Saturday, February 18, 2012
Cody's A Hero
Joe Taylor wanted to believe Cody Hill was on the up and up but knew he couldn't take any chances with his precious daughter, Iris. He immediately left the bakery to pay a visit to the Crowley Law firm. Oscar Crowley was just leaving as Joe walked up the stairs to the office.
Oscar began the law firm when he first passed the bar exam. He was retired but often dropped in to see what was going on. His sons, Robert and Richard had taken over the day to day running of the office but enjoyed having the old man around. Oscar, a widower, was recently remarried to newcomer to town, the former Nettie Dawson. They were married in the little chapel in the woods with their friends and family in attendance. Nettie had never married after the tragic death of her fiance just days before their wedding years ago. She was a school teacher in Greensboro before coming to Camden Corners. One of her former students, Polly Cooper and her new baby daughter unexpectedly came into Nettie's life and she opened her heart and home to both of them before she married Oscar. Oscar was also taken with Polly and little Faith and decided it was high time he popped the question to Nettie. All four of them are now living together in the Crowley home.
Oscar knew immediately that Joe was troubled about something and asked if he would like to walk with him to the Looking Back Antique Shop where Nettie was finishing up her shift. Joe told Oscar about the visit from Cody Hill and his concern that the boy might not be on the up and up. Since Nettie had lived in Greensboro and taught school there for many years, Oscar thought she would be the person to ask.
As they entered the shop, Nettie was just putting her coat on and greeted her new husband with a wink and a tender hug. Joe was happy to see the always cheerful Nettie the threesome sat down at a vacant table near the window. Joe mentioned the name Cody Hill and Nettie responded with delighted surprise that Melvin Tanner's ward had arrived in Camden Corners. She listened as Joe explained the situation. Nettie was beside herself when she realized that she had information that would have helped the Taylors in their search for Iris' kin. She had never put two and two together. She had been aware that Cody lived in the mountains and Melvin's sister had suggested the guardianship arrangement. She also knew that little Iris had lived her first few years in the mountains herself.
Nettie assured Joe that Cody was an honorable young man. She remembered the first day he arrived at school. He was very awkward and she had all she could do to keep him in the classroom with the snickering that was going on with the other students. He quickly learned to fit in and became one of the most popular and promising students she ever had.
Joe left the shop relieved that Cody wasn't there to make trouble. Nettie suggested she and Oscar pay a visit to Cody at the B&B. She would verify that Cody was who he said he was and she was also anxious to see the young man and inquire about the other citizens of Greensboro.
Cody had just settled into his room when there was a knock on his door. Mrs. Watson told him he had visitors waiting for him in the parlor. Cody was surprised and pleased to see Miss Dawson waiting for him. It had slipped his mind that his favorite teacher had moved to Camden Corners over a year ago.
“Miss Dawson, how wonderful to see you.”
“It's wonderful to see you too Cody but my name is Mrs. Crowley now and this is my husband Mr. Oscar Crowley.”
Oscar suggested since Polly and Faith were having dinner at the Burke house they dine at the Marino Trattoria where the two old friends would have a chance to catch up. After an enjoyable evening, Oscar was assured that Cody's intentions where Iris was concerned were honorable. Cody was sorry to hear of Earl's fate but glad Iris was living in a home filled with love. He looked forward to telling her all about the woman who gave birth to her and how much she loved her little girl long before she was born.
After saying goodnight to Cody, Nettie and Oscar stopped by the Taylor house to let them know that Cody was only interested in Iris' well being. Joe and Diana would tell Iris about her mother's friend in the morning and arrange for the two to get together.
Iris knew that her mother died when she was born and also knew that her father had died in an accident. She had no real feelings for her father but hoped he was in heaven now. She was sure her mother was in heaven because an angel had sent her to her new mama and papa and she knew in her heart that angel was her mama Mavis. Iris was excited to meet Cody and hear all about Mavis. Joe stopped by the Watson house and asked Cody to join the family for breakfast. Iris' eyes grew wide when she saw Cody. She wondered if she had disappointed him because his eyes were filled with tears when Papa introduced them. Cody tried to wipe the tears away and his voice quivered when he tried to talk. He was finally able to speak and told Iris she looked just like her mother. Cody told Iris how special her mama Mavis was and how much she loved her. That she named her for the pretty wild irises that grew by the river. Irises were her favorite flower and she would pick one to put in her hair. Iris was happy to hear about her mother. No one, not even her grandmother talked about her before. After breakfast while Iris was helping Diana carry dishes to the kitchen, she stopped Diana in mid-step.
“I love you mama”.
Diana heart swelled with pride. She knew this precious little girl was assuring her that no matter how much she loved listening to Cody talk about her other mother she would always love Diana.
Cody's mission was complete and he still had the whole summer ahead of him before it was time to go to the University in the fall. He sent a telegram to the professor telling him he had found Iris and he liked Camden Corners and thought he might stay a few more weeks. He had heard the fish were biting in the lake this time of year. Wasn't it time Professor Tanner took a vacation for himself? Melvin read the telegram and thought that sounded like a swell idea. He messaged back that he was getting his fishing gear in order and would bring Cody's too when he arrived at the end of the week.
Cody was not use to being idle. He held a job every summer and after school since the first year he came to live with Professor Tanner. He noticed Nichols' Market and headed on over to see if they happened to be looking for any extra help. Cody introduced himself to Oliver Nichols. Oliver was happy to meet him but didn't need any extra help. His three brothers-in-law all worked in the store and his Uncle Isaac, although retired, was always there to help when needed. Cody couldn't resist the penny candy in the big, inviting jars by the counter and was picking out some favorites when he heard someone giggling over toward the pickle barrel. He looked around and saw two smiling faces looking at him. The giggler was the younger one. He noticed the older girl was very pretty. He hadn't paid too much attention to girls in high school. He had usually gone to the school dances with his pals and maybe shared a dance with one of the girls while he was there. He felt awkward and shy around girls his age in spite of the fact that he always felt comfortable with Mavis. Mavis was like an older sister to him and not like any of the silly girls at Greensboro High.
Isaac Nichols was sitting at the checker table with Chris Pringle and Duncan Mackenzie. It was early June but the day felt more like a fall one. There was a storm brewing in the north and the chilly air had already arrived. Isaac had gotten up to stoke the fire in the pot belly stove when suddenly a spark flew out and landed directly on the back of April Hawthorne's shawl. Her little sister, Penny screamed as Cody grabbed the hooked rug that was lying in front of the counter, rushed to the girl and gently but firmly wrapped her in the rug and rolled her on the floor.
April tried to catch her breath as all the men and customers ran to Cody's side and while patting him on the back and shaking his hand congratulated him on a job well done. April was appalled. That hooligan just knocked her down on the floor and everyone was making a fuss over him. She slowly got up and was about to give him a swift kick in the shin when Penny grabbed hold of her and shouted.
“April, that boy just saved your life”.
Everyone turned to April and asked if she was all right.
“It's about time someone paid attention to me. I was the one who was manhandled and thrown to the ground like a sack of potatoes.”
She let the rug fall and only then did she notice her shawl had been burned along with the skirt of her dress.
Joe Taylor walked through the door as everyone was congratulating Cody and told the boy he did just the right thing. Joe was impressed with Cody's quick response in what could have resulted in serious injury to April Hawthorne. Oliver voiced his regret that he couldn't use Cody in the store. He knew he would be a fine addition. Joe was interested to learn that Cody was planning to stay the summer in Camden Corners and was looking for a short term job to help with his expenses.
“We can always use help at the fire station, Cody. It wouldn't pay much but your meals would be covered and fire fighters are known to be excellent cooks. How about it?”
It was settled. Cody would start in the morning. April finally approached Cody and thanked him for saving her. Cody's face turned red with all the attention.
“It was nothing that anyone else wouldn't have done. I just happened to be the one who saw that spark hit your shawl.”
Penny spoke up and invited Cody to the Hawthorne home for supper. She knew her mother would be grateful to him and would want to thank him for his heroics. Cody found himself wanting very much to see more of April and agreed to accompany the girls home.
Laura Hawthorne was busy preparing dinner when her daughters appeared in the doorway with a young man who Laura had not seen before. She set down her mixing bowl and greeted Cody warmly. Penny could hardly get the words out fast enough telling her mother about the fire ball and how April was almost burned to a crisp. April and Cody laughed at Penny's exaggeration but when Laura saw the condition of April's clothing, she embraced Cody thanking him for saving her daughter.
One by one the Hawthorne boys, Lucas, Jr., Abraham and Timmy heard the story and each time it was embellished a little more by Penny. By the time Lucas, Sr arrived home from work, April had been saved from an inferno. Lucas was grateful to Cody for his quick thinking realizing the situation though not dire could have been much worse for his daughter.
Cody sat down to enjoy a wonderful meal with the Hawthornes. Little Timmy told the story of last Christmas when he was looking for a present for the baby Jesus and the whole town was searching for him.
“They even thought I drowned in the lake” he said proudly.
Cody could see the flash of fear still in the family's eyes and he knew they must have been very worried.
Cody told them of his life in the back country and talked about Mavis. Timmy was curious about Iris having two mothers and thought she was lucky 'cause he only had one. He felt very comfortable with this close knit family and was happy he made the decision to stay in Camden Corners for awhile.
The rain that had been threatening all day finally started coming down. April and Cody sat on the swing on the front porch as the lightening was brightening the sky. Penny headed out to the porch to sit with them but Laura guided her into the kitchen to help with the dishes. Laura could see the signs of puppy love in her older daughter's eyes and she was not unhappy that the object of her affection was a lad named Cody Hill.