Below you will find Part Two of this year’s Christmas story. If you missed Part One, you can find it here. Happy reading!
A week later found Helen outside hanging up laundry in the late autumn sunshine. It was a breezy, brisk day and the wet clothing combined with the cold air was making her fingers freeze. She looked up as she heard the wagon. Papa had gone to town for supplies and he usually brought a small treat back for each of the children. Even though Helen considered herself to mature to enjoy penny candy, she was secretly glad that Papa still brought her some.
“Whoah,” Papa pulled the wagon up next to the house and jumped down. In his hand he held two letters. This was not unusual as both Papa and Mama had family back east in Cleveland.
Mama was wiping her hands on a towel as she came out to greet Papa with a smile.
“Two letters today,” John handed them to her. Helen knew that Mama loved the letters she got from Grandma and her sisters. It was a bit hard on her to live so far from her family.
Helen continued hanging up the laundry until the last piece was hung on the line and then she went inside to find mama reading her letters at the kitchen table.
“Anything interesting?” Helen asked.
“Well, actually, yes…” Mama looked at her with speculative, twinkly eyes.
“Well…what?” Helen laughed.
“I’d like to talk to your father before I tell you what’s in this specific letter,” she held up a piece of paper with large, scrawling handwriting and then pointing to the second letter laying on the table, “but Grandma sends her love,” she added with a smile.
A bit annoyed, Helen wandered off into the living room where her younger siblings were playing quietly. She busied herself with her knitting basket as she pondered the author and message of the mysterious letter.
Several hours later the younger children were in bed and the older children sat at the table doing their homework. Helen’s parents found her in the living room reading. Her mama held the letter in her hand. Helen looked up expectantly. Now what could be in that letter?
“We’d like to talk to you for a moment,” said Mama as she sat down on the sofa. A smiling Papa sat down next to her.
“This letter is from my Aunt Ida. She was talking to Grandma and telling her that her companion recently got married and that she is in need of a new one. Grandma suggested you,” she paused a moment to let it sink in.
Helen sat there, dumbfounded. Wealthy Aunt Ida was requesting her as a companion? “What would I do?”
Her father answered, “According to her letter you would help her with correspondence and entertaining, as well as simply keep her company.”
“That’s it?” Helen asked, surprised.
“That’s it,” Mama laughed and then continued, “What a different life it would be for you compared to your life here on the farm. But your father and I feel like you should do this. It’s a wonderful opportunity. Aunt Ida is such a dear and she’s all alone now that Uncle Harry passed away a few years ago.”
Thoughts swirled through Helen’s mind. She had never met Aunt Ida but she did remember Mama talking about her “rich relatives”. Aunt Ida had met and married Uncle Harry when he was an up and coming businessman. He had done very well for himself and, many years ago, the couple had moved to a big, rambling mansion in the best part of Cleveland. Aunt Ida had stayed living there despite the fact that she was all alone now.
While Helen had spent many hours dreaming of living in a mansion, she never thought it would actually happen. The excitement began to grow within her as she thought of what lay before her.
“Yes! I’ll do it!” she said suddenly and eagerly.
“Wonderful,” her mama said it a bit hesitantly as the ramifications of her oldest daughter moving away settled in on her heart. As with most mamas, she wanted what was best for her beloved child but that would sometimes mean hurt to her own heart. While she did rely on Helen for help around the house and with the younger children, she knew that her other older children could fill that hole. No, what she would really miss was Helen herself. As she had grown older, the mother and daughter had developed a burgeoning friendship and she would sorely miss her. But Mama knew she had to encourage her daughter to grab hold of this exciting opportunity so she shooed the unhappy thoughts away and pasted a large smile on her face as she added, “you will love my Aunt Ida. She is a delightful lady. ”
Papa lovingly squeezed Mama’s hand. He knew how hard this was for her but he also agreed that it was important for Helen to take advantage of this unexpected and amazing opportunity.
Mama and Helen both wrote letters to Aunt Ida in response to her letter and the next few weeks were a flurry of activity as they prepared Helen for her big adventure.
Three weeks later, she stood by the train station with her family. The youngest children were especially sad that “their Helen” was leaving them and the good-bye was difficult. There were many hugs and kisses and not a few tears as she climbed on to the train that would take her east to her new life.