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Amelia Earhart, Young Air Pioneer

Table of Contents

Chapter:

  1. Amelia Comes to Grandma's House (sneak preview)

  2. James Ferocious

  3. It's Just Like Flying

  4. School Days in Atchison

  5. James Ferocious and the Stagecoach

  6. The State fair in Des Moines

  7. Amelia Goes Exploring

  8. Christmastime at Grandma's

  9. Christmas Day

  10. The New Sled

  11. Mama Reads Black Beauty

  12. Graduation

  13. First Flight

  14. Flying Lessons

  15. A Real Pilot

What Happened Next?
The Mystery of Amelia Earhart
About the Author

Chapter 1

Amelia Comes to

Grandma's House

THE TRAIN WHISTLE gave a loud, long toot. Great clouds of smoke blew past the open train windows. Screens kept out the cinders, not the dust and soot. But Amelia Earhart, sitting by the window, didn't care about the dirt. She was busy counting white horses in the farmyards they passed.

"There's another one," she said to Muriel, her little sister. "That makes ten. I wonder how many I'll see before we get there?" Muriel sat across from Amelia, looking out the other window. Her mother sat beside her and Mr. Earhart beside Amelia. It was the summer of 1904, and the Earharts were all going to visit Grandma and Grandpa Otis. Grandpa was a judge in Atchison, Kansas. Grandma kept a large, beautiful house. And the cook, Lilly Bell, always had the best raisin cake Amelia had ever tasted.

"How much longer till we get to Atchison?" Amelia asked again.

"One more hour," said Mr. Earhart, after looking at his big watch. Their father always knew the answers to train questions. He was a lawyer for the railroad and often traveled on trains.

Suddenly, above the clicking of the wheels, they heard the low rumble of thunder. The summer sky was growing darker.

"It looks like a storm," Mrs. Earhart said.

"Yes," said Mr. Earhart. "And this will probably make the train arrive late in Atchison."

Just as Amelia gave a deep sigh, the conductor came down the aisle. He stopped to talk to Mr. Earhart. They were old friends.

"Guess you're traveling for pleasure today?"

"That's right, Mr. Wiggins. We're going visiting. I want you to meet Mrs. Earhart. This is Amelia and this is Muriel. But we call the girls ‘Melia’ and ‘Pidge.’"

"How do you do, Mrs. Earhart," the conductor said. "How do you do, young ladies. We see a lot of Mr. Earhart on this train. It's nice to meet his family." And Mr. Wiggins gave a friendly smile.

"We're not all here," Amelia put in. "Poor James Ferocious has to ride in the baggage car, because he's a dog."

"That's too bad," said Mr. Wiggins. "But don't worry. The men up there will take good care of him. Tell me," he went on, "where did you get your nicknames?"

Pidge looked shy, but Amelia said promptly, "I’m named for my Grandma Otis. Her papa called her Amelia only when she was bad, and she didn't like it. So she never calls me Amelia-just Melia. That's what everyone calls me."

"Melia named me Pidge," put in Muriel.

"She's always singing ‘Little Blue Pigeon,’"Amelia explained. "So I just call her Pidge. I wish she'd learn another song."

"I like to sing ‘Little Blue Pigeon,’" said Muriel. "It's by Eugene Field. I'm going to sing it always. Do you want to hear me?"

Amelia looked out the window again. She didn't want to hear "Little Blue Pigeon."

She got her wish. Before Pidge could begin there was a flash of lightning, followed by a loud clap of thunder.

"We'd better put these windows down," Mr. Earhart said. "Stand out in the aisle, girls." The two men put down the heavy train windows. The porter was also busy closing windows. Soon the coach felt hot and airless.

"You're a tall girl, Melia," Mr. Wiggins said, as he stepped back in the aisle. "And you stand as straight as a soldier-just like your papa."

"I was seven years old last month," Amelia said proudly, "on July twenty-fourth. Pidge is only three and a half. I'm going to stay with Grandma and Grandpa and start school in Atchison."

"I'm going to stay, too," Pidge echoed.

"Why, that's fine." Mr. Wiggins waved good-by and started down the aisle.

Rain started to spatter against the windows. The sky grew even darker. "It's almost as dark as night,"Amelia thought.

"I don’t like storms," she said aloud.

"Me neither," Pidge said.

"Suppose there's a storm when we're at Grandma's?" Amelia put her hand into her papa's. "I'd better go to California with you."

"But school will begin before we come back," Mama said, "and you won't want to miss that. Think what a big girl you are, starting school."

"I don’t care. I want to go with you. I'll miss you and Papa too much."

"Why, Melia, you'll have such fun at Grandma's," said Papa. "You and Pidge would get tired traveling. It's a long trip. I have to go on business and I want Mama to see California."

"I want to see California too," Pidge said.

"You and Melia can both see California when you're older," Papa said.

"I'd rather see it now,"Amelia said. "I don't want to stay in Atchison."

"Grandma's house is big and cool in summer," Mama reminded her.

"And remember how you like to play in the old barn," Papa added.

Another bright flash of lightning lit up the dark sky. There was another deep roar of thunder, and rain poured against the windows. The train seemed to sway on the track.

Pidge began to sob. "I don't like this, Mama!" Her mother put her arm around the little girl.

"There’s too much lightning," Amelia said. "Will we have an accident?"

"Oh, I don’t think so," Papa said. "You mustn't be afraid, Melia. Remember our family always tries to be brave."

"But I'm not really brave, Papa. I'm afraid of lightning." Amelia hid her face against her father's shoulder.

"My father told me about a great storm like this. He had to travel through it when he came to Kansas before I was born," Papa said calmly. "He and Grandma came in a covered wagon all the way from Pennsylvania, with eleven children."

Amelia had never heard this story. "I'll bet they were scared."

"Yes, they were. But pioneers had to face danger. They learned to be brave. That day the rain came down so hard it soaked the canvas and leaked into their wagon. It was cold and the wind almost a gale. The horses couldn’t see to walk. They had to sit in the rain and wait for the storm to pass."

"Couldn't they get under a big tree?" Amelia asked.

"No, they didn't dare do that, because if lightning had struck the tree, it might have fallen on them. That night they had only a cold supper of leftover corn bread. There was no dry firewood to build a fire. Even their beds in the wagon were wet."

Amelia forgot about the storm. She forgot about the flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder. She thought only about her grandfather and grandmother, traveling from Pennsylvania in a covered wagon.

"I wish I'd been a pioneer. I'd like to travel in a covered wagon."

"Why, you can be a pioneer, Melia," Papa said. "The world is very big. There will always be new things to do. But you must be brave enough to do them. And courage is something you learn each day."

Amelia was quiet for a few minutes. She watched the rain on the windows run down in little rivers of water. She watched the lightning. It lit up the whole sky as it flashed. She listened for the loud rumble of thunder that followed. As they passed a farm she saw a man driving his cows back to a barn for shelter.

"He isn’t afraid to be out in the storm," she thought. "And a pioneer girl wouldn’t have been frightened. She wouldn’t even have minded her papa and mama leaving her for a trip."

Aloud she said, "I don’t think I’ll be so afraid of lightning again. And I’ll stay with Grandma and Grandpa while you go to California."

"That’s my big, brave girl." Mama said.

"That’s my pioneer girl," Papa said. "I’m proud of you."

Soon, the rain fell more gently. The sky grew brighter. The train had passed through the worst of the storm.

The door at the end of the car opened suddenly.

"Next stop, Atchison!" called the conductor, as he walked down the aisle.

"It’s time to put on your hats, girls," Mrs. Earhart said, as she smoothed their hair. "Papa will see about the bags and James Ferocious."

What happens next?

Read the new book, Amelia Earhart, Young Air Pioneer
and find out!

(Return to Amelia's home page)


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