Biting his lip, Brian attempted to stop the tears from falling. After all, he didn’t want his new adoptive parents to think he was a crybaby. He couldn’t stop thinking about how close he’d come to losing Anna to that mean old man.
After getting off of the orphan train this morning, Brian and Anna had been adopted by Sam and Lottie Best. Now they bumped along in the wagon on their way to their new home. Brian’s eyes darted about, absorbing his new surroundings.
Brian noticed a small house and barn in a distance.
Sam stopped the wagon and pointed. “There’s your new home, kids.” He grinned. “What do you think?”
Brian was puzzled by a wide swath of brown, plowed dirt around the house and barn. He pulled on Sam’s sleeve. Sam looked down at him. “Yes, Brian?”
“Why is there brown dirt ‘round everything?”
“Sometimes a fire might spread across the prairie. If it does, that plowed area keeps the buildings safe.” Sam clucked his tongue and snapped the reins to urge the horses forward.
Over the next few weeks, Sam and Lottie taught them all about living in Kansas and made them feel wanted and special.
One night at dinner, Lottie tearfully told them about her brother. “We came out on an orphan train over 10 years ago.” Sam patted her knee as she continued. “William was 14, tall and muscular for his age. A farmer saw him and wanted him to work. I was the scrawny one that no one wanted.
“Finally, at the last stop, a widow woman, Mrs. Holden, pitied me and took me in.” She stopped and took a deep breath. “I haven’t seen William since that day.”
Sam looked directly at Brian. “I know, Brian, how it hurt your feelings when that fellow only wanted Anna and said that you were a mite scrawny, but God doesn’t measure a man--” He glanced over at Anna and winked. “or a woman by how they look, how tall they are, or how muscular they are. He measures them by what’s on the inside.” He paused and tapped his chest. “We could tell immediately that you two loved each other, you valued family, and we hope that you’ll allow us to be part of that family.”
“Um, maybe someday, though folks in our family don’t tend to stick around much.” Brian croaked while rubbing his eyes.
One day after going to town for supplies, Sam prayed during their family devotions. “Lord, please help the sick soldiers at Fort Riley. Help them to know you as their savior, Amen.”
Later in the day he rubbed his head and told Lottie, “I think I’m coming down with something. I have a bad headache, chills, and my whole body aches.”
Soon, he was burning up with fever and throwing the blankets off. Lottie tried to keep a cool cloth on his forehead, but soon, she too fell sick. Anna took care of them both and wouldn’t let Brian in the bedroom.
On the second day of their illness, Anna came out of the bedroom looking tired and drawn. She sat down beside Brian at the kitchen table and sighed. “They really need a doctor, and they’re getting worse, not better.”
Brian jumped up and headed for the door. “I can go for the doctor; Sam showed me how to saddle the horse and I think I know the way to town. I’ll be back soon.”
A couple hours later, Brain burst into the house out of breath, like he had been running. “How are they? Doc couldn’t come. He has too many people in town sick with the same thing. He says its influenza.” He ran his hand through his hair. “He said the best we can do is to make sure they drink a lot, keep wiping them with a cool clothe and pray, pray, pray.”
He grabbed Anna’s hand. “They can’t die, Anna, they just can’t! Pray with me now, please; maybe God can save them!”
Together they knelt, holding hands on the kitchen floor.
“Anna…Brian?” a weak voice called from the bedroom.
They ran to the doorway, Sam was sitting up next Lottie. “Oh thank goodness. We were worried you were sick too!”
Anna and Brian looked at each other and grinned. Brain laughed. “Nah, we were too busy taking care of our mom and dad.”
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