Monday, February 12, 2018

The Lawrence Children: Chapter 5

Grandpa's Mystery




New Year's came and went with no sign of the world ending. It was 1900 – and though many interesting things were happening all over the world, life continued on quietly in Norris.
Every morning, before the children left for school, Vern would open up their father's Bible and read. They would all pray together, taking turns. And sometimes they would even sing either a hymn or one of family songs.
After the Bible was read and prayers done, Lucy said, “I was thinking of riding with the children to school today. I want to pick up more books from the teacher and turn in my work,” Lucy looked at Vern. “Also I want to visit the hotel to see how Patty is doing.”
“Patty works at the hotel?” Vern asked.
“Kind of. She's been doing their cleaning, and lives in a small apartment next to them while the Harris' are away.”
Vern nodded, “That probably brings in a little extra money.”
They all liked Patty – she was several years older than them but was always a good friend to the children. She had been handed a life of sadness. She and her father had moved to the area when she was ten years old to pastor one of the churches in a nearby town. Her mother had died years before. But her father also died just a couple years after they moved, leaving her completely alone in the world.
She did have family back East that kept in regular correspondence with her. But she had said they were nothing like her and she'd be more alone back home than here.
The children were glad she had stayed, and that she'd been able to find a family in Norris to live with.

Lucy stepped out of the sleigh and took Julie into her arms. She left the rest of the children to put away the sleigh or visit with their friends as she walked into the school house.
Her teacher was sitting at his desk, bent over a book.
Lucy smiled, “Hello, Mr Farrows.”
The teacher looked up, “Lucy! What a pleasant surprise.”
Lucy readjusted Julie at her hips as she handed Mr Farrows her books. “I have finished the lessons. It took longer than I expected, I'm afraid. I'm not able to study as often as I should. I like to visit Vern at the mines during lunch, and that takes a considerable amount of time.”
“I'm assuming his work is going well, then?”
“I believe so,” Lucy replied. “It makes him exhausted, at least.”
“And you?” Mr Farrows asked as he took the books and looked them over.
“Me?” Julie squirmed trying to get away. Lucy held her tighter.
“How are you managing?”
Lucy felt tears threaten. She was managing well only because she wasn't thinking about it. She forced out a smile in her voice. “I'm doing well. Julie, the house, and meals keep me busy. But I'm glad I don't have to be in the cold as much as Vern. And I have more time for my books than he does.”
“I can see that,” Mr Farrows looked up from her books and gave Lucy a smile. “I'll have more lessons ready for you by the end of today, and these graded if that's convenient?”
“Can you have them done that soon?” Lucy gasped.
“Well, I can try to have most of the corrections done,” Mr Farrows confessed. “What I don't have done I'll send home with the other children. We also just received a shipment of new edition classics – I'll make sure to send one of those home with you.”
“That would be wonderful,” Lucy said. “And the book sounds lovely.”
“I'm glad. And Lucy?”
“Yes?”
“I hope you and Vern are taking care of yourselves, too. I'm glad you staying strong in life. And we miss you here.”
Lucy looked down, blushing. “Thank you.”
“Keep up – you and Vern have the makings of adding greatly to our society.”
“Thank you, Mr Farrows.”
He nodded.
Lucy turned away, Julie still in her arms.
She smiled as she walked out of the school house, but stopped as she looked over the school yard. The last day she attended here she had no idea it would be her final... So long ago... yet just a couple months ago.
How she missed it.
She saw several of her school mates and friends. They hadn't seen her, though.
She saw another of her friends – David Richter. At one time she thought he liked her. But it was obvious he was with Joyce now.
Joyce was sweet. Still Lucy felt a pang of longing – or was it jealousy? Joyce saw her and waved.
Lucy smiled and walked down the school steps. Several of her friends now noticed her, too. They came running over.
“Lucy! It's been so long,” Gwen said. Once they had been best friends – but these last few months Lucy now felt separated.
All the other girls approached slowly, almost cautiously. Lucy knew why. They weren't sure what to say or how to look at her. Her parents dying set her apart from them.
“This must be Julie,” Gwen said. Gwen put her hands on her hips and leaned in to talk to Julie, “How are you doing? I don't think I've seen you since last summer – you were so tiny.”
Julie hid her face by burying herself into Lucy.
The girls all laughed – and a boy. Lucy looked up. David was standing nearby beside Joyce.
Lucy looked away quickly.
Needing something to say, Lucy jumped at Gwen's last words. “You haven't seen her in that long?”
“Not since the summer singing at the church, I think,” Gwen said.
“That was a long time ago,” Lucy tried to laugh.
“We haven't seen you in church for a long time,” Barbara said.
Lucy smiled at the younger girl. Their family had never attended church regularly. And just because their parents died didn't mean that would change. Both she and Vern agreed with her Father that the church meddled too much in affairs that should be kept private. But Barbara had always been a part of their circle at school even though she and Lucy had never been close.
“We have been wanting to come. But it's much farther away than school. And it's hard to traverse the cold with all the children. Also, Vern needs rest on Sunday – he works all the time the rest of the week,” Lucy answered.
“But fellowship is essential,” Lucy felt that Barbara raised her chin. It could have been pure imagination. Yet her words did hold an arrogant tint.
“Tom and Mary come over often. Plus – it's kinda hard to not get fellowship at our house - constantly.”
The other girls laughed.
Barbara turned her eyes around as if words couldn't express how stupid she felt Lucy's words were.
Joyce quickly spoke, “We can't go as much either. Father needs rest. And Mother says that the Sabbath is for rest more than anything else.”
Kind hearted Joyce. It was no wonder David was with her.
Lucy smiled, “I do hope once the weather clears we will be able to start occasionally going.”
“It would be nice to see you more often,” Gwen said.
The school bell rang.
Lucy nodded, “That would be nice.”
Gwen and Joyce each gave Lucy a quick hug as the others started walking for the school house. Gwen whispered into Lucy's ear, “I've been praying for you, dear friend. I hope you are feeling OK?”
“Thank you,” Lucy let her reserve down, not trying to hide the break in her voice. Let Gwen see just how much she needed those words.
Gwen gave her one more affectionate hug, “Know you are loved!” And Gwen ran into the school house.

Lucy walked to the hotel. It was not a long walk, but the wind pressed against her making the downhill walk feel as if she were pushing against a load of ore. Julie being in her arms didn't help matters.
Patty was inside the hotel. A handkerchief pulled her hair away from her face. She held a handful of rags and a broom. As soon as she saw Lucy she smiled, “Lucy!”
“Is now a good time to visit? I was in town and wanted to see you.”
“Now is perfect. I'm so glad you came.” Patty sat her rags and broom down. “I have just about finished up what I was doing.”
Lucy observed her older friend. To her there was no one more beautiful than Patty. A girl that was always happy, always in love with God. She never showed a sign of bitterness or anxiety, revealing the slightest longing for something different. All of Patty was always full of fun ideas, with an ever present beautiful smile ready to rejoice over something marvelous happening in her world.
“Come, sit. I'll fix us some warm tea.”
“That would be wonderful,” Lucy set herself and Julie on the couch in the lobby.
“Is it still pretty windy out there?” Patty asked as she left the room.
“Yes,” Lucy called out, but she doubted Patty could hear.
Julie wouldn't sit still on the couch. She wanted to pick at the woven material. She kept throwing the pillows to the floor.
Lucy kept her frustration away as she turned Julie's face to her own, “Julie, you have to be good. You can wait to play till we get home.”
“Are you saying playing is not good?” A man asked, causing Lucy to jump where she sat.
She hadn't heard anyone walk in – but there were two men. Both looked to be almost as old as her Grandpa would be. One looked very much like she would have imagined an older David looking like.
“I think you scared the girl, Robert,” the other man said.
Robert laughed. But he didn't say anything further to Lucy.
The other man did, though. “Are you staying here?”
Lucy shook her head, “I am visiting a friend – Patty.”
“Ah, the cleaning girl.”
Lucy nodded.
“Enjoy yourself,” the man said. Then he and his friend left, exiting with the wind.
Julie managed to escape Lucy's eyes as the men left and scampered off the couch. “Julie, you need to stay with me.”
But Julie acted as if she could not hear and began running – stopping as she bumped into Patty.
“Oh, Julie. Be careful,” Patty said. “Or I might burn you with this hot tea.”
Julie backed up, looking at Patty hard. Lucy picked up her sister and placed her back onto the couch.
“She is being very troublesome today,” Lucy explained. “I'm afraid I don't know how to take care of her.”
Patty handed Lucy a mug of hot tea, and another small tin cup of condensed tea to Julie. “I put some snow into Julie's tea – she should be able to drink it?”
“Oh, yes!” Lucy took the tin and handed it to Julie. “That should keep her occupied for a bit.”
Lucy blew into her tea as she took a sip.
“As to what you said about taking care of her, it appears to me you are doing a perfect job,” Patty said.
Lucy let the steam of the tea hide her eyes. “I don't know – I just feel I can't raise Julie correctly. I'm only 15 – I can't be a mother.”
“You don't have to be a mother – just do everything a mother does,” Patty said, laughing.
Lucy laughed with Patty, becoming less tense. Though she didn't really feel like laughing, still. “I feel bad for Vern. For the most part my life is really quite good, despite my extra work. And Mr Farrows says I'll be able to graduate with the rest of the class even though I can't attend school. Life will be better for me eventually – but Vern is doomed to care for all of us forever. At least until the children are grown and gone. His future has been very much postponed.” Lucy said.
“That is sad. But I doubt he feels bad. If he's the same boy I know, I'm sure he'd rather work and help out than anything else.”
Lucy laughed into her tea, “You are correct there. I didn't come to brood, though. I actually just wanted to see you.”
“I'm glad,” Patty chuckled. “I didn't think you were complaining. Life is hard – and talking it through is OK. Just as long as you work through it as you talk through it.”
Lucy said, “I think I am trying.”
“I can tell that you are – and succeeding,” Patty smiled. “Tell me how the other children are doing?”
“Good. Things have been mostly smooth. When the kids don't co-operate, Vern sets them straight, which is nice. But they mostly obey – they all like eating.”
Patty laughed.
“Right now we are all very interested in Grandpa's mystery.”
“Oh? I don't think I've heard of this.”
“It's a story Father used to tell us, of how Alex Norris was murdered and Grandpa knew secrets and had treasure.”
“I never heard Mr Norris was murdered,” Patty said.
“You didn't?” Lucy had thought all would know this.
“To be honest I do not know much of the man. Just that he founded our town and sold it later. I always assumed he went back to his home and died of old age.”
“Oh, well my Grandpa was a good friend of his – and greatly upset by his death.”
“How interesting,” Patty said.
Lucy silently drank a couple more sips.
“Is your tea good?” Patty asked.
Lucy took another sip, “Yes! Very!”
“Good. It is peppermint. I saved and dried the leaves this fall.”
“Where did you find peppermint leaves?” Lucy asked.
“My aunts from back south sent me the plants.”
“And they grow well?”
“Well enough.” Patty answered.
“There were two men that were in here earlier – they seemed nice, but strange.”
“Oh? The Richter brothers?”
“I don't know their names – just that one was named Robert and the other looked very much like David Richter. It makes sense they would share the same last name.”
“Yes, they are David's uncles. I heard that they used to live here when they were young – their father helped found this town, too.”
“I wonder why they are back?” Lucy said.
“You know men – always adventurous, with tastes constantly changing. Those two men seem to be the type to always drift.”
“I bet they would know more of Alex Norris and Grandpa,” Lucy said.
“I'm sure you are correct.”
Lucy and Patty then talked of other things as they drank their tea. Deep down Lucy felt perfectly content. She was so happy she had come to see Patty.
She felt better in so many ways, refreshed and ready to continue her work at home. And the tea seemed to have had a calming effect on Julie, for she was not misbehaving.


Make sure to return the second Monday of next month for the next installment of the Lawrence Children! 


Father Tells a Story posted 10/9/17
No More Good-nights posted 11/13/17
Lucy Learns to Live posted 12/11/17
Never Know, Noah posted 1/8/18
Grandpa's Mystery  posted 2/12/18
Ann Finds Answers posted 3/12/18
Vern Lead's An Adventure posted 4/9/18
A Friendly Visit posted 5/14/18
A Real Clue? posted 6/11/18
Fred-O is Frightened  posted 7/9/18
Good Job, Julie! posted 8/13/18
Hello, Life posted 9/10/18

4 comments:

  1. Why do I feel like Lucy feeling peaceful is some sort of foreshadowing?? *sweats nervously* XD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or am I just letting her have a nice moment? Or am I... *evil laugh* I will not say, as I enjoy your nervous sweat ;p Sorry, I'm kinda an evil writer ;p Though I hope I'm not too evil. Lol.

      Delete

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