Love's Enduring Promise (Love Comes Softly Series #2)

BOOK: Love's Enduring Promise (Love Comes Softly Series #2)
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Love's Enduring Promise (Love Comes Softly #2)

Janette Oke

Dedicated with love to

Edward Terry, Lavon, Lorne and Laurel --my wonderful family

JANETTE OKE was born in Champion, Alberta, during the depression years, to a Canadian prairie farmer and his wife. She is a graduate of Mountain View Bible College in Didsbury, Alberta, where she met her husband, Edward. They were married in May of 1957, and went on to pastor churches in Indiana as well as Calgary and Edmonton, Canada.

The Okes have three sons and one daughter and are enjoying the addition to the family of grandchildren. Edward and Janette have both been active in their local church, serving in various capacities as Sunday-school teachers and board members. They make their home in Didsbury, Alberta.

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Table of Contents

1. New Beginnings 9

2. Ponderin' 16

3. The New School 19

4. Little Arnie 21

5. A Visit from Wanda 26

6. Marty Calls on Mrs. Larson 30

7. Exciting News 35

8. Wanda's New Baby 39

9. Mrs. Larson 45

10. Plottin' and Plannin' 47

11. A Strange Answer 53

12. Nandry an' Clae 60

13. The Trip to Town 65

14. The Family 73

15. The New Teacher 76

16. School Begins 81

17. School Days 86

18. Somethin' New 88

19. Tommie's Friend 94

20. Search for a Preacher 100

21. Marty Talks to Ma 104

22. A Call on Wanda 108

23. The New Preacher 112

24. Tommie 115

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25. School News 118

26. Owahteeka 121

27. Bits 'n Pieces 124

28. Owahteeka and Ma 126

29. The New Preacher Arrives 129

30. Leavin' 132

31. Time Moves On 134

32. Rett 136

33. Plans for a Church 139

34. Family 144

35. Nandry 148

36. The Excitement of Christmas 151

37. Christmas Dinner 155

38. Tryin' Agin 159

39. Josh and Nandry 163

40. Parson Joe 170

41. The New House 172

42. Life Moves On 174

43. Learnin' the Cost 177

44. Thet Willie 180

45. Missie's Callers 184

46. Disturbin' Thoughts 188

47. Another Christmas 192

48. Promises of Spring 195

49. Willie's Return 198

50. Ellen's Machine 201

51. Thet Special Day 204

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Chapter 1

New Beginnings

Marty stirred restlessly in an effort to shake off sleep. The dream possessed her, causing an uncontrollable shiver to run through her body.

Gradually wakefulness came and with it an intense relief. She was here, safe and belonging, in her own bed.

Still, an uneasiness clung to her. It had been a horrid dream, so real and frightening; and why, she asked herself, did she even have the dream after all of these months--and so real--so very real.

She could feel it close in about her even as she thought about it. The broken wagon--the howling blizzard pulling and tearing at the flapping canvas, and she, Marty, huddled alone in a corner, vainly clasping a thin, torn blanket about her shivering body in an effort to keep warm. Her despair at being alone was more painful than the cold that sought to claim her.

"I'm gonna die," she thought, "all alone. I'm gonna die"--and then thankfully, she had awakened and had felt the warmth of her own four-poster and looked through the cabin window at a sky blessed with neon stars.

Still, she could not suppress another shiver, and as it passed through her body, a strong arm went about her, drawing her close.

She hadn't meant to waken Clark. His days had been such

10

busy ones, and she knew that he needed his sleep. As she studied his face in the pale light from the window, she realized that he really wasn't awake--not yet.

A flood of love washed over her. Whenever she needed assurance of his love, it was given her, even from the world of sleep; for this was not the first time that, even before he awakened, he had sensed her need and drawn her close.

Wakefulness was coming to him now. He brushed a kiss against her loose hair and whispered, "Somethin' wrong?"

"No, I'm fine," she answered. "I jest had me a frightenin' dream, thet's all. I was all alone an'--"

His arm tightened. "But yer not alone."

"No, an' Clark, I'm so glad--so glad."

As he held her close, her shivering ceased and the reality of the dream began to recede.

She reached a hand to his cheek.

"I'm fine now--really. Go back to sleep."

His fingers smoothed her hair, then gently rested on her shoulder. Marty lay quietly and in a few moments Clark's breathing assured her that he was asleep again.

Marty had control of her thoughts now. The terror of the dream had been pushed aside, so now she used the quiet moments to think through and plan for the duties of the day.

Over the winter months the community menfolk had been busy felling and skidding logs every moment they had been spared from their own work. They and their wives felt strongly the need for an area school. They knew that the only way a school would be provided for the educating of their children was to build it themselves.

It would be a simple, one-room structure, built by the creek on a piece of property donated by the Davises.

Gradually the piles of logs had grown. The men had been anxious to log-in the required number before the spring thaw, and then before the land would be beckoning to the plow, there would be time for a work bee or two.

The count had been taken--the requirement filled. Tomorrow was the day set aside for the "school raisin'." The men hoped to complete the walls and perhaps even add the rafters.

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The building would then be finished through the summer as time allowed. By fall the children would have a school of their own.

Marty's thinking jumped ahead--the teacher. They still needed to find a teacher, and teachers were so difficult to find. Would they build their school only to discover that they were unable to obtain a qualified teacher? No, they must all pray--pray that the committee would be fruitful in their search; that their efforts of building would not be in vain; that a suitable teacher would be found.

Missie would not attend the school for its first term. She would be five come November and too young to join the others starting in the new school. Marty felt torn--she wanted Missie at home for another year. Still, in all the excitement over the new school, it was hard to refrain from getting involved by having a child attend. She reminded herself again that Clark and she had decided that Missie should wait--a hard decision, for Missie talked about the new school continually.

At first it had seemed so far into the future, but now here they were on the threshold of its "birthin'." The thought of it stirred Marty, and she knew that she would be unable to go back to sleep even though she should. It was too early to begin her day's work. Her moving about might waken the other members of the family.

She lay quietly sorting out in her mind what she would prepare to take for the meals on the morrow, and what would need to be done in preparation today. She mentally dressed each one of her children, and even checked off which of the neighbor women she wished to have a chat with when the work of the day would allow it.

The minutes ticked by slowly and finally her restlessness drove her quietly from her bed. She lifted herself carefully and slowly, for the child she carried made movement cumbersome.

"Jest another month," she reminded herself, "an' we will see who this be."

Missie was hoping for a baby sister but Clare didn't care. A baby was a baby to his little-boy mind; besides, a baby stayed in the house, and he, at every opportunity, went with his pa.

12

So Clare couldn't see a baby adding much to his world.

Marty slipped into her house-socks and wrapped a warm robe about her. The house was cold in the morning.

She went first to look in on the sleeping Missie and Clare. It was still too dark to see well, but through the light from the window their outlines assured her that they were covered and comfortable as they slept.

Marty went on to the kitchen and as quietly as possible lit the fire in the reliable old kitchen stove. Marty felt a kinship with her stove--almost like a man with his team, she reckoned. The stove and she worked together to bring warmth and sustenance to this home and family. Of all of the things that their home held, the stove, she felt, was really hers.

The fire was soon crackling, and Marty put the kettle on to boil and then filled the coffeepot. It would be awhile before the stove warmed the kitchen and the coffee began to boil, so Marty pulled her robe about her for warmth and took Clark's worn Bible from the shelf. She'd have time to read and pray before the family began to stir.

She felt especially close to God this morning. The dream had made her aware again of how much she had to be thankful for, and the anticipation of the new school added to her feeling of well-being. Only God really understood her innermost self. She was glad for the opportunity to pour it all out to Him.

Marty sat slowly sipping the hot coffee, enjoying the luxury of the liquid spreading warmth to her whole being. She felt refreshed now, both physically and spiritually. Again her eyes sought out the verse that had seemed meant just for her at this particular time. "Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

It was a verse rich in promise and a comfort to her after her troubled dream. Alone. The word was a haunting one. She was so thankful that she was not alone. Again in humbleness she acknowledged the wisdom of her Father in leading her so quickly to Clark after the death of Clem. She realized now that as soon as she had healed sufficiently to be able to reach out to another, Clark was already there, eager to welcome her. Why

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had she fought God's provision for her with every fibre of her being? Ma Graham had said that it took time for healing, and Marty was sure that that was the reason. Given that time, she had been able to love again.

To love and be loved--to belong, to be a part of another's life--what a precious part of the divine plan.

Had she ever been able to really tell Clark all that she felt? Somehow to try to put it into words seemed never to do it justice. Oh, she tried to express it verbally, but words were so inadequate. Instead she sought to say it with her eyes, her actions; indeed, her very being responded to him in a hundred ways.

The little life within her gave a sudden jerk.

"An' you," Marty whispered, "are one more expression of our love. Not jest the creating' of ya, but the birthin' an' the raisin'. Thet's love, too. Yer special, ya know. Special 'fore we even know who ya be. Special because yer ours--God-given. God bless ya, little 'un, an' make ya strong of body, mind, an' spirit. Might ya grow tall an' straight in every way. Make yer pa proud--an' he will be proud. Long as ya be beautiful an' strong of soul--even if yer body should be weak or yer mind crippled--jest be upright of spirit. I know yer pa. Thet's what be most important to 'im. An' to yer ma, too."

A stirring from the bedroom interrupted Marty's inner conversation with her unborn child, and a moment later Clark appeared.

"Yer up early," Marty said, welcoming him with a smile. "Couldn't you sleep either?"

"Now who could lay abed with the smell of thet coffee floatin' in the air? I declare, iffen those ladies anxious to catch themselves a man would wear the aroma of fresh-perked coffee 'stead of some Pan i perfume, they jest might git somewhere."

Marty smiled and rose from her chair.

"Jest stay a sittin'." Clark put his hand on her shoulder. "I know where the cups be. Don't usually have the pleasure of a cup of coffee before chorin'. Maybe you should make this a habit."

He poured his coffee and returned to the table where he sat

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across from her. He seemed to study her carefully, and Marty read love and concern in the look.

"Ya be all right?"

"Fine."

"Junior behavin'?"

Marty grinned. "When ya came out I was jest sittin' here havin' a chat with her."

"Her,
is it?"

"Accordin' to Missie, it daren't be anythin' else." "Had me abit worried in the night."

"Thet weren't nothin' but a silly dream."

"Wanna talk 'bout it?"

"Not much to be sayin', I guess. It was the awful feelin' of being' alone thet frighted me so. Don't rightly know how to be sayin' it, but Clark, I'm so glad thet I never had to really be alone--even after I lost Clem. There was you an' Missie right away to fill my life. Oh, I know I shut ya out fer a time, but ya were there. An' Missie gave me someone to think about right away like. I'm so glad, Clark. So thankful to God thet He didn't even give me a choice, but jest stepped in an' took over."

Clark leaned across the table and touched her cheek. "I'm glad too, Mrs. Davis." There was teasing in his eyes, but there was love there too. "Never met another woman thet could make better coffee."

Marty playfully brushed his hand aside. "Coffee--pawsh."

Clark's eyes grew more serious. "Guess I was kinda hooked even 'fore I smelled the first potful. Never will fergit how little an' alone ya looked headin' fer thet broken-down wagon, tryin' so hard to hold yer head up when I knew thet inside ya jest wanted to die. The inside of me jest cried right along with ya. Don't s'pose there was another person there who understood yer feelin' better than I did. I ached to somehow be able to ease it fer ya."

Marty blinked away a tear. "Ya never told me thet afore. I thought thet ya were jest desperate fer someone to be a carin' fer yer young Missie."

"True, I was, an' true thet thet was what ya were s'pose to

BOOK: Love's Enduring Promise (Love Comes Softly Series #2)
5.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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