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?”
“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.
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