Authors: Judith Silverthorne
Tags: #mother issues, #Timeslip, #settlement fiction, #ancestors, #girls, #pioneer society, #grandmother, #hidden treasure
© Judith Silverthorne, 2005. First us edition, 2006.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit www.accesscopyright.ca or call toll-free to 1-800-893-5777.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Edited by Barbara Sapergia
Cover images: “Teenage Girl” by Steve Evans / Getty Images
Stone house photo courtesy of Sandra and Brian Reeve
Interior Illustrations by Kay Parley
Cover and book design by Duncan Campbell
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Silverthorne, Judith, 1953-
The secret of the stone house / Judith Silverthorne.
(From many peoples)
I. Title. II. Series.
ps8587.i2763s44 2005 jc813'.54 c2005-905079-9
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan Canada S4P 0T2
The publisher gratefully acknowledges the financial support of its publishing program by: the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the City of Regina Arts Commission, the Saskatchewan Cultural Industries Development Fund, Saskatchewan Culture Youth and Recreation, SaskCulture Inc., Saskatchewan Centennial 2005, Saskatchewan Lotteries, and the Lavonne Black Memorial Fund.
To Darrell, Barry, and Darlene, who shared many of the same stories about our ancestors upon which this book is based,
and to Kay Parley, who inspires me beyond measure.
– Judith Silverthorne
This book, and the rest of the
From Many Peoples
series is dedicated to the memory of LaVonne Black.
(See end of the book)
Emily squirmed in her seat
and pressed her face against the car window. Scorching sun penetrated the enclosed vehicle, leaving her clammy and uncomfortable. Swirls of dust rose behind them as they floated by the lush green countryside, down the gravel road to Grandmother Renfrew’s farm.
The closer they got, the more impatient Emily became. She was anxious to try her secret plan, but she knew urging her mother to step on the gas wasn’t going to help. They were about eight miles off the Number One highway that cut like a hay swath through the southern half of Saskatchewan. They still had several miles to go, south down the “Moffat Road” between Wolseley and Candiac, and then a couple of miles east.
Just ahead, Emily could see the fir trees that grew around the Moffat Cemetery, where many of her family
members rested. She thought about her ninety-six-year-old
grandmother, who had been buried there three months before – the last time Emily had been to the farm. During that time in early springtime, she had begun the strangest experience of her life.
After her grandmother’s funeral, she’d gone to their special place, an outcropping of rocks in the pasture. She’d climbed a large dolomite boulder that stood over the prairie like a sentinel and had been amazed to discover another girl already on the top ledge. The girl spoke with a Scottish accent and wore an old-fashioned ankle-length dress. Emily had been even more amazed to find that the girl, Emma, was from pioneer times. Somehow, Emily had ended up in the past with her.
Emily had always known the rock held a special quality, but had never expected to experience anything so unusual. It seemed that she could travel back in time whenever she and Emma arrived on the rock at the same moment. She made several visits this way, getting to know Emma and learning about pioneer life, but it was hard to manage, because the time of day in Emma’s world was never the same as in the present. The girls solved the problem when Emma gave Emily a special stone that she could leave at the rock. As Emily held the smooth black stone and touched the boulder at the
same time, she automatically appeared in Emma’s world –
until the stone had gone missing, ending her trips to the past. But on the last day of her visit, she’d found the stone again. She’d left it in her room in the old farmhouse, thinking she would never visit the past again. Now, three months later, she was ready to go back.
As they drew closer to the neatly kept cemetery, Emily strained to see out the driver’s-side window. Kate reduced her speed somewhat, as if trying to make a decision, but then resumed speed.
“Wait! Mom!” Emily said in surprise. “Aren’t we going to stop?”
Startled, Kate swerved slightly then steadied the wheels in the loose gravel. “I hadn’t intended on it.”
“But we have to!” Emily protested. “It’s important!”
Kate blew her straggly bangs out of her moistened face. “Okay, already.”
She pressed her foot on the brake, coming to a halt on the roadside in a cloud of dust and grasshoppers. They gazed over at the cemetery, with its wrought-iron gate and page-wire fence, to the spot where her Grandmother Renfrew lay buried. The dark marble headstone was already in place, but from the road, they couldn’t see the inscription. All the monuments faced east, away from them.
Emily sprang out of the car first. She bent to pick stems of white daisies and black-eyed Susans growing along the ditch. Clutching them, Emily headed across the road and opened the tall metal gate with a plaintive squeak. Her mother’s feet crunched on the gravel behind her, loud in the stillness of the day.
Once inside the gate, Emily stopped in silent reflection. She always felt a sense of awe and peace here. Close to the entrance, a replica of the nearby stone church held a map that plotted the burial sites, and a wooden stand with a pen and a guest register. Emily had signed it several times over the years.
“Let’s not waste too much time,” Kate steered her away. “Aunt Liz is waiting for us.”
time?” Emily felt a stab of hurt as she followed her mom.
“I didn’t mean it quite that way,” Kate said, but didn’t stop until she reached their destination.
Emily sauntered along the trimmed path, gazing over the mowed lawns, the occasional lilac bush, and the rows of stately headstones. Walking over to a far corner where some particularly old gravestones stood, she thought about the special people buried there, especially one close to her heart.
Wild roses bloomed all around a small headstone that read:
Emma, Beloved Daughter of George and Margaret Elliott, 5 May 1887 - 27 September 1899.
Emily’s chest tightened as she remembered her pioneer playmate, Emma. She’d later discovered that she would have known Emma as her great-aunt, if Emma hadn’t died so young. Instead, she was a dear friend to Emily, as close to her as any friend she’d ever known. She had run with her across the prairie and explored the meadows. They had shared adventures and worked together.
Emily had even been instrumental in helping to rescue Emma’s family from a deadly flu epidemic, although she had not been able to save her friend from later complications. The twelve-year-old girl had died after a long bout of pneumonia. Emily had tried to get back to her in time, but that was when the stone had gone missing and she could do nothing to help.
“Hurry up, Emily,” her mother’s irritating voice erupted into her thoughts.
Emily sighed and joined her at Grandmother Renfrew’s gravesite. She thought again of her grandmother’s funeral. She could almost hear the bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” across the rolling prairie hills just showing the first touches of spring green.
Solemnly, Emily knelt and placed the flowers on the bottom ledge of the headstone, their petals bright against the black granite. She thought of the many times she and Grandmother Renfrew had picked wildflowers together. She missed her every day.
For several moments, Emily stood beside her mom in quiet contemplation. When she stole a glance, she saw that her mother’s face had softened. As Emily looked out at the prairies, she felt her hand on her shoulder. Then felt a quick squeeze.
“They did a nice job of the engraving,” her mother said, stepping back and swiping at a few mosquitoes that hovered nearby.
Was that all her mother could think about? Emily rolled her eyes. Kate glanced away, sweeping unruly strands of hair from her face. Then she strode back towards the car, flapping her top to get a little breeze on her body. With one last look, Emily followed.