Zona was spared grieving
over her neighbor’s death by having to care for the woman’s child and as
she did so days turned into weeks.
“Have you been able to
locate the child’s family?” She asked her husband.
“I think we are coming
closer to finding them,” John reassured his wife. He had enlisted the help
of his Uncle in finding the woman’s parents. The office John’s uncle held
as lawman over the two states made him know more people and it wasn’t that
difficult to trace families in those days.
“I surely am getting
awfully attached to this little thing. If we don’t find its rightful folks
soon, I don’t think I’ll want to give it up at all.” Zona’s face showed
the love she had for the baby.
“I know you would be willin’
to raise her but if the child’s family wants it, well then, we’ll have to
give it up.” John was just trying to save his wife, heartbreak.
Zona’s own baby was born in
April and was old enough to be outside at this time. She and her two
children along with the orphan were enjoying the warm balmy day under one
of the shade trees during the middle of the day. She looked upout across
the expanse to see a strange buggy being driven down their road, coming
toward the house.
“I wonder who that is?”
Zona asked her children. They were strangers. She was sure of that. “Can’t
be anyone from around here, but I don’t recognize them?” The mother
reached down and picked up the two little ones while her oldest was
clinging to legs through her skirt. She waited while the rig and the horse
pulling the light little traveling buggy came closer. It was a surrey that
came up the drive and right into the yard.
“Howdy! I hear you have
been a friend to my daughter and her child!” The older looking man stepped
down, brushed the dust from his trousers with his hat and smiled in her
direction. Indeed, this was a senior from the Bullock family, this baby,
Helen’s grandfather. It was out in the open and clear that the man was
related to the baby she was holding. Zona had prepared herself for this
meeting and was ready to give up the baby to them. For weeks she had kept
its things separate from her own child’s clothing, just in case this did
“Won’t you come in and sit
for a while? I’ll get something for your lunch and a cold drink while I
gather up the baby’s things. “Come on in?” Hospitality was more than a
courtesy it was a necessity during the early days of statehood when few
eating establishments were availaable.
The tenderness and
protective ways the grandparents were expressing toward the baby made Zona
know the little orphan now had someone to care about her.
“You know, I’ve become
attached to this little one, but I’m still happy and proud she will have
someone of her own blood to raise her.” Zona was partially thinking aloud.
“We heard you took care of
our daughter while she was ill?”
The mother and father
wanted to know any details Zona was able to tell them about their
daughter’s last moments.
“She was very sick,
delirious with a high fever, and I knew your daughter couldn’t make any
decisions about this baby. She never knew her husband died. I never told
She now busied herself with
gathering up the child’s clothing, many of which she had sewn up.
“I’ve packed a cold lunch
here for you and I’m going to put in a few of these canned goods, too. You
will have quite a way to go before you get home. I don’t want the baby, or
you, to go hungry on your way home.”
The baby was beautiful in
her traveling clothes as any child could be and Zona gave her one last hug
and kiss before her grandparents carried the child away from her. As soon
as the rooster tail of dust from their buggy told her the three were gone
on the same road they came she looked at the ground and one of the little
girl’s ribbons had fallen close to her feet. Zona reached down, pulled it
out of its bow, rolled it around her finger and stuck it in the pocket of
her apron. Her own children never saw the tear she hurriedly wiped away
from her face.
“I knew I was getting too
fond of that little outfit. Not to worry.
Dear God. See to it that
she will have a chance with her own.” Zona offered up a silent prayer and
request for the child’s future welfare.