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Authors: Wanda E.; Brunstetter

The Christmas Secret

BOOK: The Christmas Secret
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© 2011 by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Print ISBN 978-1-63409-675-1

eBook Editions:

Adobe Digital Edition (.epub) 978-1-68322-030-5

Kindle and MobiPocket Edition (.prc) 978-1-68322-031-2

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written permission of the publisher.

All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

Cover design: Buffy Cooper

Cover model photography: Richard Brunstetter III; RBIII Studios

Published by Shiloh Run Press, a division of Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719,
Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683,
www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.

Printed in Canada.

Dedication

To Phil and Diane Allen, our special Pennsylvania friends.
Thanks for all you do.

Trust in the L
ORD
with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.

P
ROVERBS 3:5

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Epilogue

Allentown, Pennsylvania

1880

F
eeling the need for a bit of fresh air, Elizabeth Canning opened her bedroom window and drew in a deep breath, inhaling the earthy, leaf-scented fragrance that she knew even with her eyes closed was like no other season but autumn.

When a chilling wind blew in, rustling the lace curtains and causing her to shiver, she quickly shut the window. It was too cold for the first of November. Did the nippy weather mean they were in for a harsh winter this year, or would they be spared and have only a few bitterly cold days? Whatever the case, she hoped they’d have snow for Christmas. God’s sparkling white crystals always added a little something extra to the beauty and atmosphere of the holiday season.

Through the closed window, Elizabeth heard geese honking in the distance, no doubt making their southward journey. She could almost feel their excitement as they flew to warmer territories. It never failed, spring or fall; hearing geese high in the sky stirred a thrill deep in her soul.

When a knock sounded on the door, Elizabeth turned and called, “Come in.”

The door opened, and Elizabeth’s friend, Helen Warner, entered the room. Her coal-black hair, worn in a chignon at the back of her head and covered with a silver net, stood in sharp contrast to Elizabeth’s golden-blond hair, which she wore hanging loosely down her back today. But then, Helen, who’d recently turned twenty, had always been the prim and proper one, often wearing high-neck dresses with perfectly shaped bustles, like the one she wore today. Elizabeth, on the other hand, was the practical type and preferred full-skirted calico dresses, which were more comfortable when one was cleaning or working around the house. She felt rather plain next to Helen, but fortunately their friendship was based on more than the clothes they wore or their differing opinions on some things.

Elizabeth’s meticulous friend was outgoing and always seemed to have an air of excitement about her. Maybe Helen’s confident demeanor came from being the daughter of an esteemed minister of the largest congregation in Allentown, for she had a certain charisma that glowed like a halo around her. To Elizabeth, it was most invigorating, even though she, herself, was more down-to-earth.

“I thought you were going to help me clean the cabin today, but it doesn’t look like you came dressed for work,” Elizabeth said.

“I was hoping you’d change your mind and go shopping with me instead.” When Helen took a seat on the feather bed, her long, purple stockings peeked out from under the hem of her matching dress.

Elizabeth’s brows furrowed. “There’s no time for shopping right now. If David and I are to be married on Christmas Eve, then it doesn’t give us much time to get the cabin cleaned and ready for the wedding.”

Helen’s brown eyes narrowed, causing tiny wrinkles to form across her forehead. “It’s one thing to have the ceremony in the cabin, since you’re only inviting family and close friends, but are you sure you want to live in that dreary little place? It’s so small, and far from town.”

“It’s not that far—only a few miles.” Elizabeth took a seat beside her friend. “The cabin has special meaning to me. It was the first home of my mother’s parents, and soon after Grandma and Grandpa moved to Easton, Mother married Daddy, and they moved into the cabin to begin their life together. They lived there until …” Elizabeth’s voice trailed off, and she blinked to hold back tears threatening to spill over. “After Mother died of pneumonia when I was eight years old, Daddy couldn’t stand to live there any longer, because everything in the cabin reminded him of her.” Elizabeth may have been young, but she remembered how empty and lifeless the cabin had felt once her mother was gone.

“So you moved to town and lived at the Main Street Boardinghouse, right?”

Elizabeth nodded. “We stayed there until I was ten, and then when Daddy got his shoemaking business going well and married Abigail, we moved into the house he had built.” She smiled and touched Helen’s arm. “Soon after that, I met you.”

“So you’re used to living in town now, and just because your parents and grandparents lived in the cabin doesn’t mean you have to.”

“David and I want to begin our life together there.” Elizabeth sighed. “Besides, he’s just getting started with his carriage-making business and can’t afford to have a home built for us here right now.”

“I understand that, but can’t you continue living with your father and stepmother or even at the hotel David’s grandfather owns?”

“I suppose we could, but it wouldn’t be the same as having a place of our own to call home.”

Helen folded her arms with an undignified grunt. “Humph! That cabin isn’t a home; it’s a hovel. If David’s so poor that he can’t offer you more, then maybe you should consider marrying someone else. Maybe someone like Howard Glenstone. I think he’s been interested in you for some time.”

“I’m not in love with Howard. I love David, and I’d be happy living in the cabin with him for the rest of my life if necessary.” It was obvious to Elizabeth that Helen didn’t understand or appreciate how the homey little dwelling came to be. It must have taken a lot of hard work, frustration, and long hours for her mother’s father to build the cabin for Grandma and the family they’d one day have. How proud Grandpa must have been, knowing he’d built the place with his own two hands.

“I just think a woman as beautiful as you could do much better,” Helen said.

Elizabeth bristled. “Are you saying that David’s not an attractive man?”

Helen placed her hand on Elizabeth’s arm. “I’m not saying that at all. David has very nice features, and with both of you having golden-blond hair and vivid blue eyes, you make a striking couple.” She patted the sides of her hair. “Of course, I’d never be attracted to anyone who had the same color hair and eyes as me.”

“When you meet the right man and fall in love, you won’t care what color his hair and eyes are, because real love isn’t based on a person’s looks.” Elizabeth touched her chest. “It’s what’s in the heart that counts. While I do think David is quite handsome, the things that drew me to him were his kind, gentle spirit and the fact that he’s a fine Christian man.”

“He does seem to be all that.” Helen smiled at Elizabeth. “I’m sure the two of you will have sweet, even-tempered children with beautiful blond hair and pretty blue eyes.”

Elizabeth smiled. “I’m looking forward to becoming a mother. In fact, I’m looking forward to every aspect of being married.”

“Including cooking and cleaning?” Helen’s nose wrinkled.

“Yes, even that.” The springs in the bed squeaked as Elizabeth rose to her feet. “Speaking of cleaning, I should hitch my horse to the buckboard so we can go over to the cabin now.”

Helen gestured to her fancy dress. “I suppose I should change into one of your calicos first.”

Elizabeth pointed to her wardrobe across the room. “Feel free to wear whichever one you want.”

David Stinner had never been one to shirk his duties, but today he was having a hard time staying focused on his work. All he could think about was Elizabeth, and how he couldn’t wait to make her his wife. They’d been courting nearly a year and would be married on Christmas Eve. He couldn’t think of any better Christmas present for himself than making Elizabeth his bride, and she insisted that getting married to him on her birthday was the best gift she could receive for turning twenty. She was everything he wanted in a wife—sweet-tempered, patient, intelligent, beautiful, and a Christian in every sense of the word. She would make not only a good wife but also a fine mother to the children they might have someday.

BOOK: The Christmas Secret
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