Emilie felt her heart fragment into a thousand tiny pieces. As she listened to the men’s debate, her only thoughts were for the sweet children she had come to love. How could she let them down now, she anguished, as her face became drenched with the tears she had been shedding. The children were just now beginning to show happiness, after months of grief and despair over the loss of their Mother and their home. Now they would have to endure the grief over the loss of their Father, and the loss of the place they now called home. It was too much to expect of them. Emilie knew it would break their spirits, and scar their hearts for evermore.
“Could you leave the children here with us until you find their relatives?” she pleaded with the Pastor, who seemed the more reasonable man of the two.
“If, they have relatives,” Mr. Milton reminded unnecessarily.
Karl watched the men exchange a quick glance, and then Pastor Sharp nodded his head in agreement.
“I think we can do that, Miss Freiheit, but I remind you it is only a temporary arrangement. If we can find no relatives they will be taken to the orphanage.”
“Will you be visiting Frederich and Annie Barnes as well?” Karl asked.
“Yes, we are going there next. You say the children are there, perhaps we will have the opportunity to speak to them as well,” Pastor Sharp informed them.
“We will tell the children of their father’s passing,” Karl’s voice warned no argument would be accepted. “They cannot hear such news from strangers, and they will not hear such news from strangers,” he insisted stubbornly.
Bless you Karl, Emilie’s heart whispered as she watched him accompany the men outside to their waiting team and wagon. She lowered her head onto arms and closed her eyes against the vision of seven dear faces that had been thrown into her life. Why had God given her these children, if he only meant to take them away again? She felt the hot tears start to trickle down her face once again, as she gave into her anguish and fear.
“Emilie,” Karl’s gentle voice, and comforting hand caressing her shoulder, roused her from her terror. She raised her head and turned to look at Karl. She watched as two large tears followed one another down his cheek and into his mouth. She rose from her chair, and turned into his waiting arms. As he wrapped his strong arms around her body she felt him shudder and the sob that had been waiting for her comfort, broke from his voice.
“We’ll find a way to keep them, Emilie – I promise you we’ll find a way,” Karl promised, as he gently rocked her in his embrace.