When Calls the Heart(2)

By: Janette Oke



'Tis nice-but, then, you have always been a soul who took pleasure in just being aline. I do declare that you would be happy and contented anywhere on God's green earth.

No-not really. Not really.

The sudden turn of the conversation and the switch of my emotion surprised me. There was a strange and unfamiliar stirring deep within me. A restlessness was there, begging me to give it proper notice. I tried to push it back into a recessed corner of my being, but it elbowed its way forward.

You're always doing that' it hotly declared. Wheneverl try to raise my head, you push me down, shove me back. Why are you so afraid to confront me?

Afraid?

Yes, afraid.

I'm not afraid. It's just that I believe-I've been taughtthat one ought to be content with what one has, especially if one has been as blessed as I. It is a shame-no, a sin-to feel discontented while enjoying all of the good things that lifeand Papa-have showered upon me.

Aye, t'would be a sin to disregard one's blessings. I should never wish you to do so. But perhaps, just perhaps, it would quiet your soul if you'd look fairly and squarely at what makes the empty little longing tug at you now and then.

It was a challenge; and though I still felt fearful, and perhaps not a little guilty, I decided that I must take a look at this inner longing if the voice was ever to be stilled.

I was born Elizabeth Marie Thatcher on June 3, 1891, the third daughter to Ephraim and Elizabeth Thatcher. My father was a merchantman in the city of Toronto and had done very well for himself and his family. In fact, we were considered part of the upper class, and I was used to all of the material benefits that came with such a station. My father's marriage to my mother was the second one for her. She had first been married to a captain in the King's service. To this union   had been born a son, my half brother, Jonathan. Mother's first husband had been killed when Jonathan was but three years old; Mother therefore had returned to her own father's house, bringing her small son with her.

My father met my mother at a Christmas dinner given by mutual friends. She had just officially come out of mourning, though she found it difficult to wrap up her grief and lay it aside with her mourning garments. I often wondered just what appealed most to my father, the beauty of the young widow or her obvious need for someone to love and care for her. At any rate, he wooed and won her, and they were married the following November.

The next year my oldest sister, Margaret, was born. Ruthie then followed two years later. Mother lost a baby boy between Ruthie and me, and it nearly broke her heart. I think now that she was disappointed that I wasn't a son, but for some reason I was the one whom she chose to bear her name. Julie arrived two years after me. Then, two and a half years later, much to Mother's delight, another son was born, our baby brother, Matthew. I can't blame Mother for spoiling Matthew, for I know full well that we shared in it equally. From the time that he arrived, we all pampered and fussed over him.

Our home lacked nothing. Papa provided well for us, and Mother spent hours making sure that her girls would grow into ladies. Together my parents assumed the responsibility for our spiritual nurturing and, within the proper boundaries, we were encouraged to be ourselves.

Margaret was the nesting one of the family. She married at eighteen and was perfectly content to give herself completely to making a happy home for her solicitor husband and their little family. Ruth was the musical one, and she was encouraged to develop her talent as a pianist under the tutorship of the finest teachers available. When she met a young and promising violinist in New York and decided that she would rather be his accompanist than a soloist, my parents gave her their blessing.

I was known as the practical one, the one who could always be counted on. It was I whom Mother called if ever there was a calamity or problem when Papa wasn't home, relying on what she referred to as my "cool head" and "quick thinking." Even at an early age I knew that she often depended upon me.

I guess it was my practical side that made me prepare for independence, and with that in mind I took my training to be a teacher. I knew Mother thought that a lady, attractive and pleasant as she had raised me to be, had no need for a career; after all, a suitable marriage was available by just nodding my pretty head at some suitor. But she held her tongue and even encouraged me in my pursuit.

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