Glendora by Elaine Robinson by Elaine Robinson - Read Online

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Summary

Sixteen-year-old Glendora Stamford was raised by her older brother, Thomas, after their parents died of a fever that raged through their village in Northern Wales. He adored and spoiled her. But now, the only world she knows is turned upside down when her brother receives a letter from America and suddenly announces that they are relocating there. On their journey from Wales to the English coast, to board a ship to America, Glendora discovers there is another world filled with excitement, and romance. She also experiences heartache when she is forced to remain behind. While her brother sails without her.
Published: Torrid Books on
ISBN: 9781681461342
List price: $3.99
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Glendora - Elaine Robinson

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Kept

Chapter 1

Northern Wales, Rhymmy Valley—April 1888

Glendora Stamford stood in front of her bedroom window looking at the distant mountains. She had awakened early, as she had done many mornings before, to watch the sunrise above her beloved Rhymmy Valley. It was her favorite time of the day. She loved watching the sun claw its way over the mountains to announce the beginning of a new day.

Today, however, there was no joy in her heart; today her heart ached with a sadness she knew would never go away. This would be the last time she would watch the sun rise above the mountains that sheltered her beloved valley. Today, she and her brother, Thomas, were leaving Wales and sailing to America.

Suddenly, without any explanation, Thomas had sold their home and announced that they were relocating to America. She didn’t want to leave. The Rhymmy Valley was the only home she had ever known. She was born in this very cottage, and she had lived all her sixteen years within its stone walls.

Glena, as she preferred to be called, blinked tears from her eyes as she glanced about her room. It really wasn’t a room; it was a loft above the front room of the cottage. Grandpa Elkanah Stamford built the cottage for his bride, Glendora Ashbury. The cottage was built with the very stones the man gleaned from the land when he and his bride settled in the Rhymmy Valley of Northern Wales. Glena’s grandparents and her parents were gone now. They were buried in the Cardigan County Cemetery midway up Mathenia Hill which was a short distance from the cottage.

Tears rolled down Glena’s cheeks as she turned to stare again at the mountains. At the moment the mountains were only dark silhouettes against a moonlit sky. Soon the sun would color them with a rosy glow, and they would stand like shining sentinels guarding her beloved valley. Glena waited as she had done so many mornings before for that exact moment when red fingers of sunlight clawed their way over the tallest peak.

While she waited for the sunrise, Glena blinked tears from her eyes as she turned to look about her room. The loft had been her room ever since she was old enough to climb the steep steps from the room below. Before her parents died of a fever that swept the valley, the loft was her brother’s room. After they died, Thomas slept downstairs in their room and the loft was hers.

Looking about the room and seeing furniture that once belonged to her and now belonged to someone else was too painful. She turned and looked again toward the mountains. The peaks were bathed now in a rosy glow. Soon they would be ablaze in colors of red, gold, and sunshine yellow. Then the colors would mingle and ooze down the green slopes of the mountainside, coloring the grassy meadows as they went, with a carpet of golden sunlight.

It’s not fair! she cried, stamping her foot. I don’t want to leave the valley! I don’t want to go to America!

But Glena knew that she would go to America. What else could she do? She had no family left in the valley. They were all dead—buried alongside her parents and grandparents in the Cardigan County Cemetery. She hated the thought of leaving the Rhymmy Valley but wherever her brother went, she would also go.

Suddenly, the sound of the blackbird that Glena knew as the jackdaw squawked loudly. The expression on her face changed from one of frustration and sadness to one of joy. The old ones in the village held to the belief that the blackbird was an omen of evil spirits but not Glena. She loved the blackbird called the jackdaw. When her parents died, Thomas told her their parents’ spirits soared beneath the blackbird’s wings. It wasn’t true of course, but the thought eased Glena’s sorrow and her brother allowed her to continue the belief.

Where are you, you beautiful bird? she whispered softly as she searched the sky for the bird. After a time, she found the blackbird perched on a branch of the tree outside her window. She raised her hand to wave just as the bird flew from the tree and then settled on the ledge outside her window.

Glena leaned close to the glass and whispered, I wish you could talk. Thomas says we must relocate to America. I don’t know why we must go; he won’t tell me.

The blackbird blinked its dark eyes as it stared at Glena.

If I leave the valley I’ll lose you too, she murmured.

The bird bobbed its head a few times, and then it lifted from the ledge and flew toward the distant hills. Glena watched until the bird was out of sight. The mountains, the bird, and her room looked the same but she knew that after today nothing would ever be the same again.

Glena sighed and turned her attention again to the mountains. The craggy peaks were now dressed in many colors. She committed the picture of their grandeur to memory and then picked up her valise and walked to the stairs leading to the big room below. As she descended the steep set of steps she saw her brother standing below.

Thomas called good morning to Glena, but she walked past him without acknowledging his presence. She was angry and she hoped her silence told him just how angry she was. The room was cold. On mornings past, there was a fire in the fireplace and pots bubbling on the black cook stove in the far corner. None of those things were present this morning. Only the rancid odor of burned ashes combined with the peppery smell of last night’s lamb stew greeted her nostrils.

Glena placed her valise on the floor and looked about the room. No fire means no breakfast before we go, she said keeping her back to her brother.

Her words were crisp and brittle but she didn’t care. She wanted Thomas to know how sad she felt that he was taking her away from the only home she had ever known.

His response was soft and gentle. I packed bread, hard cheeses, and a few apples, he said holding a small basket for her approval. Besides, you aren’t a big breakfast eater. What I packed will do until we can purchase something hot to eat.

Glena turned at last and faced her brother. His eyes begged for her understanding. I’m sad too that we’re leaving, Glena, he said, placing the food basket on the black trunk at his feet. Then he walked toward her and said softly, We can’t stay; we must go.

Why, Thomas?

Without answering, he walked past her and placed his hands on the solid oak mantle above the fireplace. His back was to Glena and she couldn’t see his face but she heard the pain in his voice when he spoke. Forgive me, Glena. I should have told you why we have to leave the valley.

Does it have something to do with the letter you received from America?

He continued leaning against the mantle with his back to her but didn’t answer. She opened her mouth to ask him again, but he turned and faced her. Then he removed an envelope from his coat pocket. He didn’t say anything, so Glena asked what was in the letter. He held the letter out for her to take it and told her to read it. She shook her head and told him to tell her what the letter said.

Thomas pressed the envelope to his chest and then walked to the black trunk and sat down. Glena held her breath. She couldn’t imagine what was in the letter. It must have said something terrible. If not, why would Thomas have sold their home and made plans to sail to America? Thomas removed the letter from the envelope and when he finally spoke his voice was barely above a whisper.

"Glena, you were only eight years old when she left the valley. You probably don’t remember her; she wasn’t welcome in our home."

Who are you talking about, Thomas?

He continued as if he hadn’t heard her question. We kept our relationship a secret because our parents would not have approved. But I loved her; we talked about getting married. Then one day she was here in the valley and the next day she was gone.

Who was gone? I don’t know who you’re talking about, Thomas.

Thomas was staring at the stone fireplace, but Glena knew he was seeing someone or something else. She opened her mouth to ask but he continued before she had a chance to speak.

I never heard from her until the letter arrived.

Glena stamped her foot against the floor boards in exasperation. Thomas, you’re speaking in riddles! I don’t know who you’re talking about!

When her brother looked at her, Glena saw pain in his eyes and she shuddered. The last time she had seen such pain was the day they buried their parents. She trembled as a cold band of fear slowly squeezed the air from her lungs.

Then Thomas smiled—something she seldom saw him do. Her name was Salena Mahoney. I loved her very much, Glena.

He was emotional and Glena thought he was close to tears as he described the woman. Salena was beautiful. She had the face of an angel, and she wore her copper colored hair braided and coiled about her head like a shining crown.

Glena had never heard Thomas speak so lovingly of anyone before—except maybe their mother. He was twenty-six years of age, and most men his age were already married with families of their own. She had never questioned why he had not taken a wife; he always told her that she was his life. Now, a feeling of jealousy caused her heart to beat faster.

Glena didn’t remember anyone named Salena Mahoney. Besides, the woman had been gone six years. Why was this woman still important to Thomas? She looked at her brother; he was stroking the letter with his fingers as if caressing it.

Did that Salena person send the letter, Thomas? She didn’t know the woman, but already she didn’t like her.

He nodded. She’s the reason we must go to America.

Do you still love her, Thomas? She held her breath hoping that he would say he didn’t.

I loved Salena very much, he replied, but I hadn’t thought about her in a long time. He stopped long enough to take a couple of deep breaths, and then said, I was surprised when her letter came. I was even more surprised when I read it.

He stopped and looked at Glena and then told her that he had no choice; he had to go to America. But he told Glena that if she really didn’t want to go with him, he would try and find a family in the village to take her in. Glena couldn’t believe that her brother would even consider leaving for America without her.

Find someone to take me in! she demanded. I thought you loved me, Thomas Stamford! How could you even consider leaving me behind?

I do love you, Glena, and I want you to go to with me, but if you don’t want to go…

If you go, I go, Glena said before he could finish the sentence. I can leave the Rhymmy Valley, Thomas Stamford! I can leave our home but I could never leave you and you know it!

I’m glad to hear you say that, Glena. It would break my heart if an ocean separated us.

He started to put the letter back in his pocket but Glena wanted to know what the letter said. She couldn’t imagine what the woman wrote that prompted Thomas to sell their home and make plans to sail to America. So, she asked him to tell her what the woman had written.

Thomas held the envelope to his chest for a moment and then he removed the letter from the envelope and stared at it. Glena saw his lips moving but there was no sound escaping his lips. She guessed that he was reading it to himself. Then he looked at her.

Salena said that she had hoped it would never be necessary to write me, Glena. She said she had no choice; she needed my help. Her husband was killed and she said she needed me.

Are her needs greater than our needs, Thomas?

"You don’t understand, Glena. Salena said she wasn’t the only one that needed me; she said my son needed me."

Thomas held the letter against his chest for a long time before returning it to the envelope and then stuffing it in his pocket. I didn’t know that Salena was pregnant when she left the Rhymmy Valley; I don’t think she knew it before her parents sent her to America. I have a son, Glena. My son needs me.

There was a hint of joy in his voice but his gray eyes were filled with pain. Salena is alone. She must be desperate for help or else she would never have written after five years.

Glena was speechless. She couldn’t wrap her mind around the fact that Thomas had a son. He had her; he had been father and mother to her ever since their parents died. She wasn’t certain she wanted to share him—not even with his own son.

Where in America are this Salena and your son?

The letter was posted from the New London Settlements in Connecticut. Her married name is McRae.

Now I understand, Glena said, choking back her emotions. Her husband is dead and now she wants you to come to America and take his place! That’s why you’re giving up our home and leaving the Rhymmy Valley. She was crying and acting like a jealous child but she didn’t care. Her eyes flashed with anger as she waited for Thomas to respond.

Please try to understand, Glena. It’s not a matter of me choosing Salena and my son over you; I have to go. Hopefully, we can bring Salena and the boy back home to the Rhymmy Valley.

Glena didn’t say anything; what was there to say? She picked up her valise in one hand and the food basket in the other. I go where you go, she said walking past him to the door. She wasn’t proud of it, but she was jealous of a woman she had yet to meet.

Thomas took one last look around the room and then followed Glena out of the cottage. His hand trembled as he closed and locked the door for the last time. After placing the key on the ledge above the door, he balanced Grandpa Stamford’s black trunk on his shoulder, picked up his valise with his free hand, and led the way down the hill to the road below.

Thomas, where do we board the boat for America?

It isn’t a boat; it’s a ship, Glena.

Well, then, tell me where we board the ship.

We have six days to reach a small English village called Beaconville. That’s where we board the ship.

Glena sighed as she eyed Grandpa Stamford’s black trunk. Don’t tell me you’re going to carry Grandpa’s trunk all the way to the English coast. She giggled.

Thomas shook his head and told her they were meeting Angus Kingsbury at the cemetery. He’s giving us a lift to the coach station in the village.

Glena had other questions, but she sensed Thomas wasn’t in any mood to answer them. As she walked, she painted a mental picture of the sunlit valley just as she had stored a mental picture of the sunrise over the mountains. She would tuck the memories away in her heart and take them with her to America.

Glena also searched, as she walked, the meadows high on the hillside for a glimpse of the white sheep that grazed the green meadows. Occasionally, she saw a few of them clinging to the rocky ledges. Seeing the sheep brought a smile to Glena’s lips. She remembered happier times when she tagged along with Thomas as he tended the sheep on Snowden Mountain.

Suddenly, Glena shivered, not from fear but from the dampness of her dress. The grasses were wet from morning dew and the ribbons of fog that skimmed the tops of the wet grasses. She fought the urge to turn about and run back to the warmth of the stone cottage, but she couldn’t do that, not without Thomas.

Glena swallowed hard and walked closer to her brother. They walked in silence for an hour before reaching the small Cardigan County Cemetery. All their family was buried there—the Stamfords and the Ashburys. Thomas took the trunk from his shoulder and placed it beside the cemetery’s rusty iron gate. The sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds, and the air was cool and crisp. Glena put her valise and the food basket on the trunk and then pulled her woolen coat closer about her body.

While Thomas tugged to open the gate, Glena glanced across the cemetery. Her eyes darted from one marker to another until she spied the twin crosses marking their parents’ graves. At that moment a gust of wind swept across the cemetery, sending a funnel of leaves whirling across the ground. Glena watched the leaves for a moment and then hurried to her parents’ graves. She prayed the swirling leaves weren’t a sign or an omen that meant they were not supposed to leave the valley.

Always before, Glena loved coming to the cemetery. She loved tending the graves. It was her way of feeling closer to the family members resting beneath the rich Welsh soil. But there was no joy in her heart today.

As she knelt beside the graves of her parents, a quiet hush fell over the cemetery. Even the gray-flannel fog rolling down the hillside lifted momentarily exposing the distant pastures dotted with white sheep. Then just as quickly, the sun disappeared behind the clouds.

Who will tend the graves when we’re gone? Glena whispered as she looked about the cemetery. They’ll be all alone. She had not heard her brother until he spoke.

They won’t mind, Glena, because as long as we remember them, and keep them close in our hearts, they go with us.

Glena forgot how mad she was with her brother when she heard his voice trembling with emotion. She asked him if he was afraid. He brushed a curl hanging below her bonnet and told her that he was not afraid; he was sad. Then he took her hand and told her that he would always take care of her.

You can’t promise me that, Thomas.

Haven’t I always taken care of you, Glena?

There may not be room for me when you get to Salena’s house.

Thomas pulled her into his arms and held her close. Then he told her that there would always be room for her in his heart and in his house. You’re my sister, Glena; you’re my family, he whispered. I promise that I’ll always be there for you. Please don’t be afraid.

I’m not afraid—as long as I’m with you, Thomas, but I don’t know what I’ll do if… She stopped because she was close to tears.

Someday you’re going to meet someone, Glena, and you’ll be the one to leave me, Thomas told her. But I won’t leave you.

Sooner or later everyone I love leaves me, Thomas.

Not me, he replied. You’re stuck with me.

Glena knew he was doing his best to cheer her up. She was ashamed of her childish behavior. She pulled from his embrace and brushed the tears from her cheeks. What if Salena doesn’t like me? she asked.

Remember, Glena; I loved you first, he replied.

His words brought a smile to her lips. She knew he was watching but he didn’t say anything. She realized that leaving Wales was just as hard for him as it was for her, so she decided to stop being difficult.

They finished paying their respects to the family and then walked slowly out of the cemetery. Hearing the sound of the iron gate closing behind as she walked away from the cemetery was like a knife piercing her heart, but Glena was determined not to let Thomas see how sad she felt. She smiled and allowed him to thread her arm through his, guiding her from the cemetery and down the hill to the road below.

And now, the journey to America begins, she said softly.

Chapter 2

Angus Kingsbury’s cart was small, but then he was a small man. Glena eyed the cart with disdain. It was dirty and it looked to be very uncomfortable. She was certain the three of them would be crowded and cramped. Never-the-less, she climbed to the seat and said nothing. She was full of questions, but she decided to wait until she and Thomas were alone before asking for answers.

The sun was still hiding behind dark clouds and the air was cold as the horse moved the cart forward. Glena moved close to her brother for added warmth. He responded by putting a protective arm about her shoulder. She asked him how far it was to the English coast; he told her he didn’t know. She asked how big the coach was that they would take to the coast; he told her that he had never ridden in a coach.

Thomas wasn’t in a talkative mood so Glena decided it was best not to ask any more questions. That was just as well. She closed her eyes and tried to picture what the coach ride to the coast would be like. She had also never ridden in a coach; she had never traveled outside the Rhymmy Valley.

As they drew near the small village, the dirt road gave way to a smoother surface. The difference in the sound of the cart’s wheels as they rolled along aroused Glena from her daydreams. She opened her eyes to find that the dark clouds had disappeared and the sky was a bright blue. The air was clean and there was no further hint of rain.

Thomas, what time is the coach due at the station? she asked.

Her brother glanced at the sky. The sun was at its highest point. He told her that it was almost noon, and the coach should be arriving soon. At that moment the road turned a corner and Glena saw a structure in the distance. She asked Thomas if that was a house.

Before he could answer, Angus Kingsbury told her that the building was the coach stop, and he urged the horse to a faster gait. Glena was tired of riding in the cramped cart and she couldn’t wait to get out and stretch her legs.

As soon as Angus Kingsbury stopped the cart in front of the coach station, Thomas jumped to the