Michael bent his head against the stinging north wind as he hurried home from school. Even though it was still early autumn in the southern part of Canada where he lived he knew that the wind and the gray low-hanging clouds meant snow before morning. Jersey Girl would certainly have to be put in the barn tonight.
Jersey Girl was the purebred dairy heifer that Uncle Bill had given him. “She’s due to freshen soon,” Uncle Bill had said at breakfast that morning.
Michael could hardly wait to see the heifer’s little calf. “Maybe Jersey Girl will have a surprise for me today!” he exclaimed to himself as he hurried along.
When Michael reached home he found Uncle Bill in the barn filling the kerosene lantern. Uncle Bill glanced up, his face drawn with worry. “We’ll have to let the milking go for now. Jersey Girl had her calf today, but she left it somewhere in the pasture. She didn’t bring it when she came in with the herd.”
Michael swallowed hard at a lump in his throat. “Do you think the calf is dead?” he asked.
Uncle Bill shook his head. “No. If it were dead Jersey Girl wouldn’t have left it. The calf is alive, all right. She has just hidden it. Some first-calf heifers do that. I meant to leave her in the corral this morning, but she slipped past me.”
Uncle Bill opened the barn door as he spoke, and a gust of icy wind rushed in.
The lump in Michael’s throat grew. “Will the calf freeze?”
Quickly Uncle Bill nodded. “It will tonight if we can’t find it right away.”
Michael no longer minded the cold wind. He didn’t even think about it. All that mattered now was the tiny calf huddled somewhere in the big pasture. “Where will we look first?” he asked his uncle.
“Up the washout. Because of the cold, Jersey Girl would pick the warmest spot she could find. After we’ve searched the washout, we’ll try the grove.”
Michael nodded. He knew now why Uncle Bill had brought the lantern. The thick grove of oaks lay on the back side of the pasture more than half a mile away. Darkness would fall before they could make their way there and back, if they had to go that far looking for the calf.
“We can search the washout on our way to the grove,” Uncle Bill said. “This will save time. But I don’t believe we will find the calf there. The grove is the most likely place.”
Uncle Bill was right. Although he and Michael searched behind every rock and bush along the washout, there was no sign of a calf.
“The grove next,” said Uncle Bill, “and we’d better hurry. I see snowflakes.”
Michael could see some too. Quietly he stopped and bowed his head. “Dear Jesus,” he whispered, “please don’t let the snow keep us from finding Jersey Girl’s calf.”
When Michael had finished his prayer he looked up to find his uncle staring at him in disapproval. “We’d better not waste time,” he said shortly.
Uncle Bill did not believe in prayer. He didn’t believe in Jesus. This made Michael and his mother very sad. They had prayed many times for something to happen that would make Uncle Bill change, but so far he hadn’t.
Michael stumbled on the path and he realized it was beginning to grow dark. Uncle Bill paused long enough to light the lantern. As he did so, heavy flakes of snow swirled against the yellow globe.
Soon the flakes were beating thickly against Michael’s face. The path turned white. So did Uncle Bill’s back and shoulders.
Michael grew frightened. “Uncle Bill,” he cried, “how can we find the calf? I can hardly see the lantern, the snow is so thick!”
“It will be a miracle,” Uncle Bill’s voice sounded hollow. “We’re at the edge of the grove now, but we could walk within inches of the calf without seeing it.”
“Maybe it will bawl for Jersey Girl,” suggested Michael.
“It might,” answered Uncle Bill. “But it isn’t likely.”
“Please, Jesus, make the calf bawl!” Michael prayed as he plunged ahead on the path. He had only taken a few steps when he tripped and fell heavily onto a snow-shrouded bush. A snow-covered mound lay beside it. Michael put his right hand against it to brace himself in getting up. It gave way under his touch. Instantly a familiar-sounding small bawl filled Michael’s ears, and a little animal sprang up and out into the path. Michael seized it with a joyful cry.
“It’s Jersey Girl’s calf! Oh, Uncle Bill, we’ve found it!”
“So we have.” Uncle Bill’s voice sounded strange as he took the struggling calf from Michael’s arms. “We had better get it to its mother as quickly as we can.”
Michael took the lantern and held it close to the calf. “It’s so small—and so pretty!” he exclaimed happily. “It’s the color of fresh churned butter!”
After the calf and Jersey Girl had been put in the barn for the night and the milking was done, Michael told his mother what had happened.
“Your finding the calf like that certainly was a miracle,” she said softly. “We must thank Jesus for it.”
Michael nodded in agreement. He and Mother both knelt, then before either one had begun to pray Uncle Bill slipped into the room and knelt with them.
Michael’s heart nearly burst with thanksgiving as he leaned forward and whispered to his mother, “Let’s thank Jesus for two miracles!”
Heaven, Please! Helena Welch, 36–41.