The River Runs Deep – Episode 48

Irene Leasowe had left Deep River to stay with a friend, so Adelaide had no compunction about driving right up to the Hawthorns.

She found Myrtle and Olivia dressed in their best and impatiently waiting for her at the front door.

Hardly a word was exchanged while they drove into town. You could have cut the tense excitement with a knife.

Drawing up alongside the store, Adelaide bustled Myrtle and Olivia within, ushering them towards her parlour.

“Through there,” she whispered. “He’s waiting for you.”

The tall, elderly man was on his feet the instant he caught sight of the two women approaching.

“Myrtle.” There was a catch in his voice when he spoke. In wonder, he looked from mother to daughter. “Surely this can’t be Olivia?”

“The same, Daddy.” Olivia laughed. “A lot older and plumper, but it’s me!”

Myrtle hadn’t managed to say a word yet.

Stepping forwards now, she caught both his hands, holding them fast within her own.

“I can’t believe you’re really here, Stephen.” She gazed up into his dear face, her eyes shining with tears.

“You got nothing to cry about any more, my love – we’re the lucky ones. I never thought to see my family again in this life,” he went on unsteadily.

“But praise be, here you both are – my family.” His eyes filled with tears. “Together at long last!”

“Oh, Stephen.”

Myrtle was smiling, though her voice trembled and tears spilled down her cheeks. “You got more family now than you know!”

“I’ve a present for you. Congratulations!” Laura was saying, her eyes filled with love and pride.

She and Johan were sitting in the shade of the old oak at Pipers Creek.

Johan had received his teaching results and couldn’t stop smiling.

“You’ve worked so hard; I knew you’d do well,” she added.

“Robert Burns!” he exclaimed, unwrapping a bound volume which fell open at a verse bookmarked with ribbon.

“‘A Red, Red Rose’,” Johan read in wonder, raising his eyes to Laura. “You knew it was me who sent that Valentine?”

“Not at first, but later I began hoping you’d sent it, Johan,” she confided softly.

“After I got to know you better – and learned how much you love books and literature – then I knew for sure,” she explained.

He stole a kiss.

“I shall miss our Tuesday evening lessons when Miss Myrtle goes away.”

“Me, too. You know what?” Laura said suddenly, an exciting idea hitting her. “We should do something special for her.”

“A picnic, perhaps?” he chipped in.

“That’s a great idea!” she enthused. “A picnic right here at Pipers Creek.”

“It must be a real joyous afternoon,” he insisted. “A celebration, giving thanks for Miss Myrtle, Olivia and Stephen being reunited after so many years.

“I lost my parents and older brother during the war,” he went on quietly. “I know what it is to have your folks taken away.

“Family and friends are all that matter, Laura,” he went on. “It will be real nice for Miss Myrtle’s friends to gather and wish the best to her, and to Olivia and Stephen, too.”

Laura nodded.

“We’ll give them a special present,” Laura decided, her imagination racing. “I know the very thing.

“We’ll need Mr Carmichael’s help, though . . .”

It was a wonderful picnic, with music and singing and even some dancing.

There were a few tears, but lots more laughter, with everybody thoroughly enjoying themselves.

All too soon that summer afternoon lengthened towards evening, and Myrtle and her family were about to depart.

“It’s the best present you could have given us,” Myrtle was telling Laura and Johan while they were saying their goodbyes at the wicket gate. “A picture of the three of us together.

“We’d never had our picture taken before, and Mr Carmichael took two.

“One for us to keep at home in Massachusetts, and the other to mail to Canada to Josephine, Clifford and baby Myrtle.

“They’ll see us and know who their family is.

“I’d better be off.” Myrtle chuckled, glancing at Stephen and Olivia settling into the commodious buggy. “Or they’ll be off to Massachusetts without me.

“You take good care of one another, you hear?” the elderly woman finished sternly, once more turning to Laura and Johan.

“And Laura, you be sure to write me when you’re getting wed so I can embroider something blue.”

Amidst a flurry of goodbyes, Laura and Johan watched the buggy drawing away from Pipers Creek.

“It was Miss Myrtle’s lessons that brought us together, wasn’t it?” Laura said, nestling closer and gazing up at Johan, a twinkle in her eye.

“Miss Myrtle – and the poetry of Robert Burns.”


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