Chapter 15- New Dresses and Uncle Ned's Surprise

A/N: This is going to be the last part since they are now filming "Mandie and the Cherokee Treasure." When I watch that I'll know where to go since Mandie is supposed to be living with Uncle John in the books. So this will end on a cliffhanger.

John watched as his daughter read a book in the chair that had become hers. The reading posture was starting to become familiar again as it had been her mother's. John had almost forgotten it after Laura had died.

One thing was certain. Alexandra would always have a book with her. This was the one trait she had gotten from her mother. John smiled at her as she cocked her head in a way that looked like Laura.

"The book must be really interesting," Amanda commented as Amanda's cat jumped on Alexandra's lap and meowed loudly as he batted the book with his paws.

"Mandie, get the c-a-t off of me. If he claws my mother's book I'm feeding him to Samuel's dog," Alexandra said, rubbing her eyes.

"Like you really would! I don't hear any complaints when Snowball sleeps in your room on top of your feet," Mandie scoffed.

"Well, I might change my mind. Joan of Arc changed hers when she was burned at the stake. They tried to get her to change her confession and say she was a heretic and a witch," Alexandra said, putting her book on John's oak desk as she stood.

"I thought you didn't like history," John said, twirling one of Alexandra's braids in his hand.

"I never said that, Father. I only said I have trouble remembering dates. I can remember that King Henry VIII had 6 wives; his second wife was Anne Boleyn. And his daughter, by her, was Elizabeth I. Just don't ask me the dates of the French Revolution," Alexandra said, rolling her eyes.

"You do remember more than I did when I was your age. Your grandfather hated the fact that I was slow in history. My mother used to say that everyone learns differently," John commented, wrapping his arms around Alexandra's thin shoulders and pulling her into his chest.

"Maybe. My favorite subjects are reading and geography, though. I always said I'd visit the places I read about in my books. I want to see England, France, and Spain. They sound interesting," Alexandra said, looking at John's globe beside the desk.

"Some day I'll take you and Amanda to Europe with me. Maybe next year. You two sound as if you don't mind traveling," John said with a smile as Alexandra touched the globe with her long, slender fingers.

"I don't. The Rocklin's' always said I was bouncing all over the place when we relocated to Chattanooga. I only remember going to Red Clay which is on the Georgia-Tennessee border. My mother was angry because Marcus and me got into a dirt fight and there was not a clean spot on my white pinafore. He was 15 years older, but he was a lot of fun. Whatever trouble we got into he was always there to get me out of it," Alexandra said wistfully.

"He sounds interesting. How many children did the Rocklin's have?" John asked.

"There are Marcus and Joseph above me and three little ones under me," Alexandra said, spinning the globe briefly as she blinked her eyes furiously. It took John a few minutes to realize she was trying not to cry.

"Why don't we try a little geography?" John asked, stroking Alexandra's hair gently and hoping this would take her mind off what she had lost.

"I don't know. Mr. Tallant used to say my geography was terrible," Amanda hesitated.

"We could try it," Alexandra said as John spun the globe.

"Now this would be from the trip to Europe I was supposed to take. Now we sailed to," John said as Amanda, Alexandra, and John stopped the globe with their fingers. John looked at the spot. "Hmmm. Bad weather hit us. Five of us swam to," John commented, putting his hands on his hips.

Amanda's face broke into a grin. "Cape Hatteras, where you lived in a lighthouse for a whole week," Amanda said smugly, her finger on the spot for Cape Hatteras. John laughed, pleased. "Are there crawdads in the ocean?" Amanda asked.

"Somehow I doubt it," Alexandra said with a grin as John looked thoughtful. Liza came in before John could say anything.

"Excuse me. Miss Mandie and Miss Alex's new dresses are ready. They'll be a sight to see," Liza said excitedly. Amanda and Alexandra grinned as they ran to the sewing room.

Alex stared in amazement as she looked at herself in the mirror and Liza slipped the cool mint-green dress on her. The color, as Polly and Aunt Lou had stated, was perfect for someone with red hair and it was also the first dress made for her that was silk and no one else had worn it.

Alex looked at her cousin. Mandie's dress was blue silk; perfect for someone with blonde hair. Alex's attention was drawn from her reflection to the sound of her father's voice.

After a few days her father's voice was a comfort and full of love for her. Right now it was full of humor. "I never knew it could take so long to put on two dresses," her father said, the last word trailing as he and Mr. Bond came into the sewing room and looked at Alex and Mandie. The two men and Aunt Lou smiled at Alex and Mandie. Mandie then turned and looked in the mirror. Mandie's eyes widened and she smiled as she looked at herself.

"Aunt Lou!" Mandie exclaimed as she turned slightly.

"They are perfect. I've never had a dress like this," Alex said, blinking furiously to keep from crying.

"You deserve it then, Child," Aunt Lou said as the doorbell rang loudly.

Alex and Mandie both rolled their eyes and looked at John and Jason. Liza moved to answer the door.

"Liza, if that's a stranger don't open the door. We'll endure the ringing until they go away," Jason said with humor in his eyes as he looked at Mandie and Alex, who smiled back.

"In the meantime we can go eat dinner," John said. Alex slipped her hand into her father's large hand and they walked to the dining room.

Halfway through dinner Liza came into the room in a hurry. "Mr. John, Miss Mandie, your Indian friend is here and I was sent to get y'all," Liza explained in a rush.

"Well, I suppose we should go see what he wants," John said, standing up and his two girls on either side of him.

They followed Jason to the double doors and he opened them. Ned stood there with a coach behind him. Med smiled at Amanda, John, and Alexandra and turned to the coach. John noticed then that Alexandra had grabbed his hand again. It was times like this that made him feel as if he had never lost her in the first place.

A driver helped a blonde-haired woman in a green silk dress down. John felt his breath catch sharply. Elizabeth! Amanda's eyes widened with shock as Elizabeth got closer.

It made perfect sense that Elizabeth was still alive. If her parents had lied about Amanda and said she had died then surely they could lie about their daughter too. Amanda looked at him and Alexandra before looking back at Elizabeth, who practically ran to Amanda; a look of happiness and tears on her face.

Elizabeth stopped in front of Amanda and opened her arms. Amanda all but ran into Elizabeth's arms. John looked away and down at Alexandra.

He nearly started at the look of longing in his daughter's eyes. He could tell that his girl wanted her mother to hug her like Elizabeth was hugging Amanda. He could give her books, clothes, food, and all the love a father could give, but he couldn't give her Laura; unless it was the memories he and the rest of the house had.

John squeezed her hand gently and she looked up. The unshed tears made her dark brown eyes look like river sludge. She pasted a watery smile on her face and faced forward.

Elizabeth and Amanda broke apart and Elizabeth touched Amanda's face as if it were fine porcelain. She then turned to John and extended her hand to him.

"Hello, John," Elizabeth said as John took her hand.

"Hello, Elizabeth," John said, feeling like he had 14 or 15 years ago and he had been in love with her.

Elizabeth took Amanda's hand and they all walked into the house. They had a lot to talk about; especially what had happened the day Amanda was born.

The End

To be continued in "Cherokee Treasures" this autumn…