I’m sorry this didn’t post! For some reason, it became a draft instead of being posted. (A big thank you to Jessica for pointing out it didn’t post!) So here it is now—and I’m sure it will make the rest of the story more understandable!
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Surveying the loaded wagon, Mary helped two-year-old Robert climb onto the seat before she turned to say her final goodbyes to her friends gathered around. “Goodbye, Barbara.” She said gently, “I hope you’ll be as encouraging to the new pastor’s wife as you have been to me! Goodbye, Rhoda.” She paused for a final word with each woman, trying to hold the tears back as she moved on to each woman.
I will miss them, she thought as she hugged each one. Oh, how I will miss them! But I know this is the best for my family. After saying goodbye to each one, she turned to see John standing there. Squeezing his hand tightly for reassurance, she surveyed all her friends. Barbara was looking away, and a sniffle sounded on the warm spring air.
“Oh, I can’t bear it, ma’am!” Barbara cried, throwing herself on her friend. Mary held her tightly for several seconds. “I just can’t bear to think that I’ll nevu’ see you, or the little ‘uns again, ma’am. What will we do wit’out your kindly presence here? The village ‘ll be empty wit’out you ‘an yours here!”
“Aye, ‘twill be that,” Rhoda chimed in. “Isn’t there any way that we could convince you to stay here?”
“We believe this is what the Lord wants us to do.” Mary said, trying to hold her tears back. “Although I confess I will miss you all sorely.”
“Come, Barbara,” Rhoda sighed. “We know this’ll be good for the family, and if it wasn’t the Lord’s will it wouldn’t be happening.”
Barbara moved back, and Mary looked up at her husband again. “John—could we take one more walk around the flowers in the garden before we go? Just by ourselves? I’d like to see them one more time before we’re gone forever.”
“Of course.” The depressed friends stood waiting patiently by the wagon while the couple moved toward the garden for one last look together.
“John,” Mary said quietly as soon as they were out of earshot, “Oh John, I cannot stand saying goodbye! Is this really the right decision? It seemed so right at the beginning, but now…now when we have to leave everyone behind and go somewhere we don’t know anyone at all. Oh John, I’d almost rather just stay here, even if it is hard!”
“I know Mary.” John was not his usual self either. Clearly, he was distressed. “But won’t it be better for our family if we go?”
“It would—in a way.” Mary conceded, “But this is where all the children’s friends are as well. And we haven’t starved—God has always provided for everything, even the rent when that’s needed. We’ve lived well enough here.”
“I confess that I have been wishing we could stay as well.” John said after a moment’s silence. “Mary, let’s pray about this again. Perhaps—perhaps it is the Lord’s will that we stay after all.”
Together, they knelt among the dew-covered roses, and prayed for the Lord’s direction. The sunbeams fell on the two, warming the ground and making the sweet, light scent of roses float on the warm air. Being behind the house, their friends couldn’t see them but if they had they would have been very surprised. When they finished praying, Mary and John rose to their feet again. As she pulled her white shawl a little closer around her shoulders, Mary looked searchingly into her husband’s face.
“What do you think now, John?” She asked.
“I think we are to stay.” He said with finality.
Her voice caught in her throat for several seconds, and then she whispered, “John, I’m very happy that you’ve decided that. I feel the same.”
“Come,” he said, taking her hand. “We must tell the others. And get that wagon unloaded!” As they hurried around the side of the house, the quiet buzzing of the sad townsfolk ceased and everyone stared at the couple. “Friends,” John’s voice rang strong in the spring air, “We have decided—we will stay. Would any of you be willing to help us unload the wagon?”
For a second, a stunned silence filled the air. Then, a cheer rose from the crowd. Barbara hurried forward, tears of joy stealing down her cheeks. “Oh ma’am!” She cried, catching Mary’s hand, “Oh ma’am, this is the best news I’ve heard all year!”
“It is for me too!” Mary said, as she reached to help Robert down, and then gave Annie a hand. “Children, Father and I have decided that we will stay here in Wainsgate.” With joyful hearts and beaming faces, the people quickly helped the family move back into the little cottage, and the wagon clattered away—without them.