After the congregation sang its last song, Preacher Miles called for any announcements, and Brother Sampson stood up. However, he did not speak until Preacher Miles knotted his approval to do so.
Then Brother Sampson told them what the preacher in Sandy Hill Gap had Informed him about yesterday. He said that a train was bringing two children from New York for adoption; and the two little girls were six years old. And, Brother Sampson said the children would be brought to choir practice on Wednesday, to Backers Creek Hollow.
Adoption agencies existed only in the larger cities; so, mountain communities adopted through the churches. This was the adoption process in the Great Smoky Mountains in the early 1900s.
“Mama,” asked Little Billy Sands, “Adoption—is that something bad?” His mama indicated no talking in church. So, he would wait for his answer later.
Well, that was the best news Becky Sue had heard since forever, now maybe she would have a sister. And, she was sure her daddy would get her anything she wanted; after all she was eight years old, and almost a full-grown lady. Mimi said so herself, and her Mimi was always right.
All up and down the hollows the news traveled, to all the neighbors, friends or foes in the Great Smoky Mountains. Why bring more children to the poorest of people, the mountain people, no one knew the answer, only God knew—that was the only answer.
By Wednesday, the weather was not accommodating to the people of Backers Creek Hollow’s plans, as the icy wind sent the swirling snowflakes and snow flurries throughout the mountainsides.
Sometimes, it was difficult to see the way around the Hollow. The snowy weather was not omitting any Gap or Hollow, everyone, received the same.
As the snow piled higher than normal, outside the humble homes, their occupants had prepared as best they could. The women and children tucked papers and old rags into the cracks that helped keep the coldness out and the men nailed card-boards over them. The warmth felt so good as fireplaces blazed with Hickory, Oak and White Ash, which was plentiful in the mountains.
Inside the homes they felt warmth from the fireplaces and from their hearts. These were good people, and since being poor was not a sin, they were also, very proud.
The congregation finally all arrived at five o’clock in the afternoon, the darkness was coming too fast because of the bad stormy weather. So the church women lit candles at the altar and put lit candles in the crude wooden sconces on the walls around the inside of the church.
Everyone, was talking quietly, until the big double doors opened, and the wind blew in the flurries of snow in front of the guest and behind them.
The two children looked frozen and afraid, and but not the man with them. The preacher introduced him as Mr. Finworth, secretary to the Tennessee Adoption Agency. One could tell that he felt very important as he walked into the church like a banty rooster with his chest stuck out, so full of himself--because he was doing a great service for these poor backwoods people. He thought of himself as the Adoption Agency because no one else was a smart as he; or so he thought.
He was a small shrimp of a man, and his manner was borderline rude. He went straight to the front of the church and shoved the little girls ahead of him. He stopped and turned around and proceeded to give his little speech, as he told the little girls to stand up straight and look ahead--- so the people could see them.
The little girls had on ill-fitting shoes, and hand me downs that were too big for them. And, their coats had holes in the elbows, and both coats had missing buttons and pockets. And, the girl's red hair was long and uncombed. But through all the rags and dirt one could see they were very beautiful children.
Well, now this did not sit well with Becky Sue, but she listened quietly for a while, literally biting her tongue so she would not speak out. She kept inching her body to the edge of her seat really to bounce at a second’s notice.
Mr. Finworth said, “These children are here for adoption purposes, and as you can see they are twins. Do you people know what the word twins mean?” he continued, “They were born the same time, one after the other. (No one in the congregation said anything) Fine, I will carry on.”
Becky Sue stood up, and said, “Mr. Finworth, I am eight years old, and I know what twins are, we are poor, but not illiterate.” Then she smiled her lady like smile and returned to the edge of the bench.
Preacher Miles looked at his wife and, then his daughter, and smiled—two peas in a pod—yes, he was one lucky man. His wife and Becky Sue would keep any man on their toes, and he was happy that he was that man; he loved his strong outspoken ladies.
Then Mr. Finworth made a grave mistake, he bellowed out, “Well, I am standing here waiting for someone who wants to adopt these girls to say something.”
And, then the twins started crying. That was all she wrote, the man had dug his grave right there in church. Before anyone could say a word, Becky Sue had kicked Mr. Finworth in the shins of both legs, one for each twin she later said to her friends in the Hollow.
“Daddy, this Mr. Finworth has not told us anything about the twin, he has only made them cry and made me mad here in church.” The twins had stopped crying, then turned big blue eyes at Becky Sue, their hero.
Becky Sue rolled her big green eyes, as she put a red ribbon back in her long black hair that had fallen out during Mr. Finworth’s introduction of her foot.
Mr. Finworth made a movement towards Becky Sue, and Preacher Miles stood in front of his daughter, shielding her from him. He whispered low to Mr. Finworth,“Sir, if you want to be able to walk out of this church you will conduct yourself as a gentleman and I will be writing the Agency, about how you treat children.”
And, after saying this—Preacher Miles pocked him in the chest with his finger several times making him back up into the coldest corner of the room.
Mr. Finworth backed down as the Preacher was a tall man with muscle to back up his words.
Preacher Miles asked Mr. Finworth if he could tell them anything about the twins and their background. And Mr. Finworth said in a superior tone, “Their names are biblical, because one is named Ruth and the other one is named Esther and their last name is not known to us, and the twins do not know it, either.
They were brought to the orphanage by their grandmother who was very ill when they were two years old. Their parents died in an accident, and that is all we know. So, if anyone will come forth to adopt them I will be able to signed the papers with two witnesses.”
Becky Sue stood up with her hands-on her hips and said, “Nobody had better not raise their hand, or stand up--- because Daddy, I want them--- these are my sisters.” And before the word sisters were completely out of her mouth—the twins ran to their new older sister and hugged her and would not let go.
So the three children stood in front of the altar, with arms wrapped around each other, and Preacher Miles and his wife Margaret joined them. Yes, in a matter of minutes their family had grown from a miracle, which had spread its love over the Miles family, and the congregation.
All the children of the congregation went up front to welcome Becky Sue’s new sisters. Becky Sue was already planning on what clothes she was giving them because unlike so many of the children of the Hollow, she felt blessed with her Mimi, who gave her lots of clothes and everything else. And, she always shared with the other children. She believed in sharing if you can because her Papa said in his sermons that it is better to give than receive, and truthfully Becky Sue liked both.
That was the same logic she used when she kicked Mr. Finworth in his shins. She felt he deserved her gift of those kicks, to make him a better person, and if that didn’t do it, well; she left those lessons to a higher teacher.
Becky Sue would teach her new sisters about being strong ladies. And, how not to let rude people intimidate them. She would make sure her sisters received the best education, and had a good life, yes, she now had responsibilities above and beyond herself. However, she was not aware that she would become a better person herself, by giving of herself.
Little Billy Sands asked his mother as they walked out of church, “Mama, adoption--is that something bad?”
“No, that is something good. Becky Sue’s parents chose the twins to love, and that is very special. Tonight, Billy, I believe Jesus is smiling down on this little church in our Hollow, because he is pleased about the adoption.”
“But Mama, it was Becky Sue who really adopted them, wasn’t it?” His mama smiled and put her arm around him as they went out the door in the freezing night.
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