A Daisy for Hannah Jane: Chapter XXVI

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A Daisy for Hannah Jane: Chapter XXVI

Art by Rachel St. Louis

Art by Rachel St. Louis

Art by Rachel St. Louis

Rachel St. Louis, Creative Writing Editor

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A Daisy for Hannah Jane

Chapter XXVI

I could not utter a single syllable. Mrs. Caroline Chauldings is “fatally ill.” How was it that I hadn’t noticed anything amiss? I bet Jamison did.  

Jamison hadn’t seen me in a whole week. A WEEK. Bosney’s was busier than Caleb in his garden, I suppose. Drafting my first letter to Jamison was taking too long. I sat at his old desk and eyed the Bible he’d left for me between waiting for my ink to dry. I wish I could trust in God wholeheartedly like Jamison. Right now, I’m at three quarters of the way there. I think. Another trickle of tears burst through my eyelashes. God is good, I thought, but why has there been soooo much hardship?  

I still couldn’t comprehend it. Oh, God, what will become of us? As much as I care about this place, this prison I’ve made my new home in, I care more about my sour granny. Don’t let her precious Chauldings name come to ruin. God, help me. I can’t do this alone.

I looked down, eyes blurred by my salty tears, to see four ink blots making their way across my cursive. A shame.

I crumpled the paper expertly and tossed it over my shoulder to join the rest of my ink-blotted army on the floor. Jamison didn’t deserve my screw-ups.

But, then again, this was the biggest mistake of the century (besides the starting of the War): neglecting to see Grandmother’s ailment.

Dear Jamison,

I have been thinking and praying on this thing that I need to tell you. It’s something worth

Something worth what? I quickly moved the pen to the lip of my inkwell so I wouldn’t have to deal with blots. I couldn’t write for the longest time.

Then the thought came to me. What if we really do marry? And I couldn’t think of an answer, but for once in my life, I knew what it all boiled down to: whether we loved each other or not.

I loved Raymie. I’d never get over that. But Raymie would want me to find love elsewhere, for my benefit, and I’d wish the same for him in a different situation. Jamison would never force me into anything. In fact, that’s why he let me go. He must’ve known Grandmother was ill and would hand over the estate, no matter what. My grandmother was ailing and she meant so little to me. Deep down, though, I loved her. She needs to know that.

Then, overcome by something I couldn’t describe, probably the Spirit now inside me, moved my muscles. Before I knew it, I was racing down the halls in an unladylike manner, dry pen still in my hand.

“Grandmother?” I called, causing some maids to scuffle by with eyes wide open.

She was in the parlor. Again. Would she ever reside in her bedroom other than mealtimes and at night? I can’t even remember the last time she’s been out back to see Caleb’s garden.

She looked up, irritated immediately. “For goodness’ sake, what is it, child?”

She had taken a liking to calling me “child” at the ends of her sentences lately. I straightened, dusted my skirt, and looked her in the eye. “I wanted you to know that I love you,” I blurted out.

She full-out laughed. “Oh, Janie, you’re a good one.”

“You don’t believe me?” I asked, shoulders drooping.

“No, dear, I believe you. It’s just so funny that you’d tell me in the most random moment.” Her eyes twinkled with mischief. “I appreciate that, child.”

I smiled politely and hoped she’d return the favor. But she went back to her needlepoint and I pretending to be interested in the paintings in the walls. So I examined Joan of Arc until my eyes burned with defiance.

I stole a glimpse at Grandmother. She was working on her quilt-patches.

I excused myself quietly and she didn’t say a thing.

About her loving me.

• • •

 

I returned to the desk and wrote the letter out fully on a fresh sheet of paper after some heavy thought:

Dearest Charles Jamison,

I must admit Grandmother is ill with a somewhat new disease that, apparently, has no cure. She has given me her estate.

Are you happy where you are? How are you keeping up living with your mother and at Bosney’s? Tell your mother to stop by sometime. Grandmother and I would enjoy it quite much.

I, a woman in a free country that’s at war, am practically forced to handle the Chauldings’ estate. I worry for Grandmother. I told her I loved her today. She said nothing but that she appreciates it, and laughed at how I’d told her in a “most random moment.”

Jamison, I wish you were here! I can barely handle myself any more.

Pray for me as I daily pray for you, your mother, and protection for the both of you.

Your faithful friend,

Hannah Jane Lewitt

The letter was wordy and vague in my perspective. I hadn’t meant for it to be that way, but if Jamison read between the lines, he’d know I was actually pleading for him to come back so I could have some peace.

In fact, his leaving made me realize I cherished him.

 

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