Spellbound – Part IXMay 23rd, 2010 | By Ronald Paxton | Category: Series, Tales From the Ranch | 681 views
“The word is ‘ tariff ‘,” the teacher said.
John Howard and his wife anxiously watched the two finalists in the school spelling bee seated on the auditorium stage.
The boy, a fifth grader, stood and walked to the microphone.
“T-A-R-I-F,” he said.
“I’m sorry, that is incorrect,” the teacher replied.
The boy’s face collapsed as he returned to his set.
Sarah Jane Howard anxiously clutched her husband’s hand as their daughter, Emma, waited for her word. Sarah Jane’s mind flashed back to the recent meeting with Emma’s first grade teacher. The teacher had said that Emma’s test scores in reading and spelling were almost off the charts. Sarah Jane had nodded her head and said that she knew Emma was gifted when she began reading at the age of three. The teacher had shaken her head.
“Emma is beyond gifted, Mrs. Howard,” her teacher had said. “She’s a prodigy. She’s currently reading at a twelfth grade level. She has an adult vocabulary and she’s a better speller than I am.”
The teacher’s voice jolted Sarah Jane back to the present.
“The word is ‘ enigma,’” the teacher said.
Emma walked over to the microphone and cleared her throat.
“E-N-I-G-M-A,” she spelled, looking over at the teacher.
The teacher looked up at Emma, and then turned to the audience.
“We have a winner,” she announced.
“Hi, Mrs. Simmons,” Emma said. “Is Hannah Beth still sick?”
“Hi, Emma,” Mrs. Simmons replied. “She’s upstairs resting.”
“I brought her schoolwork,” Emma said. “May I take it to her?”
“Thank you for doing that, honey,” Mrs. Simmons said. “I’m afraid I can only let you see her for a few minutes. The doctor says she needs to rest.”
Emma knocked softly on the door and entered the room. Hannah Beth was sitting up in bed.
“How do you feel?” Emma asked.
“Tired,” Hannah Beth replied. “All I want to do is sleep.”
“Are you still wearing your pajamas?” Emma asked.
Hannah Beth nodded.
“Did you go to the doctor?”
Hannah Beth nodded.
“What did he say is the matter with you?”
Hannah Beth shrugged and said, “I guess I have a small hole in my heart.”
Fear and worry raced across Emma’s face as she reached over to hug her friend.
“Are you going to die?” she whispered in a shaking voice.
“No,” Hannah Beth answered, “but I need to have an operation to close the hole.”
“When do you have the operation?” Emma asked. “I’ll go with you so you won’t be scared.”
“I might not have it,” Hannah Beth said, her voice quivering. “Mama talked to the insurance company and they said they won’t pay for it.”
“Why not?” Emma asked.
“They said I can live without it.” Hannah Beth swallowed hard and added, “but if I don’t have it the doctor says I’ll have to stay quiet and rest most of the time.”
A tear wandered slowly down Hannah Beth’s face. “I won’t be able to play with you anymore,” she said. “I might not even be able to go back to school.”
“Time for you to get some rest, honey.” Emma turned and saw Mrs. Simmons standing in the doorway.
“I’ll be back tomorrow, Hannah Beth,” Emma said
Hannah Beth tried to smile. “’Bye, Emma,” she said.
“I’m so glad you came,” Mrs. Simmons said as she walked Emma to the front door.
Emma looked up at Hannah Beth’s mother. Her eyes were red and Emma could tell that she had been crying.
“Don’t worry Mrs. Simmons,” Emma said. “Hannah Beth’s going to get well. I have a plan.”
“Time for bed, sweetie,” John Howard said.
“Just a little longer, daddy,” Emma said. “Please. I’m studying my words.”
John Howard walked over and hugged his daughter.
“You can study some more tomorrow,” he said.
“The city spelling bee’s next week,” Emma said.
John Howard nodded. “Your mama and I are very proud of you,” he said. “Are you excited about representing your school?”
“Well, the best thing you can do is get a good nights sleep,” John Howard said.
“I’d hate to see you fall asleep on the auditorium stage.”
Emma giggled and then closed her eyes.
The big night arrived. Sarah Jane fussed over Emma, tying her hair in a bow and smoothing out her new dress.
“Why can’t I wear my jeans, daddy?” Emma asked.
John Howard shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know, sweetie. Ask your mama. She won’t let me wear my jeans either.”
They arrived at the school and took Emma backstage before taking their seats in the auditorium. The curtain came up as the audience applauded the twenty five children representing all the schools in the city. Emma breezed through the early rounds, although Sarah Jane noticed that the words were getting progressively more difficult. Spellers began to be eliminated. Emma almost missed the word ‘ sequel,’ and Sarah Jane thought she might faint from the tension. Three rounds later, and Emma and another girl were the only two remaining on stage.
“The word is ‘ caucus,’ the teacher said.
Emma stepped up to the microphone. “C-A-W-C-U-S,” she said.
The teacher looked up and said, “I’m sorry, that is incorrect.”
Emma seemed stunned as she dropped her head and shuffled back to her seat. The other contestant spelled her word correctly and Emma congratulated her on her victory.
The curtain came down and Emma’s parents hurried backstage.
John Howard rushed over to his daughter and gave her a big kiss.
“You were wonderful, sweetie,” he said.
“I wish I hadn’t missed that word,” Emma said.
“You finished second out of the whole city,” Sarah Jane said. “You should be very proud, honey. Plus, as the runner-up, you won a check for fifty dollars. Do you know what you’re going to get with it?”
Emma smiled and said, “I’m going to get an operation.”
“I’m gone for the day, Liz,” Dr. Dalton said to his receptionist.
“I’m sorry, Dr. Dalton,” Liz replied, “There’s one more person here to see you. She’s been waiting for over an hour.”
“A patient?” Dr. Dalton asked.
Liz shook her head.
“Can we reschedule?” he asked.
“I don’t think so.” Liz replied.
Dr. Dalton sighed and headed back to his office. “Send her back,” he said wearily.
Dr. Dalton looked up in surprise as Emma entered the office.
“Are you Dr. Dalton?” Emma asked.
“Yes I am, honey,” Dr. Dalton replied. “Can I help you?”
“My name’s Emma. My friend, Hannah Beth Simmons, needs an operation for her heart, and you’re her doctor.”
Dr. Dalton waited for her to continue.
“I know that the insurance company won’t pay for the operation, so I want to pay for it.”
Dr. Dalton looked at Emma with concern. “That’s a wonderful thing for you to do, Emma, but the operation is very, very expensive.”
“I know,” Emma said. “I won fifty dollars in the city spelling bee and I have the money I’ve been saving in my bank at home.”
Dr. Dalton watched transfixed as Emma emptied her bank on the desk and began counting the money.
“$76.11,” Emma announced. She cleared her throat and in a small voice asked,
“Is it enough?”
Dr. Dalton looked at Emma for a long moment. “You would do this for your friend?” he asked.
“What were you saving your money for, Emma?” he asked.
“A new saddle for my horse, Dixiebelle,” Emma answered.
“Is it enough?” Emma asked again.
Dr. Dalton came around his desk and gently placed his hand on Emma’s shoulder.
“It’s enough,” he said.
“Mama,” Emma called, “Hannah Beth and I are going to ride down to Wild Pony Canyon.”
“Wait a minute, Emma,” Sarah Jane answered. “A large package just came for you.”
Emma and Hannah Beth raced up the hill to the house.
“I wonder what it is?” Emma asked.
“Let’s find out,” Sarah Jane said as they began tearing open the box.
“Oh, Emma,” Hannah Beth exclaimed as they lifted the gift from the box.
“That’s the most beautiful saddle I’ve ever seen.”
“There’s a card,” Sarah Jane said.
Emma opened the card and read aloud: “I hope you like the saddle. Thank you for helping me to help your friend. Your Friend, Dr. Dalton.”
Emma smiled and said, “We’ll be back later, mama, but first I’ve got a surprise for Dixiebelle.”Help Support T21 with your Dollar Donation Today
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