As Katie Cross stood alongside her family and friends on the deck of the Mayflower, on the shore of Plymouth, England, she looked back at her homeland, and she wandered if they would ever see it again. She looked around at the rolling mountains of fall, and over at the pier where her father had taught she and Jacob how to swim, and at the loving home where their parents had reared them up to fear and love the Lord. No matter how many times she tried to reassure herself that they would travel back to their home again, she now knew that it wasn't possible. They were traveling to the New World for religious freedom and a new life. She was both scared and exited all at the same time... all of them were.... for they had no idea what to expect. Her twin brother Jacob came to stand beside her as she looked over the railing of the ship, trying to hide the tears that threatened to spill over. He seemed to feel the same tension that she felt, and he looked at her and whispered quietly, “Everything is going to be alright, Katie.” Jacob gave her a little smile. She smiled back at him, and said, “I know, Jacob... as long as we are all together!”
She and her brother had been close ever sense they were little children, but when their father passed away almost 3 years ago, they became even closer. Their mother, Sarah, holding the small hand of two and a half year old Abigail, came to stand beside them, she put her free arm around them both and asked, “Are you ready, Children? The Captain just announced that we will be leaving in about five minutes,” she smiled at them with an almost sad look in her eyes.
Abigail looked up at her older brother with her big, innocent, blue eyes and asked, "Where are we going, Jacob?," Jacob smiled at her, bent down and picked her up answering, " We are traveling to a new home called America, so we can worship Jesus freely, without anyone telling us in what manner we are allowed do it in. Do you understand, dear?" When the little girl nodded her head, Jacob gently set her on the wooden floor of the ship. Then Katie suggested, “Why don't we all pray together, Mother,” their mother smiled at her and exclaimed, “What a great idea, Katie! Jacob? Why don't you go get Charles's family over here, and we'll pray.
When they were all together, Charles's mother, Helen, said, “Will you please say the blessing, Charles?”
“Of course, Mother,” He winked at Abigail who took his large hand into her small one and bowed his head, “Dear Gracious and Heavenly Father, we come here before you on this beautiful morning, to ask for protection. Protection for us and the other families on this ship, while seeking religious freedom, and for our friends and family here at home. That they will be strong enough to withhold this persecution, in which they might look to you for strength. And give us strength as we go on to the New World without some of our loved ones, living and deceased. In Your Name we pray, Amen.” She felt someone squeeze her hand. Katie suddenly had tears in her eyes, and as everyone started to drop hands, she noticed Charles had not yet let hers go. He was looking at her with the same sadness she was feeling. Charles never said anything, but she could almost read his expression, which said,
“I know what you're feeling, Katie, and we can make it through together,” Katie gave him a slight smile and whispered; “Thank you, Charles.”
He squeezed her hand again, and then went to be with his family. As she stood there holding her little sister, she realized that the boat was moving. She started to wave at everyone on shore, and silently prayed, ‘Lord, we are all in your hands now! Keep us all safe, I trust that you will.’ But even as she said it, she had this awful feeling that not all of the people on the Mayflower would make it to see freedom, and it made her uneasy. But what she didn't know was that this voyage would change her life forever!
A year and a half earlier....
Fourteen and a half year old Katie Cross sat looking out the window in her bed room. Since her father died two years ago, she often sat there and talked to him about her days at school or how she wished she could see his face. She was deep in thought when she heard her mother’s voice,
“Katie, we need to speak with you!’’
“Coming! ’’ she answered.
When she got to the kitchen see saw, her mother holding one-year old Abigail on her lap, and her twin brother, Jacob were sitting at the table.
“Sit down, Katie.” Mother said.
“All right “Katie said curiously.
When she sat at the kitchen table, Mother took her hand.
“What is it, Mother?” Katie suddenly felt scared, as if her mother were about to tell her something dreadful. But for a moment, she decided to swallow her fears and listen to what had to say before jumping to any conclusions.
Her mother sighed and said to her oldest children, “As you know, your aunt and uncle are going to the New World.” Mother stated as Katie nodded “Well… I’ve decided that we will be going along.”
“No!” Katie explained as she quickly stood up; she heard her chair crashing to the floor.
“Katie dear, your father’s been gone for a little over a year, and I can’t care for you children on my own” Mother said gently.
“I am not going with you!” Katie shouted loudly as she ran up the stairs.
Katie was sobbing on her cot when, she heard Jacob’s gentle voice behind her.
“Katie, are you all right?”
“Go away!” she yelled as she sat up.
She instantly felt ashamed about speaking to her brother so disrespectfully.
“What’s wrong?” Jacob questioned her gently.
She answered. “I just want to be alone! Nothing is the matter!”
“Nothing! Nothing’s the matter, Katie? If there’s nothing wrong, then why did you yell at Mother? You’ve never yelled at her before, Katie.” he stated more sternly.
“You’d be frustrated with her too if she made you leave the only home you’ve
ever known!” Katie sobbed.
“Don’t be so dramatic, Katie. Do you think I want to leave our home either? Mother is doing what she thinks Father would want for us if he were here!”
“You don’t seem too upset about it.” she answered as she folded her arms.
“Katie, you’re acting like a child!” Jacob almost yelled.
Katie gasped in surprise. They had never fought like that before, and Jacob had always been the quiet, peace maker of the family; never raising his voice at anyone. Katie looked up at him with a sad, tear stained face and whispered,
“Oh Jacob, I'm so scared! I don’t want to leave Father.”
Then she started sobbing again and threw herself on a pillow. Jacob’s face softened as he sat next to her on the cot. Knowing how hard Katie took their father’s death, he tried to calm her by softly rubbing her back.
“Katie, don’t cry.” he soothed her gently. “Father wouldn’t want you to be frightened, now would he? He would want us to be happy, Katie. And God will provide for us.” Katie sat there as if she were pondering his words. Then she sat up and gave him a little smile.
“No … I suppose he wouldn’t. Go tell Mother I’ll be down to help with supper and to get Abigail down for her nap, ok?"
Jacob nodded and smiled as he went to leave the room.
“Jacob?” Katie said.
She sat there for a second then said to him,
“Thank you.” she whispered.
Jacob nodded and then left the room.
Short Story 2
One week passed…
“Mother?” Katie asked her mother.
“Yes, dear?” her mother answered.
“What do you think the New World is like?” Katie wondered thoughtfully.
“It will be different than home, but it will be nice to get to worship God together freely”. Her mother
smiled at her. Katie stopped chopping the carrots that were on the cutting board in front of her to look out the window. She loved to look out at the beautiful scenery in the fall.
“ I hope it’s beautiful, with lots of trees, amazing sunsets…”
“Katie, you can chop while you speak,” Mother pointed to the chopping board and smiled.
“I'm sorry Mother”, Katie apologized. “I guess I’m getting a little excited about going to the New World.” Katie started chopping again. “Mother, do you think we will be happy there?”
“We’ll be happy as long as we’re together, darling.”
“I know…” Katie said slowly.
“It’s all right, Katie. Why don’t you go outside and take a break,” she nodded toward the window. “You've worked hard today,” She smiled.
“I have to ask you something first”, Katie stated. “ It will only take a moment”.
“ What is it, dear?'' Her mother asked curiously.
Katie set her knife down, and leaned against the counter. “ I feel as if I’m abandoning Father by leaving Plymouth. Although I know he would want us to be happy, it still feels wrong. Is it?”
After a few moments, her mother turned to her. Katie could see the tears in her eyes as she declared , “I know it is hard, and this very thought has gone through my head a lot as well. It kept on pestering me at night until I couldn’t stand it any longer, and so I prayed. I asked the Lord to not be angry with me for moving on with our lives, and I now know that God is not; nor is your father. They both want us to be happy.''
Katie felt tears in her eyes and she had to turn away from her mother so that she wouldn't see her cry.
But Sarah Cross knew her daughter well enough to know that something else was on her mind.
“Katie, what else is bothering you so that you have to turn away from me? ,'' she inquired in pure concern. Katie decided that she wouldn't worry her mother with what was on her mind right now. She knew it would be a lie, and a sin, if she said that there was nothing on her mind, but she didn't want to talk about it.
“Nothing, Mother... I am just thinking of father again,” she smiled, feeling a little prick of guilt. Her mother still had the look of both confusion and concern, but she didn't want to push her daughter too far. Then Katie declared , “ I think I'll go outside to think a little bit. Is that still alright, Mother?''
“Sure it is, Katie. Supper is on the stove and Abigail is asleep, so I can manage for a while.", her mother smiled. "Oh and look, Charles and Jacob are walking outside. Maybe you should go say hello.”
Katie glanced out the window, she spotted Jacob and Charles walking up the lane. She glanced over at Charles, he was tall and handsome 16 year – old young man. They had all been best friends since they were young. He was the most gentle and kind young man she had ever known, and he had a wonderful faith in God. He and Katie had a lot in common. Charles's father died when he was 14 years old and than he started working for Katie’s father to support his family when he was 15. He had been a lot of help around the farm when Katie’s father died a year later.
Katie came back to the present, and grabbed her shawl and waved goodbye to her mother, all she could think of was how she just wanted to be alone to think. She almost wished for a moment she could avoid Jacob and Charles, but she knew it would be disrespectful to do so. So she slowly walked up to them, and decided that she could take a walk by herself later.
As she was getting quite close, Charles smiled at her and stated cheerfully,
“Hello, Katie! How are you?''
“Hello, Charles,'' she began as she faked a grin, “I am alright, what are you two doing?''
“We were going to see if you would like to come with us for a walk on the pier, Jacob said said that it's your favorite place to go on a stroll.”
Katie looked at Jacob,who had not said a word the whole time they were talking. He kept on staring at her, as if he sensed there was something wrong with her. But she tried to hide her sadness, and talked to Charles, who was awaiting her answer.
“Yes, Jacob was right, that's where I do a lot of my thinking, and it is very peaceful up there for me and I am sure for others too... ,'' She knew she was rambling and felt embarrassed at first, but then she caught Charles smile at her with amusement and she had to laugh at herself. “Yes, indeed, I love to go, Charles, thank you,'' Then she turned to Jacob and inquired, “ Shall we go and tell mother where we are going?''
Jacob nodded and started to walk off without saying anything else and she told Charles that they would be right back.
When she caught up with her brother, she whispered , “ Is there something that I have said or done that has made you angry with me, Jacob?”
“I am not exactly angry with you, but are you sure that you're alright, Katie? Because it seemed to me that you were trying to hide something back there with Charles,” he said with a little hint of concern in his voice, but the rest was anger.
“I am fine, Jacob-”
“I don't think you are, Katie!” Jacob interrupted more loudly. “ I thought you were alright with leaving Plymouth, but now you're acting as if you don't want to go at all!”
“ I am still having a little bit of trouble getting used to the fact that we are leaving our family and friends. That if we leave here, we might never see them again!” she hesitated, “Well... there is no need to talk about it right now. Let's go tell mother we are going, and we don't want to keep Charles waiting.”
Katie hurried to the back door of their home before her brother could say anything more, and they walked in. Their mother was in the same spot that she was when Katie left.
“Jacob, Charles and I are going to the pier for a little bit. Is that alright?”
“As long as you are back for supper, dears. But why don't you ask Charles if he and his family would like to join us for supper.” their mother smiled at them.
“Sure, Mother.” Katie smiled back at her. “ Bye,” she said as she and Jacob walked out the door.
When they were outside, Katie walked ahead of her brother towards the place where Charles was waiting for them. She didn't want to speak with Jacob at that very moment, so she called to Charles,
“Are you ready to go?”
Charles replied, “I'm ready if you and Jacob are.” He smiled down at her.
“First, I want to invite you and your family to supper. That way your mother and sisters are saved the trouble of fixing it. We'd love to visit with you, and I know Mother would enjoy the company!”
“What if I go and see if Mother and the girls have started cooking, and I'll let you know. Then maybe we could go to the pier another day. Is that alright?”
“That's perfect! I probably need to help Mother with the cooking anyway.” She turned to Jacob and inquired, “Is that ok with you too?”
Her brother nodded, and said, “I have to feed the animals and water Mother's garden for her, so that would work.”
“ See you in a while, then.” Charles answered with a smile.
As he walked away, Katie thought, “ I'm glad that's over! It's not that I don't want to talk to Charles, but I don't have to pretend any longer.” But she was wrong...
As she started to walk off towards the house, Jacob stopped her by saying quietly,
“ We need to talk, Katie.”
“ Not right now, Jacob. I have to go help Mother with supper.” She said as she started to walk a way.
“ Katie, I -”
“No, Jacob! I do NOT want talk to you right this minute, alright?” Katie angrily interrupted as she turned to face her brother. Katie instantly saw the hurt in his eyes, and knew that he was only concerned for her welfare. This time she spoke with a softer tone, “ Jacob, I really need time alone to think and pray before I speak to you about this. But my words came before I even realized what I had said. I'm sorry! Can you ever forgive me?” Her words came so fast, they came out in a jumble of pleading emotion.
“Of course I forgive you, Katie! I shouldn't have pushed you so hard, but I was concerned. Take as long as you need.” Jacob touched her shoulder, then he simply smiled and walked to the barn.
Katie sat up straight in her cot, breathing heavily. She felt tears streaming down her cheeks, and tried to calm herself. She dropped her head on her backboard, and thought,
'Why am I still having these dreams, Lord? I don't understand... I thought I had let what happened to Father go. It's been over two years, and I still feel like it's my fault. But I can't change that... can I?'
Her thoughts went on for most of the night, until she saw the small light of the sunrise on the horizon. She decided that she needed to get up and start on her chores, since it was sunup. She climbed out of bed, and quickly put on her dress and bonnet.
'Help me to be strong today, Lord. I need your help to be strong.'
She kept saying that over and over to herself all the way down the stairs. At the bottom, she stopped, sighed deeply, and stepped into the kitchen.
Part 3 coming soon!