Editor's Note: This is an ongoing series which runs each Thursday morning titled the Richland Chronicles, by author Paul Lintern. It is set in the 1800s and tells the story of Richland County through the eyes of young people. The books are available from Lintern for $25 a set, tax and shipping included. Each book is about 120 pages written for intermediate readers (4th grade) with local illustrations. Volume I is Amelia Changes Her Tune. Volume II is Isaac and Wolf Paw Find Their Home. Volume III is Autumn Keeps Her Secret. Volume IV is Mr. Gamble Starts a School. Volume V is Jacob Blows his Horn. Volume VI is Cassie Fights the WarVolume VII is Emilene Adopts Her Family. Volume VIII is David Dances the Bases.

This is not good!

Natalie knew the crack of the branch so high up in her oak tree meant she had better grab something quick, but she did not expect to get caught by a branch stub that had worked its way up the back of her dress.

She could feel the branch between her shoulder blades, and could not reach anything to pull her up.

It was as though she were hanging by a coat hook, 40 feet above her home!

Mama and Papa were coming own the road, with the Vasbinders. Uncle Jacob and Aunt Lucinda were right behind them. They would not be able to see her until she yelled, but the last thing she wanted was for them to see her stuck up there.

Maybe if I loosen my bow.

Nothing.

Why don’t I loosen my collar?

No good.

I’ll raise my arms and slide out of the sleeves.

She raised both arms and slowly felt herself slide out of her dress and muslin underdress until she realized that she was falling quickly and couldn’t grab with her arms because they were inside her skirt.

Grab something!

Natalie could see a branch nearby but couldn’t get her arms to it, so she grabbed it with her feet and legs which caused her to suddenly swing upside down catching her left pantaloon on a some leafy branches that pulled it off as she slid by. Finally, she stopped on a branch by doing a handstand against a large branch, which caused her scriff to fall over her head and arms.

I don’t believe this.

She shook her head and arms to try and get free, while slowing turning herself over to be upright. The final humiliation was to see her scriff float through the remaining branches, landing on the house roof, over the front door, just as the carriages arrived.

She looked up at her dress, hanging about 10 feet above her. All she was still wearing was her right pantaloon.

I should have worn pants.

Natalie!

Mama had screamed when she saw her poor granddaughter, perched on a branch, trying to cover herself with her thin little arms.

Uncle Jacob was up on the roof in a moment, and heading her way while the others gathered together and stared at their bare bottomed girl.

“Is that, her dress up there?” Mama asked.

“Can’t wait to hear this story,” Papa said.

“Hush old man. Let’s just get her down and make sure she is all right,” Mama said.

Jane and David Vasbinder just stood quietly, Jane reaching for a blanket in the buggy, and David just shaking his head, no doubt grateful not to have had to raise children.

Cassie and Marty came out to greet everyone and was surprised to see everyone looking up, and to hear Jacob on the roof. Marty had little Johnny in his arm, who looked up and pointed at Natalie.

“Sissy. Bathtime.”

“What in Heaven’s name?” Mother said. “Natalie, why in the world… What are you… How could… Is there a reason you…. “ She just took a deep breath.

I don’t think I will live this one down.

Uncle Jacob had no difficulty climbing on the lowest branch and because of his size, he made it up to Natalie in another moment. He had grabbed the scriff as he climbed on the roof.

Well, there’s nothing to hide now.

Instead of reaching out to her, though, he sat down next to her. He handed her the scriff, which Natalie just held in her arms.

He knows I can get down myself. He also knows how embarrassing this is.

“Rather interesting predicament, I’d say. Want to explain to me how…”

“Not really, Uncle Jacob. I started to fall, and caught myself, but I guess the branch caught me first, by my dress.”

“Do you want me to go down with you first, then get your dress, or do you want me to get your dress first?”

“I think I’d like to be wearing something when I climb down.”

“Fair enough,” he said, and shouted down to the family and friends, “We will be down in a moment.”

Natalie watched as Jacob worked his way up the tree, grabbing the pantaloon from a blossom a few feet away from the trunk. She carefully put her scriff back over her head and stood up on the branch to let the scriff cover her completely.

“I must say, it is a nice view of the countryside from up here,” Jacob called to her as he reached for the dress.

In only a couple more moments, he was back on Natalie’s branch, helping her by holding her steady as she pulled her dress over her head.

“Oh, I almost forgot this,” he said, as he pulled the left pantaloon out of her pocket.

“I’ll wait on that,” Natalie mumbled.

“You know, niece, until today, I was the best-known Zimmerman for tree-climbing.”

That’s true.

“But now, I think you may have earned the title,” he laughed.

I think that’s true, too!