Read To Everything a Season Online

Authors: Lauraine Snelling

Tags: #FIC042040, #FIC027050, #FIC042030, #Christian fiction, #Love stories

To Everything a Season (2 page)

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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Grace leaned her head briefly against her aunt's shoulder. “I am so thankful for you, Tante Ingeborg.”

“I will guess here about what's bothering you. You are troubled about your wedding. Uncertain.”

“Uncertain. Exactly. Ja, and troubled.”

Ingeborg continued to stroke Grace's hands, but was careful to make sure Grace could see her mouth to be able to read her lips. That was another skill Grace had perfected through the years. “You need not doubt your decision to marry Jonathan. I assure you, having the jitters is very normal. Almost everyone gets them.”

Grace forced a smile that wasn't really there. “I was ready. But his mother . . .” She sighed.

That was certainly understandable. His mother, who never did like Grace, had done all she could to forestall the wedding and had succeeded in delaying it.

“You have worked so hard, Grace, and done so well. You can do this too. And possibly win her over. In any case, you have won Jonathan. And what does Jonathan want?”

“To be married as soon and as easily as possible. He wants to come here immediately after his graduation and get married that very weekend. Then he plans to farm with my father and Onkel Haakan.”

Ingeborg nodded. “We all want that too. When will Jonathan's family be here?”

“They'll be coming for his graduation but plan to stay in Fargo until the day before the wedding on the following Saturday. We will leave for our honeymoon on Sunday. His mother is not happy that I refused to be married in New York. Jonathan did not want to be married in New York either, but she . . .” Grace shrugged and tipped her head to the side. “As you said, all will be well.”

“Ja, it will be.”

“We
will
go to New York after the wedding for some celebrations
with Jonathan's family and friends. But I think Mrs. Gould is also angry because we declined her offer for a wedding trip to Europe. We asked, instead, if they would put the money into the building fund for the addition to the deaf school instead.”

Ingeborg had heard all this from Kaaren, but that didn't dim her delight in Grace telling her. Knowing what little she knew of Jonathan's mother, Ingeborg had a pretty fair idea of where Grace fit or didn't fit in with the family. But her own memories of Jonathan's father, the man Ingeborg had met as a new immigrant in New York City, were always treasured in her heart. He had remained a friend all these years. So many years since he had come west, and now he was coming for a wedding of which she was sure his wife did not approve. Life takes strange turns.

Ingeborg had another thought. “Tell me, Grace, are you afraid a child of yours might be deaf? Cannot hear, like you?”

“Ja, sometimes. In the middle of the night if I cannot sleep.”

“I have read what I could find about this, and there is no evidence that will always happen. But our God is in charge. Never forget that. And your family is here to gather around you.”

Their silence stretched before Grace answered. “I am glad I do not have to live in New York.” She fluttered a little wave and stood up, so Ingeborg stood also. Together they walked down the steps and out the lane to the path leading across the small field to the deaf school. The men had built stiles across the fences to make it easier for the visitors, and now that they no longer kept the bull in that pasture, the path was used often.

“Soon the wedding will be here, and you and Jonathan can get settled. And honeymoon, of course.” Ingeborg hugged Grace again. “Now, is there anything that I can do for you?”

“Just pray for us and come to the ceremony. I want to keep this as simple as possible.”

“Of course I will!”

Grace heaved a sigh and gave a little wave. “Takk. Tusen takk.”

Two hours later, Astrid walked back to the surgery, a two-story residence with gables and gingerbread that housed not only the doctors' office and examining rooms but also Thorliff, Elizabeth, and five-year-old Inga. The two doctors had talked of moving to the hospital but so far hadn't made the effort. Besides, they needed the rooms there more for hospital staff and training. Astrid had checked on their six patients at the hospital earlier in the morning.

“My, that was quick,” Elizabeth said when Astrid joined her on the back porch.

“The mother was right. That baby boy was not wasting any more time. He came in a rush, and I'm sure I heard him hollering before he emerged. Mother and baby are doing fine. I was mostly a spectator.” Astrid smiled up at Thelma, Elizabeth's housekeeper, cook, and whatever else she needed to be. “Ja, I would love a cup of coffee, and no, I've not had dinner.”

Thelma believed her main mission in life was to take care of her two doctors, along with all the other things she accomplished. Both doctors had given up on trying to keep up with Thelma, a wiry, whirling wonder of doing and caring with no thought for herself. Even her hair could not keep up with her. Instead of a sedate bun, it flew in all directions, causing her to threaten it with scissors on a daily basis.

By the time Astrid had given the briefest report on their patients, Thelma had set a bowl of thick chicken-and-dumpling soup in front of her, as well as a steaming cup of coffee and fresh muffins, butter, and jam alongside. Just the way Astrid liked it.

“Mange takk.”

“Anything else?” Thelma also conserved words like water in a drought.

“I think not. You could bring a cup of coffee out here and sit with us.”

The look made Astrid and Elizabeth roll their eyes and share a smile. “I'll keep trying,” Astrid called toward the slamming screen door. The first spoon of the meal-in-a-bowl made her sigh with pleasure, a normal reaction to Thelma's cooking.

Elizabeth blew on her spoonful of soup. “We have no patients scheduled for this afternoon, so I suggest you go home, not back to the hospital, at least not yet, and—”

“I guess I can write letters to Chicago from home as well as here or at the hospital.”

“I was going to say to take the rest of the afternoon off.”

Astrid looked up from her dinner. “Why?”

“Why not?”

“I took time off to go visit Mor.”

Elizabeth started to say something, then stared at Astrid. “Something about that visit is bothering you.”

“You are too perceptive for your own good.” Astrid went on to describe her mother's concern for Haakan. “She can't put a finger on it either, but you and I have both noticed something is different. What do you see?”

“He's been somewhat withdrawn at church. Talking with the men some but more listening.”

“Or just being there. Is he listening or . . . ?”

“How should I know? I'm not part of that circle.” Elizabeth put her feet up on the hassock.

“I shall ask Thorliff.”

“Or Daniel. He's pretty observant, and Haakan is not his father. That makes a difference. Also Reverend Solberg. But what can we do anyway?”

“Knowledge is our first line of defense.” Astrid sipped her coffee, elbows propped on the round table. “I've been wracking my brain to pinpoint when the change began, what might have precipitated it.”

“He never returned to full robustness after his stroke. No matter how he's tried to think so. Men can be so stubborn.”

“I take offense at that comment.” Thorliff, husband to Elizabeth, Astrid's brother, and the eldest of the Bjorklund children, did not take the three steps as one, like usual.

“The newspaper is finished.” Astrid stated more than asked.

“Yes, thank goodness.” He sank down on the chair across the table from Astrid and reached for his wife's hand. “Good to see you out here.”

“I know. This is the first day really warm enough to enjoy being outside.” An argument started in the tree that hovered over the porch roof and ended when one bird flew off. The cat settled back in her basket and Inga's dog, Scooter, laid his head back on his front paws after greeting Thorliff.

Thelma brought the coffeepot out, poured a cup for him, and refilled Astrid's cup. “Soup or sandwich?” she asked.

“Soup is faster.”

Elizabeth's brows arched. “And what is the hurry after finishing the paper? A brief rest would not be amiss.”

Thorliff half smiled. “I need to check on the crews.”

“Your foremen have all quit?” That arched eyebrow took the slight sting from her words.

Astrid rolled her lips together. Yes, Thorliff was working long and hard hours, but that seemed to be a family trait from both sides of the family. Andrew too. Work hard and long but live the pace of the land.

The jangle of the phone and two rings brought Astrid to her feet.

“You are wanted at the schoolhouse,” Thelma told her a moment later. “Something has happened.”

“Did they say what for?” she asked as she grabbed her black bag.

Thelma shook her head. “You need a bicycle.”

“Good idea.” Astrid knew she could walk there faster than she could hitch up a horse. “Call Mor and ask her to start praying.”

“She always starts to pray when our telephones ring,” Thorliff called as, with one hand clapped on her straw hat to keep it from flying off, Astrid jogged away toward the schoolhouse on the other side of town.

Chapter 2

I
nga fell out of the tree!” shouted one of the older boys, running to meet her.

“Is she bleeding?” Astrid kept up her jog, more a running walk.

The boy took her bag and kept pace. “No. Mr. Nyquist said she had to lay still. I mean,
lie
still.”

“Good. Thank you. Is school out yet?”

“No, ma'am. Final recess.”

Astrid could see a circle of children under a cottonwood tree and the teacher ordering them all back into the schoolhouse. They stepped back when she set her bag down beside her niece, whose head was cradled in Emmy's lap. Inga and the little Indian girl were inseparable. “What were you doing up in the tree?” Astrid knew there would be a good story behind all this, while at the same time she knew instantly what was wrong. Inga's right arm was already swelling midway between wrist and elbow.

“Melissa's kitty was up there, and none of the boys would go get it down, so I did. And she scratched me and bit me and I sort of dropped her, and we both fell out of the tree. I was almost down, but I slipped and fell.” Her sniff indicated how
hard she was fighting against crying. Tear traces said she'd lost the battle earlier.

“Do you hurt anywhere other than your arm?” While questioning the girl, Astrid felt the back of her head and checked her eyes and extremities.

“I scraped my leg some.” She held up her other arm. “And here.”

Astrid glanced up to see that the other children had obeyed the teacher and returned to their classroom, other than one of the older girls, who waited to help if need be. “Linnea, will you please go call Dr. Bjorklund's house and tell them we need a wagon or buggy here to take Inga to the office? Emmy, you stay here with us.”

“My arm hurts bad, Tante Astrid.”

“I know it does. I'm going to wrap it so it won't hurt so bad.” While she talked, Astrid removed a dish-towel-sized piece of sheeting from her bag and folded it into a triangle. She slipped it under the arm as gently as possible, but even so, Inga whimpered. “I'm sorry, Inga. Be brave.” Helping her sit up, Astrid tied the sling around the back of her neck. “Now, you don't move it. All right?”

After a major sniff and clearing possible tears with the fingers on her other hand, Inga whispered, “Ma is going to be mad at me.”

“Why?”

“'Cause I climbed up in the tree. I did that at home, and she was really mad. She said girls do not climb trees. Tante Astrid, if I can't do so many things, why do I have to be a girl? Boys can do anything.”

Astrid concentrated on putting things back in her bag.
How do
I answer that one?

“Huh?” Inga pressed.

“Well, I asked my mor the same thing a long time ago, and she said someday I would understand.”

“Do you?”

Be
honest
. “Yes and no. Girls aren't supposed to be doctors either, but—”

“But both you and ma are.”

“I know, but it has not been easy.” She sat down, putting one arm around Inga and drawing Emmy close with the other. “Mor said that God made me to be a girl for a reason, and that He always knows best.”

“Bestamor is really smart.”

“She is the wisest person I know, and she listens to what God has to say.”

“God talks to her?”

“He talks to all of us. Only we don't always know how to hear Him. She does.” The jingle of a harness made her look up. Thorliff and Elizabeth were both in the approaching buggy. Thorliff called “Whoa” to the single horse and stepped down to help his wife alight.

Inga leaned into Astrid, her sturdy little body shaking. A whimper slid out between her tightly clenched teeth.

“I'm sure it's just a broken arm. It feels like a greenstick fracture,” Astrid said in place of a greeting. “She's being very brave.”

“You sure that is all?” Elizabeth asked as she rushed to kneel down by Astrid. “You fell out of the tree?”

“The kitty bit and scratched me and I dropped her. Then I fell and the kitty ran away, and . . . and I didn't mean to fall.”

“Of course. People who climb trees never mean to fall, but if you had not climbed the tree, you wouldn't have broken your arm.”

“But no one else would get it down, and she was mewing and crying and . . .”

Thorliff knelt beside his daughter and scooped her up in his arms. “Let's get you home so we can take care of that arm.” Standing, he headed for the buggy. “Astrid, you get in back and I'll hand her in to you. Elizabeth, you take the front again. Emmy, you can ride in back too.”

Once they were all situated, Elizabeth turned and reached over the seat back for her daughter's hand. “Looks like you got scraped some too.”

“There's blood in my shoe. It ran down my leg, but it stopped.”

“That Oscar!” Emmy snarled. “He dared Inga to climb the tree, but he was too scared to do it himself.”

“Emmy,” Inga whispered in warning.

“Did your teacher know you climbed the tree?”

Inga stared at her mother. “He did when I fell out. Someone ran and told him. He said I would have to stay after school when I got better, and I couldn't go on recess forever.”

“Serves you right.” Thorliff clucked the horse to a trot.

“Pa.”

“Well, you disobeyed the rules.”

“There wasn't a rule! Teacher never said I could not climb the tree. The boys climb the tree.”

Astrid kept her chuckle to herself. Inga was too smart for her own good, an old saying of her mother's. The buggy hit a bump and Inga yelped.

Elizabeth squeezed her hand. “We'll splint it and it won't hurt like that.” Astrid could see that Elizabeth had slipped from mother to doctor role now that she knew the accident wasn't so terrible.

Splinting the arm went quickly, although the shortest piece in their supply of wooden slats was still a bit too long. They left Emmy sitting in the chair beside Inga to watch over her, even though Inga had slipped into a sound sleep from the pain
medication Astrid supplied. The three adults gathered on the back porch.

“She will heal just fine,” Astrid reminded her sister-in-law.

Thorliff grimaced. “Knowing Inga, this probably won't be the last injury she has. In fact, we are probably lucky she's not done something like this before.” He picked up the paper and showed them the headline. The large type screamed out at them
BANK ROBBED
IN GRAFTON
. “Came in on the telegraph just before I printed the front page. I redid it to include the story. At least no one was injured, other than pride and feelings.”

Astrid scanned the story. “But the robbers got away.”

“I doubt they'll get far. The sheriff there took a posse after them. Almost like old times with bank robberies and chasing crooks on horseback. The Old West.” Thorliff tapped the story with his finger. “Sure made me question what we would do if something like that happened here. We have no law enforcement of any kind. Someone would have to come from Grafton or Grand Forks.” He studied the paper, head nodding slightly.

Astrid smiled up at Thelma, who arrived with the coffeepot without being asked.

“Inga is sleeping fine,” Thelma announced. “The cookies will be out of the oven in a few minutes. We must not forget to take some in to Emmy.” She turned to Thorliff. “Will there be anyone else for supper tonight?”

He looked up at her. “Not that I know of, but I have a meeting with the crew in a few minutes. It shouldn't go late.”

“Are you meeting here?”

“At my office.”

“I will bring the coffee and cookies over in half an hour or so.”

“Takk.” He grinned at her, shaking his head. “You spoil us horribly, you know.”

A slight tip of her head was her only response as Thelma returned to the kitchen.

Astrid, coffee cup in both hands, sat back against the padded chair. “Nothing like a little excitement to get our hearts pumping. I need to walk like that more often. Taking a buggy makes me lazy.”

“I'm thinking of buying a motor car. A Duryea, maybe, or an Olds.” Thorliff dropped that bomb in the conversation and watched from under his brows for his wife's reaction.

Elizabeth left her note taking and picked up her coffee cup, well laced with cream, as she liked it. “Should I say something like ‘over my dead body' or would you prefer that I ignore you?” The twinkle in her eyes mitigated the bite of the words.

“You and Astrid could use it to get to your patients more quickly.”

“Don't get me involved. I already told Daniel my views on the subject. Horses are far more dependable at this point. Especially in emergencies.” Astrid gave her brother a patient-sister look. “Remember when Hjelmer brought that monstrosity to town? Scared most of the horses into straight-out flight and then ran into the boardwalk. Nearly took out a citizen or two.”

“They have improved the automobiles greatly since then. You'll find lots of them in the cities, even in Grand Forks.”

“Fine, but there are suitable roads there. Not here.”

Thelma appeared and clunked a plate of frosted chocolate cookies down on the table. “Those newfangled machines are a waste of time and money.”

“It's good of you all to support progress. Whatever happened to the man makes the decisions like this?” He stuffed a whole cookie into his mouth.

Three snorts were his only answer.

“Hey, how's your little one?” Daniel Jeffers pushed open the gate and climbed the steps.

“Word does get around. She is sleeping, due to the pain meds,” Elizabeth answered. “Broken arm is all, and she is disgusted that she will have to miss recess and stay after school. Teacher's edict.”

“Well, it's only a week until school is out anyway.” Daniel took a cookie from the plate offered.

The smile he sent his wife made her heart skip. Had anyone told her love could be like this, she'd have scoffed. Astrid moved over on the settee and motioned for Daniel to join her. “I'll be home after I do evening rounds.”

“Mother sent me to tell you she has supper all prepared.” Daniel had brought his mother to Blessing after his father died, and they had lived at Sophie's boardinghouse until their house was ready.

“She didn't have to do that.”

“You know that and I know that, but we also know how much pressure her help takes off you. And”—he reached for another cookie—“Thelma ought to go into the cookie-making business, like Ingeborg could supply us all with bread and cheese.”

“And what?”

“Oh, you know how much she needs to be needed. She can't sit still any more than you can.”

“Humph

came from the kitchen, making them all share smiles. There were no secrets in the Bjorklund households.

“Here comes Hjelmer. We better get at it. Toby and Joshua should be along any minute.” Thorliff stood and stretched. “I'll really appreciate bed tonight. You'd think with all the new equipment I have, getting the paper out wouldn't be so wearing.”

“You're not as young as you used to be either. Besides, you
put out more papers now that Blessing has grown so.” Elizabeth laid down her paper and pencil as Thorliff went down the walk. “If you'd like, Astrid, I could do rounds this evening. You did them this morning.”

“You could, but I will.” She thought a moment, then waved at Hjelmer's greeting as he passed. Hjelmer Bjorklund might be her uncle, but he was not all that much older than Thorliff—fifteen years? Something like that. And yet Thorliff seemed so much wiser. “I think we can discharge Mr. Morris in the morning. He has found someone to come in and help him.”

“He can walk well with the crutches now?”

“I'll have him walk again tonight. The stump has healed well enough now that infection is no longer a problem. I wish we could find someone who would carve him a prosthesis. Maybe Far could carve something like that. I should ask him.”

Elizabeth nodded. “You know, one of the immigrants—oh, I can't think of his name. I'll ask Thorliff. I heard he is a master carver. Better not to put more pressure on Haakan at the moment. They're out seeding anyway.”

“True, but they're nearly finished. With the early spring, they were able to get out in the fields faster.” Astrid stood. “I'll check on Inga and take some cookies to Emmy. Do you want her to stay here tonight?”

“That is a good idea. Takk. I'll take the calls tonight and do rounds in the morning.”

“Do you realize how blessed we are to have telephones now? If you are in the middle of a birthing, you can call me and make new arrangements.” She put several cookies on a napkin. “Thanks for the ideas.”

After collecting a glass of milk and a plate from Thelma, Astrid took the treats down the hall to the bedroom that was still set up for patients to stay if needed. The family bed
rooms were on the second floor, up the curved and carved oak stairway.

“I brought you something.” She smiled at Emmy, who was taking her assignment even more seriously than usual, and set the plate with glass and cookies on the bedside table. “Has she stirred at all?”

“Her eyes moved, but she didn't wake up.”

“Good. That means she is not in pain enough to waken. Broken bones can hurt really bad.”

“Can she go to school tomorrow?”

“I don't know yet. Would you like to stay here tonight?”

“And take care of Inga?”

“Ja.”

“I will. You call Grandma?”

“Dr. Elizabeth will. I'm on my way to the hospital. Do you need anything from home?” When Emmy shook her head, Astrid headed for the door. “Enjoy the cookies. There are plenty more when Inga wakes up.” She knew Emmy had a habit of saving food, which was not surprising, considering what her life was like before Haakan found the little girl sleeping in the haymow where her uncle had left her, hoping they would take her in. Last summer the uncle came for her but brought her back in the fall in time for school. Astrid was pretty sure it would be the same this year, if the old man was still alive.

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