Read To Everything a Season Online

Authors: Lauraine Snelling

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

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BOOK: To Everything a Season
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On a whim, she stopped by Thorliff's office, where a discussion was going on.

“Come on in,” Thorliff called. “What can we do for you?”

“Can you give me the name of that immigrant who is such a good wood carver? I want to ask him to carve Mr. Morris a comfortable prosthesis. The ones in the catalogue can be used as a pattern.”

“Ah, that would be Andrei Belin, the Russian. Thanks to Daniel's
mother, you can communicate with him somewhat. He's on the crew adding to the boardinghouse.” Thorliff glanced at Toby Valders for confirmation. “What kind of wood do you think?”

Astrid shrugged. “Oak or walnut probably. Something tough. Check with Far. He has some large enough pieces stored in the machine shed, I think.”

“If he can do it out of one piece, it would be stronger.”

“Mange takk. I knew you gentlemen would have the answers for me.” Astrid waved good-bye and set off up the block to the boardinghouse, owned by her cousin Sophie. How does one explain a need like this to a man who doesn't have a good grasp of the English language? Maybe instead of asking him, first she should talk it over with her mother-in-law, who was the man's instructor. One more day surely would not make a big difference. Hospital first, then home.

Since she didn't have to make supper, Astrid settled into the office at the hospital. She would write the letter she'd planned on getting to for the last three days, her response to the supervising nurse at the Chicago hospital.

Dear Mrs. Korsheski,

Thank you for your letter of April 30, inquiring about when we will be ready for the first of the student nurses. You said that you would have three young women to send to us in August, and I believe that is a very workable plan. There is also the possibility that Dr. Red Hawk will be sending two students from the reservation. As I mentioned in the past, housing is a problem here in Blessing. I am not complaining about the exciting growth going on here, but housing remains a challenge.

Our medical program is growing, as Dr. Deming, an accredited dentist, has opened his office in the north wing
of the hospital building, where our classroom is and future other offices will be located. As my brother Thorliff has pointed out, we should have designed a larger building.

I appreciate your offer to provide specialty teachers for the nurses on a rotating basis. When we dreamed of a hospital, the teaching side of medical care was not in our hopes and plans. But nurses are so needed in less populated areas, as are doctors, as you well know, and we are delighted to be able to provide training for medical persons in rural circumstances.

We are honored by your trust in us to help prepare for the future.

Sincerely,
Dr. Astrid Bjorklund Jeffers

Astrid reread the letter, sealed and addressed the envelope, and placed it in the mail basket. One more thing to cross off her list. Taking up the charts of her patients, she headed for the nurses' station to start there.

“Dr. Bjorklund, I fear we have a situation developing with Mr. Lyme. He refused to eat his evening meal. Even his daughter cannot get him to eat. What else can we do?”

Astrid wished she had some other advice to offer. No one would be happy with what she wanted to say.

But she would say what must be said. Since when had she not said what she felt she should?

Ever since her dear father took up his stubborn fight against age and disability. And she had no idea how to deal with that.

Chapter 3

A
rtesian?”

“Perhaps.” Trygve Knutson nodded as he watched the windmill blades turning in the west wind. “We sure didn't have to go down far.” They had dug this well in a damp spot that sported one cattail plant and a clump of water grass.

“I tried digging there, but it kept caving in so I filled it back in.” The farmer rocked back on his heels, took off his hat, and swiped his hand across the top of a shiny dome. “Water right here for the asking. Missus won't need to spare every drop, and I won't have to haul barrels from the river. Lord be praised.” He stared up at the spinning blades with a tail that pointed west. “Maybe we're gonna make it here after all.”

“Pa, can I pump it?” His younger son was jigging in place with excitement.

“You don't have to. See that tank filling? When the wind is blowing, the water will pump itself.”

The line of cows watching from behind the fence shoved and shifted around the gate, several announcing their displeasure at being kept from the water. Their plaintive moos and bellows floated on the wind.

Trygve studied the motion of the rotors to make sure all the mechanics were properly placed. Gilbert Brunderson and Gus Baard were loading their tools and gear back onto the wagons they traveled with—one covered, with stove and bunk beds for their living quarters, the other a buckboard they used to pick up the ironwork and other supplies at the nearest railroad drop.

“One more thing, Mr. Knutson. How about you show me how to grease this?”

“Good, because if you don't keep those gears greased, this'll freeze up on you faster than you can milk a cow.”

“Let me, Pa.” The oldest son, who'd been working right along with them since they'd unloaded the wagon, offered and, without waiting for a response, scampered up the ladder.

Trygve smiled. “You have a fine son there, sir. If he ever wants a job, I'd hire him.”

“I was beginning to think we were all going to be looking for jobs, along with a new place to live.” The man laid a hand on his younger son's shoulder. “You go over and let those cows out before they tear down the fence.”

Trygve kept his eye on the young man on the platform greasing the gears. He learned quickly, seemed to have a natural bent for machines. “Good job. Just make sure that grease pot is always supplied.”

The clanging of the dinner bell caught their attention.

“The missus has dinner ready. We want you leaving on full stomachs.”

“We appreciate that, sir. Your wife is a good cook.”

That hadn't been the case at the last place they'd been to. The three men had taken turns with the cooking after just one meal at that farmhouse. It had been the fastest setup they'd done. Anything to get out of there.

The farmer clapped him on the shoulder. “That boss of yours
owes you a bonus for the fine job you do. Missus will pack you food for tonight too. You know you're welcome to stay on and leave in the morning.”

“Thank you, but we have one more well to drill before heading back to Blessing. Be good to get home.” Even though they'd only been on the road since the ground thawed, Trygve was ready for a break.

Onkel Hjelmer kept them plenty busy. This was Trygve's second season drilling wells and building windmills. While he got great satisfaction out of seeing those blades begin to turn and the water flow, he felt an urge to get home. Last year he had looked forward to new horizons, new people, and new challenges to face, but this year . . . So far they had had only one dry well. It was a good thing Hjelmer did not guarantee water.

They arrived at the next farm at dusk, introduced themselves, and after supper around a campfire, fell into their beds in the wagon. The woman at the other farm had provided them well with food.

In the morning, even before the sun burst over the horizon, Trygve was out walking the land. This farmer claimed he had paid someone to witch the farm. Trygve had never taken much stock in water witching. A fellow who claims to be able to identify the best location for a well walks about gripping a forked branch, and the branch points him to water? Maybe. Trygve trusted his own ability to read the land more than a hazel stick.

Where the witcher had driven a stake, Trygve saw nothing that indicated water below. But toward the east, he found a tree that had been struck by lightning. A new shoot had sprouted from the burnt stump, green against the black. He nodded and surveyed the land around it. This tree could only have grown this large right here because it tapped water. He stared back toward the house and barn. Not close.

The owner had assured him that the man said that where he had pounded in the stake was the best place to dig the well.

Trygve could hear Onkel Hjelmer reminding him that it was his job to dig wherever the farmer said, not to argue. But he'd dug enough wells now that he had a sense when one might be easy or not. He had a feeling this was going to fall in the
not
category.

Back at the barn, the farmer was watching him. “Whatcha doing out there?”

“Just checking the area.” Trygve waved an arm. “I think water is much closer to the surface out by those cottonwoods.”

The farmer scowled. “No. I paid the man good money to locate the best place, and we're gonna dig there.” He paused. “And, you know, you're running late. That Bjorklund fellow said you'd be here over a week ago.”

Trygve sighed. He did not explain that they could not put up a windmill during lightning storms and they'd had at least two of those plus heavy winds. He wasn't sending his men up or going up himself when the weather went against them. But when they built a windmill, it did not blow over. They'd seen one lying flat and the farm abandoned. He fought to ignore his feeling and just do what he was told. After all, the customer was always right. Or so he'd been told.

“We'll dig where you say, but I'm reminding you that if we come up dry, we'll have to charge extra for another drill.”

“Maybe I should just get someone else in here.”

“Up to you.” But Trygve knew there were few drillers in the region, and a couple of them were more shyster than dependable. He waited. Finally he turned and started back to the wagon, where Gilbert and Gus were watching for the order to unload.

“Wait,” the farmer called to his back. “No. You go ahead.”

“Okay, men, unload.”

By the third day of drilling with no water emerging and running out of pipe, Trygve called a halt.

“It's drier 'n a bone,” Gus said. “This is a waste of time.”

Trygve brushed away a persistent blackfly, out early this year. Sure, they were south of Blessing, but not that far south. Sometimes he hated being right.

“Why you stopping?” The owner stomped his way up to the wagon, strutting up to the site like a banty rooster they'd had one time. That little rooster had taken on the reigning rooster one time too many.

Trygve swallowed his irritation. “It's a dry bore. We've about run out of pipe and—”

“But I paid that man good money, and he said there would be water here.” He stabbed at the ground with a gnarly and filthy finger.

“I can't help that.” Pointing toward the drill, Trygve said, “Go see for yourself.”

As he stomped over there, the man muttered something about lazy workers that couldn't be trusted.

Fists clenched, Gus started after him, glanced at Trygve, stopped.

A soft answer turneth
away wrath.
Was it his mother's voice or a trick of the breeze? “Let it lie.” Trygve nodded to the site. “Pull it out.” He looked over to the cottonwood stump barely visible above the green grass. Shame. It was a shame.

“What are they doin'?”

“Pulling the drill. We're done.”

“But that Bjorklund, he promised me water, well water. Right here.”

Trygve shook his head. “Be right back,” he said and headed for the wagon, where he pulled the contract out of the box. Sure enough, the man had signed with an X. Hjelmer had
printed in the man's name next to it. Great, the man could not even read.

Returning to the fray, he handed the farmer the paper. “I'm sure you have a copy of this, since Mr. Bjorklund always makes certain the customer gets a contract. That is your name, right?”

The man peered at the line where Trygve was pointing. “A man's word is a man's word. Don't need no fancy paper.”

“Then let me read this to you.” Finishing the reading, Trygve said. “You can see there is no promise of water. We do our best, but no guarantees.”

“How do I know you read it all?”

“So you are calling me a liar?” He was using a soft answer all right, but this time it was laced with steel.

“No, no. Don't get all het up. What you gonna charge to drill again?”

“Half what you paid for the first drill, sir.”

“That's highway robbery. You can't do that.”

“Sorry.” This time Trygve omitted the
sir
. “We'll be on our way, then.” He motioned for the loading to continue.

“But I need this well. I was counting on it.”

Trygve looked toward the pipe being drawn out of the ground. He counted to ten. And twenty. “Tell you what. You pay me now and we'll move over to the stump out there and drill again.”

“But that's too far from the house.”

“Better'n hauling water in barrels. You could probably move your house over there.” The barn didn't even look strong enough to be moved. Surprising that a bad windstorm hadn't already blown it over.
Lord
, give me patience. I've never struck a man, but
 . . .

“You promise me water?”

“No, sorry. We never do that. But since those cottonwood trees out there found some, I'm pretty sure we will too.”

“You dig and I'll send Bjorklund the money.”

“Can't do that. Has to be cash on the nose.” Trygve knew this wasn't exactly the way Hjelmer did things, but didn't want to gamble on this man not paying up.

But Hjelmer always told him to use his own judgment. For some reason, Trygve waited. Finally he shook his head. “We'll load our supplies and be on our way.” Surely they could get loaded and on the road before dark. He did not want to spend another night there.

“Look, I don't have cash money to pay you, but I got a yearling steer I can trade.”

Trygve stared down at this boots, then into the man's eyes. “Show it to me.”

They found water fifty feet down, put up the windmill, and were on their way two days later, a very unhappy steer walking along behind the wagon, a rope around his horns leading to the rear of the wagon.

“What's Hjelmer gonna do with this here steer?” Gus asked when they stopped to eat and sleep. “He doesn't even have a pasture.”

“Oh, I'm sure he'll turn it out with our cattle. He can either sell it or butcher it when the time comes.”

“I was surprised you gave in.” Gilbert stirred the contents of the kettle hung over the campfire.

“Guess I just wanted to see if I was right. Cottonwood trees don't lie. Besides, I felt sorry for him. Ignorance can be corrected. Bullheadedness, no.”

“Why you s'pose that other man told him wrong?”

“I bet he didn't pay no other man. He just figured he knew and wanted a well close to the house.”

Gus added some more wood to the fire. “I felt sorry for his children, a pa like that.”

Trygve nodded. “Me too.”

The next day they found a town on the railroad, and Trygve made arrangements for them to load up in a boxcar the next day and get back to Blessing faster.

Even though he'd been right about the water, the whole scene had left a bad taste in his mouth. Had he made the right decision? Was taking the steer the best choice? He slept under the wagon that night, like the others, since it didn't look like rain. Good thing they were taking the train. The rims on the wagon wheels all needed to be reset, and sleeping in a real bed, eating his mother's cooking, and scrubbing until he was actually clean all sounded real good.

Besides, they'd not had any news of Blessing in too long. What might have gone on at home by now? Trygve was more than ready to live for something besides water.

BOOK: To Everything a Season
13.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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