Authors: Janette Oke
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Christianity, #Fiction - Religious, #Christian, #Religious - General, #Religious, #Love stories, #Christianity: General, #Large type books, #Romance - General, #Large Print, #Davis family (Fictitious characters : Oke)
Love Finds a Home (Love Comes Softly #8)
To Ingo F. Arnesen, my Christian brother, prayer partner, and cheering section-- friend of the Davises, Joneses, and Delaneys. Thank you for your friendship, support, and prayers. God bless!
JANETTE OKE was born in Champion, Alberta, to a Canadian prairie farmer and his wife, and she grew up in a large family full of laughter and love. She is a graduate of Mountain View Bible College in Alberta, where she met her husband, Edward, and they were married in May of 1957. After pastoring churches in Indiana and Canada, the Okes spent some years in Didsbury and Calgary, where Edward served in several positions on college faculties while Janette continued her writing. She has written over five dozen novels for adults and children, and her book sales total over twenty-two million copies.
The Okes have three sons and one daughter, all married, and are enjoying their dozen grandchildren. Edward and Janette are active in their local church and make their home near Didsbury, Alberta.
Visit Janette Oke's Web site at:
1. Stirrings 9
Aunt Virgie 17
Homeward Bound 35
Seeing Pa 51
1. Return to Boston * 77
1. Back to Normal? 90
An Exciting Event 97
The Bend in the Road 108
The Task 126
The Unexpected 153
The Concert 171
Final Preparations 189
Settling In 220
A Happy Ending 227
Some of the Characters in the
LOVE COMES SOFTLY
Clark and Marty Davis--partners in a marriage in which each had lost a previous spouse.
Missie--Clark's daughter from his first marriage, married Willie LaHaye and moved west to ranch.
Clare--Marty's son born after her first husband's death, married Kate. They live in the same farmyard as Clark and Marty Their children--Amy Jo, Dan, David, and Dack.
Arnie--Clark and Marty's first child. He married Anne and they have three sons--Silas, John, and Abe.
Daughter Ellie--married Lane Howard and moved west to join Missie and Willie. Their children are Brenda, William, and Willis.
Son Luke--trained to be a doctor and returned to the small town to practice medicine. He married Abbie. Their children are Thomas, Aaron, and Ruth.
Jackson Brown--the school friend who greatly impressed Melissa, Amy Jo, and Belinda when he first arrived at the country school. He later became a doctor.
Belinda--Clark and Marty's youngest daughter, who trained as a nurse and went to Boston.
Belinda slitted her eyes open against the rays of the morning sun, then quickly closed them and pulled the blanket up around her face for protection. It was early, too early to rise--but she wouldn't be able to sleep any longer with the sun shining in her eyes.
Even in her sleepy state, she knew something was atypical. Previous mornings she had not awakened with the sun shining directly into her face.
The drapes--why are the drapes not pulled?
she wondered groggily. And then things began to filter back into her foggy consciousness.
It was the moon that had kept her from pulling the drapes across her upstairs bedroom window the night before.
It's so full and golden and shining,
she had commented to herself when she went to shut it out. She had impulsively decided to watch it as she lay in her bed. She would get up later, she thought, when the moon had passed from view and properly close the heavy curtains for the night.
But sleep had claimed her before the moon moved out of sight, and now the sun was streaming in the tall, elegant window, refusing to allow her further sleep.
Belinda pushed back her covers and slowly crawled from bed. If she was to get any more sleep, she had to shut out the early morning sunshine. Still tired, she yawned as she reached
for the pull, but she couldn't resist looking out over the lovely garden at the bright summer day.
Already the elderly gardener, Thomas, was bending over the flower beds, coaxing begonias to lift their bright summer faces to the sun.
What beautiful flower beds he's laid out,
Why, Aunt Virgie said just yesterday she doesn't know what in the world she will do should Thomas decide to retire.
Belinda smiled affectionately as she watched the old man. She did not share her employer's fears. She could see his love for the flowers in his every careful move. One might as well ask Thomas to stop breathing as to stop nursing his beloved flower beds.
Sudden determination made Belinda drop the drapery pull. With such a beautiful day beckoning her, she could no longer stay in bed. She would dress and slip out to join Thomas. Maybe he would even let her pull a few weeds.
Belinda hummed as she pulled a simple gown over her head and tied a bow at her waist. Aunt Virgie would not waken for some time yet, and Belinda would be free to enjoy the early morning hours.
She carried walking shoes in her hand so she would not make any noise and a hat to protect her face from the sun. She left her door slightly ajar so as not to disturb her employer in the next room with the sound of it closing. She slipped silently from the room and descended the steps.
Belinda left the house by the veranda door, pausing on the steps to breathe deeply. The heavy scent and beauty of summer blossoms filled her senses.
It truly is beautiful here at the Stafford
Belinda decided for the umpteenth time. Her longings to be back in her small-town prairie setting were not because she did not appreciate her present surroundings. Her people, her family, were the reason her yearning thoughts so often turned toward home. And thinking of them, as lately she
seemed to do almost constantly, her heart ached for a chance to be a part of their lives again.
But Belinda refused to dwell on her loneliness. As she had often done in the past, she firmly pushed it aside and thought instead of the things she had to be thankful for.
Mrs. Stafford-Smyth had been ill for almost two weeks with a serious bout of influenza, but now, thankfully, she seemed to be gaining strength each day. Belinda was greatly relieved. It wasn't the constant nursing or the loss of sleep at nights that bothered her. It was the worry--the possibility that her friend might not be able to shake the disease.
Belinda loved the elderly woman almost as though she were truly kin. They even enjoyed their own little game of "belonging" to each other. Mrs. Stafford-Smyth had asked Belinda if she minded calling her Aunt Virgie, and Belinda had been pleased to comply. In turn, "Aunt Virgie" always referred to Belinda as "Belinda, deah," with her intriguing eastern accent. The arrangement satisfied them both.
The lady seemed to have long ago concluded that neither grandson--Pierre and his Anne-Marie, nor Franz and his Yvette--would ever consent to share her Boston home with her. Indeed, Pierre and Anne-Marie had sent word from France that they were soon to be joined by a third family member. Aunt Virgie and Belinda, sharing joy over the great-grandchild to come, had even sat and knitted gifts to send to the new baby. But both had concluded without saying anything to the other that it was most unlikely Mrs. Stafford-Smyth would ever personally see or hold the child.
Belinda stopped to admire a climbing rose. The bright pink bloom filled the morning air with a sweet sunshine all its own. Mrs. Stafford-Smyth said that Thomas had developed the lovely flower in his own greenhouse. Belinda breathed deeply of its scent, then moved on into the garden.
McIntyre, Thomas's canine companion of many years, slipped alongside to sniff at Belinda's hand.
"Good morning, Mac," Belinda greeted him, running a hand over his graying head. "I see you're up early, too." The old dog's eyesight was failing and his hearing was not as sharp as it had been, but he never missed an opportunity to be at his master's side.
Thomas heard the words and straightened slowly, blinking as though not sure he was seeing right. He put one hand to his creaking back, then grinned slowly, showing a few gaps where teeth were missing. "Miss Belinda," he said, "how come ye not be abed?"
"It's too nice a morning to sleep," Belinda answered goodnaturedly.
But Thomas responded with a twinkle in his eyes, " 'Tis jest the same as any other mornin', 'tis."
Belinda smiled. "I suppose so," she admitted slowly. "I really wouldn't know, I must confess. But once I saw the day, I couldn't resist getting out into it. It will be hot and stifling later on, I'm thinking." And Belinda cast a glance at the bright sky with the sun already streaming down rays of warmth.
"Aye," spoke Thomas. "Twill be a hot one today, I'm afraid."
"I noticed your rosebush is covered with flowers," Belinda went on. "It smells most wonderful."
Thomas grinned widely at her comment. "Aye" was all he said.
He bent back to his work again, and Belinda ventured closer and knelt down beside him.
"Could I . . . would you mind if . . . if I pulled a few weeds?" she asked timidly.
"Weedin' ye be wishin' for?" His eyes widened, no doubt
picturing milk-white hands in such an endeavor. "Ye pulled weeds afore?"
"Oh yes," quickly responded Belinda. "Back home I always helped with the garden."
"Ye had ye some flowers?"
"Oh, not like here," Belinda was quick to explain. "Nothing nearly as grand as this. But Mama's always had her flowers. Roses and violets and early spring tulips. She loves flowers, Mama does. But she spends most of her time in the big garden--vegetables, grown for family use. Mama has fed her family almost all year round from the fruits of her garden." Belinda's voice had grown nostalgic just thinking about it. She could see Marty's form bent over the hoe or lifting hot canning jars from the steaming kettle.
"Aye," said old Thomas, nodding his head in understanding. "My mither, she did, too." Belinda thought his eyes looked a little misty.
"Be at it, then," Thomas gave her permission. "Mind ye pick careful. An' don't prick a finger on a thorn." Then Thomas handed her his own little hand trowel, and Belinda leaned forward and let her fingers feel the warmth of the sun- heated soil.
They worked in silence side by side for some time before Thomas spoke again. " 'Tis a new rose I have now. In the greenhouse. It has its first blossom just about to open. Ye wish to see it?"
Belinda straightened her back, smiling her pleasure at the invitation. "Oh, could I?" she asked eagerly.
"Aye," the old man said with a slight nod. He lifted himself slowly to his feet, moving his hunched shoulders carefully up and down to ease the ache. Then he cast his eyes around the yard to find old Mac. The gardener never took a step without checking on his dog. With Mac's senses no longer what they
had been, he had told Belinda he feared the dog might not notice his departure.
"McIntyre," he spoke loudly now, "we be movin' on." Belinda loved to hear him speak the dog's name. He rolled the "r" off his tongue so effectively.
The dog lifted his head, then slowly pulled himself to his feet. He moved to Thomas's side, and as one, the figures moved toward the greenhouse.
Belinda fell into step beside them. She stopped only once-- by the side of the climbing rose.
"It's so pretty," she murmured, touching a leaf gently. "Aye," acknowledged old Thomas with a twinkle, reaching out a hand to stroke a velvety petal. "'Tis Pink Rosanna I call
"You gave it a name?" asked Belinda in surprise.
"Aye. I always name me new ladies."
Belinda smiled at his description of his new rose hybrids.
At the greenhouse, Belinda waited while old Thomas carefully opened the creaking door. McIntyre found his own gunnysack bed by the entrance and flopped down. Even Old McIntyre was not allowed any farther into Thomas's sanctuary.
Belinda followed slowly, moved to exclaim over and over as her eyes swept the massive foliage and glorious blooms, but she held her tongue.
At last they were standing before a small rosebush. With obvious skill and affection, it had been grafted onto another shoot. Belinda could see the slight enlargement where the grafting had taken place. But her eye passed swiftly from the stem to the delicate bud that was just beginning to unfurl. On the same stem, another bud had formed, and a third one was slowly breaking from curled greenery.
"Oh," murmured Belinda, no longer able to restrain her self.
"It's . . . it's so beautiful. I've never seen such a pretty