Los Angeles, California
Cecilia Hayes glanced wistfully at the coupon book in her hand. She knew the rationing of sugar wouldn't hit her home too hard. Even with Jacqueline back with them, they would not be consuming a great deal. Keagan did have a bit of a sweet tooth, but the doctor had instructed him to keep his weight down after his heart attack, so this would be further motivation to help him in that goal.
But talk of rationing other items was growing. Coffee, for example, was soon to be placed on that list. Already, Cecilia, along with their new gardener, Manuel, had planted a "victory garden," clearing away a patch of flowers for the space. She'd never grown vegetables before. It should be fun. And truly, she could hardly complain about the so-called sacrifices of war. She and her family had plenty. She seriously doubted that any Americans were hurting from privation, at least not from want of physical goods.
The hurt was present, though, from the parting of loved ones, the fear, the worry. Even the Hayeses, with their wealth, had not escaped it. And having three daughters hadn't spared them, either.
Cecilia glanced out the French doors of her study, where she sat at the small Chippendale desk. The peaceful beauty of her gardens, with the fragrance of roses drifting in through an open window on a warm June breeze, could not dispel the constant knot in the pit of her stomach. For a mother with only daughters, she had as much to worry her as those with sons in battle. And perhaps she had a son in battle, as well. But she could not think of that. It turned the knot into a quivering mess.
It was bad enough to have one daughter in Russia with Hitler rampaging on all sides. Cameron might not be in the military, but she was a newspaper correspondent, and Cecilia feared her audacious eldest daughter would sniff out all the trouble she could find. She had always been so fearless and assertive that she seldom considered caution, especially if it prevented her from seeking the news. Yet Cameron's most recent letter had indicated she was changing, if not in her essential personality, in ways certainly as vital. Foremost, she said she had made a commitment of faith in God. This thrilled Cecilia to no end, though she knew few details of what had led up to this astounding change in her daughter. The letter had come via the diplomatic pouch, as it was called, and through a friend in the State Department, not by the slower and less reliable regular mail. It appeared to have been written quickly. Well, the how of Cameron's new faith didn't really matter. Cecilia was simply comforted in the fact that Cameron was no longer alone in her life's walk. And it seemed she would need that spiritual presence more than ever, for there were struggles in that walk. She had written of the death of her friend and Journal reporter John Shanahan. Her words, though brief, had indicated a deep grief. She had gone on to express hope and joy in her relationship with that Russian doctor, whom she didn't dare name even in a communication sent via the embassy. But Cecilia knew better than anyone that such an entanglement with a Russian could bring little but more grief.
At least communication with Cameron was possible, and Cecilia had some assurance that she was well. There had been no word from Blair since the Japanese had invaded the Philippines. Of course, Blair had always caused fear and worry in Cecilia, so the tense knot that represented her middle daughter was only a bit larger than before. Blair's rebellious past life had carried her to the brink of disaster, but the last place Cecilia would have imagined this daughter to be was in the middle of a war. Blair had always been far more concerned with clothes and hair-dos and such. Cecilia had received only a trickle of news out of the islands, but whatever was happening over there, it had to be a drastic lifestyle change for Blair. If only there was one tiny shred of hope that she was all right, but Keagan said not to expect anything. Since Corregidor fell in May, a mere month after the fall of Bataan, the enemy's hold on the islands was complete, and it would be a miracle for anything more than a bit of news to get past the Japanese blockade. Cecilia certainly believed in miracles, but she also must be pragmatic—or else go crazy. She would not cease in her prayers, but she must prepare herself for a negative answer to those prayers. It might be some time before she would see Blair again, though even with her pragmatism, she would not believe her daughter dead. Most likely she was now a prisoner of the Japanese and would have to sit out the rest of the war in a prison camp. That couldn't be too terrible, could it? At least she would be safe from battles.
Cecilia put away the ration book, rose, and patted the wrinkles from her suit. The clock in the parlor sounded noon with its lovely lilting chimes. Jacqueline would be home from her doctor's appointment soon. There was just time for Cecilia to speak with the cook for a few minutes about dinner. Keagan had called to let her know that Harry Landis, who had recently been promoted to managing editor of the paper, and his wife would be coming to dinner tonight. She hadn't entertained much lately, so she wanted to make it special. The Landises were nice people. She didn't want to think they were the first guests to come to her home since Jacqueline's marriage. She didn't want to think her friends were snubbing her because of that. She didn't want to think of many things. Yet it all pressed upon her constantly.
As Cecilia finished conferring with Cook in the kitchen and was heading back toward the front of the house, she heard the front door open and close. She came into the entryway in time to greet Jacqueline.
"Right on time, dear," she said with a smile. But her smile slipped as she realized it might appear as if she had been impatient. "It's just a coincidence I'm meeting you at the door. I don't expect us to run right out." They had plans for lunch and shopping.
"I don't mind if we do," said Jacqueline, laying her pocketbook on the entry table. "I'm starved."
"I should have met you downtown and saved you time."
"I know how you hate to drive, Mom, and it's really not much out of the way. I just can't make it as long between meals as I used to." She grinned, and even if it was a cliché, she really did glow, to Cecilia's eyes at least.
Jacqueline didn't even "show" yet, but there was a vital and joyous demeanor about her that could not be crushed by war or separation or worry. She knew she carried more within her than a child. She carried hope, the kind that would help this country survive anything leveled at it. And maybe the fact that her child was of two races made it an even greater beacon of promise. At least that was what gave Cecilia the courage to accept what was still just a little difficult to imagine. Her daughter was married to a Jap—that is, a Japanese young man. Her first grandchild would probably have slanted eyes, black hair, and a yellow tinge to its skin. But it would be Jacqueline's child, and that's all that mattered.
"Nevertheless," Cecilia said, "feel free to take a few minutes to freshen up. There are a couple of things I need to do in my sitting room. Come there when you are ready." She tried to sound casual, not wishing to pressure her daughter with how much she had been looking forward to this outing. But the truth was she had been anticipating it since they had planned it two days ago. They were going to shop for maternity clothes and a layette. What mother, and soon-to-be grandmother, wouldn't be excited over such an excursion?
"Perhaps while you are waiting you'd like to take a few moments and read the letter from Cameron that came today," Jacqueline said. Cecilia noted there was mail lying with Jacqueline's purse, two letters to be exact. Jacqueline took one of the letters and held it out.
"Why don't we save it and read it together over lunch?" suggested Cecilia.
"A wonderful idea!" Jacqueline tucked Cameron's letter into her handbag. "All right, then. I'll just be a couple of minutes." She took her purse once more from the table, along with the remaining letter, and went upstairs.
Cecilia didn't inquire about that second letter. No doubt it was from Sam. He wrote her nearly every day, and the envelopes were usually quite thick, as was the one in question. Cecilia recalled the letters she used to get from Keagan when he was off in Russia. They were few, very far between, and never more than a few lines each. Apparently Sam had a lot more to say, or perhaps he just had lots of time on his hands there at the internment camp. But Cecilia didn't want to think of where Jacqueline's husband was. She didn't want to visualize the father of Jacqueline's child, Cecilia's grandchild, walled behind barbwire, shuffling idly about with masses of other internees cut off from the flow of their lives for no other reason than the slant of their eyes. She certainly didn't want to picture her daughter in that same place, as she surely would be quite soon now that she had graduated from college. Some couched the necessity of the camps in terms of national security, but Cecilia had met Sam, and he was an upright, honorable man, as American as any white boy lining up at the military induction offices all over the country.
Cecilia gave a frustrated shrug. She was thinking of it in spite of herself. She went to her sitting room to await her daughter.
Excerpted from TOWARD THE SUNRISE © Copyright 2003 by Judith Pella. Reprinted with permission by Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.