?: ( slipping around her mother) He, he, he, he!
?: ( softly laughs) Dear child! You are making me dizzy!
?: Sorry mother. I am just so happy today!
?: ( smiles warmly) You're always happy.
?: Well. . . daddy says to be joyful in all things! Even in the bad things, God still can give me joy!
?: And he's right my little dove.
?: ( giggles) He, he! ( grabs her mother's hand with her own)
?: ( looks down at her, smiles warmly) .............

( They were walking down the street closer to the outskirts of town. In front of them was a couple more buildings on both sides of the street then the street curves slightly to the right towards a pathway lined with blossoming trees that lead to their house. Then a tall man carrying a bouquet of white tiger lilies walks up to them on the other side.)

?: ( smiles) Hello, Mr McBride.
Mr. Mc: ( stops) Why, hello Mrs. Midnight!
?: ( laughs) Please, just call me Sarah.
Mr. Mc: Of course.
?: Hello, Mr. McBrabe!
Mrs. M: ( chuckles) Its McBride, sweetie.
?: Oh.
Mr. Mc: Its quite alright. It is a hard name to say. ( smiles)
?: ( giggles). . . .
Mr. Mc: So what are you done people doing today?
Mrs. M: Oh, well we are shopping.
Mr. Mc: Oh?
Mrs. M: Yes, you see, its little Elizabeth's birthday today.
Mr. Mc: Oh! In that case, Happy Birthday, Miss Elizabeth!
El: ( giggles) Thank you!
Mr. Mc: How old are you going to be?
El: ( holds out her small, chubby fingers) Five!
Mr. Mc: Five years old?!? My! You're practically a lady!
El: (giggles) He he! ( spins in place her dress twirling around her small legs)
Mr. Mc: Hmm...... seems to me that a child deserves a present.... Oh! I know! ( plucks out a single white tiger lily, hands it to El) Here.
El: ( gasps) For me?!?
Mr. Mc: ( laughs) But of course!
El: ( runs over to him) Oh thank you! Thank you! ( tightly hugs his legs)
Mr. Mc: Why you're quite welcome, my dear.
El: ( takes it, breathes in the wild, delicious smell of the flower, sighs)......
Mrs. M: Oh, let me pay for that!
Mr. Mc: ( waves his hand) Free of charge.
Mrs. M: But I really should pay....
Mr. Mc: Call it a " thank you" for staying with my wife and 9 children when they all came down with the stomach flu when I was away. That was...... very kind of you.
Mrs. M: Jesus said multiple times in the Bible to help the poor and needy.
Mr. Mc: And you did just that.
Mrs. M: Only by his grace.
Mr. Mc: Indeed. ( watches El spin around with the flower in her hand, smiles) She growing bigger every day isn't she?
Mrs. M: Yes. When I woke up this morning to her bright eyes smiling brightly into mine, I wondered. . . where did the time go?
Mr. Mc: ( smiles) Time is funny like that.
Mrs. M: Yes...... she is a sweetheart.
Mr. Mc: She's going to make an amazing ruler.
Mrs. M: I pray for her every day that she will have wisdom like Solomon did, and kindness like Ruth when she left her homeland.
Mr. Mc: Amen. However....... I don't think that she will have problems being kind.

( El kept spinning around and around until she saw a old homeless man. She skips up to him)

El: Hello!
?: ( looks up, grins, showing his yellow teeth) Why..... hello there! What's your name?
El: Elizabeth Grace Midnight!
?: That's a pretty name.
El: Thank you! What's your name?! ( smiles brightly)
?: Call me.... Henry.
El: Okay, Mr. Henry.
He: No need to be formal. Just call me, Henry.
El: Mommy says its rude to only say the first name.
He: Oh. Well, in that case, Mr. Henry it is!
El: ( giggles) You're funny!
He: Am I now?
El: ( nods) Today's my birthday!
He: Well, happy birthday! How old are you going to be?
El: Five!
He: Whoa! You are older than me!
El: (giggles) No I'm not!
He: ( grins) You don't know that.
El: Yes I do!
Mrs. M: Elizabeth!
El: ( turns and faces her mother, calls Coming! I need to go.
He: Well, its nice to meet you. I hope I can see you again.
El: I'll come and see you every day!
He: Well, I can't wait.
El: Bye! ( skips off)
He: Bye. ( watches her skip off to her mother) Hmm. Beautiful little creature, isn't she, Henry? ( chuckles to himself)

( El skips back over to her mother, who has just said goodbye to Mr. McBride, spins around her mother giggling all the way.)

Mrs. M: My dear child, who were you talking too?
El: Why, to a man named Mr. Henry, mother!
Mrs. M: Henry?
El: Yes. That's his name!
Mrs. M: Oh.....
El: Mother?
Mrs. M: Yes my child?
El: May I visit him tomorrow?
Mrs. M: Well.......
El: Please mommy, I promised him! ( her voice slightly changed into a whimper)

Mrs. Midnight looks down into the big, pleading eyes of her child, and her mind swiftly takes her back to when she was a child, young, innocence, and free. She gently smiles at her daughter)

Mrs. M: ( chuckles inwardly, seeing herself shine through her daughter) Yes. You may see him again.
El: Yea! Thank you! Thank you, thank you mommy!
Mrs. M: ( squats down to her knees so that El could hug her) You're quite welcome.
El: May I bring him some food as well? He looks hungry.
Mrs. M: But of course! I can pack you a nice lunch to give to him tomorrow.
El: Okay! ( looks at her mother with a searching glance then smiles as if she won the lottery) Here mommy! ( places the lily in her mother's hair) There!
Mrs. M: But darling. . . that's your flower.
El: I know, but it makes you so pretty! Besides, its your favorite flower!
Mrs. M: ( touched) Well..... thank you. You're very sweet.
El: ( giggles) He, he!
Mrs. M: ( kisses El's forehead, stands up) Now come child. We need to hurry home so that we can prepare for daddy to come home.
El: Daddy! Daddy! ( excited, grabs her mother's hand) Lets hurry! ( tugs on her coat sleeve)
Mrs. M: ( laughs) Oh! Not so fast my child! I not as young as I use to be!

( Mrs. Midnight and Elizabeth continue their walk down the road. They were about to last the two last lone buildings when Elizabeth heard a noise)

( Thump!)

El: Mommy!!!
Mrs. M: (jumps) Oh sweetheart! ( puts her hand over her heart) You almost gave me a heart attack! What's the matter, love?
El: Mommy, there's something in the alleyway!
Mrs. M: Are....are you sure?
El: Yes, mommy! Come on!

( Mrs. Midnight sets down her groceries and followed Elizabeth in the dark, cold alleyway. In front of them was a fallen trashcan. Mrs. Midnight beckons Elisabeth to stay then she nimbly walks over the trashcan. Suddenly, she gasps!)

Mrs. M: Oh my goodness!
El: What is it mother?! ( crawls to her mother's side, looks) Whoa!

( In front of them was a curled up, very thin 6 year old girl who was wrapped up in a hole- filled thin gray blanks, fall asleep. Her dark brown hair with lighter brown tips on the bottom was matted and dirty, looking like it hasn't been washed for weeks. In her hand was an old saggy looking stuffed wolf with piercing still blue eyes.)

Mrs. M: ( gasps, puts her hand over her mouth) Oh, the poor thing!
El: Mommy, who is she?
Mrs. M: I....I don't know.
El: ( looks at the strange girl's feet, notices that she doesn't have any shoes on) Mommy look! She doesn't have any shoes on!
Mrs. M: ( kneels down on her knees) How could she survive in these conditions?!
El: Jesus was protecting her with His angels!
Mrs. M: Yes....
El: Oh, mommy, mommy! May we take her home! Pleaze, pleaze, pleaze?!?
Mrs. M: Of course! We must! No child should be on the streets like this!
?: ( stirs from all of the talking, sits up and yawns) Ahhhhhh! ( rubs her eyes and opens them to reveal peacock green and blue specked eyes, looks around and sees a tall, strange woman looking at her, screams ) Eek!!!!!!
Mrs. M: Whoa, whoa, it's okay darling!
?: ( scoots back against the wall, frightened to death) Who..... who.... who are you?! What do you want from me... ouch! ( her hand clamps down on a piece of glass, cutting it slightly, whimpers ) Great.....
Mrs. M: Here, let me help you. ( moves towards her)
?: ( scoots back even more into a tight ball) Don't..... don't hurt me.....
Mrs M: My dear, I won't hurt you.
?: P...promise?
Mrs. M: ( smile warmly) I promise. Now.... grab into me and we'll get you home.
?: O...ok.....
Mrs. M: Elizabeth, can you please  carry my bags for me?
El: Yes, mommy!
Mrs. M: ( picks ? up into her arms) Now what is your name, child?
?: Rebecca.
Mrs. M: That's a beautiful name, Rebecca.
Reb: Thank you......... what's your name?
Mrs. M: My name is Sarah Midnight.
Reb: Okay.
Mrs. M: We need to fix that hand...lets go. Come on, Elizabeth!
El: Coming! ( trots after her mother)

                    End of Chapter 1.

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