[This is another in a series of stories set in and around Granville,
told mostly from the point of view of a twelve year old in each era,
based on actual incidents recorded in our history...with a bit of
literary license to make a narrative.]
She felt, rather than heard the rumble of feet through the frame of
the house itself. Her sister slept, just six years old, in the bed
across the loft from her, and their three month old brother was
gurgling downstairs in the corner of their parents' room, closer to
the hearth and the last glowing embers of the evening fire.
Living in a fairly new frame house, you could tell without even
opening your eyes if someone had on their boots, or was padding about
in their wool stockings. The vibrations traveled across the floor
planking, into the wall joists and up to the loft, along the puncheon
floor, up the lathe-turned legs and through the cords that wound
under the ticksack mattress.
It was full dark outside this November night, but there was a glow,
coming and going oddly through the heavy, rippled glass of the one
window at the gable end. Late as it was, to feel booted feet walking
about downstairs was unusual, so she slipped on her shift and moved
over to the head of the steep ladder down.
There was a creak of the door hinges, and a chill draft blowing up
from below, then a distant sound of muttering voices, punctuated by
the baby's muted cries. She turned, and slid down the ladder,
catching the last wide rung with her bare feet and stepping down
gently to the floor.
Her mother was not in bed, either, but standing near the front
window, which had a set of city glass panes which were thinner and
"What's going on, Mother?" the girl asked.
Mother jumped, then strode over to where her daughter stood and
wrapped an arm around her tightly.
"The world is ending, dear; we must be brave."
Even for a twelve year old, accustomed to the oddity of adult
conversation, this was strange, but not as terrifying as it might
seem. She had been worrying that the strange lights outside were a
neighboring house with a chimney fire, as so often happened,
endangering their own snug home. Somehow, the world ending didn't
sound quite as bad.
"How do you mean?" Before the older woman could form an answer, the
door swung open again, and Father stood there, shaking his head.
"That fool Humphrey boy is just laying out there in the Broadway
watching the show; he's going to get himself run over by a farmer
coming home late." As he spoke, the church bell downtown began to
"Is it the . . ." the girl began to ask.
"No, darling," he answered, his glance taking in both wife and
daughter with the endearment. "The Good Lord Almighty seems to be
having us on a bit, for his own purposes."
The three of them walked out on the front step, and before looking
up, saw that lamps were flickering into life through windows all
along Equality Street, and people, mostly barefoot, stood outside as
Above, the skies were filled with streaks of fire, bursts of golden-
orange light shooting from a common point overhead, burning to the
horizon in all directions. They were mostly all the same, and each
Except to go in and pull on stockings, and check the baby, they sat
there all night, until dawn overwhelmed the still flaring falling
stars. "We may never know what that was, but it was surely glorious,"
said Father as the sun rose, and Mother went back inside to make them
all a hot breakfast.
[The "Night the Stars Fell" on Nov. 12, 1833 was seen all over the
eastern US, today known every year as the Leonid meteor shower, but
never yet again as amazing as in 1833. Perhaps this year?]