That evening, when the sun was almost gone, Charlotte finished her day's work of picking berries. How filled the basket was! Now, Mother could use them to make preserves and then sell them for money to support of the family. When Charlotte entered the house, she exclaimed:
"Mother, I'm home!"
Mrs. Richardson came to her, wearing a smock and an apron stained with berry juice. "My goodness, Charlotte!" she exclaimed. "Look at those berries. This year was plentiful. Very plentiful, indeed."
Her younger sister, Jane, also came into the room. Her hair was very dark and she possessed hazel eyes. She was very different from her older sister, in looks and in personality. She was not as quiet as Charlotte, and was more verbose than her. Yet she was a sister whom Charlotte loved dearly.
"Charlotte! How are you? Something strange happened today. When the young taxman, Isaac, I think was his name, came, he was admired by the library we had. He was very interested in our books and had asked if he could come over to see them. He said that in his home, there are very few books. He told us that he loved reading, but because he has so few books, he often had to travel two miles or so to the library."
"What did you all say?" inquired Charlotte.
"We said he could come over," replied Mrs. Richardson. "After all, he does love books, and I think it would be cordial of us to let him see our library. I think he will greatly enjoy it. He said he will come tomorrow morning at eleven o' clock."
"Now, let us eat dinner," said Jane. "I can smell the roast chicken. You must be hungry, after all that work. And look! you even have a slight sunburn. I think it is best if you don't work tomorrow. After all, most of the strawberries are picked."
After eating dinner with her mother, Jane, and her brothers, John and Thomas, Charlotte read a little in the library and went to bed. That night, while Charlotte was sleeping, she had a strange dream:
She was sitting on a bench in the middle of a verdant forest, with her hands buried in her face. She was weeping very hard. Tears rolled from her face. Her heart felt bruised and broken. Then she suddenly noticed that someone sat next to her and put his arm around her. It was her father, Mr. Richardson. His face was handsome, having the same brown hair and hazel eyes as Jane did. He looked troubled at the sight of his daughter lamenting.
"What seems to be the problem, daughter?" His voice was soft yet full of concern. Charlotte looked into the eyes of her father and was deeply surprised. She embraced him.
"Oh, father!" she exclaimed. "I know you are dead. I just cannot seem to move on with my life now that you are gone. My heart is broken into a million tiny pieces. I love you! I don't know how I could move on without you. Oh, father! What will I do? My heart can never be healed!"
"Love can heal anything," was the reply of her father.
Charlotte looked at him and wiped her eyes. "What do you mean?"
"I understand your pains; it is exceedingly difficult to be better after losing someone by death. In fact, it is impossible. But love will heal your broken heart, not make it perfectly better that you will never, ever feel sad about the pains of loss. It will just be repaired. You will meet a man and fall in love with him. He will understand your pain and will comfort you to the best of his ability. He will show such affection for you and he will ask you to marry him. You must say 'yes' to his proposal. if you do, your life will be of happiness. And because of his love for you, your heart will heal."
"But how will I find this man? Who would he be?"
"I will guide you to him."