“Elizabeth Cracken?” Mrs. Mansfield’s clear voice rang out to the back of the classroom where Liz Cracken (as she was called) was sitting at her desk, listening intently to what her teacher was saying.
“Could you please solve the problem on the board?”
Liz nervously stood up and walked up to the chalkboard. Mrs. Mansfield handed her a piece of chalk and Liz simplified the problem before her, her hand shaking as she wrote. The chalk in her hand squeaked and scraped against the board as she circled her answer. She turned back to the class to explain her answer.
“The question asks what the result is when you divide ten fourteenths by two sevenths. You simply invert the divisor, and then place a multiplication symbol between the two terms in place of the division symbol. After that, you simplify where you can, and multiply it out. The result ends up coming out to five halves or two and a half.”
“Very good!” her teacher praised her as Liz handed the piece of chalk back to her teacher. Mrs. Mansfield turned back to the board to write out another problem for the next student to solve and Liz made her way back to her seat. She was so relieved she had solved the problem correctly! She had studied hard to understand the math lesson her teacher had assigned and was scared that she wouldn’t be able to figure out the answer if she was called up to the board to solve a problem. But she was glad she had studied extra hard. Despite that fact that she struggled with math, Liz was determined to do well in school! Even if it was going to take her a whole week to get one concept down she would do it!
The rest of the school day passed uneventfully and when the school bell rang out at precisely 3 o’clock, Mrs. Mansfield’s class was dismissed. Liz gathered up her belongings and headed towards the door.
At the sound of her name, she turned and saw her dear friend Victoria beckoning for her to join her. Liz smiled and made her way through the crowd of students to reach the girl. Victoria was only one month younger than Liz herself and the two had become fast friends when they first met at school in the 1st grade 5 years earlier.
“Hello Vicki,” she said, calling her friend by her nickname.
“What did you think of the math lesson today?” Vicki inquired.
“It was good. I’m glad I understand the concept now. It used to confuse me why you would invert the divisor in those problems; it didn’t make sense, but the way Mrs. Mansfield explained it today in class helped me understand it.” she replied. “What did you think?”
“I liked it a lot! Like you, I understand the concept a whole lot better. Not to mention that when Mrs. Mansfield teaches, it makes it so much more enjoyable. You can’t help but just love her personality!”
“I know what you mean!” Liz agreed. She herself enjoyed listening to Mrs. Mansfield teach math. It did make it more enjoyable.
The pair was silent for a few moments while they walked out the door of the schoolhouse, into the chilly autumn breeze and onto the busy sidewalks of London. Liz pulled her simple brown shawl closer around her. The girls clutched each other’s hands as they walked and carefully crossed the streets of the intersections, being careful to stay out of the way of impatient buggy and carriage drivers. The potent smell of horse reached Liz’s nose and she covered her nose with her shawl, trying to keep out the terrible scent. After they turned the corner onto an adjoining street the smell lessened.
“How was your weekend?” Liz inquired.
“It was wonderful! Oh, and I must tell you that I went shopping with my mother Saturday afternoon and we visited the tea store that just opened off of 5th Street! And we purchased some of their goods including their some of their teas. Liz, you simply must taste their raspberry tea! My mother and I both agreed it was the best we had ever had!”
“That sounds exciting!” Liz replied cheerfully. “Perhaps, if my mother is not too busy, I might be able to persuade her to visit the store and try out some of their teas this weekend! What is the name of the store?”
“It’s called The Tea Garden,” Vicki replied. “Oh look! That’s 5th Street right there!” she said pointing to a sign across the road. “Shall we go in for a peek now?”
“I would love to, but I think I have to get home. My mother will want me to help her with afternoon chores.”
Vicki looked disappointed but nodded as the two of them continued in the direction of their homes.
As they approached Liz’s house the two parted and waved to each other. Liz watched her friend walk down the sidewalk towards her home, which happened to be only just a few houses down from her own. Then she turned to face her own home, climbed the steps to the front door, and knocked. Just a few moments later her mother opened the door.
“Hello mother!” Liz said as she gave her mother a hug.
“Hello dear!” her mother replied, kissing her daughter’s forehead. “Go change into more comfortable clothes and then come to the kitchen,” she instructed. “You can tell me about your day at school while you help me bake.” She closed the door and headed towards the kitchen where her bread dough sat waiting on a cutting board. Liz walked down the hall towards her room and set down her school bag in one corner near her bed. She changed out of her school uniform, put her hair up neatly, and then stepped into the kitchen to help her mother.
“How was school today sweetie?” Mother asked sweetly from where she was standing at the counter kneading dough.
“It was wonderful! And I finally understand fractions now more fully! And, as always, Mrs. Mansfield made it more enjoyable.” Liz replied as she reached for her apron hanging on a peg embedded in wall.
Liz’s mother smiled at her daughter. “I’m glad. I loved math when I was younger and I’m hoping it will be just as enjoyable for you too.”
While Mother patiently continued to knead the dough in her hands, Liz retrieved the straw broom from the corner of the room so she could sweep the floors, her first afternoon chore.
Liz helped her mother throughout the afternoon, sweeping, cooking and cleaning. Around 5 o’clock they had just finished putting the finishing touches to the dinner table when a knock came from the door. Liz raced to answer the door to let her father and brother William in. She gave them each a hug and brought them into the kitchen where mother was.
“Hello dear.” my father said as he kissed my mother. “My, my!” he exclaimed as he saw the table. “This does look like a feast!”
The table was covered with a red tablecloth, upon which sat two candles and greenery for décor. Besides those were a plate of sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar – a rare dinner treat, a basket of rolls and a platter of chicken; simply staring at it made Liz’s mouth water.
“Mother, you really outdid yourself tonight!” William exclaimed as the family sat down.
They held each other’s hands and thanked God for the food and then started passing the plates of food to each other. There was silence until everyone acquired food upon their plates. Then Liz’s father cleared his throat and spoke.
“I have something I would like to tell you children that your mother and I have been praying and thinking about for a long time now.”
Liz paused, placed her fork down, and listened for what her father had to say. This was certainly unusual. Father nearly never had an announcement that was so important that Liz had to know about it. What have mother and father been thinking about? What does he want to tell us? Her father’s face was serious and reserved, and Liz waited for him to speak.
I'm open to comments on improvement. I appreciate your patience! I've been busy and haven't had much time to write. But here's the first chapter! Hope you like it!