Sarah – a short story

altes Bauernhaus mit blumenThe wind was starting to pick up and it was almost dark.  Sarah decided to go out early and shut the barn doors to stop them banging in the wind.

The leaves were swirling through the air; it was going to be a foggy late autumn night.

As Sarah closed the heavy doors she could see the shape of a horseman in the distance.  The rider appeared to be a soldier; through the fog Sarah could see there was also another horse with him with no rider.

Panic came over her and Sarah rushed in to the house and called for her father.

“Father, Father there is a horseman coming and he appears to have a horse with him with no rider on it, come quick,” she said.

Sarah’s father John quickly threw on his coat and made his way outside over to the barn.

Sarah stayed behind.  She could hear voices but could not make out what was being said.

A few moments later Sarah’s father returned with the solider.

On entering the house he removed his helmet and gave a curtesy nod to Sarah.

John took the soldier and Sarah into the drawing room; he offered a brandy to the young man who looked tired and careworn.

He then looked over at his daughter and told her gently that the gentleman had come with some bad news for them.

Sarah’s brother Tim, who was two years older than her, had recently joined the army.  It had been several months since the family had heard from him.  According to the soldier Tim had been badly injured in crossfire and was being cared for in a village some twenty miles away.   The soldier, who introduced himself as James, went on to explain that he was a friend of Tim’s and had been asked if he could take his horse home and let his family know he was alive, but injured.

“You must go to Tim, fFather,” said Sarah, feeling worried for her only brother.

“I will go in the morning and James will accompany me.  I will be back as soon as Tim is well enough to travel home,” he said reassuring his daughter.

“We can manage without you for a few days and I can look after Katie so don’t worry father,” assured Sarah.

Katie was Sarah’s ten year old sister; Sarah had been like a mother to her since their own mother had died of consumption three years ago.

John asked Sarah to get James some food and make up a bed in the guest room for him for the night.

Early next morning the two men set off for Cumberland to go and see Tim.

On the ride James told John that and he and Tim had become good friends.  He explained that he was very worried about his friend as his arm was badly hurt and he was unable to walk.

“I am very grateful you came and got me.  I would not have liked my son to be alone at a time like this,” John said.

On arrival in Cumberland James took John to the house of the local doctor, Fergus Burton.

The doctor greeted the men and took them into a bedroom where Tim was sleeping.  He looked so pale and weak, and it was so hard for John to see his son like this.

After a few minutes James shook John’s hand and made his leave, saying he would call by the next day.

After sitting with Tim for a while the doctor took John out into another room where his wife made a cup of tea.

“Your son is very ill I am afraid, he had lost a lot of blood before I saw him,” advised the doctor.

John put his head in his hands; he could see how ill his son was.

“Will my son be alright?” John said, searching the doctor’s eyes for an answer.

“It is hard to say.  He has a long way to go, you will need to be patient I’m afraid,” replied Dr Burton.

John nodded weakly.

Over the next week there was little improvement in Tim’s condition.  John was worried about his farm and about how Sarah was managing, but he knew his place was with his son.

John asked James if he would go and check on Sarah and her little sister.  As he had leave due to him James quickly obliged, he wanted to do what he could to support his friend’s family.

On his arrival at the farm Sarah got upset thinking the worst had happened with Tim.  James was quick to reassure her he was making progress but it was slow.

“Your father asked if I would stay here at the farm and help out a bit until he is able to return, with your permission of course Sarah,” James asked, hoping she would not be uncomfortable having a stranger stay.

“You don’t need to sir.  I am capable of managing and I have farm help,” Sarah blurted out, flustered.

“I want to help, and in some way I am helping my friend as well,” reassured James.

Sarah studied him for a moment.  “Alright then, I will set an extra plate for dinner, you can stay in the same room,” she answered.

After three weeks passed John arrived back at the farm and said Tim would be coming back the following week.

“Your brother is still very weak and it will take him some time to get his strength back lassie,” said John to his daughter, “He will not be fit enough to return to the army but when he is well enough he can do light jobs around the farm,” he added.

Tim came in on the end of the conversation.  “It is good he will be returning home soon sir, I will stay on and help him if you wish,” he said.

“We would be grateful for that young man.  You have been a huge support to the family, we won’t forget your kindness,” replied the older man.

“Happy to help, makes a change from the army,” added James with a weak smile.

On the day Tim came home James and John managed to borrow a rig to transport him.  The trip took many hours as they had to travel slowly.  The men took turns sitting in the back to look after Tim.  Tim was happy to be returning home, he still had pain but the colour was starting to come back into his handsome young face and his quirky sense of humour was starting to show through again too.

It began to get dark when Sarah heard the sound of horse hooves coming, so she ran to get Katie.

“Tim is coming home with father Katie, they are almost here, quick run we must meet them,” said Sarah excitedly.

Both the girls were overjoyed to see their brother and father.  Tim managed to lift his arms to hug them.  Tears flowed freely; it was good to have him home.

James helped John to bring Tim inside; Sarah had made a chair comfy and had a warm blanket on the ready, and the fire was burning.

“I have soup ready when you all feel like it, you must be cold,” Sarah said.

Sarah then looked over at James.  “Thank you so much for helping my brother and for helping to get him home safely to us,” she said.

“He is my friend and I would not have it any other way,” replied James.

After sitting in front of the fire and having their soup John and James helped Tim to bed.  A bed had been made up in the drawing room so he did not have to climb the stairs.  James offered to sleep in the same room with him in order to keep an eye on his for the first few nights.

As the days passed Tim started to regain strength.  Both Sarah and James helped him to take a few steps.  Gradually the colour started to come back into his face and Tim began to gain some weight.

As Tim’s health steadily improved James felt it was time he moved on and spoke to John about it.

“You have been invaluable to all of us young man, and we will be sorry to see you leave, but we know you have to get back to your regiment.  Please come back and see us soon,” he added.

James assured John he would be back when he had some more leave due.

Tim was sad to see his friend leave and Sarah realised she was beginning to get used to having him around.  Obviously Sarah liked James, but was it more than that she wondered.

Tim caught the glance Sarah and James gave each other as he made his farewells.

As soon as James had left Tim decided to tease his sister.

“Do I sense you might be carrying a little torch for my friend Sarah?” Tim asked his sister cheekily.

“Don’t be silly Tim, he is a very nice and kind man that is all,” She replied trying to hide her blushing cheeks.

Spring was just around the corner and by now Tim was able to walk with the aid of a stick and do some light chores.  It was obvious to all that it was going to take time for him to be completely well again, but John, Sarah and little Katie were happy to see him looking so much better.

One lovely spring day Sarah went out into the meadow to pick some daffodils and she heard the sound of horse hooves getting ever closer.

A voice called out ‘Sarah’ and looking up she realised it was James.  

“I have three days off so I thought I might come and see you all, if that’s alright of course?”, he smiled.

“That’s lovely James, Tim will be pleased to see you,” Sarah said with her heart racing a bit.

“What about you young lady, are you happy to see me too?” James enquired.

“Of course I am,” replied Sarah, feeling embarrassed.

James laughed and called out he would see her up at the house.  Sarah didn’t know whether to take her time to go back to the house or to hurry.

By the time she got back her family were all drinking tea with James.

“James is here,” called out Tim to his sister.

“Yes we already spoke on my way in,” said James looking at Sarah with a big smile.

“Shall I pour you some tea Sarah?” said James politely.

“It’s fine I can get it, I must put the daffodils in water first,” Sarah replied.

Over the next three days James helped John around the farm a bit, and spent time with Tim helping him with some of the more strenuous work.

The three days went by fast; the family certainly enjoyed having James visit.

James was a personable young man and he explained he hoped to buy some land in the area after his time in the army was up.  His father had been a farmer when James was young but sold it and bought a pub.  James loved the land and hoped eventually to have his own small farm.

On James’ next visit he asked if Tim and Sarah would like to travel to Oatsbridge with him as he was going to go and see his parents and sister for a few days.  There would be accommodation at the pub, so they would all be able to stay there.

At first Sarah was hesitant to go and leave her father and Katie, but John insisted his daughter needed a break and he wanted her to go and keep an eye on Tim as well.

The journey took several hours and James had hired a coach to take them.  The young friends laughed and joked on the way, and occasionally they all burst into song.   Sarah had not enjoyed herself so much for so long.  She felt happy and she enjoyed being in James’ company.  He was kind and always so good to her and Tim.

On arrival at the pub they were all greeted by James’ parents Henry and Hannah Blyth.  They were a lovely couple, Hannah had bright red hair with chubby pink cheeks and Henry had long grey whiskers.

Hannah quickly made some soup for the young people and after they had eaten she asked James to show them to their rooms.

“Your friend Tim should sleep downstairs in your room with you James,” called out his mother.

“Yes of course mother and I will take Sarah upstairs,” he called back as they climbed the stairs.

“Sleep well Sarah, It’s been a big day and I will see you in the morning at breakfast around nine,” said James to Sarah as he gave her a peck on the cheek.

Sarah blushed as she replied “Goodnight”.

The bedroom was cosy with a dark pink bedcover on the bed and dark pink heavy curtains framed the window.  There was a street lamp outside the pub and the light peeped through the curtains as Sarah closed them.

Sarah quickly undressed and jumped into the soft feather bed. She was tired after the long journey but felt happy.  It had been such a long time since she had had any sort of holiday.

Morning came and Sarah woke to see the sun shining into her room. Suddenly there was a knock at the door Sarah jumped up and grabbed her shawl.

“Just checking on you Sarah, it’s nine thirty.  We have all had breakfast, but I can bring you a tray up if you wish”, asked James, smiling.

“Oh I don’t want to be a bother, so sorry I slept late”.

“It’s no bother and I will go and get you some porridge and a cup of cocoa,” replied James as he closed the door behind him.

Sarah jumped back into bed and pulled the covers up over her.

A few minutes later there came a knock at the door.

“Come in,” called out Sarah.

In walked James with a big smile on his handsome face.  He took the tray over to Sarah and handed it to her.

“I am so spoilt, I haven’t had this since I was sick as a little girl,” said Sarah.

“Well you deserve to be spoilt and there is no rush to get up.  We may all go for a picnic this afternoon if the weather is good,” called out James as he pulled the door to behind him.

After Sarah had her breakfast she had a quick bath and put on a pretty dress.  She tied her hair up with a blue ribbon and rubbed a little bit of rouge into her cheeks.  Her blue eyes were sparkling.  Sarah looked pretty and the most relaxed she had been in a long while – life was busy for her on the farm taking care of her sister Katie her father and Tim.

“Good morning Sarah,” called out Tim, “you look chipper this morning, and obviously you slept well”.

“Thank you I did,” replied Sarah noticing her brothers cheeky grin.

The morning clouds cleared away and James asked his mother if she would prepare a basket so they could head off to the lake on the edge of the forest for a picnic.

“You two go…” called out Tim, “I think I will just rest here today.”

“No you must come, it will do you good,” said Sarah, feeling embarrassed at the thought of going without her brother.  She did not want James to get the impression she wanted to be alone with him even though she may have secretly been thinking it.

“Of course old chap, you are coming with us,” said James reassuring his friend with a pat on the shoulder as confirmation.

The afternoon was fun.  They had a lovely lunch with fruit, sandwiches and scones.

Sarah even took off her boots and had a little paddle in the water.  The water was freezing cold but she was enjoying herself so much she barely noticed.

“It’s a shame I have to take you back in a couple of days, this is fun”, said James to his friends.

“It really is great, thank you again James,” said Tim, as he bit into another sandwich.

The next couple of days passed by all too quickly.  James parents were so kind, and Tim and Sarah felt they were part of the family.

“You must come again, we have enjoyed having you all here,” said James’ mother as she packed some lunch for them to eat on the trip back home.

On her return home Sarah felt happy she had had a wonderful weekend, she really liked James but was not sure whether he just saw her as just a friend.

After James left to go back to the army Tim spoke to Sarah.

“Do you like James Sis?” he asked with a big smile on his face.

“Yes of course I do,” replied Sarah adding, “He is very kind, and a good friend to us all.”

“I mean do you like him more than that?” said Tim in a teasing manner.

“Stop it Tim, you are making me feel uncomfortable,” Sarah responded in a slightly terse manner.

“No need to get upset, it’s just he likes you a lot because he told me.  He is just not sure if you are interested in him that way,” Tim went on to say.

“I do care for him a lot, I just thought he wanted to be friends”, Sarah replied.

“Well next time he is here you need to put him in the picture,” Tim joked.

“Maybe, we will see…” Sarah said, as she noticed her heart beating a little faster.

It was a month before James came back and everyone was delighted to see him, especially Sarah.

“I finish with the army in six months, and I will go and help my parents in the pub for a bit until I sort out what I want to do,” James announced over dinner.

“Oh I see, we will miss your visits James,” said Sarah blushing.

“Don’t worry I can still visit and I can also take you and Tim to the pub for the odd weekend if you want Sarah,” said James looking furtively at Sarah.

“Oh that is good”, replied Sarah, feeling a sense of relief.

After everyone had retired for the night Sarah stayed up for a bit.  James was sitting by the large fire in the drawing room drinking a brandy.

As Sarah walked in he offered her a drink.  Sarah politely accepted a small sherry.  “Well young lady, I am just going to blurt this out.  Sit down, I need to talk with you,” said James as Sarah sat down by the fire.

“Look, I really like you, I have for ages.  Do you see me as anything more than a friend Sarah?” James asked.

Sarah felt flustered as she answered, “I really do like you James and I like you more than I would like a friend…” she answered awkwardly.

James then walked over to her and picked up her hand and kissed it.

“Well in the morning I will talk with your father and get his approval before I start courting you, if that’s alright,” James said looking very happy.

“Of course James”.   With that Sarah finished her drink and gave James a hug goodnight.

Sarah felt so happy she skipped up the stairs; she knew her life had new meaning – it suddenly felt complete.

Eight months later, after James time with the army was up, the couple were married.  It was a quiet wedding with Katie as flower girl and Tim as best man. Sarah had never been so happy and she looked radiant on her special day.

The young couple hoped to build on some land on Sarah’s father’s farm and eventually James would help Tim run the farm.  In the meantime they would stay at the pub with his parents and lend a hand there.

Sarah and James were content, and they had a wonderful bond.  They enjoyed spending a lot of time at the farm and also at James parent’s pub.

A year later a small cottage was built at the farm for the young couple.  Sarah enjoyed being a housewife but she still enjoyed lending a hand at her father’s house too.  Katie spent a lot of time with her.  Two years later Sarah gave birth to little Charlotte.  It was a difficult birth and Sarah was told she could have no more children.  At first she was sad but the joy her little daughter brought her made up for everything.  She had a wonderful family and appreciated how very lucky she was.

Tim also found happiness and married a local farmer’s daughter.  Mary and Tim lived in the main house and Sarah and Mary became great friends.

By Kay Rayner. Read more here.