Mary entered the front door of the house, having taken the morning to go to the photographer's studio to have her likeness made to send to Rulon. She had not even had time to close the door when Ida's voice came down the stairs in a screech.
"Mama needs you. Come here at once!"
Mary's warm sense of worth and contentment vanished in the instant. What could be wrong with Mama? She hastily shed and hung her wrap, and trudged up the steps.
The second floor was a complete hub-bub: her sisters yelling or wringing hands, according to their nature. Mary followed the loudest noise, which came from her parents' room. Ida flapped about, urging their mother not to worry, that Mary would arrive soon. Mama lay on the bedspread, fully clothed, gritting her teeth through some paroxysm of pain, her eyes tightly closed and her face set.
Well, she was here now, and what was she supposed to do about this unusual situation? Had Mama fallen? Broken a limb?
Mama's fingers gripped the chenille bed covering. Her head quivered.
Mary gazed at the mounded fabric covering her mother's abdomen, and was astounded to see it move of its own accord; a sort of cramping or squeezing seemed to be taking place.
Then the idea of what was occurring hit Mary like a slap upon the side of her head. Mama was in the throes of giving birth to her baby. What was she to do about it? She had not had the same experience yet, and could not imagine herself dealing with the event.
She went to the side of the bed, stooped and took Mama's hand, then asked, "What arrangements have you made? Who is to attend you?"
"Char-- Mrs. Bingham," Mama gasped. "Send Ida." She panted, worn out from such a small bit of talk."Hurry!" Her voice came out low and strained, a harsh gargle.
Mary almost drew back at the venom in the command. Instead, she swallowed and looked at Ida. "You heard her. Make haste."
Ida left the room, looking back over her shoulder, and Mary saw tears brimming in widened eyes, a demonstration of emotion so unlike the saucy girl. How long had Mama been lying here in pain? Guilt at being absent swept through her. How was she to know this day had been set aside for a birth?
Have you ever been present during the birth of someone else's baby? What was your main concern at the time? Which of your emotional responses surprised you the most?
I hope you enjoyed this short bit from Gone for a Soldier, my forthcoming novel set during the American Civil War. Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.
Please come back next Saturday for another sample. Thank you!