Guess what? Today I've got a never-seen-before short story about Jonas and Olivia! :) This story takes place just months after the book, and happens to be their first Christmas together. It'll be seperated into 2 parts...but that's not all the fun posts we'll be getting this December. I'm joining several other bloggers in a link-up and guess what that means? Lots of coolness by other bloggers, too! My friend Faith at www.fireflysstoryspace.blogspot.com is hosting it and that means that every day from today on to Christmas there will be a collection of great posts by various people. So definitely go check out her blog so you'll get all the links for each day!
Jonas and Olivia: A Christmas Tale pt. 1:
A gurgling laugh came from Jonas Carmichael's kitchen. He paused outside the door, grimacing.
"Every Christmas here in our village we gather together to sing for hours on end. And then the men roast a pig over a fire in the town square, and we younger folk pop corn." It was unmistakably the voice of Nabby Culpepper. Jonas rubbed his forehead, curling his fingers around the doorknob.
"Yes!" Bertram Culpepper, Nabby's dearest cousin, friend, and accomplice spoke up. "The air is filled with the sound of sleigh bells, and everybody is cheerful and bright and merry."
Jonas frowned. "Cheerful and bright and merry indeed," he mumbled, "While there is a war going on? I understand that I am late in the acceptance of the fact, but the fact itself remains true-- pleasure and play while our men are fighting, indeed."
"It sounds lovely," Olivia breathed. "We never had much Christmas in Philadelphia...many of our neighbors disapproved. I've never heard of a whole village gathering together!"
A scraping sound of a chair startled Jonas and he took a few steps back, disappearing into the shadows of the library. Nabby Culpepper popped out of the kitchen into the hallway.
"Of course you'll come, won't you?" She turned to face her friend.
Olivia joined the younger girl slowly. "I don't know." she shrugged. "It depends on Jonas, of course."
Jonas made a face from where he stood out of sight.
Bertram smiled. "Of course," He nodded, "I suppose it is a rather big change for him--these past few months and all."
"Of course it is," Jonas growled under his breath to himself.
Bertram pulled on his coat and then glanced at Olivia again. "If you are not able to attend, I promise I will save you a pie."
Olivia's face lit up. "Oh, thank you."
Nabby tied her cloak on and threw her arms around Olivia. "But you must come! I shall be so disappointed if you do not." She glanced at the clock on the hallway table and gave a little squeal. "Half past four! Oh, dear, supper will be on the table before long. Hurry Bertram."
"I'm hurrying," Bertram grunted, pulling a scarf around his neck.
Nabby bounced ahead of him. "I'll race you home," she challenged, her eyes dancing. "Ready, set, go!" She picked up her skirt and dashed towards the door.
Bertram let out a yell and in a flurry of legs and arms and shouting goodbyes they disappeared out the door.
Jonas stepped out from the library as soon as the front door slammed. "I hope you had a delightful visit," he told Olivia in a somewhat dry voice.
Olivia smiled. "Oh, yes. Very insightful and amusing, like always."
Jonas cleared his throat. "I...uh...I overheard about the Christmas traditions." Olivia paused, studying the floor and didn't answer. "Naturally you could go if you wish."
"I only want to go if you do." Olivia brightened and flashed him a grin.
Jonas rubbed the back of his neck and reddened. "Well then." he harrumphed. "But I-- do you really want to go, Olivia? Because... if you are determined..."
Olivia went back into the kitchen, calling over her shoulder, "I don't want to go if you would be unhappy about it. If that was the case, I should much rather stay here with you and Ishmael."
The older man sighed and trudged into his study. To be perfectly honest, a town-square party with the dozens of Culpeppers and whoever else was in town sounded like the most unpleasant way to spend the day. His mind traveled back to the old days around Thornwall Hall--the house bustling with servants and family and friends. The table in the dining room sagging with all the delicious foods, and his sisters dressed in their pretty dresses. At that time, few people celebrated Christmas in the colonies--most of them were decidedly against it. But in the village here it was the favorite time of the year. There was no town-square party back then-- it was a Thornwall Hall party that everyone looked forward to. Jonas kicked his feet up to prop them on the desk. He would invite Francis's family and some of his new friends for a proper Thornwall Hall Christmas and that would be enough, surely. New friends like a handful of ragged American soldiers who happened to be camped a few miles away--Olivia would like that. A town square Christmas could hardly compare, he thought.
Olivia was with Ishmael in the barn the next morning when Jonas came tramping in. "Bundle up!" he called. "We're off to get trimmings."
"What?" Olivia leaped up, a light springing into her eyes. "What do you mean?" Ishmael raised an eyebrow and leaned his pitchfork against the barn wall.
"I mean that we're going to get things-- branches of pine and berries to string on thread and all manner of pretty things." Jonas grabbed a sack and then turned to face them. "Are you coming?"
"Oh yes!" Olivia clapped her hands. "It sounds beautiful!" Ishmael grinned now and strode forward to throw open the door for the other two. The ground was crunchy with sparkling snow and the sky was a brilliant swath of blue.
"When I was a boy," Jonas said as they walked together into the woods, "We would always put greenery up all over the houses, and if there was an inch of space that wasn't decorated my mother felt ashamed." Olivia measured her steps to match his and smiled to herself. "We used to have parties here--" Jonas continued, "But I was thinking that this year we'd ask only Francis and them to come. What do you think?"
"Just lovely." Olivia bounced forward in her excitement and jumped over a frost-encrusted tree stump. "If you shoot a duck Ishmael and I will cook it, won't we, Ishmael?" The boy nodded.
They spent the morning gathering things in the woods and returned around noon with bags full of treasures. They all went inside for coffee and soup to warm them up, although Olivia felt as though she was already warm from within.
"We'll have to open up the dining room, of course," Jonas slurped up some soup and then wiped his mouth with his napkin. "For we will not all fit in the kitchen."
Olivia scooted her chair over to where she was sitting right at Jonas's elbow. "And what will we do, on Christmas?"
Jonas glanced at the two younger people and shrugged, the corners of his mouth turning up. "What would you like to do?"
"Oh!" Olivia gasped, grabbing a small book from the sideboard and handing it to Ishmael. "Let's write the things down, shall we, that we should like to do? Sing in the parlour with the piano, of course," she twinkled. Ishmael bowed his head and began to write swiftly. "Snow angels, and popping corn, and pantomimes--" Olivia glanced up at Ishmael and laughed. "Oh, won't you be grand at that?"
Ishmael made a chuckling sound and they continued writing, their heads bent close together over the book. Jonas studied them, feeling very satisfied.
"I say," he spoke finally, interrupting them. "Shall I have you ride over to Francis's and bring her and the family back with you, Olivia? Tell them to come tomorrow, noon."
"Me?" Olivia glanced up in surprise. "If you want me to."
Jonas nodded. "Off you go, then. Ishmael and I shall finish the decorating."
Olivia was thoroughly bundled up and then rode off on Jonas's horse before the hour was out. She took in deep breaths of the cold, frosty air and sighed happily. "I wish you were here, Father," she murmured as she urged the horse into a trot. "But I am determined to be happy."
When she reached Francis and Elijah Duncan's homestead snow flurries had begun to fall.
"My Olivia!" Francis called as she ran out of the cabin, throwing her shawl around her. "What a surprise! And how is my brother?"
Olivia slid down off the horse and wrapped her arms around Francis's waist."Very well, thank you. He asks that you all come for Christmas--tomorrow. Like the old days, he said."
"I wager it will not be quite like the old days." a sadness tinged Francis's words. "But I was right in thinking he would want us. Come in, child, and sit by the fire."
Olivia followed the older woman into the house and glanced around. "But where are all the children?"
Francis scooped up a kitten and deposited it into a basket. "They have run to the village for me." She paused. "They left this afternoon...they should be coming home soon."
Olivia sat down at the long wooden table and smiled. "And Mr. Duncan?"
Francis twisted up her apron in her hands. "See here, Olivia, we can't go to Jonas's for Christmas, though we would like to very much I'm sure. It is only that Anthony has run away, as far as we could tell, and we must find him. I'm so sorry."
Olivia jumped up. "But where would he have gone to?"
"Elijah...we think he has gone to try to help the army. The local militia was not good enough for him and he has been so restless." Suddenly Francis's eyes filled with tears. "I wish he would not, he knows we need him here--if all the men and boys leave, who will keep off the British if they try coming through here? And Elijah says it may happen very soon. I would fight-- and my little ones can shoot well, but we can't keep them back entirely, you know."
Olivia felt her heart sinking. "But Anthony is just one. Don't you wish him to do a good cause, even he does run away to do it?"
Francis shook her head with such decision that Olivia was surprised. "Anthony belongs here--he's hotheaded and impatient. He didn't go to join the army, you see...he left with Elijah's important papers. I know he's trying to help but if he's caught he will get himself and Elijah and at least two other men killed. And Anthony is so bound to find danger if there is any." She stopped and it grew very quiet in the cabin. "There now. Elijah is bound to find him and we shall hopefully avoid any trouble. Tell Jonas I am very sorry, but we shall have to miss Christmas this year."
Olivia frowned but put on her cloak. "Jonas will be so disappointed," she whispered to herself, feeling a slight grudge towards Anthony. But as she stepped outside and the cold hit her face she shuddered. He just didn't know what he was doing--and with so many lives involved, Olivia could only pray that God would guide the young man.
That's all for now! Hope you all have a lovely day!