Jamie put the letters in a drawer of an old dresser near the spot where she found the framed picture and took the picture with her. She had already made a list of things she wanted to show Brad before moving them to the farm.
The farm…she still couldn’t believe that with Brad’s convincing, Miss Bessie had agreed to sell it to her.
Jamie’s thoughts went back to the letters Arf had found and the photograph in the beautiful frame. It occurred to her how little they had known about Brad before he had so graciously invited them all to come and live in this beautiful ranch house.
Miss Bessie was in the kitchen making cookies. Arf, hoping she would drop a sugary morsel, was sitting near her.
“I’m sure glad Alice doesn’t mind sharing her kitchen with me, Arf. I must be able to help out if I’m going to continue to live here.”
***If she thinks she’s going to get an argument from me, she’s barking up the wrong tree. Miss Bessie and Alice were both better cooks than Jamie, but then they had a lot more experience. These young pups think all they have to do is open up a can of dog food.
Steve walked into the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. We had just gotten back from seeing Steve’s old house. He had been really quiet as we made our way back home. Humans are confusing.
“How was your ride, Steve?” Miss Bessie asked as she handed him a couple of fresh cookies to have with his coffee.
“The ride? Oh, yes…the ride. Arf and I found ourselves at the little house my wife, Dina, and I bought and fixed up before Katie was born. We met the new owners.”
Miss Bessie wiped her hands on her apron and sat down at the table across from Steve.
“That must have been quite a surprise for you,” she said.
“You have no idea.” Steve told Miss B about his meeting with Dina’s sister, Steph, and the letter she had given him.
“So in a day’s time, you discovered your wife left you and Katie because she thought she was going to die and didn’t want to burden you. You also discovered that six or seven years ago she went into remission, but knew there was a strong possibility the illness would return.”
“Then today, I discovered a woman had visited our old home earlier this week. It sounds like she must be about Dina’s age. If it was her, that means she is still alive.”
“Is there a way you can find her?” Bessie jumped up to get a pan of cookies from the oven. “Or do you want to?”
“I have to try, Miss Bessie…for Katie’s sake.”
“Have to try what? Brad asked as he walked into the kitchen and helped himself to a glass of milk and a cookie.
Steve proceeded to bring Brad up to date on all he had learned that day.
In the middle of the explanation, Jamie walked in. The framed picture was under her arm. She had decided to wait for the right time to ask about it, but she couldn’t wait for that.
“Look what I found in the attic,” she said as she laid the picture on the table. Isn’t this you, Brad and who are the other two kids with you?”
Brad held the frame and stared at it for a minute. “Where did you find this? In the attic?”
“Yes. Arf also found a packet of letters. I didn’t bring them with me.”
Jamie decided Brad didn’t hear her say anything about the letters. He was too engrossed in the picture.
“The dark haired girl on my left is my twin sister, Barbie. She died with my parents in the fire. We were sixteen when it happened. The other boy is my younger brother, Tom. He was twelve at the time. He escaped the fire and my Aunt and uncle took him to live with them.”
“Where is Tom now?” Miss Bessie asked.
“I don’t know.” Brad answered. “Please excuse me. I need to get some chores done before it gets too dark.”
“I’ll come with you.” Steve was right behind Brad. “Are you coming, Arf, or do you want to stay with the women”
***I was going to stay with Miss B and Jamie in case someone dropped a cookie, but when Steve put it like that, I decided I had better go with the guys. I sure hope I get to go be with Katie next week. This place is wearing me out.
“Miss Bessie, do you know where Grandma Helen is?”
“Yes, Jamie. I believe she took a book out to the garden.”
Jamie had read something in the letters Arf found in the attic and she was curious to know if Miss Helen recalled anything that might fill in some of the blanks.
“Grandma Helen….what a pretty day to enjoy the beauty of Alice’s garden. Do you mind if I join you for a few minutes?”
“Of course not, dear. Are you getting ready to move to the farm? We will miss you around here.”
“I hope we’ll all visit each other often. Helen, you and your husband owned or own the General Store in town, right?”
“I’ve pretty much turned the business over to Steph. It doesn’t make a huge profit, and since I’ve been living with Steve and Katie, my small savings is enough for me to get by on. Why do you ask?”
“I hope you won’t think ill of me when I tell you I read some letters Arf found in the attic. I would really like your advice concerning whether or not I should show them to Brad. If he doesn’t already know of their contents, I think maybe he would want to.”
“Well dear, I’m afraid I can’t give you my opinion if I don’t know what is in the letters.”
“You must be about the same age as Brad’s parents who died in the fire. I don’t suppose you knew his grandparents who lived in this house at one time.”
“We were acquainted only because they occasionally shopped at the store. Brad’s parents and their family didn’t live around here. I haven’t said anything around Brad, but of course everyone knew that their grandson was responsible for the tragic fire.”
“I’ll tell you this much, Helen. According to what I read, what you heard might not be true”