It would not do much good to explain to you the events of the next few months, for no great event took place. The Jenkins and Pierces visited each other often, growing closer and closer as friends. As Spring gave way to Summer, the families enjoyed picnics, walks, games, and swimming together. Charlie was by now completely recovered. Indeed, there were no indications that he had had such a difficult experience; only the scar on his back was proof. He was now his ‘old self again’, as Christine would say. Christine and Charlie were faithful to pray for each other and often shared struggles as well as joys. Although never alone by themselves, the two young people often had a chance to converse when the families were visiting together. Charlie also had begun working as an apprentice under his uncle at the tailor shop in Grandstone. He worked several days a week and saved all the money he made.
Now, let me begin again at a more interesting point in the lives of both families involved. I shall pick up six months after Christine’s arrival home from the academy.
One particular chilly evening in November, Ned and Ella retired early to their rooms to do some reading. Christine sat by herself in the living room, warming herself before the fire. Very quietly, her mother came in and sat beside her. She put her arm around Christine’s shoulder as Christine rested her head upon hers.
“My dear, what is on your mind?”
Christine stared into the fire, her mind full. She was silent for a moment, choosing her words carefully. In the end, she sighed deeply and opened up her heart to her mother.
“Mother, I do have something I want to talk to you about. Ever since I met Charlie, I admired him deeply. He was such a man, a genuine, true, kind man. He has always been so kind and chivalrous. But most of all, he has given me much encouragement when I told him of my struggles. And he has prayed for me regularly. He is such a godly man, a mature Christian. He provokes me to love and good works. Oh Mother, I refused to admit it to myself but now I think I must. I love Charlie, more than I can say. I think of him often and, to be honest, wish longingly that he would love me too. I don’t know what to do.” Her heart unburdened, Christine sobbed quietly.
Her mother slowly smoothed her hair and quieted her sobbing child. “My dear girl,” she began with maternal love. “I knew this all along, I only waited until you were ready to tell me yourself.”
“How did you know?” Christine asked, sitting up.
Her mother smiled. “I was once a girl your age. I can tell by watching. Now, I am very glad to hear that you love Charlie. He is just the man I would want my daughter to marry. I know that if your father were here he would say the same. He is a wonderful and true man who seeks with all his heart and soul to love and serve the Lord and then those around him. He is wise with his money and all his possessions. I also agree that he is kind and trustworthy. I think there is hope that Charlie may also love you. But as it is for the man to pursue, you must wait patiently and go on just as you have been. If Charlie does love you, he will make that known to you when he is ready.”
Christine looked joyful but anxious. “And if he proposes?”
“If you love him, I have no objection,” her mother assured her.
Later that night, Christine retired to her room and prepared for bed. Although it was late, Ella had not yet laid down. She sat quietly on her bed drawing.
“Christine, you look very happy,” Ella observed.
“Yes, that I am, to be sure!” Christine said, brushing her hair vigorously. She turned to Ella, her eyes bright and cheery. “I told Mother that I love Charlie–”
“So you do love him!” Ella exclaimed victoriously.
“Yes, I truly do,” Christine went on. “And Mother told me she is quite happy about it and is willing–I mean, if Charlie also loves me and proposes, she is willing we should marry.”
“Oh, Christine, that’s wonderful! I do hope he does–indeed, I am sure he does.”
“Perhaps, but he has not told me so. Mother said when he is ready he will. Now, don’t you tell anyone, Ella. I will tell Ned tomorrow, but you must keep it quiet.”
“Of course, Christine. I won’t tell a soul.”
Both girls, although excited, slept peacefully that night. The next day was Ned’s day off and Christine spoke to him after breakfast.
“I am very glad you love him,” Ned commented when Christine had finished. “He is wonderful man and I feel close to him already. It would be even better if we were brothers. Perhaps I’ll ask him if he loves you and tell him to–”
“No you won’t!” Christine fired up, then calming down when Ned burst out laughing.
“Of course I won’t. But I think he does love you and will tell you so when he’s ready. I hope it won’t be too long.”
“Oh do you? Well, think of how I feel!” And both laughed together as sisters and brothers sometimes do.
Although she tried to be patient, Christine found it hard to wait. She began to think Charlie did not love her at all and that he would never propose to her. But she had to trust God’s timing and pray that all things would become clear to her.