Return to Cutter Gap

A/N: I love the idea of Neil and Margaret having children before she pretended to die in the show so here are my ideas regarding the daughter they had Lydia MacNeill. I have been thinking about this for years since I saw the episode "Amazing Grace" when I was 14 or 15.

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Lydia MacNeill wrapped her arms around herself as she followed her mother, Margaret, into Cutter Gap. In the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee it was starting to get cold. Lydia wished her coat was warmer, but it wasn't.

Lydia knew that complaining to her mother was no good. Margaret MacNeill wasn't a good mother. She was not even willing to try being a mother. She could care less of Lydia was cold or hungry. Lydia was like the girl Sara Crewe in the book "A Little Princess." Any kindness and love her mother could have shown her, Lydia would have paid for. Lydia had spent a good deal of her life raising herself since her mother wouldn't do it.

A lot of people said that Lydia wasn't beautiful, but she had a personality and smile that made people look at her again. Then people said she was beautiful. Lydia pushed her light brown hair back carefully. Lydia was meticulous with how she looked. A hair couldn't be out of place for her. It had to be perfect.

Lydia's legs ached when they reached the Mission that her grandmother ran. Margaret hesitated slightly at the bridge. "Aren't we going in?" Lydia asked boldly. To ask her mother a question usually got her face slapped. Margaret preferred that Lydia never talked to her. Lydia reminded Margaret of Lydia's father, Neil NacNeill.

"I don't know," Margaret said reluctantly. Lydia breathed a silent prayer of thanks to Heaven. Her mother was too upset to strike her. Of course her mother would have slapped her if she had seen her praying. Margaret acted as if she hated God, though Lydia didn't know why. Lydia had found God last year and loved Him. Her faith made it hard to believe that anyone could hate God, who loved everyone unconditionally.

"Christy?" A very proper voice asked. Both Margaret and Lydia turned to look at the person who joined them. She was an elder woman with burnished chestnut locks that were pulled back in a braid. Because it was dark Lydia couldn't see her eyes that well. She was plump from weight and it made her look cheerful. The woman gasped in shock as her eyes met Margaret's.

"It's really me, Mother," Margaret said, a lukewarm smile on her face. Lydia's grandmother looked shocked as she looked at Lydia's mother and then at Lydia. Lydia tried to smile warmly at her grandmother. The woman was shocked and Lydia couldn't blame her in the slightest particle.

"Mother, I want you to meet my daughter, Lydia," Margaret said, pretending an affectionate look at Lydia. Only Lydia knew that her mother couldn't stand the sight of her.

Lydia looked at her grandmother. A teary look was in her eyes as she hugged Lydia tightly. "Thee is so beautiful, child," Alice Henderson said, holding Lydia at arm's length.

"Thank you. No one's ever said that to me before," Lydia said in surprise.

"Why don't the two of thee come with me?" Alice asked, taking Lydia and Margaret's hands and leading them into the huge Mission house.

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The warm air brought tears to Lydia's eyes as it hit her in the face. After walking in the cold for so long the warm air hurt. Alice led them to a sparse bedroom and shut the door.

"So much has changed. I don't know where to begin. Thee probably noticed the new church and school building. Everyone is so proud. And we have a new telephone line to El Pano station. Maybe you noticed it downstairs. Telephone in Cutter Gap of all places. I had almost forgotten how thy hair shines so," Alice said, reaching out to touch Margaret's dark hair as she removed her gloves and scarf.

Lydia's own hair shone also. When the light hit at the right time it was almost reddish. It was also another reason why her mother didn't love her. Her hair and most of her looks came from her father.

"It is a miracle," Alice said. Lydia didn't know about that. To her grandmother it might have been a miracle, but knowing her mother she was going to hurt someone. She always did.

"My faith deserted me. I could never allow myself to believe that thee and Lydia might be alive," Alice said, putting something on her night table and turning back to Margaret.

"You knew about me?" Lydia asked, finding her voice.

"Of course, Child. You were about to be born when- and when they couldn't find thee and Neil kept searching and searching, it was I who told him to give it up. Neil…has thee…you have his daughter," Alice said in surprise.

"We wanted to see you first. May we stay here tonight? We'll sleep on the floor," Margaret said, smiling uncomfortably. For some reason she didn't want to see Lydia's father.

"I sleep on the floor whenever I travels. I'm accustomed to it," Alice said, taking a pillow off the bed.

"I'm sorry," Margaret said, turning back to her mother.

"It's just I am so happy to see thee and my granddaughter," Alice said, fixing the bed for Margaret and Lydia.

"Mother, I need to explain," Margaret said in a shaky voice.

"No, not now," Alice said quickly.

Judging from the strike of a match Margaret had lit one of her cigarettes. Lydia hated cigarettes and she had unwisely told her mother that it was a disgusting habit once. Her mother had beat her so hard she limped for a week.

"Yes, I do. Please don't stop me while I have the nerve. It was an ugly thing to do. Allowing you to think we were dead. I know how much that must have hurt you, but I just had to get away from here," Margaret said. Lydia felt like rolling her eyes. It was a pity story plain and simple. Alice looked at her daughter, believing it.

"I did think of writing so many times," Margaret said, taking a deep drag on her cigarette.

"Why did thee not?" Alice whispered, anguished.

"I knew you would come looking for us. It was easier if everyone believed we had drowned," Margaret said, taking another drag of her cigarette.

"It was never easy," Alice said, looking at the ground. Margaret then started to cough.

"Margaret?" Alice asked, a concerned look in her eyes.

"I'm fine. These darn things," Margaret said shortly. Alice took the cigarette out of her hand and put it in the full water pitcher.

"How has thee come here?" Alice asked, changing the subject.

"Teddy. Um, Theodore Harland. I made him hide the wagon down the road. I saw the Mission and I just needed some time. I wanted to make sure that we could do this. Face you again," Margaret said uncomfortably. Alice looked just as uncomfortable.

"Teddy's from Atlanta. That's where we've been. Atlanta. City suits me. Don't you think?" Margaret asked, showing off her clothes.

Lydia resisted the urge to roll her eyes again. She was, in her mother's opinion, more like her grandmother and dressed simply. Like the cigarettes, she didn't like her mother's clothes. They were too gaudy and neither did her grandmother, judging by the look on her face.

"Oh, but you never approved of my clothes. Did you?" Margaret asked, her face falling.

"None of that matters. Thy light has come back into my life," Alice said. Alice said it didn't matter, but all three knew that it did.