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Stories by Peter Logue
The Secret Of Emily's Little Cross

Mr. and Mrs Baxter and Mr. and Mrs Wallace were not only neighbours, they soon discovered that they were blessed with membership in the same church. That they were of similar age, shared likes and dislikes, together with the fact that they, all of them, hailed from Glasgow. Scotland, "Could not," Mr. Baxter stated one clear summer's evening, "be taken as a matter of mere happenstance, my dear friends. Surely, it's plain to see, this friendship is truly blessed!" It was therefore hardly surprising that they would mould, tender and solidify such a friendship as would last a lifetime.

Into this fertile soil of love and fellowship a child was born to each family. George Baxter Junior was born on the eighteenth of December, 1915, while Emily Wallace, arriving two weeks premature, was born on the third of April, 1916. From the outset it was understood that George and Emily would school together, pray together, and grow up together. The question of marriage was never discussed, but when Emily, at a sensitive age between adolescence and womanhood, vowed to one day marry George, the prospect was not unwelcomed, least of all by George himself, who blushed slightly, having been taken somewhat off-guard by Emily's resolve.

The death, however, of George's mother to tuberculosis in 1937 devastated the young man to the point where he postponed all wedding plans indefinitely. It was later realised that the child in Emily's womb could not so easily be postponed, so that in the spring of 1938 Emily's child was given up for adoption.

From that day forward, whenever tasks spared her, Emily prayed to a small crucifix which she concealed in the palm of her right hand. Oftentimes Emily would pray to God to guide the child, that he would live life in such a manner that one day they should both meet again.

A little over three years later, in a small ceremony in the town of Newmarket, Ontario, amidst war and the rumours of war in Europe, George, resplendent and rather spiffy in the Air Force uniform, married his life long love.

"I'm no' losing a daughter," Mr. Wallace pompously stated over his third port wine. "I'm gaining a son!" If he did but know that Emily bore his second grandchild, he may well have taken to a fourth port wine.

Seven months later, as George's Spitfire plunged into the English channel, three miles off the Devon coast, Emily went into labour and later gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. George Junior, however, went on to develop complications and did not live out his first week.

The death of the infant, together with the news that George had been killed in action, was more than Emily could stand, more than any woman could stand. She has not quite been herself since.

Emily is eighty-four now, old cardigan over faded dress and her eyes are failing. She still talks to Jesus in her hand, a frail hand now, half crippled by life's hardships. I drop by whenever possible, put the kettle on and have a chat. If a curtain needs fixing I mend it. If she requires a drive I'm only too happy to oblige.

During these visits and excursions Emily often talks of George and their childhood together. Tears well up in the old woman's eyes as she opens her palm to display the small gold cross that has never left her side. As she discloses the secret of the cross, she tells me of the child she had to give up all those years ago. "It's my only regret in life," she explains tearfully. "But you would have to understand how different things were back then."

I do indeed understand. As I hope the reader will understand how I cannot bring myself to tell Emily that I am the son she had given up all those years ago.

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