Louisa’s Sea Gulls

    “Louisa’s Sea Gulls,” Friend, July 1975, 33

    Louisa’s Sea Gulls

    A tiny sunbeam shining bravely through a crack between the logs in her bedroom played across Louisa’s face. She stretched lazily and listened to the shrieking of the sea gulls outside her small window. They seemed to be calling to her to come and play. Louisa knew they had come for their usual breakfast of worms and insects and perhaps an occasional mouse from the fields surrounding the growing settlement. She had come to think of the gulls as her own, because each morning as the sun rose over the mountains, they settled first in the field next to her window and then moved to the other fields.

    Quietly she slipped from her bed onto the rough floor and down the stairs to the door of the cabin. She smiled as she slipped outside. Father had built one of the few two-story log houses. He planned to cover it with stucco later when he wasn’t so busy.

    Louisa chose her favorite spot on the porch by the corner post to sit quietly without moving to watch the sea gulls. She arranged her flannel nightgown around her bare toes to keep out the morning chill. Her soft, brown hair fell gently over her shoulders and her clear, blue eyes seemed to shine as brightly as the sunbeams.

    With a soft sound the door opened again and her little brother Thomas crept quietly to her side. The sharp sound of her father’s ax in the woods across the field and her mother’s gentle singing in the garden broke the stillness of the beautiful morning. Thomas yawned sleepily and gazed at the birds in the field.

    “Father’s chopping wood for winter and Mother’s weeding the garden so the vegetables will grow.” Louisa almost whispered so she wouldn’t frighten her sea gulls. The birds continued to eat as though Louisa and Thomas were not even there.

    “Tell me again about the sea gulls, Louisa,” Thomas said sleepily. “Please.”

    He was too young to remember when they had crossed the plains in the covered wagon to Utah. Louisa remembered, though.

    “Mother and Father packed our clothes, quilts, pots and pans, dishes, food, and everything else they could into the wagon. I put in my doll and helped with some of the smaller things. Father hitched the oxen to the wagon and we started on our long journey. I’d never seen oxen before. They looked like big brown cows to me.”

    “What about the sea gulls, Louisa?” Thomas didn’t like to hear about the hard times they had traveling to their new home in the mountains.

    “When we first came to Utah, I helped Father and Mother plant the seeds in the ground. It took Father two days to break the hard ground before we could plant the seeds. All day we worked and dropped a seed at a time on the ground.”

    “Where was I?” asked Thomas.

    “You wouldn’t remember because you were only a baby then and had just learned to walk,” Louisa answered quietly. “Anyway, when the new plants were just coming up, about this high,” Louisa measured with her fingers, “some crickets came and began eating them. More and more crickets came.”

    “What are crickets?”

    “Thomas, you know what crickets are. They are those shiny black bugs. They scrape their wings together to make a squeaky sound at night,” Louisa answered.

    “Oh. Tell me about the sea gulls.”

    Louisa began her story again. “Everyone got sticks and shovels and whatever they could find and began beating the crickets. But more crickets came. Finally, the people gave up. They couldn’t kill all the crickets. They were going to eat up all the food we planted.”

    Tears came to Louisa’s eyes, remembering how hard she had cried. She had only been four. Now Louisa was eight and too big to cry. But sometimes she did when she was hurt or afraid.

    “When did the sea gulls come?” Thomas asked.

    “Father and Mother and the rest of the people prayed to our Heavenly Father that the crops would be saved from the hungry crickets. And it wasn’t long until we were surprised to hear a noise in the sky. I looked up and saw sea gulls. At first they looked like more crickets. I hadn’t seen any sea gulls here before, although I used to watch them on the ocean before we came west in the wagon.”

    Louisa waited for Thomas to encourage her to go on with the story, but he just lay quietly beside her. The sky was dark blue with streaks of white clouds high in the sky. Most of the sea gulls were quiet, but once in a while one would call.

    “The sea gulls came to the ground and ate up the crickets,” Louisa continued. “No one had really noticed them in the valley before. Some people say they were here all the time. But I think Heavenly Father sent them to us when the people prayed. What do you think, Thomas?”

    But Thomas didn’t answer. He had fallen asleep in the warm sunshine.

    Illustrated by Mike Muir