Today I want to comment on the positive feedback I have been receiving re: Winter Wheat. It is so gratifying to know that there are people out there who are enjoying my story. Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement - and I'm so happy you are enjoying the story.
Yesterday I announced that there will be a contest coming soon. I will start the contest on Monday July 12th. Everyday next week, I will have you look for something on my blog. At the end of the week I'll ask you you to send me an email with what you find, and I will specify which email (ie) the 10th email.... with the right information will win the prize!
My only RULE: you must be registered as a follower on my blog to qualify.
OH yeah - almost forgot - Winter Wheat continues over this weekend.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer weekend everyone -
Chapter 8 cont'd
Both Frederich and Annie arrived at Karl’s home in the early afternoon, accompanied by the three oldest Bell children. The three boys were quite a bit older than the children staying with Emilie; the oldest, George, was fifteen; Fred was thirteen and Charles Jr. was eleven. All three rushed to comfort their younger siblings, their sad reunion difficult to watch as they talked about their mother, their lost home and the fact that their father was no longer the same man they remembered.
Annie, who had stormed into the house with her usual vivacity, stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Charles lying on the sofa, staring without recognition at the three sons he had not seen in days.
“Why is my Dad looking at me like that?” George, the oldest asked so quietly that they almost did not hear him.
“Emilie approached the young man and touched his shoulder. “Your father is a very sick man.”
“He is much worse then?” Annie whispered to Emilie, as she approached the sofa where Charles lay staring off into space.
“Ja, he is. I found him crouched behind the stove this morning, and he has not spoken a word all day, except to say his wife’s name over and over again.”
Annie looked across the room to where her husband stood, “Frederich, we need to get him to town to see Dr. Smith as soon as possible.”
Frederich nodded his head in agreement. “We’ll take him now. Maybe George and Fred could come along with me, to keep an eye on him till we get there,” he suggested.
George stepped forward without a moment’s hesitation. “I’ll help you with Pa,” he declared solemnly.
“I’ll stay here and give Emilie a hand with the other children and you can pick me up on your way home.” Annie told her husband and then gathered the younger children together and led them into the kitchen.
Frederich and George helped Emilie get Charles ready for the trip into town. Trying to dress him was like trying to dress a child, only worse. In his altered mental state, Charles fought the well-intended assistance of Frederich and George. He flung his arms at them in anger and confusion, and it was only Emilie’s calm smooth voice that settled him down enough so that he could be dressed and led to the sleigh waiting outside the front door of the house.
As he was being led out the door, Charles suddenly stopped and turned to Emilie. In an apparent lucid moment he attempted to smile, “Thank you,” he whispered pathetically to her, and then let himself be led away by his two young sons.
Emilie watched as they assisted him up onto the sleigh and when it pulled away from the front of the house, she was startled to find all the children hovered close as they solemnly watched their father being taken away. Little Warren started to whimper and before Emilie could reach him, Annie picked him up and carried him to the rocking chair where she could sing and comfort him in her own motherly way.
Taking her cue from Annie, Emilie urged the children away from the window to the living room, where she sat down on the middle of the floor among them, and proceeded to distract them with stories of her homeland and childhood. The children sat quietly and listened to her stories; their solemn little faces barely registered their emotions. She tried to think of something that would take their minds off the scene they had just witnessed and then one of them broached a subject that had been in the back of Emilie’s mind for days.
“Will we have Christmas this year?” Richard asked, from his spot on the floor beside Raymond.
Emilie considered the question for a few moments. She knew that times were hard, and that there was little money to provide for Karl’s small family, let alone the addition of all these other children. She had no idea what Christmas customs were celebrated here in this country, but in her homeland, Christmas had always been a special time, even when there had been limited resources for festivities and gifts.
“Yes, we will have Weihnacten!” she said with certainty that she did not feel; and she vowed at that very moment that she would see too it that all these children had the Christmas that they so deserved.
“What is that you said, Emilie?” Raymond asked seriously.
“Weihnacten is the German word for Christmas,” she explained.
“Will Santa Claus come?” Asked Joseph, his face serious, yet hopeful.
“I don’t know a lot about your Santa Claus, Joseph,” she told the child truthfully, “But I do know a lot about Der Weinachtsmann,” her smile warmed with the remembrance of the traditions of her beloved homeland.
“Who is this der wien . . . guy?” Raymond asked with a giggle and suddenly the other children sat forward, eager and responsive, waiting to hear more about this new strange person that Emilie had just mentioned.
“Der Weinachtsmann, is sort of like your Santa Claus, I think,” Emilie began to explain. “He is the Christmas Man, and he comes on December sixth, the Saints Feast Day.”
“Not on the twenty-fifth?” Sue asked.
“No. He comes on December sixth.”
“Why does he come on that day?” One of the children asked.
“Because he comes on Saints Feast Day, and that is on December sixth. You see he is considered a patron saint of kinder . . .children. Kinder all over Germany leave der schuh on the doorstep. He comes if the children have been good, and he leaves toys and gifts in der schuh.”
“Ja, der schuh . . .” Emilie pointed to the shoes on Raymond’s small feet.
“What if the children have been bad?” Richard asked anxiously.
“Then Der Weinachtsmann leaves a pile of twigs in der schuh!”
The children erupted with peals of laughter at the strange custom. They cajoled and giggled for several minutes before they turned to Emilie again.
“Will we all get gifts?” Richard spoke the question that was on all of their minds.
“Ja, you will.” Emilie promised with conviction. No matter what, she fully intended for each and every one of these children to have at least one gift under the tree come Christmas Morning.
Annie, who had been listening to the exchange between Emilie and the children, cleared her throat loudly. She was just about to warn Emilie not to promise too much, when the door burst open, letting in a burst of cold air, and an exhausted looking Karl Wright.