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Authors: Catherine Richmond

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Spring for Susannah

BOOK: Spring for Susannah
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Advance Praise for
Spring for Susannah


Spring For Susannah
follows one woman's journey to the Dakota territory where she learns not only to survive the elements, but to also trust that God has a plan for her. I loved watching Susannah transform from a shy and timid woman who feels unworthy to a strong independent pioneer in this new world. Filled with history and well-researched,
Spring
For Susannah
kept me cheering for these well-developed characters until the very last page. Fans of this genre will welcome this refreshing read from debut author Catherine Richmond.”

— B
ETH
W
ISEMAN
best-selling author of
Seek Me
With All Your Heart

“Upon rare occasion, one discovers a book that sweeps you into its world so completely, you never want to leave. Catherine Richmond's
Spring for
Susannah
is such a book, transfixing the reader with a tale of an unlikely love that whispers and sways across the pages like the grasses across the prairie, ripening into a heart's desire that touches the very soul. A stunning debut that will capture your heart and never let go . . .”

— J
ULIE
L
ESSMAN
best-selling author of
A Hope
Undaunted

“I can't remember being drawn in so hard by a debut novel. Cathy Richmond wrote an absolutely beautiful, sweet, funny, exciting romance. I fell completely in love with the hero and heroine. The shy, sweet Susannah who's been trained that a woman doesn't spout opinions or show emotions, and poor lonely Jesse who is dying for someone who will talk to him. It's full of passion and danger and humor and charm.”

— M
ARY
C
ONNEALY
author of
Montana Rose


Spring for Susannah
is a captivating debut! Susannah's plight captured me from the beginning, and I didn't want the book to end. Catherine Richmond wove beautiful details throughout this novel, and I savored her wonderful description along with her story.”

— M
ELANIE
D
OBSON
author of
Love Finds You in
Homestead, Iowa
and
The
Silent Order


Spring for Susannah
is a tender, realistic story full of memorable characters. This vivid portrait of life in the Dakota Territory will transport you into the life of a brave woman who must take the ultimate risk as she awakens to love in body and spirit. By capturing the earthly beauty of a good marriage, Cathy Richmond puts the ‘inspiration' in inspirational romance.”

— R
OSSLYN
E
LLIOTT
author of
Fairer Than Morning

“Brimming with fascinating details and endearing characters,
Spring for
Susannah
is as refreshing as a cool Dakota breeze. An accomplished debut!”

— D
OROTHY
L
OVE
author of
Beyond All Measure

“I devoured
Spring for Susannah
in one lovely gulp. Richmond is an author to watch. Highly recommended!”

— C
OLLEEN
C
OBLE
best-selling author of the
Mercy Falls Series

SPRING
for
SUSANNAH

C
ATHERINE
R
ICHMOND

© 2011 by Catherine Richmond

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]

All scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

Publisher's Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used ficticiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Richmond, Catherine, 1957–

Spring for Susannah / Catherine Richmond.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-59554-924-2 (pbk.)

1. Mail order brides—Fiction. 2. Frontier and pioneer life—Fiction.

3. Dakota Territory—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3618.I349S67 2011

813'.6—dc22

2011009136

Printed in the United States of America
11 12 13 14 15 RRD 5 4 3 2 1

To my folks.

A house full of books is a launching pad for life.

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Reading Group Guide

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Chapter 1

Please, Lord, let my Susannah be on this train.
And give me some fancy talking so she'll stay.

F
ourth Siding,” the conductor yelled as he trundled down the aisle. “Your stop, miss.”

Susannah peered through the soot-covered window. Nothing. No false-fronted buildings, no hardy pioneer families riding in wagons, no tented gatherings of fur trappers and gold miners. Just drab brownish-green grass waving all the way to the horizon, as it had since Fargo this morning. Dakota Territory had to be the emptiest place on earth.

She pulled the letter from the pocket of her traveling suit. “Fourth Siding” was scrawled beneath his name, but no further directions. “I'm needing a wife,” he'd written in bold, angular letters, a mix of cursive and manuscript. The second page, folded with it for safekeeping, was written by Reverend Mason in precise script, round letters all slanting right.

Surely this Mr. Jesse Mason would be like his brother the minister—a kindly gentleman with a placid temperament. Susannah stowed the letter.

The engine swung onto the sidetrack. This was it. Time to make a good first impression. She patted her chignon, tucked in hairpins, straightened her bonnet and veil. She shook out her skirt, smoothed her jacket, and pulled on her gloves.

Her fluttering drew the attention of the other passengers, two soldiers and a civilian. The civilian, a grizzly bear of a man, shot a stream of tobacco juice in the general vicinity of the spittoon, then swabbed the dregs on the sleeve of his checked shirt. His beard parted, showing a raw space where an upper incisor should be. Susannah shuddered. Poor dentist.

Please let my husband have all his teeth. And let him be free of the
tobacco habit
.

Susannah stopped herself. It was no use praying. If God listened, she wouldn't be in this predicament. The Almighty wasn't going to help her, that much was clear. She'd just have to manage in her usual way, without divine intervention.

With a squeal and jerk of the brakes, the Northern Pacific westbound run pulled up to a small platform. Late summer sun baked the new wood of a locked shed. No sign of Mr. Mason or anyone else to meet her. No town, no depot, no hotel. Susannah's heart sank. Well then, she'd ride on, wherever the train went.

The tobacco spitter stood and stretched, filling the aisle with his bulk. “I'll fetch your grip.” His bristly paw engulfed the handle of her satchel, which contained her change of collars and cuffs, handkerchiefs, and towel, all in desperate need of laundering.

“But . . .” She followed, not knowing what else to do.

He deposited her bag on the platform and handed her down. “Begging pardon, miss, but you're looking mighty peaked. You all right?”

As much as she'd paid for her breakfast toast, she would not lose it. “I'm fine, thank you.”

At the freight car door, the conductor hauled out two trunks, all that was left of her life in Detroit. Susannah needed to inform the train crew she wouldn't be staying; please put her luggage back on. But the grizzly wouldn't let go.

“If it don't work out with Jesse,” he said in a phlegm-thick voice, “you're welcome over to my place. Across the river at the next siding. Name's Abner Reece.”

How did he know she was here to meet Jesse Mason? And was he
proposing
? Surely she'd done nothing to encourage his attention. She'd avoided even glancing his way. “If you'll excuse me—”

The train whistle split the air, and the conductor hustled Mr. Reece back into the passenger car.

Susannah raised her voice and her arm, abandoning all pretense of ladylike behavior. “Wait! Pardon me, sir. There's no one—”

But the pounding steam engine drowned out the conductor's reply. He pointed north, over her shoulder, to a telegraph pole. When Susannah turned back, the locomotive had
huff-huff
ed west with its two cars.

“Wait!”

A shower of red-hot cinders rained down. She jumped, shaking her black serge skirt. When she looked up, the train had grown smaller. It crested the earth and disappeared.

A bone-deep ache pressed down on her, heavy as the August sun. Her knees shook. A tear slipped out. It wasn't like she'd answered an advertisement in a hearts-and-hands publication. No, her pastor's brother had written to her, had asked her to marry him. He should be here.

Susannah knew what they said about her at Lafayette Avenue Church. With her plain looks and her family's limited means, she could hardly expect to attract a husband. Her shyness made others uncomfortable. And her interest in her father's veterinary surgery was highly inappropriate.

She hadn't been invited to parties, hadn't had a proper coming out, hadn't been courted, not even by the battle-scarred soldiers limping home from the War. Becoming a mail-order bride seemed like her best chance, her only chance, for a home and family of her own.

Susannah removed her veil, wiped her cheeks, and drew in a breath. As she stuffed her gloves into her pockets, her fingers brushed the handkerchief knotted around the last of her funds. After paying for train tickets, hotels, and restaurant meals, she was left with $3.72.

Not much. Not enough. She had no choice. She would simply take the next train, wherever it went, whenever it came.

After four days on the train and three nights in noisy, smelly hotels, the platform was a fine place to wait. Fresh, quiet, like a raft floating on a sea of grass.

A loud thump shook the boards beneath her feet. Susannah spun around, her mind conjuring images of stampeding buffalo, cattle rustlers, Indians on the warpath. Her heel caught on her satchel and she fell.

As she lay there breathless, she heard heavy boots cross the planks and caught a glimpse of a wide-brimmed straw hat and broad shoulders covered by a faded blue shirt. His open hands carried no weapons. He must have been hiding under the platform, holed up like a bandit. But Susannah didn't have a derringer in her pocket or a bowie knife in her boot or even a next-door neighbor with a fireplace poker.

BOOK: Spring for Susannah
12.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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