It seemed as if they had been in the cellar forever but if Isabel had been able to tell time, she would realize it had only been an hour. She sat on a wooden bench with her head in Mama’s lap and dozed as male voices droned on about the old days.
Suddenly, the sound of breaking glass and a loud thump made Mama jump; almost dumping Isabel on the dirt floor. “I’m sorry, Isabel,” Mama said with a soft, quivering voice. The quiver in Mama’s voice frightened the child more than the loud noises above them.
“Don’t worry. Probably just a broken window.” Papa stroked his chin and walked to the ladder leading to the trap door.
“We should wait a few minutes until we are sure the storm has died down,” Mr. Scott stepped ahead of Papa, climbed three rungs of the latter and put his ear to the trap door.
Isabel smiled at the sight of the man whose hair matched the wall. He also had red dirt smeared on his face, hands and shirt. She looked at her own dirty hands and then up at Mama who smiled.
Eugene followed Papa and looked up at the door. “I wonder if this is how Noah and his family felt?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it was raining hard outside for a long time and they were stuck inside the ark wondering.”
“Why didn’t they open the door and look out?” Curtis asked seriously.
“They couldn’t do that, silly. Remember? God shut the door!”
“What if lions, tigers and rats tried to eat them?” Curtis said with a smile.
“Did that happen, Mama?” Isabel’s enormous eyes turned to Mama.
“No dear.” Mama said softly. God protected them. The ark was a place of safety. God took care of them and of the animals that lived in a separate part of the ark. Noah and his family took care of the animals God sent to them.”
“Oh, that’s good.” Isabel looked at Mama cat curled on the floor at Mama’s feet with kittens cuddled closely. She reached to pet the velvety coats but Mama took Isabel’s hand into her own and then lifted her onto her lap.
“The kittens are like babies. They need lots of sleep.” As if on cue, Mama Cat opened her eyes and began grooming her little ones.
“Looks like we can go back upstairs now,” Mr. Scott said as he opened the trap door. “Doesn’t look too bad from here,” he said as he turned back toward the family. “Something smells awfully good too!”
“Oh, the stew,” Mama exclaimed as she lifted Isabel to the floor and rushed to the ladder. “I hope it didn’t burn. I remember sliding the pot to the back of the stove.”
“Ummm. Smells just right to me,” Papa said with a grin.
Mr. Scott stepped into the kitchen and reached for each of the children, cat, kittens, cradle, Mama and baby before Papa stepped into the kitchen, closing the trap door securely.
Everyone stood in the kitchen as if afraid to move. “Well, it aint too bad,” Papa said as he ran his hands through his salt and pepper hair. I’ll cover that kitchen window with a tarp for now.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Mama said as she nodded toward the window. Looks like the rain has stopped and the fresh air feels wonderful. Just as she finished speaking, a hiss and a whine came from the basket near the stove. Mama Cat looked with consternation at two brown puppies shivering by the bowl formerly filled with cream. To everyone’s amazement, Mama Cat placed her kittens into the basket and then herded the puppies into the basket, lay beside them and began grooming them as if they were kittens.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.” Papa exclaimed and Mama smiled.
“She isn’t seeing puppies,” Mama said softly. “She just sees puppies in need of a mama. Now, why don’t you men clean up the glass and leaves that have blown in while I prepare lunch? Isabel, would you like to help me?”
Isabel nodded vigorously while Mama pulled out a flour sacking cloth and tied it around Isabel as an apron.
“Look!” Curtis pointed to the kitchen window to a beautiful double rainbow. Everyone ran to the window and Papa lifted Isabel to his shoulder.
“Jesus did keep us safe just like he did for Noah!”
“I know today isn’t Thanksgiving but today, I am very thankful,” Mr. Scott said as he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and loudly blew his nose.
“Well then,” Mama said as she sliced bread and slathered them with butter. “Let’s sit around the table and give thanks.”
Later that evening as Mama was tucking Little Isabel into bed, Isabel reached for the toy rabbit her friend Sally Anne had given her at their first real tea party.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to have a tea party for your friend, dear.”
“That’s okay, Mama. This was more fun and Jesus gave us our own rainbow!”