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Authors: Lauraine Snelling

An Untamed Heart

BOOK: An Untamed Heart
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© 2013 by Lauraine Snelling

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Ebook edition created 2013

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—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

ISBN 978-1-4412-6281-3

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by Jennifer Parker

Cover photography by Mike Habermann Photography, LLC.

With joy and delight I dedicate
An Untamed Heart
to my aunty Inga and to my mother, Thelma, who are my heroes and who became Ingeborg. What a wealth of love and encouragement they have always been for me.

An Untamed Heart
is also dedicated to my Norwegian friend Gunlaug Noklund, who not only helped me with the accuracy of this book but allowed me to use her name as Ingeborg’s cousin and dearest friend.

1

S
PRING
1878
V
ALDRES
, N
ORWAY

“Oh, Gunlaug, you are so funny.” Ingeborg Strand grinned at her cousin, who was not only her best friend but her only real confidante. The two had been born within days of each other and had always shared a crib or blanket on the floor when their mothers were together. They had grown up with a bond closer than sisters.

“But, Ingeborg, you can’t marry someone just because your mor thinks he is perfect!” Sitting on the still slightly damp earth, Gunlaug locked her hands around her knees and rocked back, at the same time raising her face to the sun.

“And I will not. Perfect is in the eyes of the beholder—my eyes, not hers. I think Per Tollefson is worse than scraping the bottom of the apple barrel.”

“Well, you have to admit, he’s not rotten.” Gunlaug snorted behind her hand.

The two giggled again. “No, not rotten. He is almost a man of honor, but he can’t string two words together without
stuttering, stumbling, and blushing. Why, a conversation comes to a halt when he tries to talk.”

“‘Almost a man’ is surely right. And you love words, so you would go so crazy you’d run screaming out the door on a long winter’s night.”

“Or curl up and die of boredom.” Ingeborg shook her head. “Surely there is a man somewhere who is no longer a stumbling boy and can make decisions and carry on a decent conversation.”

“Tall and good looking would help.” Gunlaug closed her eyes and smiled with the dreamy, dopey gaze that told Ingeborg she was thinking of Ivar, her current man—er—boy of the moment. He was not nearly as ideal as Gunlaug thought, but Ingeborg had not the heart to smash her cousin’s latest dream.

“Come along. Mor is going to be wondering where we are.” Ingeborg stared east across the valley to the mountain peaks still wearing their winter finery, glistening white in the brilliant spring sun. Here it was her twentieth birthday with no marriageable man in sight. Her mother was growing frantic. She often accused her daughter of deliberately offending all the young men the entire community paraded before her. It seemed every mor in a five-mile radius knew of someone who would be ideal for Ingeborg.

The call came across the crystal air. “Ingeborg, Gunlaug, where are you gone to?” It was her mor. Hilde’s voice carried the oft-disgusted sound she used with her oldest daughter.

“Picking dandelion leaves,” Ingeborg called back, pointing to the patch of dandelion leaves out beyond the barn that she and Gunlaug were supposedly harvesting. The two covered their snickers with hands not full of green leaves, nor were their baskets. This first gift of the growing season was prized
both as a tonic and a vegetable and, when dried, a medicinal tea that carried healing properties to a people starved for something green. Serve something fresh, and everyone sighed in bliss.

“I can’t wait for the dance.” Gunlaug clipped leaves as she dreamed. “I can see Ivar again.”

Ingeborg rolled her eyes and tossed some leaves into the bent-willow basket. With the back of her hand she pushed the strands of wheaten hair off her now perspiring forehead. How wonderful the sun felt on her back. If a storm didn’t come roaring in and surprise them all, they’d all be able to strip off their woolen undergarments and bask in the freedom of lighter clothing.

“I think I won’t go.”

“You’re crazy. Your mor will never forgive you.” The shock on Gunlaug’s face made Ingeborg laugh again. “Besides, you know how you love the music and dancing.”

“I know.” Whirling around a dance floor did indeed make her feel light as a butterfly. At five feet seven, Ingeborg was plenty tall and not willowy like one of their other cousins.
Sturdy
and
wholesome
were two words she frequently heard. But she never lacked for dance partners, since dancing with her made her partners look good too.

She sat back on her heels and studied their baskets. Did they have enough? “Did your mor want some of these?”

“No, she sent Hamme out to our patch. She thought I was going to help, but I told her Tante Hilde had asked for me.”

“Well, she did, sort of. She said, ‘You two girls,’ and she was looking at us.”

“Right.” The two exchanged a look that would do a conspirator proud.

When Hilde called again, Ingeborg reluctantly rose to her feet, glancing around at the green carpet with bright yellow suns sprinkled throughout. “We pretty well cleaned this patch out, so let’s take our bounty up to the house.”

Swinging their baskets, the two strolled across the rapidly greening pasture. Several lambs were nursing, while others gamboled beside the ewes or chased each other. The ewes kept grazing, pretty much ignoring their offspring until one got too near the fence. Then the mother sent out a warning bleat. The lamb scampered back, making the girls look at each other and laugh. Spring lambs could always make them laugh; their antics were such a delight.

Ingeborg clasped her basket handle with both hands and swung it in a circle. “I love spring.”

“Me too. Spring, the time of love.”

“You’re in love with
being
in love.”

Gunlaug stopped, her face suddenly turning serious. “You really think so?” She shook her head. “I know you don’t like Ivar much, but—”

“Do not fret, my dear cousin. I just don’t think he’s good enough for you. Surely there is someone more grown up. Ivar is such a mama’s boy.”

Hjelmer, her brother, came running across the pasture. “Ingeborg, Mor said to come quick. The Gaard baby is on the way, and she is afraid there will be trouble.”

Ingeborg and Gunlaug broke into a run. “Has Mor left yet?”

“She is waiting for you. Give me your baskets.” They handed them off and ran on.

Ingeborg knew that unmarried young women usually weren’t allowed at a birthing, so if Mor told her to hurry, there would surely be trouble. Hilde Strand had a special sense for
that, which was one of the reasons she was in such demand as a midwife. The girls were both out of breath by the time they reached the house, where Hilde met them at the door.

“Gunlaug, you go home and ask your mor to pray for this baby. She can pass on the word.” As she spoke, she was shaking her head.

“Ja, Tante.” Gunlaug set off for home, heading north while Ingeborg and her mother turned south at the road.

“Why did we not take the buggy?” Ingeborg asked, as they walked so fast they were nearly trotting.

“Because we can cut across the south field and get there more quickly. We might have to turn this baby, and that will take both of us. Her mister is worthless in the birthing room, as are most men.”

Ingeborg nodded. She had already learned that. The busier the husband kept, outside preferably, the better for all concerned. “What about the children?” The Gaards already had three youngsters, with the eldest a girl of six. Her mother had delivered all of them, because their mother was slim hipped with a definite lack of elasticity. “Has she already been in labor for a while?”

“Ja. She should have sent for me before, but Greta ran over, calling my name, and when I answered her, she turned back to help with the younger ones. She acts so much older than six, but that is often the case when the mother does poorly. It takes Trude a long time to come back to health after the baby is finally born.” Hilde shook her head. “I warned them both that having babies so often like this, one of these times she might not make it.”

Oh, please Lord, don’t let this be the time
. Ingeborg had already watched one mother slip into a comatose state and
then death, and there didn’t seem to be anything any of them could do. Mor had been morose for days afterward.

“How will I help you?”

“Remember how you turned that lamb inside the ewe? If it’s the same problem, we will try the same thing. Your fingers are longer and your hands more slender than mine. And you are strong.”

Ingeborg remembered the lambing like it had happened yesterday. The crying ewe, her far and brother holding the ewe still while her fingers searched for the lamb’s nose amongst what seemed like all legs. How she did it one handed, she would never know. When the ewe gave another heave, the pressure on her arm was excruciating, but she held on somehow and the two front feet and the nose presented. Mother and baby did well. Her arm had bruises for a week, but she would never forget the immense welling up of joy she had felt when the lamb began to breathe and shook its head. Her far had been compressing the rib cage and muttering, “Breathe, little one, breathe.”

Ever since, when there was any trouble in the lambing pen, Far called on his oldest daughter. When he said she would make as good a midwife as her mor, Ingeborg had been floating above the ground. Compliments from him were rare and to be treasured deep in one’s heart. Why, once she had splinted a lamb’s broken leg and fashioned a bandage that went over the shoulders and kept the splint and wrap in place. Now the lamb walked with nary a limp.

“Come quick. Please hurry.” The older boy met them at the road. He was five and also grown up.

In spite of their puffing, Ingeborg and Hilde broke into a jog again, Mor carrying the basket with the necessary birthing
accoutrements and some medicinal herbs for a tisane, a drink to help the mother regain her strength faster.

Ingeborg hung back so Mor could go into the house first, as was proper. After all, Mor was the midwife, not the lowly assistant. Hilde turned to her daughter before they entered the bedroom. “You keep praying until I call for you. We need our God to see us through this.”

“Ja, I will.”

Hilde closed the door behind her, then opened it again almost immediately and beckoned Ingeborg to join her. The room felt overwarm as Ingeborg entered. An older woman was sitting off to one side keening, with an apron over her head. The pregnant woman lay on the bed, clutching a rolled towel and clamping her teeth down on it when a contraction made her groan and weep. Hilde went to the head of the bed and spoke sternly.

“Now, I know you are miserable, but listen to me. I am here to bring you through this, but you must do as I say. Just like you have all the other times. We are a good team, you and I. Right?”

The woman on the bed nodded and fought against another contraction that rolled over her. “Ja, I know,” she ground out. “But this one . . .” She clamped her teeth on the rag, and panted. “Something . . . is . . . wrong.”

“I will see where you are.” Hilde checked for the dilation, keeping her hand on the woman’s huge belly. “You must get up and walk. You are not dilated far enough yet.”

“You cannot be that cruel.” The mother-in-law dropped her apron. “See how in agony she is.”

Hilde turned to the woman. “Could you please go heat us some water? And bring me a bowl or jug of boiling water for the tisane. It needs to steep.”

The woman muttered her way out the door, leaving her obvious feelings of dislike in the room behind her.

Hilde nodded to Ingeborg. “Come. We will walk her.”

Ingeborg jumped to the other side of the bed, and together they lifted Mrs. Gaard to her feet.

The woman swayed between them, so Ingeborg wrapped an arm around her back to hold her up. They walked the length of the room and back, back and forth. Ingeborg glanced at her mother, who she could see was praying with each step. She knew her mother had learned to do that, but so far she was not able. Her mother said to ask God for help and to thank Him that He is God and able to do far beyond what they asked or believed. How could she pray that when she wasn’t really sure God was listening? Sometimes she felt He did, but other times she was not so sure. Like right now. Could not He see the agony this woman suffered and come to their assistance without continuous prayer?

“No more. I cannot go on.”

“Yes you can. You must, if you want to deliver this child.”

Ingeborg tightened her grip on the woman’s waist as another wave rolled over her. How long could this continue? She looked over at her mother, whose serene face belied everything that was going on.

Mrs. Gaard stumbled and became a dead weight between them.

“Trude, come, you will lie down now so I can see if the walking is helping you.”

The mother-in-law brought in a jug of steaming water and set it on the table, her tongue clicking against the roof of her mouth, her frown enough to scare children.

“Takk.” Hilde helped their patient back to the bed and
lowered her to sitting, then swung her feet up. She rolled onto her side, moaning, tears streaming down her face.

When the contraction had passed, Hilde rolled the woman onto her back and checked for the dilation. “The baby should be presenting by now, but even with all our walking, there is not sufficient change.” With gentle fingers she pressed all around the mounded belly, searching for any information she could gain.

“Does the baby need to be turned?” Ingeborg whispered.

Her mother nodded but kept moving her hands. The woman groaned, so faint as to rather be a moan.

“We will have to turn her over.” Hilde looked to her daughter.

Ingeborg nodded and sucked in a deep breath. “Ja.”

Hilde leaned close to Trude’s ear. “You must get up on your hands and knees.”

BOOK: An Untamed Heart
2.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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