[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with: Richard Armitage as Sam Wakeforest, Marcia Gay Harden as Sam’s older sister Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney, and Emily Deschanel as Tessa’s sister-in-law Olivia Delaney, Viola Davis as Pauletta Perkins, Cicely Tyson as Nellie Newton, and Anna Sophia Robb as Alice Trent, Kevin Spacey as Roger Delaney, Sam Heughan as Todd Wakeforest, Idris Elba as Dominic Perkins and others as noted.]
Authors Content Note: “Love in the Great Pine Woods” is a mature love story with dramatic themes of love and relationships. It will mostly be at the PG and PG-13 movie levels. Specific chapters or passages may have a further rating of: L for language, D for dramatic emotions, and S for sensual themes. And I will rate the chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide for a chapter, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And as is my habit, I will summarize the previous chapter’s events at the beginning of the next chapter.
Authors Recap from the Previous Chapter: Sam stayed overnight at the hospital the night of his car accident on Wednesday, Dec. 2nd for observation–due to his concussion. They just didn’t realize that they were under a different kind of observation when a member of the nursing staff saw Sam’s fiancé Olivia sleeping with him fully clothed over night. And though Sam and Olivia want to marry soon–before the new year–their plans might change
“Love in the Great Pine Woods”, Ch. 11 (PG-13, D): Turning the Other Cheek
With Sam Wakeforest recuperating from his car accident in the hospital the night of Wednesday December 2nd–and then the next several days at Delaney Manor while he is still under observation for his concussion–his fiancé Olivia Delaney has not left his side. Olivia has caringly tended to Sam’s needs–feeding him, chatting with him to keep him from being bored, and chastely lying abed with him over night soothing him to sleep. They kiss and embrace, but no more. They will wait to be intimate with each other until their wedding night–not the least of which is because Olivia is a virgin and Sam respects that and honors her virtue. They plan to wed in a few weeks anyway–before the new year of 1956, they hope.
However what is one person’s chasteness is another person’s scandalous behavior. And the nosy nurse who tended to Sam in the hospital cannot contain the juicy bit of gossip of seeing the uppercrust Olivia Delaney sleeping fully clothed with her fiancé Sam Wakeforest in his hospital bed. Though her nurse coworker encouraged her to be discreet, that word is not in the gossiping nurse’s vocabulary–nor in her behavior, despite the fact that she could lose her job over breaching patient confidentiality.
But it is not until Friday, December 11th of the following week–after Olivia has returned to working as a teacher at the Orphanage part time and still tending Sam part time whilst he continues to recover as a guest at his sister Tessa’s and brother-in-law Roger’s home Delaney Manor–that Tessa Delaney notices a strange look from a woman across the street whom she does not know with two small children as Tessa walks to her dress shop, Elle. But Tessa ignores the odd feeling that it gives her. She is focused on tending to her customers, then closing up shop early today to stop at the grocery store’s bakery to pick up their family’s Sam’s going home cake for their family dinner tonight. He has recovered from his car accident and they will be celebrating that as a family.
And then later in the afternoon, Tessa [(2) right] overhears something disturbing in the grocery store on her way home as she is picking up a cake to celebrate her brother Sam’s return to health and returning home the next day. The woman whom she had seen earlier with two small children is way laying the minister’s wife Mrs. Brent in the grocery story checkout line with allegations of impropriety between Sam Wakeforest and Olivia Delaney.
Gossiping Woman: “Well Mrs. Brent, I heard it from Sheila, who heard it from Mary, who heard it from the nurse on duty that night, that Olivia Delaney slept in the bed with Sam Wakeforest all night long last week after his accident.” She narrows her eyes sarcastically. The Gossiping Woman sometimes does her family’s laundry at the same laundromat as the person named Sheila whom she has chatted with from time to time, but she does not know her more than that.
Mrs. Brent: “That cannot be true. I urge you not to repeat such idle gossip. Miss Delaney is a respected lady in our community.”
Gossiping Woman: “Well I don’t know about the lady part.” She rolls her eyes.
Mrs. Brent: “That tone is uncalled for. Olivia Delaney is a kind soul who does credit to our community. And Mr. Wakeforest is a respected businessman and philanthropist. Whom do you think is a major donor to our county orphanage and county hospital when no other community of our small size has such medical facility so close at hand. Why, our son Donnie might have died if the hospital hadn’t been here to save him when he fell from a tree last year.”
Gossiping Woman: “Kind and giving they may be, but that still doesn’t change the fact that they slept together. They are lovers.”
Mrs. Brent: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor. As my dear husband Rev. Brent would say if he were here now. And I pray that your malicious and uncharitable actions will be met with God’s swift judgment!”
Gossiping Woman: She pauses and looks around sarcastically. “See? Nothing happened to me. God knows that I am right!” She harrumphs smugly.
Making herself known to the Gossiping Woman and Mrs. Brent, Tessa Delaney walks around the end of the aisle to stand at the back of the checkout line behind Mrs. Brent and she confronts the situation.
Tessa: “Oh no! Nothing happened to you yet? I wonder how your supposed nurse friend spewing mean spirited innuendo will feel when she is fired from the hospital for spreading false rumors. She’ll be coming after you!”
Mrs. Brent: “Mrs. Delaney! Oh I am sorry that you overheard this woman’s gossip. I assure you, that I gave it no credence whatsoever.” She looks sincerely at Tessa Delaney.
Gossiping Woman: “I stand by what I was told–whatever credence means.” She grumbles.
Tessa: Reaching past Mrs. Brent and pushing the gossip’s shoulder, Tessa challenges. “You don’t know anything! Yes, my sister-in-law Olivia stayed the night in my brother Sam’s hospital room. But they are not lovers. She was merely distraught that she almost lost her fiancé–as anyone would be. Obviously, her concern for my brother Sam’s welfare far out shadowed the remotest possibility that anyone would so maliciously misconstrue her actions. Olivia is a sweet, kind, and respected lady whom I am honored to have as my sister-in-law through my marriage to her brother Roger. And in whom I will be doubly blessed when Olivia marries my brother Sam before the new year.”
Tessa had not meant to let the cat out of the bag about the pending nuptials. But she is all riled up.
Gossiping Woman: “Getting married so quickly, huh? So is this a shotgun wedding that your husband is insisting upon for his sister?”
Tessa: “Why you!” Tessa is about to tackle the gossiping woman, but Mrs. Brent standing between them restrains her.
Mrs. Brent: “Mrs. Delaney, please! Let us not add to this woman’s gossiping with a cat fight.”
Cashier: “Next!” The Cashier calls out and the Gossiping Woman steps forward to make her purchases already on the conveyer belt. They are a small jar of chicken boullion cubes, a clutch of carrots and one of celery, and onion, a small uncooked chicken, a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly, and a small bottle of milk–meager, but filling. The Cashier looks at the food items, then she glares at the Gossiping Woman. “These items are not for sale. I will have our bagger return them to the shelves. Chip!” She motions to the bagger at the end of the line. “Please return these items to where they came from.”
Gossiping Woman: Stunned, she finds her voice as she stops the bagger from removing her food items. “You can’t do that. I have money. I can pay.” She thrusts her hand toward the cashier with one five and several ones in it. It is all the money that she has.
Cashier: “Olivia Delaney is a kind and virtuous woman. You should not be insulting her honor. Your money is no good here.” The Cashier stares down the Gossiping Woman.
Tessa Delaney and Mrs. Brent stand back in mute shock, but they do not gloat. The Gossiping Woman is having her comeuppance. Whether God is involved or not, it is sweet justice. But God’s plan involves more than justice, it involves mercy.
Gossiping Woman: “But I have to have food for my children or they won’t eat tonight.” She pleads.
Then a little girl barely five years old and taking her too small winter coat that she puts around her younger brother, stands up from the bench where her Mommy told she and her younger three year old brother to sit when she got in the checkout line, and she walks over to her mother. She doesn’t understand what the commotion is about, but it is keeping them from going home and eating.
Home is a relative term for the little girl, since they haven’t had one for a long time. The plaintively pleading little girl [(3) right] is simply referring to where they sleep now. The little girl’s tired and longing eyes speak volumes to Tessa.
Tessa Delaney and Mrs. Brent exchange glances. For as much as they hate this Gossiping Woman besmirching Olivia’s honor, they can not bear to see this woman’s children suffer for their mother’s bad behavior.
Gossiping Woman: Speaking in a hushed soothing tone, she pats her daughter’s back. “In a minute, Shirley Dear. Mommy has to buy the food first.” Then she turns to the cashier again, and begs. “Please, we only just got the money for the food today. My children need to eat.”
Tessa: “Hhhhh!” Tessa sighs heavily with a calming breath–her anger from a moment ago is now quickly dissipated. Then speaking to the cashier, Tessa expresses her wishes. “Thank you for standing up for my sister-in-law Olivia. But this lady’s children should not have to suffer for her behavior. Please allow her to purchase her food.” Then in a burst of compassion, Tessa takes it one step further. “And I will pay for her food today. Please add it to my bill–plus twenty dollars on my tab for her next visit.”
Gossiping Woman: She looks astonished at Tessa Delaney. “No! I couldn’t let you! Not after I …”
Mrs. Brent: “Madam, you are witnessing great forgiveness and largesse on the part of Mrs. Delaney. In showing you and your children compassion, she has turned the other cheek as our good Lord admonishes us to do. I suggest that you stop speaking lest you say something to change her mind.”
Gossiping Woman: “But why are you being kind to me, when I said such awful things about your sister-in-law?” She winces.
Tessa: “Because I know that what you said was untrue! I do not know your motives for gossiping, but whatever they are, it is not right–nor are you setting a good example for your children.” Tessa looks again at the mother and then at her two young children, and she asks compassionately. “It is very cold outside today. Do you have a warm place to sleep for the night?”
Gossiping Woman: “Yes! We, uh, …” She becomes nervous–worried that these people will take her children away if they find out where they live–in an abandoned hut by the bus station.
Little Girl: “Mommy? When can we eat? I want your special soup!”
Gossiping Woman: “Soon, Shirley Dear, soon.” She caringly strokes her daughter’s face.”
Leaning down to the little girl, Tessa smiles sweetly at her. The Gossiping Woman just stares at her nervously.
Tessa: “Shirley, is it?” The little girl nods. “Well, you’re a cutie! Your mommy makes special soup?”
Little Girl: “My Mommy is the best cook! Everyone says so. But we had to leave the house when Daddy died.”
Tessa: “I’m so sorry, Shirley.” Standing up again, Tessa looks at the Gossiping Woman in the eyes. “I am Tessa Delaney, what is your name, please?”
Gossiping Woman: Hesitantly, she answers. “I am Nora, Nora Coffey. These are my children, Shirley and my boy Evan. I am a widow.” She reiterates. Her husband die last year and she has been struggling to provide for her children.
Tessa confers with Mrs. Brent, who nods at Tessa’s suggestion.
Tessa: “Mrs. Coffey, If you are as good a cook as your daughter says, we might have a job for you. Mrs. Brent and I are on the board of the Wakeforest County Orphanage. And we need a new Cook who can live in since our current cook lives with her children, but will be retiring soon due to age. The position comes with a bedroom and bathroom off of the kitchen and your food, plus $100 a month for salary paid out in $25 weekly installments. We also supply your cook’s uniform. We have fifteen children in our care that live in the home, as wells as Mrs. Perkins our Administrator and Principal and her husband Mr. Perkins who works at the bank with my husband. There is also a housekeeper slash caregiver who lives in to help with the children overnight. And then, of course, my sister-in-law Olivia Delaney and two others teach at the Orphanage school and Olivia usually takes her lunches with the children. So counting yourself and your two children, you would have about twenty three mouths to feed each meal, give or take. We could try you out for a week starting tonight as cook’s helper. Then you would be in charge of Saturday morning breakfast and the weekend meals.”
Little Girl: “Is the orphage warm, Mommy?” Little Shirley asks excitedly as she mispronounces the word orphanage.
Mrs. Brent: “It is warm. The Delaney and the Wakeforest families matched community donations to replace the Orphanage’s furnace just last week.” She smiles gratefully at Tessa Delaney.
Tessa: “We were happy to do so. But it was a community wide effort.” Tessa demures. “Mrs. Coffey? What say you to our job offer?”
Mrs. Coffey: “What can I say, but yes! Thank you!” She bursts into tears. “I am so grateful! I don’t deserve your kindness and your help.”
Tessa: Putting her arm around Mrs. Coffey’s shoulders, Tessa says comfortingly. “Yet, you have it. And we will be the grateful ones for finding a cook so soon for the Orphanage.” With her charitable work with persons in need, Tessa is well aware of their need to maintain their pride and their self respect.
Mrs. Brent: “And I’m sure that the Orphanage has some extra coats and children’s clothes that will fit your children. We already had our clothing drive and all of the Orphanage’s current children’s needs are met.”
Tessa: “And Mrs. Coffey, I would simply ask you not to mention nor repeat the erroneous gossip you heard to my sister-in-law Olivia whom you will meet there, or to anyone. This is a happy time for Olivia and Sam as they prepare to be married. I do not want anything spoiling it for them.”
Mrs. Coffey: “Yes. Of course. Thank you, again.” She dries her eyes.
After everyone makes their grocery purchases–including the cake for Sam’s farewell dinner–Nora Coffey and her children Shirley and Evan pile into Tessa Delaney’s station wagon and drive over to the Wakeforest County Orphanage after collecting their meager belongings at the bus station hut. Somehow, Mrs. Coffey had managed to cook for her children using a small old camping stove–which had also provided warmth for the hut. But using a stove for warmth can be a dangerous proposition if the gas fumes ignite.
Tessa and the Coffeys are greeted at the Orphanage’s front door by a smiling Olivia Delaney [(4) right] who is excited to have a new cook for the children. Unaware of what transpired before Mrs. Coffey was offered the cook’s job, Olivia cheerfully shows Mrs. Coffey and her children the bedroom that they will occupy–with its adjoining full bathroom. It is a spacious bedroom with a queen sized bed with a sitting area that has enough room for a small cot for the little boy Evan–with Mrs. Coffey and her daughter sharing the big bed. The children promptly race to the big bed and gleefully jump onto it. The pleasure Mrs. Coffey sees in her children’s faces causes her to tear up again. But these are tears of relief–for like so many others, Mrs. Coffey and her children have found a safe haven under the protection of the Wakeforests and Delaneys.
And as it happens, Sam Wakeforest is also at the Orphanage–him having driven over with Olivia this afternoon to fix a door hinge that isn’t hanging right, making the door stick open when you try to shut it. He is eager to get back to work next week at their family’s XMAS Tree Farm since he has been under doctor’s orders to rest since his car accident. So Sam even puttering around the orphanage and fixing things feels like he is getting back into his stride.
Also ignorant of Mrs. Coffey’s gossiping statements earlier, Sam greets her warmly after they are introduced as she is shown into the family room where Sam is working on the door hinge and the Orphanage children are playing or reading around the room.
Sam: “Welcome, Mrs. Coffey, and children. I hope that you like it here at the Orphanage. We have a good group of children and staff.” He smiles warmly [(5) right].
Just then, Alice pops her head into the room, looking for Olivia. Alice has her little brother Bobby on her hip.
Alice: “Mr. Sam and Miss Olivia? Is Mrs. Tessa still here? Or are Bobby and I to ride home with you?”
Nora Coffey wonders why an orphanage girl–she guesses that the child is a resident–mentions going home with Olivia Delaney.
Olivia: “Oh Alice honey, I think Tessa is still talking with Mrs. Perkins about the arrangements for hiring our new cook, Mrs. Coffey here. So, you’ll ride home with Tessa today. Come here Alice and let me introduce you to Mrs. Coffey.” Alice smiles and complies. “And it is Aunt Olivia to you, dear.” Olivia smiles and squeezes Alice’s shoulders. Alice smiles back.
Sam: “And let me have my foster nephew, Bobby.” He holds out his hands for Bobby, and Alice gives her baby brother to Sam. Sam gently bounces Bobby on his arm. Bobby and Sam have gotten to be good playmates this week when Tessa needed a babysitter in a pinch. “You’re getting to be such a big boy. We’ll have to pull you around in the sled tomorrow at our XMAS Tree Farm. Would you like that?”
Bobby doesn’t really know what Sam just said, but the 18 month old Bobby smiles and pats Sam’s chest. Though Sam won’t start work until Monday, he and Olivia will still pop into the XMAS Tree Farm on Saturday to say hi, before they head off to run errands.
Mrs. Coffey: “He is your foster nephew?” She asks interestedly.
Sam: “Yes.” He smiles. “And Alice here is my foster niece. They are the foster children of my sister Tessa and her husband Roger.”
Mrs. Coffey marvels at the compassion of the Delaney’s and Wakeforests. And she now feels that the gossip and rumors she heard about Sam Wakeforest and Olivia Delaney were very very wrong. Though the couple are clearly in love–based on the shy little looks that Olivia gives Sam–there is still a respectful deference that Sam Wakeforest has for Olivia Delaney. Thus Mrs. Coffey believes that they are not lovers–which they aren’t. And Mrs. Coffey feels ashamed for believing the rumors in the first place.
Olivia: “Alice, Mrs. Coffey will be our new live in Orphanage Cook. She has two children of her own as well–Shirley and Evan are over there playing.” Olivia gestures to the two Coffey children now happily playing with a group of other children at the Orphanage after each of them munching on healthy oatmeal and raisin cookies to tide them over until dinner.
Alice: “Oh, hello Mrs. Coffey! It’s nice to meet you. You’ll like it here. Everyone is so nice and kind.” Alice smiles cheerfully.
Mrs. Coffey: “Yes, they are.” Mrs. Coffey smiles. “Well, I had best get to helping out with dinner if I am to earn our keep.” She rubs her palms together. She looks over to her two children. “Shirley, please watch over Evan. I will be in the kitchen cooking if you need me.”
Shirley: “Yes Mama.” She smiles and waves as her mama walks back to the kitchen.
Olivia: “Have a nice evening!” She waves as Mrs. Coffey goes back to the kitchen. Then Olivia and Sam usher Alice and Bobby to Tessa, so they can all head home for dinner.
After a full dinner and baths, Mrs. Coffey and her children fall asleep relievedly in the warm and comfy confines of their Wakeforest County Orphanage bedroom.
And also that night, the Delaney’s and Wakeforest families have a lovely extended family dinner celebrating Sam’s recovery from the car accident. He has the all clear from the doctors to go back to work Monday at their XMAS Tree Farm and working on the mountain–as well as driving. However, Sam has yet to get a replacement car and Olivia is still driving him around in her car. So amongst wedding planning and Christmas shopping, Sam will enlist Olivia’s aid in shopping for a new car–since it will be their car when they marry, even though Olivia also has her own car.
And over the weekend when they are alone, Tessa confides in her husband Roger about the unfounded rumor that had been told about Sam and Olivia being lovers. Naturally Roger was incensed–as Tessa had been when she first heard it. But both agreed that to make more of the rumor would only play to the gossips’ need for attention. So on Monday morning, with a quiet word by Roger to the Wakeforest County Hospital’s Administrator that his brother-in-law’s privacy had been breached during his stay there, the two nurses on shift that night were given reprimands and threatened with firing were they to continue their gossiping about Sam Wakeforest or if they ever abuse their patients’ trust again. Of course, the one nurse who had nothing to do with the gossip ratted out her coworker who was now under watchful eyes–in and out of the hospital–which made her rethink her gossiping behavior.
And Tessa did not relate to her husband that it was the new woman whom she hired as the Orphanage Cook who originally told her of the rumor. Tessa cannot fathom why that hospital nurse–nor even why Mrs. Coffey, initially–had been so mean spirited as to gossip about her honorable brother Sam and her sweet and virtuous sister-in-law Olivia. But human nature being what it is sometimes, Tessa knows that some people might think that they can feel better about themselves, if they believe ill about other people–which Tessa feels is faulty and uncharitable thinking by those people.
For Tessa, life is not about striving to be viewed as or to think of oneself as better than other people. But rather, life is about striving to be the best and the good person that we can be. And that if we fail to help another who is in need and who has little to no choices, nor opportunities to help themselves–when it is in our power to help them–then we have failed. So by Tessa helping Mrs. Coffey and her children have a better and more secure life, Tessa believes that she is doing what an ethical and moral person is supposed to do–without fan fare, nor seeking accolades for it.
Because when life blesses you with a loving husband and family, Tessa feels that she wants to help others who might be struggling or who are in need–like Mrs. Coffey and her children. Tessa would not have met them–and subsequently helped them–were it not for Mrs. Coffey gossiping. And Tessa feels that Mrs. Coffey and her children were put into her path. Though many would have censured Mrs. Coffey–as Tessa initially did before she realized that the woman and her children were destitute–the other people would have missed the larger picture. And Tessa feels that the lesson of love that she learned that Friday in meeting Mrs. Coffey, was to remember that people in difficult circumstances do not always make the choices that she would make–because desperate people do not have real choices.
And yet there is hope, because when people come together to help each other as Tessa and Mrs. Brent did for the Coffey’s–rather than to tear each other down–the world becomes a brighter and more hopeful place, one person at a time [(6) right].
To be continued with Chapter 12 (to be post on Christmas Day)
References for Ch. 11 by Gratiana Lovelace, December 23 2015 (Post #847)
1) The “Love in the Great Pine Woods” story cover is a composite of two images by Grati:
a)the Richard Armitage portrait is from the 2011 Project Magazine photo shoot and article interview, that was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/ProjectMagJuly2011/album/slides/ProjectMag-05.html;
b) the snowy Pine forest vertical image was found on Pinterest at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/62/fa/ff/62faff1253d55f571eb3659cc7661e73.jpg
2) Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney is Marcia Gay Harden image that was found at http://topnews.in/files/images/Marcia-Gay-Harden_1.jpg
3)Image representing Little Shirley is The Prayer found at http://www.book530.com/paintingpic/0615/The_Prayer_Oil_Painting_Reproduction.jpg
4) Olivia smiling is Emily Deschanel found at http://images1.fanpop.com/images/photos/2400000/Emily-Deschanel-emily-deschanel-2478681-497-600.jpg
5) Sam Wakeforest smiling image is Richard Armitage, it is likely a 2014 The Crucible Stage Door appearance May2515viva a chiara tweet
6) “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” Mother Teresa quote and graphic were found at https://workplaceworldchangers.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/slide23.jpg
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