Thursday, January 5, 2012
Joe and Diana Taylor had been married almost 5 years. They had not been blessed with children and were beginning to wonder if they would ever have the big family they both wanted. Joe was a fireman and Diana owned Warm Hearth Bakery in the village of Camden Corners They had known each other since they started kindergarten together at Camden Elementary School. Doc McMillan told them there was no need to worry that they would most definitely have their family one day. In the meantime, they had full and busy lives. Diana loved when the school children walked home each afternoon and set out a plate of cookies for them. Each child looked forward to passing by the bakery and choosing a delicious treat from the plate.
In the hills far above Camden Corners lived Earl Short and his daughter Iris. Iris had just turned 5 years old but nobody had remembered the date of her birth.
Her mother Mavis was a bright young girl who found a package filled with books. They had accidentally dropped from a traveling salesman's wagon as he was making his way across the bumpy road near the shack she called home. Mavis hid the books and every chance she got she would pour over them until she taught herself to read. She lived in the world of Little Women and Jane Eyre and read them over and over again.
When Mavis turned 14, Maw told her it was time to marry and Earl Short had chosen her to be his wife and bear his children. Mavis knew she didn't have a choice and accepted her fate.
Mavis was calm during a very difficult labor and finally delivered a beautiful little girl she named Iris. Maw placed the baby in her arms and Mavis whispered a prayer that her daughter would be safe and grow up surrounded by love.
Earl arrived from tending his still just in time to see his wife close her eyes for the last time. He was furious that she hadn't given him a son and walked out of the shack without a backward glance at his daughter.
Maw did the best she could with the girl. Iris' name was never spoken. She was only referred to as “Girl”. Paw rarely spoke to her at all and when he did he was issuing an order. Girl had taken after her mother in so many ways. She looked just like her and always was able to see the good in everyone and everything.
One day Maw started feeling poorly. She had always known about the books that Mavis kept hidden and showed Girl the hiding place. She wanted so much more for her granddaughter than she or her mother had in life. Maw prayed Girl would find her way out of this place and discover whatever world there is beyond the hills. Maw passed away in her sleep several days later.
Earl was smoking his stogie next to his still one late autumn afternoon when a spark hit the still and it exploded and burned to the ground. He decided this was a sign to pack up his few belongings and leave the hills for the first time in his life. He'd heard talk of gold in the west and decided that was what he would do.
He would have to take Girl with him but she was getting old enough that she could start earning her keep. Early in the morning the pair started down the long road headed west. Girl was uncomfortable sitting in the back of the buckboard but she didn't complain.
After several hours they came upon the village of Camden Corners. Girl was enchanted. She had never seen anything like this before. Everything was so bright and clean unlike the drab and dusty cabin. The people were all talking and smiling at one another and looked so fancy. She looked down at her grimy little hands and hid them in her pockets. Paw got out of the buckboard and walked into a building called a P-U-B. Iris didn't know what a pub was but she knew better than to follow Paw. She looked across the street and saw a big white dog with black spots laying in the sun. She waited for Paw to return to the buckboard but he was gone an awfully long time. She couldn't help herself she just had to get out and pet the spotted dog. Iris sat down beside the puppy, she felt so warm to Iris's cold little body she cuddled up to her and fell asleep.
Paw didn't notice that Girl wasn't in the buckboard when he drove off down the street and out of town.