Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)
TITLE: Under the Pear Trees
By Christine Rhee
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But, praise be to the God of heaven, not a total loss. The grip on her heart released some, as she remembered her conversation with the white missionary lady just a week before.
MaeLing supported her back with her hand as she eased her swelling frame onto a straight-backed chair, recalling their plans.
MaeLing’s eyes shone even as tears streamed down her face. She sat at the missionary’s kitchen table. “I am now the child of the One True God!” she wept joyfully. “How can this be?”
“He loves you, MaeLing,” Karen Ashley patted her new friend’s hand. “--loves you so much that He spared Himself NOTHING to bring you into His family.” Karen poured some Jasmine tea into MaeLing’s cup.
The young woman shook her head in wonder. “It’s just too good to be true!” Her dress sprang up as the child within her kicked.
Seeing it, Karen laughed merrily. “Even your baby is rejoicing!”
MaeLing smiled even as she cried. It was then that she shared her fears with her friend, and the two women made plans for a rescue.
The shrill cry of a newborn burst forth as Maeling seared with pain. She lifted her head.
“It’s a girl,” the midwife said, and left the room with the child MaeLing would not be allowed to hold even once.
MaeLing lay back on her mat and wept.
Missionary Brian Ashley was hiding in the grove of pear trees at the top of the mountain. As soon as he heard the child wail and saw the furtive figure hurry into the darkness, he was ready. Blankets in hand, he rushed to swaddle the naked baby girl who had been left to die so he could deliver her to his Karen. He snuggled the infant to his chest as he carried her down the mountain. “It’s all right, Little Pear,” he whispered into her ear. “We’ll look after you.”
MaeLing could barely force herself to stay on her mat through the night, but she had to, or her husband might suspect something. Her three-month post partum confinement would be up in the morning, and she was to start a new job.
Little Pear was just finishing her morning feeding when an urgent knock sounded at the front door. Cuddling the child close, Karen moved to greet her visitor.
There stood MaeLing in her nursemaid’s uniform, her countenance one of intense anticipation, her hands shaking. She eyed the child ravenously.
“MaeLing! It’s such a delight to see you again!” Karen smiled. “Here, now, would you like to burp her?”
But MaeLing could only weep as she held her child close.
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