Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unexpected Visitors

It has been a week since I told Avery I was pregnant. He is treating me like I am fragile again. I am almost over my morning sickness by now. I am excited about having another baby. Benjamin will have another child to play with as he gets older. I so didn't want to have only one child. I hope to have many more. A large family is what we want. After Avery left for work this morning, I went out to gather eggs and I could feel again as if someone was watching me. I hate that feeling. I hate acting like one of those prissy girls afraid of every little thing. Next time I go out to the barn, I am carrying my pistol in my pocket. It is small, a woman's gun, but it will shoot nevertheless.

I heard horse hooves on the road and went to the door to look out. There was a man and a woman riding up the road. I had never seen them before. They stopped out front and talked to each other, then rode into our drive. I stepped out the door, "Hello," I said.

"Are you Mrs. Longworth?" the man asked.

I nodded, "Yes, I am."

"Well, my name is William Saunders and this is my wife Lola. I have just had a meeting with your husband and he sent us here. He said to tell you that he'll be along soon. We have no place to go and don't know no one. He said you'd give us a little something to eat. We haven't eaten in days. Maybe we could sleep in your barn?"

I looked at his wife, she nodded but didn't speak. She looked pale and  I could tell she was very skinny under the dress she was wearing. Her eyes looked weary, her body weak. I took in their horses, good saddles, looked like quality animals that had recently been through lean times. I walked over to the woman's horse and touched his shoulder, he felt warm. His instinct told him to trust me and he smelled of me. I pat his head then said, "Mr. Saunders, get your wife down. Help her up the steps, I will take the horses to the barn."

I led the horses into the barn. Our horses were out in the pasture, so I took them into two empty stalls. Gave them fresh water, and took off the saddles quickly. I heard someone behind me, it was Mr. Saunders. "Mrs. Longworth, you should have let me do that. It's too heavy for you."

I looked at him, "Mr. Saunders, I have been tacking up horses my whole life. It is not hard work for me."

"Oh, I didn't mean anything......to imply that you couldn't do it."

I looked at him, he seemed worn out. I wondered what Avery had gotten us into now. But kept silent. I grabbed a pail and filled it with some apples from the bin. I will add some pies to our supper tonight. Looks like these people could stand to eat a good meal. He followed me out of the barn and up the path to the house and didn't say a word.

His wife was sitting on the bench and got up as we came up the stairs. I opened the door, and heard Benjamin stirring from his nap. I told them to sit down and I went into the front room and picked him up and brought him out to the kitchen, "Aw, look at him," Mr. Saunders spoke and looked at his wife. She smiled weakly.

I put Benjamin in his seat near the table. He stared at the strangers but didn't make a peep. I turned to Mr. Saunders, "I don't know your story, but I don't have time for it right now. I need to get some food into your wife. My husband will be home soon and wanting his supper. So it is best I get started. I have a venison roast on the fire now," I motioned toward the pot hanging on the hearth. I knew they could smell it.

I quickly peeled the apples from the pail and Lola finally spoke, "Uh, Miz Longworth, I could give you a hand with that. I know how to cook."

I started to say no, then thought better of it, "Here wash your hands," I poured water in the basin for her pushed the soap nearby. She nodded and started washing.

Mr.Saunders then said, "Lola is a fine cook, Mrs. Longworth. You'll see." He smiled at her and she smiled back. I looked at her and saw she had been a pretty woman until hard times had hit them, or whatever had happened to bring them here to our home tonight. All of a sudden I heard the hooves of Avery's horse.  I rushed to the door as he rode in. I turned back to my guests, and saw that Lola was putting the crusts in the pie pans.

"I'll be right back. Keep an eye on my son."

I hurried out the barn. Avery was brushing down Black Knight. "Avery!"

He turned to look at me, "Rachel, I see my friends have made it here."

"Your friends? Do you know these people?"

"In a way. They were down by the freight office yesterday and I spoke to them. Then this morning they were back again. I think they slept in the hay loft. I didn't say anything, but later I noticed them picking up pieces of apples that children had given one of the horses. Eating them right from the ground! I couldn't leave them there another night."

"Well, the wife, Lola, is half starved. She is helping me with supper right now."

Avery caught a hold of me, and looked into my eyes, "You're not angry with me then?"

I looked into the eyes of my husband, "How could I be angry with a man helping a starving man and woman? Isn't that what Jesus would have done? I am proud of you for sending them here to our home."

"The Lord has blessed us Rachel. We need to help others best we can. Times are tough."

I grabbed his hand, "Come let us get these people fed and a warm bed to sleep in tonight. Their horses were worn out and hungry too. Might have to give them a little extra when you come out later."

"Yes, always thinking of the horses, aren't you Rachel?" He smiled down at me, "Yes, let's get these people taken care of. It's a sad thing to see a couple out there picking up garbage to eat. We have so much."

I nodded, tears glistening in my eyes as I thought how blessed I truly am.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated 2016

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

News For Avery

I got Benjamin ready for bed early today. Avery was going to be home a little later than usual so I gave Benjamin his bath early and got him into bed. Then I prepared our supper. A special supper for just the two of us. I put my favorite tablecloth on the table and used our best dishes. These dishes had belonged to my grandmother.  She had given them to me before she died, saying, "Rachel, I want you to have my good china. Your grandfather bought these on a trip to the city one year for my Christmas present. He paid good money for them. Goodness, I was afraid to use them most of the time. I want you to have them because you are the oldest girl and the most like me."

I loved these dishes. I used to take them out of my trunk and unwrap them and look at them. They have tiny roses with lace in the design. I would wonder if I would ever get to use these dishes. Back then it was like a dream, being married and having my own family. Now, if my grandmother was alive she'd be proud of me and my family. I think she would like my family.

Now I had everything ready, the pot roast and fresh root vegetables from our garden that I cooked gently in the fire most of the day. Biscuits that I had just taken out of the oven and two apple pies with fresh whipped cream for dessert. I quickly fastened my hair up on my head and grabbed the dress I had brought downstairs earlier. A new lavender dress I had been making for a special occasion. This would be that occasion. Besides, I probably wouldn't be able to wear it much longer as my waist is already starting to expand. I looked down at it. It may not be noticeable yet.

Just then I heard horse hooves come up the drive. He's here! I hurried to fasten the clasp in the back of the dress. I went to the window and saw Avery leading his horse, Knight into the barn. I quickly carried in the dishes and set them on the table. Just as I came back to the kitchen Avery opened the door, "Anyone home? It looks dark in here."

I smiled at him but didn't speak.

"What is it Rachel?" He looked around, "Where's the baby? Is Benjamin okay?"

"He is in bed. I decided to put him to bed early tonight since you were going to be later." I picked up the pitcher of fresh milk and carried it out the kitchen door to the dining room.

"I smell food, but don't see any." He followed me, "Are we having company for supper?" he questioned looking puzzled.

"No, we are having a private supper tonight. Just you and me." I lit the candles on the table. I looked at him and smiled, took his hand and led him to the wash basin in the kitchen. "Here let me help you." I poured the water on his hand and he soaped them up with the bar of soap.

"Rachel, I don't know what has gotten into you, but I tell you when you do something like that, it makes me want to skip supper."

"Do something like what?" I looked up into his eyes, then I took the towel and dried his hands real good. Taking a hold of each finger and really drying it.

"Just like that," he grabbed a hold of me and pulled me into his arms. He started kissing me and I felt like I was the happiest woman in the world. I wanted to tell him my news, but held back. After supper. I didn't want to spoil it after all my work.

"Come on, let's save supper for tomorrow." He tried to steer me toward the stairs.

"Oh no, Avery! I have gone to a lot of trouble for our special supper tonight. Besides I have news for you."

"News? What kind of news?"

"Good news, but it'll wait till dessert." I smiled mischievously at him.

After we had our supper and I brought the coffee and pie in, Avery said to me, "Aw come on Rachel, share your secret. It can't be that bad."

"Okay, Mr. Longworth since you can't wait through dessert. Guess what!"

"Guess what? How can I guess? My first thought is your sister is not going to marry her beau after all."

"No. We are going to have another baby!" I exclaimed excitedly.

"A baby? Are you kidding?" He jumped up and swooped me into his arms. "Really? You're not joking are you?"

"Nope. I am positive."

"Oh Rachel, that is the best news you could have told me."

He held me in his arms so tightly, I could scarcely breath. "Come on, let's eat this dessert so I can clean up the kitchen."

"And get to bed early," he winked at me. I still get that feeling of excitement when he looks at me like that. I couldn't wait to get the rest of the meal finished and my chores in the kitchen done. Avery went out to the barn to tend to the animals.

"Oh Lord, I am the luckiest woman in the world. Thank you." I prayed silently.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated 2016

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Life Goes On

I have been feeling sick for over two weeks now. I am positive I am carrying our second baby. I have not told Avery yet what I suspect. He has been busy getting the building ready in town to run the freight business from. I am afraid he will worry about me if he knows I am already pregnant again. Besides I think I want to keep it to myself for a little while. It hasn't been easy hiding being sick when I prepared breakfast. What I have been doing is to rise earlier. Then I get the fire going, the coffee brewing and I study my Bible in the lamplight for awhile. It has proved to be the perfect time.

Today Ruth came for a surprise visit. She brought me gifts of oranges that a friend of her late husband had brought her from down south. They were bright orange and shiny. I will hate to use them as I like the way they look on my table in a bowl. We sat down to a cup of tea in the kitchen and I felt sick again. I waited for the feeling to pass.

"Rachel, you don't get to town much anymore do you?' she asked as she chose a cookie from the plate I had put down in front of her.

I sat down and took a sip of my tea, "No, I am pretty busy here. Avery is getting that new building set up for operating Longworth Freight Company out of it. So I  haven't needed to go to town for anything. Except on Sunday when we go to church of course."

"Aren't you going to have a cookie? I hate to eat them all. They are so good!"

"No, I don't feel much like eating at the moment."

"I guess you get that way when you do all the cooking. If I cook something, then I don't want to eat it because I am just sick of looking at it. I guess it's a good thing I have a cook for the hotel," she laughed.

"No, it's not that. I usually like what I cook."

"Rachel, you look pale. Are you okay? You don't seem to be yourself today."

"I'm doing alright. I have been busy sewing for my sister, Esther's wedding. Did you hear? She is getting married to Will Delaney in two weeks."

"No, I hadn't heard. Will Delaney? Now who is he? A single man I haven't heard of. Now that's something!"

"He is in Oxford. A law clerk but will be taking a test to be a lawyer next week. So hoping he passes."

"A lawyer huh? How lucky is that?"

"My father found him for her."

"Does he plan on doing that with all your sisters?"

"Doing what?"

"Finding them husbands."

"Maybe, I don't really know. It was only me and now Esther. Avery came to him first. Will, I'm not sure about exactly."

"Some good father you have there," Ruth got up poured us both another cup of tea.

"He is the best," I agreed with her. "How did you meet your husband?"

"Well my father certainly didn't find him for me. He was considerably older than me. I grew up on a small dirt farm in southern Pennsylvania. My father could hardly pay the bills with what little he made off the crops. One day Byron rode into town and was looking for farmers that could grow produce for the restaurant he was putting in his hotel. He needed produce grown further south than New York and he made a deal with my father among other small farmers. Everyone needed the money."

"So in a way your father did provide you with a husband."

Ruth paused, "I guess I never thought of it that way. But yeah, he did. He grew vegetables for him for two years. Then one day, Byron came to pick them up and he got to talking to me. Next time he came he had bought a ring for me and asked me to marry him."

"What did your father say?"

"He was glad to get rid of one more mouth to feed. He figured it was my best offer. Bryon was older, but very wise and he had money. My sisters both married dirt farmers and have had hard lives. My baby sister, Wilma died having her sixth baby. My two brothers are dirt farmers too and my oldest brother, Raymond went west. Don't know if he is dead or alive."

"I guess I am lucky. Avery is a good provider. I think maybe my father knew he would be and I wouldn't have too hard of a life."

"Yes Rachel, I think that is exactly why your father is arranging the marriages of yourself and your sisters in advance. It really is a smart move, but so unromantic. Of course, with you and Avery, that's not the case anymore, now is it?" She looked up at me to see my reaction.

I blushed, "I love him, if that's what you mean."

Ruth laughed, "Now that is not hard to do is it? Avery Longworth is a very easy to love type of man. What is your sister's husband to be like?"

"I think she will adjust to living in town. That is what she didn't want but I think she will like it. I would have never liked it. I have to have room. And horses."

"I never thought a woman would really love horses so much. They serve their purpose alright and I like mine and get attached to them. I don't know I'd say I have to have them."

"I love them. I have always ridden with my father. Now Avery and I share that love of them. He really cares about the animals you know, not just to use them. Their health, their comfort and he talks to them. I love that about him. Sign of a caring man." I smiled at the thought of Avery with our horses.

Later that night, when Avery had gone out to the barn to check on one of the mares who was supposed to foal soon, I thought of Ruth, Eliza and Esther, and myself. How different life was for each of us, yet we all wanted the same things. A husband and a family. How come I was chosen to have such a happy life with such a good man. The Lord has surely blessed me, and I am thankful. I got down on my knees to thank him, when I heard Avery come in behind me. "Do you mind if I join you there? I have some blessing to be thankful for myself." I nodded.

Avery got down on his knees and bowed his head, "Thank you heavenly Father for all the blessing you have bestowed on this lowly man. Thank you for giving me the most beautiful woman to be my wife and the mother of my children. Thank your for our little Benjamin, and hopefully, soon we will have another little one on the way. Thank you for my good health in recovering from my accident which could have been much worse. Guide us, Rachel and me as we make way through this life raising our family with an eye on you Lord. Please Lord, protect my brother Jacob, wherever he may be and whatever he may be doing. Guard him and bring him back safely to our home soon. In Jesus's name, I ask it all. Amen."

"Amen." I responded. Noting the blessing he bestowed on his brother. He was uttermost on his mind. Thinking how my news will fill him with much happiness. I think I shall tell him tomorrow night after a special supper. He will be so happy to know that I am having our second child. I think it is safe to tell him now after my morning sickness has lessened. I don't want to tell him and be wrong about it and disappoint him. I am pretty sure now. "Oh yes, thank you Lord!"

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated 2016

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Quiet Day For Rachel

This morning I made our breakfast, gave Benjamin a  cracker and I sat down to eat. Avery came in from the barn and put a pail of milk on the counter. I handed him a dish of eggs, bacon, biscuits and stewed fruit. He took the plate and said, "Thanks Rachel," and sat down and started to eat. I sat down again and just as I took my first taste of bacon, I felt a wave of nausea come over me. I jumped up and ran out the door, leaning over the porch railing. Avery came quickly behind me, "Rachel, what's wrong? Can I help?"

I shook my head and barely whispered, "No, go back inside with the baby. I'll be okay in a minute."

"If you're sure."

"Yes, just go back inside. I'll be back in soon."

I stood in the fresh air until I felt better, then went back inside. Avery looked up at me, "Are you okay?"

"Just had a bad moment there. I am okay now." I looked at my plate of breakfast, "I can't eat that though."

"You coming down with something? Maybe you need to see Doc Burns." Avery said as he took my biscuits off my plate as I walked by with it.

"Here, you want the rest of it. I can't eat it."

"If you're sure you don't want it. Don't want it to go to waste." He took my whole plate from my hand and started eating again.

I picked up Benjamin and started feeding him some cereal. He had no trouble eating and opened his mouth wide with a smile. I laughed in spite of the way I felt. He always seems to cheer me up. Such a happy baby. I know not all babies are as happy as he is or as easy to care for.

After Avery had left to go down to the freight office I finished cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast and put a pot of meat on the fire for later.  I will make a stew and add the vegetables in a couple hours. I felt tired and decided to go out and see if the horses needed more water and check for eggs in the hen house. The fresh air did me some good. I came in carrying Benjamin, who I usually take out with me to the barn. He loves the animals and the fresh air. I felt strange out there, as if someone was watching me. I looked around but didn't see anyone and thought it was my imagination.

We came in and I gave Benjamin a cookie and sat him on a rag rug I made for him on the floor so he could crawl around with his toys. I picked up my mending and started to work on Avery's work shirts which were in need of mending. We sat there quietly for an hour or so, I looked down at Benjamin and he had fallen asleep clutching my old rag doll. I had given it to him to play with and he seemed to like to hold onto it when he was falling asleep.

I went out to the kitchen and took a bowl of stewed fruit that I hadn't been able to eat earlier for breakfast. I ate it and then got a cup of hot tea. I heard a noise outside that made me jump. So cautiously I went to the window and peered out, scared of what might be out there. All of a sudden I heard a loud hammering........what could that be? I looked out some more. There in the old dead tree that Avery was going to cut down for firewood, but hadn't gotten to it yet, was a big  woodpecker. What a relief! I laughed at myself for being so jumpy. "What has gotten into you Rachel Longworth I asked myself? You never used to be scared of anything." I said aloud to myself. "Better get a hold of myself and stop imagining things".

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated 2016

Monday, November 1, 2010

Girl Talk With Eliza & Esther

Photo Credit: George Eastman House

Esther and Will Delaney are getting married. The best part is that now, Esther is happy about it. She took Avery's advice and talked to him. She asked him questions about his plans which would now include her. He told her what she needed to know. She didn't really want to live in town, but once he showed her the house he had bought for them, she has changed her mind on that. It is a big house and he is working on it with his father and brothers when he is off work. He told her he wants a downstairs room for an office, since he will be working for himself as soon as he passes his test to be a lawyer.

Esther and my friend, Eliza came out to visit me so Esther could tell me all about Will and her wedding. Eliza drove Father's buggy since Esther has never been comfortable driving the buggy herself. Eliza is very good at driving, almost as good as I am. She has been doing it since she was small, often driving other local women who do not like to drive horses themselves. Maybe they never learned or are afraid of the horses. Eliza's family consists of her, her father and grandfather now, since her mother died when she was born. Her brother is married and they don't see him that often. So it was nice for me to see Eliza again, this time with Esther.

As we were sitting down to a little lunch I quickly put together, Esther said, "Well, you and Avery were right about everything. Thank you for that talk you gave me the last time I was here."

"I understand that you have now formally accepted Will's proposal of marriage?" I questioned.

"Yes, I have. He had made lots of plans that didn't know about or if I would like them or not since I refused to talk to him. He said when he came out to our house for supper that night he was all set to tell me everything and see what I thought. Then when I would not talk to him, well, he didn't know what to do."

Eliza, who had been holding Benjamin on her lap, put him down on his rug on the floor and walked around the kitchen looking at everything, "Oh Rachel, you really have a nice home. I wanted to tell you that day I came with your family but you were so busy with everyone."

"Thank you. I have been working on the house a bit here and there. Avery had the house finished but it needed a woman's touch."

"I remember when we were swimming at the creek before you got married. Remember? You weren't too sure about getting married."

"Oh, that seems like centuries ago!" I laughed as I remembered that day with the girls. One of the last before my marriage.

"Are you glad now that got married? And that you married Avery?"

"I love him with all my heart. He is so good to me and our son. Yes, I am very glad."

"I will never get married." Eliza said.

"You don't know that." Esther answered.

"No, I won't. I know it. Your father is the one who found you both husbands. I have to do it all myself. And I don't dare talk to a man, unless he is someone I know already."

"You know a lot of boys from school and around town," I said trying to encourage her.

"Look Esther has just turned 16 and now she is getting married too. Your father does that for you girls and all your sisters too. I have a father who doesn't really want me to get married. He wants me to stay so I can cook, clean and sew for him and Grandpa."

"What would he say if someone came to him and ask to meet you?" Esther asked.

"He would most likely discourage him in some way."

"Oh Eliza, that is horrible!" I exclaimed thinking how I always knew I would be a wife and mother some day.

"It's not so bad. At least I can do what I want as long as I take care of the house."

Esther asked, "Would you marry a man you didn't know?"

"Without a single minute of hesitation. I'd be out of the house so fast without a word to either of them," she replied bitterly.

Later as I reflected on Esther and Eliza's visit, I thought how Esther had been so miserable at the thought of having to get married to a man she did not know. And how Eliza's situation was exactly the opposite. She would never be able to get married to anyone, so would marry the first man who asked whether she knew him or not. She wanted to leave her home. My sister, Esther did not want to leave our family home. So different.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated 2016