Sally removed her shoes and walked to the edge of the lake. When she stuck her feet into the water, she could see her toes, the white sand, and several silver fish. They swirled away from her, so she stepped in a bit deeper to get a closer look.
The water felt so good. It cooled her down immediately. Stop! a voice seemed to warn.
“I’m not going in any deeper,” she said, as if answering the voice. Just as she turned to go back to shore, she spotted a log floating near the water’s edge. Look at that, she thought, I could wrap my arms around the log and hold my neck and shoulders far above the water. Oh, it would feel so good to be in the water.
Sally waded over, grabbed the log, and hung on, holding herself out of the water well above her neck. She kicked her feet, and the log carried her out into the lake.
Soon Sally forgot about the opening in her throat and her promise to Mother. She moved a bit closer to the place where the boys splashed around, and called to them, but they couldn’t hear her above the sound of the waterfall.
Without warning, the log started to roll. She tried to hang on, but it rolled faster and faster. Water splashed up on her face and neck. Mother’s earlier warning seemed to shout at her. “The hole in your throat is still open. The bandage won’t keep the water out. You could easily drown!”
Sally clamped one hand over her throat, but had to let go and grab the log again with both hands. The rough bark scratched her hands. Soon her arms ached, and she dropped a little lower into the lake. When a trickle of water seeped into her throat, she coughed and gasped for breath.
“Help me, God!” she cried. She imagined herself sinking down into the water like a boat with a hole in it.
Suddenly her toes stubbed against a rock. Sally pushed against it and shoved herself into shallower water. Gathering all her strength, she threw herself onto the wet sand where she coughed so hard her whole body shook.
“What are you doing?” Glenn, Lynn, and Bob shouted, running down the path. “You got in the water!”
Sally sat up and struggled to catch her breath. She didn’t try to talk.
“We’d better get her home,” Glenn stated. They helped Sally stand up, and she flung her arms around Lynn and Glenn’s necks. They staggered down the trail toward home. Bob ran ahead. “Sally got in the water!” he yelled. “She almost drowned!”
Mother hurried down the trail with Bob. She lifted Sally from their arms and carried her into the lodge.
“Glenn, run to the neighbor’s house and ask them if they can take us to the hospital!” Mother shouted. Moments later Glenn returned with Mrs. Long, who agreed to drive them to the hospital.
“Here,” Bob said. “Take your Bible so you can read it if you get stuck there for a while.”
“Thanks,” Sally said, giving him a weak smile.
I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep her here for a few days to make sure she doesn’t get pneumonia again,” the doctor explained to Mother after he listened to Sally’s lungs.
The doctor hooked Sally up to special tubes so she could get medicine quickly. While the yellow fluid ran into her veins, she opened her Bible and read about three men who refused to disobey God and pray to a king called Nebuchadnezzar. The king had them thrown into a fiery furnace, but Jesus showed up in the fire with them! They didn’t burn up! She read the story several times because it seemed too good to be true.
When Mother and Father brought her back home four days later, Sally said to Bob, “God eased my way.”
“Why do you keep saying that?” Bob asked.
“Because God really does ease my way,” Sally replied. “He gave you the thought to check on me when I waded into the lake.”
“I’m glad He sent us to help you,” Bob responded.
“I’m sorry I disobeyed,” Sally murmured, as she settled in on the living room couch in front of a small fire.
“I know you didn’t mean to disobey,” Mother said. “God loves you and has forgiven you. But, disobedience can bring suffering.”
“School starts in two weeks,” Mother said, sitting down beside Sally. “I’ve got sewing to do.”
“Do I have to wear dresses once the snow comes?” Sally asked.
“The girls wear snowsuits over their dresses. At school they remove the snow suits and put them back on before they board the bus for home,” Mother explained. “Mrs. Akers gave me a stack of wool sweaters and skirts. They’re expensive clothes and almost new. I’ll wash and press them. She isn’t a small woman, so there’s plenty of cloth to cut out clothes for you such as the ones the girls are wearing up here.”
“You’re a genius, Mother,” Sally said. “God did have a plan in sending you to work for Mrs. Akers.”
Mother kept the sewing machine needle whirling up and down, making neat seams. Even when a storm cut off the electricity, Mother kept sewing. Her feet worked a flat, metal plate near the floor, called a treadle. A belt connected the treadle and the sewing arm, making the needle go up and down.
When the first day of school arrived, Bob shouted, “Let’s go!” The siblings took off down the dirt road at the end of their property.
“Mother says that the school sits at the edge of a meadow, just over this hill,” Bob explained.
A man met them at the school door. “I’m Mr. Hoffman,” he said. “Welcome.”
Sally looked around the room. “Does everyone go to school in the same room?” she asked.
“Yes,” replied Mr. Hoffman. “There are eight grades, and there’s at least one student in each grade. “I think you’ll like this one-room school.”
Mr. Hoffman was right. Sally loved the one-room school, where the older kids helped the younger ones.
Snow fell by Christmas, but temperatures stayed mild, and the sun often came out. The boys built snow forts and held snowball fights. They found some old skis and nailed leather straps for the toes of their boots to slide into. They spent hours skiing down the hills near the house and skating on the frozen meadow beside the school.
Sally’s seventh-grade school year passed rapidly, and soon the snow melted into spring. The day school closed, Father handed the boys a long saw with huge teeth. “All the wood that was stacked in the garage when we moved here is gone. We’ll need to cut a lot more,” he said.
That summer Sally accompanied her brothers when they went into the woods to cut logs. Sally would sit on the long end of the log to hold it in place. The boys held the saw, one at each end, and pulled it back and forth until a chunk of wood fell to the ground. They split the short pieces by pounding metal wedges into them until they cracked in half.
They worked hard all day, and Sally looked forward to evenings when they gathered around the fireplace to listen to Mother read from a book called The Desire of Ages. While she read they worked on art projects, built model cars, or played games. Each night, Sally learned about God’s Son, Jesus, who came to earth to save them. She was amazed at how much Jesus loved everyone.
Then one night, just before dark, Glenn, Lynn, and Bob burst into the house. “The whole mountain is on fire!” they shouted.