I don't want to be too specific, but let's just say that this is set several years after the movie. I also don't want to brag, but I just can't help mentioning that this is my 100th fanfiction! Thanks to Countrylover99 for giving me the nudge that I needed to finally write it. :)
And you never seen, so they tell me
Such downright domesticity...
Adam called her my little bear cub, for like a bear cub, she was curious and fearless — too curious for her own good, always poking about where she shouldn't and causing trouble when she didn't mean to.
To Adam, it still felt like only a few days since that spring evening when he'd traveled down from the trapping cabin and first laid eyes on her. The memory was still so fresh in his mind: standing over her crib, stunned and speechless as she grasped his finger in her chubby little fist. But then one day, he blinked, and his tiny baby was gone. Then another day, he turned his back for a moment, and his hand-holding toddler had been replaced by a running girl.
Hannah was always on the run now, it seemed — exploring, doing her chores, playing with her cousins or the farm animals, causing trouble, making messes. "She keeps my hands fuller than any ten children," Millie said at least once a week. Millie usually put Hannah to bed, but Adam had gotten into the habit of checking on her every night as she slept, partly just to get a good look at her. She was growing up so fast, and sleep was practically the only time when she ever held still.
Tonight, she was sleeping soundly, and Adam leaned over her, tucked the blankets tighter around her, and kissed her cheek. Hannah's hair was a blend of Adam's red hair and Millie's blonde — "strawberry blonde," Millie called it — and it seemed to glow in the flickering orange light from the oil lamp on her bedside table.
"You look such an angel when you're sleepin'," Adam whispered, chuckling a bit, "nobody'd ever suspect what a little devil you are when you're awake."
He smoothed her blankets one last time, then crossed her room to check that the shutters on the window were tightly closed. He fussed and fretted like a mother hen over Hannah sometimes. Winter was settling in again, and Adam couldn't fall asleep at night without checking Hannah's shutters first. He would lie awake beside Millie in bed, worrying. What if her shutters were open a crack? What if she caught a chill and fell sick?
But the shutters were shut snugly. Adam turned around from the window and startled, for Hannah was now wide-awake, sitting up in her bed and staring at him. She giggled mischievously at his surprise.
"You called me a devil, Pa," she grinned, as if this were something to be proud of. "Am I really a devil?"
"What you are," Adam said sternly, shaking his head, "is a little gal up way past her bedtime. You just close your eyes and go back to sleep right now, Hannah Pontipee." He ought to call her a little fox, instead of a little bear cub, for she could be as sly and sneaky the worst fox. Pretending to be asleep when she was actually awake was her latest trick.
"Tell me a story first," she demanded.
Adam said nothing, only crossed his arms and gave her a reproachful, sideways stare. Hannah knew that look well, for her parents gave it to her quite often. That look meant that she'd done something naughty again. Sometimes she would argue that she hadn't been naughty at all — she'd inherited all of her parents' stubbornness — but tonight, she sighed and remembered her manners.
"I'm sorry. I mean, will you tell me a story, please, Pa?"
Adam never could resist anything that she asked him for, so he sat down on the edge of her bed. "All righty, I'll tell you a story." He pondered for a moment, searching a good story to tell her, and then he spotted the Bible on the shelf near Hannah's bed. Millie had taught her to read from that Bible, just like she said she would on the day she and Adam were married.
"Have I ever told you..." Adam asked slowly, "...the story 'bout how me and your ma first met?"
Hannah shook her head against the pillows.
Adam's eyes twinkled, and he reached out, slid the Bible off the shelf, and flipped it open. "Well, it was just like the story in this here Bible 'bout when Isaac met his wife, Rebekah. Have you read that one?"
Hannah shook her head again, and Adam wasn't surprised. Living in the wilderness was hard work, and children had chores to do, too. There wasn't much free time, and Hannah always wanted to spend her free time playing outside. She was bright as a whip, but her reading and sewing were rather poor for a girl her age. Whenever Millie told her to practice them, she would say, "But those are sit-down things, Ma. I don't like sit-down things."
"You know your name comes from the Bible, right?"
Hannah nodded. "Yours too, Pa."
"That's right. But this story here is 'bout folks named Isaac and Rebekah. See, Isaac wanted to get married, so he sent his friend into town to look for a wife for him, and—"
"Why didn't he go look for a wife himself?" Hannah interrupted.
"Well, Isaac had moved out west, see, and he wanted to have a wife from back in Canaan, his hometown, but he couldn't leave his crops just then. So he sent a friend of his back to Canaan, and his friend said a prayer that he would find the right woman for Isaac to marry. Look, can you read this here?"
He laid the Bible open on the bed between them, and Hannah leaned forward and slowly read the verse that her father was pointing to. "Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jug on her shoulder."
"See, that's how it was when I met your ma. I'd just swapped my beaver furs, and I come out of the general store and looked up and down the street. I just knew the right woman for me to marry had to be in town somewhere, and I said..." Adam hesitated. He decided to leave out the words bless your beautiful hide, wherever you may be. "...well, I said a prayer that I would find her. And do you know what happened?"
"You found Ma!" Hannah exclaimed, all bright eyes and smiles, and Adam to chuckle. She knew exactly how to turn on the charm when she wanted, just like him.
"That's right," he answered. "Before I'd even finished saying the words, I saw your ma."
"Was she carrying a jug on her shoulder too, like Rebekah?"
"No, she was chopping up some wood. She was workin' as a cook in an eating-house back then, and she chopped some wood and went inside to serve up some stew. And I knew from the minute I saw her that she was the gal for me."
"Did Ma know from the minute she saw you?"
"Well, you'll have to ask your ma that question, but I reckon she did. You know what she did the first time she ever saw me?" Hannah shook her head, and Adam pointed to the Bible again. "Well, it was a lot like what happened when Rebekah first saw Isaac. She rode out west on a camel — "
"What's a camel, Pa?"
"It's a pack-animal they have in desert places — real stubborn, like a mule. Rebekah rode one out west to where Isaac was homesteading. Look, can you read this here?"
"Rebekah lifted her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she fell from the camel," Hannah read slowly, then paused and pursed her lips, thinking. "Why did she fall off it?"
"Because she fell in love with Isaac, right from the first minute she saw him. Sometimes people act fools when they fall in love. You'll figure that out when you're older."
"Did Ma act a fool when she saw you?"
"She sure did. She dumped a whole ladle of stew right onto some poor fella's pants."
Hannah's laugh was quickly followed by a yawn. She rubbed her eyes and settled back into her bed; her body was growing tired again, but her mind was still curious. "And then what happened, Pa?" she asked sleepily.
We got married that same day, but I never told her I had six brothers, Adam thought guiltily. I brought her out here to the wilderness, expecting her to cook and clean for the whole slummicky lot of us, and I never said one word to her about it.
Adam thought this, but he said only, "I'll tell you the rest another time, you little bear cub. And besides, I reckon you know how the story ends, anyway."
Hannah smiled against her pillow. "I reckon so."
"You warm enough?" he asked, tucking her blankets around her, and she nodded. She was wearing her long winter underwear and the thick wool nightdress that Millie had knitted for her. "All right, then," Adam whispered, kissing her cheek. "Goodnight, Hannah."
Not long ago, Adam would've laughed at any man who fussed over his child as much as he did over Hannah. He would've thought of childcare as "woman's work" and scorned any man who did it. Yet here he was, telling his daughter bedtime stories and tucking her in. He had changed so much from the man he'd once been, and he mused as he shut the door of Hannah's room behind him, that perhaps someday, he would tell her a story about that.
To be continued...? Please review and let me know if you'd like to see more. :)