I am a few thousand words short of where I should be if I want to stay on track. But the John and Sary’s story is slowly coming together. They have just met for the first time on Christmas Eve day . . . Want to read it?
The warm light drew him. It became a window. John fell against the rough siding an peered in. Through the wavy panes of glass, a fire crackled beneath a spit where a giant bird slowly rotated.
A sleepy-eyed child crouched next to the hearth yawning as she turned the spit. A woman worked a mound of dough at a table. John stood transfixed as the dough became loaves of bread. His stomach rumbled but he was afraid to move for fear the delicious scene would disappear.
“What are you doing?”
John whirled around at the snap of the voice but ended up on his hands and knees once more.
“Mother, Mary, come help.”
Slender arms wrapped around his chest and helped him to his feet. A nearby door swung open spilling light and heavenly scents into the cold morning air. John allowed the women to lead him inside.
They ushered him to a chair next to the fire. The heat seemed to scald his skin. Phantom pain flashed through his numb hands.
The women worked at the knots holding the blankets around him around him. Then did the same to his woolen coat. As the soaked layers were pulled off, the heat flooded over him bringing on a violent fit of shivering. When they tried to remove the linen gloves from his hands, John curled his fingers and held them on.
“Now sir, we must get these wet things off of you. Let me have the gloves.”
With his teeth chattering, John was unable to speak but he shook his head and pulled his hands closer to his body. He was too cold to think, but still refused to show his hands.
“Well then, hold this tea, it will help warm them.”
John took the cup, but his hands trembled so violently the tea sloshed over the side. The young woman cupped his hands in hers and steadied them. The first sip scalded his tongue, then slid down his throat with blissful heat. He closed his eyes allowing the warmth to spread through his belly.
He opened his eyes and met those of the young woman crouched before him. They were wide with concern and the fire reflected off the hazel so that they seemed to glow with tones of green-gold and bronze. Her cheeks grew red under his gaze, a perfect complement to the eyes. He stared until thick lashed fluttered down as a shield.
“What were you doing out there, young man?” The mother came back to the room with a thick towel and began rubbing it over his head and shoulders. The vigorous rubbing awoke thousands of red-hot needles in his skin. More woke in his feet as the youngest removed his sodden boots and rubbed with another towel. The agony brought a moan to his lips, tears threatened to escape regardless of how he tried to hold them in.
“I know it hurts, but we have to get the blood moving before frostbite can set in.” The woman continued to rub across his chest. The girl with the eyes had taken his cup and he spotted her hanging a woolen blanket near the fire. He followed her movements. She still wore the cloak and scarf showing that she had been the one to find him.
“Th-th-thank you.” It took several tries before his lips would obey his command. “Moth-th-er. F-f-father.”
“I’m sure you are welcome, but I am not your mother young man.”
“By th-the river.”
All three females stopped their ministrations and stared at him.
“There are more of you out there? Why, it is below freezing, what can you have been thinking of.” The mother offered another sip of tea then another.
He tried again. “Set ash-sh-shore by ship’s long boat. Mother sick. Had to find help.”
“Sary, you’re dressed, go out and find your father. Mary, put more tea on and get the quilts from the attic.”