Lynna Banning

Lynna Banning by Plum Creek Bride

Book: Lynna Banning by Plum Creek Bride Read Free Book Online
Authors: Plum Creek Bride
broom.”
    But he understood her dilemma. He fought exactly the same battle with farm owners in the county who pigheadedly refused to move their privies and stock pens away from the town water supply. He wished he could take a broom to that problem.
    “Sam, we’ll get you up on some crutches and I’ll help you out to the barn. Erika, bring some blankets, would you? And some oats and an apple from the kitchen for the horse.”
    He’d go out later and take the boy some supper and sit with him. Guard him, in case any of those ruffians returned.
    But instead of a broom, he’d take his revolver.
    Erika stared out her bedroom window at the round, gold moon hanging like a lantern in the inky sky. Unable to sleep, she mentally reviewed the day’s list of new English words. Plaster of Paris. Arpeggio. Succotash. Bigotry. She spelled each one and tried to remember what it meant.
    Succotash was easy. Mrs. Benbow had served it at supper, along with cornbread, which she called johnnycake, and lamb stew. But after helping the doctor set the Indian boy’s leg, she’d been too exhausted to eat. The housekeeper had excused her from kitchen duty and sent her up to bed.
    The baby had nodded her tiny head almost immediately after her evening feeding and now slumbered peacefully in the nursery next to Erika’s room.
    Marian Elizabeth was such an exquisite creature, with her feathery fringe of dark hair and deep bluegreen eyes, like a fairy child left by the elves. Erika could not imagine life without her soft, contented cooing sounds, the clear, round eyes gazing up at her with such trust. Whenever she entered the room, the baby looked up and actually smiled at her! It was a miracle—this house and the sweet baby girl who smelled of laundry soap and milk and the lavender sprigs Erika used to scent her garments. She wanted never to leave.
    But in protecting that injured boy today, she knew she had made an enemy, and a formidable one at that. Tithonia Brumbaugh was the mayor’s wife. Erika hadn’t wasted time thinking about the issues. She had acted automatically because she felt inside it was the right thing to do. She’d been shocked at the surprise and hostility in Tithonia’s sharp black eyes.
    And, as president of the Presbyterian Ladies Quilting Circle, Tithonia was sure to influence the others. Just this evening, Mr. Zabersky’s young daughter, Mary, had hastened past Dr. Callender’s gate with barely a nod.
    Marian Elizabeth gave a tentative cry, and Erika came instantly alert. But in the next few moments,the baby settled and Erika closed her eyes. She tried to chase away the image of Mrs. Brumbaugh’s flushed, set face, but her thoughts wheeled about her brain like chaff tossed in a wind. An inner instinct told her she should not have challenged Tithonia face-to-face, and in public.
    Dr. Callender said it was a thing called bigotry that made the mayor’s wife and her ladies act the way they did toward the Indians and the two Chinese families who lived in a crude shack behind the livery stable. It was like the prejudice she remembered from the old country. She was sickened to find it here in America as well. She would never accept it, would speak against it every chance she got—no matter if it did make enemies.
    She wanted nothing more than to be part of this wonderful land, to be an American, to belong. But she would not trade acceptance for discrimination against others.
    It would be harder the next time, Dr. Callender had said at supper. “Each time your integrity will be put to the test. Each time your soul will be pulled in two directions — to fit in or stand outside. Alone.”
    She wondered how he knew these things. He was a man of high standing in the community, a physician who was looked up to, respected. But there was no mistaking the authority with which he spoke.
    And, she recalled with a queer flip of her heart,she would never forget the flicker of admiration in the doctor’s ordinarily expressionless gray

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