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