"Amy, darling, how are you? Are you feeling better this morning?" Laurie smiled at his wife as he sat across from her at the breakfast table.
Any groaned and held her stomach. She pushed her plate of food away, then softly answered, "I thought I was doing better, especially since I felt so good yesterday afternoon., . . . but . . . ugh . . . I don't know Laurie."
"Do you want me to get Dr. Pierce?"
"No that won't be . . ."Amy broke off and ran for the sink. She quickly emptied what little she had in her stomach.
"Amy?" Laurie's concern showed through every inch of his face as he put his hands on her shoulders.
Weary from lack of sleep and from just throwing up, Amy collapsed. Laurie barely caught her in time, then picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. Softly, he laid her on the bed, kissed her softly and went to find the doctor.
"Hey Doc. How are you doing?" Nick leaned over the wheel of the carriage to shake his hand.
"Hello Nick. I'm doing fine. Now that I have Dr. Marksten, I can get out a lot more." Dr. Pierce stepped out of his carriage and dropped to the ground beside Nick.
"Dr. Pierce." Jo called from the steps as she walked towards them. "This is a surprise. Is everything okay?"
"Yes, yes I'm just stopping by all the farms out this way to make sure everyone is well." Dr. Pierce shook the offered hand and smiled. "Is everyone well here?"
"Yes, Dan had a cold, which Nan, and Bess, both came down with later, but everyone is fine now." Jo smiled pleasantly.
"Sounds to me like you have too much time on your hands Doctor." Nick smiled and slapped Dr. Pierce on the shoulder.
"Yeah, I think I do. David . . excuse me . . Dr. Marksten, says that he needs the experience in the office, so until June, I don't have much to do." Jo and Nick both smiled in amusement, then Jo invited them in for tea.
"Dr Pierce? DR. PIERCE!" Laurie went running down the street much to the amusement of several townspeople.
Dr. Marksten ran out of the office. "Oh, Mr. Laurence. Dr. Pierce is out visiting some of the farms out Plumfield way. Can I help you?"
"My wife. She's really sick. Could you come?" Laurie was out of breath from running and stood there panting.
"Of course." Dr. Marksten smiled reassuringly and grabbed his bag. "Lead the way Mr. Laurence."
"Amy?" Laurie softly pushed the door to their room open. "Sweetheart? I brought the doctor."
"Hello doctor." Amy whispered weakly.
"Mrs. Laurence." Dr. Marksten said in hello, then started running test.
20 minutes later, he smiled and looked them both in the eyes starting with Amy, then turning to a worried Laurie. He moved back to Amy and asked, "This will probably be an akward question, but, . . are you late?"
"Late? . . . oh . . . Do you mean . . . I'm . . ." Amy stumbled and her eyes got big and round.
"You're pregnant Mrs. Laurence."
"Pregnant?" Amy asked totally shocked.
Laurie looked like he was about to say something, then fainted.
"Dr. Pierce. I was beginning to wonder if you would ever be back." Dr. Marksten opened the door for the older gentleman.
"Yes, well, it always happens when I visit Plumfield." Dr Pierce took of his hat and hung it on a peg in the wall.
"Did Laurie and Amy make it out there yet?" Dr. Marksten grabbed the coat from Dr. Pierce's hands and hung it up for him.
"Thanks. No why would Amy and Laurie go out there today? It isn't their normal visiting day." Dr. Pierce looked at his assistant like he had gone mad.
Dr. Marksten tried to look like he couldn't care less about what he was about say. "Oh, just the minor fact that Amy is pregnant wouldn't hurt."
"Amy Laurence is pregnant?"
Amy wrung her hands nervously. "What will Jo say? What will Bess say! A new baby. Oh, Laurie."
"Amy calm down." Laurie grabbed her hand to keep her from rubbing it raw.
"Oh you're a fine one for saying calm down. Who was it that fainted?" Amy grinned at her somewhat sheepish husband.
"Yeah well, you would have if you weren't lying in bed." Laurie acted serious for a while the grinned along with her. "Bess, and Jo will be surprised that's for sure. I think they'll be happy, I . . . hope they'll be happy."
The carriage pulled up at the gate at Plumfield and waited as another carriage passed by and then continued towards the house.
"Well here goes nothing," Amy muttered.
"Hey Bess, what are you doing?" Dan asked as he came out onto the porch.
"I'm going to walk through the woods for a while." Bess smiled and waited a minute before continuing, "you want to come?"
Dan smiled, "sure, but . ." he stared down the road, "isn't that your parents' carriage?"
"What? Where?" Bess leaned over the railing.
"Right there," he pointed.
She leaned so far out squinting, that she almost fell over. Dan grabbed her arm and pulled her back. "Sheesh Bess, they'll be here in a minute. You don't have to kill yourself trying to see a horse and driver."
She smiled embarrassed, "sorry. Thanks Dan."
"Don't mention it." He held out his arm and escorted her off the porch just as the carriage stopped.
"Bess, darling." Laurie got out and hugged her.
"Hello father." Bess smiled.
Laurie turned and helped his wife out of the carriage. "Hi Bess."
"Mother. Are you okay? You look a little pale." Bess looked concerned though she tried to hide it.
"I'm fine Bess. Don't worry." Amy smiled at her daughter then noticed Dan in the background. "Hello Dan."
"Hi, Mr. And Mrs. Laurence." Dan smiled and came forward to shake their hands.
"Has my daughter been behaving herself?" Laurie asked with a smile as he started towards the house.
"Umm. Yeah. Pretty much." Dan smirked at Bess who in turn hit him in the stomach.
"Good. Is Jo here?" Amy asked starting to get nervous again.
"Yeah, I'll get her." Dan took off up the stairs.
A minute later Jo came slowly down the stairs followed by Dan.
"Amy. Is everything all right?" Jo went and gave her sister a hug then hugged Laurie.
"Yeah. I just need to talk to you and Bess."
"Do you want me to leave? Because I can . . ." Dan broke in startling Amy.
"Oh no. Please stay. Sit. You'd hear about it anyway." Amy smiled at the handsome young man. He could be so perfect for her daughter . . . . .
Dan shrugged his shoulders then sat next to Bess on the couch.
"This may come as a shock to you. It did us. . ." Jo looked confused as did everyone else in the room so Amy quickly continued. "I was feeling really bad this morning so Laurie got the doctor and he told us some . . . interesting news." She turned to her husband for support.
Standing he grabbed her hand and squeezed it. "I . . I'm pregnant."
If they were confused before, not they were shocked.
"Mother?" Bess stood. "Are you sure?"
"Dr. Marksten said it was due in March or June. Are you . ."
"I don't believe it. A baby. A brother or sister. A . . A . . ahh." Bess fainted. Dan lept for her but didn't get to her until she had hit the ground.
"Bess?" - Dan
"Bess?" - Jo
"Honey?" - Laurie
"Bess!" - Amy
Part 3 -
Slowly Bess opened her eyes, starring into four concerned faces.
"Are you okay?" Dan was the first to speak.
"Yeah, sorry everybody. I wasn't expecting that." Bess smiled slightly.
"As long as you are okay darling. But . . . are you okay . . . with the fact that I'm pregnant?" Amy crowded close to her daughter as the others backed away.
"It's amazing mom. I'm so excited. Is it going to be a boy or a girl?" Bess slowly sat up and smiled.
Amy laughed relieved, "it's too soon to tell Bess. But, and don't tell your father I know this, but, he wants a boy." Amy whispered it loud enough for everyone in the room. "Oh, and also don't mention the fact that he fainted either. It makes him blush."
"That's not fair Amy." Laurie protested against the laughs of everyone else.
"A baby, Amy. I'm so excited. . . . Have you told Meg?" Jo enthusiasm made Dan smile. He was standing off to the background, not really a member of the family, and not knowing where he fit in in the enthusiasm and excitement. Not thinking anybody would notice, he slowly and quietly slipped out the door.
One person did notice though. Bess watched as he left and sorrow washed over her. She realized what he felt, not knowing his father, or mother, and not knowing about his family. Suddenly she felt dizzy again and had to hold herself up for a minute before regaining balance. Too much at one time.
Finally Amy and Laurie decided to go so that they could stop by and tell Meg, and Bess could finally escape to her room. Nan was there and Bess told her the news. Nan got excited and the two talked all night about the pluses and minuses to it being a girl or boy.
One Month Later
"Yeah, I want the blue curtains. Girls can like blue just as much as boys do."
"Uh yes ma'am. If your sure." The merchant was starting to get nervous around Amy, not that Bess could blame him.
"Of course I'm sure. Although . . . that light green is rather pretty." Amy pointed out and the merchant stopped half way through cutting the fabric. "Well go on. I said I wanted it didn't I? Bess, which do you like better." Confused the merchant decided to just cut the fabric and Bess had to stifle a laugh.
An hour later when Amy still hadn't decided Bess pointed out the fact that Laurie liked the color blue a lot, and she decided that's what she wanted. The merchant handed it to her and with a sigh Amy walked out of the store. "They really need to get more helpful people in there. That merchant wouldn't even comment."
Again Bess had to prevent herself from laughing.
"I'm going shopping for a crib tomorrow. Do you want to come?" Amy stepped into the carriage with a flourish.
Getting in after her Bess answered nervously. "No, I can't."
"Well why not?"
"Dan, Nat, Nan and I are going fishing tomorrow." Bess avoided looking at her mother.
"You'd rather go fishing with ‘those' children, then go shopping for your brother or sister." Amy answered in that voice that she uses when she is upset. (You know, ‘that' voice.)
"Mother, we've been planning this for months. Aunt Jo promised we could go tomorrow. Besides, . . . it's not only for the fishing that I want to go."
"Nan talked you into it didn't she? I swear that child sometimes . ." Amy didn't get to finish the sentence before Bess broke in.
"No actually it was Dan, who talked me into it. Besides, don't you need to go in for a checkup soon? We could go shopping the day after tomorrow."
"You care more about what Dan wants then you do me." Amy sniffled.
"Mother! That's not fair! I . ."
"Here you are Miss Laurence. Plumfield." The driver held the door open for her startling them both.
"Thank-you driver. Mother, from the way you are acting, it sounds to me like you care more about the baby then you do me."
"That's not true!"
"Isn't it? These are my friends mother."
"And this is your family Bess. . . . Driver take me home, I'm tired."
As she watched the carriage drive off Bess muttered, "one of ‘them' could easily become family, mother."
"Dr. Pierce, hello. My daughter reminded me that I might want to come in so you can make sure I'm healthy." Amy smiled and shook his hand.
"Yeah, you might just want to do that Mrs. Laurence. If you could just come follow me."
"A couple minutes later he looked up startled and pale. "Mrs. Laurence . . " he gasped.
Part 4 -
"Mrs. Laurence, you're . . you're . . ."
"What? What am I?" Amy was wondering about the sanity of this doctor.
"You're not pregnant."
"Ready?" Nan asked totally excited.
"Yeah. Lets go." Bess was half way down the stairs when she felt a pang of sorrow. She quickly shook it off, and continued to where the boys were waiting. "Hey guys."
"Are you ready to go hike, swim, fish, and eat?" Dan smiled at Bess.
Feeling the pain again, she shook it off again, and replied, "Yeah lets go. How far are we going to hike?"
"Forever Bess." Nat teased.
"Just about a mile, and its all level." Dan smiled and grabbed the picnic basket.
"So if I get too tired are you going to carry me?" Bess grinned as they started walking.
"Sure, why not." Dan smiled, and turned and started walking backwards, "so if I get too tired will you carry me?"
"Hah. Not a chance in a lifetime." Bess smirked and passed him on the trail.
"What do you mean I'm not pregnant? Dr. Marksten said . . ."
"Dr. Marksten was wrong." Dr. Pierce sighed and rubbed at his eyes. You are going through a perfectly normal thing called Menopause. The estrogen in your body, produced by your ovaries decreased which means . . . that you can't have any more children."
"Estrogen?" Amy looked confused.
"Steroid hormones. I don't know how Dr. Marksten could have made such a mistake."
"So you mean . . . my baby . . doesn't exist? It never happened?" Amy started shuddering.
"No. It never happened."
"What about the morning sickness?" A single tear fell from her eye which was hastily swept away.
"Probably a case of the flu. It was going through Plumfield." Dr. Pierce looked at the depressed face, which at this moment had no hope.
"My baby . . never existed. Oh my . . ." Amy broke and started sobbing. "No, no, no, no, no, no. My baby. No."
"Hey guys, Nan and I are going to go on a walk. You two going to be okay alone?" Nat smirked at the two.
"Fine Nat." Bess glared.
"Good, we'll be back in ten minutes. We'll wave from the top of the waterfall." The two took off leaving Dan and Bess alone.
"What? Nat and Nan? Aren't you used to it by now?" Dan smiled.
"No and I don't think I ever will be."
"Oh come on. Its not that bad."
"So are you excited about the baby?"
Bess sighed and turned away from him. "No. Not anymore. Now I'm just sick and tired of hearing about it."
"What do you mean?" Dan's smile turned into a frown.
"That's all she even thinks about. It's like . . she doesn't even care about me anymore."
"Bess, you know that's not true."
"Well it sure feels like it. Can we talk about something else?"
"Jo, I told you that you might want to sit down. Why don't you do it?" Nick grabbed her arm and led her over to the couch.
"How did you find out?"
"I ran into Laurie as he was leading Amy back to the house. She's hysterical Jo. You need to go to her."
"Bess?" Jo couldn't help it as the tears started to flow.
"I'll hike out and get her. Jo . . . go."
"Hey you two. Everything go okay while we were gone?" Nan smiled as she and Nat walked up to Dan and Bess who were discussing the weather.
"Yeah, fine. How was your hike?" Bess looked up and smiled.
"It was beautiful. You two really need to go up there."
"Yeah, there's this cave behind the falls where you can actually go up and touch the water. It's amazing." Nat started gathering the trash and remains of the food and was putting them in the basket when he thought he heard something.
Softly it came, then louder, and louder. "Bess! Bess!"
"It's Nick. Nick we're over here!" Dan yelled out.
"Hey guys."Nick jogged up the trail.
"Is everything okay?" Bess asked worried because the name he was calling was her's.
"Bess, your . . your mother . . your mother went to the doctor's today. She's not pregnant. Bess she needs you.
Bess rocked back on her heels. "Not pregnant?"
Part 5 -
Bess rubbed at the tears that were falling on her cheeks. She couldn't stop. It was her fault that her mother wasn't pregnant. She didn't want the baby, so it was her fault. She couldn't see the path that she was walking on and tripped.
Dan grabbed her arm, then quickly and suddenly picked her up and started carrying her down the path.
She sniffled, "Dan?"
"I said I would carry you if you got tired. I think this is equivalent to being tired. Now stop complaining, or I may drop you." Dan smiled.
She started crying all over again and buried her head on his shoulder. Sobbing, she remembered the sad feeling she had had on the stairs and on the porch. "Oh, mother," she murmured softly.
Hitching up the horses took more time, and, Bess finally managed to stop her tears. Then holding every feeling inside, she stepped into the carriage and rode off with Nick. Later, she recalled that she didn't even remember the ride, and they made it rapidly to her house. Slowly she got out and walked to her front door. It opened suddenly which startled her, but before she could react her father had her in a bear hug.
"Oh, daddy. Is she okay?"
"Jo is comforting her right now, but, I think she wants you." Laurie grabbed her hand and started for the house.
"Bess stayed outside the door for what must have been, at least, 5 minutes before she finally managed to hide the tears and gather the nerve to go in the bedroom.
"Bess. Come here. I need a hug." Amy sobbed when she saw her daughter. She had treated her daughter horribly the afternoon before and now she had to fix it. "Bess. I'm sorry. Yesterday I, . . . I acted rudely and it hurt you. I'm, sorry. I hope you're not mad at me."
The tears fell, and Bess ran into her mother's waiting arms. "I could never be mad at you mother. A little upset maybe, but I love you, and I'm sorry about the baby."
"It'll be hard, but I still have you."
Nick took Jo and Bess home late that night, but neither were tired. They sat and talked in the parlor all night. That morning, Dan came down the stairs and found them both asleep on the two couches. Raising his eyebrows for a minute he smiled then started to leave.
Bess' voice stopped him, "oh Bess. I didn't mean to wake you."
"I didn't sleep. Dan will you, . . . . take me to the waterfall?"
He smiled, "sure."
Finally after getting permission from Jo, Nick, and Asia, and also receiving warnings, the two set off. They took with them enough food for lunch and dinner, and Bess planned on staying till after dinner.
Hiking and climbing there way to the top, was slow and almost tedious with a picnic basket full of food. Dan had to stop and reach down to help Bess up a couple times, then he took the basket and still he had to stop and help Bess up a few times.
Reaching the top, both sat on the nearest rock to catch their breath before going to the edge. They finally caught their breath, and went to the edge. Beth looked over and gasped.
"Dan its so pretty. Why didn't you bring me up here before?"
"Well basically because you didn't want to hike."
"True, but still!" Bess smiled. "Are you hungry?"
"Aren't I always?" Dan grabbed the basket pretending to eat it.
They sat up there and talked for hours. They ate when they were hungry and drank water from the waterfall. It became dusk and they sat to watch the sun go down.
"It isn't your fault you know." Dan suddenly spoke, breaking the companionable silence.
"What isn't my fault?" Bess asked softly.
"The baby. It wasn't your fault, that your mother isn't pregnant." Dan reached over and grabbed her hand and was surprised when she didn't take it away.
"Whatever Dan. I just wish I could take away her pain." Bess sighed looking out over the water.
"Well, we'll just have to do it."
"Do what?" Bess looked over at him and saw a smile forming on his lips.
"We'll just have to have a baby ourselves. We might even be able to have a boy."
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