To order: Lady Mercy, A Children's Story.
Chapter One - Hide and Seek
The small, neatly organized room was almost dark. Its only window to the outside was covered with a grate made from woven twigs, and covered with branches of fragrant pine needles.
A few narrow rays of light coming through the window revealed a dirt floor; there was also a tiny bed, table and chair.
The room was quiet; only the soft, muffled sound of shallow breathing could be heard.
“Cou cou,” a voice chirped in the darkness; a giggle quickly followed.
Suddenly, a small furry head popped up from behind the bed. Two large hazel-colored eyes appeared and then a big, toothy grin.
“Cou cou,” the little chipmunk chirped back as she scampered across the floor to find a new hiding place near the table.
“I’ve found you,” Grace cried out, and tickled Mercy until she squealed with delight. “Your giggles always give you away, Mercy,” Grace declared with a laugh. She hugged her younger sister, and then added, “We need to clean up now and help Mama with dinner!”
“Okay,” Mercy said with a sigh and air of disappointment.
The two walked hand-in-hand through the long hallway of their tidy burrow to the kitchen. Playing “cache cache,” the French way of saying “hide and seek”, was a favorite game of little Mercy, and she always hated to see it end.
“Dinner is almost ready girls,” greeted Mama as they entered the warm kitchen. “Would you please set the table for me?”
“Of course, Mama,” the girls replied almost in unison.
“Mama, we had the best time playing hide and seek,” Mercy stated as she retrieved the silverware and napkins needed for dinner. They were neatly tucked away in the tiny cabinet Papa had made to keep the household dishes. Grace carried over the simple button plates, and then carefully added four acorn water cups. Before long, the dining table was skillfully set and ready for supper. The base of the table was made from a small pine cone, and the top was a simple piece of dark brown bark that Papa had sanded smooth.
“Shall we use Aunt Jane’s tea set?” Grace asked trying to decide which tea cups to bring to the table.
“Oh, yes,” Mama said. “They always seem to make dinner a little more special.”
Grace lifted the treasured tea set from the cabinet with great care and placed a cup and saucer in front of each plate.
“I miss Auntie Jane,” Mercy said sadly. “When will she be coming home?”
“She and Uncle Jasper are visiting old friends in the north who have been ill and they may not be back for a while,” Mama said quietly. “I know we all miss them.”
The small, delicate tea cups, saucers, and teapot were Jane’s prized possessions. Jasper had found them in an old box left by a trash can. He had taken great care in bringing each piece home for his wife.
“Grace, you can pour the berry tea into the tea pot and place it near my plate,” Mama uttered, and Grace quickly obeyed. “Mercy, you can fill our water cups.”
“Dinner smells yummy, Mama,” Grace remarked peering into the miniature oven, made from an old tuna fish can.
“Thank you! Your father loves fresh apples cooked with nuts and seeds; it’s his favorite dinner!”
Chipmunks are omnivores, and their diet consists mainly of grains, nuts, and berries. However, when they can find them, they also eat bird eggs, worms, and even fungi.
“I’m home!” Papa called as he entered the burrow from the adjacent schoolroom where he worked. Mercy and Grace quickly ran to hug him as he walked into the kitchen to greet his wife and daughters.
After saying their evening “hellos,” Mama took the dinner from the oven and served each member of the family. Papa said the blessing, and everyone ate their supper while sharing the news from their day.