The summer Ella turned sixteen she fell in love with Rueben Alan Stiles. He had a smile that warmed her heart, a sense of humor that made her laugh, often, and a kindness that touched her very soul. She had known Rueben since she was a child. They attended the same one-room school house although he was four years older. Ella completed her education when she was in eighth grade. That same year, Rueben left for college, for he wanted to be a journalist and travel the world. She really never gave him a second thought until he came home for a visit.
During the summer of 1911, Rueben came home to visit his family. And on one fateful Sunday in June, this young man that accompanied his family to the Lake City Methodist Church, ran into the now grown up beauty, Miss Ella Marie Hogue. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and after church, he waited by the large black oak. She came walking out the doors with several friends. Rueben recognized the girls for they had all attended school together. Before he lost his nerve, the young man made his move. “Good afternoon, Ella. I was wondering if I might walk you home?”
Ella’s friends smiled at Ella’s handsome suitor and told their friend that they would catch up with her later. The girls laughed and shot parting glances as they walked away from their friend. “Well, Rueben, I believe this is the first time you ever spoke to me. I didn’t know that you even knew my name,” Ella told the young man.
“Oh, I remember you, but the last time I saw you Miss Ella Hogue, you had braids and freckles and bandages on your scuffed knees. You were just a little girl. Now, you’ve grown up into a beautiful young woman.”
The young woman glanced at her suitor, blushed, and looked away from Rueben.
For a time, they walked together while reminiscing about school days. “Do you remember when Jack Miller, Donny Orson, and Arnie Bells turned the school privy upside down for a Halloween prank?”
Ella laughed. “Remember when the sheriff scared those boys and locked them up overnight and told them they were heading to the big house?”
Rueben reminded, “You could hear them blubbering and pleading all the way down Main Street. Reverend Johnson came to their rescue and pleaded for their souls. The sheriff said the Reverend Johnson winked at him and took off with the pranksters preaching hellfire and damnation. He kept the trio busy for months. After all the community work, the Reverend had those boys do around town, I think they would have rather ended up in prison, but Main Street never looked better, and Widow Ashton got a new roof out of the deal.”
“Donny Orson’s sister told us that Donny complained at the dinner table one night because the Reverend had fooled them all. He asked Reverend Johnson how long it would take before their debt would be paid, and they would be right with Jesus again. The Reverend asked Donny if he repented, and when Donny said that he had, the Reverend told him that he was in good standing. Shocked, Donny asked about all the work they had done, and the preacher reminded him that you don’t enter Heaven’s gates on good works. He loudly complained to his parents about all the hard work he had completed to make things right. His pa just laughed, and his mama told him it just kept him out of trouble.”
As the two laughed together, Rueben took Ella’s hand as the two walked side by side. Once they reached Ella’s house, Rueben asked if could talk to her father because he wanted to know if he could court her.
Nodding, Ella shyly replied that he could talk to her father before the pair climbed the stairs to her home.
Blush – The Daily Prompt