Monday, July 27, 2015

Peter's Sweepers

   "Sorry, Mister. Didn't see ya there."   
   "That's all right, little lad. I-Wait! You took my wallet!"
   Quick as a flash the ragged, coal covered boy tried to disappear into the crowd, but the finely dressed gentleman wasn't about to let him off so easily. He gave chase, calling out loudly for someone to stop the boy.
   The boy was skilled at moving about the crowded street and his small size made it easy. The man was not so skilled, but desperation helped him keep up with the boy. He simply needed his wallet!
   The boy left the main street and darted down a back alley. Without a second thought the man followed.
   Without the many people to dodge the boy picked up speed, leaping over garbage bins and mud puddles.
   Without warning the gentleman's foot caught on something and he sprawled headlong into a pile of reeking garbage. Several black rats, startled by his sudden decent, scattered in all directions.
   He sat up slowly, admitting defeat. The little thief had gotten away.
   "Terribly sorry, Sir. Guess me leg got in your way. Help ya up?" A skinny, soot covered lad of about fifteen years appeared out of the shadows.
   The gentleman watched him warily. He had no doubt that the boy had tripped him purposely. A friend of the little thief most likely. Nevertheless he allowed the red head to pull him to his feet. He grunted, brushed himself off, and left the alley as quickly as he could.
   Billy-for that was the red heads name-watched the fancy dressed man leave, a smirk on his freckled face.
   Stuffing his hands into his pockets, Billy walk nonchalantly down the alleyway. His eyes scanned possible hiding places, searching for the dark bundle of rags who had run off with the man's wallet.
   "Thank Ya, Billy."
   Billy looked down into two dark eyes, walking near his elbow. He was surprised to find the boy so near him, but of course, he didn't let on.
   "Thank Ya." the boy repeated, "Thought I was gonna catch it that time, I did."
   "Aw, weren't nothin', Rat. We gotta stick together 'roun here, ya know."
   Rat nodded. "Yeah, Billy."
   Then Billy remembered why he'd been looking for Rat in the first place. "Ya 'bout done for the day? Supper's nearly ready, so Dusty says."
   Rat's stomach gave a growl of anticipation.
   The two boys then took to the chimney sweep's Sky Road, otherwise known as the roof tops of London. High above the crowd that bustled and pushed on the streets below, the chimney sweeps could navigate around the whole city. Trotting quickly along the ridgepoles, it took the boys only eight minutes to reach Peter's Tavern. It would have taken them twenty minutes on the main streets and fifteen through the back alleys. The Sky Road was jealously protected by the chimney sweeps, for fear that the crowd below would swarm up and ruin it for them.
   When they reached their destination, Billy and Rat slid silently down a water pipe to the ground. Then they dusted themselves off and headed for the back door of the tavern. They never entered through the front door unless they had money to pay for a drink, and they rarely did.
   "Hello, Billy. Rat." Dusty was leaning against the door, his newsboy cap pulled down low. All the boys had an extreme respect for him. Always calm and cool headed, his quick thinking had saved many a chimney sweep.
   Dusty held the door for them as Billy and Rat entered the taverns large and warm kitchen. Arnie and Lane were already inside, sitting cross legged by the fireplace with steaming bowls in their laps.
   Rat and Billy dished themselves bowls of stew and settled down on the floor with the others. All were too busy eating to talk.
   Peter, tavern keeper and Master Sweep, came into the kitchen from the front room. He nodded to the boys, grabbed some large bottles off a shelf and hurried back to the bar.
   The boys liked Peter because he fed them well. But he was also prone to angry outbursts, and he was always so busy with the bar that he didn't spend much time with them. Orchestrating the activities of the chimney sweeps had fallen mostly to young Dusty, with Peter pocketing all the profit.
   Lane and Arnie were just scraping the last of their food into their mouths when the back door opened and Dusty came in. He sat down with the boys without getting a bowl of stew. "Dart ain't back yet." he stated.
   The boys paused, spoons halfway to their mouths. Then Arnie shrugged and said, "Dart's always late, he is. Like's to dig in the garbage bins to see what he can find. He'll be along soon, I say."
   Dusty shook his head. "He is normally the last one in, but he's never really late. I'm sure he'd usually be in by now."
   "He was coughin' hard this mornin', he was." Lane admitted, "I gave 'im a bit o' lard to grease his chest with."
   Dusty's eyes filled with worry.
   "Should I go a lookin' for 'im?" asked Rat. He was the best of the boys at sneaking about the city and staying out of trouble. The gentleman Billy saved him from earlier was a rare exception.
   With a nod from Dusty, Rat jumped up, the bowl of food and his hunger forgotten. As he slipped out the door he heard Billy say confidently, "Rat will find 'im." And Rat was confident that he would.
   Scampering up the water pipe to the roof top as easily as the rodent whose name he bore, he set off for Mr. Beckett's. Mr.Beckett was one of Dart's regulars clients and a good friend to all the boys. Rat wasn't sure that Dart would be there, but it was the first place he'd thought of.
   As silent and swift as a black cat, Rat reached Mr. Beckett's in a mere five minutes. The boy congratulated himself on his speed record, swung off the roof to the cobblestones, and knock respectfully at the front door.
   Mr. Beckett's doorman, Norton, opened the door wide. Then he did the same with his eyes. "Sorry, Boy. The chimney flues have all been done. A little late, you are."
   "Not here to do the chimneys, Norton." Rat explained, "I'm lookin' for Dart. Disappeared, he has. Dusty's wantin' me to find 'im."
   Norton shook his head. "Well, he ain't here. Sure, he did the chimneys for Mr. Beckett. But I saw him leave with me own eyes, I did. Went thata way," he pointed down the street, "a draggin' his chimney brush. Real sick, he looked. Begged me for a drink o' water 'fore he left. Havin' trouble breathin' seemed to me. He's disappeared, ya say?"
   Rat didn't wait to answer Norton, but swung back up to the roof and headed in the direction the doorman had pointed. Mr.Beckett's house was right on the edge of Peter's un-declared territory. The boys rarely went past this block and further into town.
   Moving as fast as he dared without loosing his balance, Rat's eyes scanned the terrain. He didn't know the area he was in now. He was more then a few blocks farther away then he'd ever been from Peter's Tavern.
   Suddenly one of the men in the street caught Rat's attention. It was the same gentleman who's wallet he'd taken! He was standing with another finely dressed man.
   Rat slowed. He didn't know why, but he wanted to know what the men was talking about. Silently, he crept closer, pulling his cap low so as not to be recognized should the men spot him.
   "It's a real shame, Horace." the other man was saying, "But it's not likely that you'll ever find the boy who did it."
   Horace shook his head, "I know, Terrance." He rubbed a hand over his face. "It isn't the money I'm upset about. It wasn't much anyway. I had some very important papers in that wallet." He looked up at Terrance and his eyes were full of pain, "I could lose everything if I can't find those papers."
   Terrance looked shocked. "Oh." he said, seeming to be at a loss for words. After a minute he said, "Perhaps you should come in, where we can talk." The two men went inside.
   Rat crept away from the edge, sat down and pulled out the leather wallet. He hadn't even looked in it since he'd taken it. Undoing the clasp he did so now. It contained several pieces of stiff paper held together with ribbon, and a handful of coins. That was all.
   The small amount of money was more than young Rat had ever seen. His still tender conscience pulled at him. Mr. Horace needed his wallet, and Rat was the one who'd taken it from him.
   Rat had taken many wallets and coins from strangers' pockets, but this was the first time that he had thought about the other's need for it.
   Rat fingered the coins. Should he return the wallet? But think of all that he could do with that money! Rat slowly closed the wallet and stuffed it back into his clothing. He needed it just as much as that man, Horace did.
   Like a frightened rabbit, Rat tried to get as far away as possible from Mr. Horace. He was getting farther and farther from Peter's tavern, but Rat didn't really care anymore. He could circle around and go back when he felt safer. Surely Dart hadn't wandered this far away.
   But as Rat leaped from one housetop to another he spotted a boy cowering in a corner. Dart! And he wasn't alone. Several larger boys were standing about him in a threatening manner.
   To be continued...someday. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Think On These Things

  "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
   These verses, taken from Philippians, have been heavy on my heart recently. They said that if your thoughts are on good things then the God of peace would be with you. In the last few weeks I haven't felt close to God. I wondered why.
   I have recently downloaded over 100 country songs onto my laptop computer. And though I also had a large number of Christian songs, the country songs were what I listened to the most.
   Now the songs I listened to weren't exactly "Bad". They weren't about cheating or drinking or swearing. But they didn't lift me up or make me feel better when I listened to them. Actually, they made me feel dissatisfied with life. I wanted the romance and perfection that was in those songs.
   It was my mom who pointed out to me the pointlessness of the songs I was listening to. It was hard for me to take. At first I was angry. Then I was in denial. I didn't want to admit that the songs were ruining my peace. I liked them. They made me happy; or so I thought.
   Well, today I suddenly realized I didn't even want to listen to them anymore. And so I deleted over 100 songs off my laptop, keeping only songs about God, and three or four traditional songs. It was hard for me to do. Some of the songs I almost cried while I deleted them, they meant that much to me. But that's why they had to go. They meant more to me than my time with God.
   I am NOT judging those who do listen to country/world/pop etc. And I am not against listening to it every now and then. I'm just saying that it wasn't good for me and my relationship with God. It needed to go so I'd have room in my mind for God. I needed to think more on pure, just and honest things. Maybe you could call it a fast. 
   Are you feeling a distance between you and God? Is there something in your life that's distracting you? Just something to think on...
The God of peace be among you, Kimberly

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Disappear Into a Book

   It would be impossible for me to write a list of my favorite books because I love so many. So instead I've written a list of books I recommend you read. I will also include a portion of the story to perk your curiosity.

    The Light Across the River by Stephanie Reed 

   Father groaned. "So you helped you husband escape, you stole your baby away when you escaped, and now you want to liberate your daughter, who is with Mr. James-and Biggerman?"   
   "Oh, no, Beulah, she done got sold away from Mr.James after I helped George run off. Now she b'long to Mr.Adkins, over Germantown way. Leastways, last I heard."
   "That's small comfort. Biggerman won't have forgotten." Father's jaw twitched. "How many children does Beulah have?"
   "Five." Johnny saw Mother flinch. Eliza hurried to add, "This gentleman here, Gil, he gonna scout out where she is and bring her and all five o' her children over here, though. Me and the good Lord has got it all planned out."
   "Five! See here, far to many people know about you already, Eliza. Sam recognized you. If one of those children makes a peep and calls attention to us, it's over." Father shook his head.
   "You leave the children to me," she reassured Father. "Way I figure, only worry we have, 'sides Biggerman hisself, is that man that let me and Mose go, down yonder by the river."
   Johnny saw the memory of that night register. "Zeke Means," Father said weakly. "Zeke Means saw you, too. We have to hide you away this very night. Who else knows about you?"
   "No one."
   Let's keep it that way." He scanned the room. "No one else," he said, and his gaze lingered on Johnny the longest, "is to know about Eliza."
   Only Johnny knew that Father's warning was three years too late.

Second Watch by Karen Autio
    When the man stepped over the rail and jumped, I stared down at the river. It frothed with swimmers and debris. My knees trembled. The water was closer to us than the snow had been tp Papa and me, but still my head spun from the height.    
   A space appeared. Swallowing my fear, I breathed a quick prayer. "We have to go now-hold your breath."
   I grasped John's hand and we leaped together.
   When I hit the water my lifebelt thrust upward and struck my chin. The shock off the icy cold water wrenched John's hand away as we went under. Skin instantly chilled. Every nerve in my body protested.
   Holding my breath, I battled against panic. I tumbled every which way in the inky black water.
   Choking terror.

Shades of Grey by Carolyn Reeder
    He felt at ease with Aunt Ella and he guessed he'd learn to get along with Meg. Already they seemed like family, probably because they reminded him of Mama and Betsy. But he knew he would never feel comfortable around his uncle. Imagine the son of a Confederate cavalry officer having to accept charity from such a man! He'd be courteous, and he'd help out all he could to make up for being an extra mouth to feed. But he'd never call him Uncle Jed. Never!

    Bud and Me by Alta Abernathy
    "Don't push your horses." Dad said firmly, as we saddled up. Then he handed Bud a copy of the New Testament saying, "Bud, carry this with you, and above all, both of you say your prayers at night." In Unison, we both replied, "Yes, Sir!"    
   Bud carefully wrapped the New Testament in a silk handkerchief and put it in his saddle bag. At last, we spurred our horses and were off, on the first leg of our Great Adventure. We felt pretty big, riding away from the farm while our dad and our sisters-Kitty Joe, Johnnie, Goldie, and Pearlie-waved goodbye. Maybe having all those women around made us more eagerto seek out adventure, for Bud and I were always ready for a new one. We never thought about being afraid, but we often were tired, dirty and discouraged.

    Early Thunder by Jean Fritz
   "Here's Daniel West!" someone shouted. "Tory!"
   The chant was taken up by the others. "Tory! Tory!"
   Daniel's head was reeling and his mouth was dry. "I'm not a Tory," he said.
   "Not a Tory!" There was a sudden burst of laughter. Wild laughter mixed with jeers that grew louder and louder. Daniel couldn't see the faces, only the legs lighted up by lanterns on the ground. Legs that danced grotesquely and then suddenly stopped in a circle again.
   "You say you're with us?" a voice asked.
   Daniel swallowed. "I'm with you."
   "Anyone got that letter?"
   "Yea. I got it. Don't trust is out of my sight." There was a rattle of paper and a figure stooped over one of the lanterns and began reading. "May it please your Excellency," he said. It was the letter that Daniel and Beckett had written Governor Hutchison. The letter that Daniel had thought his stepmother had thrown away.

    Jip:His Story by Katherine Paterson
    "Strangers in town." Jip was waiting at the counter to pay for the staples Mrs. Lyman had sent him to buy. The speaker inclined his head slightly, and Jip followed the tilt down the length of the long counter.
   He had heard the old men at the farm tell tales of meeting their own ghost. That was the only way he could explain what had happened at that moment. As he turned his head to look down the counter, a tall, fair-headed man at the far end met his gaze-grey eyes meeting his dark ones. He knew that face-it was the same one that stared out at him every day from the wavy kitchen mirror.
   A Thousand Shall Fall by Bodie Thoene
   "Hey, how about I bet the kid? Anybody want a cute little kid? I'll see your five bucks and raise the kid. No kidding. Take him."
   Nervous laughter.
   "You've had to much to drink, Brian O'Halloran. Lay off it, will you?"
   "Raise your own kid, O'Halloran. Nobody else wants him."
   Brian boomed. "Nobody! So that's it. A bachelor again free as a bird, except I'm stuck with this kid."
   "Shut up. He'll hear you."
   "Nothin' he ain't heard before, I'll bet." said Mr.Ryan. Then chairs scraped back and the gamblers said they'd had enough cards for the night. Brian told them to stay-said he was just kidding, just trying to make the best of a rotten situation, blowing off a little steam. Didn't a man have the right to blow off a little steam, after all?
   The poker game was over, just the same. David was pleased that other people, grown up men, had gotten sick of Brian O'Halloran's big mouth. He delighted in Brian's misery as he heared the gin bottle clink against Brian's glass and he finished the bottle alone in the front room.
   Hope you enjoy!~Kimberly Elizabeth