The Writer's Corner
Chapter 19 - Worry
Written by Michelle Palmer
“Mama Julie?” Julie opened her eyes one morning in early October
when she heard Laura’s voice. She noticed the sun from the
window shining in her eyes. “Mama Julie?” Laura called again.
Julie allowed herself to wake up. She reached out and took
Laura’s hand as her concerned face looked down into hers. “You
Julie sat up in bed quickly when she realized she had overslept,
but immediately, she had to lay back down when the room started
to spin. She pressed a hand to her forehead, hoping the sense of
nausea that had suddenly swept over her would subside. “What is
“Are you sick or something? The boys are up. I think they’re
hungry.” Laura continued to look down at Julie.
“The boys…” Julie stopped as she slowly sat up again. She felt
the room spinning and thought she was about to lose the contents
of anything still left in her stomach from supper the night
before. “Is it that late?” Julie turned to look out the window.
She closed her eyes and tried to force her stomach to calm down.
“I thought I had to go to school today?” Laura asked as Julie
put her hands to her face.
“Oh!” Julie stood up. Abe had left the day before to go hunting.
He was expected back later that day. Julie shuffled to the door
in her bare feet and shivered. “It’s a bit cool today, don’t you
Laura hurried over to Julie. “I would’ve fixed breakfast myself,
but you said to never light the stove.”
“It’s okay, Laura. I just…” Julie put a hand to her mouth.
“Laura, I need to go out back. Would you watch the boys?” Julie
hurried out the back door before Laura could even answer.
Laura went into the front room and picked up some pieces of wood
for the fire. She opened the door on the stove and started
filling it with wood. While she was doing that, Peter knocked on
the front door then entered. “Julie, I’m here to…” Peter stopped
when he saw Laura at the stove. “Where’s Julie?”
“She went out back,” Laura answered. “Mama Julie overslept. I’m
just gettin’ the wood in the stove.”
“Laura, you aren’t even dressed for school yet.” Peter motioned
towards her bedroom. “Now…you go on in there and get ready for
Peter worked on putting wood in the fire. He heard the back door
open, then close. Peter turned to see Julie looking very pale.
“Peter…what are you doing here?”
“Abe asked me to come by this morning and see about the chores,”
Peter answered. He raised his eyebrows as he looked her up and
down. Julie, suddenly realized she was still in her night gown,
let out a gasp and hurried toward the bedroom.
Peter got the fire started while Julie dressed. Julie hurried
from the bedroom. “Laura!” She called. “Laura, it’s time to go
to school!” Julie hurried into the kitchen and worked on fixing
fresh coffee. “Oh Peter, I don’t even have breakfast started!”
Julie smoothed her hair back. As soon as she got Laura off to
school, she would put her hair up. “I guess I got to bed a
little late last night and I…”
But if she was completely honest with herself, she hadn’t stayed
up late. In fact, not having Abe to talk to after the kids were
down left her feeling a bit lonely so she had gone to bed
earlier than usual. No…the reason for her late awakening was
something else. But it was something she didn’t even want to
admit to herself, let alone tell her brother-in-law.
“Are you alright?” Peter asked as he studied her closely. “You
look a bit…pale.”
“I’m just tired.” Julie turned and looked at her sons. “Oh,
David!” She ran over to get David, who had once again managed to
make a mess with the cornmeal. She removed David from the mess,
but he started screaming. Julie paid no mind to his screams as
she firmly sat him in his highchair at the table and turned to
do the same with her other children. “Laura, please hurry and
get ready for school!” Julie called in a frustrated voice.
Laura hurried from her bedroom. “Could you button me up?”
“Your hair isn’t even up!” Julie declared.
“I’m gonna wear it down today,” Laura announced.
“Oh no you aren’t, young lady! I don’t want you coming home with
your hair all dirty! Now, march right back in that room and…”
Julie reached out and gave Laura a firm smack on the backside.
“You still need to eat!”
“She hasn’t eaten…” Peter mumbled. “Julie, school starts in five
“I know school starts in five minutes!” Julie snapped suddenly.
She pressed a hand to her forehead and turned toward Peter. “I’m
sorry. It’s just one of those mornings.”
Peter held up his hands. “I tell you what, Laura Rose. You get
your books and hurry on down the hill. I think Emily’s still got
some biscuits and gravy she can give you. Emily can help you get
your hair up as well.” Peter watched Laura hurry out the door.
Then he turned back to Julie. “Perhaps I should send for
Margaret. She should come help you this morning.”
“No!” Julie took another breath and held up a hand. “I…I can
handle it. You just go do whatever it is you came to do.”
Julie took a pan from the cabinet and started heating oatmeal up
as Peter walked out the door.
The morning didn’t go well. Julie seemed to mess everything up.
The boys were not satisfied with their breakfast. This left
everyone very moody. Charlie was put in the naughty chair twice
before Julie even had a chance to get one thing done in the
house. And nothing would stay down. If she put a single bite of
anything in her mouth, it would come right out again.
Lunch was no better than breakfast. The entire house was in
dishevel, because the few times Julie DID manage to get the boys
to settle down and play nicely, she was too dizzy to do
anything. And while cooking lunch, she had two screaming boys
pulling on her legs while the other two fought over some little
toy they each wanted.
Julie was certainly glad when nap time came. She didn’t even
bother cleaning up the mess from lunch, but took all four boys
into one bedroom and laid down with them until they fell asleep.
She almost fell asleep herself, but finally forced herself to
get up. Julie slowly walked out to the rocking chair and sat
down. She wasn’t feeling well, and she didn’t have to hazard a
guess as to why. She felt her eyes fill with tears as she
remembered back. She started weeping.
A brief knock sounded on the door before it opened. Julie didn’t
have time to stand up before Margaret walked in. Margaret paused
when she saw Julie sitting in her rocking chair. She saw the
tears on Julie’s face. Margaret looked at the table and noticed
it was still covered with dirty dishes. The kitchen was a mess
as well. In fact, the whole house looked to be in disarray.
“Julie? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” Julie stood and wiped her eyes with the back of her
hands. “Everything’s just fine.” She forced a smile on her face
as she reached for the bucket. “I’ll just go for some water.”
“Julie, I…” Margaret walked to the door and watched her race
toward the creek. She turned and looked at the table. Shaking
her head, she went to clean up the mess.
Julie couldn’t help remembering back to that horrible day…the
day she lost her baby. She remembered the pain – not the
physical pain, but the dull ache that had settled in her heart
for days…weeks…and today it felt as raw as it had that day.
Julie sat down on the bank of the creek and put her head in her
hands as she sobbed. She allowed her body to shake as she sobbed
out loud for the loss she still felt. She couldn’t go through
that again! She just couldn’t!
In time, Julie stood up and wiped her eyes. Then she dipped the
bucket in the water and walked back toward the house.
When she got back into the house, Margaret turned and smiled at
her. She froze when she saw that her eyes were red. “Okay, now I
know something’s wrong!” Margaret declared as she sat down the
clean silverware. She gently grabbed Julie’s shoulders. “What is
it? What’s wrong?”
Julie allowed more tears to slip from her eyes. “I…haven’t had
my cycle and I am two weeks late. I’m feeling sick to my
stomach, extremely weak and dizzy…the room spins…all the time!”
“Are you sick?”
Julie shook her head as she walked toward the window. “Not
“You’re pregnant!” Margaret declared. Julie lowered her head and
started crying again. “Oh Julie…” Margaret hurried up to her.
“Julie, you should be pleased that God has blessed you with
“I can’t go through that again! I can’t bare the pain of losing
my baby again…” Julie shook her head.
“You won’t!” Margaret tried to assure her.
“Oh, you don’t understand!” Julie rested her head against the
window. “I wasn’t sick with Charlie or the triplets! I always
felt so good! But the baby I miscarried…”
“No!” Margaret rushed up behind her. “You should go to the
doctor. I’ll watch the children and…”
“NO!” Julie swung around. “Oh NO! I can’t…” Julie turned toward
Margaret. “Please…don’t tell anybody about this…not even your
family! PLEASE!” Hot tears forced themselves from her eyes as
Julie clinched her fingers and pleaded with her friend.
Margaret studied her. She hoped she never knew how it felt to
lose a life that was growing inside you. She could see the pain
that filled Julie’s very being, and knew the baby she lost took
a piece of her heart with her. Finally, Margaret nodded.
“Alright. I’ll stay quiet. But honey, you are going to be okay!
Nothing’s going to happen.”
Julie hurried to the kitchen. “I’ve got to get this floor mopped
before the children get up.”
Margaret continued cleaning up the kitchen as she watched Julie
begin scrubbing the floor. She could tell Julie was carrying a
heavy heart. Finally, Margaret stopped and walked over to Julie.
“You should tell Abe. Julie, this…thing…it’s tearing you up
inside. This baby…is part of Abe as well. He has a right…”
“I can’t…” Julie shook her head. “I just can’t…” Julie
remembered the first night she and Abe had made love since
losing the baby. Abe wouldn’t make love to her until she
promised him she was ready to be with-child. At the time, she
thought she was, but now…now being pregnant was the last thing
she wanted, because as much as she wanted another baby, she
didn’t want the fears and worries…the memories…that would go
with her pregnancy.
The afternoon had passed rather slowly. Margaret had to leave
early. She was meeting Ann in town to pick out some material for
her wedding dress. Ann was getting married in December. This
time, she had told Margaret, Hal wasn’t going to back out.
As she worked at the kitchen sink, Julie heard a horse
approaching and lifted her hand to move the curtain back at the
kitchen window. She saw Laura ride into the yard on Star Bright.
Abe had restricted Laura from riding Star Bright after a series
of lies she had told, and he had not lifted that restriction; so
the fact that Laura had ridden the horse to school was
Julie hurried toward the door and swung it open. Something
inside her snapped as she rushed out onto the porch. “What are
you doing riding your horse? I thought you were on
Laura was startled by Julie’s tone of voice. It was very rare
that Julie raised her voice. It was even rarer that Julie would
speak so angrily to her. Laura stood beside her horse and just
looked up at Julie. Julie put her hands on her hips. “Well,
“P…Peter told me I could today ‘cause I was so late for school!
“You disobeyed your brother and me!” Julie snapped as she
crossed her arms. “You just…go on to your room!”
“But Julie, I…” Julie pointed toward her room. Laura felt so
hurt by Julie’s treatment. She busted into tears and ran to her
room, giving the door a firm slam.
Julie paused in the doorway and looked toward Laura’s closed
door. She could hear Laura’s muffled crying from the bedroom.
Her heart broke, knowing her bad mood had caused her to lash out
at Laura. Thinking on it now, she knew she was wrong, but Julie
wasn’t sure how to fix it. She would have to leave it be for
Even the boys could sense something was terribly wrong with
their mother as they sat on the floor playing with their toys.
They tried to leave Ma alone for now, content with their toy
horses and blocks.
While Julie was fixing supper an hour later, she heard another
horse approaching the house. She lifted her head and looked out
the window to see Abe. Julie closed her eyes, knowing she would
have to keep her composure, less he ask questions she wasn’t
ready to answer.
Abe walked inside. “Hi, honey,” he greeted her warmly as he
unstrapped his gun belt and hung it safely on the peg.
“Hi.” Julie continued to cut up the vegetables for the stew.
Abe hung his hat up. “Some,” he answered as he walked into the
kitchen. Julie continued to peel her vegetables. Abe crossed his
arms to one side. She hadn’t even looked at him. “Did I…do
something wrong again?”
“No.” Julie answered with her face still down, concentrating on
her task. “Why do you ask?”
There. He heard it. Her voice was sad. Something was wrong! But
Abe merely shrugged. “Oh…I don’t know. You just usually greet me
with a little more enthusiasm than this…especially when you
haven’t seen me in two days.”
“I’m sorry.” Julie pressed a hand to her forehead, forcing her
tears to stay back. “It’s just been a long day. The boys…” Julie
swallowed. “They’ve been hard to manage today.”
“Oh.” Abe leaned on the counter. “Anything I can do?” Abe asked
as he looked toward the boys and raised his eyebrows.
Charlie dropped his toy, jumped up, and to ran to his Pa, as if
suddenly discovering he was there. “Papa! Papa!” Charlie cried
as he jumped up and down for Abe to pick him up. Abe did so.
“Papa, Charlie love ya!” Charlie gave him a wet kiss.
“And I love Charlie!” Abe declared.
Suddenly, the triplets jumped up and wrapped their arms around
his legs. “Papa…Papa…” They all started crying.
“What’s this I hear about giving your Mama trouble?” Abe asked
as he looked at his oldest son. “Does Papa need to hand out some
Charlie’s eyes grew wide. “Oh no, Papa! No! Mama put me in th’
“Oh?” Abe raised an eyebrow. “And what have I told ya about
giving Mama a hard time when I’m not here? Huh?” Charlie started
playing with his father’s beard, not wanting to answer. “Son?”
Abe spoke firmly.
“Yes Papa?” Charlie asked as he stopped and rested his hands on
his father’s cheeks.
“What did I tell you?”
Charlie lowered his head. “Charlie gets more trouble when Papa
gets home.” Abe nodded.
“Abe…” Julie snapped as she looked up and stared out the window.
“Just leave it be.” Her voice was laced with tension.
Abe sat Charlie down. “Why don’t you and the boys go on into
“But Papa…” Charlie started.
“And take your toys with you,” Abe said in a firm voice.
“Yes, Papa.” Abe watched the boys go into Charlie’s bedroom. He
turned and walked back to Julie.
“Hey, what’s Star Bright doing hitched up outside?” he asked
Julie looked up at him for the first time. “Your sister rode her
to school today.”
“She did what?” Abe shook his head in disbelief. “But she can’t
saddle a horse all by herself. Someone helped her.”
“Yes. It seems your brother gave her permission
because…because…” Julie turned back toward the sink.
But Abe grabbed her arm and turned her back around to face him.
“I was late in getting up this morning. I was trying to rush
around and Peter came and rescued me. Laura was going to be late
for school, so I suppose he permitted her to ride the horse
since it would be…faster.”
“Oh. Well, that makes sense.”
Julie sighed. “Yes. I’m afraid it does…now that I…” Julie sat
down the vegetables in her hands and turned toward her husband.
“Abe, I’m afraid I’m not in the best mood today.” Julie lifted
her head to look into his eyes. “I’m afraid I was hard on her
earlier. When I saw her on the horse, I…I yelled at her. I sent
her to her room.”
“You yelled at her?” Abe put his hand under her chin to keep her
eyes focused on him. “That’s not like you.”
“I know…” Julie sighed. “I’m sorry.”
Abe saw it in her eyes. There was something very wrong, but he
could tell she wasn’t ready to open up to him. He lifted his
head and looked toward Laura’s bedroom. He could hear muffled
crying coming from there once again. She had probably been
listening at the door.
Julie turned back to the sink. “Oh…I’d give anything to take it
back, but…Could you…” Julie turned and silently pleaded.
Abe lowered his head and kissed her softly. “I will.” He smiled
into her eyes until a tiny smile appeared on her face.
“Then…could you…go get cleaned up? You smell!” Julie declared.
Abe shook his head. He started for the door, then stopped and
turned around. “This is a first…Usually your apologizing for my
shortcoming. Now…” Julie narrowed her eyes. “Oh…I mean…” Abe
chuckled softly as he walked toward Laura’s bedroom. He turned.
“I love you,” he said softly.
Julie couldn’t keep the smile from her face. “I love you, too.”
Abe softly knocked on Laura’s bedroom door. “Go away!” Laura
Abe opened the door. “I can’t. I’m your Papa Abe.”
Laura lifted her head from her arms and looked up at him. “Oh.
It’s you. Ya gonna spank me?”
“Spank you? Why?” Abe asked as he sat down on the bed and lifted
her onto his lap.
“’Cause I broke the rule and rode my horse to school.”
“I can’t blame you for that. I was gone and Peter took the
initiative to allow you to…Besides, I think you’ve earned our
trust back enough to ride Star Bright again.” Laura leaned her
head back against his chest. Abe wrapped his arms around her.
“Sounds like Peter had a good reason for letting you ride the
“Julie’s so angry with me though.”
Abe kissed the top of her head. “No, honey. Julie’s had a really
bad day. You see, when your day starts off bad, it usually stays
that way all day.”
Abe lowered his head to look at Laura as she thought. “I know
what you mean,” she said with a nod. “I remember one morning
when you yelled at me first thing for doing something wrong. I
seemed to do things wrong all day!”
“She’s sorry for the way she acted. You see, adults are people
too. We make mistakes just like you kids do.” Laura nodded her
understanding. “You know what? I think that if you took the kids
out in the yard and played with them until supper, that would
make her a lot happier.”
“What about my chores?” Laura asked.
“Well…” Abe wrinkled his brow. “I think just this once, it’ll be
Laura turned and hugged him tight. “I love you, Papa Abe!”
“And I love you, Mama Laura!” Abe teased her. Laura bent up and
kissed his cheek. Then she stood up and waved her hand in the
air across her face. “Abe, you stink! Julie will be mad if you
come to the table smelling like that!”
“I was just about to go take a bath!” Abe declared with a
chuckle. “And you don’t always smell like a bed or roses either,
Laura laughed as they walked out together. Julie turned and
looked at Laura. She bent down. “I’m sorry for how I behaved,
Laura looked up at Abe who winked at her. “I know. Abe explained
it to me.”
“Explained what?” Julie asked with a raised eyebrow.
“That you’re just a person too!”
Abe ran his hand under his nose as Laura gathered the boys up to
get ready to go outside. Julie stood and kissed her husband. She
hugged him. His arms felt like a nice, warm blanket on a cold
morning as they tightened around her. She rested her head
against his chest and listened to his heart beat for a few
moments. “Thank you. And welcome home,” she mumbled against his
Abe tightened his arms around her and held her tight against
him. He could feel tension radiating from her. “You want to tell
me what’s wrong?” Abe asked gently.
“Nothing,” Julie answered. After a few moments, she lifted her
head from his chest. “I’ve needed this all day…just to rest in
your arms for a few moments…”
“Have they been that bad, my love?” Abe asked softly as he
lifted her face to peer into her eyes once again.
“No, Abe.” Julie released her hold on him and turned back toward
the sink. “But you really do stink! Go take a bath.”
Abe stood behind her and peered down at her. He could sense her
pain, but he didn’t know how to draw the truth from her. Without
another word, he went into the bedroom to gather his fresh
clothes. Then he went to the creek to take a bath.
Julie’s mood was no better at supper. She was quiet as she
pushed her food back and forth on her plate. Abe and Laura
engaged in light conversation, but the whole time, Abe watched
his wife, concerned about what she was feeling. Something was
wrong, and it was something she didn’t want to share with him.
Charlie and the boys began fussing as dinner went on. Charlie
let his parents know that he did not like potato cakes they were
having for supper, and Abe told Charlie to eat them anyhow.
Charlie started to fuss, but there was something about Julie’s
mood tonight that made even Charlie and the triplets remain
Finally, Abe couldn’t take Julie’s actions anymore. He picked up
his coffee cup. “Aren’t you hungry?” he finally asked her.
Julie looked up. “Not really. I had a pretty rough day.”
“Papa Abe says that if you don’t finish your food, you have to
go to bed…”
“Laura Rose!” Abe warned.
“Oh. But I guess it’s different with adults,” Laura mumbled. Abe
turned back towards her and raised his eyebrows. Laura picked up
her fork and started eating.
“Well…tomorrow’s Saturday. Let’s see now…what is tomorrow?” Abe
asked cheerfully, trying to bring some life back into Julie.
“It’s October 10,” Julie mumbled.
Abe nodded. “I’m…uh…going to town tomorrow.” Abe reached out and
took Julie’s hand. “Anything special I should pick up for you?”
“But, it’s your…” Laura started, but she suddenly felt a kick
under the table. Abe locked eyes with her and slightly shook his
“I think I’ll take Laura and Charlie to town with me tomorrow,”
Abe announced then.
Laura let out a joyful shout. “Can I have candy? Huh? Can I?”
Julie lifted her eyes from the table. “I need Laura here. She
has chores and…”
“Just for a couple hours, Julie. She hardly ever gets to go
and…” Abe started
“But I need her here to look after the boys!” Julie suddenly
snapped. Abe frowned at her words. Julie realized she had spoken
out of line again. “I’m sorry.” She stood and started gathering
up the plates to take to the sink.
Abe watched her worriedly. “Uh Laura…would you take the boys
outside to play until bedtime?”
“Yes sir.” Abe helped the boys from their chairs and waited
until they were all outside. Then he walked up behind Julie and
slid his arms around her. He kissed her neck. “You want to talk
Julie tried to shove his hands away, but they remained firmly
around her. “Talk about what?” she asked.
“About what’s bothering you.” Julie stayed quiet as she worked
at scraping off the plates. Abe kissed her neck again. “I know
something’s wrong, honey. I want you to tell me what.”
“Abe…” Julie paused in her task and closed her eyes. “I just had
a really bad day.”
“That’s all?” Abe asked as he released her.
Julie nodded. “Yes. That’s all.”
Abe turned her to face him. Julie wouldn’t even look him in the
eye. “Your eyes tell me differently, but I’ll leave it alone for
now.” He went to gather up more dishes. Julie snapped at him,
telling him she could clean up. “I know you can. But rather you
like it or not, your husband is going to help you tonight since
I sent Laura outside.”
Julie turned back to the sink and fiercely began scraping the
dishes. In their six years of marriage, Abe had never seen his
wife in quite a state. She was even snapping at the children,
and that’s something she never did! Abe knew she was carrying a
big worry, but she wasn’t ready to tell him.
Tomorrow was her birthday and their anniversary. Perhaps her
mood would change once they gave her a surprise supper. Abe
certainly hoped so!
When they finished the dishes, Julie wiped down the sink. “Abe,
would you fetch some water so I can wash the diapers tonight?”
“Do you have to wash the diapers tonight?” Abe asked. “I sort of
figured on joining our children out in the yard until it’s time
to put them to bed.”
At the mention of children, Julie turned from him. “I’ve washing
to do, Abe. I…”
Abe gently laid his hands on her shoulders. “Julie…” He turned
her around to face him. “Something’s wrong, my sweet. Will you
please talk to me?”
Julie shook her head. “I told you I…”
“…had a bad day. That’s a lie and you know it.”
“Let’s go play with the children.” Julie took off her apron and
went toward the front door. Abe knew she was avoiding the
confrontation at all costs. He still had hopes that things would
be better tomorrow.
They played with the children for awhile. Julie went through the
motions, but her heart wasn’t in it. The children knew that, and
Abe could tell it upset them because something was wrong with
Mama. Finally, Abe clapped his hands and announced it was
bedtime for the boys. Laura went inside to help Julie get the
boys ready for bed. After they were down, Laura asked Julie if
she had to have another sewing lesson that evening. Julie had
begun teaching Laura the task, and Laura was a very unwilling
party in the lessons. It took firm words from Abe at times to
get her to sit down like a young lady and pick up a needle and
thread. Julie merely shook her head as she sat down in her chair
and picked up her sewing. “You go on to bed.”
“Oh, but it’s…” Laura started. But when Julie snapped her head
up and glared at Laura, Laura turned and hurried into the
Not long after the bedroom door closed to Laura’s room did Julie
feel the need to go out back again. She came out of the outhouse
and leaned her head against the side. She put a hand to her
mouth to muffle the sobs that escaped. When she felt confident
she had her emotions under control, Julie made her way back
As she walked inside, Abe came from Laura’s room. “Where were
you?” Julie told him she had just gone out back as she walked
back to sit down in her chair. “I told Laura she could read for
awhile.” Abe sat down in the chair beside Julie and reached for
her hand. “All the chores are done, so I thought I would come
sit with you.”
“You’re always welcome.” Julie silently sewed on the shirt for a
few moments. “When are you going to plant the winter wheat?”
“We’re almost done with the plowing. Oh!” Abe cleared his
throat. “Did you know there’s another mill starting up in town?
They are going to pay double the amount for all the wheat they
Julie paused. She lifted her head to look at Abe. “Double?”
“Yes. There’s a high demand for it, honey.” Abe sat back in his
chair and closed his eyes as he smiled. “We’re doubling our
wheat crop this year. Next year…we may triple it!”
“Sounds like you’ll be busy…” Julie mumbled.
“Mm hm…” Abe lifted his head up and looked at her. “Julie, you
aren’t feeling poorly, are you?”
“Why would you say that?” Julie asked.
“You just look…pale. There’s no color in your face.”
“Maybe I’m losing my natural beauty,” Julie said, only half
“Hey…hey!” Abe stood up. “Alright. That’s it! We’re going for a
“Abe, I don’t feel…” Julie started as she stood up. The room
started to spin, but Julie forced herself to overcome it before
Abe noticed. “We can’t leave the children here…”
Abe smiled as he kissed her on the cheek. He walked over to
Laura’s room and opened the door a crack. “Laura, Julie and I
are going for a walk. You listen for the boys, ya hear?”
“Yes sir,” Julie heard Laura’s quiet voice answer.
Abe turned and nodded. “There…it’s all set!”
“What if Laura falls asleep?” Julie started, but Abe took her
shawl from the hook and wrapped it snuggly around her.
They walked in silence as the moon rose higher in the sky. Abe
put his arm around Julie’s shoulders as they walked along the
creek. “You remember when we were courting? I used to bring you
Julie chuckled softly. “I remember your father watching from the
doorway. He reminded you as we always left that I was a woman
and you were to treat me with respect.”
“Yeah.” They grew silent. Abe stopped beside a tree and turned
to her. He took both her hands in his and leaned in to kiss her.
But there was tension in her kiss. He pulled away and peered
into her eyes. “Your hair…” Abe reached up and took the pins
from it. “It always looked beautiful in the moonlight.” Abe ran
his fingers through it as he leaned in for another kiss.
But Julie quickly turned away. “I’m sorry…”
“Okay, what’s wrong?” Abe asked. Julie shook her head and shot a
hand to her mouth. “Julie, talk to me!” Abe grabbed her
shoulders and turned her around.
“I don’t know, Abe…” Julie lied. “I just…I’m over-emotional
tonight I guess.” In truth, she had felt nausea suddenly sweep
over her again, but it was gone now. She looked up into his eyes
and smiled, trying to take his mind off her troubles. “Why are
you in such a romantic mood tonight?”
Abe lifted his eyebrows as he studied her. He decided to go
along with her. “There’s days that I just…look at you and wonder
“The moonlight.” Julie looked up into the sky. “It’s a full moon
tonight. Maybe that’s what it is.” Julie turned and leaned her
back against his chest. Abe wrapped his arms around her. “I
remember when we were courting the full moon doing strange
things to you.”
“Mm…” Abe mumbled as he pressed his lips against her cheek.
“Seems you warned me I best marry you before I get into
trouble…” Abe smiled. “I remember how we used to walk all the
time before Charlie was born. I…” He stopped when he suddenly
felt her tense. “Julie, why won’t you talk to me?”
Julie turned and hugged him. “Just hold me, Abe…Oh, just hold
me!” Julie cried against him. Abe tightened his arms around her
protectively and held her close. He silently prayed that
everything was okay. The way she was acting was scaring him.
In time, Julie parted from him and wiped her eyes. “We best get
back…” They walked back in silence as they held hands. When they
came inside, they went to each bedroom to check on their
children. They kissed the triplets goodnight as they
straightened their covers. Julie quietly walked into Charlie’s
bedroom and kissed him. Abe stood in the doorway and smiled.
Julie walked out and he closed the door softly.
Finally, they got to Laura’s room. Abe quietly opened the door.
They found Laura asleep on the end of the bed with her tablet in
hand. Abe bent over and took the tablet from her then picked her
up and laid her down at the head of the bed. “I’m sorry…I tried
to stay awake…” Laura mumbled as she turned and went back to
sleep. Abe turned and looked at Julie who smiled.
After softly closing the door, Abe turned and took her arm. “Now
that all my children are in bed and sound asleep, I think it’s
time I put my wife to bed.”
Julie walked into the bedroom and dressed for bed. She was under
the covers and laying on her side, facing the wall when Abe
walked in. Abe undressed and slipped under the covers. He turned
and took her in his arms. Softly, he ran his hand up and down
her arm. Julie closed her eyes. Abe bent down and kissed her
cheek. “Abe…I just want to go to sleep…please.”
Abe stopped kissing her cheek and looked down at her. He heard
the sharpness in her tone and couldn’t help but feel hurt.
“Alright. Goodnight.” He laid down, but kept his arms around
Julie finally broke the silence. “Abe…I’m sorry. I’m just so…”
But she heard the steady breathing. She sighed. Sleep came so
easily for him, but it took a long time before she finally fell
When Abe woke up the next morning, Julie was still asleep. He
kissed her softly then slipped out of bed. “No…No!” he heard
shouting from the bedroom.
Abe hurriedly put his pants on and hurried from the bedroom,
closing the door quietly behind him. In two steps, he was in the
triplets’ bedroom. “Hush now!” he warned in a quiet voice. “Your
mother’s still sleeping and we don’t want to wake her!” Abe bent
down on the floor. “What’s wrong?”
“My horsey!” David shouted as he pointed at Sammy.
Abe put his arm around David and clamped his hand over his
mouth. “I said quietly!” Abe stood up. “I’m going to go check on
your brother and Laura. You stay in here and be quiet!”
Abe opened Charlie’s room, but found Charlie still asleep. He
then made his way to Laura’s bedroom. She answered his knock and
he opened the door. “Oh good, you’re up!”
“We’re going to town!” Laura declared as she continued brushing
Abe chuckled. “I knew there was a good reason you got up this
morning.” He walked into the bedroom. “Laura, Mama Julie had a
bad day yesterday. I want her to sleep. Could you get the boys
dressed and keep them quiet while I fix breakfast?”
Laura’s eyes grew wide. “You…fix breakfast, Papa Abe?”
Abe had picked up the milk bucket but slowly turned to look at
his little sister. “Yes. I’ll fix breakfast! I’ll make…bacon and
eggs…how hard could it be?”
Laura snickered as she put a hand to her mouth. “I could fix
pancakes. Julie’s teaching me how.”
“Oh…uh…no…I’ll fix breakfast. You keep the boys entertained.”
Laura nodded as she went to do his bidding.
Abe quickly went to do the morning chores. When he came back
inside, he checked on the children. Laura was playing quietly
with them on the floor. Abe went to the kitchen and got out the
big skillet. He put grease in the bottom of it, then picked up
an egg. He studied it and scratched his head. “Yeah…how hard
could it be?”
Julie turned and groaned as the sun hit her face. She opened her
eyes and stretched, but suddenly stopped when she felt a
peculiar smell coming from the kitchen. She lifted her head from
the pillow and took a bigger sniff just in case her nose was
deceiving her, but it wasn’t. Something was definitely burning!
Julie threw the covers back and jumped from the bed, but the
room spun around. She quickly grabbed the bedpost and steadied
herself as she pusheded the hair behind her shoulders. Then
slowly, she put a hand to her belly and took some deep breaths.
“Ouch!” she heard Abe exclaim from the other room. Julie looked
curiously toward the bedroom door, her hand reaching for her
robe. She slowly walked over to the door as she slipped her robe
on. The floor was cold against her bare feet, but she slowly
continued to walk to the door. “Dab…blame!” she heard Abe
Julie opened the door. She leaned on the door jamb as she
tightened her robe. “Abe?”
Abe turned from the sink where he had poured water from a
bucket. Smoke appeared as something sizzled. “We need a pump in
this house!” Abe muttered.
“Yes,” Julie nodded as she pushed herself off the door jamb and
walked toward the kitchen. “I’ve been telling you that for six
years. You keep saying you’ll get around to it.”
“And I will as soon as the wheat’s in the ground!”
Julie walked over to the sink and dared herself to look. She put
a hand on her husband’s back as she leaned in. “Abe…” Julie shot
a hand to her mouth and smiled. “What are you doing?”
“Well, I wanted you to sleep in because I figured you were tired
from your hard day, so I thought…I’d fix breakfast.”
“Oh.” Julie folded her arms and lifted her eyebrows as she
looked into his eyes. “That’s very sweet of you.” Abe rolled his
eyes as he focused on her smile. “Abe…I’m sorry about…last
night. I was just so…”
Abe shook his head as he lifted a hand to rest on her cheek. “No
apologies needed, honey. We all have a bad day.” Abe bent down
and kissed her. “But I AM hungry!”
“Why didn’t you ask Laura to cook? I’ve been teaching her how to
make flapjacks and eggs and…”
“Because I thought I was choosing the lesser of the two evils.”
Giggling erupted from the boys’ bedroom where all five children
were playing. Abe turned around and looked at the door. “Now,
I’m not so sure I did.”
Julie chuckled. “Well, if you’re done destroying my kitchen, you
just move along and I’ll cook up a big batch of flapjacks.”
Abe smiled as he bent down to kiss her again. She wrapped her
arms under his and drew them up on his back as he leaned in
further for the kiss, his arms going around her. Their kiss
deepened and Julie let out a small moan.
The door opened. “Abe, is it ready yet?”
Julie and Abe broke their embrace and turned to look at Laura
who had her hands on her hips. Abe chuckled. “It will be if
you’ll help me, Laura Rose!” Julie declared.
Abe entertained the children while Laura and Julie worked
together to fix breakfast. After blessing, the family started
eating. “So, do I still get to go into town with you, Papa Abe?”
Abe looked up at Julie, who merely nodded. “Yes. And…Julie will
go down the hill and visit with Emily and Tiffany today.”
“Oh no! I’ve got lots of work…” Julie started.
“Everyone deserves a day off, Julie…” Abe declared as he help up
a hand. “And you will take today as your Holiday.”
“No! I don’t…”
“It’s not open for discussion!” Abe announced sternly.
Julie stood from her seat and turned to hurry out the door. Abe
jumped up and looked after her. He frowned when he saw her
disappear into the outhouse. “Laura, is something wrong with
Julie?” Abe asked as he continued to stare out the back window.
He turned and looked at her. “Has she been sick?”
Laura shrugged. “All I know is that she was in a bad mood
“Did anything…happen while I was gone?”
“No,” Laura answered. “Julie gave me a sewing lesson and helped
me with my homework Thursday night.” Laura lifted her head and
looked at Abe. “Is something wrong?”
Abe scratched his beard when he saw Julie leave the outhouse and
come back toward the house. “Oh…I guess not.”
Abe raised an eyebrow as Julie sat back down. “I’m sorry.” Julie
smiled as she pushed her plate away. “The truth is…I’m not
feeling well, Abe. I…”
“Oh no…it’s not that. It’s just…I’m a bit under the weather is
“Should you be in bed?” Abe asked worriedly then.
“Oh Abe, stop…stop fussing over me! I’m not a child!” Julie
stood from the table and hurried into the bedroom. She closed
the door hard as she began crying again.
“Abe, what’s wrong with her?” Laura asked. “She’s really happy
then really sad. What makes her like that?”
Abe smiled, trying to ease the tension that had suddenly fallen
over the room. “Oh…that’s something…”
Laura rolled her eyes. “…I’ll understand when I’m a woman!”
Laura declared. She popped the last bite of pancake in her mouth
and stood up. “I’m eight years old, you know! I’ll be a woman
soon enough!” Laura declared with a nod.
“Not as soon as you think, but still too soon for me!” Abe
declared with a matching nod. “Now, as soon as you get things
cleaned up, we’ll go.”
“What about Mama Julie?”
Abe stood and lifted Charlie from the chair. “She’s going down
the hill. I’ve got plans for her this afternoon.”
Abe chuckled as Charlie tried to join in on the songs he and
Laura were singing as they drove the wagon towards the Gibbs’
ranch. He hadn’t gone to Julie right away after her retreat.
Instead, he waited until they were ready to leave, and then told
her to get in the wagon so she could go down the hill. Julie
wanted to argue, but Abe was quite firm and demanding.
Abe put the break on the wagon and jumped down. “You and Charlie
stay right here,” Abe ordered as he walked toward the Gibbs
Scott came out before Abe got up to the door. “I was just about
to go check the cattle with Johnny,” Scott announced. “Care to
Abe laughed. “No thanks. I just came to see if Margaret would do
me a favor.”
As if hearing her name, Margaret stepped from the house. “Hello
Abe.” She shaded her eyes and waved to Laura and Charlie.
“What’s the favor you have to ask me about?”
“Well…” Abe took his hat off and toyed with it in his hands. He
turned and looked at Scoot. Scott smiled and hurried away to
give them privacy. Abe took Margaret’s arm and led her away from
the house. “I have a favor to ask you.”
“Today’s Julie’s birthday and…she’s been really, really
emotional since I got back last night. She’s yelling at the kids
one minute, laughing the next minute, then bursting into tears
another minute. It’s some sort of…woman thing I guess…”
Margaret bit her lip. “Go on.”
“Well, I wanted to surprise her with a birthday party and…” Abe
blushed. “Tonight’s our anniversary as well so…”
“Oh.” Margaret smiled at his bashfulness. She folded her arms.
“Well…Emily and Tiffany are busy and I sent Julie down there for
a spell…hoping they’ll cheer her up a bit…So I was wondering…”
Margaret giggled as she uncrossed her arms. “Is is really that
painful for you to ask me to come over and bake a cake?” Abe
lowered his head and blushed some more. “Honestly, you’re as
proud as Luke!” Margaret smiled. “I’ll come and bake a cake.
“Well, a woman likes chocolate, I reckon.”
Margaret nodded. “And what are you fixing her for supper?”
“Supper? Oh…” Abe rubbed his neck. “I don’t know…”
“How about some steaks? We’ve got plenty!”
“Oh no! I…” Abe started.
“Now, you do a lot for our family…especially since Pa…” Margaret
shook her head. “And Luke and I know that you’ve been putting
some money in his account because he never made $500. So you
can’t say no!” Margaret smiled. “Besides, I know Julie’s been a
bit…upset lately. I’ll go into town and…”
“You know what’s wrong with her?” Abe asked.
Margaret sighed. “Abe, don’t ask me anything. I’m a loyal friend
who agreed to stay silent. But I will tell you that I think she
should talk to you about this.”
“Alright.” Abe nodded. “I’m going into town now myself. Why
don’t you ride along with us?”
“We’ll take Andy’s horse along. I’ll leave before she gets
there.” Abe nodded. “Why time do you expect her back?”
“Two o’clock,” Abe answered.
“Oh!” Margaret exclaimed as she took her apron off. “Then I
Emily and Tiffany had been visited by Abe earlier that morning.
He told them he would be sending Julie and the triplets down for
the morning. He also asked them not to mention it being her
birthday, nor the fact that it is her anniversary. As far as he
could tell, she didn’t even remember that it was either. Abe
also told them she is dealing with something, but he didn’t know
what it was. He subtly asked them to try and find out what it
Tiffany and Emily were ready for Julie when she arrived with the
children. The boys began screaming excitedly, which woke three
month old Ruthie from her nap. When Julie heard the baby crying,
her eyes filled with tears and she shot a hand to her mouth.
Tiffany went to get her daughter while Emily sat Julie at the
table. “Won’t you talk to us? Abe’s worried about you.”
Julie shook her head. “I…I guess that Em’s about ready to…” She
stopped, unable to finish her statement.
“Oh…” Emily mumbled, thinking she understood the problem. “Yes.
Her baby’s due at the beginning of November, I believe.” Julie
nodded as she put her head in her hands and sobbed. Emily leaned
forward and rubbed her hand along Julie’s shoulder blades to
calm her. “Oh…honey…I’m sorry.”
Tiffany came from the room carrying Ruthie. Emily turned and
shook her head, motioning for Tiffany to get the baby out of the
room. “Julie…honey, I can’t tell you I know how you feel,
because I don’t but…you seemed so happy these last few months.
Julie shook her head as she wiped her eyes. “Please…I don’t want
to talk about it. Don’t tell Abe I’m upset about the…the…”
“Mama…mama…up…up…” David cried as he held his hands up to his
Julie bent over and picked David up. Adam grunted as well. Julie
laughed as she put Adam on her other side of her lap. “The boys
know I’ve been upset and they’re fussy. I know Abe’s worried
about me and I’m sorry…but this is something I just have to…”
Julie stopped when her voice broke.
Emily stood and turned to Tiffany. She quietly explained what
the problem was. Tiffany nodded. “Well…since we have the whole
morning to kill, why don’t we have some tea and girl talk?”
Emily smiled down at the boys. “And your Pa and uncles made a
play room just for you kids! Why don’t you go on in there and
play!” Emily walked toward the bedroom her parents used to share
and opened the door. She stood in the doorway and smiled as her
nephews toddled in. “It’s still hard to look at this room,”
Emily whispered as she turned away.
“What does Laura say about the new play room?” Julie wondered.
“She won’t even look in that direction. She was pretty upset
when she found out about it, as you remember. She wanted to live
it up as a shrine for Ma and Pa but…” Emily shook her head.
“Peter didn’t think that was a good idea. We all needed to move
“Yes.” Julie nodded. “I remember how upset she was.”
“Friday morning when she was here, she just stared at the door,
but she wouldn’t go near it…”
“Hey now wait a minute!” Tiffany declared as she came to the
table. “We’re supposed to be making our sister feel better…not
“Where’s that baby of yours?” Julie asked suddenly. Tiffany and
Emily looked at each other. “Nevermind. Bring her out!”
Emily and Tiffany made sure the rest of their visit was kept on
a happier note. Julie still held a face of worry, but she tried
not to let it show. They noticed Julie slowly stand up and grab
hold of a chair a few times; and a couple times, Julie ran out,
but they asked no questions.
Around lunch, Abe stopped by the main house. Peter had come in
from working to eat lunch. “Abe, would you like something to
eat?” Emily asked as three boys ran to their father.
“No. I’ve stuff to do at the house. I just came for these little
rascals!” Abe declared.
“Oh…” Julie stood up too fast. She gasped and grabbed the edge
of the chair, but tried to keep her dizzy spell from showing.
She put a hand to her middle, trying to keep herself from
getting sick. Once her stomach calmed, she said, “Abe, they can
stay here…or I can come home. I…”
“No.” Abe lifted his hand. “I want you to stay here until two
o’clock! I think you deserve a few hours on your own, so I’ll
take the children.”
“How will you get any work done if…” Julie started.
“Julie, I’m taking care of it!” Abe declared. He walked up to
her and kissed her. “Trust me.” He smiled into her eyes. “But
you make sure to be home at two o’clock sharp!” Julie nodded and
kissed him again.
“Oh please…I’m eating!” Peter declared suddenly.
Emily turned and shook her finger at her brother. “Oh, like I
don’t have to watch you and Tiffany doing the same thing!” She
turned back to Abe and Julie. “I just hope that someday I have
what you all have.”
“Like Pa said…McCain’s make good…”
“Don’t you DARE finish that sentence, Peter McCain!” Tiffany
declared. “I have some lye soap for you if you do!”
“Hey, Pa said it!” Peter argued.
“Yes.” Tiffany nodded. “So you’ve told me…but not when mixed
company is around!”
Abe raised an eyebrow as he bent to kiss Julie one more time.
“We’ll see you later.” He clapped his hands together. “Well,
come on, boys!”
Margaret did the shopping for the things she would need to fix
Julie’s surprise, then put Laura to work on baking the cake
under her close supervision.
As Laura stirred the batter, she asked, “You think Mama Julie
will like her present?”
“I know she will!” Margaret declared. “I hope I have one of
those someday for my children.”
“You and Luke gonna have lots of children?” Laura asked.
Margaret paused as she turned to look at Laura. The way she said
it was…touching. It sounded so right. “Well…I love children,
Laura. And Luke loves children too.”
“Abe said Luke spoils children.”
“Yes.” Margaret smiled. “And I’m sure if we have children, ours
will be spoiled too. But I want to teach them how to be ladies
and gentlemen. I hope Luke will help me instill that in each of
“You want lots of children, huh?”
Margaret smiled. “Laura, I’d be happy with ten.” She picked the
batter up and poured it into the cake pan. “But if God sees fit
to give us only one, then I’ll give him all the love I have.”
Margaret turned and put the pan in the oven. “There…now let’s
get supper started!”
“Alright boys, let’s go!’ Abe ordered as he sat one of them in
the tub of water in their bedroom. “Let’s get you cleaned up for
“Abe, that’s not the way Julie does it!”Laura declared as she
shook her head.
“Laura Rose, you just go on out of here! I think I know how to
give baths!” Abe rolled up his sleeves and put the second boy
into the tub. “Alright, come on you two rascals! Get in here!”
“Abe!” Laura shook her head. “That’s a bad idea!”
“Laura Rose, unless you want a swat on the backside, I suggest…”
“But Julie doesn’t put them all in there at the same time
because…” Laura stopped when Abe shot her a dirty look. “Yes
sir.” She hurried out into the kitchen where Margaret was busy
working on supper. “Margaret, there’s trouble!” Laura declared.
“What is it, Laura?” Margaret asked as she wiped her brow with
“Abe…” Suddenly, Abe let out a loud cry. “You boys stop that
right now!” Abe ordered.
Laura’s eyes grew wide. “Never mind. It’s too late now.”
“Laura, don’t tell me he…” Margaret stopped.
Laura smiled as she bobbed her head up and down. “Oh yes he
did!” she declared with a laugh.
Margaret sat the spoon down. “Watch supper! Don’t let anything
burn!” Margaret ran into the boys’ bedroom. As she did so, a
great big splash of water hit her in the face. Margaret let out
a gasp as water dripped from her face. She looked down at the
floor. “Abe, putting four boys in the bathtub at the same time…”
“Yeah, so Laura tried to tell me!” Abe grumbled as he lifted
David out and wrapped a towel around him.
“You go on and get a mop to clean this water up. I’ll get these
boys washed properly and dressed!” Margaret declared.
Margaret giggled as Abe came in with the mop. “Planting
corn…fighting the land to get crops to grow…birthing pigs and
cows and…chopping wood…that’s a piece of cake compared to
cooking and taking care of four boys and a girl…how does she do
Margaret smiled. “It’s a woman’s way,” Margaret answered. “God
gives us the gift.”
Abe turned and raised his eyebrows. She had two boys sitting
quietly on the bed wrapped in towels and two in the tub. He
watched in surprise as she gave all four of them baths with no
trouble. “Margaret…you’ll make a great mother someday!”
“Thank you.” She blushed, thinking on the prospect of having a
little boy someday that was just like his Pa…and his Pa, of
course, was the rugged, wild, Lucas McCain!
Margaret hurried into the bedroom to get Charlie dressed.
“Laura, why don’t you go take a bath and put on a pretty dress
“I don’t wanta take a bath!” Laura declared. “I don’t have to
take one until…”
“Laura Rose…” Abe’s voice sounded from the doorway.
Laura turned and swallowed as she looked at him. “Yes Abe?”
“I believe Margaret told you to do something.”
Abe got down on one knee in front of her. “Don’t you want to
make Julie really happy?” Laura nodded. “Alright then. Let’s get
the water heated and in the tub so you can take a bath.” He
turned and looked at Margaret. “I’ll go to the barn and get
freshened up myself.”
An hour later, Laura was itching and moaning as she wore the
dress Julie had just made for her. She didn’t much like wearing
those new dresses, but she knew Abe wanted her to. “Now, you go
to the window and watch for Julie,” Margaret ordered as she took
off her apron. “Now Abe, everything’s ready and warming. All you
have to do is put it on the plates. I have to go.”
No sooner had Margaret left did Laura shout, “Papa Abe, she’s
coming! She’s coming! Mama Julie is coming!”
Julie had enjoyed her visit with Emily and Tiffany, even though
it HAD been forced on her. She slowly walked back into the yard
and was surprised to find things so peaceful. She slowly opened
the gate and stepped into her yard. Then she paused at the front
door and listened. Not a peep could be heard.
Julie opened the door to her house. “Surprise!” Abe and Laura
shouted. Their voices were echoed by four little boys. Abe
smiled as he held a chocolate cake in front of him. Two presents
were on the table. Julie paused in confusion. “Well, for someone
who just got a surprise birthday party, you sure don’t look to
“A birthday…” Julie threw her hands to her mouth. “Oh my! Abe,
it’s my birthday! I forgot!”
Julie looked at her children. Her sons all had their hair comb
and were dressed in their Sunday best. Laura stood scratching in
the new dress Julie had just made for her. And Abe…Abe was in
his jacket and crooked tie with his hair slicked down. “Why…”
Julie put a hand to her chest as tears filled her eyes. “You are
look so adorable!”
Abe sat down the cake on the table and smiled. “We have steaks
and fried potatoes along with green beans and corn on the cob.”
Julie slowly walked up to her husband. She smiled through her
tears as she straightened his tie. “There…” Tears fell from her
eyes. “Oh…Abe…Thank you!” She threw her arms around him. “I
can’t believe I forgot my 26th birthday!” She kissed him.
Abe returned her kiss. “That’s not all you forgot. This day is
very special for another reason.” He smiled into her eyes.
Julie gasped again. “Oh! It’s our anniversary!”
Abe nodded. “We’ve been married for seven years.” He pulled out
her chair. “Have a seat, my beautiful bride. We’ll serve
“Oh, but I should get dressed properly. I…”
“I think you’re beautiful just the way you are.” Abe turned and
looked at their children. “Isn’t Ma beautiful, children?”
“Mama pretty!” Charlie declared.
“Mama pre-pre…” Adam repeated.
“Mama Julie, you ARE beautiful!” Laura declared then.
Julie smiled. “This is all wonderful, of course, but Abe, you
can’t cook. You proved that this morning…”
“Oh. Margaret just left.” Abe sat the food on the table and sat
down. “I thought that with your not…feeling well…and all that
maybe you’d prefer just our family here tonight. I hope that’s
Julie nodded. But after prayer was said, Julie again just picked
at her food. She felt horrible, knowing how dearly the meat cost
her husband, that she couldn’t eat it. But just the sight and
smell of food was enough to make her feel the urge to run to the
outhouse. Abe eyed her worriedly. The fact that she still wasn’t
eating much was a big concern for him. She looked pale and was
extremely agitated about something.
She did manage to force down…and keep down…a few bites of her
steak. She even managed to eat a small piece of chocolate cake
and thanked Abe for the wonderful birthday dinner. Abe winked at
Laura. “Now, would anyone like to open their presents?”
Julie smiled as she nodded. Laura gasped as she grabbed her
present. “Open mine first, Mama Julie! Please!”
Julie smiled as she carefully unwrapped the package. When she
slid the paper away, she put a hand to her mouth as tears fell
from her eyes. “I made it myself. Emily and Tiffany helped me.”
Julie ran her hand across the cross-stitched material. It simply
read, “My Mama Julie.” The stitches weren’t perfect, but to
Julie, they were. “Oh…thank you!” Laura hurried around the table
and hugged her.
Abe lifted his package. “And this is from all of us.”
“I helped Abe pick it out!” Laura declared proudly.
“Me too!” Charlie declared as he jumped up and down and clapped
Julie smiled as she began unwrapping the present. When the paper
fell away and the contents revealed to her, she let out a small
gasp. She ran her hand across the leather. The words “My family”
were printed in gold across the front. Julie opened it and saw
all the blank pages. “You put pictures in there and write your
thoughts.” Abe pointed to the bottom of the pages. “See? You can
even write about the pictures down at the bottom. You can put
pictures we made of the boys and Laura in there…and all the
other children we’ll have some day!”
Julie’s eyes filled with tears. Abe lost his smile when he saw
the pain cross her face. Julie surprised everyone by springing
up from the table. “Excuse me,” she whispered. Then she threw a
hand to her mouth and ran out of the house.
“Julie?” Abe hurried to the front door. He saw his wife running
toward the creek. Her skirt was lifted and her sobs were loud.
“Abe, what’s wrong?” Laura asked anxiously. “Didn’t she like the
“I don’t know.” Abe turned toward Laura. “Laura, you run on down
the hill and fetch Emily or Tiffany. Tell them I need them to
watch you children for a spell.”
“But Abe, what’s wrong???” Laura asked as tears of worry filled
“I don’t know, honey! Now go!” Laura hurried down the hill.
“Charlie want Mama!” Charlie cried as he walked over to Abe.
Abe bent down and lifted his eldest son into his arms. “Yes.
Mama’s uh-oh.” He walked out onto the porch and waited anxiously
for Emily or Tiffany to come over the hill. The boys followed
him outside, but Abe was too worried to think about their
Finally, Emily hurried over the hill. Her skirt was lifted and
she hurried toward the fence as fast as she could.
“Abe? What’s wrong? What is it?” Emily asked.
“It’s Julie. I don’t know!” Abe handed her Charlie then grabbed
his hat. “I have to go to her!”
“Abe!” Emily grabbed his arm. “Abe…” Emily swallowed. “Today at
the house…Julie was really upset. I think it has to do with the
Emily nodded. “Em’s giving birth at the turn of the month,
Abe closed his eyes. He turned and looked in the direction Julie
had disappeared in. “I should’ve realized…” Abe bent down and
lifted Sammy, who had clung to his leg. He kissed his son, then
sat him down. “Papa’s gotta go, son. I’ll be back.”
Abe hurried out the door. “Come on, boys. Get inside before you
catch your death of cold!” Emily ordered as Abe ran off to find
He paused a few steps behind where she was sitting. Slowly, he
approached her. Without saying a word, he sat down beside her.
“What’s wrong?” he finally asked in a quiet voice.
“Nothing!” Julie answered in a voice that told him the opposite.
“Talk to me.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Julie answered as she wiped at
“Oh. Well, that’s too bad!” Abe declared. “Because I want to
know what’s bothering you! And I want to know right now.”
“I told you nothing!” Julie stated more firmly this time.
“You’re lying to me, Julie!” Abe gently grabbed her arm and
turned her around. “I want to know what’s bothering you, and I
want to know now!” He stated again, but this time more firmly.
“Can’t you…just let me deal with this myself?”
“No. You’ve been bothered about something ever since I came back
last night. Peter told me today that you weren’t feeling well
yesterday morning.” Abe paused. Julie lowered her head. “We’re
not leaving here until you tell me what it is!”
“You wouldn’t understand!” Julie cried.
Julie lifted her face to his. She suddenly burst into tears. Abe
wrapped his arms around her as she sobbed. “Julie…oh Julie…” He
kissed her cheek. “Talk to me. Tell me what’s gotten you so
Julie laid her head against his chest. “My cycle’s late and I
woke up yesterday feeling really dizzy…I’ve been dizzy ever
since. And I can’t seem to keep any food down and…”
Abe suddenly lifted her head to stare at her. “How late?”
“A couple weeks,” Julie answered. “I’m NEVER late unless…”
“Are you saying you’re…PREGNANT?” Abe asked as relief flooded
“Yes,” Julie whispered. She began sobbing.
“Honey…why are you so upset?”
“I can’t go through that again, Abe!” Julie cried. “I can’t bare
that pain I went through. I can’t stand that loss! I…” Julie
choked on her words as she cried even harder.
“Ohhhhh!” Abe felt pain enter his heart as he realized what she
was so upset about. “Julie, miscarriages can happen to anyone!”
He took her face in her hands. “Honey, nothing’s going to happen
“You don’t know that!” Julie shook her head. “You don’t know…”
“No. Only God knows, but…there’s no reason for you to think
“Abe, I wasn’t sick at all with Charlie or the triplets. But
when I was pregnant the last time I…”
Abe stood up. He pulled Julie up to stand in front of him. “That
doesn’t mean anything, and you know it!”
“Oh, but it does!” Julie cried as tears fell down her cheeks.
“My stomach is hurting right now! I feel pain and I…”
“I think your worry is making you sick. THAT can’t be good for
our unborn child.” Abe took her hand and started back toward the
house. “We’re going to the doctor.”
“No!” Julie pressed her feet in the ground, refusing to walk. “I
“Julie, if you’re worried, you need to see the doctor!”
“No! After what he said last time, I…” Julie shook her head.
“Now listen to me, Julie McCain! You can either go to the doctor
willingly, or I’ll pick you up and carry you!” Abe started
toward the house. “I reckon this puts a damper on my plans
tonight.” He stopped and turned toward her. “I was hoping we’d
celebrate our anniversary…alone!”
“Not if I’m pregnant!” Julie declared. “Maybe our being intimate
“NO!” Abe shook his head. “We were intimate with the other two
pregnancies and nothing happened.” Abe shook his head again.
“Now, let’s go!”
Julie obediently followed Abe toward the house. Abe announced to
Emily that he was taking Julie into town. As Julie waited for
Abe to hitch up the team, she thanked him. Abe paused in his
hitching the horses. “For what?”
“Not telling Emily.” Abe nodded.
Their ride into town was quiet. Abe couldn’t find anything to
say that would encourage her. He drove straight toward the
doctor’s office, then told Julie to wait on the wagon seat while
he went and got the doctor from his living quarters. Julie was
nervous as she followed the doctor into the examining room. He
started to close the door on Abe, but Abe announced he wanted to
be there. Julie nodded and held out her hand to Abe.
Abe sat in the chair and watched in bemusement as the doctor
examined Julie. He had no idea how ‘personal’ a woman’s exam got
and he was a bit taken back. Dr. Stevens merely chuckled. When
he was done with his exam, he told Julie to get dressed. He
washed his hands and stayed quiet until Julie stepped out from
behind the partition. “Well?”
“You’re pregnant.” Julie lowered her head. She felt her eyes
fill with tears. “Well…you usually have a smile when I tell you
Abe cleared his throat. “She’s afraid, doctor…after last time.”
“I’m feeling pain,” Julie declared. “In my stomach. And I’m so
“Have you been really anxious about this?” Dr. Stevens asked.
Julie nodded. “Anxiety causes all sorts of physical effects.
Rest assured, Julie, that you are in perfect health…aside from
being a little malnourished.”
“I can’t eat. I’m so sick! I’m so dizzy all the time and the
nausea is constant…just the smell…the sight of food…” Julie
shook her head. “I didn’t have morning sickness with Charlie or
the triplets. But I did with…” Again, Julie choked on her words.
“Julie, every pregnancy is different. Just because you don’t
feel ill with one doesn’t mean they’ll all be as simple.”
“I’m just so afraid…” Julie started.
“Don’t be.” Dr. Stevens sat down and motioned for her to sit as
well. Then he took Julie’s hand in his. “It’s perfectly normal
for a woman in your condition to be anxious after having a
miscarriage, but being anxious and overly upset is bad for the
baby, as I think you well know. Being as upset and anxious as
you have been can cause the tummy aches. I’m sure you know that
as well from your own children.”
Julie nodded. Abe bent down behind her and put his hand on her
shoulder. “Should she take it easy, doctor?”
“I would. I think it would ease her conscience some if she
rested during this pregnancy.” Dr. Stevens smiled. “Everything’s
going to be fine, I’m sure.”
Julie bit her lip and nodded. “Can we do something about her
“I’m going to request a shipment of lemons to be freighted in
here as soon as possible. We’ll keep them cool in the ice house.
Just taking a sniff of the lemon will ease your nausea. Also,
finding watering fruits and vegetables can help you
considerably. Eat strawberries, tomatoes, watermelon…” Dr.
Stevens paused. “Oh yes. We have a shortage of those this year.”
He scratched his head. “Well…eat toasted bread. Eat six small
meals a day instead of three large meals. Also, ginger…put some
in water and drink it. It can soothe your stomach.” Dr. Stevens
patted her hand. “It’s important that you eat. The baby needs
“Perhaps we could get her some fresh fruits and vegetables…” Abe
“No.” Dr. Stevens shook his head. “Seems that when we have a
hard year, there are more pregnancies.” He grinned. “I’ve
already tried to find some sources and unfortunately it’s been
hard everywhere. If the grasshoppers didn’t get them, the
drought or floods did. We’ll just have to do the best we can
with what we have.”
“Dr. Stevens, there’s one more question.” Abe looked down at his
wife as he squeezed her shoulder. “Julie seems to think
that…being intimate…may have…”
“No.” Dr. Stevens chuckled. “You can continue being intimate. It
doesn’t have any effect on the baby, I assure you.”
Julie blushed as she lowered her head. Dr. Stevens looked at
Julie. “Do you have any more questions for me? I want you to
leave here feeling relieved.”
Julie looked up at Abe and smiled. “No, doctor.” She stood up,
but reached out and grabbed the chair as the room spun. “I think
time will help me.”
“And I’ll take good care of her!” Abe declared as he put an arm
around her to steady her.
“The morning sickness shouldn’t stay too long,” Dr. Stevens
stated. “Some doctors believe that morning sickness is nature’s
way of getting rid of bad stuff that could hurt the unborn
“Then why, doctor, didn’t I feel it with the others?”
Dr. Stevens shrugged. “Only God holds that answer, Julie.”
Abe shook his hand. “Thank you. You are a miracle worker!”
Abe helped Julie up onto the wagon seat. As they started for
home, Julie cleared her throat. “I owe you an apology.”
“No you don’t,” Abe answered from beside her.
“Oh, but I do!” Julie put her arm through his. “Remember when
Luke was here and we made love for the first time since
the…miscarriage?” Abe nodded. “I told you I was ready to get
pregnant, were that to happen but…”
“You had no way of knowing you’d react this way.” Abe smiled. “I
still remember that night, and I’m glad you didn’t know because
to tell you the truth…”
Julie chuckled softly. “Can we keep this just between us?
Margaret knows but…I don’t want anyone else to know…Not right
“Alright.” Abe nodded. “And I’m a bit anxious too. So perhaps we
could see if Margaret can stay with us for a few months…just
until we feel better?”
“Oh, but then everyone will know!” Julie declared. “No. I’m not
ready for that, Abe! Please…”
“Julie, you want to take it easy.”
“I know! But…”
“Alright…” Abe held up a hand. “We’ll manage. I don’t want you
doing any housework. You leave that to Margaret in the
afternoons. We’ll also give Laura more responsibilities. I’ll
think of something to tell her.”
Julie rested her head on Abe’s shoulder. “Thank you, Abe.” She
closed her eyes, feeling more confident. “I love you.”
“You better! You’re carrying my child!” Abe declared.
When they got back to the house, Emily was busy gathering things
up to take the children with her. “What’s going on?” Julie
“They’re coming down to the house tonight. Tiffany just left
here with two of the boys. Peter said it’s okay if all five
children came and stayed there.”
“Oh no! It’s too much!” Julie argued.
“No arguments!” Emily declared. “This is your anniversary.”
Emily turned to Laura. “Well, come on, Laura Rose!”
Abe stood behind Julie and wrapped his arms around her. “Laura,
you be good now!” he ordered. Laura nodded. “You too, Charlie!”
Emily closed the door behind her. Abe kissed the top of Julie’s
head. “Well…now what?”
“Abe…” Julie turned and put a hand on his chest. “I know the
doctor said it was okay to…but do you mind if we…”
Abe smiled as he bent his head down and kissed her. “To tell you
the truth, Julie, I was thinking the same thing. As long as you
promise to make it up to me.”
“Oh, I intend to.” The couple undressed and got into bed. They
kissed, cuddled and caressed each other for a long time before
they finally lay still in each other’s arms. “I love you,” Abe
breathed in her ear.
Julie smiled. “I love you too.” She cuddled closer to him.
But Abe was already asleep.
The Years Before — Measles
This is a story based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch