Elizabeth's Journal

It has been a year since Sarah came into our lives. Her adoption becomes official on December 23rd. A day before Jack's birthday and two days before Christmas!

It has been a blessing having Sarah a part of our family, but a challenge as well sometimes. We discovered she was taking food from the kitchen and hiding it under her bed. I took her aside and assured her she did not need to do that. She would never go hungry as long as she lived in our home.

Sarah is a sweet child but she struggles in school sometimes with her lessons and socially as well. She hangs back from the other children. Joseph Coulter seems to be her only friend. That is understandable. They are both orphaned children who have struggledto fit in with their new families.

Josh Jordan galloped toward Hope Valley on Red, the horse he'd borrowed from the farm couple he boarded with. They treated him more like a hired hand than a son. But they fed him and offered a place to sleep in the shed out back. That was all Josh really needed.

He was fifteen, but he felt like a grown man sometimes. He'd been caring for his little sister since she was three when their Ma passed.

He'd done his best to look after Sarah but he was only a kid himself.

Pa was useless and a drunk to boot. He'd dragged them all here from Calgary because he said he was sick of city living and wanted to farm. But he knew nothing about farming and they nearly starved.

Pa would go off on drunken binges and leave Josh and Sarah to fend for themselves. They lived off their small vegetable garden and whatever roots and berries they could scrounge in the woods. Josh taught himself to set traps for rabbits and squirrels, skinned them and cooked them over the fire.

Then one day Pa was just gone and never came back. Little Sarah was getting thinner and sicker every day. Josh knew he had to go into town and look for help.

His Pa rarely went into town unless he had money to drink in the saloon. He said never to trust anyone with the last name of Gowen, Bouchard or Coulter. But when he looked at the desperation in his little sister's eyes he felt like he had no other choice.

So, he trudged down from the hills on foot into the town of Hope Valley. He was sure none of the town folk noticed the ragged boy as he walked among them along the town boardwalk. They all seemed to be rushing about involved in their own business.

He asked for directions to the lumber mill and gathered up the courage to walk into Mr. Coulter's office and ask for a job.

Mr. Coulter was sitting at his desk in his office on the telephone having an animated conversation. Jordan guessed it was the man's wife on the other end of the phone.

"Yes, son. Can I help you?" Mr. Coulter asked. Jordan thought the man seemed kind.

"I'm looking for a job, Mr. Coulter. I'm a hard worker and I don't look strong but I am."

"How old are you, son?"

"I'm sixteen, sir," Jordan lied.

Lee Coulter looked at the boy skeptically. "I don't hire kids to work in my sawmill. I'm sorry. Check with Mr. Yost at the mercantile. He might need someone to stock shelves or deliver groceries to older folks in the area who can't get into town."

Jordan left with dejection. Maybe his old man was right. You couldn't trust any of the businessmen who ran this town. They didn't give a rat' you-know-what about people like them.

He began walking home by taking the path that led past the schoolhouse. Josh had two reasons for taking this route. First off he loved hiding behind a tree or in the bushes watching the kids while they were at lunch or recess. Most of them looked well dressed, well fed and happy. They lived the kind of life he wish he'd had. The life he wanted Sarah to have.

The other reason was not something he was proud of. Sometimes when the kids and the teacher weren't looking he'd snatch a sandwich, a piece of fruit or a cookie from their lunch pails as they sat on the outdoor tables. He always took the food home for Sarah. Sometimes there was even a piece of chocolate. He knew stealing was wrong. He didn't know what else to do.

Josh had been coming to the school and observing for weeks now. He watched the lady teacher and the way she interacted with her students. She was always kind and understanding. Like his Ma might have been if life had gone a different way.

The teacher was sitting on the steps of the schoolhouse with a student who seemed to be crying about something. The teacher gently wiped the child's tears and put a reassuring arm around him.

Josh turned and walked toward home before anyone saw him. He knew what he had to do for his sister. As much as it might hurt them both.

Later that night, Josh was laying on the floor on his pallet beside Sarah. He had given her the one thin blanket to keep warm and he struggled against the cold.

He had a plan. He would leave this place and try to find work somewhere, maybe as a farmhand. He would tell Sarah to go to the nice teacher lady. She would help her. He was sure of that.

Josh dreamed that he was a cowboy. Roping steer, carrying a pistol and wearing a fancy hat and boots. He'd wanted to be a cowboy ever since he was little and his Ma read from the dime novels a neighbor had lent her them.

He reached out and kissed his sleeping sister. " I love you, Sarah. But I gotta go away. I can't do right by you. But I'm gonna come back for you and I'm gonna own a big ranch someday with horses and land as far as you can see. And you can live there with me, Sarah."

Elizabeth's Journal

Today was the day Sarah's adoption was to have been finalized . Things did not go according to plan.

All of us were planning on being there in front of Judge Bill Avery when he made the adoption decree legal. Even the twins Colleen and Will seemed excited and they're only seventeen months old. Abbey and Sarah were both in their best dresses and Jack even dressed up, however reluctantly.

Allie drove into town with all of us in tow. I sat in the passenger seat with both of the twins crawling all over me and the other three kids in the back seat. Sarah seemed happy but nervous. The car ride scared her a little bit, I think.

We all piled out of the car in front of the judge's office and that's when I saw Nathan walking toward us with a strange look.

"Elizabeth. I just had some kid walk into the Mountie office who claims to be Sarah's brother."

To be Continued.

Authors Note: I decided to go ahead and conclude this. I felt it only fair to tell Sarah's story. Enjoy and reviews good or bad are appreciated!