Read To Everything a Season Online

Authors: Lauraine Snelling

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

To Everything a Season (6 page)

BOOK: To Everything a Season
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“You didn't appear to have trouble swallowing.”

He shook his head, but not much.

“You need fluids, but if I brought you some cheese, do you think you could eat that?”

“Ja, good.”

She picked up his hand and laid her cheek against the back of it. “Ja. Good is right. Thank you, Lord God, Haakan is back.”

“I . . . never . . . left.” The words came slowly, not much more than a whisper, but she could understand him.

She rolled her eyes, but a tear leaked out anyway. “You could hear us, even when you did not, could not, respond?”

“Ja.” He squeezed her hand. “Lie down.”

Nodding again, she stood to remove the pillows. When he lay against only one, he sighed, and with a smile, his eyes fluttered closed and he slept.

Ingeborg watched his chest rise and fall, evenly and gently. He was having no trouble breathing. Had he really had another stroke, and if so, how could there be so little apparent damage? If not a stroke, what? Especially since he had been in a coma for so long. Her own husband was a medical mystery to her. She headed to the icebox for cheese, then gently closed the door. He could eat the cheese later.

She could hear the thump of the butter churn on the back porch. Even that sounded joyous. But when she cranked the
telephone and picked up the earpiece, tears rained like the sky had opened to deluge the land. Instead, she hung the earpiece back on the prongs and sobbed into her apron-covered hands. The screen door banged against Freda as she flew across the room and wrapped her arms around Ingeborg's shoulders, guiding her to the chair. They sat and she let Ingeborg cry as she gently stroked her arm and shoulder.

Chapter 6

he week passed like a breeze blowing through the window.

Astrid and Elizabeth sat behind those attending the meeting called by what was beginning to be known as the city council, unofficially anyway. Penny Bjorklund slipped in to sit beside them.

Astrid knew her mor would be there too, although she hated to leave Haakan, especially in the evening, even though he'd told her to go.

Sophie poked Astrid's arm. “Trygve is back!”

Astrid craned her neck to see. The young man, grinning and shaking hands, was joining the fellows in the corner. He looked tanned and healthy.

Thorliff stepped to the front of the group of about twenty men, and the growing group of women, all of whom owned businesses in Blessing. Rebecca joined them just as Thorliff started talking.

“Glad you could all make it, since the announcement just went out this afternoon. Before we begin the business, Reverend Solberg, will you lead us in prayer?”

John Solberg stood and bowed his head, waiting for the
shuffling to cease before he began. He waited a bit more and then his voice came gently. “Our heavenly Father, who gives us life and livelihood, family and friends, homes and farms, and all of our businesses, we thank you for your presence here among us and within us. Thank you for the myriad ways you have blessed this town and all of us individually. We cannot begin to count the ways and times you have come to us in our needs. Thank you that Haakan is responding so well. Near as I can tell, that fits in the miracle category.” A whisper of agreement and nods drew them all even closer. “So Father, now we ask you to bless this meeting, to give us good ideas that can benefit our town and help us to always grow closer to you. We thank you and praise you for hearing us and for always answering. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.”

Thorliff stood again. “There are several reasons we believe we needed to get together, and number one on our agenda is the robbery in Grafton. I am sure all of you read the article I printed a while back in the paper. I figured they'd catch the thieves in short order and all would be well. But they are still on the loose, and they robbed the grocery store in Pembina. That was done by only one man, but I've heard tell, the others were nearby.”

“Makes no sense. Where could those varmints hide for almost two weeks?”

“I know, Anner, and your safety is part of the reason we are here. Let's face it, we have both a bank and a thriving grocery store. We could be on their list.”

“If they are not caught.”

“So what do you suggest we do?” Dr. Deming, the dentist, asked, glancing around as if to apologize for a newcomer speaking up.

“Glad you asked,” Thorliff said. “Daniel, you're the one who
talked with the law in both Grand Forks and Grafton. Would you please tell us what you learned?”

Daniel Jeffers nodded and stood. “I spoke first with the sheriff in Grafton. He is frustrated and furious. The folks of Grafton are hollering for his hide, as if this were his fault. He said we better get together a plan to protect Blessing, but he also reiterated that the band could be discovered any day.”

“Right.” The sarcasm came from someone else.

“I talked with Grand Forks, and they suggested we hire one of their deputies to patrol the bank and the town at night, since both of the robberies were at night. They said that lawbreakers usually use the same tactics each time.”

“Why hire someone when we could take turns?” Hjelmer Bjorklund leaned forward. “We all know how to use guns.”

“True, but—”

“How would we pay an outsider?”

“Why not close the bank and make it known that there is no money here any longer? You know, take away the prize.”

“Nah, that wouldn't work.”

The women glanced at one another. Who said that last? Astrid wished she could see more of the group, but from the back it was hard to tell some of them. Talk about frustrating, being only an observer. Perhaps . . . no, there was no sense in riling the waters.

Trygve stood. “What will it take to hire someone, and do we really want to do that? Would only one man be enough?”

“Three questions?”

“I couldn't get a word in edgewise until this moment.”

Everyone chuckled.

Lars Knutson spoke up with a shrug. “Besides, Thorliff, Haakan would have asked one of the questions.”

Astrid mentally finished the comment: . . .
if he were
. But while Haakan wanted to come, he needed too much help
getting around yet. He was getting stronger each day. Still, both of his doctors had overruled him. The amazing thing was, he let them. That was not at all like him, to allow their pleading to indeed overrule his desires.

Sophie nudged her with an elbow and leaned close to whisper, “My tongue is bleeding.”

Astrid rolled her lips together to keep from laughing out loud. “All of us
I know.” She shook her head the slightest bit, indicating they should be paying attention. But her own mind did not want to pay attention. The idea of someone armed and patrolling the streets of Blessing made her stomach sour. One of their own would be bad enough, but the thought of people shooting, bullets flying, and blood pouring . . . Her mind kicked into doctor mode. How would they handle a crisis like that at the hospital? Especially if more than one person were severely wounded. True, they had two doctors, but they lacked nursing staff and sufficient supplies. How could they remedy that in the shortest amount of time?

She jerked her mind back to the discussion in time to hear Mr. Valders move that they hire help from Grand Forks. It looked like the group was divided fairly evenly. Wouldn't waiting until tomorrow for the decision be a better idea?

Thorliff raised his hands to calm the heating discussion. “I know we have a motion on the table, but since we are not an organized governing body, it seems to me that we need to postpone a decision like this until we talk with others in the town.”

“Like their wives,” Penny whispered, especially since Hjelmer seemed to be siding with the hiring-help faction.

Pastor Solberg stood up and waited for the turmoil to quiet. “I know I have no more say than the others, but I do want to suggest that this is something that needs to be prayed about, diligently. We all know the verse that a soft answer turns away
wrath. I am not saying either way here, but the wisdom of sitting quietly before our God and listening for His voice makes a lot of sense to me. We have seen God's miracles so many times in our little town. Let's expect another.”

The temperature in the room had cooled considerably, even while he spoke.

“Almost a hangin' mob here,” Sophie said from behind the fan she had taken from her bag.

That's what was happening, all right. Astrid gave her cousin a wide-eyed look. “How did you recognize that?”

“Saw it happen one time. Not something I ever want to see again.” She looked over her fan to where her husband was sitting. Garth Wiste gave her a slight nod. “You think we can go home now?” she asked Astrid.

“I think they have more business or at least some announcements.”

Thorliff stood beside Reverend Solberg. “Thank you, Reverend. As always, you are the voice of wisdom.” He turned to the others. “While we have a couple of other things to bring up, I suggest we meet back here tomorrow night after the praying and discussion we need. A show of hands please.”

When most of the hands went up, some halfheartedly at best, he nodded again. “Good. Now I have some other news. We have heard from more job seekers, including several who are married. Some of those women agreed they would like work too, so perhaps this will help.”

“Where are we going to house them?” Sophie asked. “Two rooms at my boardinghouse already have four bunks in them. I can't handle any more boarders.”

“Hjelmer suggested we order army tents. We can build a frame for each rather quickly and erect them out south of the tracks. That would give us until winter to get more housing up.”

“What about a couple of apartment houses? We can do two-story, like the boardinghouse. And that new wing on the boardinghouse could be rushed into occupancy more quickly.” Toby Valders glanced at the others. “I know our construction teams are being pushed to the maximum, but we will have more help soon.”

“And here I was hoping to get my well-drilling team back on the road.” Hjelmer said his piece so mournfully that the others laughed, helping to lighten the tension in the room.

Sophie stood and waited until Thorliff nodded to her. “I hate to add fuel to the fire, but many of these new families may have children, so we can count on needing an addition to this school building too . . . before school starts.” She gave a slight bow. “And thank you, gentlemen, for the promise that the new wing at the boardinghouse will be usable more quickly.”

Garth rolled his eyes, and Thorliff slid into the look he sometimes gave Inga when she had been especially outrageous.

“And on that cheery note, I am now closing this meeting.” He smacked his hand on the table. “Done.”

“Good thing, before all the women take it upon themselves to . . .”

Astrid didn't hear the rest of the comment due to the hum of conversation fast growing louder than a hum as the group disbanded.

Small groups visited outside in the deepening dusk, and others left immediately.

“You did well, Thorliff,” Mr. Valders offered on his way past. “I thought it was going to go worse than that.”

“Thank you. And thanks too for being a voice of reason, especially since you manage our bank.”

“No money is worth getting shot over.” Anner tipped his hat and headed toward home, leaving Astrid with a sense of growing
admiration. It was a shame his wife had not been there. The idea of Mrs. Valders sitting still through a meeting like that made Astrid chuckle on the inside. Actually, she was surprised Hildegunn had not come, but then women were not invited. Those that showed up did so without an invitation, and the men were too polite to run them out.

She hooked her arm through her husband's, and they accompanied Elizabeth and Thorliff back toward the Bjorklund House, as theirs was on the way. “I'm glad that's over,” Astrid said to no one in particular.

“Me too.” Daniel gave her arm a quick squeeze. “When you four ladies showed up, I thought there might be trouble, but those disgruntled hid it well. Thorliff, I'll bet you'll get several letters to the editor over this.”

“Possibly. Then I won't have to write an editorial, unless they all agree, of course. Dissension is good for the soul.”

“And that is in what Scripture?” Elizabeth asked.

Astrid knew Elizabeth's right eyebrow had arched, even though she couldn't see it in the deepening gloaming.

“I'm sure it must be somewhere.” Thorliff stopped, so the others did too. “I sure would love to have Far at the meeting tomorrow night. We could—”

Elizabeth and Astrid both groaned. “Thorliff.” They even said his name in unison.

“No one ever brought up a way to pay for help, should we go that route,” Daniel said. “The talk of money usually cools any hotheads, not that I really saw that going on tonight. The people of Blessing seem more level-headed than other places I've been to.”

“But things they are a-changing.” Thorliff shook his head. “We need to make sure newer people feel they are a part of this decision.”

“You men better talk with your wives too.”

“Or invite them along,” Astrid added to Elizabeth's comment.

“We might not have a vote, but we do have opinions and valid ones, at that.”

“Astrid, I think we better hurry home before this turns into a suffragette rally.”

“'Night,” Astrid called over her shoulder as Daniel steered them down the street to their house, where candles waited in the windows on either side of the front door. Daniel's mother insisted that candles always welcome those coming home, winter or summer.

Tonight, Astrid did indeed feel welcome as she climbed the steps to their front porch. What did her husband really believe in regard to permitting everyone to vote—either sex and any color? The thought made her realize there were many areas of life they had not discussed before their wedding.

Not that that would have changed anything.

BOOK: To Everything a Season
13.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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