CHAPTER 23

The next morning was a morning of miracles. Joshua awoke to a clattering sound. He jumped up and ran to the alley entrance. He thought he was still asleep and dreaming when he saw what was there.

Two large kettles lay on the cobblestone street next to the alley.

A sound drew his attention up. He caught just a glimpse of something thin and spidery on top the wall. In a moment it was gone.

Was that real? Joshua wondered.

But there was no denying what lay in front of him were real, two enormous kettles. It was like a giant ball of iron had been split into two halves. They lay there like a giant’s broken toy.

Heathcliff and Lucinda came running.

“What are those?” Lucinda asked.

“Kettles,” Joshua mumbled.

“Joshua quick, say you want a mansion and hundred gold coins,” Heathcliff said.

“I don’t think-“

“Just try it!”

Joshua let out an exasperated sigh and said to whoever was listening, “I want a mansion and a hundred gold coins.”

They waited. Nothing dropped from the sky.

“See,” Joshua said.

“Well, you have to wait a day,” Heathcliff replied.

“How do you think this happened?” Lucinda asked.

“I guess I was wrong. Somebody out there is helping us.”

“Who?” asked Heathcliff.

“Why?” asked Lucinda.

“I just hope whoever it is comes up with the flour, lentils and greens,” Joshua said.

“Otherwise I really will have to make a meal out of thin air.”

“What do we do?” Lucinda asked.

“Let’s keep going,” Heathcliff said.

“Keep going?” Joshua asked. “How?”

Heathcliff shrugged.

“I haven’t a clue. But we’ve started, let’s see where it leads.”

Joshua and Lucinda looked at each other.

“I don’t have anything better to do today,” Lucinda said.

“All right then,” Joshua chuckled.

They ran across the street to get Mr. and Mrs. Mudd. The five of them lugged the metal half spheres into the alley next to the grill. That’s when the second miracle occurred.

They heard the click clack of the horses hooves getting closer and closer and the rumble of something heavy moving across the broken streets. They peaked out of the alley to see two horse drawn wagons approach. They came to a halt just in front of the alley entrance. Their drivers stepped down and conferred over a piece of paper.

“What’s this?” Joshua called.

One of the drivers said, “We got an order late last night to drop off these supplies here. But it can’t be right. No one lives here.”

“Yes they do! We do!” exclaimed Heathcliff.

The two drivers looked skeptically from the alley to the three raggedy children and two raggedy adults standing before them.

Joshua said, “We’re fixing the place. See.”

He pointed to the two cauldrons leaning against the wall of the alley. The two drivers conferred silently once more then one of them said, “Then you can take all this as well.”

They threw off the oilskin tarp covering the first wagon and revealed the canvass bags underneath.

“Flour!” Joshua exclaimed.

“And lentils!”

The second wagon was filled to the brim with bushels of collards.

“Who is doing this?” Joshua asked.

Heathcliff rubbed his hands together.

“Who cares? Just get ready for our mansion.”

The drivers unloaded their cargo. Joshua saw he had enough flour and lentils to feed a hundred people for weeks. The greens wouldn’t last that long, but there was still several days worth.

When they were finished unloading the bounty one of the drivers held out a grimy pencil.

“Someone needs to make their mark,” he announced.

Joshua stepped forward.

The man regarded him for a moment. Normally he might have complained but the morning had not been normal for anyone. The driver surrendered the pencil to Joshua.

He was about to write his name boldly and proudly on the yellow parchment. His mother had always complimented him on his handwriting. But something stopped him. Something inside him told Joshua it wasn’t safe.

It was just his name on a piece of paper. How could that be dangerous?

But he decided not to question the warning. Instead he made an “X” on the paper. The driver looked at it and laughed. He and his companion mounted their wagons and they trundled off down the street.

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