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Excerpt from Christmas Charity by Susan G Mathis

“I heard you were newlyweds from Canada. From Wolfe Island? It’s a mighty lot to adjust to, that’s for sure. But how’s you doing, dearie?”

Susan bit her lip and studied Mabel. Could she trust her, this stranger? Susan needed to talk with someone, especially since her mama wasn’t here. “It’s … all so sudden. Patrick is a good and kind man, but …” She looked toward the door and sighed. “I’m sure I’ll adjust … with time.”

Mabel took Susan’s hand in her tiny, wrinkled ones. “Change ain’t easy, I’ll give you that. But you can nudge it in the right direction. Charity is what you need, dearie. God’s love for that spitfire of a girl. I ’spect she be hurtin’ a mighty bit with all the goin’s on. She’s a child sneaking her way to womanhood I ’spect. You be a woman who must guide her along the path with a strong dose of charity.”

“That’s what my mama said. Not quite in those words.” Susan smiled and swiped a tear that had leaked out.

“We old folk knows such things. We’ve tried and failed many a time afore learnin’ the way. You’ll learn to, in time. But I feel in my bones that charity is the tool you need to use to crack that hard shell your girlie has formed around herself. What happened to her mother?”

“Died of pneumonia when Lizzy was seven, short of four years ago. Patrick and her had several stillborns and miscarriages before Lizzy came along, so Patrick …” Her words trailed off.

Mabel finished her thought. “Spoils her.” She grinned as Susan shrugged. “I could see it in her eyes the minute she cast her icy glare at ya.” Mabel chuckled. “She be a stubborn one?”

Susan sucked in a breath and nodded. “She hates me.”

“Naw. She fears you.”

Susan’s brow furrowed and she shook her head. “She doesn’t fear anything. I, on the otherhand, fear her.”

Mabel patted her hand. “Now you just stop that right now. You’s the grownup and mustn’t fear her. She’s but a child and needs you, dearie.”

Susan countered with a furious shake of her head. “She needs her father, not me. She despises me, and my marriage to him.”

“She’s just protecting herself, afeared to let you in, afeared you’ll take her daddy, afeared that she’d be betraying her mama, afeared that if she lets you in and loves you that you’ll die like her mama. It’s just the way them babes think.” Mabel touched Susan’s cheek and tenderly gazed into her eyes stinging with tears. “Now, be puttin’ away those tears and straighten that spine and fill that heart of yours with a boatload of charity for that prickly little thing. And do not fear! God will give you victory, dearie.” Mabel grabbed a towel that was lying on the table and wiped away her tears. Like her mama would have done.

Susan G Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network. She’s a multi-published author of stories set in her childhood stomping ground, the beautiful Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River in upstate NY. Her newest novella, Christmas Charity, her first novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, her Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, and her novellas will take you to a time and place few have gone. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, seven stories in compilation books, and hundreds of published articles. Visit her at www.SusanGMathis.com.

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