The next morning, Lizzie, jumped out of her bed with a light spring in her step. She splashed the ice cold water onto her face, and then patted it dry with a soft, white towel. She picked out her best dress, and put it on, then she pulled back her curls with a matching ribbon. With pride she stood in front of her full length French looking glass, and spun a circle. Her fancy, white lace up boots, clicked merrily as she spun, then she stopped, and practiced curtsying. She loved how her light blue dress, emphasized her blue eyes, and the dark blue sash just made the perfect touch. She flashed a smile with her perfectly white teeth, then skipped out of her room, with her golden curls bouncing behind her.
“Alison!” She called merrily down the hall, “Are you ready yet?”
“It’s not proper to skip, or to raise your voice, is it?” Miss. Taylor asked, as she walked up behind Lizzie.
“No Ma’am. But I’m really excited, Mamma’s going to take Alison and me shopping today!”
“I know, you’ve only told me a thousand times, but she won’t be here till at least noon. So, try an keep your voice down please.”
“Yes, Miss. Taylor,” Lizzie said, as she gracefully walked away, to go drag Alison out of bed.
Downstairs, Edward had been awaken much earlier by the clatter coming from the kitchen. So, he used the wee morning hours to read his pocket Bible. After a short time, a knock at his door interrupted him.
“Miss Lansky, come in,” he said, bowing deeply to her, as he held the door for her. Please sit down.
“Thank you Edward. I will,” she said, taking the seat by the fire. “Now, Edward, I’ve always known and trusted your family, because of your dear mother, rest in peace. But, I have had no contact with you since her death. And I would like very much to know, why the day before Christmas, you show up in ragged clothes, in the middle of a storm, to deliver a letter to a child, that you don’t even know. I know your family is well to do, and yet you show up looking like a beggar. Pray explain yourself.”
“Mother died five years ago, and shortly after that, Father fell, and broke his hip. He got worse and worse, and although I tried, I couldn’t save him, and he died as well. Right after my father’s burial, his lawyer was going to help me claim my father’s estate, and the Bell Flower Manor. But then my brother-in-law showed up.”
“Your brother-in-law? But you’re an only child.”
“ I have a sister. She is ten years older then me, and four years before Mother’s death, she ran off with a French man, Bernard, by name. I’m afraid that I can’t call him a gentleman. Anyway, he showed up with this lawyer, and said that since his wife was the eldest child, they were rightfully owners on the estate. I fear there was dishonesty about, because my lawyer quit, and Bernard, took the place over. I was forced to leave, and although I tried to return and talk to my sister, Isabel, the servants wouldn’t let me in. I was only a lad of sixteen, on that awful day, but I had no where to go. So, I tried to talk to the town’s people, but they wouldn’t speak to me, let alone give me a job, so I took off on foot. I had never slept on the ground, and the idea was repulsing. I had never missed a meal, and I started to get very hungry, and yet I pressed on. I was to proud to stop and ask for help, so the further I went, the hungrier I got. I walked all day, and all night. Finally, in a state of complete exhaustion, I fell to the ground and slept.” This entire time, he had held Miss Lansky’s gaze, but now he looked away in shame, as he remembered those anguishing moments. A lone tear slid down his cheek, and his head sunk down to his breast, as he once more felt the weight of utter helplessness. He took a few moments to compose himself, and then he continued.
“When I finally arose, I trudged on and on, not caring where I went, in my eyes, my life was over, and I would just wander till I died. I don’t know how far I walked before I collapsed again, but when I awoke the second time, I was in a bed. Farmer Phil had found me, and had taken me in. He thought it was best to keep me for at least a week until my strength was completely returned. I loved his family, and I ended up spending a month at his farm. I found it revolting how they were so poor, and had so little, and yet they didn’t hesitate to share what they did have. I learned how to really work while living with them, and I guess you could say, I learned how to really live as well. They had such a hard life, and yet they were happier than I had ever been. I had always believed in God, but they taught me of Jesus, and how he died for our sins. I got convicted of my sin on a personal level, and I fell broken at the Savior’s feet. He took me, and He has been my strength and joy ever since. When he forgave my sin, I really started to live. I learned how to forgive others, and I sent Isabel, a letter, telling her that I had completely forgiven them, and that I would be happy to do anything I could, to make her believe that she was forgiven. I don’t know if they ever got the letter, but it relived my conscience. When I finally left, Farmer Phil sent me to his brother’s farm where I have lived for the last five years. Four weeks ago, I married the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth, Emma. She also has a heart for God.”
Miss Lansky nodded. “Yes, but what does that have to do with my pupil Lizzie?”
-to be continued-