San Francisco, 1882
Mr. Hawkins stood at the front of the one room schoolhouse collecting the last assignment before the Christmas holidays, the children’s Christmas wishes.
He watched Mary Muller slowly gathering up her books. The poor child was only twelve, but already carried the burden of being a woman by cooking, cleaning, and tending for her men folk. What the child really needed was a mother. But there was a slim chance of that happening. Womenfolk were rare in these parts.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Hawkins,” she said as she turned in a piece of paper.
Mr. Hawkins opened it and read:
I want a new Ma for Christmas. Stephen Muller
He quirked his eyebrow at her. “This is your little brother’s wish. Don’t you have a Christmas wish, Mary?”
“Oh, I do have a wish.” Mary flipped her long blond braids over her shoulder, her blue eyes serious. “I’m just not sure I believe in Santa anymore.”