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January 16,1869

Dearest Mama,

I am doing very well here, but I miss you so much. My new friends, Melody, Catherine, and Isabel, say there will be a holiday in March or April. I cannot wait to see you and all my friends from Five Mile Creek again.

My birthday is in two days. I'll be twelve then! I received the package you sent me. Thank you for the lovely skirt. Melody says it matchs my eyes perfectly. She always looks for skirts and blouses that bring out her eyes.

I just really wanted to tell you, Mama, that you did the right thing for me by sending me here. I know you must miss me a lot. I miss you a lot.

I am beginning to learn to play the piano and the violin. When I come back for a holiday I'll play a song for you. Love, Hannah

Eleven-year-old Hannah Scott looked up from writing her letters home. For a second, a wave of homesickness came over her.

Hannah's friend, Melody Easterson, looked at her. "Are you all right?" Melody asked. "You don't look very good all of a sudden."

"Yes, I'm fine, thank you." Hannah answered. "I was just thinking of home, that's all."

"Oh. Well, why don't you read Miss Wallace's letter again?" suggested Melody.

"Maybe I will." replied Hannah. However, just as she finished speaking the lights out bell rang. "I guess I can't tonight," said Hannah, sadly, as she put away her writing supplies.

The next morning the bells rang at exactly eight o'clock. "Time to get up, girls," called Miss Smith. "Breakfast in one hour."

"I'll never get used to those bells," grumbled Hannah. "At home, Mama or Kate wakes me up. Not bells."

"Well, you better get up anyway, bells or no bells," replied Melody, pulling a tan dress over her head.

Hannah opened one eye."What's the weather like?"

Melody pulled back the lacy curtains. "Bright and sunny and probably hot like yesterday was," she replied. "You do want to read Miss Wallace's letter before breakfast,right?"

"You're right," said Hannah, jumping out of bed and pulling on her petticoats and purple and blue dress. She stood in front of the mirror brushing her long blonde hair when she remembered her letters home hadn't been finished.

"I don't have time to finish my letters and read Kate's letter." Hannah cried, dropping her silver hairbrush. "I had better hurry!"

Melody had already left their room to go talk to some friends before breakfast, so Hannah had the room to herself for the time being. Quickly, she crossed the room to her nighttable. Upon opening the drawer, she soon found Kate's letter.

Hannah took it out of the envelope and unfolded it. She began to read:

Dearest Hannah,

I am sorry I've not written you as I promised but I'll try to do better in other letters.

Did your mother tell you I almost moved away from Five Mile Creek for good? But now, I'm back and I own Five Mile in full. When you come for a holiday I'll show the papers if you want.

When you come, we'll cook all your favorites even if it takes all day. I miss you very much, Hannah. Sam is very lonely without you to play with although he'll never admit he misses a girl! He is taking very good care of Country Lass for you.

Are you taking music lessons yet? When I was your age I wanted to but they were rather expensive. Perhaps when you come for a holiday you could play us a song on the old piano in the parlor. I hope you are doing well in your studies.

The coach will be here in a half hour with over nighters so I must go and get everything ready that isn't ready already.

Love, your friend, Kate Wallace

All during the school day Hannah thought about Kate's letter. When the bells rang for lunch, Hannah and her friends ate together but as soon as she was able to leave, she hurried up the stairs to read her mother's letter and also to reread Kate's letter.

My Dearest Daughter,(Maggie's letter began)

How are you doing? I hope you are not sick and that you are doing well in your studies as well as you health. Sister Mary Helen has asked if you could please write and tell her how you are doing in Sydney.

Sam is taking good care of Country Lass for you. He does not like doing your chores though! I believe he misses you just as much as we all do although the men are not as willing to admit it. Actually, Ben does but he is the only one.

It is hard to believe that in just a few days you will be twelve years old. Such a young lady you are becoming! I am sending a birthday package along with this letter and Matt has promised to see it to Bathurst. I hope it arrives in time for your birthday and that you like it. Perhaps when you come for a holiday we could have a small party. You could bring a school friend home with you, if you'd like. And we could invite Sarah Worthington as well.

Well, the paper is too small to write all I'd like so I'll write you another letter soon, my darling. I hope to hear from you soon.

Love, Mama