For personal and select distribution only (c) by Lori Martin, October 2000

by Lori Martin

Sully ran his hand over the smooth wood and then leaning back on his heels, he turned it over in his hands to view the finished product. As he smiled inwardly he was sure that Brian would be pleased. He held it up to the light in the dimly lit barn and once again ran his hand over the smooth wood and then with the end of his sleeve, he polished the glass one more time. He had ordered a piece of glass from Mr. Bray and after giving him the exact measurements, Mr. Bray had delivered it to him yesterday. Now the only thing needed was the picture to place inside the frame. Sully sat back and as he leaned against the stall door his thoughts began to drift.

It had been almost six months since that dreadful night when he and Michaela had lost their second child. And then the ensuing weeks to follow had been ones that he would just as soon forget. He knew that Michaela still missed their child and that the thought of never having another baby often bore heavily on Michaela’s mind. But over time and with his constant reassurances of his love, Michaela had slowly become her old self again. Sure, she still had moments of sadness, but they had become fewer and farther between, that is until the first telegram arrived almost four months ago.

It was a telegram that they had all been expecting, but nonetheless dreading. Sully took a deep breath and closing his eyes, that cool spring day replayed itself vividly in his mind. He had just dropped Michaela and Katie off at the clinic and was just about to hop back up in the wagon when Horace came running towards them frantically waving a piece of paper over his head. "Sully," Horace called out breathless, "I got a telegram for you." As he approached Sully, his face suddenly became somber. "It’s from Illinois" he quietly whispered before handing the telegram to Sully. Michaela had been standing on the porch to see him and Brian off for their fishing trip when Horace approached. Seeing the somber look on his face Michaela stepped up beside Sully and placed her hand on his arm, her other hand securely holding onto Katie.

"Thanks, Horace," Sully replied before taking the piece of paper from his hand. He looked at Michaela and she squeezed his arm tighter. Slowly Sully read the telegram out loud so that Michaela and Brian could also hear. "Sully and Michaela -- Josh died early this morning peacefully in his sleep STOP He’s no longer in pain STOP I’m doing as well as can be expected STOP Will write to you next week with more details STOP Thank you both for everything STOP Love Sheryl STOP."

A heavy silence hung in the air until Horace interrupted, "Uh, Sully, I’m real sorry. Do you want to send a telegram back to her." Sully continued to stare down at the piece of paper. It was Michaela who suddenly spoke up. "Yes, please, Horace. Could you just send a telegram to her telling her our hearts are with her?"

"Sure thing Dr. Mike," Horace replied before turning and walking back towards the telegraph office. Looking up at Sully, her eyes moist with tears, Michaela whispered, "Sully? Are you all right?" In answer Sully’s grasp on Michaela’s arm tightened and he quickly drew Brian into their arms. The three of them stayed like that for several minutes until they felt a tugging at their legs. Katie looked wide-eyed up at them and said, "Mama, Papa, sad?" Sully bent down and lifted his daughter into his arms, hugging her tightly to his chest. "Yes, Kates, mama and papa are sad right now," Sully whispered as he soothingly rubbed her back.

After another long hug they broke apart. "I didn’t think I would feel so bad," Brian sniffled as he quickly wiped away his tears with the back of his sleeve. "We knew he was gonna die and I thought I had prepared myself for this."

"I don’t think you can prepare for something like this," Michaela spoke softly. "No matter how much we tried." The tears were flowing freely down Michaela’s cheeks now as she hugged Brian tightly to her chest. Sully still had not spoken, except for the few words he had spoken to Katie. Michaela looked up into his eyes and was startled by what she saw. There were no tears as she had expected, but a calmness that frightened her. Suddenly realizing that they were standing outside on the clinic porch, Michaela quickly stated, "Why don’t we all go inside." As Michaela gently guided Brian towards the clinic door, Sully suddenly stopped and placing Katie into Michaela’s arms, he quietly replied, "Uh, I got something I gotta do right now, you go on in."

"Sully?" Michaela quietly called his name. He stopped momentarily and looking at Michaela, he said, "I’m fine. There’s just something I gotta do. You and Brian go on inside, I’ll see you tonight." And with that he placed a kissed on her cheek and turned and walked away.

Once inside Brian turned to Michaela and asked, "Is pa all right?" Michaela looked at Brian and sighed, "I hope so Brian, I hope so." As she sat down at her desk she began to ponder Sully’s reaction to the telegram. She knew that Sully needed to be by himself right now, but she had also hoped that with everything they had gone through the last couple of months that they would have been able to console each other when this time came. Apparently that was not to be. And then she thought of how Sully had left everything when Abigail and his daughter had died, and a cold shiver ran up and down her spine. No, she couldn’t let herself start thinking like that. Sully would be back she thought to herself, he said so himself. But try as she might, she couldn’t stop her mind from thinking the worst.

All of the insecurities that she had felt over the past few months came rushing back again. What if Sully doesn’t come back? What if the pain is just too much for him to bear? Maybe he would be better off with Sheryl. After all, she couldn’t give Sully anymore children but Sheryl could. Her mind was in such a whirlwind that she didn’t hear Brian call her name.

"Ma," Brian called softly and then louder, "Ma!" Michaela looked up from her desk and mentally shaking herself, she answered, "Yes, Brian?"

"Would you mind if I take Katie for a walk?" Brian asked. "No, of course not," Michaela answered. "Are you sure you’re all right, Brian?" Michaela asked cautiously.

"Yeah, I’m all right, Ma, how ‘bout you?" Brian returned.

"I’ll be fine. You go ahead and take Katie for a walk. The fresh air will do you both good." Brian walked over to his ma and gave her a hug and then he lifted Katie up for a kiss. Brian then took hold of Katie’s small hand and headed toward the door. "Oh, Brian," Michaela called out as he opened the clinic door. "How about you and Katie meet me at Grace’s for lunch and then maybe I’ll close up the clinic early today and we can go home."

"That sounds great, ma. See ya later," Brian called over his shoulder as he closed the door behind him.

As the door closed shut Michaela quickly busied herself updating patient files as she waited for her next appointment to arrive. But her mind kept going back to this morning and the look on Sully’s face. She closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair, trying to feel Sully’s presence as she had so many other times when he was away. As she took a deep breath, her eyes still closed, she willed her spirit to reach out to Sully and to let him know that she was there with him. Just then there was a knock on the door, and glancing up at the clock, she realized that her next patient had arrived.

Arriving home early that day Michaela tried to keep busy, she tried to keep her mind off of Sully’s absence. She had invited Matthew out for supper and she had decided to make a special dinner for everyone tonight. As Michaela set about preparing supper, Brian took Katie outside to play, while Matthew cleaned the stalls in the barn. Even though he didn’t live here anymore, he knew his help would be appreciated at this time. He knew Sully had other things on his mind right now and he also knew that Sully wouldn’t be offended if he lent a hand with some of the chores.

When supper was almost ready, Michaela called for the boys to wash up and come inside. Once they were cleaned up Matthew and Brian brought Katie inside and placed her in her highchair. As Michaela took the food out of the oven, Brian set the table, placing five sets of dishes and five sets of silverware around the table. As they all sat down in their seats they joined hands to say a prayer of thanksgiving. As Michaela looked at each of her children, like a magnet, her eyes were drawn to the empty seat at the other end of the table. Instantly tears sprang to her eyes and she quickly lowered her head to say the prayer, but the gesture did not go unnoticed by Matthew or Brian.

Bowing their heads, Michaela took this time to compose herself. After saying a brief prayer aloud, she added a silent one of her own. To watch over Sully and bring him home safely.

Though dinner was a somber affair, Katie’s constant chatter kept everyone’s attention. Even Michaela had to laugh when Katie tried to place a spoonful of mashed potatoes into her mouth, only to miss her mouth and smash them all over her nose. "Katie," Brian laughed, "you’re supposed to put them in your mouth, not try to smell them." Katie giggled and holding another spoonful of potatoes out to Brian, she said, "Brian smell?" This made them all laugh even harder.

Throughout dinner Matthew couldn’t help but notice Michaela’s occasional glances at the empty seat. He also noticed that once again Michaela began picking at her food, pushing the food around on her plate, something she always did when she was upset or worried. He decided then that he would spend the night here, just until Sully returned home.

He understood Sully’s need to be by himself, to think things through, after all, he had done the same thing when Ingrid had died. But he also knew that even though Michaela tried to understand, she was also frightened by his actions. He knew that Sully and Michaela had been through some trying times over the past year. First there was Sully’s fugitive status for six months and then came the arrival of Sheryl and Josh and her subsequent miscarriage; but they had survived, their love even stronger and more binding now.

As Matthew watched his ma clean up Katie, not without a little kicking and screaming of course, he studied her face. Even though she was now completely recovered, to him she still looked much too thin and fragile. He suddenly took it upon himself to make sure that she didn’t stop eating. "Dr. Mike, I think I’ll stay here for the night, if that’s all right with you?"

Michaela stopped washing Katie’s face momentarily and turning her head towards Matthew, she replied, "Matthew that’s not necessary. We’ll be fine."

Matthew looked towards Brian and then back to Michaela. "I know you will, but I wanna stay. Besides, my little brother here might like some company tonight."

Michaela looked up into Matthew’s eyes and quietly she said, "Thank you, Matthew," and then glancing towards Brian, she added, "I’m sure we’d both appreciate that."

Scooting his chair back, Matthew stood up and walked over to stand behind Michaela. Putting his hands on her shoulders, he squeezed her lightly. "Sully will be back, Dr. Mike. He’ll be here tonight, you’ll see." And then reaching for Katie he said, "How ‘bout I finish cleaning Katie up and you finish eating your dinner. You can’t afford not to eat, all right?"

Michaela smiled up at him and gave him a slight nod. As Matthew took Katie upstairs and Brian began to clear the table, Michaela tried to eat some more, but it was no use. She just didn’t have any appetite right now. She smiled slightly as she thought of Matthew. Whenever Sully was away, Matthew always took over the role as man of the house. It was no different now, even though he no longer lived here. He always felt the need to protect them. And she loved him for it.

It was late at night as Michaela sat in the rocking chair in front of the fireplace in their bedroom. She glanced once again at the clock on the mantel. Midnight, and still no sign of Sully. Where could he be, she wondered as the knot tightened once again in her stomach. She had tried to go to sleep earlier, but after several hours of tossing and turning she had gotten out of bed and came to sit by the fire. She knew she would get no sleep tonight, not as long as Sully was missing by her side.

As she rocked to and fro the slow methodical rhythm of the rocking chair slowly lulled her into a fitful sleep. As she drifted off into unconsciousness a heavy fog clouded her dreams. Slowly the fog began to clear and she could make out a familiar figure standing in the shadows, an outstretched hand reaching for her. She tried calling out to him but her calls went unheard. The more she called to him the farther he drifted away, a dark cloud slowly enveloping him. She knew it was Sully trying to reach out to her, trying to find his way out of the darkness. Desperately she reached into the darkness, calling his name over and over. And then suddenly, very faintly, she heard her name. "Michaela!" She paused a moment to listen and then again she heard her name, louder this time. "Michaela!"

"Michaela, wake up, it’s me, Sully". Startled, Michaela’s eyes popped open and to her surprise Sully was staring into her eyes. "Sully!" Michaela cried as she reached up and threw her arms around his neck. She clung to him in desperation as her mind slowly came into focus. "Sully, I was so worried, I didn’t know where you were and I was so afraid..."

"Sshhh, it’s all right, I’m here now," he whispered soothingly as he tightened his hold on her. "I’m sorry that I caused ya to worry. I just needed to be by myself for awhile and I guess I just lost track of time."

Michaela slowly pulled back and looking into Sully’s eyes, she whispered, "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I’m okay," he answered truthfully. "I guess it just caught me off guard. I thought I’d prepared myself for it, but like ya told Brian, ya can’t really prepare for somethin’ like that." He paused a moment and then asked, "How are ‘you’ doing?"

"I’m fine, now that you’re here." Michaela once again leaned into Sully and rested her head on his shoulder as Sully wrapped his arms around her. "Hold me Sully," Michaela whispered as the tears rolled unbidden down her cheeks. Sully’s grip on her tightened as he kissed the top of her head. After several minutes of holding, Sully whispered into Michaela’s ear, "Michaela, it’s late; how ‘bout we get into bed now and we can do some holdin’ there."

Nodding her head Sully stood up and reached out his hand to help her out of the rocking chair. With his arm around her they walked over to the bed and she slid under the covers. After removing his beads and his shirt, he slid his buckskin pants off and onto the floor, then climbed into bed beside her, immediately reaching out and drawing her into the crook of his arm.

As they both settled into bed, they were each lost in their own thoughts. After several minutes of silence, Michaela softly spoke. "Sully, I’m sorry about Josh. I know how hard this must be for you."

"It would be a lot harder if you weren’t here beside me," Sully answered. "And it ain’t any harder for me than it is for you." After several more minutes of silence, Sully spoke again. "How’s Brian handling it?"

"He seems to be doing okay. I guess I wasn’t much of a comfort for him today. He and Matthew seemed to be more worried about you and I," Michaela replied

"Me and you?" Sully asked somewhat perplexed. "Why were they worried about me and you?"

"Well, Brian was concerned for you when you left suddenly this morning, and I guess they were both worried about me when they noticed how upset I was that you were gone. And then of course Matthew was worried that I wasn’t eating properly," replied Michaela.

Knowing full well how Michaela’s appetite would seem to disappear whenever she was worried or upset, Sully gently asked, "When ‘did’ you eat last?"

Michaela glanced up at Sully but quickly lowered her eyes. Deciding to ignore Sully’s question, she quickly asked, "Where did you go today?"

Realizing that she wasn’t going to answer his question, he let out a slight sigh. He bent down and kissed the top of her head before answering. "I went for a walk in the woods to clear my head and do some thinkin’. I didn’t go any place special, I just kinda wandered. I was thinkin’ ‘bout what I, ‘bout what we could do to remember Josh, sorta like a memorial to him." Sully paused a moment to gauge Michaela’s reaction. She looked up at him and giving him a light squeeze on the arm, he continued.

"While I was in the woods today, I made something, something to remind us all of Josh."

"What did you make?" Michaela asked.

"Well, I was hoping that we could have a memorial service for him, here at the house, just the family. And so I made a wooden cross, and on one side I carved a fish, ‘cause Josh loved to fish, and on the other side I carved a small red-tail hawk. A hawk gives one courage to face the unknown, and I believe Josh had a lot of courage."

"I think that’s a lovely idea, Sully. I’m sure Josh and Sheryl would both approve. And you’re right, Josh did have the courage to face the unknown. He wasn’t afraid of dying, he was only worried about the people he would leave behind."

Sully leaned over to kiss her soft lips and murmured "Thank you." Suddenly Michaela broke into a big smile and chuckled slightly. "What?" Sully asked.

"I remember Cloud Dancing telling me one time about how the hawk’s claws give one the courage to face the unknown. I had just shown him the wedding shirt I had made for you and he had given me some stones and some hawk’s claws to sew on the shirt. At the time I had jokingly replied, "what, marriage to me?"

Sully too chuckled and then he turned slightly to face Michaela. "I’m sorry if I made ya worry today. I know I shouldn’t have walked off like that."

Michaela shifted so that she was facing Sully. In a mere whisper she asked, "Why did you, Sully?" She waited a moment and when he didn’t answer, she continued, "I had hoped that after all we had been through the past few months that we could have comforted one another, been there for each other during this time."

Michaela paused once again for Sully’s response. But when she looked up into Sully’s eyes, they were moist with tears, and kissing him lightly on the cheek, she continued, her earlier fears now pouring out. "I was so afraid when you left that you wouldn’t come back, that maybe losing someone else was too much for you. I kept telling myself not to think like that, that I was being foolish, but I couldn’t help myself. And then I began to wonder if maybe you had gone to be with...., that maybe because I couldn’t give you anymore children....". The tears were now flowing down Michaela’s cheeks also.

Putting his finger to her lips, Sully quickly silenced Michaela. "Sshhh, no more thinkin’ like that. You’re all I’ve ever wanted, all I’ve ever needed." He leaned down and kissed her warm lips. When he drew back he wiped her tears with his thumb and then he continued, "I can’t really explain why I left, Michaela. I wish I could. But it was just something that I needed to do. I know that hurts you sometimes, and I’m truly sorry for that. But please, it ain’t got nothin’ to do with you, it’s just me. Can you understand that?" he pleaded.

"Yes, I understand, or at least I think I do," Michaela choked. "And I know sometimes I worry too much and I let my fears take over, and even though I tell myself not to worry, I still do. I guess that’s just me. I suppose we just have to learn to accept each other, faults and all, huh?"

"Yeah, I guess we do. But you know what? I love everything about you, faults and all," Sully replied. Then he leaned down close to her ear and whispered, "I love you."

Michaela looked up into Sully’s eyes, now glazed over with longing, and whispered, "And I love you." before reaching up and gently pulling Sully’s head down to meet her lips for a long and lingering kiss. No more words needed spoken. They both knew what the other needed, and as Sully reached down and slowly pulled the hem of Michaela’s nightgown up, she continued to lightly run her fingers over his chest and through his long wavy hair.

Michaela’s heartbeat quickened as Sully’s hand began to tantalize her every senses. As she ran her fingers lightly up and down his torso, Sully’s mouth found hers for a deep and probing kiss. As they lovingly gave themselves to one another, in this physical reunion they each found the comfort and condolence they had sought.

It had been several weeks later that Sully and Michaela had received a package from Sheryl, as promised. She had written to tell them of Josh’s last few weeks and that she was doing well. She had also sent a picture that Josh had finished just days before he died. It was a picture of a lone white buffalo, just as Brian had described it to him as told by Sully. He had made his ma promise to see that Brian received the picture. That’s when Sully got the idea to make a frame so they could hang it up where everyone could see it. That way they would always have a reminder of Josh there with them.

Sully stood up and stretched his arms high over his head. Picking up the wooden frame he headed for the house. As he walked outside he saw Michaela sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch. As he slowly approached her, he hesitated a moment, wondering if now would be a good time to discuss something with her. As he watched her rock back and forth, her eyes full of pain and despair, his heart once again ached for her. She had been like this for several days now. Soon he knew he would have to do something, but would she be responsive to him?

Sully knelt down beside Michaela and holding the frame out in front of her, he said, "I finished it." When he received no response, he tried again. "I think Brian will be pleased, don’t you. We can hang it on the living room wall or if you want, we can just put it on the mantle. What do ya think?"

Michaela glanced at Sully but her expression never changed. "It’s lovely, Sully," she replied in a monotone voice, her eyes once again staring into space, the creaking of the rocking chair ever present. Sully let out a deep sigh, and then leaning over, he kissed the top of Michaela’s head lightly. Standing straight he turned to walk into the house and then called over his shoulder, "I’ll get Katie ready for bed. Why don’t you go on up and try to get some sleep." After receiving no answer, in exasperation Sully threw up his hands and then shutting the door loudly, he walked inside to put his daughter to bed.

It was now late at night as Michaela sat in front of the unlit fire, the light creaking of the rocking chair the only noise in the room. Slowly she looked around their dimly lit room and her eyes fell on the face of her husband, sleeping soundly in their bed only a few feet away. But sleep eluded her, as it had done the previous two nights. She knew that Sully, as well as the rest of the family was concerned about her, but she didn’t know how to rid herself of this terrible feeling of guilt that was overwhelming her.

Michaela leaned back against the rocker and lightly ran her hand over the afghan she held in her lap. It was the one her mother had so painstakingly knitted before Katie was born. When Katie had gotten a little older and no longer in need of a baby quilt, Michaela had put the afghan away so they would have it for their next child. But now, she thought sadly, there would be no more children. As she reached up to wipe away the tears running down her cheeks, her thoughts once again turned to her mother and her last visit to Colorado Springs.

That had been nearly 3 months ago, not long after they had received word of Josh’s death. She had written her mother to tell her of her miscarriage and the surrounding events, including the arrival of Sheryl and Josh and then also of Josh’s death. Following Sully’s advice, she had waited to write to her mother about her miscarriage, the pain still too fresh and raw. She had told her mother some of the details, but many she had left out, including the fact that she would never be able to have anymore children. That was still something that she did not wish to think about and something that her mother didn’t need to know right away.

It had been an unusually hectic week for Michaela, with Sully gone and Katie getting sick. Sully had left a week ago for a surveying trip and would be gone for almost a month. Although she had not been happy that Sully had to leave for such a long period of time, she knew that his job was important to him and she would never ask him not to go. He hadn’t taken any surveying jobs since her miscarriage, except for an occasional trip overnight, but this was a job that he just couldn’t turn down and so she had reluctantly agreed. He had been gone a week now and she missed him terribly.

And then of all times for something else to happen, Katie had come down with a slight catarrh. Michaela had sat up with her the past two nights rocking her and neither of them had gotten much sleep. This particular morning Katie was being unusually cranky, clinging to her mother’s side, not even letting Brian or Matthew take care of her. Michaela had burned the breakfast, burned her hand, broken a dish and scolded Brian unnecessarily, all before the start of the day. She was just about at the end of her rope when they heard a horse galloping up to the front door, a male voice yelling "Dr. Mike!"

Sighing heavily, Michaela stood up as Matthew opened the door. As Robert E came pounding up the steps and out of breath, he quickly explained. "Dr. Mike, the Morgan couple, the ones who live near Willow Creek, she’s having her baby. They sent their oldest boy in for ya, says his ma’s been in labor all night."

Quickly becoming the doctor once more, she turned to her eldest son. "Matthew, could you saddle up Flash, and Brian, would you mind taking Katie into Dorothy’s before you go to school." Grabbing her medical bag and throwing on her shawl, Michaela headed for the door where Robert E still waited. Stopping briefly, she kissed Katie on the cheek and whispered, "You be a good girl for Miss Dorothy and mama will come for you soon. I love you." Then she turned to Brian and searching his eyes for forgiveness, she apologized. "Brian, thank you, and I’m sorry for raising my voice this morning,"

"That’s all right, ma. I know you haven’t gotten much sleep, with Katie being sick and Sully being gone. I understand. And don’t worry about us, we’ll be fine." Giving Brian a hug, Michaela dashed out the door and onto Flash, with Robert E. close behind.

It was a long ride out to Willow Creek and as soon as Michaela entered the small cabin she knew that something was wrong. The woman had been in labor for almost 15 hours and was making no progress. After a quick examination, Michaela knew that this baby was not going to come in the conventional way. Quickly Michaela explained to the parents that their baby was breech, that is it was coming feet first instead of head first, and that to insure the safety of both mother and baby, she would need to operate.

After getting consent from both parents, Michaela quickly prepared the woman for surgery. After administering chloroform, Michaela proceeded to cut the woman’s abdomen open and retrieve the baby, placing their new son in his father’s arms. After Michaela finished suturing and dressing the wound, the woman began to arouse. Michaela then took the tiny infant from his father and closely examined him before cleaning him up and placing him in his mother’s awaiting arms.

As Michaela placed the tiny little boy into his mother’s arms, and as the proud papa lightly caressed his wife and child, Michaela was overwhelmed with a great sadness as she remembered her lost child. As tears suddenly welled up, Michaela quickly turned away and busied herself with cleaning and putting away her instruments. But the new parents had been so involved in examining every inch of their new son that Michaela’s actions had gone unnoticed. After leaving specific instructions on how to care for his wife and newborn, Michaela had departed with a promise to return in the morning.

Michaela rode back into town and reigning her horse in front of the clinic, she dismounted and headed over to the Gazette to pick up Katie. After telling Dorothy about the new arrival of the Morgan clan, she quickly thanked her for watching Katie and turned to leave. But the somber mood Michaela was still in had not gone unnoticed to Dorothy, who quickly asked, "Michaela, what’s wrong? You missing Sully?"

Michaela stopped as she reached for the doorknob, and slowly turning to Dorothy her eyes welled up with tears. "No, that’s not it, I mean, yes, of course I miss Sully, it’s just....," Michaela choked.

Suddenly understanding the reason for Michaela’s somber mood, Dorothy came over to her and laying her hand on her arms, she gently replied, "It’s okay, Michaela, I understand. This was the first baby you delivered since you lost yours, wasn’t it?"

Nodding her head, Michaela’s voice cracked. "When I placed that little boy in his mother’s arms and I saw how elated the father was, all I could think of was how I’ve let Sully down. He’ll never have that, we’ll never have that," she cried as she buried her head on Dorothy’s shoulder.

Dorothy held her for a moment, knowing that nothing she could say would ease Michaela’s pain right now. After a moment, Michaela pulled back and hastily wiped away her tears. "I really do miss Sully, especially now," Michaela told her friend as she stepped back to compose herself. After a few moments, Michaela looked at her friend and said, "Thank you, Dorothy, for watching Katie and for listening."

"Well," replied Dorothy, "that’s what friends are for. If you need anything Michaela, just let me know. And before you know it, Sully will be back. Just remember, he’s thinkin’ about you too."

When Michaela returned to the clinic, she decided that she couldn’t keep her mind on her work so she might as well go home early. After gathering her medical bag and Katie’s belongings, she headed over to Robert E’s to pick up their wagon, where Matthew had left it that morning.

Michaela and Katie had been home only a short time before Brian came in from school. "Hi ma, how’d it go today. Did Mrs. Morgan have her baby?" Brian asked cheerfully as he walked over to Katie and picked her up, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

"Hello, Brian," Michaela greeted. "Mrs. Morgan had a little boy."

"Bian, play house?" Katie asked her brother as he placed her back down on the floor.

"Not right now, Katie, I gotta do some chores. But I’ll play with you after supper, okay," Brian retorted. Then turning to his ma, he said, "Ma, Matthew said he had some things to do in town so he wouldn’t be coming for supper."

"All right, Brian, thank you for telling me," Michaela responded. "Oh, Brian, would you mind terribly if we just had some leftovers. I’ve had a long day and I really don’t feel like cooking a big dinner."

"Sure, ma, that’s all right with me. I’m gonna go out to the barn and do some chores. If you need me for anything, just yell," Brian called over his shoulder as he walked towards the door.

They had just sat down for supper when they heard a wagon pull up out front. Michaela assumed it was Matthew and that he had finished up earlier than he thought. So when the door swung open and Matthew walked in, followed by her mother, her mouth dropped open in surprise. "Mother! What are you doing here?" Michaela exclaimed.

"Well Michaela, is that anyway to greet your mother after such a long and tiring journey," Mrs. Quinn had commented dryly. After her initial shock, Michaela quickly composed herself and going towards her mother, she put her arms out and embraced her. After she pulled back, Mrs. Quinn looked closely at Michaela and replied, "Michaela, you’re looking much too thin and your cheeks have lost their color. Are you eating properly?"

Rolling her eyes back, Michaela let out a small sigh before responding. "I’m perfectly well, Mother. There’s no need to fret over me. But, what are you doing here? Why didn’t you let us know you were coming?"

"Do I need a reason to come and see my grandchildren? or for that matter, my daughter," Mrs. Quinn spoke sarcastically. And then looking around the room, she scoffed, "And where is Mr. Sully?"

"He went on a surveying trip last week. He’ll be gone until the first of the month," Brian quickly answered.

"Huh, just like him, always leaving home, deserting his family," Mrs. Quinn stated harshly.

Flashing a steely look at her mother, Michaela replied sternly, "Mother, Sully did not desert us!"

With a quick wave of the hand, Mrs. Quinn brushed off Michaela’s remark and walking over to Katie, she reached out her hands for her granddaughter. "Katie, my how you’ve gotten so big. Grandma misses you so much." Lifting her out of her highchair, Mrs. Quinn held her granddaughter tightly to her chest and then walking over to Brian, she said, "Hello, Brian, how are you doing?"

Brian stood up to give his grandma a hug. He towered over Mrs. Quinn and she laughed, "Oh my, you have gotten taller. Your ma told me how much you’ve grown, but I never imagined this."

"Hi grandma," Brian laughed. "I’m glad you’re here. We miss you too."

Michaela glanced towards Matthew and in turn he shrugged his shoulders. Then turning once again to her mother, Michaela said, "Mother, we’re just having dinner. I’m sure you must be hungry after your long trip. Please, let’s sit down and eat."

"Yes, I am rather hungry. Matthew, please, sit and eat. You can get my bags later," Mrs. Quinn replied as everyone finally settled down to eat. As Mrs. Quinn took her place at the table, her eyes quickly roamed the contents of their meal. "Is this what you eat for dinner, Michaela. No wonder you’re so thin. And what about these growing boys. You surely don’t expect this to sustain them?"

Michaela’s eyes quickly glanced from Matthew to Brian and in exasperation she merely replied, "Mother, please!"

"What?" Mrs. Quinn asked, "I merely stated..."

"Grandma, ma had a rough day today so we’re just eating leftovers. She thought it was only going to be the three of us," Brian quickly came to her defense.

"A rough day?" Mrs. Quinn asked, turning her eyes to Michaela. "Why, did something happen at the clinic today?"

"No, not really, Mother. I delivered a baby and there were some complications. But everything turned out fine for both mother and baby," Michaela replied, her words sounding somewhat shaky. Quickly Michaela lowered her eyes and turning her attention to her plate of food, she began to push the food around on her plate.

Sensing his mother’s discomfort, Matthew quickly changed the subject. "So Grandma, how is everything in Boston?" Matthew asked. Mrs. Quinn also noticed the sudden change in Michaela but quickly joined in Matthew’s conversation. "Everyone in Boston is doing well," Mrs. Quinn replied. "Are you still pursuing law school?"

The remainder of their dinner was kept jovial by Katie’s constant chatter and Brian’s descriptions of her most recent antics. Mrs. Quinn laughed at some of the stories Brian told, adding her own two cents in about when Michaela was a small child. After dinner was over Matthew and Brian offered to clean up while Michaela and Mrs. Quinn sat in front of the fire. Katie found her favorite book under the chair and pulling it out, she climbed up onto Mrs. Quinn’s lap.

"Do you want me to read you a story, Katie?" Mrs. Quinn asked as she gently stroked Katie’s blonde hair. "Pease, Granma," Katie replied as she laid her head against her Grandma’s bosom.

After the story was over Michaela stood up and reached for Katie. "I think it’s bath time sweet girl. Give Grandma a kiss and you’ll see her in the morning."

"Michaela, would you mind if I gave Katie her bath and put her to bed? It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to do that?" And then looking at Katie, she asked, "Is that all right with you, Katie. Will you let Grandma give you your bath and put you to bed?"

Katie vigorously shook her head and turning to her mother, she said, "I splash Grandma." Michaela was still smiling as she watched her mother carry her young daughter up the stairs. Soon Brian came over to bid her goodnight and picking up his schoolbooks, he went upstairs to study.

As Matthew finished up in the kitchen, he would occasionally glance over at his mother. She was now staring into the flickering flames of the fire, deep in thought. Matthew approached her quietly and kneeling down beside her, he placed his hand on tops of hers. At the touch of his hand on hers, Michaela was quickly brought back to the present. "Are you okay, ma?" Matthew asked with concern. "You didn’t eat much."

Quickly composing herself, Michaela answered, "Yes, of course, Matthew. I’m fine. I wasn’t really that hungry is all."

"You missin’ Sully?" Matthew asked softly.

"Yes, I do, especially right now," she answered, her eyes suddenly becoming misty. Patting her hand, Matthew glanced towards the stairs and said, "Well, now you got your ma here for ya."

"Yes, just what I needed," Michaela said a bit sarcastically and then realizing her words, she quickly added, "I didn’t mean it that way, Matthew. Of course I love my mother, it’s just..."

"I know, I know. You don’t have to explain anything to me," Matthew smiled. "Do you think she’ll still be here when Sully gets back?"

"I don’t know. I’m still wondering what she’s doing here at all. Did she say anything to you on the way out here?" Michaela inquired.

"Nope, just said she felt like seeing all of us. Well, I think I’ll be going now. Goodnight ma," Matthew said as he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

"Good night Matthew," Michaela returned. As Matthew headed out the door, Michaela turned to stare into the fire, her thoughts once again turning to Sully.

The house was quiet when Mrs. Quinn descended the steps and walked over to sit in the vacant wingback chair. Without speaking she settled herself into the chair and quietly watched her daughter as she stared into the fire. She noticed the dark circles under her eyes and her color was rather pale. She also thought that her daughter had lost far too much weight. Well, now that she was here, she would see to it that she ate properly. Her mother’s intuition told her that her daughter was still troubled, so she decided to break the silence.

"Michaela," Mrs. Quinn spoke softly. Michaela glanced up to look at her mother and held her gaze. "I’m so sorry to hear about your baby. I know that was a terrible loss for you, but you’ll have others."

Michaela’s eyes welled up in tears and quickly she turned away. "I really don’t feel like talking about that now, Mother," Michaela choked.

"Of course, dear, but I’m here whenever you’d like to," Mrs. Quinn replied.

"Thank you," Michaela muttered and then taking a deep breath to compose herself, she turned to her mother and bluntly asked, "So, Mother, why did you come here?"

Mrs. Quinn stood up and patting her daughter’s hand, she replied, "We’ll talk about it in the morning, Michaela. It’s been a long day and I’m exhausted, as are you."

"All right," Michaela replied, "but I have a patient I must see in the morning. I’ll come home after that and we can spend some time together, if that’s all right with you?"

"Yes, of course, that would be fine," Mrs. Quinn answered. "Why don’t you leave Katie here with me tomorrow. I’d love to spend the day with her."

"If you’re sure you don’t mind. Katie’s been sick the past few days and at times she can be a handful," Michaela said truthfully.

"We’ll be fine, Michaela. After all, I raised five girls on my own. I can handle one two-year old," she answered defiantly.

"All right, I’ll see you in the morning then. Good night Mother," responded Michaela.

Leaning down she gave her daughter a kiss and then walked up the stairs, leaving Michaela in her own thoughts.

It was late when Michaela stood up and banking the fire, she walked around the room and extinguished the lamps. Then going upstairs, she paused outside of Katie’s room and slowly opening the door, she walked to Katie’s bed and knelt beside her. Softly stroking her daughter’s blonde hair, she kissed her lightly and then whispered, "Mama and papa love you sweetheart, sweet dreams."

Michaela left her daughter’s room and slowly walked into their bedroom. Walking over to the fireplace, she threw a few logs on the fire and then began to undress. Climbing into bed, she reached for Sully’s pillow and drew it to her chest. She could still smell his scent on the pillow and suddenly her heart ached for him and her eyes quickly welled up with tears. Alone in their room, her tears flowed freely. "Oh Sully, I need you so much," she cried into his pillow. "Why did you have to go away now."

Her tears finally ceasing, Michaela turned onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She missed Sully so much, especially at night, but she knew she was only being selfish. Sully’s job was important to him just as her job was important to her. It just couldn’t be helped that at times they would be apart. But that still didn’t make it any easier for her. And now her mother had arrived.

The last time they had seen each other was during the Thanksgiving holidays. But that visit had not been a pleasant one. Sully had still been in hiding and the diphtheria epidemic had hit Colorado Springs, taking the lives of many, including her sister, Marjorie and Colleen’s best friend, Becky. At first her mother blamed her for Marjorie’s death, as she had also blamed herself. But they had both come to terms with Marjorie’s death, finally realizing that it was no one’s fault and they had made peace with each other. But ever since her mother had walked through the front door today, she had felt like there was that same distance between them that had existed for most of their lives.

Michaela’s eyes were now becoming heavy with sleep and turning to face the fire, she once again hugged Sully’s pillow and wondered aloud, "Why did you come here, mother. What’s your real reason for coming?" Yawning, Michaela closed her eyes and murmured, "I guess I’ll find out tomorrow," before falling into a restless sleep.

Mrs. Quinn was restless from the long trip from Boston and thought a glass of warm milk might help. Rising from her bed, she quietly opened the door and stepped out into the hall. As she passed Michaela and Sully’s bedroom, she heard the muffled sounds of crying and then in a faint and muffled voice, she heard her daughter cry, "Sully, why did you have to go away now." Slowly walking to the door she raised her hand to knock, but then hesitating, she lowered her hand and turned and walked downstairs.

The next morning Michaela awoke to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. From the warmth of the sun shining in her bedroom, Michaela realized it must be late. Rising from her bed she quickly washed and dressed and then headed for her daughter's bedroom. As she reached for the doorknob she suddenly heard the laughter of her youngest daughter from downstairs. Smiling, Michaela hurried down the stairs and found her daughter happily playing with her stuffed bunny and her mother sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee.

Walking over to Katie, Michaela knelt down and kissed her daughter. "Good morning, sweetheart. Are you hungry?"

"Nope," Katie giggled. "Granma gave me pickle." Michaela quickly looked at her mother and asked, "A pickle?"

"Yes, I'm afraid she didn't want to wait for everyone else and said she wanted a pickle. I made her promise to eat her oatmeal if I gave her a pickle. I saw no harm in it and I remember how picky two-year olds can be when it comes to eating," Mrs. Quinn explained.

Michaela smiled and said to her mother, "Yes, you're right about that. Katie has become such a picky eater lately. It's hard to get her to eat anything at all."

"She takes after her mother," Mrs. Quinn sarcastically replied as she scanned her daughter's petite build. "And how did you sleep, Michaela?"

Michaela glanced at her mother suspiciously but quickly replied, "I slept fine mother. Why do you ask?"

"Oh, no reason," responded Mrs. Quinn. "Here, let me get you some breakfast. It's keeping warm on the stove."

Walking to the front door, Michaela grabbed her coat and began to put it on. "No thank you, Mother, I'm not very hungry right now. I'll get something to eat in town. I really need to get to my patient." She scanned the room for her medical bag and saw it sitting on the small stool next to the fireplace. Walking over to retrieve it, she was stopped by her mother's stern call. "Michaela! It only takes ten minutes to sit down and eat. If you don't start taking better care of yourself...."

"Alright, Mother," Michaela replied exasperated. "I'll eat something. Will that make you happy?" Glancing at her mother she was immediately sorry for having spoken so harshly. Turning to her mother she quickly apologized, "I’m sorry, mother. I didn’t mean to sound so cold. Thank you for fixing breakfast this morning."

Mrs. Quinn eyed her daughter carefully and then quietly spoke, "What makes me happy is to see my children happy, Michaela. That's all I want."

Michaela started to speak but quickly stopped herself, instead removing her coat and sitting down at the table. Her mother quickly brought her a plate of food and set it down in front of her. "Is Brian up yet?" Michaela asked. "Yes, but he left early this morning. He said something about stopping to see Miss Dorothy before school. I made sure he had a good breakfast before he left," Mrs. Quinn answered. "Thank you, Mother. I appreciate that. I'm afraid my cooking skills are still rather lacking."

They continued to make light conversation while Michaela finished her breakfast and then Michaela quickly excused herself, telling her mother she must get to her patient. "I'll try to be home before lunch," Michaela spoke as she once again put on her coat. "But if I’m not, go ahead and feed Katie and put her down for a nap. She still may be rather cranky from the last few days."

"We’ll be fine, Michaela. Go on and tend to your patients. We’ll see you when you return," Mrs. Quinn replied. Just then Katie came running over to her mother and reached out her arms. Michaela lifted Katie up and kissing her she whispered, "You be a good girl for your Grandma, alright. Mama will be home soon."

"I good girl," Katie stated loudly as she gave her ma a hug. After being put down on the floor once again, Katie ran to her grandma and said, "Play school, Granma?" Mrs. Quinn looked at Michaela puzzled and Michaela responded, "We’ve been teaching Katie how to count and how to make letters. We pretend we’re in school just like Brian."

"Oh," Mrs. Quinn replied with a smile. "I seem to remember playing school with you when you were quite small. Though as I recall, the only things you were interested in was collecting insects so you could discuss them with your father when he came home."

"Well, Katie’s not interested in insects, at least not yet," Michaela smiled, "but she does love flowers."

"Well then, maybe Katie and I will pick some flowers this morning. Would you like that Katie?" Mrs. Quinn asked as she looked down at the face of her smiling granddaughter.

Katie’s face beamed with delight and clapping her hands, she squealed, "Flowers! I pick flowers for mama?" Laughing, Mrs. Quinn picked up her granddaughter and smiled, "Yes, Katie, we can pick your ma some flowers. But right now, why don’t we clean up the dishes and then get you dressed."

As Michaela reached for the doorknob she turned to her mother and daughter and replied, "Have a nice day you two," and then she closed the door behind her.

It was almost one o’clock when Michaela returned from the Morgan ranch. When she rode up to the homestead she found her mother sitting in the rocking chair out on the front porch. "Hello Mother," Michaela greeted as she dismounted Flash and tied her to the post. "Is Katie asleep?"

"Yes, she fell asleep only about a half hour ago. She wanted to stay awake until you got home but her little eyes just wouldn’t cooperate," Mrs. Quinn responded. "Have you eaten lunch, Michaela?"

"No thank you, Mother. I’m not really hungry right now."

"Michaela, you must eat. You’re already too thin and in the time I’ve been here you’ve hardly eaten a thing."

"I’m afraid that when Sully’s gone, I often don’t have much of an appetite," Michaela explained. "But I usually make up for it when he returns."

"Well, no wonder you’re so thin then. Lord knows what with Sully disappearing so often it’s a wonder that you haven’t wasted away to a toothpick," Mrs. Quinn exclaimed.

Flashing her angry eyes at her mother, Michaela replied sternly, "Mother, did you come all the way out here just to criticize my husband and to tell me how bad I look?"

"No, of course not," Mrs. Quinn answered defensively as she resumed her rocking. Michaela turned to her mother and looking her in the eyes, she asked, "So, Mother, what is it you wanted to talk about. Why did you come all the way out here?"

Mrs. Quinn continued to rock as Michaela sat on the top step and waited for an answer. After a long and uneasy silence Mrs. Quinn finally spoke. "I’ve come to take you and the children home."

"What?" Michaela asked incredulously. "What are you talking about, Mother?"

Mrs. Quinn looked at her daughter and calmly replied once again. "I’m taking you and Brian and Katie back to Boston with me, where you belong, and I’m not leaving without you," she stated flatly.

Standing abruptly, Michaela placed her hands on her hips and spoke loudly, "I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mother. But this is our home, and this is where we belong." Whirling around she started to head for the front door but was quickly stopped by the sound of her mother’s stern voice.

"Michaela Anne, sit down!" came her mother’s raised voice. Slowly Michaela turned to face her mother and seeing that look on her mother’s face, the same look that she had seen as a child when her mother was angry with her, she obediently sat back down.

There were several long and uncomfortable minutes of silence before Mrs. Quinn spoke again. Michaela felt like she was a small child again, waiting for her mother’s chastisement. Choosing her words carefully, Mrs. Quinn began. "I ran into someone in Boston last month, someone we both know."

Michaela looked up at her mother with questioning eyes, "Yes?"

"I was at the hospital visiting a friend when I ran into David," Mrs. Quinn said, glancing towards her daughter to gauge her reaction.

"You did?" Michaela stated surprisingly. "I wasn’t aware that he had returned to his medical practice."

"Why didn’t you tell me he was still alive, or for that matter why didn’t you ever tell me he was here, in Colorado Springs," Mrs. Quinn asked defensively.

"I saw no reason for it, Mother," Michaela answered coldly. "David and I parted as friends and as far as I knew he had no intention of returning to Boston or pursuing his medical practice. But what does David have to do with you coming here?"

"He’s still in love with you Michaela. He told me so. He said he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about you ever since he left here. He still wants you to be his wife."

Her anger rising, Michaela took a deep breath and replied, "I’m already somebody’s wife, Mother, or have you forgotten that."

"Of course I haven’t forgotten, how could I?" Mrs. Quinn taunted. "But you don’t belong with Sully, Michaela. You belong with David. You were betrothed to him. You made a commitment to him."

"I think David broke that commitment, Mother, when he let me believe he was dead for seven years," Michaela angrily retorted.

"Michaela, you were still betrothed to David when he came here so by all rights you were still his fiancée. You had already made a commitment to him. Once you knew David was alive and still in love with you, you had no right to marry Sully," Mrs. Quinn fumed.

"No right! How dare you. Mother, I have a child now, Sully’s child. What do you suggest we do with her?" Michaela raged loudly.

"That’s enough, Michaela! Do not raise your voice at me. I am still your mother!" Mrs. Quinn sternly spoke. "Of course I haven’t forgotten about Katie, or Brian. David is willing to accept them as his own. He will be responsible for them. Brian and Katie will have the finest education...."

"Stop it, Mother!" Michaela screeched. "Sully is my husband and I love him very much."

"Michaela, I’m only doing this for your own good, and for your children. You don’t belong here," Mrs. Quinn replied.

"This is exactly where I belong and it’s exactly where I want to be. Why can’t you accept that?" Michaela pleaded.

"Michaela, I only want you to be happy," Mrs. Quinn said in exasperation.

"I am happy, Mother," Michaela implored.

"I find that rather hard to believe, Michaela. Just look at you. You have dark circles under your eyes, you’re much too thin, and," Mrs. Quinn stated as she eyed her daughter closely, "you cry yourself to sleep at night. I wouldn’t call that being happy."

Michaela glanced up at her mother and then quickly lowered her eyes. She had tried hard to muffle her cries last night, but nonetheless her mother must have heard them. Rather softly, Michaela pleaded with her mother. "Mother, I had a difficult day yesterday and I was missing Sully. That doesn’t mean that I’m unhappy."

"Yes, and that’s another thing, Mr. Sully! Every time I’ve come here Michaela, he has gone off or disappeared. First it was before the wedding and then before Katie’s birth, and the last time he was off in hiding somewhere away from you and the children for months. It’s quite obvious to me that Mr. Sully prefers the solitude of the wilderness and only comes home for....for..."

"For what Mother?" Michaela inquired bitterly as she flashed her steely eyes at her mother.

Nervously wringing her hands Mrs. Quinn finally stuttered, "To satisfy his needs, Michaela."

Michaela had had enough. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Turning to face her mother she glared into her eyes and seethed, "I feel sorry for you Mother. You have no idea what love is. You couldn’t possibly understand what Sully and I have together. And I willingly ‘satisfy his needs’ as you put it, just as much as Sully wants to satisfy mine."

"That’s enough!" Mrs. Quinn spoke harshly, her face turning a deep red. "I will not have a daughter of mine talk like that. That’s exactly the reason I’m taking all of you away from here, away from this uncivilized place."

"Regardless of what you may think of where I live or what you may think of my husband, this is my home and we are not going anywhere, Mother." Michaela angrily retorted. "And what gives you the right..."

"I’ll tell you what gives me the right, Michaela." her mother quickly interrupted. "If Marjorie hadn’t come to this God forsaken place she would still be alive today. She admired you so much, she wanted to be just like you that she stopped listening to me and came out here instead to look for what, happiness. Well the only thing she found was an epidemic and it killed her, and I will not lose another daughter to this crude and uncivil place," she whispered, her voice trembling.

"Is that what this is all about. Are you still blaming me for Marjorie’s death?" Michaela cried.

"No, of course not," her mother replied softly. "I’m only saying that if she had not followed you here she would still be alive."

"Mother, I know you miss Marjorie, I miss her too. But you can’t honestly believe that I would just leave everything I have here, just because you miss Marjorie," Michaela implored.

Squaring her shoulders, Mrs. Quinn looked directly at her daughter and stated sternly, "Michaela, you are coming home with me, and that’s that. I’ve already discussed this with a lawyer in Boston and he feels that because of Mr. Sully’s frequent absences and his fugitive status, a divorce will be granted quickly and easily. You and David can be married immediately after the final papers are drawn. I know how much you want more children and in the proper care of a physician and with excellent hospitals close by, you and David can have your own. Of course Mr. Sully will be free to visit his children whenever he...."

Michaela stared at her mother in disbelief as she continued to ramble on. Her anger beginning to boil, Michaela suddenly screamed at her mother. "STOP IT!" Stunned at her daughter’s outburst, Mrs. Quinn stopped in mid sentence and turned to stare at her daughter. "That’s enough Mother. I’m sorry that you can’t accept my life here. But I belong here, with Sully."

"You belong with David," Mrs. Quinn shouted back and then in a calmer voice she continued. "David wants to marry you. He wants you to become his wife, have his children..."

"I can’t have any more children, Mother," Michaela blurted out coldly.

Mrs. Quinn quickly looked at her daughter, waiting for an explanation. "The miscarriage I had, there were complications and I’m not able to have any more children," Michaela spoke softly now, tears evident in her eyes.

"I’m so sorry, Michaela," Mrs. Quinn sincerely replied, reaching out her hand to lay on her daughter’s knee. But Michaela quickly pulled away. "But don’t you see, that’s all the more reason to come with me?" Mrs. Quinn continued. "You belong in Boston, where you’d have a husband who could provide for you. You wouldn’t have to work. You could stay home, take care of Katie..."

"Mother, I have a wonderful husband here who provides for me. And I choose to work," Michaela said defiantly. "And what gives you the right to discuss my life with anyone, especially David!"

"I’m your mother and I will always look out for you. I raised you with the highest upbringing and though you fought me tooth and nail, I had hoped that at least some of my teachings would have been instilled upon you. That you would come out here and marry a man who sleeps in the woods, lived with the Indians, he has no profession, is ill-bred and dresses like a.. like a savage.., is beyond my comprehension. He's an embarrassment to you, Michaela. If you won’t do this for yourself, then at least think of your children. They deserve much more than this," her mother implored as she waved her hand towards the surroundings.

"I’ve heard enough, Mother. I will not stand here and have you belittle my husband or my home. I’m sorry that you can’t understand my feelings for Sully, but the fact is that I love him very much and I do belong here and if you can’t accept that, then.."

"Then what?" Mrs. Quinn asked, looking her daughter straight in the eye.

"Then you’re not welcome here," Michaela uttered, her eyes glaring back. Michaela quickly stood and started for the front door.

In a calm voice Mrs. Quinn called after her daughter, "Michaela!" Michaela paused but did not turn around. "David told me about your last night together."

Stunned, Michaela slowly turned around to face her mother. She had never told anyone about that night, not even Sully. "He told you about that night?" she whispered in disbelief.

"Yes, he did, and quite frankly Michaela, I was appalled at your behavior. You promised yourself to David that night," Mrs. Quinn boldly stated. "You belong to him. Your marriage to Mr. Sully should never have happened!"

Still unable to speak, Michaela abruptly turned and ran into the house, slamming the door behind her.

The rest of the evening was tense for everyone. As Mrs. Quinn finished the dinner preparations, Michaela played with Katie in front of the fire. Both Matthew and Brian could feel the friction between the two and both wondered what was the cause. When their grandmother called everyone to the dinner table, Michaela quickly excused herself, feigning a headache.

"Brian, would you please take a plate up to your mother? She has to eat something," Mrs. Quinn gently asked her grandson.

"Sure, Grandma. Is ma alright?" a worried Brian asked.

"I’m sure she’s fine, Brian. Your mother can obviously take care of herself," Mrs. Quinn stated, an edge of bitterness in her voice.

Matthew quickly glanced up at his grandmother and was about to respond, when deciding better of it, he quickly closed his mouth. Just then Brian came back down the stairs and sat down at his usual place. "Ma said she wasn’t hungry, but I left the tray any ways in case she changes her mind," Brian stated softly.

"Thank you, Brian," Mrs. Quinn replied and then to no one in particular she mumbled, "It’s a wonder she doesn’t waste away."

Throughout supper Matthew surreptitiously watched his grandmother as she tended to Katie. He noticed that she often glanced towards the stairs, and each time her expression would change, to one of anger, disgust? Matthew was not quite sure. And once again he wondered what could have happened today between these two strong, independent and very stubborn women.

After the supper dishes were finished Brian, Matthew and Mrs. Quinn sat in front of the fire as Katie kept them all entertained. Katie began to tell Brian all about the flowers they had gathered today and about the pretty butterfly that she spent forever trying to catch. Soon Katie’s chatter lessened as the child began to grow tired. Noticing her yawn, Matthew picked her up and said, "I think I’ll take Katie upstairs to say goodnight to ma and then I’ll put her to bed."

"Alright, Matthew. Come here and give Grandma a kiss goodnight, Katie."

As Katie toddled over to her, Mrs. Quinn lifted her granddaughter into her lap and giving her a big kiss and hug, she whispered, "Goodnight sweetheart, Grandma loves you very much. I’ll see you in the morning." And then turning to Matthew, she asked, "Matthew, are you going to be going home soon?"

Matthew looked at his little brother and then back at Mrs. Quinn. "No, I thought I’d stay here tonight. I’ll sleep in Brian’s room with him."

"Alright, then perhaps you could take me into town early tomorrow?" Mrs. Quinn asked.

"Sure," Matthew replied. "But I need to get into town by 8:00. Is that alright with you?" Matthew returned.

"Yes, I’ll be ready then. Thank you, Matthew." Mrs. Quinn replied, and then turning to Brian she asked, "Brian, have you written any more stories? I’d love to hear one."

Brian’s face immediately lit up. "Sure Grandma. I just finished one that I was gonna have Miss Dorothy print in the Gazette. I’ll let you read it and you can tell me what you think?"

"I’d be happy to," Mrs. Quinn looked at Brian with a smile. "I also brought you some new writing tablets. Your mother tells me how fast you go through them with all of your writing. They’re up in my suitcase but I’ll get them for you before I turn in for the night."

"Thanks, Grandma," Brian smiled in return. "Have you ever tried any writing?"

"Oh heavens no. A woman just didn’t do such things in my day," Mrs. Quinn replied. "I did keep a diary once, when I was a very young girl but I don’t even remember whatever happened to it. Now, please, I’d love to hear your most recent article."

Matthew knocked lightly on his mother’s bedroom door. "Ma, Katie wants to say goodnight. Is it alright if I come in?"

"Yes, Matthew, please, bring her in," Michaela called from the other side. When Matthew opened the door he found Michaela sitting in the rocking chair, in the dark. "Are you alright, ma?" Matthew cautiously asked. And then noticing the full tray of food, he added, "You didn’t eat anything."

"Yes, I’m fine, Matthew. My head hurts a little, is all," Michaela answered. "Why don’t you leave Katie here with me. I’ll put her to bed."

"Are you sure ma, because I can put her to bed, it’s no problem," Matthew said.

"No, Matthew, that’s alright, really. I’ll take care of her now. You go on and entertain your Grandmother," Michaela stated soundly. And then reaching for Katie, she said, "Come here sweetheart, would you like mama to rock you?" Katie immediately reached her arms out as Matthew placed her in her mother’s outstretched arms.

"Alright, but if you need anything, I’ll just be across the hall. I’ve decided to stay the night." Michaela glanced quickly at Matthew and then nodded slightly. "Thank you, Matthew. Goodnight," she replied softly. As Matthew turned to leave the room, he hesitated and then turning around to face his mother, he pleaded. "Ma, please, try to eat something. I bet you haven’t eaten all day, have you?"

Sighing heavily, Michaela looked at her son and pleaded, "Matthew, please, not now." With an imperceptible nod, Matthew leaned over and gave his ma a light kiss on the forehead and then softly whispered, "Goodnight ma."

As the door closed behind Matthew, Michaela looked down at the smiling face of her daughter. "Would you like to sleep with mama tonight?"

Katie's eyes lit up, for seldom was she allowed such a treat unless she was sick or frightened. "I sleep here all night?" Katie asked innocently.

"Yes, mama needs to hold you tonight" Michaela answered wistfully.

Katie somehow sensed her mother's sullen mood and looking up she whispered innocently, "I hold you, mama." Her eyes glistening with tears, Michaela softly crooned, "I think I'd like that very much. How about we hold each other tonight, alright?"

Katie nodded her head and stifling a yawn, she laid back against her mother's chest as Michaela started to hum a favorite lullaby. Katie lifted her face up and looking into her mother's eyes, she whispered "luv you mama. Luv papa too."

Michaela tightened her hold around her daughter and whispered, "And I love you. I love you so much, sweetheart. And papa loves you too, more than you'll ever know."

It was some time later when Michaela looked down and saw that her daughter was soundly asleep. Rising slowly she walked over to her bed and gently placed her daughter in the center, tucking Sully's pillow behind her. Taking off her robe she laid it at the foot of the bed and then climbed in next to Katie, pulling her close. She reached down to pull the covers up snuggly around them, and totally exhausted, she finally closed her eyes and fell into a restless sleep.

Breakfast the next morning was even tenser than the previous night. Michaela and her mother avoided each other at great lengths and their conversation was almost nil. Matthew and Brian finally gave up trying to force any kind of conversation and they too sat in mutual silence. Katie was the only one totally unaware of the friction lying heavily in the room.

When breakfast was finally over, Matthew pushed his chair back and stood up. "I'm gonna hitch up the wagon now," and then turning to his grandma he asked, "are you about ready?"

"Yes, Matthew. I'll be there in just a few minutes," Mrs. Quinn replied. "But before you go could you please get my bags from by room and bring them down?"

Everyone's eyes shot to Mrs. Quinn as Michaela's eyes locked with her mother's. There was a heavy silence before Brian spoke up, "But where are you going Grandma. You just got here."

"I will not stay where I'm not welcome," Mrs. Quinn calmly retorted as she met her daughter's eyes. "I will be returning to Boston this morning. I'll say my proper good-byes to you children in town, if that is alright with your mother."

Brian and Matthew both looked to Michaela, expecting her to protest her mother's sudden departure. Both were surprised when Michaela coldly replied, "If that's what you wish, Mother."

Matthew headed for the stairs and as he walked by Brian, he tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Hey, Brian, why don't you help me with the bags and then we can hitch up the wagon." Brian glanced at Matthew and then at his mother and then noticing the look on Matthew's face, he hurriedly stood up and said, "Yeah, Matthew, I'll be right there."

As the door closed behind Brian, Mrs. Quinn looked long and hard at her daughter. After a long and uncomfortable silence Mrs. Quinn finally spoke. "My train leaves in a little over an hour, Michaela. I'm asking you one last time to please bring your children and come home with me."

"That's enough, Mother!," Michaela cried exasperated, "I'm not leaving".

"Then I have nothing more to say to you." Mrs. Quinn spoke coldly. Quickly she stood up from the table and walking over to Katie, she lifted her out of her highchair.

"Come to Grandma, sweetheart. Let me give you a big hug and a kiss," Mrs. Quinn softly whispered in her granddaughter's ear. "Grandma has to go now but I want you to know that I love you very much." Reaching into her pocket, Mrs. Quinn pulled out a small box. "Katie, Grandma got you a present, for a very special girl." Katie’s eyes lit up. "Present?" she squealed. Opening the box, Mrs. Quinn pulled out a tiny ring and taking Katie’s hand, she slipped it on her finger. "Now you have to promise me you’ll take very good care of this ring. Don’t lose it, alright?" Mrs. Quinn stated. "Promise, Granma," Katie beamed and then holding her hand up to her mother, she exclaimed, "Granma ring, mama."

Michaela looked at her smiling daughter and said, "It’s very lovely, Katie. What do you say to your Grandma?"

"Tank you, granma," Katie beamed as she continued to wave her hand in the air. "I luv you." Kissing her granddaughter one last time, Mrs. Quinn quickly set Katie down on the floor and then without turning around, she quickly walked out the front door.

Full of turmoil, Michaela watched as her mother walked out the door, her body frozen in place. As she watched her mother climb into the wagon, for a brief moment she wanted to call her back. But just as quickly her mother's harsh words reverberated in her ears and she suddenly stood motionless and watched as the wagon pulled away.

Matthew pulled up at the train station just as the train was pulling in. Quickly he jumped down and walking around to the other side, he lifted his hands up to help his grandmother down. Mrs. Quinn went to buy a ticket while Matthew and Brian retrieved her luggage. As the conductor called "all aboard", Mrs. Quinn turned to her grandsons to say their good-byes.

"Why ya leaving so soon, Grandma. We haven't even had any time together," Brian asked.

"I think it's best this way, Brian. Now you two take care of your little sister, and take care of your mother also," Mrs. Quinn said. And then turning to Matthew, she said, "And you make sure your mother eats. She can't afford to get any thinner."

"I will, Grandma," Matthew replied. "Tell everyone we said hi."

"Yes, I will do that," Mrs. Quinn replied.

Just as Mrs. Quinn was ready to climb the stairs, Brian tugged on her sleeve and gently asked, "Grandma. I know you and ma had a fight and all. But you still love her, don't ya?" he asked innocently.

Taken aback by his question, Mrs. Quinn hugged Brian and said, "Of course, I do. Nothing will ever change that. Good-bye Brian. I love you."

"I love you too, Grandma," Brian called, "good-bye!"

As Mrs. Quinn started to walk up the steps to the train, Brian suddenly ran over to her and took something out of his backpack. Handing it up to her, he reached up and whispered something in her ear. She smiled slightly and then leaned down and kissed his cheek. As she walked up the remaining steps, Brian walked over to stand with Matthew. Both brothers stood on the train platform and watched the train as it became smaller and smaller and finally disappeared out of sight.