As the days lengthened, Emilie realized that she was looking forward to the changing season with eager anticipation. By the middle of February, one could still see a hint of light; long after suppertime had come and gone. The lengthening days and the endless blue skies of winter reminded her that soon it would be spring, and Karl would be returning home to his family.
She thought of him often and wondered if he was doing well up there in the mountains all alone and so far from his family. She knew he would be missing his children, and she hoped that once in a while he thought of her with kind memories. All this went through her mind, even as her immediate attention was more occupied with the two new men who had recently entered her life.
Joseph and his brother William, the two men who haled from her own homeland, were fast becoming her newest and closest friends. Since meeting Emilie at the impromptu party at Karl’s home, they had made it a habit to visit Emilie and the children at least twice a week, to offer assistance in whatever chores she chose to give them. They were devoted to her and the children, and on the rare occasions when she could find no chores for them to do, they simply remained in the house, visiting with her and the children for hours at a time.
Emilie knew that she was the reason they visited so often, and she also guessed that many days William would have been content to remain in his own home instead of traipsing three miles across country to chaperone his younger brother.
They brought gifts every time they came to call. One time a large roast of venison, fresh from their latest kill; another time, small hand-whittled figurines for the children; and then a small ladies chair, made especially for Emilie, by her young suitor, Joseph. This last gift arrived on a blustery day when the children had been particularly testy and naughty.
“The brother’s are here!” Raymond proclaimed from his perch atop a kitchen chair that had been pulled close to the window so he could look outside.
“Raymond, get down from there at once,” Emilie threatened, “And pull that chair away from there, I don’t want Anne-Marie climbing and then falling.”
“Yes Mamm.” Raymond answered quietly, as he slid carefully to the floor and pulled the chair away from the window. He didn’t know why, but Emilie seemed awfully cross today, he thought to himself as he readied himself to open the door to their new friends.
Emilie rose from the sofa, where she had been stitching a hem on a new dress for Sue, and made her way to the door where Raymond stood expectantly waiting for the heavy thump that would indicate their company had arrived at the door. The thump sounded and Raymond threw open the heavy wooden door, and stepped aside so the men could enter. William entered first, followed by Joseph, who struggled through the door with a small ladies rocking chair, held high in his arms. He set the chair on the floor and turned to throw the door closed against the sharp winter air.
“Hello, Emilie,” he smiled warmly at her, and then remembering the children, “Kinder”.
“Give me your coats,” Emilie addressed neither man individually, but instead busied herself in collecting their outerwear, and carrying it to Karl’s bedroom, and placing it carefully across his bed.
When she returned everyone was centered around the chair that Joseph had carried in, the children were examining the piece like brokers.
“I made this for you, Emilie.” Joseph said with pride and a certain look of hope entering his eyes.
Emilie inspected the fine piece of furniture, and fell in love with it immediately.
“Here, sit down on it, and see how it rocks,” Joseph instructed as he drew Emilie to his side and assisted her into the chair.
“Oh, Joseph, it rocks nicely – so smoothly,” she told him as a bright smile lit her face. It just occurred to her that she was sitting on a piece of furniture that belonged solely to her. Never before had she owned anything so fine in all her life.
“I’m glad you like it.” Joseph smiled as he watched her enjoyment of his gift.
Emilie rose and inspected the room. “Could you place it over there nearer the fire, Joseph? That way I can sit by the fire in the evenings and do my handy- work there. Oh thank you so very much Joseph. It is much too fine a gift, but I do accept it gratefully!”
Joseph’s heart soared at her words. He had pleased her more that he had ever thought possible.
And so the courtship of Emilie and Joseph was established. As the days went by, he spent more and more time at Karl Wright’s home, attending to the children and the lovely German woman who had claimed his heart. When another get together was planned at a neighbors home, it was Joseph who accompanied and transported Emilie and the children to the event; it was Joseph who claimed the majority of dances with the beautiful young woman; and it was Joseph that the whole community reckoned would steal Karl Wright’s housekeeper right from under his nose, once Karl returned home in spring.
After one such evening, while Sue and George escorted the young children into the house, Joseph took Emilie by the arm and gently pulled her out of sight from the children.
“Emilie, wait one moment,” he urged quietly, as he pulled her to the other side of the sleigh box.
“I must really see to the children, Joseph,” Emilie said with a smile in her voice, as she thought of the wonderful time she had had with all of her friends that evening.
“I know, but first I’d like to ask you something.” He pulled her closer until she stood pressed close to his side. He looked into her blue eyes that regarded him with merriment, and smiled softly. “Surely you know how I feel about you, Emilie,” he whispered as his head moved lower towards hers.
“Yes . . .” her barely whispered word caused a puff of steam to surround their faces.