Saturday, January 21, 2012
Mistaken Identity~Part 3 of 4
On that fateful day, Bethany lie in a soft patch of land. She awoke when a floppy eared dog started licking her face. There wasn't a spot on her body that didn't cry out in pain as she tried to lift her head but found she couldn't do it.
She heard a boy's voice calling “Grover, come here boy. What have you got there buddy?”
Rusty Burke had been out hunting rabbits when his dog suddenly took off barking and just as suddenly stopped in front of a bundle lying on the ground. Rusty couldn't believe his eyes when he saw it was a girl. He could tell she was still alive but just barely. He told Grover to stay with her while he rode into town to get Doc McMillan.
He called to his brother as he rode by their house to bring the buckboard and meet him at the old elm tree down by the railroad tracks.
By the time Doc arrived on the scene, Bethany had been able to open her eyes. She knew she had a friend for life in the attentive little mutt beside her.
Very carefully, Bethany's body was lifted onto the buckboard and slowly driven into town to Doc's office. Grover ran along beside not taking his eyes off Bethany for a second.
Doc didn't find anything other than bruises on the girl's body that indicated she fell or was pushed from the train. He noted her worn out dress but his nurse noticed her very expensive looking under garments. She was definitely a mystery. Everything except the dress spoke of wealth and yet she had very sad eyes. Something had gone very wrong in her life to warrant such a sorrowful look.
After several hours, Doc determined it was safe to move the girl, Rusty insisted she be moved to The Burke house where she was welcomed as one of the family.
Sheriff Mendenhall had checked with the railroad and everyone had been accounted for on the day Grover found the girl by the railroad tracks. There were no leads and the newspaper article placed in every paper from Camden Corners to St. Louis had not turned up any information.
Josie Burke had just turned 11 and seemed the closest in age to this young girl. She began reading Little Women to Bethany and every time the youngest daughter Beth was mentioned, Bethany showed signs of recognition. Josie began calling her Beth and the name stuck. She was known from that point on as Beth Burke. Grover sat by Bethany's side through her recovery. Her head injury seemed to healing with the exception of the loss of her memory.
The months spread into years and Beth was a real part of the family. She loved being in the kitchen and watched and learned as her adoptive mother prepared delicious meals and made delectable baked goods for her family. Rusty had a soft spot in his heart for Beth and he knew she would always be the woman for him. Beth had fallen in love with Rusty too but was afraid there might be something in her past that would be unforgivable.
The Burkes celebrated Beth's birthday on the anniversary of the day Grover found her all crumbled and broken out by the railroad tracks. The Burkes and the Mackenzies gathered for Beth's celebrated 18th birthday. Unknown to them, it was just a couple of weeks shy of her actual birthday. They all encouraged her to make a wish before she blew out the candles and her wish was that she would remember who she was. She needed to know that before she could marry Rusty. Rusty didn't feel the same way. He loved Beth and nothing in her past would change that.