This is the second scene of chapter 25 of the very first full novel I ever wrote.
Henry Ohlmquist: Owner of the town Mercantile
Ida Ohlmquist: Henry’s wife
Lily: Little sister of the heroine of the story (not seen in this chapter)
Miss Molly: Lily’s rag doll, her constant companion
Ben: One of the cowhands on the ranch, raised as an orphan
So it won’t seem so haphazard: A bad snowstorm has kept the ranch family in town after Christmas Eve services. Henry and Ida found a place to bed them all down in their mercantile. Henry has surprised them by hanging stockings along the mantle for everyone.
Threads of Grace
Christmas Day, 1873
Prairie Hills, KS
Henry took a deep breath and sank into his chair next to Ida. He must be extra tired to be so short of breath. Seemed lately he had a harder time breathing, but Doc told him he could expect those symptoms.
“What are you thinking, Santa Clause?” Ida squeezed his hand. “You must have raided the store last night to get those stockings so full. My, oh my. Have you ever seen so much excitement?
George patted her cheek. He loved this woman. “Never, dear Ida. I don’t think little Lily has stopped talking or bouncing since we let her get everyone out of bed.” How much longer would he be able to fool her? He leaned his head against his chair, willing the dizziness to leave.
“How did you ever figure out what to put in each stocking?”
“I’m Santa claus, remember?” He laughed. “Look at Ben. He’s as excited as Lily.”
Ben held his stocking like it was a prized treasure, and dug into it like there might be gold in the toe. His eyes lit up when he withdrew a shiny silver harmonica. He blew into it and everyone stopped talking.
“Can you play us a tune?” Emma hollered across the room.
“How did you know?” Ben sat down on the floor and folded his long legs in front of him. “My every own mouth harp.” He rubbed his sleeve along its shiny side. “I never thought I’d have one that was all mine.” He brought the instrument to his mouth and began to play…Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…
“Wait. Wait.” Lily ran to Ben’s side, put one hand on his shoulder, and clutched Miss Molly to her chest with the other. “I know this song, so I will sing and Ben will play. Listen everybody.“
She shut her eyes and and waited for Ben to start again, then bobbed her head when she was ready to join. “I may see grace, how sweet you sound. You saved a witch like me. I one was sloshed and now you found me. I was blind but now you see. When I been here ten thou sand ears bright and shiny like your son. I will have no less tears to sing your praise than when you first begun.”
She curtsied and kissed Ben on the cheek. “Isn’t this the merriest Christmas ever?”
Henry closed his eyes. Indeed it was the merriest ever. The only thing that could make it better is if he could celebrate it in the presence of Jesus.