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Facing the Rain
On wash day, Mother forces me to help. Father fills our two giant wash tubs with water from the well. In the first tub I scrub the clothes with soap until they are undoubtedly clean. In the second tub I rinse the clothes, and then I wring them out and lay them in the grass to dry.
We eat dinner, and then it’s time for knitting. Around three o’clock, the sky becomes suddenly gray. A loud clap of monstrous thunder sends me flying out of my seat in surprise.
“Oh dear, looks like a storm’s coming,” Mother says.
I put down my knitting and run out of the house with a big basket at my side. The clothes still lay in the grass. I scoop them up quickly just as the rain starts. Rushing the clothes inside, Mother praises me. “That was very smart of you, Lane. I had forgotten the laundry was still outside.”
Suddenly I remember Father out at the barn. The horses are out grazing. He needs help getting them in. And my little sister Lindon! She’s at the barn, too. Just as I put a foot out the door, a flash of lightning makes me jump. Lightning is very scary. Nevertheless, I dash to the barn, facing the rain, with Mother calling after me.
Father is wildly trying to bring the spooked horses into their stalls. I grab Trigger’s reigns and lead him. It’s now down pouring. Thunder cracks. Lightning flashes. I am terrified, mostly of the crazy horses. But thankfully, Trigger calms down when I scold him. He walks at a brisk pace beside me and into the barn. I safely put him in his stall and then dash back to the horses. Our chickens cluck frantically, pushing their way into the coop.
Father comes up beside me. “Don’t help with the horses. They’re too dangerous. The thunder scares them.” He has to scream. The thunder and the fierce winds are very loud. My clothes are drenched through and through.
“Where’s Lindon?” I scream.
“Isn’t she in the house?” Father asks.
“No.” Fear strikes me. Where is Lindon? She can’t be out in this terrible storm. I shouldn’t be out in this terrible storm. Dashing to the barn, I pray that Lindon’s there. My sopping wet dress slows me down.
When I finally reach the barn, I call out Lindon’s name as I pause to catch my breath. In the unusual afternoon darkness, I search the barn for my sister, screaming to her. The loud thunder startles me every time, and I hope and hope in my head that I don’t get struck by lightning.
I hear faint cries. It’s Lindon. Terrified for her sake, I rush all around the barn, looking frantically. Finally, behind the feed bin, I find her, huddled into a ball, whimpering, her brown eyes wide with fear. I lunge myself onto the ground and hug her.
“Lane! I’m so scared. The storm’s really bad!” Lindon shrieks. “I’m afraid. But I’m glad you’re here.”
“I was afraid, too. I didn’t know where you were,” I tell her. “Come on, let’s get home. Mother must be worried sick!”
We get up and I grab two empty grain sacks. “Put this over your head to help keep dry. You’ll get drenched.”
Lindon wraps the sack around her head and neck, only leaving her eyes and nose uncovered. I do the same. We approach the barn doors. I look out at the dark gray sky, at a flash of lightning, a white zigzag on a black canvas. It is a pity lightning is dangerous, because it is so beautiful.
“Run as fast as you can, and keep hold of my hand,” I instruct Lindon. She nods, eager to get in the safe house and sit on Mother’s lap. “Let’s go,” I say.
Lindon and I bolt out of the barn, running with all our might. Lindon’s short legs don’t go very fast, and I want to dart forward to the house. But I keep her beside me and run at her pace. The house never seemed so far away. Through the darkness, I see a light in the distance. It’s coming from the window.
With one last push of strength, Lindon and I reach the door and practically fall in as Mother opens it for us. We collapse on the floor, wet and cold and tired and miserable. Our sisters Ella and Tess are there with towels and our nightgowns ready.
“Oh, I was so worried!” Mother exclaims, hugging us tightly. “It’s good to see you both.”
We go into the parlor and sit by the fire. Lindon and I towel off and get into our dry nightgowns. My nightgown never felt so warm and cozy. Mother brings in a wash basin and we put our wet clothes in it and wring out our hair. I slowly settle down and warm up, with the fire dancing on the logs. We all sit quietly, sipping tea and chicken soup. I tell Mother, Tess, and Ella all about what happened.
“That was a very brave thing to do,” Mother commends me. “If you hadn’t run out to help, Lindon would have sat frightened in the barn for who knows how long.” My face must be glowing from the compliment.
At five o’clock Father comes in, soaked to the boot. Mother gets him dry clothes, and after changing he sits by the fire, too. Father tells us about the scared horses and how hard it was to get them in.
We go to bed very early, everyone exhausted, especially Lindon, Father, and I. The bed is warm and comforting, but I cannot seem to ignore the thunder and the rain pelting the windowpane and the wind shaking the house. Sleep does not come. Tess lays awake, too.
Finally I fall into a light sleep, hearing faint noise as I doze. Late into the dark night I hear a horrifying crash. The house shakes. I jump up in bed, fully awake. Tess screams with fright. I race to the window and look out. I almost faint with awe. A little ways away from the house, I see a fallen oak tree, lying across the muddy ground.
“The oak tree fell over!” I say, which makes Tess shriek. I jump into bed and we both cover our heads with the blankets. Tess and I shake and try to fall asleep.
Suddenly someone pulls off the covers. Lindon stares at me, her face pale. “Can you get in bed with me and Ella? We’re afraid.”
“Sure,” I say. “I’ll make sure you two aren’t scared.” I get out of bed and walk across the hall to Lindon and Ella’s room. All three of us crowd into the bed and put the covers over our heads. I hug my sisters close. “It’s just a storm,” I say. “If we sleep, it will be over when we wake up.”
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