utside in the courtyard, Neemias places his palm on the little stool. It wobbles from side to side. The girl — Clara, he has begun to allow himself to call her, at least in his mind — sits on it every day, watching Neemias lumber clumsily in circles, strengthening his legs, pacing toward health. Sometimes she brings along her embroidery. Sometimes she simply sits with her chin in her hands, watching.

He picks up the stool, turns it over so that the three wooden legs poke up into air. He holds it up to eye level. As he thought. One leg is slightly shorter than the others. If he sands down the other legs, just a small length, then the stool will be sturdy. The thought of it pleases him.

He sets down the stool and looks around. This house is a place of books, not tools — he has learned that much in his weeks here. What could he use instead?

At the edge of the courtyard, the ground is more wild. He walks over, kneels down, and searches with his fingers through the earth. It takes a while until he finds what he seeks: a large, flat stone with a rough edge.

He sits down on the ground, shifts to the shelter of the shade, and then begins the task, rubbing the rough stone against the wood, just a little. He turns the stool around and sets it back on the ground, tries rocking it. It is sturdier, but not perfect. As he works, a dove coos overhead and a large, round bee hovers near the grapevine. A pleasant breeze lifts his hair, and he stops for a moment.

For so long, he has traveled. Perhaps here, he will finally find rest.

Neemias wakes. His neck. He reaches up and rubs it, looks around. He is not in the stone hut, but sitting on the ground, in the courtyard of the house. A rustle in front of him. He looks up. Clara is there.

She smiles at him and shakes her head, as if she is talking to a mischievous child. “What are you doing here?”

He opens his mouth to talk, but his throat is dry, and anyway, what could he say? He shrugs, and offers her a shy smile. He looks around. A large flat stone has dropped into his lap. Beside him is Clara’s stool. Ah. Of course. He was fixing the stool. He touches it. It is sturdy now. He lifts it, and holds it up to her. She takes it.

“I fixed it for you.”

She sits down, holds her arms out to her side. “Thank you.”

Concern flits over her face. “Were you ill?”

He flings out his arms and stretches. “I have not felt so well for a long time. It is good to be out of doors. It is good to use my hands and do some honest work.” He glances toward the house. Since that first day, he has never been indoors. “You must have more things to be fixed. I could help.”

Clara claps her hands. “Oh, there is. There is. Papa is no good with anything but words and maps. There are chests that will not open and chairs with arms that have come off.” She looks around. The sun has passed its zenith and the air is less oppressive. “But first, I have an idea.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 589)