A Mail-Order Dream

By: Janelle Daniels

“Oh?” He was even more intrigued because Aria looked embarrassed by it.

“Yes. You see, after we had learned about some of the insects in the area, I thought it would be beneficial to take the children out and see if we could find some to study.”

“That was a good idea.” She seemed a little relieved that he thought so, and he felt another jab of discomfort over how their conversation ended yesterday. “Were you able to find any?”

More giggles.

“Well,” she hedged, “We did find some.”

“Which ones?”

She shifted in her chair, and Cam could see she clearly didn’t want to tell him.

Finally, Thomas couldn’t hold back any longer. “We found ants, and a butterfly, a spider, and a bee!”

Aria put a hand over her eyes as Phoebe chimed in with, “Aria— I mean, Miss McKinnon is afraid of bees. She started screaming and swatting at it like this.” The little girl’s arms swung around, and Aria buried her face further in her hands.

Although he should probably reprimand his daughter for such behavior at the table, he was having too hard a time trying not to laugh. He coughed, and once he was certain he could control his laughter, said, “That sounds like an adventure-filled afternoon. I’m glad you were able to apply the knowledge you learned.”

He picked up his fork and was about to take a bite of his roast beef, when Thomas interrupted him. “And then after we did our math work, Miss McKinnon had us gather rocks, and we added and subtracted them as we skipped them in the river.”

Aria reached out and took a long swallow out of her glass. He could only guess what she imagined he would say about the outdoor time, but she was wrong. He didn’t dislike outdoors, he just wanted his children to use their time wisely. If Aria could apply the lessons to the outdoors, that was great. “It sounds like you all had a very full day.” He took a hardy bite while the three of them looked at him.

Finally, Phoebe asked, “You aren’t mad, Father?”

Was he always so stern that his children thought him mad all the time? “No. As long as you get all of your work done, and you follow the schedule, I am very pleased.”

Aria smiled. “See, children? I told you your father wanted you to be happy.”

The kids smiled and ate their meal, but Cam just gaped at her. Of course he wanted them to be happy. Had that ever been in question?

As he studied his kids, he realized it had. His children hadn’t known. He may not be the most affectionate parent, but he did love them. They should know that.

Perhaps he needed to tell them more.

Chapter 4

As stated on Mr. Grant’s list, the children were required to do a project, and she needed to stop by the mercantile and pick up a few pieces of twine. She rolled her eyes a little. The man needed to realize that he could let go of his death grip on a few things and let others help. Everything wouldn’t fall to pieces if he stepped away. Perhaps the children would even thrive.

Aria was plenty capable of teaching the kids. And it was fortunate for him, because Promise Creek didn’t look like it would have a schoolhouse any time soon. It was a shame, because Thomas and Phoebe would benefit being around other children more often.

The thought sparked an idea.

She grabbed the few items she needed and stepped up to the counter. “Good day, Mr. Stevens.”

“Miss McKinnon, it’s always a pleasure. Will this be all?” He glanced at her small pile.

“Actually, there is something you could help me with.”

The man held out his hands. “Name it.”

“Do you know of anyone else in town with kids the same age as the Grant children? Seven and five?”

He rubbed his chin. “There are a few families around with young ones that age.”

“Excellent. When they come in next, would you mind asking them to stop by the Grant home? I’m hoping to find a few other children for the Grants’ to play with.”

“I sure can. Although some of the kids around here don’t have much time for that sort of thing between chores.”

“I understand completely.” She’d had plenty of chores when she was younger, but no matter how much there was to be done around the house, her and her siblings had always managed to find time to play. “I appreciate it.”

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