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Chapter 13: Luke Walker and the Harvest Festival begins here:
“And then what happened? Luke?”
“Weren’t you listening? What happened in the end?”
“Oh, um, in the end she saved ’em all, and then they saw she was a girl, coz they thought she was a man before, but they didn’t kill ‘er because she’d saved China.”
Eric, the Sunday School teacher, looked at Luke blankly, as if he wasn’t there.
“Mulan? Are you talking about Mulan?” he asked after a long pause.
Luke wondered, not for the first time, why his mum insisted he came to Sunday School to listen to a man who seemed unable to remember, from one minute to the next, what he was supposed to be teaching them.
“Yeah. Mulan. Who saved China from invaders. Remember? Who you’ve bin tellin’ us about.”
“Okay Luke, well, you are clearly capable of paying attention – to Disney films anyway – but you’ve obviously not heard a word I’ve said today. I’ve actually been talking about Miriam, Moses’s sister, who hid him in the bulrushes as a baby, and later helped her brother lead the Jews out of Egypt.”
Luke frowned in deep thought.
“Oh,” he responded at last.
Eric turned to the other seven children in his charge and continued. Luke resented the ‘I give up’ look that Eric’s features expressed before they withdrew. He’d seen it many times. It was uncalled for.
“Mulan. Miriam. They’re both ancient. They’re both women. They both saved a whole country. They’re both heroes. They both start with an M. Anyone could easily get them mixed up,” he thought as he leafed through the parish magazine.
At last he heard the final hymn being sung by the grown-ups in the room next door and he unhooked his jacket from its peg.
“Hold your horses Luke,” Eric recalled him to the group. “You can go when your parents come for you but remember that next week is Harvest Festival so I’d like all of you to be here at ten o’clock on Saturday to help me decorate the Sunday School room. The church secretary told me that the committee has decided to do things differently this year… blah blah blah …”
“Saturday? Not likely!” thought Luke. He could hear the scraping back of chairs and the hubbub of grown-ups talking, getting gradually louder. Any minute now the blue door would swing open and Mum would effect his release. Any minute now.
Eric finished whatever he was saying, Luke slipped his arms into his jacket sleeves, the door opened, and he hurried towards it.
“Bye Luke,” Eric called after him, “See you Saturday.”
“Bye,” he replied without looking back.
At school on Monday Luke noticed a familiar theme. Mr Beardsley had written on the board:
He concluded that either Mr Beardsley had copied his project idea from Eric or Eric got it from him. This was no bad thing. He could get two for one. Score points with the same work twice.
Mr Beardsley explained that they should all bring in donations of food this week to make a Harvest Festival display in the school hall. Then they would have a special afternoon assembly on Friday to thank God for the harvest. As the food would later be donated to the homeless shelter in town he requested no perishables, only tins and packeted dry goods please.
So Luke went home that afternoon and explained to Mum what he needed for the Harvest Festivals.
“Looks like I won’t be able to do it once and hand it in twice though, coz they’re givin’ all the school festival food to the homeless shelter so I’ll need another lot for Sunday School. Tins and dry stuff he said. Have we got any of that?”
Mum looked in the pantry. “Yes, we’ve got some dried lentils and pasta, and some tinned beans you can have. I’ll get something for the church harvest when I go shopping. Tins again I think, otherwise it’ll smell.”
“Whaddaya mean fish? Why are you gettin’ fish?”
“Didn’t Eric tell you? The chapel committee want to do a different kind of Harvest Festival this year. Instead of the usual fruits, vegetables, grains and bread etcetera etcetera, they want to do a display of the harvest of the sea.”
Find out tomorrow what Luke thinks of that idea 😉
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