Chapter 5: The Cornhusking Day

Rebecca woke up to the sound of her sisters chattering. “Rebecca, it is the cornhusking day!” Annie called happily. Immediately Rebecca jumped out of bed. She pulled on her simple red cotton dress and waited as Annie buttoned it.

“I am so excited for the cornhusking,” Amelia said.

“Yes, because Walter is going!” Annie added.

“Annie!” Amelia admonished, blushing.

“Girls, hurry down!” they heard Father call, and the girls scurried down the stairs. Fifteen-year-old Sarah carried the hotcakes to the table. Rachel came with the butter and syrup, and they all ate. Mother was very far along in her pregnancy. After breakfast she went to her room to rest. Rebecca grabbed her bonnet and left for the Bradley’s house. She loved being outside. She headed down the Boston roads. She usually loved going to the Bradley’s house, but today she could not wait to return home and go to the cornhusking.

The day dragged on and finally she was finished with work. She ran home, as she often did. When she came through the door, she saw Amelia heading up the stairs.

“Good, you are here, Rebecca,” she said. “We are about to get ready to leave.” Rebecca took off her bonnet, washed up, and went up after Amelia. Annie was already up there. They pulled on their nicer dresses and went downstairs to get their shawls. Soon Joshua, Matthew, Rachel, and Sarah were ready to go too. Mother wanted to stay home, so Father decided to stay with her and the little children. Joshua drove the wagon to the front of the house, and the children climbed in. Soon they were off to the cornhusking.

They arrived at the Parker’s farm, where the cornhusking was to be held. Joshua took care of the horses while Matthew ran to the other boys. Sarah and Rachel joined the other girls their ages. Annie  went over to her friends. Rebecca found her friend Blanche Parker.

“Hello, Blanche,” she said.

“Hello, Rebecca, how are you doing?” Blanche replied.

“Well. And how are you?” Rebecca answered.

“Fine, thank you. How are the Bradley children?” Blanche asked.

“Oh, wonderful. Shall we find a seat?” Rebecca asked. The girls found a hay bale inside the entrance of the brightly lit barn. A pile of corn, taller than Rebecca, was inside  the barn door. Another pile, just as big, sat at the far end of the barn. Straw covered the floor. Amelia entered the barn after putting her cornbread on the large table outside. As she was standing there, Walter came over to her.

“May I escort you to a seat?” he asked.

“Oh, hello, Walter. Yes, you may,” Amelia replied, blushing. They strolled over to a hay bale opposite the girls. Sarah, Rachel, and their friends came in and took a seat by the corn pile at the far end of the barn. Annie, Abigail, and Patience Parker entered and sat by Blanche and Rebecca. Everyone started to husk.

“Do you see them?” Annie excitedly whispered to Rebecca.

“Yes. Amelia really likes him,” Rebecca answered, seeing Amelia laugh at something Walter had said.

“And he really likes her too,” Abigail said. “He was excited to come.”

“All of us know why,” Blanche said, her brown eyes laughing. The piles of corn were getting smaller as they all cheerfully worked. It was so much fun to talk and work with neighbors. Blanche talked of her family’s happenings and Rebecca talked of hers. Rebecca stated that Mother was going to have the baby soon, and that she and her sisters were doing all the cooking.

As soon as the mountains of corn were husked, Blanche stood up and said, “Let us eat!” Everyone cheered and made their way to the table. While Rebecca was deciding what to eat, she saw Walter walking to the table with Amelia. Amelia looked beautiful, her light brown curls and face shining brightly in the light. She and Walter got their food and sat back down together. Blanche led Rebecca back to the hay bales. Smiling, Abigail, Annie, and Patience sat closer to where Walter and Amelia were sitting. Soon everyone was done eating.

“Let us dance!” Mrs. Parker called. Mr. Hopkins, who played the fiddle, started to play. Everyone paired off. Joshua asked Rebecca for the first dance, which was a simple quadrille. Many other fun dance songs were played. Some other young men danced with Rebecca as well. She saw Blanche, Abigail, and Annie throughout the night as she was spinning and spinning. Walter danced almost every time with Amelia. They were so happy together. Then the last dance was announced. Although Rebecca was tired, she was sad that the party was almost over. It had been so much fun!

Soon they were driving back into the starry night. The party had lasted six hours, and it was much colder than it had been when they had come. They saw the light of candles coming from their house. Rebecca was happy that they were home. As they walked inside, Ben greeted them, “Mama had the baby!” Within five minutes everyone was in Mother and Father’s room, with the new baby boy.

“Mother!” Amelia said. “So soon? We did not expect this! Did everything go well?” Before Mother could answer, everyone else started asking questions.

“What is his name?”

“What was it like?”

“Why did you not tell us?”

“His name is Joseph Mark,” Mother answered. “I did not know that he was coming so quickly. I started labor soon after you left, and I am fine.”

Rebecca looked with wonder at her cute, chubby, little brother. It was so exciting, the perfect ending to a wonderful night.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 4: The Olsen Visit

Rebecca Peters jogged home excitedly. The Olsens were coming for dinner. That summer she and Annie had concluded that Amelia liked Walter, the oldest Olsen boy. Rebecca was excited to see if Amelia would show any signs of liking him, if he was even there. Rebecca ran down the dirt road to her home. As she bounded up the stoop, she could hear the two families visiting. Mr. and Mrs. Olsen were talking with Mother and Father, twenty-year-old James visited with Joshua, seventeen-year-old Abigail visited with Annie, eight-year-old Aaron played with Matthew and Ben, and four-year old Mary played with Ruth, as Rebecca came through the door. They were all glad to see her. “Where are Rachel, Robert, Sarah, and Amelia?” Rebecca asked.

“They are outside,” Mother answered. “Could you go out and check on them?”

“Sure, Mother,” Rebecca answered. It was a beautiful day, and she gladly headed to the door.

“Let us go with you,” Annie’s cheerful voice rang, as she and Abigail came toward her. The three girls stepped outside, chatting as they walked toward the barn.

“So, how was work today?” Annie asked.

“Oh, it was great,” Rebecca answered.

“I am glad Walter could come, Abigail,” Annie said, smiling a fishy smile at Rebecca.

“Oh, Walter got to come?” Rebecca asked, surprised.

“Yes,” Abigail replied. “I am not sure how he got off work, but he did.”

“Maybe he did not have any work to do at the shop,” Annie proposed, smiling at Rebecca. Rebecca nodded back. As the girls stepped into the barn, the smell of hay greeted them. They heard laughter in one of the stalls. They found Robert, Sarah, and Rachel playing with the new puppies. ”We have named them all!” Rachel exclaimed. “The girls are Snowball and Smudges.”

“And the boys are Simon, Socks, and Samuel, but we call him Sam,” Sarah chimed in.

“Sarah, do not interrupt,” Rebecca chided.

After a while, Rebecca, Annie, and Abigail left the barn. “Let us not go inside,” Rebecca said, “It is too beautiful out here.” Annie and Abigail agreed. As they strolled around the yard, Rebecca wondered where Walter and Amelia were. The girls walked past the growing pumpkins, squash, and tomatoes. As they turned at the corner of the garden, they spotted Amelia and Walter sitting on the mossy rocks over by the big oak tree. They were chatting happily. The girls were surprised. Annie gasped, and then hid behind rows of tomatoes, motioning for the girls to join her.

“Rebecca, maybe we were right,” she whispered.

“Yes,” Rebecca whispered back, peeking at Amelia’s joyful expression.

“What is this?” Abigail questioned, raising an eyebrow. “Have you girls been matching them?”

“Yes, we have noticed that they took a special liking to each other lately, so we wondered if they were interested in each other,” Annie quickly explained.

“I did notice that he talks about Amelia more than any of you,” Abigail whispered. “I see what you mean.”

“I think they might be courting,” Rebecca said, louder than she should have. “We should leave now.” The girls agreed, and sneaked away, heading to the house to help with supper.

“Robert, Rachel, and Sarah were with the puppies, Mother,” Rebecca reported as she entered the house.

“Where is Amelia? She was supposed to help us with supper,” Mother said.

“Oh, she is with Walter. We can cover her share of the work,” Annie quickly responded.

“Very well, Annie,” Mother replied thoughtfully. Rebecca knew Mother must be thinking about Amelia and Walter. When supper was ready, everyone came inside.

Walter sat by Amelia during supper. He and Amelia kept giving each other looks during the meal. Rebecca, Annie, and Abigail kept smiling at each other. After supper it was time for the Olsens to leave.

“Goodbye, Amelia,” Walter said with a huge smile.

“Farewell, Walter,” Amelia replied, blushing heavily.

“Goodbye, Abigail,” Annie and Rebecca said quietly. “Keep an eye on him.”

“I will,” Abigail assured. “I wonder if this is really happening.”

“I think it is,” Rebecca said, smiling.

They all waved goodbye as the wagon rolled out of sight.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 3: The Big Storm

It was now summer in Boston. The Peters family had gathered their summer crops and was preparing to sell and can them. Rebecca came through the door, tired from running. “Hello!” she called to everyone.

“Rebecca!” Mother called, “I am glad to have your help.” It did not take Rebecca long to find out what she was to help with. Her many sisters and her mother were cutting, cooking, and preserving the strawberries. After quickly washing up, Rebecca ran to help. She liked preserving, in a way. Her favorite part was putting wax paper on the crocks of strawberry preserves, so she ran to do that. Sarah was there by her.

“Father, Joshua, Matthew, and Ben are in the barn,” Sarah stated.

“What are they doing?” Rebecca asked.

“They are putting the animals in the barn,” Sarah replied. “Father thinks it might rain tonight.”

“Really?” Rebecca said. “Mother, will we still be able to have the Olsens over tomorrow afternoon?” The Olsens were the Peters’s good friends that lived in town.

“We will see, Rebecca,” Mother said. “If it rains and the streets are too wet or muddy, you could tell them not to come when you go to the Bradley’s house.”

“Okay,” Rebecca responded. She hoped they could come.

That night it did not rain. The streets were dry when Rebecca went to the Bradley’s home the next morning. I am glad the Olsens will be able to come!Rebecca thought. When she arrived at the Bradley’s door, it opened and three-year-old Bethany ran out.

“Miss Rebecca!” she called happily. “Come and see my carriage!” With that, Rebecca was led into a world of imagination, as usual, for the rest of the morning. “Miss Rebecca, would you help me take my carriage outside?” Bethany asked. The twins wanted to go outside, too.

“Okay, we can go outside,” Rebecca answered. She then toted the twins and Bethany’s “carriage” outside. Bethany’s carriage was just an old chair laid on its back with some faded ribbons attached, but Bethany loved it anyway. Bethany sat on the back of the chair and Rebecca pretended she was a horse as she dragged it around by the legs. Soon the twins wanted to ride too. It was so much fun. Bethany got off at the “store,” which was an old tree at the end of the yard, but the twins still wanted to ride.

Rebecca saw storm clouds off in the distance. She was glad that it was after two o’clock, which was when the Olsens planned to arrive at the Peters home. The Olsens wouldn’t be stopped in the storm. She got the children inside and to the nursery. As they were playing, Bethany said, “Miss Rebecca, look at the sky!”

Rebecca looked out. What she saw was not good. The sky was an eerie green shade. She, even being a farmer’s daughter, had not seen clouds like that before. She thought it must mean a very bad storm. She kept looking out the window. Then she saw a funnel cloud. With Mrs. Bradley’s prompting, Rebecca immediately helped the children to the cellar. “What is happening?” Bethany called worriedly.

“It is a tornado, dear, but do not be afraid,” Mrs. Bradley soothed. “We are safe in the cellar.” But Rebecca wondered exactly how bad a tornado was. She held the whimpering twins tightly.

Half of an hour passed and the tornado did not come their way. Rebecca helped Mrs. Bradley get the children out of the cellar. It was late in the day, so Rebecca ran quickly home. When she saw the farm, she was shocked. The roofs of their house and barn were damaged. She ran through the field to the house.

“Father? Mother?” she called, flinging open the weathered door. She saw her family there with the Olsens.

“Rebecca!” they all called, coming over to her.

“Is everyone okay?” Rebecca asked. “Are the animals okay?”

“Everyone is okay, but we lost some chickens,” Father stated. Rebecca was sad that they lost those chickens, but she was glad that her family and friends were safe. She greeted the Olsens.

“I am glad to see that you are safe, Rebecca,“ Mrs. Olsen said. “It is sad that your house got damaged.” Then she turned to her husband and said, “Jonathan, you and Walter should stay and help the Peterses. Is that not true?”

“Yes, Walter and I shall stay and help,” Mr. Olsen replied. “We will take off work. Please tell our bosses that, dear.”

As he continued to talk to his wife, Rebecca realized that the Olsen’s oldest son, Walter, was there. He did not usually come, since he worked.

“I did not know you were coming, Walter,” she said.

“I got off today,” he said. “We did not have much work at the shop, so I was dismissed.”

“Oh, it is sad that your day off turned out to be a disaster,” Rebecca responded.

“Yes,” Walter replied.

The Peters family was very grateful that the men stayed to help repair the damaged roofs. They were sad to see Mr. Olsen and Walter leave three days later.

Under the newly fixed roof that night, Annie said, “It was so nice of Mr. Olsen and Walter to stay and help.”

“Yes, it was very nice,” Amelia said wistfully, blushing.

“Amelia! Do you like Walter?” Rebecca asked, shocked.

“Why, yes, I like him,” Amelia replied.

“Any special kind of like?” Annie prompted.

“No, he is just a friend,” Amelia replied.

“I am not so sure,” Rebecca said, as the girls climbed into their bed.

“I am sure,” Amelia said. “Stop being silly.”

“I think she really likes him,” Annie whispered to Rebecca.

“I do too,” Rebecca whispered back. And the girls fell asleep.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 2: Springtime

Rebecca was walking home from work one spring day. She started to run. She was very excited to get home. That day her family had started planting their corn, carrots, beets, and cabbage. Even her married siblings were there to help. Rebecca wanted to help them too, before the sun set. She ran through the cobblestone streets of Boston, which she had grown to know very well in the last two months. Hanover Street, Tremont Street, Boylston Street, St. James Avenue, she thought as she ran. Each street was crowded with people, as well as horses and buggies. She carefully slipped through the crowded streets, still running, until she reached the dirt road that led home. Out of breath, she walked until she reached the door of her house. She threw the door open. Rachel charged over, almost knocking Rebecca over. “A baby!” she screamed. “Josie is going to have a baby!”
“Oh, Rachel!” Rebecca called. “Josie!” she then called, escaping from Rachel’s embrace into Josie’s.
“Is it not wonderful, Rebecca? I am going to have a baby!” her big sister Josie exclaimed.

“Yes, it is wonderful! Baby number one!” Rebecca called.

“Now Mother and Josie are both pregnant!” Sarah yelled.

“Yes, Sarah!” Rebecca called, laughing, “What a special spring!”

“Where will we go to plant next, Rebecca?” Sarah asked.

“We will be going over to Daniel and Josie’s on Thursday,” Rebecca explained. “And Jacob and Marie’s on Monday,” she continued. “I love planting time! We get to see everybody!”

“Everyone except Gabriel,” Mother quietly stated. Gabriel had left them three years ago. He had gone to South Carolina in search of gold and adventure. They all were very sad. They did not know if he would ever come back. They had received very few letters from him.

“At least we get to see Josie and Daniel, and Jacob and Marie,” Rebecca said calmly, referring to her married siblings and their spouses. Mother nodded.

“Josie have a baby! Josie have a baby!” Rebecca’s three-year-old sister Ruth chimed.

“Hooray! Hooray!” Ben and Matthew yelled. It was a great night at the Peters home.

Rebecca went back to the Bradley’s the next day. When the day was over, Rebecca ran happily home, except it was more of a jog this time. The town was even busier, especially at the general store where people were buying seed. Rebecca was very glad that she had not taken the position as clerk there earlier in the year. She wondered how she would be handling the stress of this particular day. It was then that Rebecca spotted a distinctive light-blue gingham bonnet, one that she knew well, in front of the general store. Sure enough, the lady wearing the bonnet was Marie, her brother Jacob’s wife, who was waiting with her two children. “Aunt Rebecca!” the children called as they turned to see her.

“Joseph! Hannah!” Rebecca called back, giving them big hugs.

“Rebecca, we wondered if we would see you in town,” Marie said.

“Hi, Sis!” called Jacob as he exited the store.

“Hi, Jacob!” she said, her blue eyes dancing in the sunlight. “Will you be at Daniel and Josie’s tomorrow?”

“Yes, we will,” Marie replied. “We would never give up a chance to be with family.” They continued to chat about their busy lives, the children, and the crops. Rebecca suddenly remembered that she should be going home.

“Goodbye, Jacob, Marie, Joseph, and Hannah!” she said, giving them all hugs.

“Goodbye!” they called as she ran away. She ran as fast as she could. She zoomed past the shops, buildings, and people.

“Slow down, young lady!” an old man called after her, “Or else you will bump into something!” She was going too fast to hear correctly what he was saying, or if he was talking to her. She charged down every street until she reached her dirt road. She slowly jogged, too tired to do anything more.

Finally she reached home. As soon as she opened the door, Annie called, “Rebecca! We got a letter from Gabriel!” Rebecca was thrilled; this was only the fourth letter they had gotten since he had left them. “Mother said we would read it when you got home!”

After greeting Rebecca, Mother grabbed the letter and read it in all of their hearing.

 

   April 3, 1843

To my most honoured family,

I can not keep my news from you. I am now engaged to the love of my life, Rose Andrews. She is a lovely girl of seventeen years. She is a school teacher. She is perfect. You would love her, just as I do.

I hope all my beloved siblings are doing well. Do I have another? I am just making sure.

I have been searching for gold, but I have not found any yet. I hope I will find some soon. I am living in a mining cabin, and I hope to have a better house when I marry Rose in the fall.

I am very busy, so I can not write much. I hope you will reply to my letter quickly. I hope you have had more success than I have had. But even if I do not find gold, I have my fiancee Rose. She alone is worth the trip to Carolina.

Sincerely,

Your son and brother,
Gabriel

 

They all looked at Mother, shocked at Gabriel’s news. They were all delighted. That night in bed Annie said to Rebecca, “Do you think we will ever meet Rose?”

“I do not know,” Rebecca replied, and she fell asleep.

See complete list of chapters here.

A Bostom Adventure–Chapter 1: Rebecca’s New Job

In the early spring of 1843, there was a kind Christian family who lived outside the city of Boston. There was Father, Mother, and their twelve children: Jacob, Gabriel, Josie, Amelia, Joshua, Rebecca, Annie, Sarah, Rachel, Matthew, Benjamin, and Ruth. One night Mother came through the door and groaned, “Amelia. Help. I need to get to bed,” as she grabbed a wooden chair.

“Mother! What is wrong?” Rebecca called, leaping up from the butter churn.

“Get Amelia,” Mother uttered.

“Matthew, get Amelia!” Rebecca called to her little brother who had appeared in the doorway.

“Why?” asked Matthew.

“Don’t ask! Just get Amelia!” Rebecca called. Matthew sensed the urgency in her voice, so he ran up the old wooden stairs. Rebecca looked at her mother’s strained face. She was pale and sickly. Amelia, Matthew, Sarah, Rachel, and Ruth all ran down the stairs. Amelia, at twenty-one, was the oldest daughter living at home.

“Mother, what is wrong?” Amelia asked.

“I a-a-am ve-ery si-ick,” stuttered Mother. “Get me-e to to be-ed,” she moaned. Soon they had her in bed resting. Father came home that night.

“Father!” Sarah called. “Mother is very sick!”

“What is wrong with her?” Father worriedly asked.

“She has a stomach sickness. She thinks she is pregnant again,” Amelia replied.

“Really? Really?” voices chimed.

“Yes,” Amelia replied.

“I hope this sickness is for a baby,” Rebecca whispered as the whole family chattered.

The next day, Rebecca woke up to a knock on the bedroom door. She crept out of the bed that she shared with Amelia and Annie, and toward the door, with chill all around her. She opened the wooden door and there was Father.

“Rebecca, I’m glad it is you,” he started. “I need to talk to you.”

“What, Father?” Rebecca asked, carefully closing the creaky wooden door and stepping down to the top step.

“I need you to do a favor for me and your mother and the whole entire family,” he said. “I need you to make some money.” Rebecca was shocked. Her blue eyes widened under her white nightcap. “You can help a lady in the city, named Mrs. Bradley, with her young children, be a clerk at the general store, or take over your mother’s sewing job which she is now unable to keep,” Father said.

“So Mother cannot sew and she needs me to make money?” Rebecca asked.

“Correct. What do you think?” Father replied.

“Well, I don’t like the sound of being a clerk, and I know I do not want to sew,” Rebecca answered.

“What about helping Mrs. Bradley?” Father asked.

“I will do it, for Mother,” Rebecca answered. “I love little ones. How many children does she have?”

“Three.”

“What ages are they?”

“Three, one, and one.”

“Are the youngest ones twins?”

“Yes. That is why their mother needs help.”

“When does Mrs. Bradley want me to start?”

“Monday. I’ll tell Mrs. Bradley today. I am proud of you, dear.” And Rebecca followed her Father down the stairs. Thoughts raced through her mind. Amelia will have to keep the home and watch the children, and Joshua is an apprentice, so I am counted on to make up for Mother. Her thoughts slowed as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

Monday came, and Rebecca leaped out of bed. She charged over to the bureau. “Oh, it’s your first day!” Annie called.

“Yes, I am excited!” Rebecca responded. Annie quickly helped Rebecca button her red cotton dress. Rebecca pulled on her clean cotton stockings and grabbed her black cotton coat, old leather shoes, and her white bonnet. Then she helped Annie button her dress. “Thank you for taking over the chores for me,” Rebecca said.

“Oh, you’re welcome,” Annie answered. “If you didn’t work, I would have to.”

“Rebecca, Annie, come on! Breakfast is hot!” Amelia called from the bottom of the stairs.

The girls came running down the stairs. After a good breakfast of hotcakes, Rebecca ran out the door and to the wagon.

“Good morning, Father!” she called.

“Good morning, Rebecca,” he replied as he helped her into the wagon. Her father drove her to his blacksmith shop. Then she walked twelve blocks to the Bradley house. It was a tall brick home with many windows and a large front door. Rebecca knocked on the door. Soon a tall lady with a long red dress and light brown hair in a bun greeted her.

“You must be Miss Peters. I am Mrs. Bradley,” she stated as she led Rebecca inside. The small foyer led way to a narrow hallway. It was white painted brick. Rebecca hung her coat and bonnet on the rack at the end of the hallway. Looking through the doorway beside her she saw a forest green room with two wooden cribs and a small bed. Three children sat in the middle of the room playing with their wooden toys. “This is the nursery,” Mrs. Bradley said as they entered.

“Hello. What is your name?” Rebecca asked the oldest girl.

“Bethany. Who are you?” the girl asked.

“This is Miss Peters,” Mrs. Bradley stated. “She is here to help Mother.” Then Mrs. Bradley introduced her to Hope and Lydia, the one-year-old twins.

Rebecca enjoyed helping Mrs. Bradley. The hours passed quickly, and soon the day was over. Mrs. Bradley walked her to the door. “How do you like working for me?” Mrs. Bradley asked.

“I like it,” Rebecca replied.

“I am glad. I shall see you tomorrow,” Mrs. Bradley said, and she shut the door. Rebecca left and went home. She told all of her family about her good day. Everyone was glad it went well. As Rebecca lay in bed that night, she wondered, Will tomorrow be good? I can not know. It is in God’s hands.

See complete list of chapters here.

Saved

I am a new girl
With a new heart
A fresh beginning
A new start

I’ve been saved
I’ve been redeemed
Through His blood
I have been cleaned

He has freed me
Now I see
All the things
He has done for me