Autumn Time

The Williams House; Chapter 4: The Bentley Family; Pgs. 101-104

.     Johnathon continued eating. The pancakes were hot and warming down to the toes, and the syrup was extra sweet. There were sausages on the side, still steaming from the dish. Nearly everyone else was done in five more minutes, and Johnathon had to hurry. He was still done before Timothy or any of the youngers were up, and quickly he slunk into his room and changed his clothes, putting on a plaid checkered pattern shirt for the workday.
.     When he reached the outdoors, Will and Ann were raking away. Lilly was helping the youngers, who had just gotten up, with breakfast. Johnathon joined. Then soon Lilly joined. And before long the rest were out.
.     Back and forth and back and forth the Williams children raked, never seeming to stop or rest. The Bentleys soon arrived, and the children were dropped off to help. And again back and forth they now all raked, the sound of thousands upon thousands of leaves being crunched together. More and more leaves were piled together, and some were blowing in the wind.
.     Downhill they raked, and over several grasslands, scraping and shoving the leaves, now sweat drizzling down their cheeks. Piles and heaps of leaves seemed to be everywhere, with trails of leaves in between. Maria and Susan and Daisy and Gloria were all jumping up and down in several of the piles (Margaret was wanting to but was helping Will at the moment carry a pile on a tarp to their dump).
.     It approached noon, and the Bentley children were invited in to eat lunch, which consisted of what the Williamses called a ploughman’s lunch of cheese and apples and buns and milk. No one said a whole lot. They were all too tired and hungry to speak, and their thoughts generally remained on the remaining leaves that needed to be picked up.
.     “We plan to burn the leaves,” said Will, “outside of a couple piles we will leave behind to play in or use for other purposes. Father will have to help us with that, but there are still plenty of leaves to pick up. We’ll have to work hard.” He finished his milk and stood up. Everyone else followed, though Maria and Susan were allowed a longer rest.
.     “Put these on,” said Johnathon to Derek, handing him some gloves. “We’ll be going through a briar patch shortly.”
. Then everyone went back out to face the leaf wars again. It at least was a calm day in the sky, with hardly a cloud or a breeze. The sun warmed the air into the mid-fifties, and some rolled up their sleeves. Timothy’s suspenders were caught once or twice on stray limbs and branches, but he managed to pull them back out before they unbuckled or snapped.
.     “Come along, everyone,” Will called. “It’s nearing two o’clock, and we want to be starting the burning at about 2:30.”
.     A few of the younger children sighed, and some of the olders took a deep breath. Sarah and Kurk plunged forward and ahead to finish up the piles they were currently working on. Others saw their enthusiasm and likewise plunged ahead, working hard to finish their leaf piles and plunge into the last area that needed to be raked. Most were wishing they had eaten one more slice of bread and cheese for lunch, and Lilly seemed to have read their thoughts, for she gave each of them a bun from a bag she was carrying, saying “this should help with the last leg.”
.     Everyone perked up slightly, and before the time to 2:30 was completely up, Will and Timothy were shoving the last of the leaves to burn on the huge gigantic pile.
.     “I say,” said Timothy as he set down his rake. “That is big.”
.     Will lowered his rake, which had been propped on his shoulder, and let out a relieved sigh. “I should think so, Tim.” He stared at the pile for a moment, and the others all gathered around. Maria, who had been resting the last half-hour, came running up and started to climb the monstrous mound.
.     “Careful up there,” warned Ann as she started to climb up after her, and soon Margaret and then several of the Bentleys followed.
.     Before long, everyone had climbed the mound and was sitting down around its peak, looking out as though lords and ladies of a great castle. No one said much, but they were all proud of their achievement.

You may purchase The Williams House here at Xulon or here at Amazon

FreeResourcesBanner2

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

Subscribe to my email list and receive my free eBook, titled Rhymes for a Child’s Picnic Lunch, plus email updates, writing news, and more!

 

Advertisements

A Story in the Attic

The Williams House; Chapter 5: Uncles, Aunts, Nephews, and Nieces; Pgs. 114-118

.     A great rumble came through the attic window and echoed throughout the room, and then a raindrop came. Water started coming down, slowly at first, going pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter-patter. Then it picked up, starting to come down in sheets.
.     “We better close the window,” said Lilly as she stood up. “We don’t want rain to come in and mess up some of the work we have done today.” She pushed down on its top, and the whole thing closed with a firm snap and a creak. “There,” she said once that was done, “things should warm up a bit now.”
.     “I want to play something,” said Maria suddenly.
.     “Do you,” asked Lilly. “What would you like to play?”
.     “I want to hear a story,” said Maria.
.     “What kind of story?”
.     “About a storm,” said Maria.
.     “About a storm,” repeated Lilly. “About a storm. Shall we?” She looked out the windows and listened to the rumbling and the wind. Distant thunder and a couple streaks of lightning could be heard and seen, coming from far away. “Well,” she continued, “all right. But we’ll all have to gather around and be very quiet. No interrupting,” she warned.
.     Everyone pulled their cushions together, forming a circle of eight small people. Lilly cleared her throat.
.     “Do you hear that noise?” she asked as she pointed out the window. “Well, that is the noise of a storm, but it is a storm in another land, echoing back to us across a great distance. It is still summer over there, with all the trees still in full bloom and all the birds sitting in their boughs. The earth is rich and soft there, with moss and downy turf covering its surface and flower beds springing out in several places. Springs of water jet up on the hillside, and flowing water snakes down among the grasses.
.     “When the sun shines on that land, it makes the water shine like crystal glass. Yet the sun is currently not shining there. The land is dark and covered with clouds, thick and dark clouds, not too unlike the ones over our attic right now.”
.     Several of the children looked up as though they expected to see the clouds through the wooden beams of the roof.
.     “It is raining hard,” continued Lilly, “and the people who work there are all locked up tight in their low roof huts. The huts are made with a sort of thatch that prevents the rain from leaking in, and some of the people are right now looking out their windows at the water drizzling off the edges of the roofs.
.     “The streets are empty, save for one lone man, dressed in a tailored coat, trudging down a dark alley in the pouring rain.”
.     Lilly paused. “Take over from here, Ann,” she said suddenly.
.     Ann looked surprised for a moment and then excited. “This man,” she said, “is walking right now under the shadows of the night. He had a very important paper concealed deep within the folds of his tailored clothes. It is rolled up like a scroll, with a seal on it and flattened from being pressed against his chest. The rain is pouring into his clothes, but is unable to reach through all the lairs to the parchment, mostly.
.     “An old man is waiting for this traveler, expecting his entrance in a low hut any minute. This old man’s name is Errol, and he is seated by his fireplace and warming his hands.
.     “You can take over from here, Will,” Ann finished as she sat back.
.     “The traveler’s name is a well-kept secret,” said Will without a moment’s pause, “though he is known by any that have dealings with him as ‘the messenger.’ He had just flung open the door to the old man’s hut— what was his name?—Errol. Errol stands and motions him to the low table, sitting down in one of the wooden table chairs himself. The messenger closes the door and sits opposite him.”
.     “‘I hope the document is safe,’ Errol says.
.     “‘Quite,’ the messenger replies as he pulls it out of its place in his clothes and throws it upon the table.
.     “The paper is dripping with the rain water, and Errol flings his fingers upon the seal, ripping it off and unrolling the parchment all in one motion. Then he looks at the servant with surprised eyes.”
.     William paused, and everyone waited a moment before bursting out, “What happened? What happened?”
.     And Johnathon added, “What did the paper say?”
.     Will sat back slightly and began folding his arms. “No one knows,” he said mysteriously.
.     “What do you mean ‘No one knows?’” asked Johnathon indignantly.
.     “The parchment was all watered out,” said Will. “It happened right as the servant stepped under the overhang of the old man’s hut. A large splash of water came pouring down and in one moment got in the fold of the messenger’s clothes, soaking the paper wet through.”
.     “But how will we know what the paper said?” asked Susan.
.     “We won’t,” said Will. “That’s the whole point. It was a story about a storm, and the storm washed away the note.”

You may purchase The Williams House here at Xulon or here at Amazon

FreeResourcesBanner2

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

Subscribe to my email list and receive my free eBook, titled Rhymes for a Child’s Picnic Lunch, plus email updates, writing news, and more!

Picking Apples

The Williams House; Chapter 2: The Start of School; Pgs. 35-37

.     Meanwhile, Susan and Maria had been sent out to pick some honeysuckle apples from their orchards. They first had gone into a barn to pick up two metal pronged rakes. The barn was a huge structure with several floors and a couple rickety ladders that led up to them. But only Will, Ann, and Lilly were allowed to go up there, and that was only when a parent was with them.
.     Then Susan led Maria out of the barn and down the path that led around the side of the house to the orchard, which soon spread into full view. Sunlight was spilling down the branches and resting in several patches on the ground. The dew was thick, and both girls’ feet were already soaked.
.     “Are these the apples?” asked Maria.
.     “Yes,” said Susan, “but we have to be careful which ones you pick. Hold up the rake, like this.” She demonstrated how and showed Maria how to rake lightly enough to let the ripe apples fall while still leaving the immature apples on the trees.
.     Before long, apples were raining down all around the girls’ heads, and they were both laughing heartily as they ran through the trees and picked up their prizes.
.     “I have 16,” Susan announced.
.     “How many do I have?” asked Maria, who, being four years old, was still uncertain of her numbers. She trotted over to where Susan was, barely able to lug the bucket she was carrying along with her.
.     “You have nine,” said Susan, who had learned to count that very summer (Margaret had taught her). “That should be enough for today. Let’s carry these back inside.”
.     They both hauled their buckets down the path to the back door. The sun was climbing higher in the sky, and the night air was finally replaced by the morning warmth. The path they both walked on was paved with brick, and both their shoes trotted over it and left wet footprints behind.

A Collection of Williams’ Breakfasts

The Williams House; Chapter 2: The Start of School; Pg. 35

.     “I wonder what’s for breakfast,” said Will, changing the subject before a row began.
.     But he did not wonder long, for just then, mother brought in several trays from the kitchen, announcing that breakfast was ready. The food must have been kept warm very well, for though Margaret, Susan, and Maria had already had breakfast, the sausages were still steaming. And the sausages were just one of the trays; there was nearly every good breakfast food present (that is, there is always more one could eat easily for breakfast, but it felt and tasted like a complete set, and the children could not have eaten more had they wanted to). There were sausages, sausage rolls, and sweet sausages that were glazed with maple syrup. There were hard-boiled eggs, fried eggs, toast, buttered rolls, and a complicated dish that had fried bacon, mushrooms, and cheese. For drink, there was orange juice, apple juice, milk, and a light tea that had been refrigerated the day before. Two dishes of fruit also sat in the center of the table, laden with pears, oranges, and apples, and the children were required to at least pick one fruit each.

The Williams House; Chapter 3: At the Library; Pgs. 70-71

.     “I’m afraid it’s cold muesli and canned fruit, today,” said their mother. “We have a busy morning and afternoon.”
.     Will and Johnathon poured their muesli and milk. (If you haven’t had muesli, you should try it. It’s a mixture of raw oats and other grains, fresh fruits, dried fruits, and can be sweetened by sugar, honey, cream, or anything else that you think might taste well.) Then the olders started eating and generally stared blankly around the room, yawning fiercely every few moments.

The Williams House; Chapter 4: The Bentley Family; Pgs. 100-101

.     It was on a Saturday morning, feeling briskly in the air, when some of the olders had gotten up before the youngers and were currently eating a quiet breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup. Morning sunlight was streaming through the large window by the small breakfast table they were currently using.
.     “Mum’s gone to the store,” said Lilly to Johnathon who had just gotten up and reached the table. He had a pile of pancakes on his plate, and the syrup was running all over it.
.     “I suppose Father won’t be up for a while,” he said as he sat down. “He had a late work night last night.”
.     “We’ve been ordered to clear the leaves,” said Will.
.     “All of them?!?” exclaimed Johnathon.
.     “Yes,” said Will, “but we will be gaining some help soon. The Bentley’s will be coming over in about an hour to help, and then afterwards we’ll be going over to their place to help with their yard.”
.     “That shouldn’t take long,” said Johnathon.
.     “Yes,” said Ann as she sighed, “but this will take a while.” She pointed outside.
.     “Well, we’ll just have to make the best of it,” said Will. “We can plow into it long before the Bentleys arrive. It shouldn’t take more than half the afternoon. Then we can go over there.”
.     Johnathon cut up his pancakes and started eating. “Will Father be helping?”
.     “No,” said Will. “He had more work to do. He’ll be helping with the Bentley’s place though. I think they’ve invited us over to dinner.”
.     Will got up and took his plate to the sink. “It’s a true clear day, at last,” he noted. “And with no rain yesterday, the leaves should be dry enough.”
.     Johnathon continued eating. The pancakes were hot and warming down to the toes, and the syrup was extra sweet. There were sausages on the side, still steaming from the dish. Nearly everyone else was done in five more minutes, and Johnathon had to hurry. He was still done before Timothy or any of the youngers were up, and quickly he slunk into his room and changed his clothes, putting on a plaid checkered pattern shirt for the workday.

Playing in the Snow

The Williams House; Chapter 6: Winter Wonder; Pgs. 136-138

.     The day went splendidly. There is nothing like several rounds of snow fights in the morning to stir ones blood and bring health and liveliness to one’s face. Several families soon arrived after the Bentleys, and the children greeted them all in turn with a snowball barrage. Boys were laughing heartily and girls were cheering merrily, the sound of dozens of voices in perfect harmony rising around the little hillside.
.     At about 11:00, some of the girls went in to rest, with some of the younger boys. (Timothy stayed out.) Hot cocoa was served to those who entered, and those who stayed outside called themselves the “hardy stock,” refusing to acquire their warm drinks until lunch time. It had been ages since the Williamses had used their muscles so hard, and it was badly needed, for Johnathon could not remember using his energy so much since they had cleared the leaves away, which had been close to a month ago.
.     When lunch was served, everyone else traipsed indoors, and the Williams’s house became filled with snow suits, waterproof coveralls, hats, mittens, and gloves, ski masks, large boots still dripping with slush, and many, many hot faces that were red from the hard play outdoors. The meal, in keeping with the winter season, was the best chili that you could possibly imagine, with steaming hot meat pies, and warm chocolate fudge and sugar bread cookies for dessert. The “hardy stock” now enjoyed their hot mugs of cocoa, and the conversation buzzed for an hour or so as everyone filled themselves after their morning excursions.
.     The outdoors was now covered with footprints and many boot tracks. Many chains of snow angels lay along the ground, with some of them marred by thrown snowballs and tracks. Several snowmen were scattered throughout, and a couple rather large snow walls now formed a sort of embankment.
.     Several of the boys and girls then decided to stay indoors, the grand meal having something to do with it. The little old cottage (which we all know by now was not quite so little) was just as interesting to most as the outside, and it is harder to put on snow gear after it has already been used a lot in a day and is still dripping from its prior use. In fact, that was how the fight began.
.     It all started in one of the guest rooms on the second floor, when some had just decided to stay indoors the remainder of the day. Others were more restless, and someone (I shall not put the name down here) decided to throw a pillow at someone else. A small kerfuffle immediately started, which soon grew. Timothy joined within the first sixty seconds and was at the heart and center of it all. It was a marvelous way to exercise the remainder of one’s energy without having to face the cold wind in one’s face. Will and Johnathon made the game organized, with everyone holding their own pillow and having their own corner in which they could retreat to at any time.
.     “My face must be beet red,” said Johnathon after a while. “Why not go outdoors for a little bit to cool off?”
.     With that, Will and Johnathon decided to go outdoors once more for the day. “It will probably be a while before we get this chance again,” said Will as he put on his snow boots.
.     Both of them took two machetes (which had been dulled so as not to be too dangerous) and walked back outdoors. A cloud cover had taken over the sky, and the sun was now well hidden among them, making the snow look more like well-packed sand among the trees. Margaret, Susan, and Maria followed the boys out among the snowmen. Then Will and Johnathon began making large balls, as though to make another snowman. When the balls became large enough, they started carving them, until they had two magnificent looking chairs, with armrests each.
.     “You see,” said Will. “Now we can sit in the snow and enjoy the outdoors in peaceful observance.”
.     Susan and Maria had the privilege of sitting in the first chairs until the boys had more made. And soon, there were a great many chairs with many people sitting among them, looking up at the snow-covered trees and gazing at the work they had so heartily engaged in throughout the day.

A Concert Symphony

The Williams House; Chapter 6: Winter Wonder; Pgs. 131-133

.     The very evening on the day Will mentioned how quiet it was, the whole family went to a concert hall to hear a symphony, and so you see, Will did not have his quiet for very long. It was, in fact, to be a grand performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, culminating in his winter theme, and the orchestral music would be very refreshing to all the recent excitement within the Williams house.
.     Moonlight was gleaming on the December snow covered ground as the “flying carpet” rolled to the concert hall. Maria was swinging her feet back and forth on a seat by herself, looking out and imagining herself as on her way to play in a great performance. Many of the others were scattered, looking out windows or watching the street lights dance in the bus, casting shadows of seats and heads, and trees and other vehicles throughout the bus.
.     It was a dead land, and yet very much alive. The trees were barren, the flowers long ago disappeared, all the grass covered up with snow, and not a single bird to sing the welcoming of the moon. Instead, some chimneys were puffing smoke, heaters were on in the vehicles, laughter and cheery faces could be seen through windows and keyholes, and some boys could be seen throwing snowballs at one another in a front yard. Some bells were ringing at street corners, with a red metal bucket to collect the charity of those passing by. ’Twas the season of good cheer.
.     And a cold wind to counter it, thought Will as he stepped off the bus into the evening air.
.     “Come along, everyone,” Mr. Williams instructed. “Let’s get indoors quickly.”
.     The concert hall was a very grand place. Like a castle, thought Margaret as she looked around at the pillared halls, red carpets, and large curving ceilings. Everyone was dressed very nicely, and people spoke in hushed voices and quiet whispers. An usher greeted the Williamses at the entrance to the grand concert seating area, and they found their seats and sat down.
.     If you have ever been to a concert hall and heard a live symphony, you will know that there is some time in waiting before everyone is ready, and you can hear the grand and pleasing sound of the instruments tuning up. Then there is a hushed silence and a lot of clapping as the conductor walks out onto the stage, and then another hushed silence before the grand first notes of the symphony begins. And no matter how many times you attend a symphony, that same feeling of quiet anticipation and then great elation is always felt.
.     Lilly and Ann were held in silent wonder. Will, Johnathon, and Timothy were captivated. And Margaret, Susan, and Maria were watching and listening with gaping mouths. When it was over, some of the youngers were asleep, with the music still tolling in their minds, while the olders were still humming the tunes to each other, allowing the rhythm to enter their hearts and tap their feet.

First Snow

The Williams House; Chapter 5: Uncles, Aunts, Nephews, and Nieces; Pgs. 126-130

.     It was a long time later when several people started to file into their bedrooms. The uncles and aunts did a good job at tracking down their own children and preparing them for sleep. As for the Williams children, they were soon directed for sleep themselves, only the boys could not seem to settle down at first.
.     “Let’s talk for a little while,” whispered Will. “Everyone will probably sleep in, anyway.”
.     “No one can hear us, that’s for sure,” said Johnathon. “Do you think it’s snowing yet?”
.     “I think it is,” said Will. “This will probably be the first time Oliver, Tabitha, Orla, or Isaac have seen and felt this much snow.”
.     “You mean they’ve never been sledding?” asked Timothy.
.     “Neither had you till we moved here,” said Will.
.     “I say,” said Johnathon, “it is great to sleep in the attic. What an adventure!”
.     “Isn’t it, though,” said Will and Timothy.
.     “I ate too much sugar to go to sleep, though,” continued Will. “What books do we have up here?”
.     A lamp was turned on, and the boys shuffled around a little. The dim light shined murkily out and shone on several books on a shelf and scattered elsewhere throughout the attic.
.     “What about on the shelf by the chimney,” said Will who was still in bed.
.     Johnathon walked over to the shelf, putting his hand on the warm stone that was radiating heat into the room. “Several good titles here,” he said as he started going through them one at a time. Then he started listing them by author to save time. “We have Burnett, Nesbit, Dickens, Dodge, Stephenson, Lewis, Henty—”
.     Will interrupted and suggested one of the titles, and soon Johnathon had brought over the book.
.     “Do you think it’s all right?” asked Timothy.
.     “We might as well do something if we’re already wide awake,” said Will, “and it could help us to fall asleep.”
.     Johnathon and Timothy slunk back to their makeshift beds and rolled themselves up in their covers, exchanging excited glances with one another. The wind continued to blow against the side of the house, and they could tell it was definitely sleeting now, yet the attic was warm from the chimney and furnace vent, and the murky light of the lamp cast a dim light about the long expanse of the room.
.     Will started reading, imitating perfectly an old British accent, as though telling his life’s long tale. It was nearly an hour later when the murky glow of the lamp shone down upon three sleeping forms, Will still holding the book in his hands.
.     “Wake up, wake up!” whispered a voice, shaking Will from side to side.
.     Will sat up with a jerk, looking about the room in a single glance. A dim grayness was lighting up a little of the outside. “What time is it?” he said as he looked for the clock.
.     “Seven,” said Timothy, “and you left the light on last night. I just switched it off.”
.     “Oh, thank you, Cap!” said Will. “But why wake me? Everyone will probably be asleep for a couple more hours.”
.     “Look outside,” said Timothy. “It’s white.”
.     “So it is,” said Will strangely as he rose from bed. “Just look at it shine.” Then Will looked over at Johnathon and saw him still sleeping. A mischievous gleam entered Will’s eye, and he mouthed and motioned to Timothy. They both crept over to the window and opened it. Then they reached out to the short ledge and took some of the snow off from it, quickly closing the window with a slight squeak. Both cringed, but Jonathon only stirred slightly and then resumed his normal breathing.
.     Will crept over to Johnathon’s bed, raising his hand and throwing the snowball plop onto Johnathon’s face. Yes I know, this is the second time that Johnathon has woken up coughing and spluttering in this story. Let us hope it is the last. In any case, after the laughter and explanations, all three boys moved over to the window and looked out, gathering as much snow on the outer sill as possible.
.     “Should we all go downstairs now?” asked Timothy after a while.
.     “I suppose so,” said Will, “though not many people will be up yet.”
.     All three of them traipsed down the attic stairs and down the other flights to the kitchen, where they found their mother just stirring.
.     I sadly cannot go through all the events of the day, as there were so many things that happened that it would be impossible to write them all down. The large feast happened around noon, and before then, all the families spent a lot of time out in the snow, throwing snowballs and even treading barefoot through it for a few moments. There was not a large amount of it, perhaps three inches or so, but what was there was used well. All the meals were scrumptious, and the conversation cheering. Many of the foods were traditional for Thanksgiving, with turkey, bread and butter, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and many, many, many pies for dessert. However, there were also a few English foods such as pigeon pie and English tea for drink. Hot cocoa was also served in good cheer of the cold outside.
.     The extended family stayed over the weekend and some of them then left. The boys were able to move back to their room, much to their disappointment. Then others left, and finally, after a couple weeks, the rest left, having used up all of their vacation time.
.     “They will be missed,” said Will one late afternoon, “but it is good to have one’s house to oneself again. I say, isn’t it extra quiet?”
.     “Yes,” said Lilly, “like old times.”

Christmas, Winter, and Good Cheer

The Williams House; Chapter 7: Christmas; Pgs. 145-148

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say: throw cares away
Christmas is here bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold
Ding, ding, ding, dong, that is their song
With joyful ring all caroling
One seems to hear words of good cheer
From everywhere filling the air
Oh how they pound, raising the sound
O’er hill and dale, telling their tale
Gaily they ring while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
On, on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home

.     Maria and Susan were skating near their driveway, using their boots to glide along as they held each other’s hands. Moonlight was dancing around their hair as they turned and flipped along the ice. Both were laughing, not only at their clumsy attempts to skate, but also with sheer glee at the evening and the coming day. Yet their eyes were expectant, eagerly radiant and quiet at the same time.
.     ’Twas in the evening of Christmas Eve, and all were about to embark for a Christmas Eve service. Snow was in the air, and it was falling with a gentle rush upon the ground. It was a cold night. Shadows of the trees were cast on the small skating rank, webbing out with their gnarled branches as though reaching for something.
.     “Come along, girls,” Mrs. Williams was calling from their driveway. “It is time to go.”
.     Susan and Maria saw everyone else filing out of the front door. They quickly did a last skate upon the rink before gliding off, trudging along the shoveled path to the Flying Carpet, which seemed to be waiting for them.
.     “Watch your step,” called Johnathon. “The ice is slick.”
.     After filing in, Maria could hear and feel their father start up the vehicle, making a long rumble beneath her seat. She could see the moon in full blaze out her window, and wondered if it ever became lonely way up there in the sky. Then soon, the vehicle was rolling down the old country road, lines of trees blocking most of the moonlight and casting the bus in darkness.
.     During the ride, Margaret suggested that they sing, and she began speaking the words, “Tis the season to be jolly.” Everyone soon joined her in song, and carols of voices were heard whizzing past to anyone who was out by the road at that time. Then Lilly led them into a Christmas hymn. When completed, their hearts were well prepared for the service that evening.
.     And a grand service it was! The carol hymns rang up from the sanctuary, and it spread into all the hearts and souls of those who heard it. A snow ploughman was ploughing his sidewalk a block away, and his strokes became firmer and his countenance brightened upon hearing the angelic anthems. His work was completed the sooner, and he entered the church building to hear the latter half of the sermon. Others were passing by under the shadow of the moon, and some stepped in to gladden their hearts. Those who didn’t, but turned away in fear or anger, were the worse for doing so.
.     The church sanctuary was soon filled to the brim, and still more people came, many members and many guests. When a troop of smaller children came in who had apparently been having a large nightly snowball fight in the churchyard, the Williamses stood up and gave them their seats. Then Mr. Williams led Mrs. Williams and children to a balcony area where they still might attend the service. The children carried their Bibles up with several hymnals, though they had most of the hymns memorized by heart.
.     After the service, there was a very loud ruckus as the congregation broke out in discourse. Many walked up to thank the pastor. Some left in a quick bustle, anxious to get back for their Christmas festivities. Others talked long with either friends or family, new acquaintances or old acquaintances that had not been seen for a long time. The Williamses and Bentleys talked long and eventually broke out in song with many other families, determined not to have their spirits of good cheer hindered. Those who drove or walked away could still hear the voices, both young and old, singing merrily to them from within the halls of the church. Much was done to thrill the hearts of many that night.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 148-150

Snow Melting in the Park

The Williams House; Chapter 9: The First Hints of Spring; Pgs. 166-167

.     All the children bounded out of the bus the moment it parked. The ground was still covered with snow except for several snaking trails that had been cleared. But it wasn’t a very cold snow, and many trudged through it with the warm sun at their backs. Several whoops and shouts rang through the air in their delight. Then everyone stood and thought of what game they could play.
.     “We really can’t play any of our usual running games,” said Ann, “because there’s still so much snow on the ground.”
.     “And how slushy it is, too,” said Timothy as he took a step off the cleared concrete path into a snow bank. “I wonder why it hasn’t all melted.”
.     “It’s melting,” said Will, “but it will take a while to melt yet. And all the water will turn to ice during the nighttime.”
.     “I say,” said Ann, “isn’t this perfect tree tapping weather?”
.     “Yes,” said Lilly, “we’re going to start tomorrow; I heard Mum say so. We normally start sooner, but the long winter will probably throw everything off schedule.”
.     “Wait! I have an idea,” said Johnathon. “Why not try to fly a kite? We should have the makings for several in the Flying Carpet, and the breeze should be enough, don’t you think?”
.     “It’s only a slight breeze,” said Lilly, “but it might work.”
.     Will went back to the bus to carry out the makings, and he was put in charge of constructing them. Some of the other olders helped, with the younger girls playing on the path and looking at the process every now and then. Meanwhile, Mrs. Williams was reading a book as she paced the paths, looking back and forth from the landscape to the words on the pages in front of her. She could hear Johnathon shouting “Pull harder!” as she saw all the children running in the distance and trying to make a kite fly.
.     “I am,” said Timothy in earnest. “It’s not working.”
.     “Let me have a look,” said Will. “Perhaps I didn’t put it together right.” He tried a go, but all the kite did was flop around a little before skidding along the ground.
.     Several attempts were made without success, and Lilly was about to suggest giving up the idea and playing something else. Johnathon was just trying as she was speaking, and before she finished her sentence, a sudden gust of wind swept over the land.
.     “Run, run!” everyone shouted to Johnathon, and he ran with all his might, the kite flying up into the sky with a leap and a bound.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 168-170

Snow Melt

The Williams House; Chapter 9: The First Hints of Spring; Pgs.161-163

.     “Look!” cried Johnathon one morning as he gazed out the boys’ room window.
.     Will and Timothy started from bed, nearly jumping from their covers. “What is it, John,” said Will. He used the name John instead of Johnathon whenever he was shocked, irritated, or still bleary from sleep (and he was probably a mixture of all three at the moment).
.     “Don’t you see the water dripping from the roof,” said Johnathon. His satin pajamas were reflecting the bright beams of sunlight around the room. “And don’t you hear all the crackling and drizzling?”
.     Will and Timothy stumbled towards the window, blinking in the bright light. “Why,” said Will in wonder, “it’s melting. It’s all melting away!”
.     And so it was. Sunlight was beaming its rays of heat down on the snow in full force. There was not a cloud in the sky. Many of the icicles on the roof had broken off and shattered in a million pieces down below, and the ones still on the roof overhang were dripping water drops down through the air. The snow and ice on the ground seemed to be erupting with crackles and popping, many pools of water and slush spreading over the driveway.
.     “And listen to that,” said Will. “I haven’t heard the sound of a bird in several months.” There were only a few of them, chirping sporadically as they appeared to be relating their tales of their southern journeys. “Come along,” said Will, “let’s get dressed quickly and surprise the girls with the awakening spring.”
.     Johnathon went over to his day calendar on his nightstand and flipped the sheet, and it read the thirteenth of March. He then hurried over to his dresser and reached for his clothes.
.     Meanwhile, the girls had already wakened, and they were congregating in Lilly and Ann’s room, marveling at the shining brightness of the sun upon the land. When the boys entered their room, they found many of the girls pressing their hands against the glass to feel the warmth of the sun.
.     “It’s spring!” shouted Timothy.
.     “I know!” said Margaret. “Just listen to all the sounds!” She and Timothy started jumping around the room.
.     “It shouldn’t be long now before the frogs start croaking in the pond,” said Will, “though we still have some more cold days and nights ahead. The fingers of winter are just finally relinquishing their hold.”
.     Just then, a large icicle dropped from above the girls’ window and plummeted to the ground below, as if in response to Will’s statement. Everyone watched it stick fast into a melting snow bank. Then they looked straight out and around them. The trees still looked dead, and the land was still buried in white. Yet life was bursting within the wood and under the snow and in the air as the few birds continued to sweep through the sky. Sunlight continued to beam in vehemence, as if saying to the snow, “Go away, you cold wet sand, and don’t come back till next winter season.”
.     “Come along, everyone,” said Lilly at last. “The sooner we eat breakfast and do the morning chores, the sooner we may play outdoors before school.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 163-164