- SUMMER OF DESTINY -
James and Ellen were living at Andrews, Texas, about three hundred miles west of Fort Worth. They had allowed the four younger children to go to Nora and Henryís farm for the summer. The children had been visiting for about three weeks when Ellen received an alarming letter from Dorothy.
"Mother, come and get me or Iíll run away!" Dorothyís demand was written in large, bold strokes of black ink.
As panic gripped Ellenís heart she remembered the time Henry had molested her and she wondered if the same thing had happened to Dorothy. She then started thinking about twelve-year-old Dorothy and how she seemed to be developing into a young woman. The heavily dotted freckles had begun to fade from Dorothyís fair complexion. Bonny was the word Ellen knew Grandma McGee would have used to describe Dorothy because of her chestnut hair, light-brown eyes and graceful form.
She thought about how James always characterized Dorothy. "Sheís a Caywood through and through. And she looks just like her namesake," he would boast.
By the time James came home from work that evening Ellen had made up her mind to go after Dorothy.
"Now, why would Dorothy write a note like that?" James wanted to know.
"Iím not sure. Perhaps because Mother and her got into a fuss," Ellen surmised because she didnít want to tell James about Henry.
"I wish they had a telephone. Well, weíve no choice. You have to call one of your motherís neighbors and ask whatís going on."
"I would rather just go get her," Ellen said as worry lines deepened on her forehead.
"But you canít. We just donít have the money," James reminded her.
"My boss will loan me enough money for a bus ticket. Then I can get the money from Mother to come home," Ellen reasoned.
"Now, Ellen, youíre over-reacting. You just said that her problem was probably a fuss with her grandmother. Why go in dept when a phone call could clear up the matter?"
"Because, if sheís fussing with Mother, she needs to come home. Mother doesnít need a rebellious child on her hands."
Ellen was firm and James finally agreed. Ellen caught the next bus to her Motherís.
Throughout the long trip she had an intense apprehension about what had happened to Dorothy. Consequently, she fought with her emotions of despair and fear, unwilling to believe her deduction about Henryís possible misdeed.
The sun was going down when she arrived in the town that had only one filling station and one grocery store. She walked to the gas station to ask if the owner would know someone to take her to Henry and Noraís farm. As she
started for the station door, a pickup drove into the driveway and she recognized who it was. She asked the neighbor for a ride and he was very obliging.
They rode along in silence. And Looking out the window at the rolling hills patch worked with neat, tranquil-looking farms gave Ellen a wistful longing for peace and security. A haunting memory of her father putting his arms around her, and hugging her close, pierced her heart with arrows of pain. She gave a suppressed cry and the neighbor asked her if there was anything wrong.
"No," Ellen said with all the fortitude she could muster for the moment. "I was just remembering something sad."
"Oh," the neighbor said and quiet settled in the pickup once again.
Ellen let her mind wander once more.
"What I would give for a place of refuge. Someone, or something to hold onto in times of tragedy and despair," Ellen began thinking. "Where in this sad old, world could there be such a place?"
Ellen wrenched her thoughts away from her fears and anxieties. Then she began to worry about how she and Dorothy were going to get home. She knew her mother and Henry didnít have money to loan, so she started planning to hitch-hike back home. She wasnít afraid to catch a ride by herself, but having to bring Dorothy along distressed her.
Once more, she tried to shake off her anxious thoughts as she rationalized that she would do what she had to do, regardless of the uncertainty. Ellen was reasoning these things out when the neighbor drove into Nora and Henryís yard.
"Tell Henry and Nora hello." He sensed the uneasiness in Ellen, and didnít linger to talk with Henry.
"I will, and thanks for the lift. I really appreciate it," Ellen replied.
"No problem. Take care, Ellen, and come see us when you have time to visit."
"Sure will," Ellen answered as she shut the pickup door. Ellen stood still for a moment taking in the smells and sounds of the farm. Then she saw Nora at the door.
"Why, Ellen!" Nora exclaimed as she stepped back to allow Ellen to enter. "What in the world are you doing here? Has something happened?"
"No, Mother, weíre fine. I received this note from Dorothy and it worried us," Ellen told her as she walked past Nora toward the kitchen.
"The kids are at the barn," Nora said, almost as if she could read Ellenís thoughts.
"Hello, Ellen. What are you doing here?" The panic in Henryís eyes betrayed his calm posture. He was sitting at the kitchen table looking at a broken tool he had brought in to repair. Ellen didnít answer right away. She sat down across from him where she could look him square in the face. Nora sat down at the end of the table and waited for Ellen to respond.
"I came to see about Dorothy," Ellen replied bluntly as she watched Henryís face for a reaction.
"Dorothy wrote Ellen this note," Nora spoke up, holding the paper for Henry to see. "She said she was going to run away if Ellen didnít come and get her."
"Well, call that girl in here and ask her about it," Henry remained composed as he spoke, but his eyes still held the look of dread.
"Dorothy!" Nora had walked to the back screen door and yelled. "Dorothy! Come in here!"
Henry was looking at the table cloth as if it needed an intense study done on it. Ellen kept her composure as she waited for her daughter to enter. Nora sat back down at the table and reread the note.
"I just can't understand it, Ellen. Why would Dorothy worry you like this? That girl is a born troublemaker."
"Hello, Mother," Dorothy's words were barely audible. She was standing in the doorway, her head hanging, as if in shame.
"Come here, young lady, we want to know the meaning of this note to your mother," Nora scolded.
Dorothy slowly walked into the kitchen. She stood at the table, keeping her head downcast.
"Dorothy," Ellen spoke softly to her. "Can you tell us why you wrote this note?"
Without looking up, Dorothy shook her head no.
"I think she needs a spanking. The very idea!" Nora frowned at Dorothy. "Arenít you ashamed to worry your mother like this?"
Dorothy stood mute, intently studying her feet. Henry quietly stood up and walked outside.
"Well, Ellen, I just don't know what to say. I haven't had that many problems with her. Maybe she just got homesick. Were you homesick, Dorothy?"
Dorothy nodded her head in affirmation.
"Well, I never! A big girl like you," Nora shook her head in disbelief.
"All right, Dorothy. Get your clothes together. You can go back home with me in the morning,"
Ellen smiled at Dorothy.
Dorothy looked up at Ellen through sad, tear-filled eyes, and a faint smile played on her quivering mouth.
"Thanks, Mother," she whispered the words, then turned and walked toward the bedroom.
"If James hadn't spoiled that girl rotten, this wouldn't have happened."
"Probably not," Ellen agreed absentmindedly, as she watched Dorothy enter the bedroom.
"I have some coffee ready, if you want some," Nora offered.
"Sounds good. Thanks, Mother," Ellen reached for the cup Nora offered.
They talked of other things, but Ellen couldnít erase Dorothy's pitiful look from her mind. To Ellen, Dorothy had looked like a wounded, beaten puppy. Tears came to Ellenís eyes before she could shake off the hurting thoughts.
"Mother, I'm so tired. I've got to go to bed. Where do you want me to sleep?" Ellen forced composure.
"I'll make a pallet for Patsy and Peggy. You can sleep with Dorothy in the bed." Nora went to the back door and called out for the other children to come inside.
"Mother!" Patsy cried when she saw Ellen. "Hey, everybody, Mother's here!" she yelled out into the darkness before running to hug Ellen.
"Mother! Mother!" Junior shoved Patsy aside for his own place inside Ellen's arms. "Did you come after us?"
"No, Honey. I came after Dorothy. Sheís not feeling well, and she needs to come home," Ellen tried to explain. "You donít want to go home this early, do you?"
"I guess not," Junior hesitated. "Pop told me heís going to teach me how to drive the tractor. Maybe Iíll stay for awhile longer."
"Good," Ellen responded with a hug.
Peggy kept trying to rout Junior out of his coveted place inside Ellen's arms. She managed to displace him long enough for a kiss from her mother before Junior pushed her aside to regain his original position.
"Girls, what about you?" Ellen directed her question at Patsy.
"I don't know," Patsy hesitated. Ellen knew Patsy was thinking about Dorothy no longer being around to play with her.
"Now, if you want to go, I'll find a way to take you," Ellen assured her, knowing all the time she didn't have money for tickets home.
"Well," Patsy spoke up, "Grandma has been teaching me to crochet. But..., I don't know about staying..., unless Dorothy's here with me"
"I don't want to go home," Peggy broke in, as if she instinctively knew what Ellen wanted to hear.
"It will only be for three more weeks," Ellen tried to sway Patsy. "Your daddy and I will bring the car to pick you up. You'll see, time will pass quickly."
"Hey, Patsy," Peggy put her hand on Patsy's shoulder to give her reassurance. "I'll stay here with you."
"Well..., okay," Patsy reluctantly agreed.
"Good! It's settled so let's get to bed. Hurry and get washed up. I'll see you in the morning, Junior," Ellen hugged him again, before letting him go.
Ellen stepped inside the bedroom and turned on the light. Dorothy was already in bed and her clothes were in a grocery sack beside the door.
"Are you asleep?" Ellen asked as she changed for bed.
"No, are you mad at me?Ē Dorothy softly inquired, through tear-filled eyes.
"No, Honey, Iím not angry. I know you had a good reason for asking me to come and get you. Something happened between you and Pop, didnít it?"
Surprise, then fear, registered on Dorothy's face as she shook her head in admission.
"Itís all right. We'll talk about it tomorrow, Okay?"
"Okay," Dorothy sighed in relief.
Patsy and Peggy entered the room and Ellen put them to bed. Ellen was tired, but she couldn't sleep. Her mind kept running in circles, trying to think about what to say to Dorothy, and trying to reason out the madness. Her heart was tight with pain.
"What about Peggy and Patsy? Surely, Henry won't bother them, not after this. Oh, what am I going to do? And what about Mother?" Ellenís thoughts started running wild. "If there's a God, how could he sit in his heaven and watch such things happen to innocent children? It's ignorant to believe in a God who lets little children suffer. I wish I could die. I hate this cruel, heartless world!" Ellen tormented herself with these thoughts until she fell into an exhausted, fitful sleep.
"Ellen, you look awful! Are you sure you want to leave here this morning?" Nora asked her at the breakfast table.
"I've got to get back to my job, Mother. But I don't want to ever have to make another trip like this again." Ellen gave Henry a meaningful glance, and he quickly looked away. Nora didn't catch Ellen's hidden meaning, but Henry had, and Ellen gained some satisfaction from that.
"Well, I don't blame you one bit," Nora remarked. "But I don't think you should let Dorothy get away with this. "Although," she added, "I don't think the other kids would be foolish enough to copy her."
Ellen had Nora and Henry drop her and Dorothy off at the bus station and told them not to wait. Nora was reluctant, but finally agreed. As soon as Henry and Nora were out of sight, Ellen gathered Dorothy up and with her thumb out, started walking down the road.
Dorothy was soon over the shock of having to hitch a ride home, but she felt guilty for putting her mother through this much trouble.
As they were walking, Dorothy told Ellen in a self-consciousness voice that Henry had molested her.
Dorothy's heart was broken and her young mind just couldn't understand why someone she loved and trusted would hurt her. Ellen tried to explain about some persons having a twisted sex drive, but Dorothy just shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't want to talk about it any longer. Ellen asked Dorothy not to tell her daddy because she knew James would kill Henry.
Fortunately, they soon caught a ride with a young man who drove them all the way home. The young man said he was a Christian, and during the long drive home he tried to witness to Ellen and Dorothy.
"You may not believe this, Mrs. Caywood, but God planned for me to pick you up."
"Humph...," Ellen frowned, "you'll excuse me if I find that hard to believe, since the decision to hitch a ride was my own."
"Yes, it was your plan. Never-the-less, God knows what we're going to do before we do it."
"Hum-m-m-m," Ellen turned her face to look out the window, hoping to dismiss this line of talk.
"Does God know..., everything?" Dorothy asked.
"Yes, He does," replied the young man.
"I mean..., are you saying God knows everything thatís going to happen, before it happens?" Dorothy clarified her first question.
"Yes, He certainly does."
"Well, then, why does God allow bad things to happen?" Dorothy blurted out in anger.
"It's hard to explain, but...,"
"You don't have to worry yourself with my daughter's questions," Ellen interrupted. "Anyway, you're not old enough to know a lot about God. So don't take my daughterís doubts so serious."
"It's true that I'm not very old. But I do know some about God. Not everything, of course, but enough to explain about bad things happening."
The young man quickly answered, undaunted by Ellenís obvious try of dismissal. "You see, Dorothy, God has given us our own free will. Now, what that means is that if someone should want to kill me, God won't stop him from trying. Never-the-less, as long as I have prayed for God to protect me, He will do all He can to keep me safe. For instance, He may warn me by speaking to me in my spirit through the Bible, or through another person. However, God will not over-ride our own free will, and if I choose to ignore the warnings then thereís nothing more God will do. The important thing is, that even if God allows someone to kill me, I know He will use the tragedy for someone's good and that in turn will glorify Him.
"But..., why?" Dorothy couldn't understand a God who allowed someone to kill another person.
"First and foremost, Dorothy, you should never make the mistake of thinking that life should be fair. Life will never be fair, but God is always fair. Itís man who isnít fair and as long as man chooses to go his own way, then we will always have unfair things happen to us."
He paused for a moment, but when there was no reply to his statement, he continued. "I'll let you in on a mystery: some people will only turn to God after a disaster. In other words, whatever Satan intends for our destruction, God plans it for our deliverance. What I'm trying to say is, God uses everything that happens in our lives to bring us and others to Himself. When something bad happens to you, you have a choice; you can become bitter and blame others, or you can trust God for it.
Trusting God will allow Him to mold you into a more sensitive person. You see, Dorothy, in order for God to transform us into becoming more Christ-like, He sometimes allows something grievously shocking to happen. Does that make sense to you?"
"No," Dorothy spoke softly.
"So, where is God when bad things happen? Doesnít he care about the innocence of children?" Ellen spewed out the bitterness she felt.
"Heís in the same place He was when He watched His only son being spat upon, beaten, and then crucified for our sins. Heís in heaven, hurting when we hurt and patiently waiting for us to turn to Him for help."
"Great, that makes it all okay then," Dorothyís sad voice betrayed her sarcastic words. She was tired and like Ellen, she didnít want to talk anymore.
"Here, Dorothy, lay your head on my shoulder and try to sleep," Elle offered.
Sensing that Ellen and Dorothy wouldnít listen anymore, the young man spent the rest of their trip in silence. He drove them right to their front door, but asked to pray for them before letting them out.
Not knowing the power of prayer, Ellen impatiently agreed to the request.
James believed Ellen when she told him that Dorothy and her grandmother had fussed. He never questioned Dorothy and she never told him about her granddad molesting her.