Read A Promise to Love Online

Authors: Serena B. Miller

Tags: #FIC042030, #FIC042040, #FIC027050

A Promise to Love (21 page)

BOOK: A Promise to Love
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“Are you taking Ingrid to the harvest square dance over at the Andersons' barn tonight?” Lyman said as they shoveled out the barn together. “I'm taking Susan.”

Lyman had found a paying job at the local sawmill. Joshua had given him permission to stay in the barn, which they fitted out with an old army cot. In return, he pitched in with the farm work each evening when he came home.

As long as Lyman could see Susan on a regular basis, he was a happy man. Joshua wondered if Susan's distracted circuit-riding father had noticed yet that there was an extra man frequently sitting at his table.

“With this drought, why bother to have a harvest dance?” Joshua said. “Even if we got a good rain tomorrow, it would be too late for anyone to have much of a harvest.”

“Susan said that the Andersons had decided to have the dance anyway, just to raise everyone's spirits.”

“That's nice of them, but I hadn't planned on going.”

“Your wife wants to go.”

“How do you know?”

“Because Susan told me. They were talking together after church last Sunday. Susan said that Ingrid wants to go in the worst way and was hoping you would ask her.”

Joshua leaned both arms on his shovel and gave it some thought. It seemed like a reasonable thing for a man to do—take his wife to a dance; but after all they had endured this summer, the last thing he felt like doing was going to a party.

However, considering the miles Ingrid had walked lugging those buckets of water—if anyone deserved to go to a party, it was her.

“Are you sure Susan heard right?”

“I'm dead sure. Susan gave me instructions to make certain you knew but without Ingrid finding out that you knew. Susan says it should sound like it was your idea.”

Joshua liked Susan, and he could picture her black eyes snapping while she gave the besotted Lyman his instructions.

“I'll bring it up.”

“You might want to bring it up now.” Lyman nodded at a spot over Joshua's left shoulder. “The dance is tonight, and you probably ought to give her a bit of time to get ready.”

Joshua glanced back and saw Ingrid approaching them.

“My stove is got problem,” Ingrid said when she reached the two men. “I think something wrong with flue. Can you come fix, please?”

Joshua noticed Lyman sidling away. Ingrid noticed it too.

“I come at bad time?” she asked.

“Lyman and I were talking about that dance over at the Andersons' tonight,” Joshua said. “I was telling him I thought I might like to go. Would you enjoy that?”

Her face, always so expressive, positively lit up. There was never any guessing about what was going on in Ingrid's mind. Her blue eyes grew wide. “I love to go!”

He smiled at her excitement. “You'd better hurry and get ready then.”

Stove flue forgotten, she ran to the house.

She stopped midway and whirled around. “What about girls and Mary?”

“Do you want them to go?”

“I think yes!”

“Whatever you want, Ingrid. This is your night.”

She ran the rest of the way to the cabin.

Lyman wandered back. “See what I mean?”

“That woman works so hard and asks for so little,” Joshua said, looking after her. “Thanks for being a friend and letting me know. I had no idea it would mean so much to her.”

“Might be a good idea if you spiffed up a bit too,” Lyman said. “I don't think you're supposed to wear horse manure to a dance.”

“Joshua says we can go to Andersons' party!” Ingrid burst into the cabin. “All of us.”

“Well, he certainly didn't give us much time to get ready!” Mary exclaimed.

“No, but the girls' Sunday dresses is washed and ironed. Just need to clean faces and hands and put on clothes. I have many dry diapers for Bertie.”

“You're awfully happy about this!” Mary said.

“Back in our village, I dance. I was just little girl, but was much fun. I want very much to go.”

“Well, then,” Mary said, “I have something you might be interested in.”


“Do you remember that lavender material that I thought would look so good on you?”


“Wait right here.”

Mary went upstairs and came down with two boxes.

“What you have?” Ingrid asked.

“You'll see.” Mary opened one box, shook out a lavender dress, and held it up.

Ingrid gasped. “It is beautiful!”

“I told you I used to be a pretty good seamstress,” Mary said. “Thought I might see what I could still do if I really tried.”

Ingrid touched the fabric. “When you do this?”

“I don't always sleep well at night. Instead of lying awake, I thought I might as well do something useful. I took the measurements off of your pink calico dress when you weren't looking and then added a few touches of my own. I think it'll fit well. The only person who knew I was making it was Josh—I sent him to pick out some buttons and lace at the mercantile.”

“Joshua know about this?”

“He got you something else too—he had George send off for it special.”

“Joshua get me present?”

“Go ahead and open the box. He told me to give these to you whenever I gave you the dress.”

She pulled the top off of the second box and gasped. Nestled inside were a pair of lovely, lace-up, calfskin boots with a low heel. Real, honest-to-goodness lady shoes. Something so nice even Millicent would be proud of them.

Ingrid could feel her tears welling up. “How he afford this?”

“Remember that carpentry work he did for George over the summer? All those shelves George wanted him to build? He traded part of his time to buy you these shoes.”

Now the tears came and she could not stop them. Ingrid sat down at the table, put her head on her arms, and just bawled.

“Oh, honey. I know.” Mary patted her on the shoulder. “I know.”

“I . . .”—Ingrid hiccuped—“am so happy.”

“It's been a hard summer, especially for you. Nothing would make Josh and me happier than to see you have a nice time tonight.”

Ingrid hugged Mary. “I have a very good time at dance in this pretty dress!”

While Mary went to get herself ready, Ingrid laid the precious dress and shoes on her bed and called the girls in from where they had been playing. After she had washed faces, tied bows, and packed a basket for the baby, she allowed herself to go into her own room and get ready. She could hardly wait.

She shed her work dress and slipped on the new one. The material was softer than she had ever worn before. Mary had made it in such a way that it fit her well on the top, then draped around her hips and fell in graceful folds to her feet.

There was no bustle, thank goodness. So far, Millicent was the only woman vain enough to wear that style in White Rock. It had amused Ingrid to see the woman fighting with her gigantic bustle the last time she had seen her riding beside George in his buggy.

The mirror in her bedroom wasn't full-length, but it was big enough to see how well the dress flattered her. There was a touch of white lace at her throat and also on her sleeves. Rows of matching buttons marched up the front.

Joshua had purchased the lace and the buttons; Joshua had chosen them. The thought made her want to cry again—but she resisted. She did not want blotchy skin tonight!

She turned sideways. The dress fit her like a glove. She had not realized it, but she had filled out some since moving here—probably from eating her own good cooking!

Around the farm, she had taken to wearing her hair in a simple braid halfway down her back, but tonight, she took pains to brush it out and braid it carefully into a coronet. She had a slight curl to her hair, and loosened a few strands to frame her face.

The best moment of all was slipping on the shoes. They smelled of good leather and were as smooth as butter. Lacing them over her stockings was such a joy.

When she was finished, she pinched her cheeks for color. Mary had been right. The lavender did bring out the color of her eyes. What a sly, sweet woman Mary was. Imagine her staying up late at night, preparing such a gift. And that Joshua, working on shelving for George to get her shoes! Oh, she was a blessed woman.

When she opened the door of her bedroom, every member of the family was waiting for her.

“Oh, Ingrid,” Agnes said. “That dress is beautiful on you!”

Mary was noticeably pleased with herself. “I guess I haven't completely lost my knack.”

“Mama pretty!” Polly said.

“Thank you, sweetie, and look!” Ingrid held out her skirt to show off her new footwear. “Your father bought these for me!”

Ingrid's eyes sought out Joshua's, hoping to see approval there, but she could not read his expression. It seemed like there was an internal battle going on inside of him.

“You can throw George's shoes away now,” he said.

Her face fell. He had given her no compliment, only a suggestion about what to do with her old shoes. But then he added, “You look stunning, Ingrid. Every man in the place will envy me.”

Was he making fun? She checked his expression. No, he was not making fun. He was serious. He meant it.

“Thank you, thank you!” Her heart was filled to bursting with love for this man and their family. “We please go now?”

Joshua had taken Diantha to a few square dances during their marriage, but she had preferred sitting and watching. Usually she would ask to be taken home early. Because of that, he was used to being a quiet observer at affairs like this, but Ingrid was having the time of her life. He had excused himself for a few minutes to go check on the children and his mother, but as soon as this particular set was over, he intended to rejoin her on the dance floor. It was worth the effort just for the pleasure of watching her smiling up at him with such happiness . . .

“I do believe your wife is having a good time,” Lyman said.

“I would say that is an understatement.”

“Filled out a bit since the day I first laid eyes on her at the inquest,” Lyman said. “Excuse me for saying so, but she was sort of pitiful-looking then. Now, well, you got yourself a looker, Josh.”

BOOK: A Promise to Love
3.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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