Honesty is the Best Policy

Once upon a time, in a land far away, lived a young man named Nicholas Sullivan. He had been orphaned at age thirteen when his parents died of a strange sickness. Now he was a peasant, living with his wife Alexis and their two children in a tiny shack outside Darcenea, the capital city of that kingdom. Nick had no education, so he had trouble finding a good job. The only jobs he found were unreliable, low-paying jobs.

Nick was walking down the street one day when he saw a woman with a purse go down the road. He asked her, “May I have some money please?” The lady looked at him with sharp eyes.

“No,” she flatly answered. “I am not spending any money on a  hooligan.”

“Oh, Miss,” Nick lied, “I am gathering funds for the Darcenea orphanage. They could really use some money. Would you please give?”

“The orphanage, eh?” the woman said, looking at his thin frame and tattered, dirty clothes. “So you are not some kid from the street? What is your name?”

“Nick Sullivan,” Nick said. “I am not a street kid.”

“I guess I will give,” she said, and handed him ten coins (which is worth one hundred dollars today).

“Thank you so much, ma’am. I will take it to the orphanage,” Nick said as he left. The lady was smart. She did her errands, and then went to the orphanage.

Meanwhile, Nick went  to his shack. He was excited. He called, “Alexis, I have ten coins to spend! We will not go hungry!”

“Great, Nick!” Alexis called. Then Nick told Alexis what he had done.

“Will they get me? Will she find out it did not go to the orphanage?” Nick asked Alexis.

“They probably will not, Nick,” Alexis said. They decided not to worry about it. They had a nice meal that night.

When the lady entered the orphanage, she inquired, “Hello, sir, did you receive a donation of ten coins today?”

“No, Ma’am,” the worker replied. “Do you wish to give?”

“Yes, but not right now,” she said as she stormed away. She ran to the royal castle and  called to the guard, “Someone stole from me!”

“Who?” the guard asked. “How much?”

“A kid named Nick Sullivan stole ten coins from me!” she replied. “He told me it was for the Darcenea orphanage, but it was not, so he lied and deceived me too!” The lady told them everything she knew about Nick and the money.

“We will find him and bring him to trial,” the guard assured her. She left, feeling very angry at Nick.

The next morning Alexis was in town to buy a loaf of bread. She heard the town crier calling, “Wanted! Nick Sullivan! Wanted for theft!” She bought the loaf of bread and ran to the old shack.

“Nick! You are wanted!” Alexis called. Nick took the rest of the money and hid it in a hole under his mat. They were scared. How had the lady found out? They sat there and waited, worried. Would they be found?

The next day some of the king’s soldiers arrived at the Sullivan shack.

“Hello,” Nick said. “What are you here for?”

“We have a warrant for your arrest, Mr. Sullivan,” one guard said. “Come with us.”

“What? I am innocent!” Nick lied loudly.

“Then prove it! You are coming with us,” he said as he led him away. Alexis took the hands of their two children, Joseph and Kate, and followed behind.

“Where is Papa going?” six-year-old Joseph asked, his little face looking up at his mother.

“He is going to court,” Alexis said.

“What is court?” Joseph questioned.

“It is where they do judgements,” Alexis answered.

“So they will judge Papa?” Joseph wondered.

“Correct,” Alexis said. When they arrived at the Darcenea court house, they took a seat in the back. “Quiet, children,” she whispered, her heart beating.

“Court is now in session,” the judge called. “We are here to try a case between Mr. Nicholas Sullivan and Mrs. Victoria Baldwin. Mrs. Baldwin, state your case.”

“Nick Sullivan stole from me!” she called. “He said he was giving it to the orphanage, but he did not! I went to the orphanage, and the man said that they had not gotten my ten coins. Nick stole them!”

“How do you defend yourself, Mr. Sullivan?” the judge asked.

“How? I am innocent!” Nick called. “Check my house and see that I do not have her money!”

“We shall do that,” the judge said. Then he called an intermission so that the king’s soldiers could search the shack. Nick and his family sat together with guards watching them. Nick and Alexis were concerned. When the soldiers came back, the judge entered and everyone took their places.

“Have you found any evidence?” the judge asked the soldiers.

“Yes, your Honor, here are Mrs. Baldwin’s coins! We found them under Mr. Sullivan’s mat!” one of the guards said.

“Are these your coins, Mrs. Baldwin?” the judge asked.

“They are mine, all right,” Mrs. Baldwin said. “But I only see nine. Mr. Sullivan must have used one to buy something.”

“Is this true, Mr Sullivan? Do you admit to your crime?” the judge called.

“No, I am innocent!” Nick called.

“How do you prove yourself?” the judge questioned.

There was silence in the room as Nick slowly bowed his head. “I can not,” Nick admitted. “I spent that coin. I am sorry.”

“Sure you are!” Mrs. Baldwin called. “I don’t trust you.”

“Neither should he be trusted,” the judge said, “after what he said to us! Send him to jail until we have a judgement. He is guilty.”

Nick looked at Alexis shamefully and whispered, “I have done wrong. I hope you will be okay while I am in jail.”

“We will be okay, Nick,” Alexis said. “I love you.” Nick was taken to jail.

The next morning, Nick’s jail cell door opened. “Come out. They have made the judgement,” the guard at the doorway said. Nick promptly left the old, dark cell and went to the courtroom. He saw Alexis and his children, but only for a moment before he was taken to the front of the room.

“The judgement is, Mr. Sullivan,” the judge solemnly said. “for stealing and lying in court, three weeks in the labor camp by the coast of the sea. No exceptions. Your wife and children can come if they want to. You will leave on the next train. Mrs. Sullivan, will you be going?”

“Yes, your Honor,” Alexis said.

“Then go, pack your bags,” the judge said, and the guards led them to their house.

“Alexis, what are you getting yourself into?” Nick questioned as they went to the shack to get their stuff. “You are pregnant and you are going to a labor camp? Are you sure this is right?”

“I would never leave you, Nick,” Alexis answered. Then they packed their bags and went to the station. They got on the train and left.

“What is a labor camp?” Joseph asked.

“It is a place where Papa can work out his debt,” Alexis answered.

“Oh,” Joseph said and looked at his mama. “Will I have to work?”

“Some, but not more than usual,” Alexis assured him.

At the end of the day they arrived at the labor camp. The camp sergeant told Nick, “You must work all the time. You shall fulfill the tasks I have planned for you each day. You shall sleep when you can, but you must fulfill the tasks. If you do not, you shall take a beating and do the tasks the next day, in addition to that day’s chores. Laziness is not accepted. By the end of the three weeks, Mr. Sullivan, you are to have cleared all of the debris off these dirt roads leading to town.” Then the sergeant showed him a map of all the roads he needed cleared. Nick thought it was a lot of work, but he could do it. Soon he got to work, even though it was nighttime. “I can already tell that you are a hard worker,” the sergeant said. “Good job.”

“Thank you,” Nick said. Before long it was suppertime, and Nick went to eat.

He ate with his family, and met the other families there at the camp: James and Marie and their two children; Charles and Sarah and their little boy; and Adam and Samantha and their three children. Then the Sullivan family went to their shack to sleep.

Nick worked hard to clear the roads. Alexis also worked hard, but not as hard as Nick, for she was far along in her pregnancy. One night Nick came to the shack. “I am doing well on my work,” he said. “I shall have it all done by the end of the three weeks.”

“Great, Nick!’ Alexis said. “I am so proud of you.”

“I will pay Mrs. Baldwin the money, with extra, when I return,” Nick said. “I am sorry for what I did. It was wrong of me.”

“Oh, Nick,” Alexis said. “I feel the same way.”

“I am glad we are together in this,” Nick said.

“Yes, Nick,” Alexis said. “We are together in sorrow and in joy.” Thus they continued to work side by side. The children had to be cared for, for they kept on wandering off the roads.

“Joseph, go get Kate,” Nick would say, and then again a few minutes later Joseph would have to get Kate again.

“I help you, Papa,” Kate would say.

“Sure,” Nick would say. Kate would then rake the ground a little before trying to leave again.

One day Alexis could not work any longer. She did things in the shack, watched the children, and rested.

Nick worked very hard. He observed that the others were not working hard enough. They would always say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Adam and Samantha worked some, but still only enough for the day. Marie and Sarah, the other two wives, just stayed inside and did not work outside. Nick tried to encourage them to help their husbands. He did not want to see the men be punished. But they would not listen.

When the three weeks were over, Nick was ready. The others were not.

At noon the inspectors came. They told James and Charles that they both had to stay another week and finish their tasks. Adam and Samantha were told to hurry and finish his tasks so his family could leave the next morning. When they looked at Nick and Alexis’s work, they said “Good job. You did it all! I will take you back to Darcenea with me.” The Sullivans were so happy. They went on the train from the coast back to Darcenea.

Nick set off to making a more honest life for himself. He did not trick or steal in order to get money. He was honest and told people he was poor. He ended up getting even more money that way. Alexis had a baby boy, and named him Emmet, which means truth.

One day Alexis saw a plant near their shack. She and Nick both thought that it looked edible, so they decided to try it in a salad. It was very tasty, so they sold it to others to make money. The business went well, and soon Alexis had a garden of the plants. They named the special plant “Sullivan herb.” They were not as poor any more.

One day news came that the king of that country, King Randolph, had died. He had left the kingdom to his great nephew. The nephew was somewhere in the country and had to be found. Nick wondered why this nephew was so hard to find. Nick was in town one day when he heard the town crier calling: “The great nephew of King Randolph has been named! If anyone can find Nicholas Sullivan, tell the authorities!”

“Well, it’s not me,” Nick thought. “There must be another Nicholas Sullivan. Strange.” He left to go home.

A few days later Nick was holding baby Emmet and watching Joseph and Kate while Alexis was in the front yard selling Sullivan herb. Some soldiers came over. “Hello, soldiers,” Alexis said. “Would you like some of my herbs?”

“No, ma’am, but do you know a Nicholas Sullivan?”

“Yes, he is my husband,” Alexis replied. “He is right over there.” Then she pointed.

“Hello, is this about the new king?” Nick asked.

“Yes,” they said. “It is. What was your mother’s name?”

“Her name was Jane,” Nick said.

“Jane Andrews Sullivan?” they asked.

“Yes,” Nick answered. “How did you know?”

“Because she is the niece of King Randolph!” they called. “You are the one we are looking for!” Nick was utterly shocked.

“How did she become a peasant then? How come I did not know about this?” Nick asked.

“She married a peasant,” the guard said. “And she must not have told you.”

“We did not talk much, and she trained me not to ask too many questions,” Nick said. “She never told me she was the king’s niece.” Alexis’s eyes bulged.

“You are the king, Nick?” Alexis bravely uttered. “And I am queen?”

“Yes,” Nick said happily. He wanted to be king, and was very excited.

“Wait. We will have to check your record first,” the soldiers said, and left.

Nick and Alexis wondered what they would think of Nick’s previous stealing of Mrs. Baldwin’s money. “We paid her back and did not do it again,” Nick said. “We should be okay.”

“I hope so,” Alexis said. “Because I want to be queen!” They waited.

The next day the guards came back. “We have checked your record and we found that you have stolen before,” one guard said.

“Yes, indeed,” Nick said. “But I would never do it again. I am terribly sorry and I always try to be honest now.”

“That may be so,” the guard said. “But we need a lot of proof of your new found honesty if we are to trust you.”

“He has changed drastically. He would never steal now!” Alexis said.

“We need more proof,” the guards said.

“Then stay today and ask all the guests that come to our store how honest Nick is,” Alexis said. “You will see I am right.”

“Okay, we will do that,” the guards said, so they did. They asked every guest about the honesty of Nick and Alexis.

“Oh, they have not done anything wrong,” one lady said.

“Oh, they are very honest,” another said.

“They are as honest as can be,” another said.

This went on all day. At the end of the day the guards said, “You did steal, but because of how honest you are now, you can be king.”

Nick was so happy, Alexis was bouncing up and down, and the children were excited.

And so, the next month Nick became king and Alexis queen, with Joseph and Emmet as princes and, not to be forgotten, the darling Princess Katherine. King Nicholas was a very good and honest king. He did what was best for the kingdom, and his subjects were very proud of their king. He had honest and peaceful relations with other countries as well.

King Nicholas and Queen Alexis went on to have more children. They trained them to be honest because, after all, honesty is the best policy.




I looked slowly down at my dress. Do I look fancy enough? I wondered. My dress was red satin with a black satin sash, but still I wondered if it was grand enough. I was going to a party at the Hampton House, an elaborate home in the middle of town that was owned by my Papa’s boss. He and his family were having a party to celebrate summer, and they had invited our family.

I was a shy girl of fourteen, who did not have much self confidence at the time. My good mother had tried to teach me to have some more faith in myself, but I was still unsure of myself. “Mama, do I look okay?” I asked.

“Yes, dear, you look lovely,” Mama said, looking fondly at me.

My identical twin Alisina, who had been fixing her hair at the mirror, walked toward us. Even though we are identical, our personalities were quite different. Alisina was always cheery, with a big smile on her face, but I was very shy and rarely showed my timid smile. “Oh, I am so excited!” Alisina called. “Are you excited, Marina?”

“Yes,” I said, quietly as always, but inside I was not so sure about this party. I knew that Mr. and Mrs. Richards, the owners of the Hampton House, had invited many people, and I did not like crowds.

Then we heard Papa call, “Get in the wagon, children!”  We hurried down the stairs and to the wagon. Our other siblings, eleven-year-old Josiah and nine-year-old Clara, were already in the wagon.

“You all look so wonderful,” said Mama as she eyed our outfits of blue, pink, and red. Every strand of hair and every curl was combed and tamed. Mama was pleased. We drove away to the Hampton House. We are the only people with a wagon now, I thought as I saw all the cars driving through the streets of Savannah, Georgia, our city. But then I counted three other wagons on the short ride. Dust blew from the streets as the cars drove by. I tried to keep my dress clean. I was still very nervous that I would not be fancy enough for the party.

“Alisina, make sure you don’t get dust on your dress!” I called above the roar of the cars.

“I will just brush it off when we arrive,” Alisina replied. Alisina is so carefree, I thought. I don’t want to be seen in a dusty dress.

We soon arrived at the Hampton House. Alisina brushed the dust off her dress quickly and ran, her brown waves flying, to the Richards’ dog Nannie. I chewed nervously on my brown braid as I stood hesitantly on the brick front porch. A butler greeted us and let us in. Alisina ran to join us.

We stepped into a grand tile foyer. Strains of music came from the parlor. A beautiful wooden staircase climbed to an open hallway above. Mr. Richards and sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Richards came from the parlor just beyond the foyer. I was so amazed by the house that my face was aglow like Alisina’s. “Alisina!” Elizabeth called, giving me a hug. I blushed slightly.

“Good day, Elizabeth,” I muttered.

“Elizabeth!” Alisina called, as her eyes caught sight of her friend. Then Elizabeth realized she had mistaken me for Alisina. I was too shy to be acquainted with Elizabeth previously.

“Forgive me, Marina,” Elizabeth said sincerely. I nodded politely as Mrs. Richards walked over.

“Greetings,” Mrs. Richards said. “Don’t you look pretty?” she continued as she looked at us children.

“Thank you, ma’am,” we all said in unison.

“Now which one is Alisina and which one is Marina?” she asked.

“I am Alisina, she is Marina,” Alisina answered.

“You two look so alike. Come along to the drawing room,” Mrs. Richards said, leading us through a beautiful dining room with a globe in the corner and beautiful curtains, then through double doors into a drawing room with windows all around. There on the couch was Grace, who was the youngest Richards at nine years of age. She was wearing a pretty pink dress that looked lovely with her blonde hair. She stood up to greet us. She and Clara were friends, since they were the same age. Then we greeted the Richards boys, Walker and Oliver, but soon all of the Richards family left to greet more guests.

I sat shyly on the settee while Alisina looked happily out the window at the guests who were arriving. “Alisina, you don’t want them to see you,” I said, not wanting to draw attention.

“Why not?” Alisina demanded, her brown eyes laughing. I shrugged. Elizabeth came and led us back to the tile foyer to meet the other guests.

I shyly greeted the guests. Many of the older ladies had stylish dresses with chiffon overlays. Their large-brimmed hats were decorated with flowers or feathers. But the young ladies had simple dresses like mine. I don’t look too bad, I thought hesitantly.

Alisina was very outgoing, speaking to the other guests with Elizabeth and Clara. Josiah and Grace joined a group of children who were playing cards at the dining room table. I sat down to watch the game as the dealer started to pass out cards. He dealt to me, thinking I wanted to play. My heart raced. I did not want to play cards, but yet, I did not want to be rude. Then a boy came over and said, “I want to play!”

“You can take my place. I do not know how to play,” I said bravely.

“Okay,” he said and sat down in my place. I sighed and watched while standing at the side of the polished oak table. Then I looked and saw Alisina spinning the globe.

“Alisina, be careful,” I said quietly.

“Why?” Alisina said. “Be careful for what?”

“Be careful that you do not damage the globe,” I replied.

“You are silly, Marina, to worry so much,” Alisina said quietly.

Then Elizabeth came over and said, “We are going to play croquet!” The young people headed outside to play. I slowly followed at a distance, so as not to be confused with the people who wanted to play. I stepped out onto the brick back porch and then onto the stone pathway around a beautiful fish pond. Alisina followed me. She started stepping on the rocks around the pond.

“Stop, Alisina,” I said. “You might fall in the pond.”

“Do not worry,” Alisina replied.  “These rocks are large.” And she continued into the garden, balancing on the rocks there. I walked around the path and stood watching the game. Alisina went to play croquet. Soon it was time for supper. Mr. Richards said the blessing. I took my plate inside. I was not interested in being outside with all the other people. I was also concerned that my manners were not refined enough. I sat at a table by the kitchen where the Richards family ate when they had no guests. As I finished my meal, I could see the young people coming inside to the parlor. Some of the young ladies took turns playing the piano. When I entered the parlor, Alisina turned to me and said, “Marina, you should play the piano.”

“No, Alisina,” I gasped.

“Why not?”

“Because I am shy,” I whispered.

“You play the piano?” a girl asked.

“Please do play,” another girl said.

“Marina James, please do play,” said a lady.

“Play, Marina!” called Clara.

“Yes!” Alisina called, looking at me with an encouraging smile. I tried to feel confident, but I was still shy. I blushed brightly. Then I realized it would actually save me embarrassment by playing the piano, so I played my best song. My fingers knew what to do, and I did not make one mistake! I was so happy!

“Take a bow, Marina!” Alisina called, so I took a bow. I was so thrilled.

“That was really good,” Elizabeth said, smiling.

“Thank you,” I replied. I felt like I was walking on a cloud. The compliments boosted my morale. I played more songs on the piano later in the evening, and I even joined others to play games. It was such a wonderful time. For the rest of the night I did not think of my dress, my shyness, or my worries. I was just enjoying myself. For once I felt like Alisina, carefree and joyful. That was one of the loveliest nights of my life.

Now I am happy. I try not to worry, and I try not to be abashed. I am gaining confidence to use the talents that God has given me. I do not want to hide my talents like the man in the parable did. I want to be brave and bold as I share God’s blessings.

Chapter 10: A Surprise

One day Rebecca woke up early. She slipped out of bed and got her dress on. She soon realized that she could not button it up by herself. Her sisters usually buttoned it for her, but they were asleep. She opened the door a crack and peeked out. She was hoping to find someone to help her. She saw no one but Rose at the table downstairs. I must be up really early, she thought as she stepped out the door and closed it. “Rose, would you come and help me button my dress?” Rebecca asked.

“Why do you need my help?” said Rose in a mocking tone.

“My sisters are asleep,” Rebecca explained. “Please come.”

“Can’t you button it yourself?” Rose questioned.

“No, can you button your own dress?” Rebecca retorted, feeling angry.

“I guess not,” Rose finally admitted, and came up the stairs to help Rebecca. “I am surprised your sisters are not awake, being that you talked so loudly,” Rose scoffed.

“They are sound sleepers,” Rebecca said.

Rose buttoned every one of the many buttons. As Rose went to leave, Rebecca noticed that Rose looked different somehow. “Are you okay, Rose?” Rebecca asked. “Why are you up so early?”

“What business is that of yours?” Rose retorted, her green eyes flashing.

“You are my sister. I care about you,” Rebecca explained. “Are you sick?”

Rose looked at Rebecca, her face showing fatigue. “Yes, I am sick, and tired too. I only got four hours of sleep last night.” Rose barked.

“I am so sorry, Rose, but please be quiet.” Rebecca said. “We don’t want them to wake up.”

“I am not being any louder than you!” Rose snapped, and left. Rebecca went to her bed and sobbed. She did not know why Rose was so mean. She was sad that Rose was sick. Maybe that was the reason Rose was so mean to her. Then a thought popped in Rebecca’s head. Maybe Rose was sick because she was pregnant! It was an exciting thought, but she could be wrong. Whether she was right or wrong, it cheered her up enough to go downstairs and help Mother, who was making breakfast by then. When everyone had their morning chores done, they all sat down to eat. Afterwards Rebecca went to the Bradley’s house.

The next two weeks were good for Rebecca. Everything went well at the Bradley’s, and Rose did not say as many mean things. When Rebecca came home one day, Mother, Annie, and Amelia were cooking; Sarah and Rachel were sewing; and Matthew and Benjamin were playing checkers while Ruth and Baby Joseph tried to take the checkers.

“Where is Rose?” Rebecca asked after greeting everyone.

“Rose is in her bed,” Mother said. “She feels sick.”

Rebecca started making some biscuits to go with dinner. Amelia snatched a bit of dough.

“Amelia!” Rebecca chided.

“You know I love biscuit dough!” Amelia said, giggling.

Ever since Amelia got engaged she has acted like a little girl, Rebecca thought. As she was rolling out the biscuits, Father, Gabriel, and Joshua came home. They had been working on Gabriel’s house all day and were very tired. Soon supper was ready and everyone but Rose ate. The meal was so delicious. Gabriel still had many stories to tell, so every meal was entertaining. It was a good night, but soon it was bedtime. Rebecca was lying in bed thinking about her day when she heard the door open downstairs. Then she heard Walter’s voice. She sat up and looked at her sisters. Annie was asleep, but Amelia looked wide eyed at Rebecca. They sneaked to the door.

“I will go downstairs,” Amelia whispered as she slipped on her dress for Rebecca to button. “It is Walter.”

Rebecca stayed by the doorway. She heard Father say, “Walter, what brings you here at this hour?”

“I came to talk with you and Amelia,” Walter said, as Mother walked into the room, and Amelia ran down the stairs. “My parents received a letter this evening from my aunt and uncle who inherited the family farm in Springfield, Massachusetts. They are moving from their home in Manchester for the weather is good right now. They said I could buy the property in Manchester if I am interested. I am interested, so I came to talk to you. If I am to buy the property, I would need to leave in three days, as they will be selling it to another if I am not there. They are giving me a reasonable price for it, and I have seen how lovely the property is. I came immediately to talk to you. Amelia, would you like to go with me to Manchester?  I would never leave you behind. It is a good farm, with a barn, creek, and a two-story farmhouse. Would you like it? I have enough funds to buy it. We could get married in two days. Then we could go off together and buy a house of our own. What do you think?”

“That sounds wonderful, Walter,” Amelia responded. “We will get married in two days and–” then she looked hesitantly at her parents and asked, “Is this okay with you?”

“Yes. It sounds wonderful,” Father said.

“I am so happy for you two,” Mother said, “Though I will miss you terribly.”

After Walter left, Rebecca went downstairs. She gave Amelia a big hug. “I can’t believe it!” she called, louder than she should have. “You are getting married in two days!”

“Quiet, Rebecca. The others are sleeping. But it is so exciting,” Amelia said as she grabbed Rebecca’s hands excitedly.

After a while Rebecca went back upstairs to bed. Amelia and Mother stayed downstairs talking well into the night.

The next day, Rebecca and her sisters woke up. Annie was immediately apprised of the news. She was so excited! They all went downstairs to eat breakfast. Amelia told the rest of the family the news. Everyone but Rose showed their excitement. As soon as breakfast was over, Joshua rode to town in order to tell all the guests that the wedding would be in two days, and to tell the Bradleys that Rebecca would be busy for the next three days. Rebecca wanted to spend as much time as possible with Amelia before she left.

Mother baked the wedding cake, and Amelia started packing. Rebecca volunteered to do the finishing touches on Amelia’s bright blue dress she was planning to wear for the wedding. Rebecca sewed quickly. She was excited about the wedding. They did not go to bed until late that night.

The next morning was the day of the wedding. Mother made hotcakes for breakfast, Amelia’s favorite. Then the girls went to their room to dress. Rebecca got on her Sunday best. It was a long red dress trimmed with lace. Annie’s dress was the same style, but with pink fabric. Rebecca cried as she buttoned Amelia’s dress. “This is the last time I will do this for you.” Annie cried too. The three sisters hugged. Then Rebecca and Annie stepped back and looked at Amelia. Rebecca said, “You look so beautiful!”

“Thank you, Rebecca,” Amelia said. “I am getting married!” Then the entire family left for the church. When they arrived, they saw two of their friends in the side lot arranging the food that folks brought. Everyone wanted to celebrate with the bride and groom after the wedding. They hitched the horses and went inside. Walter was already at the front of the church with the parson. The family sat at the front of the church while Amelia joined Walter at the front.

Amelia to Walter said their vows. Rebecca held back tears. “I now pronounce you man and wife,” the preacher said. Then they all went outside for dinner on the grounds. When the meal was over, Walter and Amelia left for a day in the country. They stayed overnight at the inn on the edge of town. The next morning Walter and Amelia came by the Peters home to get Amelia’s things.

Rebecca sadly said, “I wonder when you will come here again, Amelia.”

“I do not know,” Amelia replied.

“Goodbye, dear sister,” Rebecca said, as she hugged Amelia and cried.

“Do not be so sad, Rebecca,” Amelia said. “You can visit us sometime.” Then they all said goodbye and waved as Walter and Amelia rode away.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 9: The Arrival

Weeks passed and the Peters family was ready for Gabriel and Rose’s arrival. Rebecca came home one day and saw a wagon in the yard. It must be Gabriel and Rose! she thought, and ran to the house excited. When she opened the door she saw everyone crowding around them. “Gabriel! Rose!” she called running toward them.

“Rebecca!” Gabriel said giving her a big hug.

“My, Gabriel, you have changed a lot since I last saw you,” Rebecca said, looking at her brother’s brown beard and hair which were longer than they used to be.

“That is what everyone tells me,” he said. “It is so great to see you all again. You all have grown so much since I last saw you.” Then Rebecca turned to Rose, who was talking to Amelia.

“Hello, and who are you?” Rose asked. Rose had striking black hair and green eyes, not blonde hair and blue eyes, like Rebecca had imagined.

“I am Rebecca,” she answered.

“ I am Rose,” she said in a low voice. “Nice to meet you.”

“Have you seen the room we made for you?”

“I have been told about it, but no one has shown it to me,” Rose answered, her green eyes darting around the room.

“Let me show you,” Rebecca said. As she lead Rose away, Gabriel and everyone else followed.

“Here it is,” Rebecca said, opening the door to the room. The room was very nice, with red check curtains and a bed with a quilt that Rebecca and Annie had made. Mother had also put her nicest chest in there. It even had a pretty rag rug in the middle of the floor. Rebecca was proud of how it all looked.

“It is a very nice room,” Gabriel said, smiling. Rose looked all around at the room.

“Very nice,” she said finally. Then Mother and Amelia went to the kitchen to stir the soup and make the cornbread. Everyone else went to the parlor where Gabriel entertained them with stories. Then supper was ready. It was so yummy. Rose hardly said anything, but Gabriel kept on telling them stories. He told stories of his journeys, the mines, and his life. They also told him some of their stories, but they were boring compared to Gabriel’s. After supper the stories continued in the parlor. During a story Rose leaned to Rebecca and whispered, “I saw that you were running earlier. Do you not know that running is improper?” Rebecca was utterly shocked at Rose’s boldness. Why was Rose scolding her?

“I know that running is improper, but I was so excited to see you, I could not help it,” Rebecca quietly answered.

“Humph,” Rose said and looked away. Rebecca was worried. Was Rose always going to be like this, or was she just weary after much travel?

The next morning Rebecca and her sisters got up and got dressed. Then they went downstairs for breakfast. Rebecca hurried and got the milk and syrup. Everything was normal until Rose came out of her room grumpily and stared at Annie, who was closest to Rose’s door. “Why did you wake me up?” she demanded, her eyes flashing.

“I did not know that I woke you up. I thought you would be up by now. Sorry. It is almost time for breakfast, so you had better get ready,” Annie retorted.

“I can not believe she treated you like that. If she did that to me I would tell Mother,” Rebecca said, aghast.

“I am going to let Mother enjoy Rose for now,” Annie said. “She has not been mean to Mother.” They had a good breakfast. Rose was quiet. Rebecca happily skipped to work that day, and every day. She was happy to get away from Rose’s continual remarks.

One day as she was leaving, Father said, “Rebecca, you are so happy to leave here. May I ask why? Are you having a good time at work?”

“Yes, I am having a good time at work,” Rebecca said hesitantly.

“And?” Father questioned, looking at her kindly.

“Father, I don’t like Rose,” Rebecca admitted.

“Why not, dear?” Father asked.

“She says mean comments to us girls,” Rebecca said, “but she never says anything when Gabriel is around.”

“I am sorry to hear that,” Father said. “She will only be here till Gabriel can build a house. Hopefully she will stop doing that. Stay away from her, if not.”

“Thank you, Father,” Rebecca said as she left for work.

The next night they had a party celebrating Gabriel and Rose’s arrival. The Parkers, the Olsens, Josie’s family, and Jacob’s family all came. Rebecca had a lot of fun, even though she heard some more remarks from Rose.

“Oh, I do like that dress design, but I would add lace,” Rose said to Blanche. “Get out of my way,” Rose said to Ruth and Mary. “Please quiet down,” she said to Abigail, Patience, Sarah, and Rachel. Rebecca was very displeased. Some other people heard her comments as well, including Father. When the party was over, everyone went to their rooms. Before going to bed, Rebecca wrote in her journal.

Dear Journal,

I am very sad that I have found out that Rose is unlikable, or at least she is very hard to like. She says mean comments, but not when Gabriel is around. I must try to like her, but it is so hard.

God grant me patience and kindness for my sister Rose.

With that she closed her journal and went to sleep.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 8: The Expansion

Rebecca came home from the Bradley’s house one day and started to help Mother with dinner. As she peeled potatoes, Rebecca looked out the window. There was snow here and there, not typical for a Bostonian February day. “Make sure you don’t cut yourself, Rebecca,” Mother said. “You are looking outside more than your are looking at the potatoes.”

“Yes, Mother,” she replied, and looked at the potatoes.

“Did Father go to town?” Matthew asked, as he and Ben came down the stairs. “I was hoping to show him the castle I made out of our blocks.”

We made, you mean!” Ben said.

“Oh, you are correct,” Matthew answered.

“Yes, he went to town,” Mother said. “He will be back for supper. You can show him your castle later.”

“Yes, Mother,” Matthew said.

“Mother?” Ben asked. “How much longer till Gabriel and Rose come?”

“Ben, they will not come till April,” Mother said. “So you had better be patient.”

Late that afternoon, supper was ready. Father came home, washed up, sat down, and said the prayer. Then they all started to eat.

“I have decided to enlarge our house,” Father said. “We shall start in a few weeks. The Parkers and the Olsens will both be invited to help.”

“Hooray,” the children called. “A bigger house!”

“Oh, children, having a bigger house will mean lots of work,” Father said. “We will start chopping down the logs we need tomorrow. I was thinking we needed more space in this house, and Gabriel and Rose coming gave me a good excuse.”

“Oh, yes, Father, we know we will need to work,” Sarah assured him.

“Good,” Father said.

Within two weeks, all the logs needed were chopped. Father went to town one day to invite the Parkers and the Olsens, and to get some supplies.

Late that afternoon, Rebecca was stirring the soup, Mother was kneading bread, Annie was adding spices to the soup, Amelia was setting the table, Sarah and Rachel were cutting vegetables, Matthew and Ben were playing checkers, Joshua was whittling, and Ruth and Joseph were playing with blocks when Father came in and said, “We got a letter from Gabriel.” Everyone ran over to Father. He handed the letter to Mother, and she read it.


February 8, 1844

To my dearest family,

I shall be coming to you sooner than I expected. I shall arrive in March,

due to the fair weather we have been getting. I hope you will be prepared for my

arrival to your house. Rose is excited to meet you all. This is short because I am

preparing to leave.

Your humble son,



Everyone was so excited. “We had better build the expansion quickly!” Mother called. “We must prepare the house.”

“The Olsens and Parkers are coming in a week, so we should be fine,” Father said. It was a great evening at the Peters home.

A week later it was time to start the house expansion. The Olsens would come the first day, the Parkers the next, then the Olsens, and so on until the new room was built. The Olsens arrived early in the morning on the first day. Walter jumped out of the wagon and started talking to Amelia. Mr. Olsen helped his wife off the wagon seat. She carried a blackberry pie. She went inside with Mother. Walter, his brother James, Father, Robert, and Mr. Olsen went over to the stacks of logs. Mary, the four-year-old, jumped out of the wagon and ran to Ruth. They went inside to play. Aaron, the eight-year-old, Matthew, and Ben went to the men. They were going to hand the nails to the men, and pick up anything that fell to the ground. Abigail, Annie, and Rebecca decided to take a long walk before they were needed in the kitchen.

“Walter is madly in love,” Abigail said. “It seems he only talks about Amelia.”

“Amelia only talks of him,” Rebecca said.

As they were talking and walking, Sarah and Rachel came to join them. “Hello,” they said. “We would like to join you.”

“You may,” Rebecca said.

“I love to take walks,” Sarah said.

“Yes, it is so lovely outside,” Abigail said, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. There was no snow on the ground, and the girls only needed light coats.

“How long do you think your family will stay, Abigail?” Annie asked.

“Oh, till after supper probably,” Abigail said.

They took a long walk, then they heard Mother calling, “Girls, come and help!” They all headed to the house.

When dinner was ready, Mother rung the bell and the men came in. The men ate first, so that they could get back to work. Then the women ate. It was so delicious!

After dinner, the girls talked while they sewed. Mrs. Olsen and Abigail had brought mending to do, and the afternoon passed pleasantly. All too soon it was time to get supper ready. They prepared potatoes, meat, and green beans from the cellar.

When the meal was ready, Rebecca rung the bell. All the men came in. They were very tired.

“Thank you for the food,” Mr. Olsen said.

“Thank you for helping us build the expansion,” Father said. “And we will see you the day after the next.”

“Yes, we will be here in two days,” Mr. Olsen replied.

After supper the Olsens prepared to leave. “Father, may I stay and have some time with Amelia?” Walter asked.

“Son, how would you get home?” Mr. Olsen asked.

“You are right, Father. I was not thinking clearly,” Walter said. Then they all got in the wagon and rode off.

The next day the Parkers came to work on the expansion. As the wagon rolled up, the Peters familly went out to greet them. Blanche was the oldest child, being Rebecca’s age, then came seventeen-year-old Patience, fifteen-year-old Peter, thirteen-year-old Clemency, ten-year old Jamisson, seven-year-old Emma, and three-year-old Beatrice. The children started running around. Mrs. Parker went inside. Mr. Parker, Peter, and Jamisson went to start building. Blanche and Rebecca sat on a log and talked. The other Parker girls talked with Annie, Sarah, and Rachel. It was a lovely morning, but all too soon they had to go inside to prepare dinner.

Blanche was a good cook, even better than her mother. She was in charge of the meal. It was all so good. The men came over to eat.

“It was very nice of you to come, ladies,” Mother said.

“Oh, we love to come here!” Patience said.

“Yes!” the other girls chimed. Soon it was time for time for the ladies to eat. Rebecca found out that the food tasted as good as it looked. When they were done, they cleaned up. The ladies sewed, knitted, talked, and took turns taking water to the men. The men were working hard, and the work was getting done quickly.

After a lovely supper, also planned by Blanche, the Parker family left.

When it was time to go to bed, Rebecca asked Annie, “Is it not fun to have guests every day?”

“Yes, it is fun,” Annie replied.

“I am excited to see Walter again tomorrow,” Amelia said. “It is very nice to see him so much!”

The Olsens did come the next day. They got plenty of work done. The Parkers came the following day. The work was going so quickly that the next day with the Olsons would be the last day of work on the expansion.

When the Olsens arrived, Aaron came out of the wagon and declared, “Father said we could stay after supper so that Walter could spend time with Amelia!”

“Wonderful!” Sarah said, but no one was as happy about it as Amelia. She stood there smiling. The day passed happily, and the work was finished. Rebecca went to look at the new room. She knew Gabriel and Rose would like it.

They had good fellowship with the Olsens, but all too soon it was time for the Olsens to leave.

“Goodbye, Abigail,” Rebecca said. “Goodbye, Walter.”

“Goodbye!” they called.

“Goodbye, Rebecca,” James said.

“Goodbye, James,” she replied. She had never realized how beautifully blue James’s eyes were.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 7: The Good News

The Peters home was very lively that winter. It was so much fun for them to plan for Walter and Amelia’s wedding in the spring. Rebecca came home one day from the Bradley’s house. “Hello, everyone!” she called happily.

“Hello, Rebecca,” they all answered. By the stove was Mother, frying some chicken. Amelia and Annie were helping her with supper, while Sarah set the table. Matthew and Ben sat by the fire playing checkers. Rachel was sitting on the floor as she held Ruth and Joseph, who were playing with wooden blocks. Father sat in his chair reading a book. Rebecca got ready to help Mother with the chicken. When they were ready, everyone sat down and ate.

After supper was done, they started to clean up. A loud knock was heard at the door. “It must be Walter!” Amelia called delightedly. She hurried and opened the door.

The Peters family was very happy to see him. “Hello, a letter came for you,” Walter said, stepping in. They quickly took his outer garments and brushed the snow off. The letter was from Gabriel, and Mother quickly read it aloud.


January 6, 1844

To my honoured family,

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I wrote in my last letter of how I hoped this year would be better than the other ones. Well, besides my marrying Rose, it has not been good. I have still not had success in finding gold. I am not happy and I am moving back as soon as the paths are clear. I am very thankful to have my good horse team and wagon that can bring me home.

You mentioned in your last letter that Mother was expecting another child. Are the new baby and the rest of my siblings doing well? I hope to see you in April, weather permitting.


Your most devoted son Gabriel


They were all so happy to hear that Gabriel would be returning. Walter and Amelia were glad that Gabriel and Rose would be able to be at their wedding.

“I suppose we shall be housing them until they have their own farm,” Mother said. “How delightful.”

The evening with Walter was wonderful, but not as wonderful as that letter. When Walter left, everyone started to settle down for the night.

The next morning, Rebecca put on her warm wool dress and had Annie button it up the back. The girls were soon ready and went down the stairs.

“Good morning, girls,” Mother said. “Rachel and Sarah got up early. They were so excited about Gabriel that they did not get a good night’s rest. I had them help me with breakfast.”

“We are having hotcakes,” Sarah announced happily as she set the syrup on the table. Rachel came with the butter, Mother came with the hotcakes, and everyone at breakfast. It was so delicious.

“I wonder what Rose will be like, “Sarah said.

“Probably nice,” Rachel answered.

“We should tell Jacob, Marie, Josie, and Daniel about Gabriel coming back home,” Mother said, her eyes sparkling.

When Rebecca was done eating, she bundled up and went out into the snowy winter world. She stomped through the snow to the Bradley’s house. She had a wonderful day, and marched through the snow again on her way home. She had barely come through the door when Sarah said, “We are going to Jacob’s house!” Everyone was busy preparing.

“Really?” Rebecca asked, taking off her coat and accessories.

“Yes, Rebecca, we are going to surprise them with the good news about Gabriel. They might not have enough food for all of us, so we are bringing our own supper,” Mother explained. “Come help.”

Rebecca was immediately caught in the whirlwind of preparing. They were all so happy as they rode to Jacob and Marie’s house. When they knocked on the door, Marie opened it. “What are you doing here?” she asked joyfully, as she took their coats.

“We came to tell you the news–Gabriel and Rose are coming back!” Mother announced happily.

“When?” Jacob asked, surprised.

“In the spring!” Matthew replied.

“What made him want to come back home?” Jacob asked.

“He was not having success in Carolina,” Rebecca said.

“That is too bad,” Jacob said. “But at least he is coming home.” Everyone was so happy, and the meal was so great. After cleaning up, Marie played on her piano. Everyone loved it. They had such a wonderful time. Rebecca’s family did not want to leave.

“Do not feel sad about leaving,” Mother said as the wagon headed home. “We will go to Josie and Daniel’s house tomorrow!” Everyone cheered. Rebecca went to bed feeling full to the brim of happiness.

The next day they did as Mother had said. They went to visit Josie and Daniel almost as soon as Rebecca came home. They rode through the snow-covered Boston streets. It was so much fun to go surprise visiting!

Josie was excited to see them. “You did not send word that you were coming, and the weather is not good. What brings you out tonight?” Josie asked as she let them in.

“We had to tell you the news,” Annie said.

“What news?” Daniel asked, as Josie took away their coats.

“Rose and Gabriel are coming home!” Sarah called.

Everyone was so happy, even babies Joseph and Charlotte.

Josie and Daniel asked many questions.

“Why are they coming home?”


“Will they be staying with you?”

The questions were gladly answered. There was much talk. Supper was delicious. Everyone had a good time. When the night was over, everyone was sad to leave.

The next day Rebecca came home and realized that it was strange not preparing to go somewhere. She knew everyone felt like her. Sarah and Rachel were frowning, Father and Annie were reading, Mother and Amelia were cooking, Matthew and Ben were just sitting, and Ruth was sulking. Joseph was the only one who was happy, lying in his crib.

“Why is everyone sad?” Rebecca asked. “Why, when Gabriel and Rose are coming and we had such a fun time the last two nights?”

“Why? Because we are bored.” Matthew said. “We do not have anyone to visit tonight.”

“I agree with Rebecca,” Mother said. “We have many blessings, why pout?”

After those words and a good, warm meal, everyone’s spirits were lifted and they enjoyed a normal night at the Peters home, being thankful for their blessings.

See complete list of chapters here.

Chapter 6: Exciting Times

As Rebecca arrived at the Bradley’s house one snowy winter day, Mrs. Bradley opened the door and let her in. “Miss Rebecca!” Bethany called. “Mama has a baby!”

“You are pregnant?” Rebecca asked Mrs. Bradley.

“Yes,” she replied. “The baby will come in the spring.”

The rest of the day passed happily. Rebecca skipped home.

“Honestly, Rebecca,” Mother admonished as Rebecca came tiredly through the door, “You really ought to stop running. Ladies do not run.”

“Yes, Mother,” Rebecca replied politely. Although she knew she had only been skipping, she dared not reprove her mother.

“Now please go and check on Joseph,” Mother said. “He is playing in his cradle.”

Rebecca thought about what her mother had said. She knew that she often ran when weather permitted it. It must not be proper for me to be running like a little girl anymore. When she saw Joseph, all of her thoughts slipped away. He was so cute. He looked at her and smiled. Ruth was on the floor with Amelia, practicing her vowels.

“Hello, Rebecca,” they greeted her.

“Hello,” she replied. She picked up Joseph and held him for a while.

Then she heard Mother call, “Supper is ready!” Everyone gathered in the kitchen. As they were sitting down to eat, a knock was heard on the door.

“Who is that?” Mother asked.

“I do not know,” Amelia said, and she opened the door. It was Walter.

“Hello, I did not mean to interrupt supper,” Walter said.

“Oh, we were just about to start. You may eat with us. We did not know you would come,” Mother said, surprised that Walter had come without notice.

“Oh, yes, I am sorry I did not give you any notice.”

“That is alright, Walter. Sit down,” Mother said. Amelia and Walter were very quiet during supper. After the meal they all went to the parlor. Walter had come to see Amelia before, but never without notice. As Rebecca sat there intently sewing, she wondered why Walter came unannounced. After much pondering, she looked up and saw Annie smiling at her. Sarah and Rachel had their ears pressed against the kitchen door.

“What is happening?” Rebecca asked.

“Amelia, Walter, Father, and Mother are in the kitchen. And they closed the door behind them!” Annie said excitedly. Ben smiled.

“Is she going to marry Walter?” Matthew asked.

“I believe so!” Annie squealed. Rebecca just stared in wonder at the thought of Amelia being married! After what seemed like eternity, Walter and Amelia came out.

“Your father gave his consent, so I asked Amelia to marry me,” Walter said.

“And what did you say?” Annie asked, even though she knew the answer.

“Yes!” Amelia said, her whole face shining brightly. Walter and Amelia talked until late at night in the corner of the room. Rebecca wanted to go to bed, but Walter and Amelia were still talking. They had decided that they would marry in the spring.

“Congratulations, Walter and Amelia,” Rebecca said as she headed to the stairs. “You will make a wonderful couple. Goodnight everyone.”

“Thank you, Rebecca. Goodnight,” Amelia replied.

As Rebecca went to sleep, she remembered Mrs. Bradley’s baby. This had certainly been one very exciting day!

Two days later Rebecca was eating breakfast when she heard a knock. “Is it Walter?” Amelia asked, rushing to open the door. Daniel and Josie came in with a baby!

“Your baby!” Rebecca called as she bounded across the room. “What is her name?”

“Her name is Charlotte,” Josie answered. “I thought she was old enough to come and see you.” They were all happy for them. Amelia told Josie and Daniel of her engagement. They were excited for her. Josie and Daniel could not visit for long, but it was a wonderful time.

As soon as they were gone, Rebecca ran down the snowy streets to the Bradley’s house. She soon realized that she should not run, so she walked. She had a good day at the Bradley’s house, even though the twins were being a little naughty.

When she arrived home, she saw Rachel and Annie lying on quilts on the parlor floor. “They are sick,” Mother quickly explained to Rebecca, as she handed Rachel and Annie washcloths for their foreheads. And so it was for two whole weeks as the sickness spread through the family. Rebecca tried to help when she could. Benjamin did too. They were the only ones who did not get sick. It was bad, but at last, the whole family was better.

Everyone wanted to celebrate their health, so Mother cooked a special roast. It was so delicious. Walter came to eat with them. He was delighted that Amelia was better. Later, when Rebecca went upstairs to her room to go to bed, she thought of how good things, like Amelia’s engagement, came with bad things, like sickness. She personally resolved to make the best of the good and not let the bad get the best of her. Surely, that is what God wanted her to do.

See complete list of chapters here.

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.