from the main road. She stood up in the saddle to see better. Then she noticed that there was another green bonnet, and a head of unruly dirtyish-blond hair.
At once she knew it was the children. Excitedly she jumped off her horse and rushed into the grass, that was about as high as her chest. She headed straight towards where she had seen the children, in just a couple minutes she had reached them. The two older children, who seemed to be eight and ten years old, were trying to calm down their crying little sister--who seemed to be about six. Cindy calmed them down, and picked up the crying girl. Cindy may be small, but she was strong, and made her way out of the grass. The two older children following. She asked the children, "Does your father let you ride his horse?".
"Yes, sometimes.", The ten year old girl. in the green bonnet said softly.
"Good enough.", Cindy replied, as she lifted the two older children onto their fathers horse, and took the small one on the horse with her.
They were only about a quarter mile away, so they could've walked. However, the children were wet and dirty and tired. As they rode up to the hotel, the children's father, who had been watching for her return, ran out of the hotel. A look of great gratitude and happiness covering him. He helped the children down, tethered his horse, and took the children inside before asking any questions. When they were inside the warm hotel Mr. Hillegas turned to Cindy and asked, "When, where, and how did you find them?!".
"Well", Cindy replied, "I was coming back on the main road, with your horse, when I saw the girls bonnets among the grass. I got off and went into the grass to find them, and when we all got out of the grass I put them on your horse, and brought them back here. It was only about a quarter mile out of town that I found them."
"Thank you so much, how can I ever repay you?", he asked.
"Oh, please. Don't worry 'bout it! It was my pleasure.", when Cindy finished saying this she heard the door open, and turned to see that Anne had returned. She turned back to the man and continued, "but now if you need help getting home before dark....", her words dragged.
"That will be a challenge, I hadn't planned on the kids getting lost."
"I am willing to help you, why, Anne could look for work while I'm gone. Isn't that right?", she said as she turned to Anne.
"Ye...", Anne began to agree when Mr. Hillegas cut her off.
"You're looking for work?", he didn't wait for an answer before he continued, "I could use your help. And I will pay you too, I have money to.".
"Well...I mean...what kind of work?", Anne stammered.
"We have a new baby, and my wife could use help. We just moved here so you are the only people we know. After all you are doing for us, I would like to employ you for a while.", he explained.
"Thank You! Oh thank you so much! We just need to work until my husband finds work, and gets us money. Just to keep us on our feet.", Anne replied.
"It's getting dark. Let's get these kids back home, and tell my wife. Then we will figure out a time, and what you will be doing."
They gathered the three kids, and the groceries Anne had gotten. Meanwhile, Will silently excused himself and saddled a new horse for Anne. When they got outside Will brought the fresh horse around the building. Anne, Cindy, and Mr. Hillegas each took one of the three children on the horse with them. They set out on the main road headed for the Hillegas' homestead.
When they got to the homestead, they all dismounted as Emma came out the door. This time she was carrying the sleeping baby wrapped in a blue blanket. Mr. Hillegas got the kids down, and they all went running to their mother. Mr. Hillegas followed, and gave his wife a hug and kiss. Then he turned and explained to her, exactly what was going on. She thought it was a wonderful idea, and said she could use some help doing the chores while she took care of baby Lea. She told them they could come tomorrow morning at anytime, and she would feed them lunch during the day.
They thanked the family, but said they must be going before the sun completely disappeared. They mounted their horses, and waved good-bye. As they went away more memories were flooding Cindy's memory, but they were forgotten when Anne started to talk to her. They would go back to the hotel, leave the horses, and walk back to their own homestead. It had been an eventful day, but something told Cindy that tomorrow would be even more eventful. Or would it?
Cindy sat on one stump looking at Abby. She loved her best friend with all her heart, and didn't know what she would do without her! Abby was the only friend she had, being the only girls their age in the small settlement. They would visit each other often, their parents were very good friends as well. The families would get together for holidays, and help each other at harvest time.
The girls were sitting in the yard playing with the grass dolls they had made. They could play together for hours on end and never get tired of each others company. As they played Abby started to turn invisible. Slowly she was disappearing!!
"ABBY!!", Cindy screamed, the sound of her voice sounded like a ghost in her own ears.
She looked around her, everything was fading away, including her! The world and everything around her was a black void. She couldn't hear herself when she tried to speak. Her family and friends had disappeared. Suddenly she realized that in her hand she held her grass doll, but it mysteriously shriveled up and crumbled to pieces.
"CINDY!", a loud voice boomed. It was her father, but where was he? She turned around and saw her father standing in the middle of darkness, just like her. He stood calling her name.
"I'm right here.", Cindy tried to speak but there was no reaction from her father, and he stood calling yet more. Suddenly she heard another voice call her name, then another, and another! Her mother, Abby, Abby's parents--Mr. and Mrs. Sailer. She stood spinning in circles looking at the images of her family and friends calling for her. Then suddenly, she was falling!
She just kept falling, but the images never got any smaller. She tried screaming, but her throat hurt. It felt as though her throat was swollen shut. She couldn't even talk, her mouth was as dry as parchment. Next thing she knows, she opened her eyes to Mrs. Crabtree shaking her.
"You were having a nightmare", she said, "and now you have a fever."
"I can tell", Cindy said weakly, "but we need to go help Mrs. Hilegas today.". Cindy leaned up on her elbow but got dizzy and had to lay down again.
"Don't worry, I will go alone today. You stay in bed and rest until you are well enough to get up."
"no buts. I am leaving right now. I should be back by dark, don't over-do it."
"ok....I'll take it easy, but tell Mrs. Hillegas that I'm sorry I couldn't come."
"I will, don't worry.", Anne concluded with a smile as she walked out the door.
'What to do?', Cindy wondered. She lay in bed thinking for a while. She thought for a few minutes before she realized that she hadn't written Abby in a long time. She slowly got up, being careful not to get dizzy and fall over. It took her a few minutes, but she made it out of bed and over to her chest.
She opened the chest, once again, and pulled out some writing stationary. The paper was a cream white with a red rose design in the top right and bottom left corners. Next she pulled out a small bottle of ink and some freshly sharpened feather pens. She took a blotting paper, shut the chest, and went back to sit in bed. She knew she would cry, but she needed to tell Abby about the death of her parents.
She began to write, as tears filled her eyes.
"June 30th, 1872
I'm sorry I haven't written in a while... You see, it has been a busy time for me. Not to mention a hard trying time. Almost a week ago, my parents went into town to get some things. Well, on the way home, something must have spooked the horses, because they took off. The wagon was wrecked, and both my parents died."
Cindy burst out crying as she continued.
"I am now living with my mothers friends, the Crabtrees. They are very kind to have taken me in! However, I got here on the 29th, and that day Mr. Crabtree lost his job. He has journeyed to Illinois to find work. Meanwhile, yesterday Mrs. Crabtree and I went to find work ourselves.
We found a job, I won't explain how in detail, it is quite a long story. We met a man in the hotel who had lost his two children in a storm that had just passed. We helped him with his errands in town and found his children. Afterwards he offered us a temporary job helping his wife, because she just had a baby and needed rest. They just moved here, but I am not helping today because I had a nightmare last night and have come down with a fever.
My night mare....was about you....the Hillegas' family, has moved into your old house. When I was there yesterday, I kept seeing you and I as children playing on the stumps in the yard. It is so hard for me!! That explains why I had the nightmare...
Well, how are you and your family doing? I really miss you!! I hope to see you soon, but I don't know how we could. So much hardship has hit me lately, I am beginning to wonder if there even is a God. What do you think? If there is, he must not even know I exist. If he does though, he must not care about me. Well I am hungry, so I will try to go dig up something to eat.
Love, Your Best Friend Forever, Cindy"
Cindy found an envelope, folded the letter, and slipped it in the envelope. She sealed the envelope and wrote the addresss on it. She set it on her dresser while she changed into a blue flower print dress. She brushed out her hair and braided it, then picked up the envelope and went to seek out food.
She wandered into the kitchen, and looked on the table. There was the usual table cloth on it, but nothing else. She looked in the the pantry and found a single slice of bread left from Anne's breakfast. She looked more and discovered a knife, butter, and jam. She took these items and went to the table.
She picked up the bread and knife, got a small bit of butter and spread it on her bread. She opened the jam and realized that it was her favorite! Homemade apple jam, she hadn't had any since her mothers ran out a few months earlier. She returned the items to where they belonged. Then took a small bite from her bread. The sweet apple jam seemed to explode, filling her mouth with the sweet flavor.
When she had finished her bread she went up to her room. Back in her room, she picked a book out of her trunk, then returned to the small parlor downstairs. She found a small blanket and curled up on the window seat to read.
That evening, after dark, Cindy found Anne shaking her awake once again. She had fallen asleep while reading her book. The book now lay next to her on the window seat. She sat up and yawned. She felt much better this evening!
"Good morning sleepy head.", Anne joked.
"Hi", Cindy replied, smiling because her throat was much better as well.
"How are you feeling?", Anne asked while feeling Cindy's forehead.
"Much better! Thank you! I think I can go with you tomorrow. I mean, if that fever doesn't come back."
"Hopefully", Anne said with a smile. She turned to leave as she said, "I am going to make some hot soup for you. Are you able to change your bedcovers to get rid of the germs?"
"Yeah, I'll go do that now, and put my book away."
Anne left to the kitchen, and Cindy went the opposite direction to change her bedding. She set her book on the dresser, and realized that she had fallen asleep before even starting to read. She changed the bedding quickly and went to see if the soup was ready.
The soup was ready. She sat at the table and blew on the spoonfuls of broth to cool it a little. The warmth made her throat feel very good! It soothed the small pain still lingering there. She ate the whole bowl of soup, and could feel the difference it made.
That night she lay in bed thinking about her faith. She wondered how Abby would reply to that letter she was going to send. Oh how she hoped Abby's reply would help her! Cindy lay thinking about Abby, her best friend forever, whom she missed very much. She soon drifted off to sleep, with silent tears dripping from the tip of her nose.
The next day Cindy ended up staying home again, they decided that they didn't want to take the chance of getting the new baby sick. However, she was feeling better today. In the morning she did some chores around the house, for Anne, because Anne didnt have time lately. She even started crocheting a pair of booties for the new baby. Then, she sat relaxing the whole afternoon reading her book.
The book took her back in time. She went to battle with brave knights, and lived a day in the life of a princess. She helped the king make decisions and the page run his errands. She helped the cook bake a feast, and the servants prepare a great celebration. The book held her captive until she had read from cover to cover.
She felt completely better by the time Anne returned home at dusk. Anne was very happy to find the dishes washed and the house fairly clean. That night she deemed Cindy able to go with her the next day. Cindy decided to retire early so she would be well rested to watch the children. She dreaded facing her memories again, but she needed to.
The next morning Cindy and Anne set out together on the two and a half mile walk. They started in early morning, before the sun rose, so that they could make it there as soon as possible. They walked and enjoyed the scenery of the country.
"This is such a beautiful country!", Anne exclaimed.
"Yes, it is.", Cindy replied.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Where did you move here from?"
"Wisconsin, I never lived anywhere else."
"So, do you have any good friends?"
"One. But I met her here, and she moved away a few years ago."
"Ahh, where does she live now?"
"She and her family moved to Montana....", Cindy's sentence dragged off as she stared out toward the prairie.
Anne decided that she should stop asking questions, so they walked on in silence. She wondered how she could teach Cindy about Christ. Adam and herself were young, they had just been married the year before. Much younger than Cindy's parents, who had been married for sixteen years, and died together. Their dream to raise Cindy had not been completed, and now it was Anne's honor to fulfill the dream.
"Dear God", Anne silently prayed. "Please help Adam and I raise Cindy as Rose and Micheal had wished to. Help us lead her to the cross where you wait, ready to forgive her sins as you have mine. She's hurting Lord, you know how much she is hurting. Only you have the power to heal her broken heart. Please, give me wisdom and strength to take care of her, and lead her to your gift of salvation. Amen"
The sunrise was glorious as they walked. As soon as the sun peeped over the horizon, the sky exploded in a mess of color. The clouds were pure white with shining gold ribbing. The sky was a brilliant red and hot pink, with signs of purple shading. The sun shone dark orange, but brightened and grew as it rose in the sky. Anne and Cindy could see how quickly the sun was moving upward.
As they walked into town it was just beginning to come to life. Shop keepers called good morning, and expressed how happy they were that Cindy was feeling better. The small town was growing, new shops rising up out of the prairie. They walked down main street, passed the print shop, the feed store, and the hotel. They drifted to the opposite side of the street as they passed the saloon, ending up at the general store and post office.
"Oh!", Cindy exclaimed as she saw the sign hanging from the porch of the building. "I have something to send real quick".
"Okay", Anne said with a smile.
Anne waited outside as Cindy rushed up the steps. She sent the letter to Abby, and rejoined Anne outside. They walked through town, and out towards the Hillegas' homestead. As they neared the homestead Cindy began having flashbacks again.
"Are you alright?", Anne inquired. "You seem to day dream every time we get near their homestead."
"Yeah, of course I'm alright, why wouldn't I be?", Cindy said in a rush as she snapped out of the day dream.
"Okay....", Anne replied, looking at her suspiciously. "Lemme know if you're not feeling good, I can get you home."
"Don't worry, I will", Cindy said as they walked into the front yard.
"Hello", Emma greeted them at the door. "I'm glad you're up and about again Cindy.", a soft smile flooding her face.
"Me too.", Cindy replied with a faint smile.
Emma opened the door wide and motioned them into the house.
"So, Cindy. You like horses. Would you rather do chores out in the barn? Or in the house?", Emma asked.
"Yes, I do love horses! I would love to do the barn chores if you need me to.", Cindy replied happily.
"Would you like to give the horses fresh water first?", Emma inquired.
"Will do.", Cindy said as she took the apron she had brought along and tied it around her waist. Picking up the bucket indicated by Emma she went outside.
Outside Cindy felt free. She felt like she was alone to think, alone to think freely of her past, present, and future. Cindy had always been an outdoors person, she loved nature and animals. She especially loved horses.
She walked to the water pump in the side yard, and filled the bucket with water. She carried it into the barn, and poured it into the trough by the horse pens.
"Hey there boy", Cindy murmured to the horse as she stroked his nose. "I'm going to name you chocolate swirl, because you are white and brown swirls."
The horse replied with a happy, 'n-e-e-e-e-eigh'. He nuzzled her hand looking for a treat, but she hadn't brought any apples or carrots with her. Cindy glanced around her, and saw a small bin of treats, including apples for the horses. She pulled one out of the bin, walked over to chocolate swirl and held it out on her outspread palm. He ate it, and whinnied happily to her. They were already best of friends.
She had given the horses fresh water so she decided to clean their stalls. It wasn't a very lady like job to do, but she had helped her father do it. She scrapped the old straw out of the stall and pitched it into a pile for now. She then climbed the ladder to the hay loft, and pitched fresh hay down into the stalls. While she was up there she threw down more for the horses to eat.
The loft was as long as the building, but only one-third the width. There was another loft on the other side of the barn, but it was empty. It would soon be full again though, because of haying season coming. The clean hay smelled good, but not as good as the smell of fresh cut hay. She turned and walked to the ladder.
When she was back on the ground she wiped her dress off, and stroked Chocolate Swirls's velvety nose again. She then walked back to the house and went inside. She wiped her feet off inside the door, and called to Anne and Emma.
"In here.", they replied.
Cindy followed their voices and found herself in the kitchen. Flashbacks started again as Cindy saw Abby and herself sitting at a small table, in the center of the room, with their rag dolls. Cindy's rag doll was named Susie and Abby's was named Charlotte. They were having a tea party with the dolls when they were ten years old. She snapped out of the day dream when she heard Anne's voice, again, ask if she was alright.
"What? Oh yes, I'm fine", Cindy quickly reassured her.
Cindy looked around the room, and realized that the children were out of bed now.
"Hi", the children greeted her in unison.
"Hi", Cindy replied with a smile.
"I'm glad you came today!", the smallest girl said, as she got up and walked forward. "Will you play with me? They never want to do anything I like.", she pointed towards her two oldest siblings.
"Well, sure, when I'm finished with my chores.", Cindy replied as she looked at the two older women for approval.
"What all have you finished so far?", Emma asked with a smile at the little girl.
"I fed and watered the horses, and cleaned their stalls."
"Already? Wow! Well, if Evelyn want's to help you--to make the job go faster--you two can go take the laundry off the line out back. The baskets are in the lean-to at the end of this hall.", Emma concluded.
"Let's go do it quick!", Evelyn exclaimed pulling Cindy out of the room.
"Lead the way", Cindy joked with a laugh. It was the first time she had laughed since her parent's had died, and she felt so good about it.
Once in the lean-to, Cindy picked up the baskets, and followed Evelyn out the door. The backyard was wide open, there was the big lone tree that Cindy remembered climbing with Abby. There was still a small vegetable garden in the center of the yard, at this time of the year it was looking very good. About fifty meters across the yard was the woods. A large patch of the yard was over grown weeds, but within the ugly plants were more beautiful weeds, flowers.
She quickly caught up to Evelyn who was already at the clothes line. She was standing on her tip toes, trying to reach the clothes pins, but she couldn't.
"Here", Cindy helped, "I will take them down and you can bring the basket for me to put them in."
"Ok", Evelyn smiled big.
So on they worked, Cindy taking down the clothes and putting them in the basket that Evelyn dragged along behind her. She simply clipped the pins back on the line when she had taken the clothes from beneath them. It took them about ten minutes to take down the clothes. When they were done, Cindy picked up the large basket, and carried it back to the house. They presented the clothes to Emma, she thanked them, and said they could go play now.
Once outside again, Evelyn raced toward the lone tree, and called Cindy to follow her. When Cindy caught up Evelyn was bent over by the foot of the tree, and was working at something. She pulled a piece of bark out of the tree, and set it aside. She reached into the hole between the roots, and pulled out a small box. The box looked vaguely familiar, but Cindy didn't know why.
"Because you will play with me, you get to know about something only me and papa know about.", Evelyn said. "I found this box, in this tree, when we first moved here. I was getting in the way while they were unloading the wagon, so I came out here. I found this when I was playing around this tree. I had papa help me hide it. He made this little door for it.", she explained.
Suddenly it hit Cindy, she knew why she recognized the box!
"I'll bet you can't guess what I found in it.", Evelyn grinned not noticing Cindy's reaction.
"A doll sized tea set, made of wood....", Cindy's words fading out.
"Yes! How DID you know?!", Evelyn wondered.
"Well, long story short, they use to be mine..."
"Your's? How could they be your's? Did you live here?", Evelyn couldn't see how they were Cindy's, and wondered whether she should give them back.
"Evelyn, you're the only one to know this, but. My best friend used to live here. Don't tell anybody though, they might try to keep me away, for memories sake."
"Ok.", Evelyn said simply. "What's your friend's name?", she began the typical questions of a young six year-old girl.
"Abigail, Abby for short.", Cindy replied with a smile. "and for short, I'm going to call you Evy, is that okay with you?".
With a big grin filling her face Evelyn exclaimed, "Oh Yes! Please call me Evy! It sounds so pretty!".
"It's settled then! To bad Cindy doesn't have a shorter version...", she said pursing her lips.
"I'll think of a nickname for you! And they will be secret, just between us, and whoever we choose!", Evelyn declared with a smile.
"You do that.", Cindy jokingly ordered while tweaking Evelyn's nose.
Evelyn got up and started running, "Let's play tag she called back over her shoulder giggling".
Cindy got up and chased after her. Cindy ran slow to let Evelyn enjoy winning, for a little while at least. Then suddenly Cindy stopped, Evelyn looked back at her and slowed down.
"I don't feel so good", Cindy said, "I'm really dizzy....".
Suddenly Cindy toppled over, unconscious, or so it seemed. Evelyn's face went into a state of alarm as she ran over, and fell on her knees by Cindy's side.
"Cindy, Cindy!", she cried shaking her.
Suddenly Cindy popped up and grabbed her.
"Gotcha!", Cindy cried triumphantly. Evelyn squealed with delight at the trick.
"I'm it now! Gotcha!", Evelyn giggled as she poked Cindy right back, got up, and began running again.
They chased each other back and forth across the field for a while before they collapsed next to each other, out of breath. Cindy didn't care that she was now a young lady, she needed to be free and have some fun. 'Besides', she thought, 'it gets my mind off other things.' They played for a long time, they didn't know how long, they had lost track of time. When the sun was high in the sky, Cindy told Evelyn they should go see if it was time for the noon meal yet. On their way back to the house they stopped by the tree, and Evelyn put the box back in it's hiding place.
Lunch was ready, they met Anne at the door. She was just going to get them. For lunch they ate biscuits with butter on them. Also they had some left-over mince meat pie from the night before. It was delicious, and the cold milk was greatly welcomed by Cindy and Evelyn!
Day after day after day, Anne--accompanied by Cindy--walked to the Hillegas' homestead. They would stay through lunch, and until the daylight grew dim. Cindy would play with Evelyn every day. They soon became good friends, despite the age difference. As the days went by, the day light grew shorter. They had yet to hear from Adam, and there had not been a reply from Abby either.
One day, on their way to the Hillegas's, they were walking by the post office when the post master called Anne over.
"I got a letter in for you yesterday, but I missed you when you came through. Looks like it came all the way from Wisconsin."
"Wisconsin?", Anne spoke in a questioning tone. "What would I get from Wisconsin?"
She read the envelope, and quickly tore it open.
"It's from Adam!", she exclaimed.
She read it quietly to herself, and then explained the situation to Cindy.
"He ended up having to travel all the way back to Wisconsin to find work.", she said. "This note was dated a week ago, he said that he would be sending us money in two weeks. That means in another week he will send it, and in two weeks we will have it".
They thanked the post master, and turned to be on their way. 'Apparently', Cindy thought, 'there mustn't be anything from Abby yet.'
The day went by grimly for Cindy, she was glad that Adam had found a job, but she wondered why she hadn't heard from Abby. She worked in the morning, and played in the afternoon. When Evelyn asked if she was okay, because she was acting funny, it made her feel terrible!
"I'm okay", Cindy said, "but I am worried about Abby, because she hasn't replied to my letter, I sent it almost a month ago!"
Cindy and Evelyn had become such good friends, that they always told each other everything. Every tiny little secret turned into a great adventure for them. They would play outside in the yard, but at times, they were far away in England--during the middle ages. Cindy would tell her about novels she had read while playing them out with Evelyn's help. Now, here it was, July, tomorrow it would be August, about the warmest part of the year.
About a week later--August 7th--they were walking home from the Hillegas's when the post master stopped them.
"There seems to be something fur each of ya lady's today", he said with a kind smile.
Cindy excitedly took her letter and tore it open. She read the first two paragraphs of the letter quickly. Then, Anne watched as Cindy's face turned from joy to pain. Cindy covered her face, and began to cry.
"What's wrong Cindy?", Anne asked in alarm.
All Cindy did, is simply hold out the letter for Anne to take it. Anne also read only the first two paragraphs, thanked the postmaster, and told Cindy that they should be getting home now. They walked home in silence. Today, not even the beautiful sunset was noticed. When they reached home, Cindy said she was going to bed early. She went to bed without dinner, and lay crying.
She wasn't crying in self pity, but for Abby. She had a lamp lit on a night stand by her bed, she had laid the letter next to it. She picked the letter up and read it again.
I'm sorry it took me so long to reply, I, have been busy... Since we moved here God has been good to us. Our homestead shanty has grown, even larger than our old one back by you. We have a nice barn filled with animals, and I even got a kitten for my birthday in June. It is so cute! It is black with a white chin and belly. He has white 'shoes' also, and the cutest pink nose. I named him Snowshoe, he is so playful I love him!
However, as it got colder this fall, I have been sick frequently, it is NOT fun! About the time you sent me your letter, my parents got ill. They got worse and worse. The only doctor that is out here said they had the scarlet fever. I didn't reply until now because I needed to care for them. Well, now I don't need to worry about them, they died last night, while sleeping peacefully. They went together....that's how it should be I guess.
We are now alone together in this world, but rather than pity ourselves, I am challenging you to join me in this. Self pity is lonely and sad, what happiness do you find in it? Please, join me in my challenge to help others, be kind to them. Let us help others have the joy that we no longer have. But let us be thankful for the time we did have.
Do you remember my Uncle in Scarletville--through the woods behind my old house? Well, he will be coming here, and he will be bringing me back to South Dakota with him! Don't you see? Through the death's of our parents, God is bringing us together again. Oh, Cindy, you don't know how much it hurts me to know that you're struggling with your faith. Please, if not for me, do it for your parents. I know they both believed, but please, at least search for God.
By the time you get this I should be about ready to leave Montana with Uncle Jon. Don't reply to this letter immediately, give it some thought. We will be together again soon! I pray that when we do meet again, you have settled on your dispute with faith. May God Bless you, cannot wait till we meet again!
~Proverbs 3:5-6~ Love, Your Best Friend Forever, Abigail'
Cindy leaped out of bed and raced down the stairs. She was full to bursting with mixed feelings of joy and sorrow.
"Anne!", she cried coming into the parlor, "how much of this letter did you read?"
"Only the first two paragraphs, I knew all I needed to know."
"No, you didn't, Abby is coming back!", Cindy cried excitedly, "Her uncle is bringing her back to the Dakota's to live with him. Even better, she will be living in Scarletville, right through the woods behind the Hillegas' property. Oh, maybe God IS bringing something good out of this!"
"Maybe", Anne smiled, "maybe".
"I need to have a party for Abby, I need some special thing to welcome her home! We could invite our friends! She has been gone so long, this town was still small when she left, there's a lot of new people now. Oh I can't wait to see her again!", Cindy chattered on, "She sent this letter six days ago, it will take a couple weeks to get here from the other end of Montana, she's probably half way here! Tomorrow since we're not going to the Hillegas's I am going into town to get some things. As for now I'm going to bed so I will be awake tomorrow, I'm so tired lately!"
"Good Night", Anne said with a happy smile.
'What else do I need?', Cindy thought to herself. 'I want this to be a welcome home that will cheer her up, and that she'll never forget.' Cindy stood and thought about what she had, what she needed, and what she wanted.
As she stood and thought, a boy walked into the general store, behind him came a younger girl. He looked to be about 16 and she seemed to be about 14 years old. They looked to be new around here. Cindy had certainly never seen them, not to mention they looked uncomfortable and wondering what to do.
As she watched the boy looked around, then started walking one way. His sister--they had to be siblings, they looked identical--rolled her eyes, and turned the opposite way. Cindy knew she was much to old to spy on people, but she didn't stop to think about that. She casually walked down the aisle perpendicular to the others. She acted as though she was looking at merchandise, but she was spying out of the corner of her eye.
Cindy saw the girl looking at the tea. She looked as though she was in a hurry and had something on her mind. Cindy felt sorry for her, and moved on to keep herself from staring. She turned down the next aisle and found herself by the embroidery threads--suddenly remembering why she was here. She picked out dark red, medium and dark green, and pale pink.
She also had to pick a few things up for Anne. Anne had wanted to stay home today, but Cindy was happy to have some time alone to think and roam about.
She moved on her way to the front counter. She stood looking at the different materials, trying to decide which would be most suitable. She finally decided on a pale pink chiffon, and a plain white cotton material. She told Mr. Greystone how much she wanted of each, and he cut it for her. He folded it, rang up the amount of her purchase, and she paid him.
As she was walking out she saw the girl and boy go to buy their items. Cindy crossed the road and headed to the hotel. She wanted to see how Winni and Will were doing lately.
As Cindy walked in the hotel door, Winni was coming through the back door.
"Hi Cindy!", Winni greeted her, "I didn't expect you to stop in.".
"I know, I just wanted to see how you're doin' nowadays."
"We're doing fine, thanks for asking", she assured with a smile. "Oh! I ran into John Greene--from the depot--today. They have a telegram for you. He said he was going to send a boy out with it, but you may be able to save him a trip by stopping in.".
"Really? I wonder who it could be from....", Cindy pondered the thought.
"Well I need to go draw water from the well for Will. He'll be wondering where I ran off to!".
"Alright, well thanks for letting me know about the telegram! I'll see you soon hopefully!"
"You're welcome anytime, give my regards to Anne, goodbye!"
"Will do, Bye!", Cindy replied as she turned to go.
As Cindy walked down the road toward the Depot she wondered who the telegram could be from. Well, she would discover the answer soon.
She walked into the depot and headed for the telegraph office. There were two people at the counter now. As she neared them she realized that it was the two kids she had seen at the general store.
"...signed Jack Hille.", the boy was finishing the telegram.
'Hille...Hille?', Cindy thought to herself as she waited. 'I know that name from somewhere! But where?'.
"Will do.", John Greene smiled behind the counter.
As the kids turned to leave Cindy stepped up to the counter.
"Hi, Mr. Greene!", Cindy greeted him.
"Well hi Cindy, how are you lately?"
"Better, but Winni tells me you have a telegram for me."
"Yes! Yes I do.", he replied turning to pull an envelope out of a bag.
"Here you go.", he smiled, handing the telegram to her.
"Thank You!", she said as she tore the envelope open, eager to see who it was from.
She unfolded the paper and her eyes quickly flew to the bottom of the page to the signature. Her eyes grew large and her hand went to her mouth as she read the note. Mr. green glanced at her expression and had a question on his lips as Cindy whispered, "I have a brother...."
"Who is that from?", Mr. Greene asked, no hint of surprise in his voice, but a knowing look in his eyes.
"I have a brother?!?", is all that came out of Cindy's mouth.
Mr. Greene stood up and came to the front of the counter. "Yes, you do. He's your twin."
"A brother AND a twin!", Cindy exclaimed, a glimmer of tears in her eyes.
"Yes. When you were born, your parents were very poor and couldn't care for two of you. You have an aunt also, whom you don't know about. Well, she didn't have any children, so she offered to raise one of you or your brother......"
As he was telling her this, Cindy's mouth hung open in shock with no realization of it. 'Why would he know this?', Cindy thought. 'Oh yeah! Mr. green was Pa's best friend!', she remembered.
"....She lived in the Iowa area at the time, so she took your brother there with her. She soon fell in love with him though, and she didn't want to lose him, so she moved, your parents lost contact with her, and when they moved out here, they never got him back. When my wife was visiting her sister in New York last month, she ran into your aunt. We've known your fathers family for a long time, we grew up together, so she knew it was her. Sarah told her about your parents death, she felt terrible. She told Sarah that she had never even told your brother Christian that he wasn't her own. She asked Sarah what she should do. As I'm sure you read in the telegram, she has decided to bring your brother to you, then figure out what to do from there.".
"Why did I never know?", Cindy whispered as tears streamed down her face. She didn't like the idea of meeting an aunt who stole her brother from her and never told him, and she was wondering why she never knew.
"Your father once told me, never to tell you because he didn't want you to hate your aunt for it. He loves his sister, but he himself was heart broken when his son went missing with your aunt."
"Oh, I don't know if I hate her or not.", Cindy said confused.
"Give it some time. Wait til you meet her before you judge."
"Don't worry Cindy, everything will always be okay.", Mr. Greene assured her with a kind smile.
Cindy smiled back and was about to say she should go when she remembered something.
"Oh! I almost forgot, who are those kids that were in here when I got in here?"
"Jack and Jill Hille, they just moved here, when they got here, their mother fell sick, which reminds me. I need to send this telegram for them. They need the nearest doctor to come. And he's over around Minnesota right now."
"Ok, well I should go home now.", Cindy said. "I wonder if Anne knows about my twin brother."
"I don't know if she does or not. Well goodbye Cindy, I'll be praying for you and your reunion with your aunt and brother."
"Thank You Mr. Greene", Cindy flashed him a grateful smile as she wiped a stray tear from her cheek and turned to go out the door.
As she walked out the door and down the street towards the Crabtree's homestead, she thought about her aunt and brother. She had completely forgotten about the new kids as she walked down Main Street. As she was nearing the hotel, she was wanting very badly to go visit her old home and think all this through. She knew that Will would let her use a horse if she asked him!
She walked towards the hotel, but this time she walked around back to the stable. She pushed open the side door and peeked in. Will was over grooming the horses.
"Hi", Cindy greeted him.
"Well hi there!", he replied with a smile. "What can I do for you today Cindy?".
"Well, if it isn't to much trouble, I'd like to borrow a horse.", she said, "I want to ride over and visit my old home real quick. I just want to look at it.".
"I see. Okay, you can borrow Freckle", he agreed with a smile, "you seem to love each other."
"Just wait here a minute and I'll get a saddle on him"
As Cindy was waiting, she pictured her old home in her mind. She tried to picture her family happy together, but all she saw was herself crying over her parent's still bodies. She had to stop thinking about it or she would start crying again. At this she changed her thoughts to her brother. What was he like? If he was her twin, did he have the same emerald green eyes, and chocolate brown hair?
Now Will came back leading a saddled Freckle. That same white horse with dark spots that she loved so much all her life.
"Can I ask you something Will?", Cindy asked taking the reigns.
"Sure, why not?"
"Do you know I'm a twin?"
His eyes showed some surprise as he asked, "Who told you that?".
"My aunt sent me a telegram, when she found out that my parent's passed away.", Cindy replied with a catch in her throat. "How long have you known?"
"Cindy, I was a helping hand for your father when you were born, I've known you since you were born, and your brother alike. your father is the reason I decided to move to these parts"
"I see, well, my brother is coming back. My aunt is bringing him, and I don't know what to do. I mean, how can a person run off with my brother like that, and then decide to return suddenly when they find out my parents are dead?"
"I don't know Cindy, some people are like that I guess."
"I better get going", Cindy said looking away to hide the tears growing in her eyes.
Will held the horse for Cindy to get on and then waved as she left, saying a silent prayer for her.
Cindy rode out of town in the opposite direction of the Crabtree's homestead. She had lived about a mile on the other side of town, but her parents were buried in the next town, only because there was no cemetary in their town.
She rode past the turn-off to the Hillegas' homestead and in the distance she now saw smoke rising from the chimney of the homestead.
As she neared the cabin she saw in the yard, two teenagers walking towards the door. Suddenly she gasped! That is where she knew the name from! The Hille family had purchased her old house from her after her parent's death. The father had come out to fix it up, and he had just sent for his family.
She stopped a ways from the house and just looked, memories coming back like tidal waves. The door opened and a man stepped out. He lifted his head and stopped when his eyes locked on her.
'Uh oh...', Cindy thought.
"Who are you?", the man asked when he got near her. "You look familiar."
"I used to live here...", Cindy replied. "I sold you this house."
"Oh! Yeah, that's where I know you from. So, are you here for a reason?"
"I just wanted to come back and look at my old home."
"Oh, I understand. My parent's died when I was young too. I always wished I was able to go back to my childhood home, but I couldn't. I lived with my uncle far away and never was able to return to my home."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that."
"Could I ask you something?"
"Sure. What is it?"
"Did your mother have any tricks to helping a fever? My wife is sick, so sick she can't really talk, so I can't ask her."
"Oh! I'm sorry to hear that! Well I don't know anything other than rest for a fever, but for her throat, my mother would give me milk with some honey in it."
"We don't have any honey...", Mr. Hille mused under his breath.
"I do.", he looked at her curiously, "I just bought some. I was running errands for myself and Mrs. Crabtree. I would be happy to give you some!"
"I don't mean to take anything from you.", Mr. Hille said quickly.
"Nonsense", Cindy replied dismounting the horse.
"Well, if you insist I would be very grateful."
"I do insist", she smiled.
Dismounting her horse Abby's letter came back to her mind, 'let's give others the happiness we no longer have'.
With that remark they walked towards the house. Cindy left Freckle eating grass in the front yard while she went in the house with Mr. Hille. All around she heard the voices of her parents. It made an empty feeling in the pit of her stomach. Mr. Hille led her to the kitchen to make the drink.
Coming into the kitchen Cindy found the daughter, Jill. Jill looked at Cindy curiously for a moment, then turned her eyes to her father who was talking to her.
She got a tin cup of milk as instructed by her father. After she warmed it a little on the stove. Next Cindy took the honey out of her basket and put a spoonful in the milk. She stirred it in well and then was led to Mrs. Hille.
In the bedroom, Jack was sitting by his mothers side. He looked up in surprise when Cindy walked in with Jill and Mr. Hille. Cindy walked to the bed and the others propped Mrs. Hille up on pillows. She held the cup to Mrs. Hille's lips and let her drink.
When she had drank a little she smiled weakly at Cindy. She closed her eyes and fell into a peaceful sleep.
"I hope that helps a little.", Cindy said.
"I hope so too.", Mr. Hille said as he lovingly looked at his wife.
"Well, I should be going, Mrs. Crabtree is probably wondering where I am."
"Thank You, uh..."
"Cindy. I'm sorry, my name is Cindy."
"Thank You Cindy.", Mr. Hille finished his sentence.
"You're welcome", Cindy replied with a smile. "If there is anything I can help with, I'll be happy to help. I'm living with the Crabtrees on the other side of town. Ask and anybody in town could tell you where to find me, I'm sure."
"Ok, I'll be sure to let you know.", Mr. Hille said.
"God Bless!", he said as he led her out the door and watched as she skillfully mounted the horse and turned to leave. She smiled over her shoulder and waved back at Jill who was waving.
As she rode back to town thoughts started running through her head. Who is God, Where is he? What good does he do? Her parents had always said he would protect her, but through everything happening lately, she barely saw anything suggesting any help from him. There was more proof that he wasn't there.
Now, her aunt is returning with her brother. Cindy has met the family who owns her former home. As she rode, she realized that helping people, made her feel good inside. Indescribably good, and yet she wanted more! She wanted to feel like that all the time, was it possible? Maybe she could ask Anne. Maybe a few of her questions could be answered.