Alone Yet Not Aloneby Tracy Leininger Craven
A miraculous survival. An extraordinary faith. Autumn 1755. Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America’s new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. Until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French-Indian War, and the devastating raid known as the Penn’s Creek… See more details below
A miraculous survival. An extraordinary faith. Autumn 1755. Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America’s new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. Until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French-Indian War, and the devastating raid known as the Penn’s Creek Massacre. The lives of this simple, God-fearing family are forever altered when Barbara and Regina, two young sisters, are carried away by a band of Allegheny warriors. Driven by their faith in God and the powerful bonds of family, Barbara and Regina hold firmly to the belief that they are never alone, even in their darkest hour, and that they will be reunited again.
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Alone Yet Not Alone
By Tracy Leininger Craven
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2012 Tracy Leininger Craven
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEnd of a Perfect Day
Barbara Leininger shielded her blue eyes from the sun as she looked up at the tall cornstalks that stretched high above her. Though she was tall for a twelve-year-old, Barbara felt far too short as she stood on her tiptoes to grab one last ear of corn. The sun began to sink low on the horizon, casting its rays on her golden hair.
"There!" she said to Regina, her nine-year-old sister, who stood with a half-filled apron. "Now we can head home and help Mama with dinner. And I'll even let you carry this juicy ear of corn." She placed the prized ear in her sister's homespun apron.
Regina's eyes sparkled with pleasure, and a mischievous smile played around her deep-pink lips. "Thank you kindly, sister," she said with a slight curtsy. Then, without a second's warning, Regina dashed through the field toward their cabin. "I'll race you back," she cried merrily over her shoulder.
Barbara, who always loved a challenge, was off in a flash. It didn't take long for her to catch up to Regina, but she held back, allowing her younger sister the pleasure of winning. They both arrived home breathless but laughing gaily, their eyes shiny and their cheeks rosy.
Their mother stood in the doorway of their little log cabin and greeted her daughters in German. "I see my girls have been hard at work today!"
As she picked the corn from their aprons, her kind eyes and loving smile warmed Barbara's heart.
"Run along now, and see if you can help your father."
Barbara took Regina's hand and led her around to the woodpile, where her father was chopping wood. With a determined blow, he split one last log. Then, burying the sharp ax in the old tree stump, he bent down to pat their German shepherd, Luther. In return, the dog wagged his tail furiously and licked his master's hand.
Barbara stooped down to gather small pieces of wood for kindling, but Regina stood with her eyes fixed on the horizon. Looking up, Barbara followed her gaze. John, their nineteen-year-old brother, emerged from the woods at the far end of the field. His musket was flung over his shoulder, and even from this distance, Barbara could see the wide grin on his face. When Barbara saw Christian, their oldest brother, who was twenty, she knew immediately why John was grinning. Two plump geese hung over his shoulder. Luther ran to meet them, barking loudly and jumping up to lick their faces.
"Thank heaven!" Mother Leininger cried. "They have returned home safely." The worry lines on her brow disappeared. "We will have meat with our dinner too!" She whispered a prayer of thanksgiving. The Lord had blessed another day's labor. Mother Leininger smiled and hurried back inside their cabin and to the hearth to finish dinner.
Soon the last glimmer of sun had faded beyond the western horizon, and the frontier family was serene in the comfort of their snug cabin. The light from the hearth cast a warm glow about them, softening each face. They shared the kind of family unity that comes from working together with one goal—not just survival in this sometimes hostile land, but of serving their Heavenly Master by walking in genuine love.
After their hearty supper, Barbara helped her mother clear the table. Regina snuggled between her two big brothers, listening intently as they told of their hunting adventures.
Barbara noticed Father look up from the old leather harness he was repairing with a gratified smile and look lovingly at each of his children, lingering a moment longer on Regina. Barbara knew Regina, the baby of the family, held a special place in all their hearts. Her childlike love for life, wild imagination, and animated personality both amused and endeared her to all of them. She was her mother's namesake and could not have been named better with her same chestnut brown hair and eyes as true a blue as the sea on a sunny day. Father always said Regina's eyes sparkled like the ocean just like her mama's eyes.
Barbara overheard bits and pieces of John's story as she scraped the leftovers into a dish for Luther, who lay at the hearth, wagging his tail and licking his jaws.
"I was sneaking through a thickly wooded riverbank," said John, "when, suddenly, I saw two—"
"John." Regina shook his arm frantically and her eyes grew wide in alarm. "What about the Indians? If you were in the woods all alone, an Indian might get you with his tomahawk." Silence filled the cabin. Even Luther cocked his head to the side and whimpered.
Barbara had heard the rumors. Unrest was growing between the French and the English over their western borders. Some said many Indian nations would ally with the French.
"Regina, Regina! My! What ideas your little head comes up with." John tousled his sister's hair affectionately. "You know the Indians are our friends. They sold us this land. Besides, there has not been an Indian raid in Pennsylvania since the colony first saw settlers over seventy years ago."
Despite John's reassuring words, Barbara noticed Mother glancing at Father with a concerned look. He paused, thinking deeply before he spoke. "Regina, do you remember why your mother and I decided to come to this land?"
"Yes, sir," Regina said smiling. "Because here we are slave to no man and are free to live as God sees best."
"That is right, my little one," Father said and then took Mother's hand in his. "When your mother and I decided to leave Germany to come to this land, we knew there would be dangers and hardships, but we also knew it was the price we must pay for freedom. Even if the Indians were to attack and take our lives, we would still be free. What could be more wonderful than to go from our beautiful valley straight to heaven?"
Christian, who had been deep in thought over the whole matter, added gravely, "Papa's right, Regina. I remember what it was like to till the count's land in Germany. We broke our backs working the fields, only to nearly starve during the long winters." He took a deep breath. "I would give my life any day to be here as a free man. Even though I cannot imagine it, heaven will be even more glorious than this."
"Regina, I think it is time for you to help your sister with the dishes," said Mother. Regina, who was never worried about anything for more than a moment, jumped up from her seat and skipped over next to Barbara at the washbasin.
As Barbara dried the last of the dishes, she could hear her father making plans for the following morning. Even though he sounded perfectly at peace, he was taking extra precautions.
"John," Father said, "your mother is going to the mill tomorrow to grind the harvested corn into meal, and as you know, it is a good day's journey." Looking squarely into John's face, conveying through his eyes more than he spoke, Father continued. "I will need Christian's help in the fields and I want you to go with your mother to the mill."
Father turned to Barbara just as she dried the last dish. Though he tried to hide his concern, Barbara saw the forced smile. "Come, my golden-haired princess, let us read the Scriptures."
Barbara blushed with delight at the compliment of being called her father's princess. Rushing to the old German trunk, which had traveled with them all the way across the ocean, she opened it and carefully lifted out the large Bible.
Father waited until the ladies had situated themselves about the table before opening the black cover with its beautiful gold lettering shining by the firelight. Then in his deep and caring voice, he began to read the words that melted away all the fears and cares of the day.
Barbara listened carefully to every word. She could tell Regina, who sat next to her, was trying her best to sit still. But her eyes darted about the room, her hands toyed with the tucks in her dress, and her foot kicked Barbara's leg in rhythm as if she were keeping time with the dog's wagging tail. It was evident that her mind had drifted far away into one of the lands where her vivid imagination often traveled.
Barbara nudged her little sister. Regina jumped in alarm and glanced at Father with repentant yet playful eyes and joined them in reciting their daily memory passage, Deuteronomy 8:2.
"'And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.'" Father again looked lovingly around the snug room and whispered thanks to his Heavenly Father for the blessings that had been bestowed on them.
After a few thought-filled moments, he looked at Barbara and asked, "Do you know what that Scripture means when it talks about the Lord's taking his people through the wilderness?"
"Yes, Father." Barbara was pleased to know the answer. "It's talking about the children of Israel, after they left Egypt."
"That's right, my little princess." Father smiled approvingly. "But did you know that God led me through a similar wilderness?"
Everyone eagerly turned toward Father. They loved to hear him speak of the past, for he could tell stories better than anyone else.
"Yes, it too was a test of about forty years. It was to see if my heart would remain faithful to the Lord. You see, when I was a young man in Germany—about your age, John—I heard of a faraway promised land with fertile soil and rich with wild game. Unlike the count's crowded valley, which my family had farmed for generations, a man could live on his own land, make a living, and even have an inheritance to pass on to his children." Father stared into the dying embers in the hearth with a faraway look in his eyes.
"Naturally, I wanted to pack up and leave Germany right away, but God had other plans. No, before I could leave Germany, I needed to walk through some trials and tests. God knew the lessons I needed to learn before my faith was ready for this promised land." Father chuckled and shook his head. His hand ran over the dry, brittle leather of the harness he had been repairing. "At times the challenges were so difficult that I thought I would never make it. But now that I am here—in this wonderful place God promised—I can see it was the trials that prepared me for the blessings God had for us in this new country."
He looked gravely at his children and then with tender earnestness he went on. "Each of you will have times of testing in your life. But you must always remember-no matter how difficult the trial or how dense the wilderness—God will never leave you. If your hearts remain true, God promises endless blessings."
His words stirred Barbara's heart. The silence that followed was only interrupted by an occasional snap from the slowly vanishing embers. Mother began softly humming the tune of an old German hymn. Soon the whole family joined in, and they sang the comforting and rich words to "Alone, Yet Not All Alone."
Regina's voice carried above the others. She loved singing; mother always called her their little songbird. But of all the hymns, this was her favorite. Barbara smiled at her little sister as they sang verse after verse.
Alone yet not all alone am I
Though in this solitude so drear
I feel my Savior always nigh;
He comes the weary hours to cheer
I am with Him and He with me
I therefore cannot lonely be.
Father asked Christian to close with prayer, and then Mother suggested it was time for Barbara and Regina to be off to bed. Barbara let down the curtain that separated their sleeping area from the rest of the cabin and quickly changed into her long, woolen nightgown. The room was cold away from the hearth, so she could not wait to jump into bed with Regina. She was glad to share a bed, especially on cold nights. When they were ready, Mother pulled back the curtain and sat on the edge of their straw-ticked mattress. She pulled the covers up around Barbara's chin and bestowed a tender kiss on her forehead. Barbara yawned.
"Oh, please, Mother," whispered Regina with childlike affection, "will you sing my song once more?"
"Ah, but you must get to sleep, my little one. I can already see your eyelids are heavy. How will you grow tall and strong like Barbara if you never let them rest?"
"Yes, Mother, but I always dream sweetly when I fall asleep listening to the sound of your voice."
Mother laughed and then placed a kiss on Regina's forehead. Her melodious voice filled the cabin with its soothing tones. Barbara watched as the last glow of firelight flickered across her mother's pretty face. Her expression was so full of love and joy that Barbara's heart filled with an unexplainable peace. The dangers that lay in the forest beyond now seemed far away. Slowly, she drifted into sleep.
* * *
Outside, the tall figure, who just hours before had stood still as a statue watching the family, had long since sneaked back into the slumbering forest just as quietly as he had come. He now sat in front of his own campfire, his eyes burning as bright as the light that flickered before him. His face did not soften in the gleam, but instead the dancing reflection highlighted his hardened features and accentuated the furrows in his brow. Soon his companions joined him, engaging in deep and agitated conversation until, at last, all was settled and they too fell asleep. Only, their dreams were of a different sort than Barbara's; they were not of peace and tranquility.
Barbara awoke and dressed hurriedly as the earliest shades of morning stole across the eastern horizon. Darkness still surrounded their cabin and the morning star hung steadfastly in the sky, twinkling as if happy to be the only star still shining from the heavens. She shook Regina, who was still snuggled deeply under the warm patchwork quilt Mother had brought from Germany. It was a treasured wedding gift. "Hurry, Mother and John are leaving."
Regina rubbed her eyes and stretched. With a start, she sat straight up in bed. "Mother's leaving?"
"Yes, for the mill, remember?" Barbara laughed at her drowsy sister.
Regina bounded out of bed.
Their mother and John, already prepared for their day's journey, quietly bid the family good-bye as if they didn't want to break the tranquility of the morning.
Regina, however, made up for the quiet. "Good-bye, my dear mother," she said, throwing her arms around her neck. Barbara wondered if she ever intended to let go. Finally, Regina bounded off toward John and bid him a similar farewell.
Mother looked down at Barbara and brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes. "Take good care of Father and Christian while I'm gone. I've left some salt pork in the cupboard for stew." Mother smiled and hugged her daughter affectionately. "And if you can, see to it that Regina practices the spelling and arithmetic lessons on her slate while your father is in the field."
"I'll take good care of her, Mother." Barbara was delighted that her Mother treated her as if she were one of the grown-ups.
Having already bid them farewell, Father and Christian were headed for the barn to see to the livestock while Mother and John climbed into the wagon. Barbara held Regina's hand as the wagon, followed by Luther, who was merrily wagging his tail, headed down the trail. They watched until it blended in with the dim light of the morning.
Regina shivered and huddled closer to Barbara. With Mother gone, Barbara now took her place.
"Has the chill of the morning air nipped you?" Barbara asked, putting her arm around her little sister. "Don't worry. Our morning chores shall drive it away."
"It's not that I'm cold," answered Regina more to herself than to Barbara. "I was just thinking how I do not like good-byes." She gripped Barbara's hand tightly. "How awful it would be if I never saw Mother again."
"Regina, there goes your imagination again. Don't be silly! Besides, it's dreadful to dwell on such things. Mother and John will be home by lunch tomorrow." But Barbara shifted uneasily. She had already had the same thought as she watched the wagon disappear into the woods.
"Come," said Barbara. "Christian has promised to take us to the LeRoys' cabin after lunch if we complete all our chores this morning."
The LeRoys were a Swiss family that lived halfway across the valley. They were the Leiningers' nearest neighbors and shared the same faith and convictions. It was not uncommon for the two families to help with each other's workloads, especially during the harvest season. The girls looked forward to these visits because the LeRoys' only daughter, Marie, was about Barbara's age.
Delighted at the thought of visiting their neighbors, Regina was soon happily singing as she smoothed the bed quilts and swept the floor.
... He comes the weary hours to cheer
I am with Him and He with me
I therefore cannot lonely be ...
Barbara looked up from the corn she was shucking and watched Regina sing and dance around the cornhusk broom. "The hearth will never be clean at this rate." Barbara tried to hide the growing smile that threatened to encourage her sister's daydreamy behavior. "Do hurry, Regina. It's almost time to start preparing lunch, and we still need to shuck and scrape all the corn we gathered yesterday."
"I can't wait to braid the dried husks into a rug!" cried Regina. "When do we start?"
"Not until the harvest is in and winter keeps us indoors. Then we can braid rugs, make new brooms, and even make cornhusk dolls!" Barbara unhooked the large iron kettle from the hearth and stoked the fire. It was time to start making the stew.
Barbara nearly flew from the cupboard to the table, to the hearth, and back to the table. Regina helped to chop the fresh carrots and potatoes she had gathered from the garden. Before they knew it, their father and Christian had returned from the field eager for the lunch the girls had carefully prepared. It wasn't often that their mother left Barbara in charge of the house, and she was determined to fix the finest meal possible for the men.
As it turned out, the stew tasted a little scorched and the rolls were not as light as Mother's, but both went unnoticed. The girls glowed with the praise they received from their father.
"Girls, your brother and I could not be more pleased with the lunch you have prepared," he said with a sideways glance and wink at Christian. "A man could never survive in this wilderness if—"
Suddenly, the cabin door swung open and in walked two Indian braves.
Christian and Father jumped to their feet and stood face to face with the grim-faced warriors. Barbara blinked in disbelief. She had seen Indians before, but never had they stormed into the cabin in such a manner. Their dress was unfamiliar. They were mostly bald, except for a few eagle feathers attached to a tuft of hair in the center of their heads. Their faces were painted with stripes, hardening their sharp features and accentuating their sullen eyes. They wore several leather straps across their strong painted chests, and various weapons dangled from the straps. Barbara noted that their powder horns looked very much like Christian's, but other than that the implements were unfamiliar.
Excerpted from Alone Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven Copyright © 2012 by Tracy Leininger Craven. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and retelling real-life stories in her historical fiction books. She also loves spending her free time in the great outdoors with her husband David and their three children.
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This is the true story of the Leininger Family, devout Christians, who had immigrated to America from Germany. The Leiningers purchased land from the Indians, built a cabin and began farming. The family often talked of the hardships faced in Germany before coming to this new land. They gave God the credit for getting them through the difficulties they faced. Their father told the children everyone has trials in their lives, but the thing that would help them, and could never be taken from them, was their faith in Jesus Christ. Every evening the family memorized a Bible verse, and they often sang hymns. One of their favorites was “Alone Yet Not Alone.” The entire family liked to sing, but they called Regina, the youngest, their “little song bird” since she loved to sing. This book takes place in 1755 during the French and Indian War. At that time, the Native Americans had sided with the French, and because of that, believed all the agreements with the white settlers were over. The Indians began systematically burning cabins, killing the adults and taking the children as slaves. That is what happened one fateful day to the Leininger family. Their mother and son, John, had gone to the mill when the cabin was attacked. Their father and oldest son, Christian, were killed in their home, while sisters, Barbara and Regina, were captured and drug away by a band of warriors. The book recounts the mistreatment the girls suffered at the hands of their captors. They were made to be slaves, and ultimately the sisters were separated. The many stolen children were divided up between the warriors who were from different trips. Barbara, the oldest, was taken by the son of an Indian chief back to his village. It was a trip of hundreds of miles that was all done on foot. Regina was taken away by a Native American from another tribe. Barbara fought to keep her sister with her, but to no avail. The last thing Barbara told Regina was to keep her faith in Jesus. She also told her to never forget that or Regina’s favorite song, “Alone, Yet Not Alone”–to keep them always in her heart. The story tells of the trials and hardships faced by Barbara, as well as that of the other white people who had been taken captive. The Native Americans forced them to rub black walnut juice on their skin and hair so it would not be obvious they were white people. The lack of food caused the white captives to often go to bed hungry, despite working hard all day. Barbara prayed constantly for Regina and her to be reunited, and for a way for them to escape. As the years went by, Barbara kept her faith, but then she discovered that the Indian brave who captured her was planning to make her his wife in the spring. Barbara was in a panic because she knew if she became his wife, her chance for escape would probably be over. This book is based on a true story, and is very exciting to read. It is an uplifting saga of Barbara keeping her faith, and holding on to her conviction that eventually she would make it back home. This work is the heritage of author who is a descendant of the Leininger family. A movie with the same title as the book will be released in June 2014. I received a CD of the film’s soundtrack as well. The theme song of the movie, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” is brilliantly sung by Joni Erickson Tada. Although the book is geared to eight-year-olds and up, anyone who likes action, adventure or true stories should like this 5-star tale and movie. “Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): This book was published by Zonderkidz. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book and CD free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
It's a wonderful book that tells the story of two young girls taken away from everything they know and forced into a primitive culture. Barbara and Regina are separated, and the two sisters have to trust that although all the world may forsake, disappoint, or betray them, Jesus is always with them. It's about Barbara's struggle to do what's right and keep her faith in the midst of horrible circumstances. A+. Exceptional book. I'm SO excited about the movie! A lot of things nowadays are about self-reliance and only the strongest will survive. But without God, the Creator, we wouldn't be here. Every breath we take, every day we live is a gift from Him. We're sinners, traitors to the ranks of the Captain's army (to use Teddy's Button terminology), and God sent His Son to rescue us because He so loved the world. Wonderful, wonderful story.
Enjoyed the book, I'm looking forward to the movie coming out in June.
I enjoyed this book. Barbara's faith is truly inspiring and shows that you should NEVER give up on God! He will answer your prayers!
Excellent read. This is the type of book you can't stop thinking about for days after reading it. My family hails from Pennsylvania not far from Penn's Creek so I found this especially interesting. I just wish that the book would have been longer and more detail about the girls' life in the Indian camps. Most interesting. Book left you looking for more. There is a movie now about this book, so this is a must read book.
Alone Yet Not Alone is a compelling story of faith and endurance. The story of Barbara and Regina Leininger and the other young captives is terrifying and at the same time inspiring. It is hard to imagine ones so young experiencing what they did and not only surviving it but thriving in the aftermath. The fact that this story is based on a true-life account makes this book all the more appealing to me. I think it would be a great read for tweens and older. It does have depictions of murder and even someone being burned at the stake. The descriptions contained in the book are not gory in the least but they do describe what is happening. If you are going to present it to younger children I would suggest pre-reading first to determine suitability. This would make an excellent addition to a book club or a homeschool group. The book contains some very thought provoking discussion questions at the end. A movie based on this book is due to release in theaters on June 13, 2014. Because movies have a tendency to change things up a bit I think it would be a wonderful idea to read the book with your kids before you see the movie. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
What does it really mean to have faith even when you fear God has turned His back on you? Is it possible to hold onto the thing you were taught as a child in order to endure a future you never thought possible? Such are the questions author Tracy Leininger Craven hopes to stir in the reader's soul in her novel Alone, Yet Not Alone based on the true story accounts from Tracy's family. Just as the Leininger family had begun a new start in life in Pennsylvania during 1755 after leaving behind the persecution in Germany, all they knew is that faith had gotten them through the worst of times. What they now had was their faith in God, freedom and a chance to begin to establish new traditions and raising their family in belief of God's promises. As Barbara and Regina, 12 and 9, were watching over lunch preparations on their family farm, two Indians showed up unannounced in their small cabin. Believing that no violence would be necessary, Barbara's father sends the two girls to the stream for fresh water, while hoping the Indians will just take the tobacco offered and leave. Little did Barbara and Regina know but their father and older brother would be killed, the cabin burned to the ground, and they would be carted off to join countless other white woman and young children as Indian captives during the French-Indian War. Believing their father's promised to never lose sight of God in any situation, they encourage one another through the words of Barbara's favorite song, Alone, Yet Not Alone. She inspires this kind of courage and faith in her younger sister that no matter what God will never leave them alone and that one day, they would be reunited with their mother and brother who had gone to town that day and escaped the family's brutal murder. The one thing Barbara could never imagine is having her sister Regina, taken from her and being carted off to another Indian tribe. Now all she could do was pray for their safety and for a way to escape when the time came. Her only ally was a childhood friend, Marie, whom she grew up with as a neighbor and between the two found solace in encouraging one another in their prayers and faith. Barbara was fortunate that her Indian captor seemed to have a kindness and gentleness about him that provided her with a safety net of sorts as she was taught the warriors ways of living, including dyeing their faces, wearing warrior clothes and adopting the Allegheny ways of worship. But could she give up the belief her family raised her to know about the one true God? I received Alone, Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven compliments of Zonderkidz, a division of Zondervan Publishers and Media Connect for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are strictly my own. This novel is coming to movie theater soon based on the events captured in this novel based on true events. Tracy Leininger Craven emphasizes that it was that faith in God that kept Barbara and Regina together when they were miles apart, and that some hope that stayed within their hearts long after they finally escaped to freedom. This is the story that will strike a cord in those that feel deserted and through this story you will find living proof that the power of God's love withstands the test of time in any situation. I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars and am looking forward to seeing this in the movies.
Thought the book was fairly good cant wait to see the movie
I love this book!! T cann't put it down. Very happy with it.
Looking forward to the movie!!
*Falls asleep.* (Gtgtb. Goodnight!)