The Gilpin Girls

by Jane Carver

An ideal life for three sisters in the late 1800s meets drastic detours, requiring some odd decisions. Birth, deaths, betrayal and lasting friendships happen when the Gilpin girls set out to solve some of life’s biggest challenges.


Chapter One

When A Logical Decision Isn't


“Sometimes in life, we make decisions that seem quite logical at the time, and then we realize later that they were quite illogical.” Rebecca looked over her shoulder at her youngest sister, Hannah, while still holding Colleen’s braid. “Illogical means the decision wasn’t the best one after all, sweetheart.” She turned back to braiding hair, getting her middle sister ready for bed.

“You mean like when Henry decided to jump in the lake to save Robbie McQuire?”

“Hannah!” Colleen exclaimed. “That was mean! Thinking of Henry and his drowning hurts Rebecca’s heart.” Colleen often dramatized things, but this time Rebecca knew she was correct. Thinking of Henry did hurt.

Suddenly, the patter of light running feet came toward Rebecca. A short body slammed into her side, and small warm arms hugged her middle so tightly she had to suck in a deeper breath.

“I’m sorry, Becca! I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” The child sobbed into her sister’s dressing gown, wetting the fabric with huge salty tears.

Rebecca dropped Colleen’s braid and turned to take the little girl into her arms. “Hush now, Hannah. Yes, thinking of Henry hurts me a little now, but honestly not enough to warrant all these tears months later.”

“But...but...Henry decided to save Robbie. And he drowned,” the child wailed.

“Come with me.” Rebecca led her sister back to the window seat, sat then pulled the girl onto her lap. She brushed Hannah’s hair back and used a thumb to dry the tears that still rolled down full cheeks. “Henry had a kind heart. He loved us all and would never want us hurt. But he loved others as well. When he saw Robbie in trouble that day, he decided to try and save him. Yes, Henry couldn’t swim well, but he wanted to help. That decision seemed logical to him at the time. Understand that?”

Hannah nodded, her head resting against her older sister’s shoulder, while a perfumed late spring breeze wafted through the window.

“Only later did that decision prove to be what I called it…illogical. It wasn’t the best idea after all, considering that Henry did save Robbie by pushing him hard enough to allow the boy to get ashore, though my poor darling tired so quickly he couldn’t save himself.” Rebecca looked up in an effort to keep a few stray tears from rolling down her cheeks. “What seemed right at the time turned out to be not such a good idea.”

“But what if I decide—”

“Listen, sweetheart, we can’t go through life thinking our every move could be our last one. Or even thinking that our choices could turn out to be wrong. We make decisions and live with the consequences, no matter what.”

Hannah sat without a word, twisting the belt of Rebecca’s dressing gown. “I suppose. But I miss Henry.” Her words came softly, sadly. She and Rebecca’s fiancé had become close friends and often allies in silly pranks on the older girls.

When Henry died, everyone mourned, but Rebecca often wondered—and now knew—that her baby sister, only seven at the time, missed Henry as a grown-up playmate. “We all miss Henry, dear. He died something of a hero, but that doesn’t make his death any less painful. However, he’s gone and only lives in our memories now. Someday, perhaps, another person will come along that we can love just as much.” She kissed Hannah’s head and stood her back on the floor. “Now let’s all get to bed, shall we?”

Taking her sister’s hand, Rebecca moved over to Colleen’s side. The girl still sat at her dressing table, idly weaving hair ribbons together.

Rebecca stopped behind Colleen while holding Hannah’s hand. Before she left, however, she caught sight of the three sisters in Colleen’s vanity mirror.

“Mama would love a photo of us like this,” she sighed.

Colleen snorted and scoffed, “Not in our nightgowns she wouldn’t.”

“No, that’s true, but look, Colleen.” She nodded in the mirror to their reflection.

Eighteen-year-old Colleen sat on the stool, elbow on the dressing table, her russet-colored braid draped over one shoulder.

“Sturdy, like Papa,” Hannah commented.

“What?” Colleen gave her baby sister a frown.

“I think Hannah means you’ve solid bones like Papa. Not delicate like Mama. Beautiful, just like Grandma Gilpin. She had hair the color of yours, and she was a lovely lady,” Rebecca assured her middle sister.

“If anyone is delicate, it’s you, ‘Becca,” Colleen said as she examined her twenty-year-old sister in the mirror. “Like Mama.”

“Fragile, Papa says,” Hannah added.

“Huh! There’s not a fragile bone in that delicate body of our sister. She’s tall and beautiful with all that brown hair and brown eyes. But there’s steel in her. Papa would be the first to agree with that,” Colleen said.

“And what about me?” the baby sister asked.

Rebecca leaned down and kissed the smooth forehead while Colleen watched. Colleen seldom expressed emotions and rarely showed them.

“You, my dear, are the best of both Mama and Papa with all that light-colored hair floating around you like a halo and those grass-green eyes. You’re neither sturdy nor delicate. You are perfect just the way you are.”

“Well, the Gilpin girls aren’t going to be perfect or beautiful tomorrow if we don’t get some sleep tonight,” Colleen groused.

“True, sister. Come, Hannah.” Rebecca pulled Hannah away from the dressing table with its revealing mirror, from Colleen’s room with its pale cream-colored walls and autumn-colored bedding and pillows.

“Good night, dear. Sleep well.” The oldest and youngest Gilpin girls left the middle daughter in her room and moved down the hall.

Rebecca pushed open the door to Hannah’s room and ushered her to the pretty bed all adorned in shades of pink. “Off with your slippers and dressing gown.” She checked that the tie at the end of her sister’s braid still held the soft strands tight as the little girl’s hair often slipped the bonds of restraint. “Now up you go. Prayers then off to sleep.”

“God bless Mama and Papa. Bless Rags, and keep him away from the bunnies. Bless Colleen, though she teased me again today about my freckles. Bless Mr. Gordon, so he can grow lots of pretty flowers for Mama, and Mrs. Gordon can still cook the best-est meals. God bless Miss Borden, my teacher. She had a worrisome day today with Johnny Silar.” Just about the time Rebecca thought of shortening her sister’s prayers, the little girl asked her final and familiar blessing. “And bless Rebecca ‘cause she takes care of us all. Amen.”

Too many truths floated around Rebecca. She kissed her sister and left the room, with a head full of thoughts about actions and consequences.


The Gilpin Girls by Jane Carver


Amazon Kindle
Google Play




? Heat Level: 0