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The Baby Made at Christmas
Their App is available for download on iOS and Android devices. You can also access your e-book titles on your desktop or mobile browser. By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from Bookperk and other HarperCollins services. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. Not much of his father's land could be farmed profitably, but sheep found a ready market in Washington and Baltimore. He ran the farm efficiently and, according to his nature, tender-heartedly. When his favorite sheep dog cut its paws, he fashioned little leather shoes to protect its feet from the rocks, and, Willa Cather remembered, the dog would come begging for its shoes.
Her most vivid memories of early childhood, however, were the times her father carried her with him when he went out at night to drive the sheep into the fold. The mother is telling the child about her childhood: All time in spring, when evening come, We go bring sheep and li'l' lambs home. We go big field, 'way up on hill, Ten times high like our windmill.
One time your grandpa leave me wait While he call sheep down. By de gate I sit still till night come dark; Rabbits run an' strange dogs bark, Old owl hoot, and your modder cry, She been so 'fraid big bear come by. Last, 'way off, she hear de sheep, Li'l' bells ring and li'l' lambs bleat. Then come grandpa in his arms Li'l' sick lamb that somet'ing harm He so young then, big and strong, Pick li'l' girl up, take her 'long.
Early memories of childhood are like islands in an empty sea—isolated and unconnected to each other. As an adult, Cather's earliest memory was of a ride in a steamboat when she was still an infant. She could remember the terror she felt as she held tightly to her mother while being taken on board.
She also recalled another occasion at about the age of three when her parents went ice-skating on Back Creek and took her with them. Skating was a sport they loved and one that she also enjoyed later in Nebraska.
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She was not content to sit and watch, however, but wanted attention. Her indulgent father cut a pine bough, set her on it, and pulled her across the ice. She remembered still another time when she was taken visiting up on Timber Ridge. She was supposed to walk home because it was all down hill, but as she was on her way a violent rainstorm came up, and she was wearing only a pair of light slippers.
Providentially, Snowden Anderson , a man she hardly knew, came up from his house on the Hollow Road riding a gray horse and wearing an old gray Confederate Army overcoat. He stopped, picked her up, sat her on the old cavalry saddle in front of him, and took her home.
She remembered feeling contented and safe. Children, she thought, knew when people were honest and good. They did not reason about it. They just knew.
The Baby Made at Christmas (Mills & Boon Cherish) (The Cherry Sisters, Book 2): First edition
At least that is the way she felt about her Virginia childhood some sixty years after. Many of the incidents of her childhood, however, come from the recollections of her parents. Her mother was fond of showing her daughter's early linguistic proficiency by telling of the visit of a little cousin named Philip Frederic, who came to Willow Shade with his parents.
The house was full of guests, as it often was, and Philip Frederic was put in Willa's crib while she slept with her grandmother. After the cousin left, however, Willa refused to go back to her bed: "No, no," she kept repeating, "my cradle is all Philip Frederic'd up. She would make a chariot by putting one chair upside down on another, climbing on top, and driving the chariot. She would sit silently for long intervals riding while an invisible slave ran beside her repeating the words," Cato, thou art but man!
Her grandmother Boak, who had come to live with them, took charge of her preschool education, read to her from the Bible and The Pilgrim's Progress , as well as from Peter Parley. The Bible she absorbed so thoroughly that her writing throughout her life is loaded with biblical quotations and allusions.
John Bunyan's allegory of the Christian life made a deep impression. It was a book, she wrote nearly half a century later, with "scenes of the most satisfying kind; where little is said but much is felt and communicated. Before she was old enough to go to school, her father took her to a private school nearby where older children were being taught, and she was allowed to sit quietly and listen. Her father would carry her over on his horse and leave her there for half a day.
Later she attended a school kept by a Mr. Smith in Back Creek. There is no record of serious illness during Cather's childhood, but she had the usual colds during the damp winters. When she was shut up in the house, she remembered many years later, her parents would send for Mary Ann Anderson the mother of Snowden , who lived up on the ridge, to come down and help out.
Cather used to watch out of the front windows, hoping to see Mrs. Anderson come down the road: she was such fun to talk to and very kind to a sick child.
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She became a great favorite and appears as Mrs. Ringer in Sapphira , the woman who "was born interested. Anderson when she returned to Virginia in and heard from her all the stories of the lives of people she had known as a child. Any chance bit of gossip that came her way was a godsend. Her spirits bubbled into the light like a spring and spread among the cresses.
Anderson's simple-minded daughter Marjorie was one of Cather's companions, though much older, after she came to work at Willow Shade as nurse and housemaid. She and Willa roamed the woods and fields together and often walked up the double-S road, which Cather later thought the most beautiful piece of country road she had found anywhere in the world, to visit Margie's mother and listen to her tales of local folklore.
Cather loved Margie, who served the family with single-minded devotion for the rest of her life. She and her brother accompanied the Cathers to Nebraska, and she was ultimately buried in the family plot in Red Cloud in In One of Ours Cather writes: "She had never been sent to school, and could not read or write. Claude, when he was a little boy, tried to teach her to read, but what she learned one night she had forgotten by the next. She could count, and tell the time. He knew she sensed all the shades of personal feeling, the accords and antipathies in the household, as keenly as he did, and he would have hated to lose her good opinion.
Both women shared a fondness for children. Margie loved to talk of old times in Virginia; and Cather's father, who subscribed to the weekly Winchester paper, always told her the news from home.
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After she died, Cather wrote in "Poor Marty": Little had she here to leave , Nought to will, none to grieve. Hire nor wages did she draw, But her keep and bed of straw. Companions more Cather's own age included Mary Love, the daughter of the doctor who delivered her.
Mary's grandfather had been minister to France in , and Mary's mother liked to talk about her education in France and her experiences as a diplomat's daughter. Cather's lifelong love affair with France may well have begun with these accounts.