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A Promise for Tomorrow

BOOK: A Promise for Tomorrow
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A Promise for Tomorrow
Copyright © 1998
Judith Pella and Tracie Peterson

Cover by John Hamilton Design

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Pella, Judith.

A promise for tomorrow / Judith Pella, Tracie Peterson

p.     cm. — (Ribbons of steel ; no. 3)

ISBN 978-0-7642-0693-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company—Fiction. 2. Frontier and pioneer life—Fiction. 3. Railroad construction workers—Fiction. 4. Baltimore (Md.)—Fiction. 5. Allegheny Mountains Region— Fiction. I. Peterson, Tracie. II. Title.

PS3566.E415P76     2010



Everett Daves,
Kansas Christian

With thanks
for your friendship,
professional support,
and all the wonderful things
you’ve done.


JUDITH PELLA has been writing for the inspirational market for more than twenty years and is the author of more than thirty novels, most in the historical fiction genre. Her recent novel
Mark of the Cross
and her extraordinary four-book D
series showcase her skills as a historian as well as a storyteller. Her degrees in teaching and nursing lend depth to her tales, which spin a variety of settings. Pella and her husband make their home in Oregon.

Visit Judith’s Web site:

TRACIE PETERSON is the author of over seventy novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling H
and A
series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.

Visit Tracie’s Web site at


What Has Gone Before

May—November 1843

1 / Bad Tidings

2 / Preparations

3 / Confrontation

4 / Judgments and Accusations

5 / Turning Points

6 / Strongholds

7 / Choosing a Path

8 / Letting Go

9 / Adoption

10 / New Birth

February 1849—February 1850

11 / Nightmares

12 / Landslide

13 / Thomas Swann

14 / Shared Interests

15 / The Confession

16 / The Road Ahead

17 / The Long Night

18 / Revelations

19 / Shaping the Future

20 / The Connaughtmen

21 / A Bit o’ the Blarney

22 / Kiernan

February—December 1850

23 / Margaret’s Homecoming

24 / Conflict and Strife

25 / Secrets

26 / The Strike

27 / Compromise

28 / The Hands of Time

29 / Reunion

30 / Sisters

31 / The Phoenix

32 / Pardon and Mercy

33 / Troubled Times

34 / Facing the Dragon

35 / Victoria’s Declaration

36 / Beyond the Wall

37 / Return to Cumberland

38 / Seeds of Prejudice

September 1851—January 1853

39 / Cholera

40 / Victoria’s Heart

41 / The Long Wait

42 / Intentions

43 / Kingwood Tunnel

44 / A Clannish Breed

45 / Troubled Days

46 / The Issue of Slavery

47 / Adams Women

48 / Carolina

49 / Hampton’s Plan

50 / Bittersweet Partings

51 / To Wheeling and Beyond

What Has Gone Before

Carolina Adams, a young woman of spirit and determination, enjoyed a pampered life in Oakbridge, her family’s plantation, outside of Falls Church, Virginia.

Growing up as one of the middle siblings in a household of seven brothers and sisters, Carolina had always been eager to understand the world around her. Young ladies of the 1830s were not encouraged to educate themselves in the ways of masculine studies such as mathematics and science, but Carolina desired to cross those boundaries. She was especially enthralled with the railroad, which she fell in love with the first time she saw a train roar into Washington City. When her indulgent father, Joseph Adams, permitted her a tutor, James Baldwin, Carolina began to realize part of her dream. Carolina’s older sister, Virginia, also hoped her dreams to be fulfilled by James Baldwin—her more conventional dreams of becoming a proper southern wife.

James had once worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but while recovering from injuries following a rail accident, he was thrust into the job of tutoring Carolina Adams, and of courting her sister Virginia. What no one expected, least of all they, was that James and Carolina should fall in love with each other. James found healing in Carolina’s friendship, and as she helped him come to terms with the past, James began to visualize his future with the railroad once more. In turn, Carolina found in James a man who was not threatened by her intelligence and regard for learning. She also found a soul mate with whom she desired to spend the rest of her life. Unfortunately, he had all but committed himself to Virginia, and Carolina was too insecure in her love to dare come between them, much less reveal her feelings toward James. Likewise, James refused to confront his growing affection for Carolina.

Torn by his conflicting feelings toward the two sisters, and pressured by family expectations, James allowed himself to be carried along by events, soon finding himself engaged to Virginia. But eventually realizing he could not marry a woman he didn’t love, James broke off the engagement. However, in order to save Virginia from social embarrassment, he allowed her to publicly break the engagement herself. Then, unable to face Carolina and the social ostracism his ungentlemanly behavior would cause, James left Oakbridge and Washington for another position with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, a job that would take him far away to unsettled lands.

The loss of James, along with the death of her two younger sisters from yellow fever and her mother’s mental breakdown, caused much sorrow and discontent in Carolina. This was not helped by the unwelcome advances of her father’s commission merchant, Hampton Cabot, who had come to Oakbridge on business—and with his own personal agenda, which included snaring an Adams daughter. Further complicating Carolina’s life was Virginia’s resentment toward her because she believed Carolina was the cause of the broken engagement to James.

Carolina watched her family become torn apart as her remaining siblings went their way in marriages, careers, and activities, while Virginia’s bitterness toward her grew. On the very morning that Carolina decided to accept Hampton’s marriage proposal, Carolina learned that Virginia had eloped with Hampton. The growing tensions of the household finally forced Carolina to leave home on her own. She took a position as a nanny to Victoria, the infant daughter of Blake St. John, a wealthy widower who lived in Baltimore.

Blake was a cold, indifferent father and was constantly absent. After five years, Blake announced he was going to move west and requested Carolina to assume full responsibility for Victoria and the St. John house while he headed off to parts unknown. Carolina realized she had come to love Victoria as her own, but she felt that to accept such a proposition would have made her appear to be Blake’s “kept woman.” Not only that, but she feared that one day Blake would reappear with a new wife and take the child away from her.

This prompted Blake to make an even more startling proposal—a marriage of convenience to Carolina. She decided the sacrifice of a loveless marriage would be better than to lose Victoria to the orphanage to which Blake threatened to send her. All the while, however, Carolina’s heart continued to long for James. She wondered how things might have been and of what she had lost as she took her meaningless marriage vows with Blake St. John.

When James finally reappeared in her life, he was crushed to find her married. She also confronted him with her suspicions that James’ father, Leland Baldwin, was swindling her father and other railroad investors. They parted once again, not on the best of terms. Later, while doing business for his father, James became aware of Leland’s illegal activities and realized that Carolina’s concerns were well-founded.

When Blake was killed in a carriage accident, leaving Carolina a wealthy widow, she returned to Oakbridge and her father. Carolina ran into James on the same train, and they talked sincerely to each other. James finally confessed that he couldn’t marry Virginia because he was in love with Carolina. Carolina, in turn, admitted her love for him. James, determined to let nothing else come between them, proposed marriage, and Carolina accepted. After they were married, their hearts turned back toward the dream that had first brought them together—the railroad. Their yesterdays were colorfully woven into a tapestry that represented their past, but a promise for tomorrow was yet to be created.

May–November 1843

For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our todays and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

BOOK: A Promise for Tomorrow
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