John Brown had noticed the change in Anne as well. Before she had gotten sick that winter, he noticed the fearful concern in her eyes disapear and replaced with joy. Because of Isabella, her cheeks were rosy and she smiled and laughed much more than she had before.
He knew that she no longer had an interest in his business, so one cold day when she and Isabella had not made plans, he asked Anne if she would serve him and his sons lunch during their meeting. He trusted his daughter so much that he continued to speak when she entered the barn, her hands full with bread to serve.
She recognized her father's words almost immediately, dropped the bread, and ran out of the barn. Business was quickly forgotten and the men chased after her.
Anne was found a few hours later, chilled to the bone. It was then she had developed a fierce fever and cold.
When she had fully recovered, John Brown could no approach her. He often thought about what she had told him after he and his sons had returned from Kansas. She wanted to help her father any way possible.
She wanted to help, but where did she fit in? If she had been born a boy, she would have been at the meetings with the rest of her brothers. But no. She was just a girl.
After much thought, he finally realized where his daughter fit, where she could help him the most.
"Anne, I will speak with you." John Brown gave his daughter a small smile, which she returned.
"That day when I asked you to bring us lunch, you ran away. Why?"
Anne's smile quickly disappeared. "I wanted to know, Papa. I wanted to know as much as the
boys, when I first heard your words at that meeting. But Isabella doesn't think it's my place and so I tried not to listen. But I could still hear, Papa! Half of me wanted to listen, but half of me knew it was wrong. I'm sorry, Papa."
"What if it were your place to know of only certain things?" He raised his eyebrows as his daughter scrunched her brow.
"It's not proper," she said at last.
"Nonsense. Listen to me. I need a woman to cook and clean for me and your brothers. We're moving to Virginia in a few months," he said. "For a--" he hesitated, "for a vote, like in Kansas."
"I know your mother will refuse, with little Sarah to take care of. And your half-sister Ruth has a family of her own now. You're the only one left."
"I can't," Anne protested suddenly. "it's improper. Isabella said--"
"Watson loves his bride," he interrupted. "Virginia may take a while and he couldn't part with her for more than a few days. Isabella is going to help you keep house, too."
Anne was unable to smile, for her face was frozen with shock. But her eyes sparkled with the love and joy she could not express.