The first time I ran the contest, no one won, so I ran it again this week. Unlike last weeks' rules, this week I just asked that the winner be the 3rd email I receive yesterday.
Here are the results:
Esther was the first email@ 8:33
Charlotte was the second email@ 10:52
Eva was the third email @ 11:50.
Congratulations Eva, your autographed copy of "Stroke Of Love" will be mailed out to you this week!
Thank you everyone who played - both times; and thank you all for returning every day to read Winter Wheat and allowing me to come in to your life in this very special way.
Next contest will be in fall for a chance to win one of my angels...
So now back to our story....
Karl was too late. Damn his stupid hide he had left it too late, again. As he drove along the deserted main street of town, he came to the realization that not one retail establishment would be open on this day before Christmas. What the hell was he going to do now? The one person, who saw to it that everyone was going to have a gift for Christmas, would have nothing under the tree for herself tomorrow morning.
He stopped his sleigh in front of The Mercantile where he had an account, and hopped down from the sleigh to the frozen ground. Hitching the horses to the light pole, he walked up to the door of the Mercantile and peered into the window of the door. There was a faint light shining from the back of the store, so he hammered his fists against the door with all his might. If anyone was back there, he’d flush them out.
A shadow moved, and he spotted Tom Bryle, the owner of the store, moving through the rows of merchandise on his way to the front door. Tom’s face met his from the other side of the window, and then Karl heard the latch being released.
“Karl,” Tom said, surprised to see his friend away from his family on a day such as this, “What are you doing here?”
“Tom, I know you are closed, but do you think you could make an exception of me, just this one time?” Karl pleaded with the older gentleman.
Tom swung the door wide and beckoned Karl into the store. “What can I get for you today, Karl?”
Karl swept his wool cap off his head and ran his hands through his hair, “That’s just it, Tom; I’m not sure what I want. I have to buy a Christmas present, but I have no idea what it’s to be!”
Tom peered at Karl like he had gone loco, then turned and walked towards the back of the store. “Well, when you make up your mind, you know where I’ll be,” he said as he walked away, leaving Karl to his own devices.
Karl turned in a circle, his eyes touching upon dozen of items, but he knew not what he was searching for. He wandered over to the kitchenware section, and inspected the assortment of pots and pans that were displayed on the shelf, and rejected them immediately. His long strides brought him to a section of the store where the ladies apparel was kept. He had no idea what size Emilie wore, nor what she liked to wear. All he had ever seen her in was long skirts and blouses, except for the blue dress she had worn the day he had picked her up from the train. Now that dress had looked nice on her, maybe she could use another blue dress. He rifled through the pile of dresses, and finding nothing that stirred his senses, changed his mind.
Next his eyes found the hardware section, and although he was tempted to stay and browse his fill, he moved right along. He spied some leather boots sitting on a top shelf, and while they were nowhere near as pretty as Emilie’s dainty little boots, he reached for them and examined them closely anyway. She definitely could do with a pair of sensible boots, especially when walking around the rough and rutty yard. Deciding they would do nicely he tucked them under his arm and backed down the aisle.
He bumped into a sharp table, and when he turned to maneuver around the object he saw a glass case containing some jewelry. There nestled among the folds of velvet lay engagement and wedding rings, watches, necklaces and lockets. A dainty filigreed locket caught his eye, and he thought of Emilie. Emilie . . . he could almost imagine it lying against that soft place between her breasts. He had seen that place once when she had bent over to attend to one of the children. She had been baking, and she must have been warm from the oven, because she had opened the buttons of her blouse just a little lower than usual. She had bent over the child and there it was; that soft woman-place, where he had longed to lay his head and his lips many times since.
The locket stared at him like it had a life of its own, and he raised his head to call Tom back to the cabinet.
“Made up your mind then?” Tom asked without showing his surprise to see Karl standing before the jewelry case.
“Yeah. I think I’d like to take that locket there,” Karl pointed to the piece that had captured his attention.
Tom unlocked the case and withdrew the locket, and held it up for Karl’s inspection. “How’s that new house-keeper of yours working out?” Tom asked as innocently as he could manage.
“Oh fine, Tom,” Karl answered absently as he twirled the locket too and fro in front of his face.
“So do you think she will be staying on then?”
Karl’s gaze slid to Tom, and then returned to the locket. “I’m not sure, Tom. Her family wants her to return home to Germany.”
“That’s too bad. I heard she is real good with the children; and her taking over the care of the Bell children was a right Christian thing to do, Karl.”
Karl smiled softly, “Yeah, well that’s Emilie all right. She’s one to take on almost anything.”
Tom heard the affection in his young friends’ voice and knew that Karl Wright was hooked. Poor bugger probably doesn’t even know it yet though . . . probably whom the locket was for . . .
“I’ll take the locket, and the boots, Tom,” Karl said finally. “Can you wrap the locket for me?”
“I’ll wrap them both for you; just take a minute,” Tom took the items and retreated to the rear of the store.
When Tom returned Karl paid for the merchandise and remembered the butter he had brought to sell.
“Emilie has been making butter to beat the band. Could you sell some, if we brought it in regularly?”
“I can always sell fresh butter, Karl – especially at this time of the year. How much you got?” Tom asked as he followed Karl to the front door.
Karl returned with the butter and handed it over to Tom, who promptly paid him twenty cents a pound for the butter. They made arrangements for the delivery of more butter in the next week, and Karl left with his two wrapped packages and two dollars of Emilie’s butter money safely tucked away in his pocket.