This is the conclusion of a 5-part fan fiction short story based on the characters of author Susan K. Marlow’s Circle C Adventures and Circle C Milestones. This story details the courtship of Chad Carter and Ellianna Coulter. Enjoy!
The children filed into the schoolroom, dressed in their best. Ellie tried to push the butterflies in her stomach to one side, but they kept rising up into her throat. She tapped the ruler on her desk. “Please be seated.” The students sat in the front row and stared at their teacher.
The crowd of parents who had come to see their children frightened Ellie. What if they thought she’d failed terribly? Trying to keep her voice from shaking, Ellie made a short speech explaining the purpose of the Exhibition, and then called up the grades one at a time from youngest to oldest. As each grade answered questions on the basic elements of education, Ellie felt a little better. The children were doing very well, only a few mistakes had been made. Tom Belstead was solving a short division sum when the left pocket of his trousers wriggled. Ellie’s eyes widened as the smooth head of a grass snake poked out of his pocket. Tom went on working his sum as if nothing had happened, but his hand came from behind his back and slipped around the snake, holding it in place. Ellie held her breath as the boy finished his problem and gave the correct answer.
“That’s right.” Ellie turned the page in the arithmetic book and gave a problem to the next student. At the same time she caught Tom’s eye and gave him a look that said: if that snake gets loose, you’re in for it. Tom cracked a grin, but Ellie was far from thinking this was funny. If Tom’s snake made it out of his pocket, and someone saw it, things could go from good to bad in a hurry. Ellie watched that snake for the rest of the Exhibition, but Tom kept a hold of it, and it never got any further than halfway out of his pocket, although it scared Ellie a couple of times.
At the end, the children sat down to applause from their parents, and Ellie smiled in relief as she dismissed them. Everything had gone pretty much to plan, if you didn’t count the snake. The parents and children gathered around the tables of fried chicken and ice cream made by a few obliging mothers, chattering happily.
As the last of the parents gathered up their children to leave, Ellie noticed a familiar figure at the edge of the crowd, waving her over. She hurried around the tables until she was standing next to Chad. “What is it?”
“Are you finished here?” He asked.
Ellie cocked her head. “I can be, but I have to lock the door first.”
“I’ll be waiting in the buggy.” He motioned to a shiny black rig on the other side of the road.
Ellie locked the door quickly and made her way across the street. “Since when did you start driving a buggy to town?” She asked curiously.
Chad took her hand and helped her in. “Since I started courting you.”
Ellie huffed. “Don’t even try it, this is the first time you’ve driven a buggy to town in years.”
Chad grinned, shrugged, and clucked to the horse. They drove out of town for a while, ending up in an orchard. The last of the blooms on the trees floated down into the buggy, and Chad tightened the reins. “Whoa.”
Ellie didn’t know why they had stopped here, but she couldn’t take her eyes off of the trees just yet. “Where are we?”
Chad got out and motioned her to do the same. “This is the Carter peach orchard. I thought you’d like to see the last of the flowers.”
Ellie watched as Chad tied the reins to a low hanging limb. He came to her side and held out his arm. Ellie’s cheeks darkened as she took it. They walked away from the buggy in silence. It was nice just to be together, they didn’t need to talk.
Finally, Chad came to a stop under a large, well blossomed tree. He gently took Ellie’s hand off his arm, and went down on one knee.
Ellie felt her heart stop as she stared into his eyes.
“Ellie…” Chad pulled a thin gold band out of his vest pocket. “You are the most selfless, kind, and genuine woman I have ever met, and I love you more than I can say. Will you be my wife?”
Tears slid gently over Ellie’s cheeks, and her voice was shaky as she answered. “Yes, with all of my heart.”