Nan’s Heritage Series
by Elaine Littau
Elaine has written the story Nan's Journey from the very core of her being. She is a passionate woman. Her love for God, her family, her friends, the way she speaks, the way she writes is all done with passion. God has blessed her and has allowed her to share one of her many talents with the world when she wrote Nan’s Journey.
Elaine is one of the most thoughtful people I've ever known. In addition, she's creative and outright fun! I'm not at all surprised that she's also a successful author!
Chris Samples Broadcasting, Inc.
Having pastored fifteen years, and as a lover of Christian fiction for over thirty years, it has been a joy to read the very moving story of Mrs. Littau's Nan. I look forward to her future work and to the resolution of Nan's Journey.
R. Scott Barton
Senior Pastor of Harvest Time First Assembly of God Church.
This intriguing story drew me in from the very beginning. I ‘became’ Nan trying to escape from a painful life. Nan’s Journey was full of excitement and hope for the future.
Through Elaine’s talent and imagination she has utilized her creative nature in this book. Nan will capture yur heart as her life unfolds through sorrows and joys. Nan learns to love, forgive, and trust God through unpredictable twists and turns. This is a book I could not put down! I can’t wait for the sequel.
Other Titles by Elaine Littau
Nan’s Heritage Series:
Book I - Nan’s Journey
Book II- Elk’s Resolve
Book III- Luke’s Legacy
Book IV- The Eyes of a Stranger
Book V - Timothy’s Home
Rescued, A Series of Hope:
Book I- Some Happy Day
Book II- Capture the
Walk Slowly Through the Dark
Copyright 2012 by Elaine Littau. All rights reserved.
No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise with the prior permission of the author except as provided by USA copyright law.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version, Cambridge, 1769. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This novel in a work of fiction, Names, descriptions, entities and incidents in the story are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, and entities is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to my husband, Terry
Sons: Stephen, Marlin, and Michael
Daughters-in-law: Aimee, Cari, and April
Grandchildren: Devon, Zach, Sierra, Maci, and Elijah
Siblings: Donna, Geraldine, Wanda, Maynard, and Jim.
My mother and daddy had six children. I happen to be number six. When I came along my siblings were either teenagers or in their twenties. By the time I became a teenager my parents had retired.
My growing up years were flavored with many stories from my parents of “old times”. They told of how both of them moved from place to place in covered wagons. My grandparents were real pioneers, blacksmiths, and homesteaders. They travelled in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado in the covered wagons.
Westerns played on the television every evening as I did homework and books by Grace Livingston Hill, Zane Grey, and Louis L’Amour made up the majority of my entertainment selections. All of this was the basis of an appreciation of by-gone days. Today I can imagine myself bumping along on a wagon seat or gathering cow chips. Mother and Daddy are gone now, but the stories live on.
There are people who flow in and out of our lives, weaving a beautiful tapestry of relationships, but sometimes you see the same colorful thread or pattern repeated over and over. That's how it is with a good friend. Their presence is woven into our lives until it literally becomes part of the pattern of our lives. Elaine Littau has been that kind of friend for me. She is a woman of many diverse, creative talents, not the least of which is the ability to take a negative situation and turn it into something positive and even wonderful. Elaine has a keen eye for possibility, an innate ability to take unlikely materials and mold them into beautiful creations. Throughout the years, I've known her to take on various challenges from set design for the community play, to Robin Hood costumes for the neighborhood boys to play in, to speaking before ladies’ groups and creating crafts for the local craft cooperative, just to name a few.
An artist, writer, humorist, and speaker, Elaine can fill many roles. She simply sees things differently than the rest of us. A crack in the wall? Well, we'll just paint over it thus and so, and voila! It looks like it was meant to be that way. Not enough money to purchase the right supplies? Let's try this and that, and suddenly, you have the intended effect. The word "impossible" is not in her vocabulary.
A gifted story-teller, Elaine has a natural ability to make people laugh. Through the years, she has regaled her friends with stories of her wonderful husband and sons, and large extended family, complete with accents and colloquialisms. Many times, Elaine has taken an unpleasant incident and woven it into a hilarious tale, which ends more often than not with an imitation of her husband's slow Texas drawl, "Well, babe," as a preface to any explanation he feels the need to make. I recall her lively tale of working in the kitchen of a church camp one hot Georgia summer, and repeating a southern cook's drawled advice to her that "You cain't rosh aiggs," as she rushed about in the stifling humidity to crack and scramble enough eggs for a couple hundred hungry youngsters. Elaine's expressive mimicry and ability to paint pictures with words can make you see a scene so vividly in your mind that the experience seems to become your own.
Elaine's giftings are God-designed and God-given, and those who know her have been blessed by those gifts, because she so generously shares herself with others. I hope that her story of Nan's Journey will inspire those who read it, and that Elaine's personal story will encourage others to take a chance and try what they've never tried before, and spread their wings and fly, even if just a little.
It was late. The moon had risen and the night symphony was in full force. Crickets chirped at their rivals, the frogs, and dominated the night chorus. Only one sound in the forest was foreign—a whimper from under the ferns. At the base of the largest pine in the woods was a small form crying, moaning, and whimpering. Black hair, matted and dirty, hung in long ropes down the front of the tiny girl. She had been in this spot for hours. Stretching, she cried out in pain. The blood-covered welts burst open to bleed again. Her back was wet with blood, and her dress was torn and useless.
Why had she dared to speak to the woman that she was obliged to call mother in that way? She knew that talking was not allowed from children before chores were finished. The accusations being made by “Ma” were totally false and she could not let Elmer take the blame for something she herself had forgotten to do. She shut her eyes tight against the memory, but it intruded anyway.
She got up to take the water off the stove to make up dishwater for the supper dishes. Ma stepped outside the room to turn down her bed and prepare for sleep. When she reappeared in the kitchen, she realized that the wood supply next to the stove was low. Elmer was standing next to the table gather
ing the plates for washing.
“Elmer, where is the wood you were supposed to bring up to the house?” She asked. Before he could answer, a hand had slapped him across his face. Getting back onto his feet and standing as tall as a five year old can stand, he looked her in the eye and said, “Ma, I was sick today, ‘member?”
“So, Elmer, you’re going to play up that headache trick again. Nan, didn’t your good for nothing Mama teach you people how to work, or are you just lazy?”
“Our Mama was good! Don’t you say mean things about her!” Nan yelled as her heart raced at the assault against her real Mama’s character.
“What about it, Elmer, are you like your weakling Mama or what?” Elmer’s eyes became large and filled with tears. He could barely remember his real Mama. All he remembered were soft kisses, sweet singing and a beautiful face. “I’m sorry; I’ll get the wood now.”
“No, Elmer. Don’t. I promised you I’d do it today when your head was hurting, but I forgot. I’ll get it after I do these dishes.”
“Listen here, Nan, Elmer will do what I say, when I say, and you will respect me.”
Nan’s eyes widened.
“Don’t look at me like that, little girl.”
Nan held her breath.
That look was the last straw. Mary screamed, “Come to the wood shed…with me!” Ma grabbed her by the arm and jerked her along behind the shed. The strap was hanging there, waiting. Whippings were becoming more frequent. After Ma’s husband left, they had taken on a more cruel form. The last whipping was more like a beating. It took days for the marks to scab over and heal. Afterwards Little Elmer brought some horse medicine from the barn and applied it to the oozing marks.
The next afternoon when the schoolteacher came over, Ma had already formulated a story. “Mrs. Dewey, we missed Nan and Elmer today at school. Are they sick?” Ma was not accustomed to lying but she said, “Well Miss Sergeant, since Mr. Dewey is going to be gone for another four weeks, I need more help around here to get things done. I’m holding the kids out until he gets back.” Week after week went by, and Mr. Dewey still hadn’t come home. Everyday Ma grew more angry and it was impossible to please her. When she began hitting Elmer, it was too much. Nan had to do something— right or wrong; things couldn’t stay the way they were.
The coolness of the earth had settled into Nan’s bones. She stood silently for a minute and carefully crept up to the farmhouse. As she opened the door, she saw that Elmer in the pallet at the foot of the stove next to her bedroll. Ma was asleep in her room. The door was held open with a rock. Slowly she began peeling off the dress and the dried blood stuck to it. She reached for the old shirt she normally wore over under her dress to soak up the blood from her wounds. She washed it today. It had bloodstains on it, but it would keep her from ruining another dress. She retrieved the old work dress. It was the only one left. She put it on swiftly and shook Elmer awake with her hand over his mouth.
“Baby, we must leave. Do you understand? Stay quiet and I will get some stuff to take with us.”She said.
She found large old handkerchief and found food supplies. There was one sourdough biscuit and about a cup of cold brown beans. She located her tin cup and another rag. She would probably need that. Three matches were in the cup on the stove. She would just take two. Suddenly she heard a sound from Ma’s room. Scampering… just a rat. Ma turned over. Her breathing became deep and regular. For once Nan wished that Ma snored. She tied the handkerchief in a knot over the meager food supplies, grabbed their bedrolls, and slowly opened the door.
The cold air bit at their faces, but they walked bravely on.
“Elmer, we must go tonight so we can get as far away as we can before Ma wakes up and sees that we are gone.”
For the next half hour the pair walked in silence through the familiar woods past the graves on the hill. The graves were the only thing that tied them to the farm. Their mother , an infant who had died the same day as his mother, and a father that only Nan had memory of. Elmer was only two years old when Pa died in the logging accident. Nan snapped out of her reverie and urged Elmer on. Molasses, Pa’s good old workhorse, stood in the pasture. He skidded the logs Pa cut with his axe. His legs hadn’t healed quite right, but Mama hadn’t let Mr. Dewey kill him because he was all she had left of the husband of her youth. Molasses was a faithful friend to Nan and Elmer. He stood there and waited for them to mount him.
“Molasses, take us to…” Nan realized then that they had nowhere to go. Mrs. Dewey had said that they were ungrateful little imps who didn’t realize she and Mr. Dewey were taking care of them out of kindness, and they could easily be put into an orphanage. Nan didn’t know anything about orphanages except what Mrs. Dewey…uh, Ma had told her. “Molasses, just take us out of here.”
It felt good to be off her feet and sitting on the broad back of the faithful horse. Elmer was in front of her and she had him lean back against her so he could sleep. She wrapped them with the skimpy little bedrolls and rode into the night.
Once started, she allowed herself to think about the occupants of those graves and how her life had changed in the last five years. Thinking back, she remembered golden, happy days. The sky seemed brilliantly blue and the woods fresh and pine scented. Pa was a handsome man, tall, blonde and muscular. He wore the title of “man” with dignity and strength. Mama had loved him more than anything. She called out to him and Nan as they were playing in the meadow. When she caught up to them, she showered them with kisses and hugs. Mama, a tiny woman with raven black hair, was strong and brave. Nan could remember her singing while she worked. She sang while she cooked, sewed, gardened, and even while she washed on the washboard. The melodies floated from her mouth on angel wings. Pa used to tell her that if he listened while he was in the woods, he would swear that the little birds were tried to sing as sweet but couldn’t quite do it. Mama would say that her songs came from the blessing of God and a dear family. Mama had been an orphan. Nan had forgotten about that! Pa’s mother and father had been dead a long time. As far and Nan knew, her only living relative was her little brother.
Nan remembered when the singing stopped. The day had been beautiful. Pa was logging. His helper had been helping him skid the logs. He had piled them high. Pa was trying to get them loaded on the wagon to go to the mill. The logs rolled on top of him and crushed him. He died three days later. Mama tried to keep food on the table. Everyone else in the woods was poor, too. When Mr. Dewey asked her to marry him six months later, there didn’t seem to be any other choice, she had to feed her family.
Mr. Dewey had been so different from Pa. Of course he knew that Mama didn’t really love him and that he would never take Pa’s place. He gave Mama more jobs to do. She was in charge of anything that had to do with the house. He did his work at the mill. There was little money, so any job to be done had to be done by Mama. She fixed the roof and chopped wood.
Nan was eleven when Pa died. She hadn’t grown much since. She was now fifteen and Elmer would soon be six; no one would have guessed her age. Mr. Dewey was determined to have a son. Mama finally was able to carry a child to term, but was not able to survive the birth. She was weakened by hard work and miscarriages. The little baby brother was born dead. Nan was frightened for Elmer at that time because Mr. Dewey was annoyed with everything he did. One month later Mr. Dewey brought home a new wife. He never said where she came from only that they were to call her “Ma”.
It was hard to call a stranger ‘Ma’. They didn’t know her name and she slapped them if they called her Mrs. Dewey. She became Ma. It seemed odd to say the word and have it only mean a label for someone in her life. No warm connections were attached to the word. Nan wondered how much Elmer remembered about Mama since he was pretty young when she went to heaven.
Heaven, Mama talked ab
out heaven; she said that was where Pa was. Nan wished that she and Elmer could ride old Molasses to heaven. Maybe Mama would be singing there. Nan’s eyes became so heavy; she could not hold them open. She drifted off as when remembered about her Mama telling her long ago about a stairway to heaven with angels going up and down. Maybe Molasses could find it and take them to Mama and Pa.
Nan jerked awake just before she lost balance and fell off the back of the big horse. It was still very dark and she could barely make out the trees on the horizon. They came to a large clearing. Town was a half a mile to the north and the road continued westward, but Nan knew they couldn’t go through the town and head north because someone might see them and tell Mrs. Dewey.
Elmer stirred in his sleep and Nan repositioned him to lie across her. The movement broke open some of the welts and she could feel her undershirt getting slightly wet. “Oh God, please make the bleeding stop. I can’t get anything else and people would tell on me if they knew I’d been whipped.” The bleeding stopped and the travelers rode on. At daybreak they came upon a stream and Nan pulled Molasses to a stop. She nudged Elmer and eased him to the ground. Gingerly she climbed off the very tall horse and grabbed the bedrolls.
Fumbling through the blankets she found the knotted handkerchief and pulled out the hard biscuit. “Elmer, we will have to share this. It will be our breakfast today.” She tore the biscuit in half and gave Elmer his share. She found her tin cup and got some water from the stream and brought it to Elmer.
“Nan, I’m tired. Where are we going? Will Ma beat you again when she sees us?”
“Elmer, we are going away. I don’t know where, but we must go fast so Ma will never see us again. Elmer, can you be brave and ride some more?”