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Authors: Melody Carlson

Hidden History (23 page)

BOOK: Hidden History
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“I’m sure you don’t. I did the same thing at the inn,” admitted Jane.

“How’s business over there?” asked Hope as she wiped down the counter.

“Just getting busy again,” said Jane. “Our first guests for the weekend just checked in this afternoon. We’ll be full up by tomorrow until Sunday.”

“Remember how some folks said it would never fly?” Hope grinned. “Guess it was just a matter of faith, eh?”

“That’s exactly right,” agreed Alice. It was hard to believe that only a year ago Hope was not too sure about where she stood in the area of her own personal faith. But over the course of the past year, she had begun coming regularly to church, and was even attending the women’s Bible study group now. Alice knew this had a lot to do with her own father’s influence with Hope. He had engaged in many inspiring conversations with this waitress during the last couple of years of his life.

“Earth to Alice,” Jane said for the second time.

“Sorry,” said Alice.

“Daydreaming?”

“Sort of.”

“Does it have anything to do with a certain veterinarian who’s thinking about moving to a small town?”

Alice shook her head. “No, not at all.”

“Oh, come on, Alice. You can be honest with me.”

“Really, Jane.” Alice lowered her voice. “If you must know, I was just thinking of what a great influence Father had on Hope before he died.”

Jane nodded. “Sorry.”

Then Alice grinned. “Not that I haven’t thought about Mark this week, but it’s been so busy that I haven’t had much time to obsess over anything.”

“That’s good. I don’t think I would’ve believed you if you tried to tell me that you haven’t even given him a second thought.”

“Second and third.”

Jane sighed. “Good to know that you’re human, Alice. Sometimes I think you’re too saintly to be real.”

“Oh, Jane.”

“It’s true,” said Jane. “And that article in the
Nutshell
only raised you to a new level.”

“Good grief,” said Alice. “I hope that’s not really true.”

“What’s wrong with that?” teased Jane. “After all, you’re the head of the ANGELs. It only makes sense that you of all people would’ve already arrived at sainthood.”

Alice made a face.

“Speaking of the ANGELs, how’s the quilt progressing?”

“We finished it last night,” said Alice. “Thanks to Sylvia. It’s really beautiful. I’ve a mind to bid on it myself. How are your chocolates coming along?”

“I never thought I’d see the day when the smell of chocolate would make me feel nauseated,” said Jane. “But I almost hit that place this morning. Thank goodness for Louise and Aunt Ethel. They offered to package up the last of them for me this afternoon.”

“I’m sure they’ll all be sold before noon,” said Alice. “And it won’t be long before you’re ready to concoct more.”

“I hope you’re right. We figured they should raise at least a couple of hundred dollars for Helping Hands.”

“Hello there, ladies,” said Craig Tracy, the local florist. He sat down at the counter across from them.

“Hi Craig,” said Jane. “Did you get in those ornamental cabbages yet?”

“I sure did.” He waved to Hope. “I dropped them by your house just a few minutes ago.”

“Thanks,” said Jane. “But you didn’t need to do that.”

“Hey, it was worth the trip. Louise rewarded me with a couple of your chocolate truffles.” He grinned. “And I got to see your front porch.”

“So what’d you think?”

“It looks super, Jane. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll stop by with my camera and take some photos.”

“Feel free.”

Alice was confused. Why would Craig want to take
photos of their house? “What’s so special about our porch?” she asked Jane in a lowered voice.

Jane just shrugged mysteriously. They visited with Craig and Hope for a bit longer. Then Jane, who had walked from the house, rode the short distance home with Alice.

“Oh, look what you’ve done here,” exclaimed Alice as the two of them strolled up the front walk toward the pumpkin-lined steps of the front porch. “How delightful.” She stopped to admire the cornstalks that leaned against the columns. “This is so clever, Jane.”

“I thought it was time to spruce up for fall,” said Jane. “I drove out to the farmer’s market this morning and loaded as much stuff as I could into the back of Louise’s car. Which reminds me, I still need to clean it out.”

“And the scarecrow!” exclaimed Alice. “He’s adorable. Did you make him?”

“I did. Don’t you recognize the overalls?”

“Are those yours?”

Jane laughed. “It’s a temporary loan. He has to give them back to me when he’s done with them.”

“And look how you’ve painted his pumpkin face.” Alice shook her head in wonder. “You are a marvel, Jane.”

Jane opened the front door and held it for Alice. “Gee thanks, sis. I never knew that painting a pumpkin face equates with being a marvel.”

“Well, it’s just like listening to a radio medical show adds up to being a saint.”

“Okay, Alice. I guess we’re even.”

“Hello, girls,” called Louise as they entered the kitchen. “Oh, Alice, did you see what Jane did to our front porch?”

Alice was not sure how Louise meant that. “It’s wonderful. Don’t you love it?”

“Well,” Louise frowned slightly, “I suppose the children will like it for trick or treating on Halloween, but do you agree that it is a little over the top?”

“Not at all,” said Alice. “I’m sure our guests will enjoy it.”

Jane patted Alice on the back. “Thanks, sis.” Then she pretended to scowl at Louise. “As for you, if you hadn’t been so sweet and generous as to finish wrapping up my chocolates today, well, I might just take serious umbrage to your comments about my harvest decorating.”

Louise attempted a weak smile. “I am sorry, Jane. At least you did not put up any of those creepy spider webs that people are so fond of draping about their homes this time of year. I still cannot figure out what that is all about.”

“It’s about fun,” said Jane. “Now that you mention it, I think I might have to look into those too.”

“Oh, dear.” Louise just shook her head. “By the way, Jane, I put your cabbages out on the back porch.” She chuckled. “Aunt Ethel was quite perplexed about those. She
thought they were for eating but did not think they looked very appetizing.”

“Didn’t you tell her they were just for looks?”

“Goodness, no,” said Louise. “She already thinks we are a bit nutty for—as she says—‘buying all those pumpkins just to decorate the front porch.’ Can you imagine how she would react to using cabbages as decoration for your flower boxes?”

“Well, I did buy a couple of pumpkins for pies and some pumpkin custard.”

Alice turned to Louise. “Is Cynthia still planning to arrive tomorrow evening?”

“Yes.” Louise smiled. “Since we are fully booked, she will be staying in my room with me.”

“Are we still on to read tonight?” asked Jane hopefully.

“I am,” said Alice.

“Count me in,” said Louise.

“Maybe I’ll have time to whip us up some pumpkin custard before then,” offered Jane. “I’ve been thinking about it all day.”

Later that evening, when the three of them gathered in their father’s den to read, they also enjoyed warm pumpkin custard and cinnamon spice tea.

October 31, 1926. The grange hosted a Halloween party tonight. I had no intention of attending since it’s a
long walk there and back, plus I had studies to attend to. But I changed my mind when my father and Gladys announced they were going and invited me to ride along in the Model T my father recently got in trade for one of our cows. Now I wish that I had not—although, perhaps it is for the best. The party was in full swing when we arrived and Gladys and my father seemed in good spirits as they joined the others already on the dance floor. I lurked in the shadows unsure of how to occupy myself, until I noticed Adele and a couple of her girlfriends at the refreshment table. Now this was a surprise to me, for Adele had made no mention of coming to this event. Of course, I had not either. I started to walk over to say hello, but before I got there and before she saw me, Leon Stevens approached her. The next thing I knew the two of them were out on the dance floor. I told myself that Adele was only being polite and retreated to the shadows, but as the night wore on she and Leon danced every number together. I never bothered to say hello, but found my father and informed him that I was tired and planned to walk home. My thoughts, as I walked down the lonely road, were as cold and black as the night and I was feeling quite sorry for myself. Then an amazing thing happened.
I began thinking about something that I had read in my mother’s Bible just the night before. It’s a story that my mother often told me as a child, about the two men who built houses, one on the sand and one on the rock. Of course, it makes sense to build a house on a firm foundation. Who would want to build a house on the sand? As I walked down the dark road, it occurred to me that I was like the foolish man. I was building my house on the sand. Suddenly, I wanted the stability of believing in a real God, a living God. I knew that I wanted to build my house on a rock, and so I prayed, actually prayed, that God would show me how to do such a thing. Then just as I came up the hill before our farm, I saw a great light coming at me. It was only the moon, but what a beautiful full, yellow moon it was. I just stood there and stared at it. Then I thanked God as I walked home in such light. Of course, I am saddened at Adele’s falseness toward me, but I have decided that if I truly build my house on the rock, such small storms shall not matter. I will not be nearly so disturbed by them. I cannot wait to tell Mr. Dolton about what I have done.

Alice’s voice was quavering as she finished that line. “Oh, isn’t that beautiful?”

“Wonderful,” breathed Louise. “Amazing,” said Jane.

“I’m so relieved for him,” said Alice. “And so glad we didn’t have to wait any longer for him to find God.”

“Amen,” said Louise.

The sisters sat in companionable silence as each thought about the passage Alice had just read. Then Louise sighed and began to put away her knitting, a small pink wool item.

“That looks like it’s for a baby,” said Alice.

Louise nodded without answering.

“Who had a baby?” asked Jane with curiosity.

“Someone,” said Louise mysteriously.

“Who?” demanded Jane.

Louise just lifted her brows and tucked her knitting project back into her bag. “Lots of people, I am sure. Babies are born every day.”

“Louise,” said Jane impatiently. “Who had a baby? It’s obviously a girl, although I’m not sure that strong shade of pink would look good on a baby.”

“On this girl it will.”

“So, you have already seen her?” said Alice, unwilling to give up.

“As a matter of fact, yes.”

“You are obviously not about to tell us about this mysterious baby girl.”

“Oh, all right.” Louise looked embarrassed. “It’s for Daisy.”

“Daisy?” Jane gasped. “Daisy the pig?”

Louise nodded. “I ran into Clara at the store yesterday and she mentioned that Daisy had a bit of a chill from the cool weather and I thought—”

Jane threw back her head and laughed. “My prim and proper sister is knitting a sweater for a pig.”

“Oh, Jane.”

“Don’t ‘Oh, Jane’ me, Louie. This is too funny.”

Jane’s laughter was contagious and Alice soon joined in. “It’s really sweet of you, Louise,” she managed to sputter.

“Thank you.” Louise wore her stern music teacher expression now. “It is just that I had finished all my knitting projects for the Fall Festival, mostly scarves since Sylvia felt they would sell the best. And, well, I still felt like knitting, and, goodness knows, I’ll probably never get the chance to make any baby things for Cynthia….”

Jane stood up and patted Louise on the shoulder. “Oh, it’s okay, Louie. I have to agree with Alice. It is sweet of you, but it’s also incredibly funny.”

Louise smiled, and then suddenly her expression turned stern again. “All right, you two do not have to tell anyone about this little project, especially Aunt Ethel.”

With Alice and Jane sworn to secrecy, they said good night and went off to bed.

Chapter Twenty-One

F
riday, as usual, was busy with new guests arriving, and there was added activity generated by the Fall Festival.

“Jane,” said Alice, “Sylvia called while you were out jogging this morning. She wants to know if you’re going to drop off the jewelry that you are donating for the Grace Chapel booth today.”

“Oh, that’s right,” said Jane, smacking her forehead with the palm of her hand. “I almost forgot. I have the pieces upstairs, all ready to go, but I’ve got so much going on that—”

“Why don’t I drop them off when I deliver the quilt and my aprons?”

“Did you finish all your aprons?” asked Jane.

“Yes. The last one before I went to bed last night. I’m going upstairs to get them now.”

“I really want to buy the one with the squash and pumpkins on it,” said Jane.

“Oh, Jane, I can give it to you.”

“No.” Jane shook her head. “This is for charity. Besides, it will make a more impressive display if all the aprons are laid out together.”

BOOK: Hidden History
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