'If God is in control, why did He make Fan fall?' Millie asked desperately. 'I thought I was doing so well with the promise God gave me when we left Lansdale. And now it's all come to pieces! If He lets terrible things like this happen, how can anyone trust Him? What are we going to do if3/4' 'Oh, Millie,' said Aunt Wealthy, interrupting her. 'God didn't make Fan fall, although He did allow it. But we must trust Him,' she said passionately. 'We cannot give up hope3/4no matter what the doctor says.' Millie Keith put her faith in the promises of God when her parents moved the entire family out to the wild frontier, where life is full of surprises, adventure, and danger. But now Millie, just turned thirteen, finds her faith tested again when tragedy strikes her family, when she loses her best friend because of her faith, and when deadly fevers stalk the town. Can she trust God with life...and death?
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A Test of Faith When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. PSALM 77:2 As Millie, Rupert, and Celestia Ann approached the front door of the Big Yellow House, Millie's heart was full of joy. What a grand time we had tonight! she thought. Rhoda Jane was truly the most beautiful girl at the Social, and the green dress fit as if it had been made just for her. It was such fun to show her God's love! Thank You, Lord, for letting me be part of Your plan. I can't wait to see what You do next! Millie turned the doorknob and stepped inside. 'Mamma!' she called. 'Mamma, we're home!' She pulled off her hat and tossed her muff on the table before she realized that something was very, very wrong. Marcia Keith, Millie's mother, stood beside the couch, one hand over her mouth. Stuart Keith, her father, was kneeling beside it, with a little golden head cradled in his arms. Fanny's face was pale, almost blue in the lamplight, and her eyes were closed. 'Oh, Lord help us,' Aunt Wealthy cried. 'I only turned my back for an instant! I went to get Annis some milk . . .' Her voice trickled away into nothing, and then she sobbed. 'What happened?' Rupert asked, pushing past Millie. Nobody answered him, as all were too intent on the still form on the couch. 'She's breathing,' Stuart said, stroking Fan's forehead. 'She's still breathing. I've got to go for Dr. Chetwood, Marcia.' Marcia took his place, gently cradling Fan's head. Stuart didn't even look at Rupert and Millie as he went past them into the cold night. 'He forgot his coat,' Celestia Ann said. 'What happened?' Millie asked, dropping to her knees beside the couch. 'What's wrong with Fan?' She could see a bruise starting to spread like a shadow over the little girl's forehead. 'She fell,' Aunt Wealthy said. 'Just moments ago. She fell through the door into heaven. Didn't you hear the cry?' The door into heaven. That's what they called the door from Aunt Wealthy's room that led into thin air above the street. Pappa nailed it shut when we first moved into the Big Yellow House. How could Fan have fallen through it? 'Mamma, is she going to be all right?' Millie asked, taking her little sister's limp hand. 'She is going to be all right, isn't she?' Marcia didn't answer. She just kept petting Fan's forehead and whispering to her. Silent tears were running down Aunt Wealthy's face. Wannago, her little terrier, looked up into her face and whined, then dropped to his belly and crawled to the couch. His little pink tongue darted out, kissing Fan's motionless fingers. 'What can we do?' Rupert asked. 'How can we help?' 'Pray,' Aunt Wealthy said. 'Just pray.' Millie lay her head against the couch. Don't let Fan die, Lord. Please, let her stay with us. No one spoke, and the loud tick-tock of the grandfather clock was the only sound. How long would it take Stuart to find the doctor? Dr. Chetwood had been at the Christmas Social, and Stuart might try to find him there first, before going to the Chetwood's home on the other side of town. Stuart was on foot, but Dr. Chetwood had a carriage. Surely they would be here soon. The hands of the clock had never moved so slowly, creeping up to midnight and then down again. Millie couldn't shake the feeling of wrongness in everything---Fan's stillness, the walls between rooms made of curtains, the tables and chairs made of packing crates. What were the Keiths of Lansdale, Ohio, doing in this place? How could they be living in a warehouse with a door that opened into thin air? Millie knew how she would have answered those questions just a few hours before: It's all God's will. He has a special plan for us! But now . . . . At last, they heard the beat of a horse's hooves and the crunch of buggy wheels on the crusted snow. The door burst open and Stuart, Dr. Chetwood, and Reverend Lord, still bundled up from the evening's sleigh ride, appeared. The doctor's professional air had an immediate calming effect. His long black coat, Hessian boots, and even his gold-headed cane gave him an air of efficiency. Reverend Lord stood behind him, a bit like a nervous scarecrow, in too-short jacket sleeves that allowed his bony wrists to show. Both men required only a moment to take in the situation, and both started for Fan, almost bumping into each other, but Reverend Lord bowed, deferring to the older man. Dr. Chetwood went straight to the patient, his eyes never leaving her face as he stripped off his soft leather gloves. He warmed his hand for a moment, then felt gently along Fan's neck, turning her head from side to side. He called for a candle, and while Stuart held the flame close to Fan's face, the doctor lifted her eyelids and checked her pupils. Finally, he stood up. 'I'm sorry, Stuart,' he said, shaking his head. 'She's suffered an injury of the brain. There is nothing we can do but make her comfortable until . . .' Marcia gasped and ice shot through Millie's heart. Fan was dying. 'No!' Aunt Wealthy said. 'That is not all we can do! We can plead with the One who holds life and death in His hands!' She sank to her knees and took Fan's little hand in both of hers. 'Dear lady,' the doctor said gently, 'we can all pray for peace as she slips away . . .' 'No!' Reverend Lord's voice was an echo of Aunt Wealthy's, as if her voice had traveled some distance, found a solid rock wall, and jumped back stronger than before. He stepped out of the shadows and laid his hands on her shoulders. 'Forgive me, Doctor, but that is not all we can pray for. God sent me to Pleasant Plains to build a church, and I won't see one of my lambs taken like this!' 'Have you ever seen an injury of this sort, young man?' Dr. Chetwood asked. 'I have seen a few. And forgive me,' he continued, glancing at Stuart and Marcia, 'but I think false hope is cruel. I have never seen a patient recover from an injury like this.'
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