Book 5

Chapter 1: Miss Esther Wakes Up Late

Miss Esther stirred and snuggled down farther under her covers. It was so very nice to stay warm and cozy when it was all dark outside…

Suddenly Miss Esther’s head came up and she looked quickly at the window. “What time is it? It’s so light out it can’t be 6:30am…”

Miss Esther reached for her tiny clock, held it up so she could see it’s round face and blinked as she tried to take in the numbers.

“8:10!” Miss Esther’s eyes widened. “Oh no! I’ve overslept!”

Miss Esther felt a wave of panic sweep over her. She was supposed to have had breakfast ready for her sisters ten minutes ago. Miss Esther set down the clock and was about to leap out of bed when she remembered something.

“Wait a minute!” Miss Esther raised a hand for emphasis. “Not that fast. This isn’t an emergency.”

Miss Esther took a deep breath and looked upwards with a reverent smile. “Good morning, Lord. It’s another beautiful day. Thank-You for being my Redeemer and my Rock. I pray that the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart would be acceptable in Your sight today. Thank-You so much. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” 

Miss Esther threw aside the covers and sprang out of bed. She reached for her red slippers.

“Now, let’s see…what verse shall I think about as I take care of breakfast?” Miss Esther sat back down on her bed and put on her slippers. “I know! I’ll meditate on Psalm 34:8: ‘O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’ The Lord is always good – even on mornings that don’t go as expected!”

Miss Esther found her multi-colored shawl in her trunk and wrapped it about her shoulders. The air was still cool on these spring mornings.

Miss Esther made her way upstairs, her felt slippers making no noise on the book steps. When she reached the library, Cashew actually barked for joy.

“Good morning, Cashew!” Miss Esther gave him a happy smile. “How’s my favorite puppy today?”

Cashew licked his chops.

“Hungry? I thought so.” Miss Esther chuckled as she gave him a scratch behind the ears. “Thank-you for being so patient. Come, let’s get your breakfast.”

Miss Esther measured out the dog food and in moments Cashew was eagerly devouring it.

Miss Esther added a log to the stove and threw open the curtains. She paused for a brief moment to look out on the sight of rooftops glowing golden in the light of the rising sun.

“It’s beautiful, Lord.” Miss Esther took a deep breath. “The sun comes up every morning, just as You designed it to. Truly, as it says in Psalm 34:8, You are good.”

The thought brought fresh peace to Miss Esther’s heart as she turned back to her kitchen. She reached for the granola.

“This is when I’m so thankful for back up plans!” Miss Esther set the jar on the kitchen table with a chuckle. “On days like this, breakfast can be ready in five minutes.”

She retrieved some bowls from the dish cabinet and then filled the tea kettle with water. She set the kettle on the stove. “Fortunately the water should boil quickly. Susanna likes to have tea with her breakfast. I wonder how she’s feeling this morning?”

Miss Esther had just pulled the milk and some strawberries from the icebox when she heard a step on the stairs. She looked up in time to see Priscilla enter the library, bonnet in hand.

“Good morning, Priscilla!” Miss Esther put the milk on the table. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, I did.” Priscilla set her hat on the rocking chair. “Susanna slept right through the night. Carrots was having some trouble this morning so I stopped to help. Sorry I’m late.”

“Late!” Miss Esther laughed and shook her head. “You’re in perfect time. I just woke up about five minutes ago.”

“I wondered…” Priscilla bit her lip, but her eyes danced. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“As bright as a daisy!” Miss Esther turned to grab some spoons and the skirt of her white nightgown swirled in a happy circle around her. “The Lord is good every morning.”

“So true.” Priscilla began filling a bowl with granola. “Susanna asked me to bring breakfast up to her. Do you remember what she likes on her granola?”

Miss Esther rubbed her forehead. “I think she likes a little extra honey. She’s not quite so keen on the chia seeds.”

“Ah, that’s right!” Priscilla added strawberries and honey to the bowl. “There! I’ll take this up to her and be right back.”

Chapter 2: Miss Esther Makes Breakfast

Priscilla headed for the stairs and Miss Esther went to water her sprouts. She rinsed them and then set them up to drip dry.

“You’re growing nicely.” Miss Esther smiled at her bean sprouts. “You’ll be delicious for dinner tonight.”

Miss Esther began tucking away the dishes that had been left to finish drying the night before. She hummed a hymn as she worked. Whenever her quiet time was delayed a bit, she liked to sing here and there to help keep her heart in tune.

All glory, laud, and honor
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Priscilla came back into the kitchen and sang along.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s Royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest,
The King and Blessed One.

“Did you know that was written by Theodulph of Orleans about eight hundred years after Christ was born?” Priscilla began filling her own bowl. “He wrote it while he was a prisoner.”

“Sounds like he had his focus in the right place despite his dire circumstances.” Miss Esther took up a cereal bowl and poured some granola into it. “It’s a beautiful hymn. I like singing it. It helps me to fix my eyes on Jesus.”

“Agreed.” Priscilla smiled and her eyes took on a dreamy expression. “Just think! When we have our piano, I’ll be able to just drop down on the piano bench and play as we sing!”

“That will be a wonderful day.” Miss Esther smiled as she thought of her sister’s coming surprise. “Would you like to thank the Lord for our breakfast?”

“Certainly.” Priscilla bowed her head. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this breakfast that You’ve provided for us. It’s looks wonderful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

“Amen.” Miss Esther raised her head and reached for a banana. She peeled it and began slicing it onto the top of the granola in her bowl. “Do you have a busy day at the library today, Priscilla?”

“I hope to work on the accounts this morning. This afternoon I have that dictionary class so I’ll be busy for three straight hours.” Priscilla chuckled. “I’m sure the time will fly by.”

Miss Esther nodded and tried not to look too glad. Beverly’s piano was supposed to arrive at the Walnut House during that time. The surprise should be a complete success!

“How about you?” Priscilla added some strawberries to her bowl. “What’s on your day?”

Miss Esther considered. She wanted to be completely honest without giving anything away.

“Well, first off, I want to have my quiet time!” Miss Esther chuckled as she dug her spoon into her bowl. “Then there’s the planning to do for next week, some cleaning and hopefully I can get our dresses ironed for the concert tomorrow.”

“What do you need to plan?” Priscilla looked puzzled.

Miss Esther finished her next bite and took a sip of water before replying. “Oh, I just like to look over my goals and major to-dos for the month, and see what steps I can take toward them in the upcoming week. For instance, next week I have the laundry to do and that’s always a big project. I’ll need to leave plenty of time for that since we do ours by hand.”

“You are so organized, Esther!” Priscilla laughed and her eyes sparkled. “I don’t know how you do it!”

“Do what?” Miss Esther was puzzled.

“Do everything so on schedule! Don’t you ever do anything spontaneously?” Priscilla shook her head with a smile.

“All the time.” Miss Esther chuckled softly. “That’s why I have a plan and priorities – so I can be spontaneous when important things come up or my day goes askew.” She set down her spoon. “Take this morning, for instance. I overslept by mistake! But sleep never changes the fact that my most important priority is my relationship with Jesus. My lifetime habit is to always do my best to meet with Him as one of the very first things in my day, be it for five minutes or an hour.”

Priscilla nodded.

“But sometimes the unexpected happens. Maybe there’s an emergency or for the first time in months I oversleep and am committed to being somewhere else!” Miss Esther smiled. “So on those days I have a back-up plan. I pray, I meditate on a verse I’ve memorized and I sing as I set about to fulfill whatever commitment is before me. Then as soon as I can, I go have the rest of my quiet time! I can be spontaneous with the unexpected, but still stay on track with what is most important.”

“I never thought of that.” Priscilla stared out the window for a moment. “But the next time that happens, Esther, don’t worry about it. Susanna and I can cook, you know.” She smiled. “If we’re hungry before you’re in the kitchen, we can do something about it. Like use your backup breakfast plan of granola!” She reached for the granola jar.

“Thank-you, Priscilla. I’ll keep that in mind.” Miss Esther added some strawberries to her bowl. “But I think tomorrow I’ll use an alarm clock!”

Chapter 3: Miss Esther Has Her Quiet Time

“You girls are awake this morning!”

Miss Esther and Priscilla looked up from their bowls of granola to see Susanna glide into the library.

“Susanna! Good morning!” Miss Esther rose to give her sister a hug. “How are you feeling?”

Susanna set Carrot’s basket down by the stove and turned towards her sister.

“Better, thank-you.” Susanna gave Miss Esther a hearty squeeze. “So much better I’m really hungry. Is there any granola left?”

“Plenty!” Priscilla pushed the jar across the table with a smile. “Help yourself.”

Susanna pulled up a chair and soon all three sisters were talking over their quick breakfast. Miss Esther prayed inwardly for wise words and tried to primarily listen. From long experience she knew that when she hadn’t had much focused time with Jesus, she was far more likely to say the wrong thing!

“Okay, I should move!” Priscilla glanced at the clock. “I need to be at the library in five minutes!”

Susanna rose from her seat and reached to pile up their bowls. “I’ll do the dishes.”

“Oh, Susanna, I can get them.” Miss Esther hastily stood up. “You should get some rest.”

Susanna grinned. “I’ve had so much rest I want to do something! I’m happy to help, Esther. Just leave the kitchen to me and I’ll try to have it in at least three-quarters of the excellent shape you always leave it in!”

Miss Esther laughed. “Susanna! You’re very good at cleaning the kitchen.” She reached for the granola jar.

Susanna caught her wrist. “I’ll do the kitchen. And take care of Carrots!” Her eyes danced. “You go have your quiet time.”

“Oh Susanna, are you sure? I can help…”

“Positive!” Susanna gave her sister a sisterly push. “I have the day off today and I’ve already had my quiet time. This kitchen won’t take me ten minutes to put to rights!”

Miss Esther laughed and gave her sister a tender smile. “Thank-you, Susanna.” She glanced to where Priscilla was tying on her bonnet strings. “Have a wonderful day, Priscilla!”

“I will!” Priscilla took up a pile of books and headed for the door. “Enjoy your quiet time!”

“I will.” Miss Esther moved swiftly through the library and went down the stairs to her room. “Ah, it’s so peaceful down here.”

Miss Esther paused at the sight of her unmade bed. “Well, almost peaceful. My bed looks like I took off for a trip to the moon!” She chuckled to herself. “I’ll fix that in a hurry!”

Miss Esther set aside the pillows and carefully pulled up the sheet and blankets. She spread the quilt down smoothly and piled the pillows back on. At last she set her teddy bear down in the center.

“There! That looks better! The late breakfast was successful and now things are getting back to normal.” Miss Esther set aside her shawl and opened her trunk. “Let’s see, what shall I wear today? This is Friday so…yes, I’ll wear my red skirt and shawl!”

In just a few moments she’d changed her nightgown for her Friday outfit of red and white.

“Feels so good to be dressed for the day!” Miss Esther tucked her nightgown back into her trunk and picked up her quiet time things. The birds were trilling outside and the sun was making patterns on the wooden floor.

Miss Esther paused a minute in thought. “I wonder…what if I had my quiet time outside?” A slow smile spread across her face. “I think I will!”

 Miss Esther rummaged around for a basket she could use and then tucked her quiet time things into it. She left the basket beside her bed for a moment and went back up the stairs.

“Susanna?” Miss Esther paused where she could see into the library and kitchen.

“Yes?” Susanna was on the floor feeding Carrots some milk.

“It’s such a beautiful morning I’m going to have my quiet time outside on the step.” Miss Esther smiled eagerly. “Just wanted you to know where I’ll be.”

“Great idea! Enjoy.” Susanna focused back on Carrots. “We’re doing great up here.”

“I can tell.” Miss Esther resisted the urge to laugh.

Carrots’ whiskers were white with cream, but he was too busy drinking his milk to notice. Susanna saw his milk ‘mustache’ too and bit her lip. The sisters exchanged grins and then Miss Esther went back downstairs.

Miss Esther retrieved her quiet time basket and went to the door. She unlocked it and stepped out into the spring morning. The air was fresh and crisp, but not too cool.

Miss Esther put down her basket and spread her arms wide as she took in the view. As she looked up at the brilliant blue sky she prayed in a whisper. “Thank-You, Lord, for this beautiful day! As I review my memory verses and have my quiet time, would You help me to see and learn all that you wish me to? Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Miss Esther sat down beside her basket and pulled out her Verse Purse. She reviewed some of her old memory verses and then pulled out her new one, Mark 1:35.

“‘Have A Daily Quiet Time, Mark 1:35 ‘And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.’ Mark 1:35’”

Miss Esther smiled to herself. “Well, even if it’s not exactly early morning, I am in a solitary place just now. Thank You, Lord, for the chance to follow Your example.” Miss Esther thought back to her conversation with Princess Ella the day before. “It was so nice to have this verse to share with Ella yesterday. I’m so glad You helped me memorize it so I was able answer her question as to why I have a quiet time.”

Miss Esther tucked her memory verse back in her Verse Purse. “How do people do it who don’t memorize Scripture? The Lord uses the verses I’ve memorized in so many ways. Why, just this morning, I meditated on Psalm 34:8 while making breakfast! I couldn’t have done that if I didn’t have it memorized.”

Miss Esther set her Verse Purse back in her quiet time basket. “Well, even if other people decide not to memorize Scripture, I’m going to keep choosing to do so. The Word is something I just don’t want to live without! I’m so glad the Lord gave us the ability to memorize and can write Bible verses on our hearts.”

Miss Esther pulled out her Bible, quiet time journal and a pencil. She wrote the date in her journal and opened her Bible to where her bookmark was. Then she slowly read through John 5:16-23.

“What a wonderful passage this is!” Miss Esther thought a minute. “Jesus has such a special relationship with His Father.” She looked back at verse 17 again.

But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” (NKJV)

“God works. So He is a worker. Just like Priscilla is a librarian, Susanna is a nurse and I am a housekeeper, God has things that He does too.” Miss Esther seized her pencil and quickly wrote down the verse and then her thoughts. “God works. When we work, we’re following His example.”

Miss Esther watched a bird fly across the sky and then looked back at her journal. “So…I can put this verse into practice today by working too! I know there are other verses in the Bible that tell me to work, like 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. But John 5:17 makes those directions extra special because it reminds me that when I work, I’m being like Jesus.”

Miss Esther smiled. “Lord, thank-You for showing me today that You work. Thank-You that I can follow Your example and that You have given me work to do. Would You help me to work with a cheerful and glad heart today? Thank-You.”

Miss Esther tucked her Bible and journal back into the basket and reached for her prayer pocket. She spread the little cards out on the walk beside her and used them to help her talk to the Lord about various things. When she was finished she slipped the cards back into her prayer pocket and tucked it into her basket.

“Thank-You so much, Lord, that I could enjoy my quiet time outside today.” Miss Esther took a deep breath of the spring air. “You are such an amazing Creator. I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Miss Esther gave herself a few minutes just to sit and enjoy the spring morning. Finally she rose and picked up her basket. She had some cleaning to do before the piano arrived that afternoon!

Chapter 4: Miss Esther and Susanna Prepare the Library

Miss Esther went back into the house and put her basket of quiet time things on her trunk.

“I like keeping my quiet time things in a basket.” Miss Esther thought a moment. “I think I’ll just leave them in there for now. I might want to have my quiet time outside on another day too.”

Miss Esther smiled as she went towards the stairs. She always liked finding fun new things that helped her spend time with Jesus. She would have to tell her sisters about the ‘quiet time basket’ idea when they met for dinner.

Miss Esther entered the library and glanced around. Susanna was resting in the large easy chair with a book. Cashew was curled up on the floor next to her.

“Well, that looks like fun!” Miss Esther gave her sister a warm smile.

“It is!” Susanna laughed. “And I only just sat down. I’ll never know how it is that whenever I finally decide to take a break, either you or Priscilla walks into the room!”

Miss Esther laughed sympathetically. “It happens to me too! Don’t worry. I won’t dust just yet. I can work on planning for next week while you read.”

“Thank-you.” Susanna chuckled and lifted her book up again.

Miss Esther found her planning supplies and pulled a chair up to the table. Soon she had prayerfully identified the key projects for the following week and the days on which she hoped to accomplish them. She checked the calendar and added a couple other appointments to her daily planner pages.

“There! I think that’s it.” Miss Esther slid her pencil into the holder with a triumphant shove.

“You were supposed to take a little longer.” Susanna looked over her book with a smile.

Miss Esther laughed and shook her head. “When I took the job of housekeeper, I had no idea it was such a responsibility. You wouldn’t believe all the details there are to remember!”

“If it’s anything like what it is in the hospital office, I can imagine.” Susanna closed her book and reached over to slide it back on the shelf. “So, now that you have finished planning and I’ve had a reading break, what can I help you with?”

“Thank-you, Susanna.” Miss Esther leaned back in her chair. “I was just going to clean and then arrange the furniture in such a way that we’ll have room for the piano. You should probably rest a bit.”

“Happy to help!” Susanna sprang up with fresh energy. “I’ve been resting for half-an-hour and that’s plenty. Where do you think we should put the piano?”

Miss Esther smiled at her sister’s enthusiasm. “Well, I was thinking we could put it along that wall and move the bookshelf over there.” She pointed to a space beside the big chair. “What do you think?”

“I think that wall is the best spot for the piano.” Susanna eyed the area critically. “But how about we have the rocking chair and the big chair switch places on this side? I think that will give more space and balance things out aesthetically.”

“What did you say?” Miss Esther gave her sister a puzzled look.

“Oh, it’s a new word I learned this week. What I meant to say is that arranging the chairs that way will make things look more balanced and beautiful from a design perspective.”

“Ah! I think I see what you mean.” Miss Esther smiled. “Let’s try it and see how it looks.”

Miss Esther and Susanna moved as much furniture as they could into the kitchen, being careful not to trip over Carrot’s basket. Cashew took refuge behind the kitchen table and watched from there.

“Look at all the dust back here!” Miss Esther threw up her hands in dismay. “I clearly haven’t moved that shelf for a long time.”

Susanna grabbed the broom and quickly swept it over the place. “All gone!”

“Thanks, Susanna.” Miss Esther reached for the broom. “I’ll get these other spots too.”

In a few moments the floor was sparkling clean.

“You know, Susanna, this reminds me of my quiet time this morning.” Miss Esther leaned on her broom for a moment.

“Does it?” Susanna looked up from where she was cleaning a cobweb off the rocking chair.

“Yes. I read in John 5 where Jesus said that God the Father works and He does too.” Miss Esther smiled. “I wanted to put God’s Word into practice today by working too. And our cleaning is giving me the opportunity to do so!”

“That’s so neat.” Susanna leaned against the rocking chair. “I love how God’s Word applies to our every day lives.”

Miss Esther nodded her agreement and then turned back towards the library. “So if we put the piano there, we put the rocking chair here?” Miss Esther tried to remember Susanna’s plan.

“Yes!” Susanna came from the kitchen carrying the freshly dusted chair.

After more pushing and pulling and adjusting the sisters finally had the furniture arranged to their liking.

“It’s definitely going to be more crowded in here.” Susanna ran a hand over her hair. “But I think it will seem cozier.”

“Definitely.” Miss Esther nodded as she gave the shelf a slight push to the left. “There. That’s perfect.”

“How about some lunch?” Susanna glanced towards the kitchen. “I’ve worked up an appetite.”

“Good idea!” Miss Esther dusted off her hands. “I’m surprised the piano movers haven’t called already.”

“Hopefully they aren’t delayed.” Susanna looked worried.

“Oh, I don’t think they will be.” Miss Esther shook her head. “Things are usually on time in Small Village. What would you like for lunch?”

“How about salad and avocado sandwiches?” Susanna looked hopeful.

“Delicious.” Miss Esther clapped her hands. “Let’s do it! Hopefully we can finish before the movers call.”

Chapter 5: The Piano Arrives

Miss Esther and Susanna had just finished lunch when the telephone rang.

Miss Esther scurried downstairs and picked up the receiver. “Good afternoon! This is Miss Esther. How may I help you?”

“Good afternoon! This is Charlie Marshmallow with the Terrier Movers.” The voice on the other end of the line was cheerful. “I have some notes here that we are to deliver a piano to you this afternoon.”

“That is correct.” Miss Esther smiled up at Susanna who was watching from the top of the stairs.

“Very good. Let me just clarify some details. Is your address Walnut House, Upper Town of Small Village?”

“Yes, it is. Our front door is on Woodland Lane.”

“Thank-you. And you are Miss Esther MaeWell?” It sounded like Charlie was making notes on his paper.

“Yes, I am.” Miss Esther reached for a small piece of paper and a pencil herself.

“Excellent. I’m calling to let you know that we should be there in about half-an-hour.” Charlie seemed to be reading something for he paused for a minute.

“That sounds wonderful.” Miss Esther made a quick note on her own paper. “Can I ask what the delivery fee will be? I’d like to have the check ready for you when you come.”

“No problem. It’ll be 23 cents.” Charlie was professional. “I didn’t realize there were stairs in the bargain. So that’s why I had to add the extra three cents. I apologize if it’s inconvenient.”

“Oh, I understand.” Miss Esther’s voice was gracious. “23 cents is fine.”

“Thanks, Miss Esther.” Charlie paused a moment. “Alright. I think that’s everything. We should be there soon.”

“Wonderful. See you then.” Miss Esther heard the click on the other end of the line and hung up the phone.

“What did he say?” Susanna was still by the stairs.

“They’ll be here in half-an-hour!” Miss Esther gathered up her full skirt and began hurrying up the stairs. “Could you do the lunch dishes while I write the check?”

“Of course!” Susanna flew towards the kitchen sink.

Miss Esther found her office bag and retrieved her checkbook. She quickly wrote in the details and signed her name, making a careful note of the number and amount in the little record at the front of her checkbook. She would enter the amount in her budget book on her next Office Day.

Miss Esther tore the actual check free carefully and then went to the kitchen. She tucked the check under the jar of honey on the table. She didn’t want it flying away while things were busy!

Miss Esther returned to the library, put her office things back in her bag and took it downstairs to be out of the way. The last thing she wanted was notecards spilling all over the floor when they were trying to move a piano!

Miss Esther went back upstairs and glided into the kitchen. “Thank-you so much, Susanna. Sometimes deliveries are earlier than they anticipate and it’s so nice to have that check written ahead of time since it was a flat rate. Sometimes when I try to write in a hurry I end up making a mistake somewhere.”

“No problem at all!” Susanna swished her dish rag around in the suds. “I like washing dishes anyway.”

Miss Esther found a dish towel and began drying the dishes Susanna had already washed. Finally everything was tucked away and the sister’s went to freshen up. They were catching their breath in the library when the doorbell rang.

Miss Esther went to answer it, Susanna just behind her. Through the glass door, they could just see a large white dog wearing a smart bow tie.

“Good afternoon.” Miss Esther swung open the door. “You must be Charlie Marshmallow.”

“Yes, I am!” The dog bowed briskly. “And this is my coworker, Barney Butterscotch.”

Miss Esther noticed another dog behind the first one.

Barney nodded gravely. “Nice to meet you, Miss Esther.”

“You as well.” Miss Esther stepped back into the kitchen. “Would you like to see where the piano is to go?”

“That is exactly what I was about to ask!” Charlie stepped into the kitchen and glanced around. “Ah! You plan to put it over there?” He pointed to the far wall of the library.

“Yes. We thought it would be the best place.”

Charlie nodded. “Would you mind if we set aside some of the other furniture till we get things settled?” He smiled. “Barney and I are pretty good sized, and so is the piano. Don’t want to break anything by mistake.”

“Of course!” Miss Esther tried not to sigh inwardly over the reality of having to rearrange everything again. “We can just push the other furniture into the kitchen.”

With help from Charlie, the sisters soon had the furniture stashed in the kitchen.

“Perfect. Thanks, ladies.” Charlie dusted off his paws. “Barney’s been waiting with the piano. We’ll just bring it right in.”

Miss Esther and Susanna squeezed themselves out of the way and watched as the two dogs moved in the piano.

It was even larger than Miss Esther had anticipated! It was carefully wrapped in green fabric that was tied on with purple string.

“Easy, easy now. Go easy.” Charlie was giving the directions as Barney couldn’t see where he was going. “A little to the right. Perfect. A few steps this way…yes! Let’s set her down here.”

The dogs set the piano down as if it were glass. Charlie cut the purple string and Barney pulled off the green blankets. The fabric fell away and Miss Esther caught her breath.

Susanna actually gasped.

There, standing in quiet glory before them, was the most beautiful piano they had ever seen. The rich oak paneling shone in the sunlight and the white keys gleamed as if just waiting to be touched.

“Like it?” Charlie was watching the sister’s reactions.

“It’s beautiful.” Miss Esther moved into the library. “I had no idea it was so…so…lovely.”

Charlie nodded his appreciation.

“I’ll get the bench and box.” Barney disappeared back outside.

“Is this where you’d like it?” Charlie was eyeing the position of the piano.

Miss Esther glanced back at Susanna. “How does it look, Susanna?”

“Could you move it a little to the right?” Susanna studied the position of the piano from her place in the kitchen.

“Of course.” Charlie moved the piano as requested.

“There! That’s perfect.” Susanna nodded her appreciation.

Barney came back in and soon the piano bench was standing before the piano. “This box holds some extra things that go with the piano.” Barney’s voice was kind. “Miss Beverly said to send it along. I think it has a lamp and some music in it.”

“Why, thank-you!” Miss Esther’s voice was a whisper. She could hardly take it all in. It was all so much more than she’d imagined!

Chapter 6: Priscilla is Surprised

“Glad you like it.” Barney nodded to the sisters and glanced at Charlie. “I’ll get the truck started.” He gathered up the blankets and disappeared out the door.

“Thanks, Barney.” Charlie took a small notebook from his pocket and began scribbling.

Miss Esther went to the kitchen and retrieved the check she’d written earlier. She handed it to Charlie.

“Ah, thank-you very much.” Charlie signed his bill and wrote ‘Paid in Full’ across it. He handed it to Miss Esther. “Good doing business with you.”

“You and Barney have done an excellent job.” Miss Esther gave him an appreciative smile.

“Thank-you. We always try to do business as Jesus would: with integrity, kindness and efficiency.” Charlie smiled as he slipped the notebook and check into his pocket. “Would one of you mind actually playing something so we can make sure the piano is alright inside?”

“Go ahead.” Susanna nudged Esther from behind.

Miss Esther took a seat on the bench and rested her hands on the keys. “What shall I play?”

“Your favorite song to play without music!” Susanna came up behind her. “How about, My Jesus I Love Thee?”Miss Esther nodded and her fingers moved into action. At first the notes were hesitant and then as she got the feel of the instrument they began to roll forth. The arrangement took in the height and breadth of the piano’s tonal range, releasing a symphony of sound such as had never been heard in the library before. Finally Miss Esther struck the final note.

“Now that was lovely.” Charlie clapped his paws. “Beautiful reminder and beautiful playing, Miss Esther.”

“Thank-you.” Miss Esther touched the keys softly. “I’m so glad the Lord gave us music to enjoy as we praise Him. This piano makes the playing almost effortless.”

“I rejoice with you. But I would say ‘effortless’ has more to do with the performer than the piano.” Charlie smiled and reached out a paw. “You ladies have a wonderful evening.”

“Thank-you, Charlie. You too.” Miss Esther shook the delivery dog’s paw warmly.

Charlie went out to the truck and the house suddenly seemed very quiet.

“I can hardly believe the piano is here.” Miss Esther pressed a hand to her forehead. “It’s all happened so fast!”

“I can believe it!” Susanna twirled in a circle for emphasis. “It’s just like the Lord to surprise us with something like this. Shall we see what’s in the box?”

The two sisters found places to sit and opened the box. It contained a piano lamp and a whole stack of piano music.

“Oh look, Esther!” Susanna held up a grey volume. “It’s the piano score for Handel’s Messiah! Priscilla will be thrilled.”

“We’ll be able to do duets!” Miss Esther clapped her hands. “Let’s pile the music on top the piano for now. Can you connect the lamp? You’re arms are a bit longer than mine.”

“No problem!” Susanna lifted the lamp from it’s wrappings and set it atop the piano. Then she plugged it into the closest outlet. She flipped the switch on the lamp and soft light fell down on the piano keys. “It works!”

“Splendid!” Miss Esther settled a pile of music on the top of the piano. “I can’t wait to see Priscilla’s face when she walks in!”

Miss Esther and Susanna set to work to put the furniture back in place. Soon all was arranged comfortably and the sisters turned their attention to other household duties for the afternoon. But shortly before 5:00pm they met up again in the kitchen.

“Priscilla should be home soon.” Susanna’s eyes sparkled. “How shall we surprise her?”

“What if we don’t say anything and see how long it takes her to notice?” Miss Esther smiled at the thought. “Or, you could stand there and block her view and I’ll ask her what the very nicest surprise she can think of is?”

“I like the second one.” Susanna bounced up and down on her toes. “Let’s try that.”

“Okay! I’ll get the sweet potatoes ready for the oven.” Miss Esther deftly cut the potatoes in half longways and then laid them on the baking pan. She then added a little bit of water to keep the potatoes moist and slid the pan into the oven. “They should be done right about the time we’ve had a chance to talk over the piano.”

“Perfect.” Susanna looked out the glass door for the dozenth time. “Here she comes! Oh, Esther, here she comes!”

Miss Esther dried her hands on a kitchen towel just as Priscilla opened the front door. Susanna stood strategically between the kitchen and the library, a book in her hands.

“Welcome home, Priscilla!” Miss Esther went to give her sister a hug. “I just put the sweet potatoes in the oven.”

“Sounds delicious!” Priscilla undid her bonnet strings. “Just the thing after a very full day!”

Miss Esther took Priscilla’s library bag and set it to one side.

“Now, Priscilla, we have a surprise for you.” Miss Esther clasped her hands together to hold herself still. “What’s the very nicest surprise you can think of?”

“Oh, I don’t know!” Priscilla chuckled and glanced at Susanna. “Is Cousin Flossy coming for a visit?”

Miss Esther shook her head. “Think again.”

“Let’s see.” Priscilla tapped her chin. “You found strawberries on sale at the market and we’re having shortcake for dessert tonight!” She laughed and then suddenly she paled. “Or, did…did you find an ad for a used piano, Susanna?”

Susanna grinned and looked at Miss Esther. Miss Esther nodded and Susanna stepped aside so that the rest of the library could be seen.

Priscilla dropped her bonnet and let out a scream. Miss Esther caught her sister by the arm for fear she might faint.

“A piano? Girls!” Priscilla pressed a hand to her heart. “Where did it come from?”

“It’s from our friend Beverly.” Miss Esther tried to keep herself from talking too fast. “She inherited it but it was too big for her house. She wanted it to be used for ministry and so she gave it to us.”

“Gave it to us?” Priscilla’s words were a whisper.

“Yes, I know.” The tears started to Miss Esther’s eyes. “Come see it, Priscilla. It was just delivered a couple hours ago. Susanna and I wanted to surprise you.”

Priscilla laughed slightly. “Well, you succeeded.”

The three sisters moved towards where the piano stood at the end of the library.

“Try it, Priscilla.” Susanna’s voice was eager. “It’s out of tune, but it still sounds pretty good.”

Priscilla sat down on the piano bench and then suddenly gasped. “It’s a K&K?”

“Yes. It’s a real, authorized, official Karen&Kristen.” Miss Esther laid a gentle hand on Priscilla’s shoulder. “Isn’t God good to us?”

Priscilla couldn’t speak for a moment. The tears were running down her cheeks.

“Do play something for us, Priscilla.” Susanna’s voice was a whisper. “Esther and I have both tried it, but we can hardly wait to hear you make it really sing.”

Priscilla sniffed and brushed at her cheeks. “Well, let’s see…”

She tested the keys a few times and then began to play the hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’. By the time she reached the chorus Miss Esther and Susanna couldn’t hold their voices in any longer.

“I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free; For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.”

The sisters went on through all the verses, Priscilla playing the chorus twice at the end for fun. Susanna held the melody, Priscilla sang the alto and Miss Esther took the high soprano. The rich tones of the piano, the truth of the words, the harmony of voices and the joy of the Lord overflowed till it seemed a taste of heaven had filled the room.

When the last note had died away, Miss Esther caught Susanna’s hand. “Come, girls, let’s thank the Lord and dedicate the piano to Him.”

“Pray for us, Esther?” Priscilla’s eyes were shinning with unshed tears.

The sisters all bowed their heads.

“Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You so much for this wonderful piano. Our heart’s are so full we’re not quite sure how to say our thanks adequately, but You understand.” Miss Esther swallowed hard. “This piano is Yours and we pray it would always be used in Your service. Please help us to take good care of it. May it be surrounded with many good memories for years to come! Thank-You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

“Amen.” Her sisters echoed the word reverently.

“You should see the music it came with, Priscilla.” Susanna sprang to her feet. “There’s even a piano score for Handel’s Messiah!”

An hour later Miss Esther slipped into the kitchen to check on the potatoes and pull out the salad. Susanna and Priscilla were still at the piano, trying one duet after another.

Miss Esther decided the potatoes needed an extra ten minutes. It would give her time to chop the tomatoes for the salad. She took the tomatoes to the sink to wash them and paused to look out the window.

The sun had set behind the mountains and dusk was settling over the outside world. Miss Esther thought back to her quiet time thought of the morning. She had wanted to follow Christ’s example by doing the work she’d been given to do.

“I’d no idea it’d be quite so much fun, Lord.” Miss Esther glanced back at her sisters and smiled. “It’s a joy to serve just like You do. Truly, knowing You and walking with You is the greatest privilege on earth.”

Then Miss Esther focused back on the tomatoes. Dinner was in eight minutes and her work was to get it ready. She threw herself into the task with fresh energy and heart. Here was her next chance to be like Jesus.

The End

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14

Melanie Thomsen
Story Blog Writer
Melanie has been fascinated by tiny things for years and enjoys few things so much as good story. She firmly believes that what we play – with our hands and our minds – influences who we become. Her prayer is that the stories shared here on the story blog encourage girls the world over to seek Christ first in every area of their lives.


Story Blog Text and Photographs Copyright © 2020 by Decision Foundation.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture verses are taken from the KJV.

Scripture verses identified as NKJV are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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