Erin hopes to find a job as a pilot and nurse her wounded heart. When no one will hire a woman, she finds work in a café. That's where Quaid Merritt, stunt flyer, steals into her life, reigniting her dreams about flying.
She and Quaid travel across America, thrilling crowds with daring aerial acrobatics. When Hollywood producers come calling, Erin has some important decisions to make--about Quaid, and about her future.
(House of Winslow Book 26)
About the Author
Gilbert Morris spent ten years as a pastor before becoming Professor of English at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. He earned a Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas, and did postgraduate work at the University of London. His publishing credits include some two dozen scholarly articles, 200 poems, and more than 200 novels, including series such as House of Winslow, Lions of Judah, and Cheney Duvall, M.D. (coauthored with his daughter, Lynn Morris). Dr. Morris passed away in February 2016.
Read an Excerpt
As soon as Erin Winslow awoke, the thought of facing another day at school oppressed her like a heavy weight settling on her spirits. As always she awoke in a sudden rush, not coming out of sleep slowly in stages but instantly at one moment of time, completely aware of where she was and of the circumstances around her. She lay there in the darkness of her room, her inner clock telling her that dawn was still at least half an hour away. It was a gift she had, even at the age of nine, of knowing time in a strange, intuitive fashion.
I won't go to that old school todayI won't!
She rolled off of her narrow bed and dressed quickly in the darkness. As always, she had put her clothes on the chair beside her bed, and now she slipped into them quickly. The air was hot and humid, and as she donned underwear and a khaki dress, then slipped on stockings and a pair of worn black leather shoes, the dread of facing another day in a classroom increased.
Not wanting her parents to see her, she would have exited out the window if she could have, but it was barred to keep out prowling leopards and other dangerous wildlife. She opened the door silently, not allowing it to squeak, and moved down the short hall through the living area of the house and carefully turned the front doorknob. She held her breath, waiting for a sound. None came, and she felt a quick satisfaction in making her escape.
Closing the door silently behind her, Erin paused only for an instant. The outbuildings were mere shadows in the ebony darkness just before the dawn, but she knewevery inch of ground in this territory as well as she knew the layout of her own room. When she reached the fence, which was tall enough to keep out all but an agile leopard, she pushed up the bar, stepped outside, and pulled the gate closed after her. As soon as she was outside the gate, she moved through the predawn darkness, breathing in the warm air with its accompanying smells.
Traveling in the dark in the African veldt could be dangerous, but Erin had grown up with such dangers. Now she breathed in the scent of loamy earth and the green fragrance of the woodland as it closed in a hundred yards from her home. She took a well-beaten path and moved steadily away from her house, totally familiar with her surroundings.
She reached an opening in the thick brush. The land began to lighten as the sun peeked over the eastern hills, bringing with its warmth a sense of gladness that Erin always enjoyed at first light. She was a perceptive child, more aware of her environment than most white people. The native Masai, with whom Erin felt quite at home, were completely at one with this world and needed neither watches to tell time nor barometers to forecast a storm. Even at her youthful age, Erin had somehow soaked in some of this gift from her Masai friends.
The day before, Erin had endured great humiliation at school and had arrived home full of rebellious thoughts. Just before going to sleep, she had told herself, I'll just go out in the morning and stay until it's too late to go to school! The plan had seemed simple enough, but even as she watched the pale sun rise, touching the hills with glimmers of light, driving away the shadows from the African world, she understood that it would not do to skip school.
Slowing her pace as the sun turned orange in the tawny sky and illuminated the veldt, she slowed to a halt, then sat down on a fallen tree. Her heart was sad and discouraged, but at the same time an anger she could not explain gnawed at her insides.
She sat there motionless, listening to the sounds of chattering birds and monkeys screaming as they swung effortlessly through the trees to her left. Her eye caught the fluttering wings of a bird dropping down before her to perch in a thorn tree. Instantly she identified it as a black-throated honey guide. She knew the bird well, for her Masai friend Nbuta had taught her the strange habits of the honey guide two years ago. "This bird," he had told her, "will lead the honey badger and even a man to the hives of bees. He feasts on the leavings of the raid." Erin suddenly remembered how Nbuta had smiled and added, "If no honey is left for the honey guide, it will lead the next man to a snake or a lion...."
Even with the rebellious spirit that lay in Erin at that moment, she had to smile, for Nbuta had been teasing her. She had learned to trust the towering Masai warrior, but she had also discovered that the man's sense of humor often led him to make exaggerated statements. While she was enjoying the early-morning freshness and reflecting on these memories, time passed without her concern or awareness. Erin had absorbed the Masai attitude toward time. While other white people were enslaved to watches and schedules, Erin had learned simply to let time carry her along, to not let life hurry her.
Now as she arose from the fallen tree, knowing that she was being foolish and that she would have to go to the hated school, she turned and moved reluctantly back toward the house. The world about her seemed to be stretching awake in the morning stillness. As she crossed a grassy pasture, cabbage butterflies scattered at her footsteps and fluttered from flower to flower, and high above her a hawk soared ever upward on rising thermals. She was tempted to turn from the path and go to the river's edge to watch the white egrets as they dotted the darkness of the water, but she kept to her resolve to return home.
Close to her house a white-maned bush pig materialized out of the brush. He stared at her with red, malevolent eyes, but she wisely stood her ground and made no threatening moves. After scratching his raspy hide with a sharp hoof, he turned and disappeared. Erin saw the female dashing after him, leading a bunch of striped piglets, which squealed mightily as they dove into the lush vegetation.
Erin stiffened at the sound of her own name. Her mother was calling her, so she picked up her pace until she reached the fence enclosing their property. She saw her mother standing in front of the house, and with reluctance Erin opened the gate and made her way across the fenced-in enclosure until she stood in front of her.
"You're going to be late for school, Erin. Where have you been?"
"Just out looking at the sunrise, Mother."
Katie Winslow had the same blond hair at the age of thirty-eight she'd had as a girl. Even with her hair tied back and wearing a simple, shapeless housedress, she was still a striking woman, although the years in Africa had aged her somewhat. Her blue eyes searched Erin's face intently. "Were you outside the gate, Erin?"
"Yes, I was, Mama."
"Your father told you never to do that in the dark." She paused, awaiting an apology from her daughter that was not forthcoming. Her disappointment pulled her mouth taut. "All right, now go inside and get ready for school. Don't forget to wash your face and brush your teeth."
Erin moved inside with resignation, but she revealed her anger in the set of her back. She went at once to her room to make her brief preparations. After pouring some water from a pitcher into a porcelain basin on the washstand beside her bed, she gave her face a cursory scrubbing and brushed her teeth with some baking soda she kept in a pottery jar. Then standing before a small mirror on the wall, she pulled a brush through her luxurious blond hair. Staring back at her was a sturdy child with wide-set eyes, and she whispered to the image before her, "I hate that old schoolI hate it!"
She picked up her books bound with a leather strap and stepped out of her bedroom. When she reached the large room that served as a kitchen, dining area, and living room, she found the rest of the family waiting. Her brother Patrick, two years older, snapped at her, "Why don't you hurry up! I'm starving to death!" Patrick was a stringy boy with dark brown hair and dark blue eyes.
"That's enough from you, Patrick," their father ordered. "Sit down, Erin." Barney Winslow had the same black hair he had brought to Africa with him years before. His features were somewhat battered, for he had been a prizefighter while a young man, and his struggle to survive on the dark continent had left lines around the corners of his eyes. He had a scar that ran down his right cheek in front of his ear and disappeared where his neck joined his jawbone. He was wearing a pair of worn khaki drill trousers and a light blue shirt unbuttoned at the neck. His hands were strong and square, and he wore a simple wedding band on the third finger of his left hand. "Your mother tells me you went outside the gate before dawn. I told you not to do that."
"I'm sorry, Daddy."
"Well, don't do it again." Barney bowed his head and asked a quick blessing. He spoke to God in an intimate fashion, as a man would speak to his friend, yet at the same time in a voice filled with respect and just a touch of awe. "Our Father, we ask that you help us to have grateful hearts for this food. Let us never take for granted all the daily blessings that come from your hand. In the name of Jesus, bless this food and keep us safe this day, and help us to be your representatives, declaring the gospel wherever we go. In Jesus' name. Amen."
Patrick speared a pancake and plopped it onto his plate even before his father had finished uttering the amen.
"You had your eyes open while Daddy was praying!" Erin accused.
"How would you know that unless you had your eyes open, too?"
"You always have your eyes open."
"That's enough, Erin," Katie said. "Now eat."
Erin was a light eater and lingered over her meal. The pancakes were soft and delicious, made especially so by the dark honey that Erin herself had gathered along with Nbuta.
"If you don't want that pancake, I'll eat it," Patrick offered.
Erin blinked her eyes, for she had been thinking of school and dreaded the moment when they would have to go. "No. I want it." She did not really want it, but her disagreeable thoughts about school caused her to deny her brother the pleasure of an extra pancake. She forced herself to eat half of it while her parents talked about the business of the mission field. Being the daughter of missionaries was the only life she knew, and mealtime conversations quite naturally tended to focus on the needs of the people they were called to serve. She heard her father speaking of the sick and those who were in trouble, and of the trips that he would make to hold evangelistic services deep in the interior. To Erin, this was his everyday business, and having heard it all before, she was only half listening now.
When the meal was over, Patrick ran off to get his books. Erin interrupted her father to say, "Daddy, I don't know why I have to go to that old school."
"You've got to go to school, sweetheart. Everyone has to. We all did."
"I'm just no good at it. Please don't make me go."
Barney Winslow shot a quick glance at his wife, who shook her head slightly and raised her shoulders in frustration. The two had talked of this often, and now he simply said, "If you'd try harder, you'd do better, Erin."
"I do try hard!" The rebellion in her reached a crescendo at her father's comment. Erin gritted her teeth and set her jaw. "You don't believe me, but I try hard!"
"No, you don't." Patrick had come back into the room. "You just give up."
"You shut up, Patrick!"
"That's enough, Erin, and you too, Patrick. I'm going to start the car. You come with me, Patrick."
Patrick stuck his tongue out at Erin and left with his father. At once Katie went over and put her hand on Erin's shoulder in an effort to reassure her. "It's all right. You'll do well today, I'm sure."
Erin stood suddenly and shook off her mother's hand. She loved her mother, but now she could no longer contain her anger, and she burst out, "No, I won't, Mama! I'm stupid! All the kids do better than I doeven the little ones."
Katie at once put her arms around the girl. Her heart grieved for her, and she said quietly, "It just takes you a little longer. You'll catch up. You'll see."
"I won't! I won't ever catch up! I'm just stupid!"
Erin snatched up her books and left the room. Katie followed her to the door and watched her daughter as she climbed into the car, which Barney had brought to the front door. The ancient automobile made a raucous noise, breaking the stillness of the morning air, and as the car chugged through the double gates, Katie watched them disappear in a cloud of dust.
Turning back inside, she went to the kitchen, where Pamela, a tall, lean woman in her midthirties, shook her head. "That Miss Erin, she is a problem." Pamela had served the Winslows for years as cook, housecleaner, and at least partially a mother to the two children. Now she said, "I feel sorry for Miss Erin. She's always behind. Why is that, Miss Katie?"
Katie shook her head. "I don't know. She says she's stupid, but that's not so."
"No, it's not so," Pamela nodded abruptly. "She's smart enough to know every animal and every bird in the world. It's just books that bothers her."
"She'll do better as she gets older." Katie began to help Pamela clean up the breakfast dishes, but her heart ached as she pondered her daughter's problems with school. Patrick had always loved books and study, but Erin never had. The only interest she had ever taken was when she was a mere baby and loved picture books. But when it came time for her to do her own reading, she had suddenly rebelled. Life had been one continual struggle since then.
As Katie Winslow moved about her work that morning, she prayed with all her heart for Erin and wondered what would happen to her. As was her custom, she asked for God's grace for the day ahead. "Oh, God, keep Erin in your hand this day, for she needs you!"
Mr. Franklin Simms was a small man of thirty-five with pale blue eyes and thinning blond hair. His thick glasses gave him an owlish look, and his high-pitched voice often came out rather shrill. The son of missionary parents, he had dedicated his own life to teaching in the mission school, instructing both missionary children and any native children who cared to attend. Now Mr. Simms looked over the class and saw that all were present. His eyes lingered on the four Winslow children. Amelia and Phillip Winslow sat together on the front row. Both of them had auburn hair, a common trait among the Winslows. Their father, Andrew, was the director of the mission station. Along with his wife, Dorothy, they lived in a large house ten miles away from the school, which had been located centrally for the missionaries. Mr. Simms was pleased enough with both Amelia and Phillip, for both of them were manageable and good at their work.
Shifting his eyes to the seats behind them, Mr. Simms took in their cousins Patrick and Erin Winslow. His eyes drew down into a squint as he saw that, as usual, Erin was staring out the window.
"The lesson is here, Erin, not in that tree outside." He waited until Erin looked around and faced him squarely. Mr. Simms felt he had never been able to get control of this child, for she had an independence that was rare even among missionary children. Now as their gazes locked, he made a vow again, I'll teach this child if it kills us both! Then aloud, he addressed the class. "All right. We will begin this morning with geometry."
A slight groan went up from part of the class, but he noted that Erin Winslow relaxed slightly. She always does well at geometry, Mr. Simms thought. Why can't she do better with history and English and the other subjects?
"Why do we have to study this old stuffsquares and triangles?" The speaker was Harry Long, the thirteen-year-old son of a missionary whose station was nearly thirty miles away. Harry stayed at Andrew Winslow's house during the school term. He was an athletic young man not particularly given to studies.
"We go through this every day on every subject!" Mr. Simms snapped impatiently. "It's part of the world that you'll have to live in, so stop arguing, Harry, and just do your work. Now we'll take the first problem, and, Harry, I'll let you go to the board and work it."
"Let me do it, Mr. Simms." Erin had her hand up, and Simms turned to her. "All right, Erin. You do it, then."
Erin loved to do geometry, for it was the one subject that came easily to her. She went to the board and went through the problem with obvious pleasure.
Amelia turned around and whispered to her cousin, "Hey, Patrick, how come Erin does so good at geometry but can't do the other subjects?"
"I don't know. She just doesn't try, I think." Despite his criticism of her and his constant teasing, Patrick Winslow actually had a great affection for his sister and worried about her difficulties in school. He himself was excellent in all his subjects and suffered no small embarrassment that his sister did so poorly. He took it almost as a personal disappointment, and while he loved Erin, he wished heartily that she would try harder. Now he watched as her hand flew over the chalkboard, figuring the geometry problem quickly and efficiently. He shook his head in confusion. Why in the world doesn't she work that hard on other stuff? he thought.
The morning passed surprisingly well for Erinprimarily because she had satisfied Mr. Simms with her ability in geometry. During the history lesson she was able to answer the one question he put to her because she remembered when he had discussed it in class. School went that way with her. She filed away everything the teacher said, but when she had to dig the material out of books for herself there was always some sort of breakdown.
After lunch the children all went outside and played a game of soccer. The Masai children were particularly good at this, and Harry Long prided himself on his ability. Once he shoved a younger boy down, and Erin yelled at him, "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?"
Harry chafed at Erin's jab, remembering his humiliation earlier when he had followed her at the blackboard and his ignorance in geometry had been painfully exposed in front of the class. Now he flew at her and shoved her, yelling, "You keep your mouth shut, Erin Winslow, or I'll rub your face in the dirt!"
Instantly Patrick, who was two years younger than Harry but not in the least intimidated by him, forced himself between the two. "You mind your own business, Long, and leave my sister alone or I'll bloody your nose!"
Harry stared at the smaller boy and laughed. "Aw, come on, Patrick, it's just a game."
"Well, play the game and quit pushing little kids and girls around!"
Erin felt a warmness at Patrick's defense of her, and she stuck her tongue out at Harry. "Come on. Let's play, but don't act ugly anymore."
The game went on until Mr. Simms rang the bell outside the schoolroom door. The children piled back inside in a rush, and he had to call the class to order several times. When quiet was restored, he said more calmly, "Now we will continue with our history lesson. We're in the middle of the American Revolution. Let's see what you've learned."
He began pointing at various students and popping questions. Erin began to panic, knowing she was in trouble.
"All right, Erin," Mr. Simms said. "Who was the king of England during the American Revolution?"
Erin's mind went blank. She could feel her face blanch as she struggled to remember, but she finally mumbled in defeat, "I don't know, Mr. Simms."
"You don't know! How can that be? It's plain as day in the work you were assigned. Did you do your homework?"
"I did my best."
"Well, your best isn't very good. Really, Erin, I'm disappointed in you."
Erin gritted her teeth, overwhelmed by a sense of total humiliation. As the questions went on, she wanted nothing more than to jump up and run out of the room.
Somehow she endured the torture until afternoon recess, but as soon as she stepped outside and the children took up the soccer game they had begun at lunchtime, she ran directly at Harry Long and kicked the ball away from him.
Startled, Harry glared at her. "Well, if it ain't dummy Winslow! You kick a ball better than you do your homework. What makes you so dumb, Erin?"
Rage boiled up in Erin and spilled over. She ran straight toward the tall young man and butted her head into his stomach. He uttered an explosive "Whoof!" and fell backward. "Hey! Stop that!" he gasped, for Erin was pummeling him with her fists. Harry Long had been taught never to fight a girl, but he was hard put to avoid all of her blows.
Patrick had been startled at the ferocity of Erin's attack and stood watching the fight, stunned, but regaining his wits, he ran over and grabbed her, pulling her back. "What's wrong with you, Erin? Have you gone crazy?"
Mr. Simms suddenly appeared and shouted, "Erin, stop that this instant!" His face pale, he said nervously, "Now you go inside and write on the board 'I will not lose my temper.' You keep writing that until I tell you to stop."
Harry turned to Patrick. "What's wrong with that sister of yours? She's crazy!"
"Well, if you'd stop calling her names, she wouldn't light into you. I'm warning you, Harry. Don't you ever call my sister a dummy again, or I'll for sure bloody your nose."
Harry saw that their schoolteacher was staring at him with displeasure, and he felt somewhat guilty. Yet he gave Mr. Simms a less-than-sincere apologetic look. "Oh, I didn't mean nothing by it!"
"Don't you ever call Erin dumb again. Do you hear me, Harry?" Mr. Simms demanded.
"Yes, Mr. Simms. I hear you." Embarrassed, he quickly turned back to the other children. "Come on. Let's get on with the game."
The game ended shortly, and Mr. Simms turned to lead the group back inside for the last hour of school for the day. He found only one student there, a tall Masai girl who hadn't gone out for recess. Simms looked at the board and saw that it was blank. He also saw that Erin was not there.
"Where's Erin, Matula?"
"She run out the back."
Patrick groaned and whispered to his cousin Amelia, "She's run away again. What's going to happen to that girl?"
After recess Erin had not stopped for even an instant inside the school. Instead she had burst through the front door, crossed the classroom to the door at the rear, and shot outside. She had not stopped running until her breath began to come in short, hard bursts and she had to slow down to calm herself. A fierce anger was still burning in her as she traversed the wild country she knew so well. She crossed a plain that changed into woodland, passing native trees as she wentacacias, fig, baobab, and others that she readily recognized. On the other side of the woods, she emerged onto a dirt road and began to run again. Thick vegetation crowded the road, and as she put distance between herself and the schoolhouse, she slowed down again. Her running gave way to a trot and then to a fast walk.
She had no idea where she was going, but as always she paid close attention to her surroundings. As she passed a stream, she saw a reedbuck crouching at its edge. When it spotted her, it shot away like an arrow, releasing its tightly wound muscles. She watched the animal scattering the water with high, bounding silver splashes, and then she walked along the small creek, where goldenback weavers swayed and dangled from long stocks of purple amaranth. As she moved along the creek, a frog chorus rose, then died, then began again as she outdistanced it. Once she turned quickly to see a bush shrike, chestnut winged, watching her from the branches of a baobab.
She took a path that led through the lush part of the country and soon was out in the open plains. She walked slowly, dreading what was to come. It would be, Erin well knew, another embarrassing scene, for her parents would be hurt, and she would be unable to explain her behavior to them. The words of Harry Long kept ringing in her ears: "Dummy! You're a dummy!" and tears rose to her eyes, which she dashed away fiercely.
As she made her way across the plains, her eyes alert for danger, she suddenly thought of Nbuta. Just the thought of her friend made her walk faster. "I'll go see him," she spoke aloud and then broke into a trot as she made her way along. She knew she would have to go home eventually, but Nbuta's village was not far from the mission station, and always, since she had been very small, she had been his favorite. "He never called me dumb," Erin said and picked up her pace as she hurried across the grassland.
Nbuta's house was like all other Masai houses. The women always built them, never the men, for men were the hunters. No Masai woman would ask a man to help her build the house.
The houses themselves looked like large, rounded, elongated lumps. The women made them by first putting saplings in the ground, then bending them over and tying them together with vines. They interwove those with grasses and sticks to form a firm foundation. Then they coated the entire structure with animal dung and mud. When the rain inevitably washed some away, there was always plenty of dung and mud to repair the damage.
As Nbuta gazed at the late-afternoon sky, he suddenly spotted movement in the distance. He narrowed his eyes. He was standing on one leg, the other leg crooked with the sole of his foot against his knee and leaning on a long spear that was his constant companion. He was alert and aware of any movement, but he relaxed somewhat when he recognized the individual who was coming at a fast trot.
"Something wrong," he shook his head. He was a very tall, lean man, as were almost all the Masai men. He wore a simple garment with one shoulder strap. The garment was died a dark red, and the only other colors he wore were red, blue, and white beads that hung from his ears and around his neck in a thick chain. He was thirty years old and had a penetrating gaze and phenomenal eyesight. He recognized Erin Winslow when she was merely a dot on the horizon, but he did not move until she came up to him. He noted the dusty face and the troubled blue-green eyes, but he smiled at her and spoke to her in Swahili. "Greetings, daughter. What brings you here?"
Erin answered in Nbuta's language. She had picked that up easily enough, not from books, but simply from spending so much time with the Masai people. "I have come," she said formally.
"You must be hungry. Are you, daughter?"
Erin suddenly realized she had eaten nothing since lunch, and it was late in the afternoon. Her long run from the schoolhouse had indeed left her hungry. "Yes, I am."
"Come. We will eat together."
What followed next might have shaken an American-born youngster, but to Erin it had become a tradition. She followed the tall man out to the cattle as he picked up a gourd with an open mouth. The two of them went out to where an enormous cow was standing chewing her cud peaceably. The Masai spoke to her and then patted her on the neck. Pulling out a sharp knife, he quickly and expertly slit the vein in her neck and caught the blood as it poured rich and crimson into the openmouthed vessel. When he had gotten enough, he reached down and picked up some cow dung and smeared it over the wound, holding it there until the blood coagulated. Then he squatted down and, holding the gourd in one hand, filled it with milk.
Erin watched all this, as she had done many times. Nbuta swirled the liquid around, tasted it, then said, "Good," and handed it to Erin. Erin could not remember the first time she had tasted this traditional Masai drink. Patrick could not stand it. It made him sick, but Erin drank until she was satisfied, then handed back the gourd. "Good, Nbuta."
Nbuta drank long and deeply, patted the cow on the back, then said, "Come. We will walk."
Nbuta carried the gourd back to the door of the house, handed it to his wife, then walked away. Erin walked beside him, and the tall man adjusted his stride. As they moved around, Nbuta began to talk. He knew that there was trouble in the child and that sooner or later it would come out. Finally it did. The two had stopped beside a baobab tree and were watching the multicolored cattle as they grazed languidly, tended by the young Masai boys, who all carried staffs that they pretended were spears. It was the job of every Masai boy to tend cattle until he became a warrior.
Finally Erin began to speak, and Nbuta listened gravely. He saw the pain in his young friend's face, and when she had finished, he said, "We all must bear our troubles."
"I know, Nbuta, but they call me names, and they say I'm stupid."
"But you know that you are not, and I know that you are not. And we are the ones who count. You and your friend."
Nbuta spoke for a long time. In his deep wisdom he recognized that she was more troubled than he had ever seen her.
"Come. We will go down to the river, and we will sit, and we will think, and we will ask the good God to tell us what to do."
"All right, Nbuta." Erin obediently walked beside him. She would have stuck her head in the fire for this man, for he had been her friend all of her life. As she walked slowly toward the river with the tall Masai warrior, her heart was aching.
Nbuta stood before Barney Winslow, towering over him as he did over most men. "Do not be angry with her, my friend," he said. "She has a good heart."
Barney nodded at once. He and Katie had been greatly upset when Patrick had come home right after school to tell them what had happened. Barney had felt a moment's fear, for Africa was no place for a young girl to be wandering around. But when Erin had not come home, he had the strong feeling that she had gone to her best friend, and now he said to Nbuta, "Thank you for bringing her home, my friend."
"She is a fine daughter, but she has a different spirit in her than most of the white young people I have known."
"I know. She is different," Barney said. "Therefore, her mother and I must show much patience."
Nbuta smiled gravely. "That is wise, but you are always wise, Pastor Barney."
"Not always," Barney said, shaking his head at the thought of situations in the past he had handled badly. "Well, come inside, Nbuta."
"No, I will go home. I have told her she can come to my home, and we will hunt together tomorrow if you give permission."
"I think it might be a good break for her. She'll miss a day of school, but I'll take care of that."
Nbuta nodded and turned, moving away swiftly in the darkness. Barney stood for a long time and then turned and went back into the house. "Has she gone to bed?" he asked Katie.
"Yes. She didn't want to talk. She's very hurt. Patrick was right. When that Long boy called her stupid, it just seemed to tear her to pieces."
"I wish we could do more to help her. I just don't understand it," Barney said helplessly. He stood in the middle of the room with Katie in front of him and shook his head in despair. "She's so good at some things, but she just can't seem to get anything much out of books."
Katie came over and put her arm around him. "We'll pray. She'll find her way."
Barney Winslow took Katie in his arms, and the two clung together tightly. They felt a deep helplessness that all parents feel when they cannot find the key to handling their children's problems. Both of them knew that this problem was one only God could solve.
The Golden Angel by Gilbert Morris
Copyright © 2001, Gilbert Morris