The Life and Times of Lee Graham, Chapter Seven: The New Minister's Daughter

When Lee was 14 years old, he met a nice girl named Cybil.  Cybil moved into the Episcopal Church rectory in Alma when her father was called to be the priest at the very church Lee had attended ever since the first night he went there with Mrs. White and her party for Christmas Eve. 
 
Polly had joined the church after that first Christmas with Mrs. White too. Josiah Graham was furious when he found out his family had become church-goers.  Luckily for all concerned, it took  several years for him to notice.  It wasn't 'til one October when he was too sick with bronchitis  to travel around selling his Bibles that Josiah Graham learned his wife and son had joined the "Bible-thumping throng." 

Lee always thought it odd a Bible salesman would speak so disparagingly of believers.  The boy asked his father about that once.  "How come you don't like church-goers, Dad?"
 
"Because they're too full of themselves and think they've got all the answers for everyone in the great big world," the man replied. 
 
"Do you think I'm full of myself?" the boy asked. 
 
"I think you will be if you keep going to that church and if your mother keeps treating you like a little genius.  It's time you learned a thing or two about the real world, son.  There's things your mother doesn't know and those bible-thumpers won't tell you." 
 
Lee pondered that a while before asking his mother about what his father said.  She told him that Josiah Graham didn't know everything he thought he knew and that the people in the church were good people and Lee would be just fine with what they taught him.  Lee preferred his mother's answer to his father's, so he kept right on attending St.  Matthew's on Sundays. 

That's how it happened that Lee Graham was serving as an altar boy the first Sunday Cybil Wheeler showed up in church.  She sat in the front row with her uncle, Tom Wheeler, Alma's former Mayor, to be introduced to the whole congregation now that her daddy was their preacher.  She was the prettiest girl Lee had ever laid eyes on.  Her blond curls and green eyes were enough to make a boy want to rob banks and climb mountains, whatever it took to impress a goddess such as she.  It nearly caused Lee Graham to light the altar cloth on fire when Cybil  caught his eye as he crossed between the two altar candles lighting first one and then the other before the start of Mass. 
 
Of course, Lee didn't dare actually speak to the girl of his dreams.  He saw her each week at church and he saw her every week day in school.  As fortune would have it, Cybil was actually assigned the desk in front of Lee's.  The boy found her shiny, smooth mane to be  a distraction  from cyphers and maps of the great explorers.  He could barely concentrate when Cybil Wheeler was so close. 
 
Sometimes, Lee told the other boys in his class he couldn't go fishing or play a harrowing round of cowboys and Indians.  He told them it was because his mother wanted him to come straight home after school, which the other boys accepted as gospel truth because they all knew how demanding mothers could be.  But, really, on the days Lee avoided playing with his fellows, he was just mooning over Cybil Wheeler who went straight to the church every single day after school.  Lee would follow the girl there, keeping far enough back so as not to be detected skulking behind.  Then, he would take up a position on a bench in the town square just across the street from the church.  There, he would wait to see Cybil Wheeler come back out again and walk the few steps from the front of the church to the door of her house.  Once in a while, Cybil would look up and see him there, but Lee was always careful to have his nose buried in schoolbook.  If Cybil looked his way or waved in his direction, the boy always acted like he didn't notice, being so engrossed in his reading. 

One time, Esther, Mrs. White's lady servant, had come upon Lee sitting in the park pretending not to be smitten by Cybil Wheeler.  The boy jumped fairly four feet in the air when Esther plopped down next to him on his bench and said, laughing, "If you want to pretend not to notice a girl, you should make sure the book you're hiding behind is turned right side up." 

Then, Esther reached over and flipped Lee's book for him.  The boy was mortified and stammered a response.  "Huh?  Uh.  I'm, uh, not pretending anything, ma'am." 

"I see," the woman responded.  "Well, if you're not sitting here hoping to get a glimpse of Cybil Wheeler, you ought to come with me to Mrs. White's house." 

"I should?" said Lee, for the first time looking directly at the church door where he knew the most perfect girl on Earth would eventually reappear. 

"Yes, you should," said Esther.  "Mrs. White is feeling poorly and a visit from her favorite acolyte would make her smile.  Besides, we have ginger snaps." 

That did the trick.  Lee was in love but he wasn't lost yet.  The mere mention of ginger snaps was enough to raise him off the park bench and send him off down the street at Esther's side. 
 


* Lulabelle Gimlin is an SL RP character of Stephanie Mesler.  The Life and Times of Lou Graham is copyright Stephanie Mesler, 2014.  This story may be reprinted for inworld RP purposes with proper attribution to its author, Lulabelle Gimlin (Stephanie Mesler). 
 
 
 

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