Circle of Love

Circle of Love by Joan Lowery Nixon Read Free Book Online

Book: Circle of Love by Joan Lowery Nixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Lowery Nixon
Tags: Orphans, Orphan trains
adopted together, and that the Babcocks wouldn't be separated, but she knew the chances of this wish's coming true would be very slim.
    Frances weftt firom child to child, getting acquainted. She could see fear in some of their eyes, a despairing acceptance in others. Three boys, however, had the jaunty, quick-witted good humor that had always been Mike's trademark, and she was drawn to them.
    Small, wiry, redheaded Ekldie Marsh—^witli a look of mischief on his face—grinned up at Frances. His arms rested on the shoulders of Marcus Melo and Samuel Meyer. "Me and my chums are all for this train ride to the West, miss," he said. "We heard those trains can go fast as a galloping horse."
    *That they can," Frances agreed.
    "Do the horses and trains ever race?" Marcus asked. "If I had a horse, I know I could beat any train, anywhere, anytime!"
    "Quit your braggin'!" Eddie said, artd elbowed his friend in the ribs. "You never rode a horse."
    "Yeah," Sam echoed. "You ain't got a horse, and you're not likely to ever get one."
    "Don't be so sure," Frances said. "Most of the people who take in the orphan train children live on farms, and there are always horses on farms."
    The boys stopped jostling each other and stared at Frances. "Real live horses?" Marcus asked.
    "Naw. Old dead horses," Eddie answered. He and Sam whooped with laughter.
    Frances smiled at Marcus. "My wonderful foster parents drove me to their home in a wagon pulled by

    two fine horses. It wasn't long before I learned how to groom the horses and harness them."
    "Did they let you ride them?" Eddie asked eagerly.
    "Yes. Sometimes with a saddle, sometimes bareback, and sometimes I took them out hitched to a wagon."
    "By yourself?" Sam asked.
    "Oh, yes. M by myself."
    For a moment she could almost see the thoughts churning inside the boys' heads. Then Eddie looked up and grinned again. *This goin' west . . . Tm thinkin' it won't be half bad," he said.
    Excited, the boys ran off, and Frances turned to see a small, solemn-faced little girl looking up at her. Frances grasped for her name. Meg . . . Margaret. That's what she was called. Margaret di Capo.
    Margaret crooked her finger at Frances, beckoning her to come closer. Frances squatted so that her face was level with Margaret's.
    Although Frances smiled and waited patiently, Margaret didn't speak, so Frances finally said, "What is it, dear? What do you want?"
    Tears spilled from Margaret's eyes, and her lower lip trembled. "I want ... I want someone to love me," she cried, and flung her arms around Frances's neck.
    Frances held Margaret until her sobs finally ended. "Someone wiU, little love. Someone will," Frances said.
    She was determined that every single one of these children was going to end up in a happy home with loving people. Mr. Friedrich, the man who had been so cruel to Mike, came to Frances's mind. She quickly shook the memory away. At least she could make

    sure that these children would be happy as long as they were in her care.
    As Frances settled Margaret into a chair with Jessie Lester, she saw that Margaret was clutching a tiny bundle of white. ".What is that?" Frances asked.
    "My rabbit/' Margaret said. She opened her tightly curled fingers and held up a very small, white stuffed rabbit with embroidered black eyes and a pink nose. "His name is Flops. My grandmother made him for me."
    Jessie looked solemn. "Her grandmother can't take care of her anymore. Her grandmother died."
    As tears rose again to Margaret's eyes, Frances quickly said, "Margaret, why don't you tell Jessie about Flops? Can he do tricks? Do you ever make clothes for him out of scraps of cloth?"
    Jessie spoke up again. *The butcher on our street kills rabbits for people to eat," she said.
    Margaret burst into wails, and Frances picked her up and carried her to a sofa at the far end of the room. She held Margaret on her lap, stroking back her hair and crooning to her until the little girl settled down and dropped heavily into sleep,

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