Strawberry Moon - Becky Citra - E-Book

Strawberry Moon E-Book

Becky Citra

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Beschreibung

The year is 1838 and Ellie's grandmother has arrived all the way from England. Ellie is horrified to discover that the forbidding old woman intends to take her back to Britain to be raised properly. Ellie is determined that she will not go, but what can a nine-year-old girl do in the face of an adult with her mind made up?

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Strawberry Moon

Becky Citra

Copyright © 2005 Becky Citra

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data

Citra, BeckyStrawberry moon / Becky Citra.

(Orca young readers)ISBN 1-55143-367-2

I. Title. II. Series.

PS8555.I87S87 2005     jC813’.54     C2005-901174-2

First Published in the United States 2005

Library of Congress Control Number: 2005922212

Summary: In 1838, Ellie’s grandmother arrives in Upper Canada to take Ellie back to England to be raised properly. Ellie is determined not to go.

Free teachers’ guide available. www.orcabook.com

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.

Cover design and typesetting by Lynn O’RourkeCover & interior illustrations by Hanne Lore Koehler

In Canada:Orca Book PublishersBox 5626 Stn.BVictoria, BCCanadaV8R 6S4

In the United States:Orca Book PublishersPO Box 468Custer, WA USA98240-0468

08 07 06 05 • 6 5 4 3 2 1Printed and bound in Canada.

To Catherine, Helen and Pat

1

“Papa’s back!” shouted Max. His boots clattered across the cabin floor. He burst through the door.

I hurried outside. Papa drove our wagon up the road to our cabin. A woman in a stiff black dress and a black bonnet sat beside him on the high wooden seat. I swallowed nervously. Grandmother!

The last time I had seen Grandmother was three years ago, when Papa and Max and I stood on the dock in England with our trunks and bags. It had been a cold spring day in 1835. Grandmother had come to see us off on our trip to Canada. Her face had been icy with disapproval. She had not hugged Max or me good-bye.

Her last words had been to Papa. “You’ll regret this, John.”

Papa and Max and I had traveled thousands of miles away from England and Grandmother. We sailed across the ocean in a huge ship. We traveled along winding rivers and bumped over rough roads through dark forests, until we came to our homestead beside the blue lake.

For three years, Papa worked hard to build our farm. We had a sturdy log cabin, fields, a garden and a barn for the horses and Nettie, our cow.

“It’s the best farm in Upper Canada!” Papa liked to boast.

Now Grandmother had come to visit us. Papa helped her down off the wagon. Her black dress rustled. Grandmother’s daughter Charlotte, my mother, had died when I was four years old. Papa had told me that Grandmother had been sad ever since, and that’s why she always wore black dresses.

Papa passed her a cane with a silver top. “What do you think, Agatha?” he said.

Grandmother’s steel gray eyes flickered past me. I don’t think she even saw the sparkling lake or the blue wildflowers or Papa’s new field, freshly plowed.

I know she saw the rows and rows of black stumps. She stared at them for a long time. Then she shuddered and said, “It’s worse, much worse, than I ever imagined.”

Papa’s face fell.

“Did you have a nice trip, Grandmother?” said Max. Papa had told him before he left to be sure to ask.

“No, I didn’t,” said Grandmother. “My insides have been completely scrambled up on these dreadful roads.”

Max grinned, and Grandmother glared at him.

Suddenly something black and white shot out from under the steps. Star!

He danced in a circle around Grand-mother’s feet, barking shrilly. Grandmothe gasped. She flapped her black shawl wildly. Star grabbed one end and tugged.

“Star!” bellowed Papa.

Grandmother’s cane whipped through the air. Whoomph! She smacked Star across the haunches. Star yelped and slunk toward the cabin.

“I cannot abide dogs with fleas,” said Grandmother coldly.

“Star doesn’t have fleas!” said Max.

“All dogs have fleas,” said Grandmother.

“But—,” began Max. Papa looked at him sharply, and Max kept quiet. He ran over to Star and crouched beside him, stroking his neck. His chin stuck out, the way it did when he thought something was unfair.

“I’m sorry,” said Papa. “I can’t understand what got into the dog.” He sounded exhausted. “I’ll put the horses away, and Max, you can help me with Grandmother’s trunk and boxes.”

I looked in the back of the wagon, and my heart sank. Grandmother had brought enough luggage to stay for months! One especially big wooden crate was nailed shut firmly.

“Ellie, you take Grandmother inside.” Papa smiled. “Knowing you, I’m sure you have a wonderful supper ready for us.”

For the first time, Grandmother looked right at me. “The child has certainly grown,” she said.

And you have shrunk, I wanted to say back. It was true. The grandmother I remembered had seemed so tall and straight. Now I was almost as tall as she was. I smiled.

“I don’t like sly looks on a young girl’s face,” said Grandmother. “And what on earth is that on your feet?”

I stopped smiling and glanced down at my moccasins. They were made of soft deerskin and decorated with beautiful red and turquoise beaded flowers.

“My friend Sarah made them,” I muttered.

“An Indian, no doubt,” said Grandmother. She sniffed. “I cannot abide Indians.”

She marched past me into our cabin.

At supper, Papa asked questions about our visit with the McDougalls. They were our nearest neighbors, a mile away by trail through the forest or two miles by road. Max and I stayed with them while Papa went to The Landings to meet Grandmother’s stagecoach. Papa had sent word that he and Grandmother were arriving today, and we had raced home along the trail to get ready.

While I ate, I watched Grandmother out of the corner of my eye. She poked at my stew, sighing heavily. “Did you say squirrel meat?” she said finally. “What an extraordinary thing to eat.”

She studied her piece of bread. “I suppose it’s difficult to get an even heat in such a primitive oven.”

When it was time for dessert, she peered suspiciously into her bowl of wild strawberries. She pushed it away. “I don’t eat things with bits of leaves and sticks in them,” she said.

Cold fury rushed through me. I jumped up. “If you knew how long it takes to pick wild strawberries...”

Max’s mouth dropped open.

“My word!” said Grandmother. “There’s no need to shout.” She looked at Papa.

Papa stood up too. “Ellie, apologize to your grandmother.”

I stared at the floor and said nothing.

Papa sighed. “Go to bed right now, Ellie. And Max, stop looking like a fish and go outside and finish your chores.”

Max dragged his feet to the door. I flounced toward the ladder that led up to the loft where Max and I slept.

A wave of horror swept over me. Before Papa had left for The Landings, he had moved his night things up to the loft and explained that Grandmother and I would share his big bed. I looked at Papa desperately. For a second, his eyes glimmered with sympathy. Then he turned away and poured two mugs of coffee.

I walked stiffly into Papa’s small bedroom and blinked back tears as I changed into my nightgown and crawled under the quilt. I lay frozen, as dusk turned into darkness. Our cow Nettie mooed, and I wondered who would milk her tonight. Nobody got as much milk from Nettie as I did. After a long time, I heard Max’s boots and his cheery goodnight to Papa.

I crawled out of bed and crept to the door. Papa and Grandmother were talking in low voices.

“I don’t know,” said Papa.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Grandmother. “She’s growing up like an Indian!”