After a long drive, the carriage finally pulled up to the plantation. Tara's eyes widened at the sight of such a beautiful place. There was about an acre of cotton plants, heavy with white fluff, and another acre of corn. A large garden with a scarecrow was laid out not far from the side of the house, which was a whole other sight in itself. The beautiful house was huge, with a porch that wrapped all the way around. A large oak tree was settled on the right side of the yard, and a wooden swing hung from the lowest branch, which was some twenty feet from the ground. The house had several windows and was warmly lit in spite of the dark storm that was threatening to pour down more rain. Three rocking chairs sat on the front porch that had four stairs leading up to it. The carriage driver opened the door and extended his hand.
"Better get on inside Miss. It's liable to rain soon." He spoke quietly. Tara nodded absently and let him help her out, unable to tear her eyes from the slendor of the place. It called out to her, home at last. She turned long enough to thank the driver, then turned back to the house. A young woman now stood on the porch. She had long brown hair and big blue eyes.
"You must be Tara," The girl said quietly, but warmly.
"Yes, and y-you must be W-Willow's sister. She didn't tell me your name."
"It's Dawn. Pleased to meet you and welcome home." She curtsied slightly and extended her hand toward the house.
"Thank you v-very much for taking m-me in," Tara said graciously.
"It's not a problem, we could do with more company around here," Dawn began, "It's just been Willow and I this last year. We don't have much of a social life, there's just so much to take care of on the farm. Poor Will never gets to rest it seems. Maybe she will now that she has someone to talk to."
"I just h-hope I'm not too much of a burden."
"Nonsense, we'll love you I know." Dawn inhaled deeply. "Hmm, storm's on it's way. I hope Willow doesn't get wet on the way home."
"It had already begun to rain at the quarry when I left. I think it's a little late to wish that." Tara laughed, for the first time in a long time. Much of her stutter was disappearing now that she was comfortable around Dawn. Dawn smiled at the melodious sound of Tara's laughter. Willow was going to love Tara.
"So shall we get your things inside?" Dawn gestured to the trunk and small satchel that the carriage driver had deposited on the porch. Tara nodded as Dawn picked up her satchel and one side of the trunk. Tara took the other side and together they managed to get it in the door. Dawn carefully put them down out of the way.
"We'll leave it here until Willow gets home. She's stronger and can carry it up the stairs." Dawn praised her sister. Tara smiled at her attitude toward her older sibling but didn't want Willow to have to carry the heavy trunk up the stairs after working all day.
"Let's try to take it ourselves. Willow looked so tired out at the quarry and I would hate for her to have to come home and do this when she could be relaxing."
Dawn smiled at Tara's kind and thoughtful nature.
"Okay, let's try it."
Together they managed to get it up the stairs to Tara's room and settled at the foot of the large bed. Tara looked around at her sparsely furnished but homey room. A handmade quilt rested across the bed and a large oak chest of drawers squatted in the corner. A small oil lamp sat on the small table beside the bed. The curtained window looked out over the cotton field. There was a tiny writing desk and stool in the opposite corner of the dresser.
"It's lovely." Tara breathed as she took in every detail of the room. She noted a small piece of paper on the pillow. She walked over and opened it out of curiousity. The handwriting was small but neat.
I arranged this room for you. I hope everything is to your liking. Please make yourself at home and do not hesitate to ask if you should need anything. I hope you like it here. I am certain you will. Welcome home.