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.

My Dearest Emilene;

This old goat is grateful for the wonderful letter you sent to me all the way from Germany. I hope you expected me to share it with the family, because they devoured every word, just before I ate every page. It was tasty.

I have asked your niece Natalie to write this for me, because my penmanship is atrocious (Natalie chose that word, because she just learned to spell it; I don’t even know what it means.) without having a thumb to hold the pen or the ability to use a blotter well.

I do wish to fill you in on the events of the day.

“Now you are writing for the goat?” Grace asked, looking over Natalie’s shoulder.

“I thought Winny should respond to Aunt Emilene’s letter, and since I am the only one who can speak goat, I thought I should do it,” Natalie said.

“Uh-huh. So why don’t I see Winny here while you write it?” she asked.

“He wanted to stay in the barn and entertain your Isaac and little Johnny. He trusts me to know what he’s thinking,” Natalie smiled.

Grace just shook her head.

“Write on, Girl. Let Winny greet Emmy for all of us.”

“Will do,” Natalie said as she continued writing.

Johnny has learned to feed all us goats and clean our stalls without help. That means I don’t see his older sister as much any more, except when she gives attention to the other residents of my barn. Chestnut is as bossy as ever, and the other horses just let her get away with it.

Rhoda is happy when the pasture is all hers, and she is happy with all the grass that is growing so thick now. She acts like she wants to step on the kids when they run around her, but I think she is just playing. They are too quick for her, anyway.

“Putting the animals ahead of us? Nice,” Mother said, also looking over Natalie’s shoulder.

“I am just thinking of Winny, what he would say. I’ll get to you.”

“That’s reassuring.”

Mama and Papa are excited about a new fountain that Miss Vasbinder and her brother are donating for Central Park (that’s what they want to call the Square now), but they don’t want anyone to know about the donation until the dedication, so please don’t tell anyone in Germany.

Many people are cleaning up the park so that it is no longer a pasture but a place for picnics and peacefulness.

Natalie’s school is planning a special contest for the students of Mansfield, a treasure hunt, and search and find contest, which Uncle Lukas calls a scavenger hunt. He is helping me to organize it. The students will have until the end of June to answer all the questions and complete the tasks.

Whoever completes it successfully will receive a prize and have their name added to a document that will be put someplace special. We have not decided where.

Uncle Lukas (notice I am using the German spelling? He told me to, for your family) says Mansfield is as exciting and busy as life in Maine ever was, but I cannot tell if he is teasing me. He greets you, as does everyone.

“Do you think Aunt Emmy will stay in Germany?” Natalie asked out loud as Mother and Grace were walking by.

“No, Dear, she will be home by the end of summer,” Mother said.

“Perhaps she will,” Grace said, and Mother stopped short.

“She may find a home there that she didn’t even know she was looking for.”

“Do you really think she would stay?” Mother asked.

“She is in a position for a fresh start. If the language is not too big an obstacle, she will be among the people who knew her parents and who knew her,” Grace said.

“And who they left for a reason,” Mother added.

“But that reason may not matter anymore. At any rate, it will be life-changing for her,” Grace suggested, then said to Natalie, “Don’t put any of that in your letter.”

“Winny didn’t hear a word of it,” Natalie said.

Aunt Grace is here, with Isaac, who is out in the barn playing with Johnny. They are about the same size, but Isaac can do more since he is a year older, including bump his head while falling off the fence that he should not have been on.

Uncle Jacob and Lucinda have their hands full with Katherine who tries to run everyone’s lives, even though she is only five. She can be quite annoying with her bossiness. I don’t understand why Mother says she and Natalie are a lot alike. I am glad she has Johnny as a brother, and it is Jacob who is stuck with Katherine.

We have not seen Uncle David and Aunt Melody since you left, but we expect them to come into town for the dedication.

I miss you. We’ve been together since we were both kids. There is no one around here that can butt heads with me like you can. And Natalie does not feed me those little extras that she has seen you slip to me when you thought no one was watching.

Have a wonderful visit with your German family, but come back to Ohio soon.

Your American family is waiting, including your goat.

Hoofingly yours,