|General Fiction posted April 9, 2017||Chapters:||...48 49 -50- 51...|
A chapter in the book In The Cellar
The Ryans' Plan
Sylvia White, a 14-year-old girl, living with her widowed father in the late 1800's in Clintok, Missouri. Sylvia is with child and has run away from home. She is now staying with the Ryan family.
“You didn’t tell me about the town meeting on Thursday?”
“Oh, yes. Sorry, I didn’t want to mention anything, until Dr. Parker knew for sure. He had to check with folks in town and stopped by to let us know the meeting is scheduled.”
“Oh, okay. What do you think they’ll do?”
“I don’t know, Son. The meeting is to discuss some things.”
“Pa, do you think he’s the father…of the baby?”
“I don’t know, Son. But, I’m guessing that may be discussed. Has Sylvia said anything to you?”
“No. I couldn’t even get her to admit he did that to her face. I just don’t know what to think, Pa.”
“Well, I’ll tell you one thing. The truth has a way of coming out eventually, one way or another.”
“You best get in that creek, while you can still stand it.”
Patrick removed his clothes, and stepped into the ice cold water. He hoped this could cool his thoughts about Sylvia soaking in that bathtub.
Sylvia pushed up higher. “Oh, thank you, Ma’am…Mary. It’s kind of you.”
“Well, it may be too big, but it’s clean. After my bath, I’ll wash that dress for you.”
“It’s alright. I don’t want to be a burden.”
“Nonsense. You need a clean dress, until I can get some material to make another one.”
“Oh no, you don’t have to do that.”
“You’ll need some clothes along the way. Well, I’ll leave you to it.”
“You’re welcome, dear.”
She brought me a nightgown and now, she’s going to make me a dress? Patrick has the best family! Sylvia smiled, as she soaped up, and rinsed. She dried herself off, put on the nightgown, and returned to the house.
After Mary finished her bath, she washed Sylvia’s dress and put it by the fireplace to dry. By then, Patrick had returned, and everyone was gathered by the fire. Pa made popcorn for the family, and waited for Mary to join them in the nightly reading of Louisa May Alcott’s short story, The Mysterious Key.
Pa wasn’t far into the story, when Sylvia yawned. It wasn’t long and she was fast asleep. Pa finished the chapter and closed the book. He nodded. “Alright then, time for bed.”
Sadie said, “Oh, do we have to, Pa?”
Sarah added, “Yeah, can’t you read another chapter?”
“Girls, you know we have church in the morning. Now off to bed.”
The girls frowned. “Yes, Sir.”
Ma said, “We’ll be right there to tuck you.” Mary walked over to Sylvia, seated in the rocking chair, and placed her hand on Sylvia’s arm. “Sylvia, it’s time for bed. Sylvia…Sylvia.” She turned toward John. “Well, she’s just plumb tuckered.” Patrick was seated near Sylvia, and now stood by her side.
“Is she okay, Ma?”
Mary watched Sylvia’s chest rise and fall. “She’s breathing. I think she’s just plumb worn out. Why don’t you carry her into her bedroom.”
“Okay.” Patrick scooped her up in his arms, and carried her to her bedroom. Mary followed behind him, and pulled the covers back, while Patrick placed her in the bed. He pulled the covers up, and kissed her forehead. “Goodnight, Sylvia.”
Mary smiled, as she took notice of Patrick’s affection for Sylvia. She knew he liked her, but his true feelings were becoming clear. This may just be my future daughter-in-law.
As they both exited the room, Patrick felt nothing but gratitude for his family, and their kindness to Sylvia. “Thanks for taking her in, Ma.”
Mary smirked. “Well, we certainly couldn’t have her living in our root cellar, could we?”
“Patrick, I think you and I and your Pa need to talk about what should happen tomorrow.”
“Okay.” As they entered the dining area, Pa gathered the bowls and picked popcorn kernels off the floor.
“John, I think we should discuss a plan for tomorrow with Sylvia,” Ma said.
“I had the same thought. Let’s sit at the table.”
After they were seated, John spoke first. “Well, Sylvia can’t go to church with us or her Pa will know where she is located.”
Mary said, “Right. Do you think I should stay with her?”
“That might make him suspicious.”
“You could say I’m not feeling well, if anyone asks.”
“I’m not going to lie, Mary.”
“John Patrick Ryan. You know I don’t condone lying, but we’ve got to help this girl. We can’t send her back there after what he’s done!”
John held up his hand. “Calm down, Mary. I’m not suggesting we send her back. But, there’s got to be a way to do it without being dishonest about it.”
Patrick asked, “What if I stay home with Sylvia?”
Both parents shook their heads, and John spoke first. “No, no. That’s the first thing that will alert her Pa. I think she will be safe here in the house. Her Pa should be at church anyway. So, if the whole family shows up, it looks normal.”
“What if he does show up here, Pa?”
“I don’t think he will, Patrick. He’s been looking all over town for Sylvia. He may have given up the notion she’s still in town by now.”
Mary yawned. “Let’s get some shut eye then.”
“Goodnight,” Patrick said, as he stood, and went to his room.
“Goodnight, Son,” they said.
The next morning as the family enjoyed fried ham, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes, they discussed the plan with Sylvia.
Mary asked, “How did you sleep, Sylvia?”
“I don’t remember falling asleep, but I don’t think I’ve ever slept so well.”
“Glad to hear it. I believe your dress is dry, but we can’t take you to church with us or your Pa will know where you are.”
Sylvia scratched the back of her neck. “It’s okay. I didn’t plan on going.”
“Are you okay, dear?”
“We’re afraid if one of us stays with you, it may alert your Pa to your whereabouts. Will you be okay here by yourself?”
“Yes. I’ll be fine.”
“Girls, let’s get that hair brushed. It’s time to go.”
John said, “Sylvia, please stay in the house and don’t answer the door or go anywhere.”
“Mary, it’s time to go.”
“We’ll be right there, John.”
Patrick grabbed Sylvia’s hand and gave it a slight squeeze. “Stay in the house and if someone comes to the door, don’t answer it. “
He winked. “See you later.”
She smiled. “Bye.”
The Ryan family got into the wagon and headed to church. Sadie and Sarah couldn’t wait to see their friends. Mary mentally planned out the meals for the day. John was driven to get the family to church on time. Patrick was worried about Sylvia, and would be able to settle his nerves, after her Pa was seated in a church pew.
As they arrived at church, Patrick noted Bernhard’s wagon was not present. Where is he? Maybe, he’s running late. The Ryan family greeted the Reverend and was seated. Sadie and Sarah got permission to sit with their friends. As John and Mary greeted other members of the church, Patrick kept an eye on the door.
Sylvia White – A 14-year-old girl, who lives alone with her father, Bernhard. Daughter of Sophia White, deceased.
Bernhard White - Sylvia's 50-year-old father. A man of few words and doesn't always speak in complete sentences.
Sophia White - Sylvia's mother. Died in childbirth.
Patrick Ryan - A 15-year-old boy, Sylvia's boyfriend.
Mary Ryan - Patrick's mom, in her 40's.
John Ryan – Patrick’s father, late 40’s.
Sadie and Sarah Ryan – Patrick’s younger twin sisters, age 5.
Johnny Prescott - A 15-year-old boy, classmate of Patrick's.
Timmy Logan - Patrick's friend and classmate.
William Stoope - Town banker and owner of Stoope's Mercantile. Married to Elizah Stoope and father of Abigail Stoope.
Eliza Stoope - Runs Stoope's Mercantile. Married to William Stoope and Abigail’s mother.
Abigail Stoope - A 14-year-old girl. Daughter of William and Elizah Stoope.
Emma Kimball - Teacher at the schoolhouse, in her 20's.
Susie Evans - A 12-year-old girl. Helps the teacher after school.
Dr. Jedidiah Parker – town doctor.
Bartholomew Brooks - the Reverend.
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