Miss Esther stepped into the library and looked around. To her surprise she couldn’t see Cashew anywhere. Normally he was awake by 7:30am.

Miss Esther turned on the lamp. She would have called for her pet but their guests were probably still sleeping upstairs. She didn’t want to wake them!

The lamp added warm light to the room and Miss Esther glanced around. Then she noticed a tiny tail sticking out from behind the footstool.

“Cashew?” Miss Esther just whispered the words so she wouldn’t disturb anyone else.

A black nose appeared over the top of the stool and then two black eyes. Cashew opened his mouth slightly and it looked as if he were smiling.

“There you are!” Miss Esther shook her head with a smile. “Where you hiding to surprise me, Cashew?”

Cashew scurried from behind the stool and came over.

Miss Esther knelt down to give him a ‘good morning’ scratch behind his ears. “I can see I don’t even need to ask how you are this morning! My faithful Cashew is having a very happy day.”

Cashew wagged his tail but didn’t bark.

“Yes, we need to be quiet this morning.” Miss Esther kept her voice to a whisper. “Hopefully our guests can get a little more sleep.”

Miss Esther rose and went into the kitchen to fetch the dog food. Soon Cashew was happily munching his all natural and all raw breakfast.

Miss Esther threw open the curtains, stirred the fire and watered her small jar of sprouts. Then she set about preparing for breakfast. She mixed a fruit salad, tossed it with lemon juice and then put it in the fridge to stay fresh while she made the French toast.

As soon as the first slices were in the skillet, Miss Esther quickly set the table. By 8:00am there was a whole dish full of steaming French toast keeping warm in the oven.

“I’m surprised my sisters aren’t down yet.” Miss Esther brushed a wrist over her forehead. “Normally Priscilla is early.”

There was a light step on the stairs and in a moment Priscilla herself glided into the library.

“Good morning!” Miss Esther gave her sister a warm smile. “I was just thinking of you! It’s another beautiful day in Small Village!”

“It is.” But Priscilla seemed slightly worried. “Susanna isn’t feeling well.”

“She isn’t?” Miss Esther was concerned. “She was feeling just fine last night.”

“I know.” Priscilla gave Cashew a pat on the head. “Her stomach isn’t happy. I think perhaps it didn’t like the popcorn last night.”

“That’s odd.” Miss Esther flipped another slice of French toast. “Susanna can usually eat anything.”

Priscilla nodded. “I fetched her the peppermint oil and told her to just stay in bed. I’ll call the hospital and let them know she won’t be in today.”

“Thank-you.” Miss Esther glanced towards the stairs and spoke softly. “I think our guests are coming down.”

Miss Esther tried not to think about how much she’d miss Susanna’s presence at the breakfast table. Her sister usually saw the positive side of everything and was such a help with conversation when they had company.

Miss Esther sent up a quick prayer for the right words and reached to take the extra plate from the table. She’d just set it back on the shelf of the dish dresser when Dorothy and Beverly entered the library.

“Good morning!” Miss Esther gave their guests a bright smile. “It’s another beautiful day! Did you sleep well?”

“It is a lovely day!” Beverly clapped her hands. “I slept very well, thank-you. Your guest bed is as comfortable as my own!”

“I’m so glad to hear that.” Priscilla gave them good-morning hugs. “Getting good sleep away from home can be a real challenge!”

Miss Esther pulled the dish of French toast from the oven and set it in the center of the table. “Breakfast is hot and ready!”

“It smells delicious.” Dorothy smiled quietly as she climbed into her chair. “You are clearly a very good cook, Miss Esther.”

Miss Esther set aside her hot mats. “Thank-you, Dorothy. I really enjoy it and am so grateful the Lord has given me the strength to do it.”

Priscilla smiled as she took her seat. “The rest of us are really thankful too!”

Everyone smiled and a few of them chuckled.

Miss Esther pulled the bowl of fruit salad from the icebox. She set it on the table and realized with joy that everything was ready. She sat down and looked at Beverly.

“Beverly, would you be willing to thank the Lord for our breakfast?”

“I’d be glad to.” Beverly glanced around the kitchen. “Is Susanna coming?”

“She’s not feeling well this morning.” Miss Esther smiled sadly. “It’s just something with her stomach. I think she’ll be resting today.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Dorothy’s voice was very sympathetic.

Beverly nodded. “Me too.” Then she bowed her head. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this beautiful breakfast that You have provided. Please help Susanna to feel better very soon. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

“Amen.” Miss Esther raised her head and reached to lift the lid from the dish of French toast. She took up the serving tongs. “May I serve you some French toast, Dorothy?”

Priscilla slipped away for a few moments to call the hospital and let them know Susanna would not be in to work. The manager was very understanding and agreed that she should just stay home.

Breakfast was a joyful affair despite Miss Esther’s fears. Beverly and Dorothy were wonderful conversationalists. By the time the French Toast had disappeared they were all even better friends than before. Beverly turned out to be an accomplished violinist. In no time at all she and Priscilla were deep in a discussion of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins and wondering if it could be adapted for violin and cello.

Miss Esther and Dorothy discovered a mutual love for flowers. They traded tips for keeping their favorite flowers alive. They even left the table for a few moments to take a look at Miss Esther’s rose bush by the front step.

“Thank You, Lord, for new friends.” Miss Esther kept the prayer in her heart as she settled back into her seat. “I’m so thankful You introduced us to Dorothy and Beverly.”

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