Meant to Live: Chapter 9
As she neared the house, she was surprised to see no one outside and the house quiet. She noticed weeds growing in the window boxes and a rusted hoe laying by the front steps. Her heart beat quicker; something was not right.
Shouldering her bag, she stepped up to the door and opened it. It creaked slightly. Inside the house looked quiet, dark, and empty. Her quick eyes saw the couch pillows on the floor and dishes on the table. So many things were out of place; her parents had raised their children to be responsible and neat.
“Hello?” Christine called out nervously.
“Who is it?” Said a weak voice. Christine walked toward the hallway.
“It’s me, Christine,” she said. She suddenly came face-to-face with her mother. She was immediately embraced and kissed while tears flowed freely.
Christine lead her mother to the couch and they sat quietly until the sobbing had subsided.
“Oh, Christine! You have no idea what has happened these last few weeks.” She then went on to explain all that had occurred.
Two weeks ago, smallpox had entered their small town. Christine’s two youngest siblings, eleven year old Jennie and thirteen year old Frank, caught the deadly disease. Of course, they did not know it was smallpox until it was too late. The doctor came and reported the bad news. Christine’s mother told the two oldest, fifteen year old Ella and nineteen year old Ned, to leave town and go stay with their Aunt Jane. Mother had stayed behind to care for the sick children, risking her own life in the process.
As God would have it, Jennie and Frank died only three days ago. Christine’s mother had written her older children immediately with the sad news. They decided to wait until Christine arrived and then for both of them to come to their Aunt Jane’s home.
Once the story was over, Christine gave full vent to the sorrow and confusion that filled her heart. She sobbed and sobbed for several minutes while her mother rubbed her back. Christine wished she could cry longer, but as we all know, crying must have it’s end. So she wiped her eyes and sat up.
“Oh, mother, I cannot imagine how you have made it through. Why did you not write and tell me that I may come and help you?” Christine asked almost angrily.
“Christine, I did not want you to worry. And I knew you were almost finished with your schooling. Besides, there was not much you could have done.”
Christine was quiet and her mind thoughtful. She suddenly wished she could see and speak to Charlie.
That afternoon, Christine and her mother left home and traveled the one hour journey to their Aunt’s home. When they arrived, there was quite a reunion. Christine’s eyes filled with tears; she had not seen her siblings for about six years. They were all older and taller, yet the strain of two family deaths had caused them to pale and wear down.
Christine cried as she embraced her last remaining siblings. Although her heart was broken over the deaths in her family, she was so thankful that the Lord had spared the others.
The family stayed for five days at their Aunt’s home. At the end of that time, they received a telegram from some friends in Grandstone. It read:
Smallpox has left our town. It is safe to return.
The next day, they thanked their aunt and left for home. The sorrow upon reaching their dark, quiet, untidy house was more than they could bear. It took several days before things were put in order and they all could begin a new daily routine.
One morning, a week after their return home, Christine awoke with Charlie on her mind. She had completely forgotten him in all the sorrow and stress of her own home. As she set about making breakfast, she wondered if she would be able to see him soon.
Christine, her mother, Ned, and Ella sat around the table for breakfast. Despite the sorrow in her heart, Christine felt grateful every morning to the Lord who spared her mother, sister, and brother from the deadly disease. She felt such joy in having them near and talking with them.
As breakfast ended, they heard a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it,” Ella jumped up. She returned shortly with a puzzled face. “Christine, it’s a telegram for you.”
Christine put down her fork and took the note. Opening it quickly, she read:
I am home and feeling well. It would be good to see you and to meet your family if there is a time convenient for you.
“Well, what is it?” Ella asked eagerly. “Bad news?”
“Oh, no, not at all,” Christine said smiling. She then realized that she had neglected to tell her family about Charlie in the midst of all that had happened when she returned home.
“I have something to tell you all,” she began. They became quiet and she started her tale. She told of the party at the boys’ academy and how she had met Charlie. She told them of the note she received about his accident. She related the time spent with him at the hospital and all he had said to her. She then explained the telegram she had received just then.
“Oh Christine!” Ella was the first to speak. “He sounds truly wonderful! I can’t imagine you talking to him right before the surgery. It must have been such a frightful time.”
Christine nodded soberly. “Yes, it was. I was so afraid he would die and I didn’t know what I would do.”
“So, you like him,” Ned said with a sly smile.
“I don’t--know, yet,” Christine hesitated. “No, I barely know him. But at any rate, I would love for you all to meet him. I know where he lives. Mother, may we walk over after lunch?”
“Certainly,” she answered. “Does he live alone?”
“Oh, no, he lives with his family. He has two sisters and three brothers. I am sure some of them are around your ages,” she added, glancing at her sister and brother.
The next few hours passed by slowly. Christine became more and more anxious to see Charlie. But then she remembered Mr. Brady’s wise words; not to let herself get attached and not to think of him too much. Looking out the window, Christine prayed that God would guide her heart and mind in the right direction and that she would be patient in everything.
To be continued next week...