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SOMEWHERE INSIDE MY HEART
BAILEY'S CHOICE chapter 1
Bailey Cramer had just about went her last step when from behind, her mother retrieved the heavy box containing the weekly church give-a-way. She had become complacent to the financial misfortune of her home and accepted the fact that to live sometimes meant taking handouts. Empty stomachs and freezing temperatures overruled her feelings of pride and the fear of being labeled Poor.Bailey's mother Sarah felt her child's acceptance of their situation and the fear of an attitude of having no future in this world had plagued her thoughts at night when she tried to sleep. " Is there hope for my child? " was the question that she asked herself.
" Mama, Brother Wikham told me about a job doing housecleaning for an elderly lady, I believe he called her Miss Watts. She lives down on Leads Street by the old coffee mill. Her father owned the factory years ago. He said she could afford to pay me well for my work." Sarah knew Miss Watts very well. The daughter of the wealthy Thomas Watts who hired and fired as he pleased not considering the work done for his factory was good or not. Power can sometimes be a motive in decision making. Sarah's husband had been relieved from a position of supervising production because he wouldn't downgrade the supplies used. Will Cramer received his notice with his last paycheck. From that time on he went from job to job doing whatever he could to feed his family. Sarah held no hard feelings for her husband, he had done what he felt was right. But her heart was bitter toward Thomas Watts.
" Brother Wikham said I would have to stay with Miss Watts day and night through the weekdays." Bailey's voice had become excited with this new prospective venture. " And I can come home on the weekends." she said, trying to encourage her mother to see the value of a job of any kind in this day." Mama we need the money. I know Daddy had trouble with Mr. Watts but that was him and not his daughter." Sarah knew Bailey was right. Jobs of any kind was a blessing now days. With a smile on her face Sarah told her daughter she would think about it but in her heart she knew she couldn't keep Bailey from accepting this job.
Walking along the path to Jacob's Hollow, which was named for Will's father Jacob Cramer,Bailey could see the valley below that declined from the left of the path. Their hollow sat in the middle of two hills where no view could be seen from the main road below. Hope sprang in her heart that maybe there could be a future outside of Jacob's Hollow after all.
Rising with the daybreak was the norm for Bailey. Getting her younger sisters up from their sleep to prepare them for the mile walk to Taylor Ridge School and making sure they were washed and fed and had their lunch pails packed with a decent piece of bread slathered with peanut butter and homemade jam that she had helped her mother can last early Spring. Today was to be a notable day in her memory. It was the day of March twenty-fourth, nineteen fifty-four, the year Bailey Cramer would step out from her mother and father's care to be introduced into the home of Miss Mary Paula Watts not realizing her life would never be the same again.
Bailey looked at her mother with a slow observing glance. Sarah Cramer was not beautiful by no means but her features were a combination of her Irish ancestry and a touch of American Indian which etched her face in high cheekbones and prominent structures in her physical appearance which belied her tall five-foot eight stature; slim and trim from hard work and meager nourishment. Bailey knew her mother favored her children being fed rather than eating too much, which to her would mean less for the children to have. Sarah's hair was soft light brown and worn pulled back in a ponytail which was even less flattering to her face but her eyes were the color of a blue-green ocean and with a soft slant to them. Will had accused her of being adopted by her parents because she looked nothing like either of them.
Today her mother was accompanying her to Miss Watts for the introduction. Brother Wickhan had set it all up for them and even made pretty sure her position with the elderly lady. Bailey's heart was pounding with nervousness and excitement. The farthest she had ever went to spend the night was her cousin Ruth's house in the neighboring county of Tripoli. It was her cousin Ruth's sixteenth birthday and her birthday request was for a slumber party. Not that Bailey was such good friends with her but that her mother's sister Jen had insisted that she invite the young girl or not have the party. Not much enthusiasm was etched on the pages of Ruth's written invitation. Bailey went to please her mother and aunt Jen. But all in all she had had a good time getting to know the girls that were there, as well as getting to know her cousin Ruth. Surprisingly, they became the best of friends with Ruth realizing poor did not always mean stupid or ignorant.
The road to Leads Street was a mile and a half past the Taylor Ridge schoolhouse and a short incline off of Myer's Point where all the cities main stores were lined up in rows to the east and west with a rough concrete street on either side leading to houses owned by store operators or businessmen or the like. Trees dotted the yards and roadways here and there. Rooftops were colored in a variety of greens and browns faded by years of weather. Leads Street got it's name from being the main street leading into the city from the western side toward Tripoli. Bailey could see the old prominent two-story house painted a pale white as she reached the top of Leads Street. " It's so big Mama! Can I clean all of that? " she said with a measure of uncertainty.
" You are the one that wanted to try, Bailey! It's a little too late to back out now anyway. " Sarah knew her daughter would try even if she didn't succeed because determination to make something of herself had come out in her in these past few weeks waiting on Brother Wickham to finish setting up her introduction to Miss Watts. Time went slow from the anticipation of meeting her prospective boss. But all in all she had been grooming Bailey on what she would be doing and showing her how to do certain tasks that would be required.
The house was a few yards away, when Bailey saw a woman of about her mother's age standing on the front porch leaning on the column. Her slim figure dressed in a blue cotton blouse and turquoise slacks was fragile looking as she moved to meet us on the stone path to her house. " Sarah " she said, with a low welcoming voice having her arms outstretched to give her a hug. " I was so pleased to know that your daughter could come and stay with me 'till I get better from this sickness. " and turning to Bailey the woman said "Welcome child to my home. I know we will be friends just like your mother and I were when we were children. " Bailey had no idea that Miss Watts was the same age as her mother and didn't know what to say to the woman standing in front of her.
Watching her mother and Miss Watts turn and walk toward the house, Bailey couldn't hide the puzzled look on her face. The very idea of her mother even being acquainted with someone so influential and wealthy was far from being imaginable to her young mind. But there they went walking toward the big house as though nothing was out of the ordinary for them to be arm in arm and talking of their childhood together. But little did Bailey know that while her mother's face was turned away there was pain in her eyes from memories of a past heartache that only her sister Jen knew about.
Myer's Point school had been Sarah's and Mary Watts' school when they were young and growing up but the Watts family having money did not keep the two girls from being friends. Sarah's family lived in the town in her growing up years but later moved to the outskirts of town when she was seventeen. Making friends came easy for Sarah that's why it was so hard for her to understand why her friend did what she did. Boys were attracted to Sarah and her friend Mary was envious of the attention that they gave her. Sarah's friend became jealous and, during one of the softball games they had with the Taylor Ridge school, Mary made it up in her heart to sidetrack Sarah's attentions to one of the boys from that school. Mary knew just the one to seek onto Sarah. His name was Will Cramer off of Jacob's Hollow up in the hill country. After all he was more of Sarah's type was'nt he with both of them being poor and all. Mary had been infatuated with one of the boys, whose name was John Taylor, that looked at Sarah differently since she had developed so well in her body. That attention had been a thorn to Mary's pride and in her mind a reason to make things be the way she wanted them to be. Her father had been a hard business man and Mary saw the way he manipulated people to do how he wanted them to do.
Mary knew Will Cramer from her father doing business with Will's family buying crops from them to help supply the coffee mill that he owned. Not much to speak of but a little bargains were made here and there with the Cramer's. He was a goodlooking enough boy but not established enough for Mary to count him a prospect for herself unlike John Taylor whose father was the Mayor of Myer's Point. Mary knew that John's heart was for Sarah and it hurt her deeply to think that her hopes of them being together were about to be snuffed out. It was just the hope of her heart that led her to do what she did to her friend.
Sarah could remember the feelings that she had for John. Her heart would pound in her chest when she would see the look in his brown eyes as pleasant and good as a child's in expectation. Each knew how the other felt. Childish love, young and pure, had developed over their growing up years with the silent understanding that one day they would be together with the hope of marriage.
The day of the softball game Mary made her way to Sarah's house so they could walk to the school together. Having Sarah's attention Mary began telling her of the boy Will and how she knew his family. " I can introduce you two if you would like. " she said with a sideways glance at her friend. She began telling Sarah all the things that she knew of the boy Will in hopes of stirring her interest. But Sarah had her mind on John and the book he had been telling her about and promised to bring to her to read for herself. Seeing Sarah's lack of interest, Mary continued the rest of way to the school in silence.
Bailey brought her mother back to the present by yelling for help as a big lumbering dog came from the back yard area causing the two women to stop in their tracks. " Booger, get away...go lay down! " Mary shouted at the over sized canine. He did just that with her response " He's just a big baby anyway. "
" Come on in and have a seat and we'll talk about everything I"ll need Bailey to do here. Can you cook child? I'll need help with that and the cleaning of course. " Sitting down on the sofa she looked directly at Bailey for an answer.
" Yes I help Mama cook and clean and whatever else you might need done I'm willing to learn. " Bailey said with defined eagerness.
" Well good then that's settled. You can start tomorrow. " with that said they began the small talk of things that were happening in Myer's Point. Small stuff made big by gossip. Sarah could see the eagerness and anticipation on her child's face and her heart was filled with uncertainty with the thought " Will my child be able to survive this place? Why am I so willing to let her make her own choice about being here? " Deep in her heart Sarah knew Mary would do right by her child. After all, she had found the consequences of what she did enough of a payment for causing Sarah much grief.
The Forgiving chapter 1
Bailey could smell the bacon and eggs her mother was preparing for her first day working away from home. She knew her mother was doing this as a special treat and knew the meat was normally saved to season other foods that they ate. Sarah had encouraged Bailey to allow her to do all the cooking while she packed the small duffel bag that her aunt Jen had given her mother for Christmas a few years earlier. She did'nt have much to pack but a few changes of pants and blouses and fresh underwear for a few days. Bailey's father Will had taken their truck to Tripoli a few weeks ago to do jobs with Jen's husband James Harris in the coalmines owned by John Taylor that had once lived in Myers Point about eighteen years ago.
Sarah had made arrangements for Will's brother Simon to pick Bailey up at the fork of the road at the end of Jacob's Hollow where it's creek ran into Baxter Knob just off of the main road toward Taylor Ridge. Simon worked in the city as the jailer but had elected to stay close to their family farm rather than move to the town. He had promised Sarah to be the transport for Bailey until Will came home in July.
Being up before daylight, Bailey had long been ready to go but Sarah had made her eat before she left. Giving her mother and the little ones a hug, Bailey set off to meet Simon at the end of their hollow with a little bit of butterflies in her stomach. Leaving her home for any time was going to be something to have to get used to. She had a feeling that Miss Watts would make her feel at home in her big house.
Arriving at the house on Leads Street, Bailey thanked her uncle Simon for the ride and he replied to her that he would see her on Friday evening. With that, Bailey started toward the house when the dog Booger came lumbering up to her and attempted to climb up her legs but before it could happen Mary Watts had came out of the house to ward him off. "I think you have a new friend in my dog Miss Bailey Cramer!" Mary said with a slight laugh in her voice. "But he'll be big enough to scare away any unwanted guests."
"Alright child we have some things to do inside, okay." Mary planned not to overwhelm Bailey with too much work her first day here but there were things that had gotten behind in her housework and could'nt wait too much longer. "First we'll start with the laundry." and Bailey followed her inside the house lugging her small duffle bag in one hand and giving the dog a tentative pat on his head. It was enough to make the dog wag his tail in anticipation.
"Put your bag in the room I showed you yesterday Bailey. I'll give you a while to put your things away." Mary knew the child was a little new at being away from home and wanted her to feel welcome and safe. "You can have some cocoa while I have another cup of coffee and we'll get to know one another." Bailey headed in the direction of the stairs and Mary made her way to the kitchen. This became part of their routine for the next few months to share a morning cup of their favorite warm drink to get the day started. Bailey was instructed to call Mary by her first name because being called Miss Watts made her feel too old. It was during one of these mornings that Bailey had learned Mary had a son in the military academy in St. Richards that was a town farther upstate.Mary said that her son had chosen himself to go there to please his father John Taylor. The same John Taylor that owned the coalmines in Tripoli County and had once lived in Myer's Point. When asked why she did'nt live in Tripoli with her husband, Mary replied "He's not my husband anymore child. We divorced ten years ago when our son Andrew was seven. I took my maiden name back some time ago. Andrew and I moved to St. Richards after the divorce. I only moved back here to Myer's Point a few months ago." Mary informed her that she would meet the boy in early May when his school brakes for the summer. Curiosity started developing in her mind as to what this military boy would look like and how he would react to her. But for now Bailey was too busy to think about much.
Sarah's memory of John had been so tainted by thoughts of his choice to be with Mary so many years ago in Myer's Point. She could'nt help but think of how she had learned that Thomas Watts had promised John a good position in his mill. The feeling of knowing that John had chosen Mary's money and status over the heartfelt love that Sarah had for him. She supposed that was what turned her toward Will. Love for him came eventually but in the beginning it was just a way to cope with John's rejection. Her sister Jen had found her in the room they shared when they were young with her eyes swollen and red from crying so much. That's when she told her sister what John Taylor and her friend Mary Watts had done. Two months later, once their graduation was over, Mary and John were married in Leed's Chapel.
Sarah loved Will dearly now but it had to develope over time with his kind heartedness and attentiveness that he showed her. He was more than just her husband he was her friend too. Mary had been right in her own way about Will being the right boy for her. She had Mary to thank for it in a way, although her heart still felt the betrayal of her friend Mary almost nineteen years ago.
Sarah knew that she had to forgive them both or it would only do her harm. Brother Wickham had just the past Sunday preached on the forgiving heart. That you had better mental and physical health in addition to the free spirit to love one another in all of our mistakes and shortcomings. She loved the Lord enough to forgive. Mary had gotten what she wanted but with the price of an unhappy marriage without love. John had gotten what he chose to have; wealth, which came with the price of obeying a man like a dog on a leash, only having his own power after Thomas Watts passed away. Knowing what Mary went through having to live with John's drinking and women had been enough for Sarah to feel pity for both of them.
Mary had laid her plans to divert Sarah's attention from John to Will Cramer on the early Spring day during the school softball game at Myer's Point park and introduced the two young people to one another. Surprisingly, Will had caught Sarah's attention by his quiet shyness, which would be the deciding attraction to draw Sarah to him in the end. Sarah thanked God for the stability that Will had brought to her life.
Sarah did'nt know what Mary's plans were for Bailey but, through a long talk that they had with one another, she had told her of a girls school in Darrington Harbour where they taught skills more advanced than what Myer's Point could give a young girl. Mary said they could work their way through school and that it would better prepare her for college if she wanted to go. Mary offered to make the initial payment to get her started. Sarah knew Bailey would want to go. Her daughter wanted to do so much more with her life after getting to know Mary Watts that Sarah could not help but feel grateful to her for it. With Mary's mistakes came a heart to do right and not wrong. Sarah could understand the way of forgiving.