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Authors: Ruth Ann Nordin

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BOOK: To Have and To Hold
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Grace went to Mary’s side and put her arm around her shoulders. “Calvin and I wil bring the

children here to have supper tonight.”

Comforted in knowing Grace would be sharing supper with them, Mary smiled her thanks.

Dave set the carpet bags down. “Your father wants Mary and I to go to the lighthouse before

we leave. It’s his dying wish. We thought today might be a good day to do that.”

Katie nodded. “That’s Father’s favorite place. Have you been to a lighthouse?”

“No.”

“Then you must go. It’s worth seeing at least once. It’s only an hour’s walk there, too.”

“You should eat something before you go,” Grace said.

“Grace is right,” Katie agreed. “I was just about ready to make something when you came

here.”

“We’l help,” Grace offered, and Mary nodded she’d be happy to assist.

“In that case,” Dave began as he turned to the carpet bags, “I’l put the clothes away.”

Mary wondered if Katie would think that was wrong for him to do, but if she thought it, she

didn’t say it. Relieved, she went to the kitchen with her sisters.

As Katie took down a pan from a shelf, Grace col ected the plates and utensils. “Where are

your husband and son?”

“They went fishing,” Katie replied and put the pan on the cook stove.

“Again?”

Katie shrugged. “That’s how they make their money, and they love to fish. I can’t complain.

We get most of our food that way.”

Mary tapped her fingers on the worktable and cleared her throat. “What do you want me to

do?”

Katie looked at her as if she didn’t realize she was in the room. “Oh! Wel , if you’d like, I

wouldn’t mind eating pancakes. I can’t make them like you can.”

Grace chuckled. “I don’t think any of us can make anything as good as Mary can.”

“So true,” Katie replied.

“I’m sure you two make some things better than I do,” Mary said, embarrassed that everyone

seemed to keep mentioning her in relation to how wel she cooked.

While she appreciated the compliment, she wished they could find something else to connect

her with. As it was, it seemed to be her only attribute.

“I’m going to tel Calvin and the children we’l be having breakfast and supper here,” Grace said,

glancing at Mary. “Wil you be alright until I’m back?”

“She’l be fine,” Katie replied with a smile. “Mary and I haven’t seen each other in ages. It’l be

nice to have some time to talk alone.”

It would?
Mary got the impression she and Katie rarely said more than a few words to each

other.

Though Grace seemed apprehensive, she nodded and left the kitchen.

Chuckling, Katie set a large bowl and wooden spoon on the table. “I’l col ect the ingredients

and you can do your magic.”

Mary went over to the bowl.

Katie set the ingredients on the table and then turned to the coffee pot. “So, you’re doing wel

out there in Nebraska?”

“I think so.” Mary poured some flour into the bowl.

“Don’t you measure it first?”

“The flour?”

Katie nodded.

“I don’t need to,” Mary said with a shrug. “I just know how much I need to make enough

pancakes for everyone.”

“That’s impressive.”

She didn’t know how impressive it was. After she got familiar with the recipe cards she wrote,

her knowledge of cooking came back pretty quickly.

“But I shouldn’t be surprised,” Katie said as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “You’ve always

been good with food, even when you were a child. It’s a gift. I bet Dave considers himself

lucky on that count.”

“Maybe.”

“And you’re lucky, too. He’s not only nice, but he’s also handsome.”

Mary picked up the sugar and paused so she could look at her sister. Was it her imagination or

did her sister have a wistful tone in her voice? Unsure of how to respond, Mary turned her

attention back to the sugar and poured some of it in the bowl.

“You needn’t pay Mother any mind in regards to her grievances,” Katie continued before she

sipped her coffee. “I mean, she has her way of thinking and no one’s going to change it. We

al just learned to go along with her when she’s around and then do our own thing when she’s

not. I suppose I should have explained that to you the first day you were here.”

Mary finished adding the other ingredients, hoping that by doing so, she could avoid crying

again. She didn’t want to keep crying over her argument with her mother. It only served to

make her feel helpless, and she didn’t like feeling helpless.

Katie shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe it couldn’t be helped. You lost your memory, so you

couldn’t ful y understand Mother.”

With a long sigh, Mary picked up the spoon and stirred the mixture in the bowl. “Probably not.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Mother has a way of saying things that don’t sit wel with some

people. Just be glad you get to go back to Nebraska. In some ways, I envy you. I’l be stuck

here until the day I die.”

“But you get along with Mother.”

Katie took another sip of coffee. “I’ve learned the right things to say and do to appease her.”

She tapped the side of her cup with her fingernails. “You know, you surprised me. I didn’t think

you’d ever stand up to her.”

Mary brought the bowl over to the cook stove and poured some of the batter into the pan,

careful that the pancakes would be the same size. “She was insulting my husband.”

“Real y? What did she say?”

“She said he was rude to her. Dave wouldn’t be rude to someone unless there was just cause

for it.”

“How admirable of you to stand up for him. You must love him very much.”

Mary set the bowl on the table and grabbed the spatula. “Yes, I do. Just like you love your

husband.” Blushing, she added, “I’m afraid I don’t remember his name.”

“You don’t? The first day you came here, I told you his name was Clifford.”

Mary’s eyebrows furrowed. “You didn’t say anything to me the first day I was here.”

“Oh, sure I did.”

Doing her best to hide her unease at potential y starting another fight, she shook her head.

“No, you didn’t. You talked to everyone but me.”

“Mary, that would have been terribly rude of me. Why would I do something like that to my

sister?”

Her cheeks warmed and she wasn’t sure if it was because Katie was outright lying to her or

because Katie had just accused her of thinking she was insensitive.

“Perhaps it was Leah,” Katie softly suggested.

“It wasn’t Leah.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t Leah? She and I look exactly alike.”

Mary returned her gaze to the pancakes so she could stop making eye contact with her sister.

Twirling the spatula in her hand, she debated whether or not she wanted to press the issue. It

didn’t seem worth it. And quite frankly, she was already worn out after arguing with her

mother. The last thing she needed was another fight, especial y since Katie was the only one

she and Dave could stay with until the next train came to town.

Though it irritated her to let the matter go, Mary final y gave in. “Maybe it was Leah.”

Katie relaxed and smiled. “Yes, it had to be. Why, we’re talking now, aren’t we?”

Because Katie expected a reply, Mary nodded, though she noticed her grip on the spatula

tightened. She closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep breath to calm down, and then

opened them. Feeling a little bit better, she flipped over the pancakes.

Mary heard Dave coming down the stairs and breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness

there’d be someone else to talk to. Grace had warned her that Katie and Leah played pranks

on them while growing up by pretending to be the other twin, and Mary figured this was a

variation of the stupid game they found so amusing years ago.

Katie hurried over to the breadbox and took out a loaf of bread. “Do you like jam?”

Mary glanced at her to answer the question, but Katie was looking at Dave and waiting for his

answer. Another memory came back to her, but it had nothing to do with Katie. It was when

Dave had dropped a glove and bent down to pick it up. A woman had given him an appreciative

look that bothered Mary. If she remembered right, the woman’s name was Cassie. She

closed her eyes, hoping to determine what had happened after that. He hadn’t noticed the way

Cassie looked at him. He’d left the sod house and returned to work. She rubbed her forehead

to ease the slight jab of pain hitting her between the eyes. No. He hadn’t done anything with

Cassie he shouldn’t. She remembered how much he hated her. And if she recal ed right,

Cassie had soon turned her attention to other men. Relieved, she opened her eyes and took

the pan off the cook stove and put the pancakes on a plate.

“Mary?”

Not realizing someone was talking to her, she broke out of her thoughts and saw that Katie was

watching her with concern. “I’m sorry. I was…” Mary motioned to the pan before she put it

back on the cook stove. “I’m afraid my mind is on pancakes. What did you say?”

“I wanted to know if you want orange juice to drink,” her sister replied.

“That wil be fine.”

Mary poured more batter into the pan, and as she did, she couldn’t help but notice her hands

were trembling. She didn’t understand why. It wasn’t like she was a novice in the kitchen.

What was bothering her? Something she’d repressed was trying to come back to the surface,

but she sensed it wasn’t something she’d like.

After she set the bowl back on the worktable, she dared a glance in Katie and Dave’s

direction. Katie was talking to him about how much he was going to enjoy seeing the Atlantic

Ocean. It seemed innocent enough, but there was something strange about the whole thing.

What made it worse was that her head throbbed in discomfort. Trying to ignore it, she turned

back to the pan and waited to flip the pancakes.

Echoes of the past came in brief images at first but then grew longer in duration. Mostly, she

heard laughter. Then she became aware that someone was playing the organ. They were in a

church. They were al dressed up, but it wasn’t Sunday. Flowers decorated the sanctuary.

Grace’s wedding! They were waiting for the wedding, and she had left the room where she

had helped Grace with her hair.

Grace had asked her to tel their father she was ready. So she left and went to tel him,

passing wedding guests along the way. Her father was talking to the preacher, but before she

headed for him, someone said her name. Curious, she turned around but realized no one was

talking to her directly. Then, to the side of the entryway, she saw Leah, Katie, and Stan. They

were talking and giggling.

“No, I don’t think so,” Katie said.

“It could happen,” Stan argued. “Men like to eat.”

“They might like to eat but not
that
much,” Leah replied.

Stan shook his head. “You underestimate a man’s stomach. Believe me, once they find out

how wel Mary cooks, there’s bound to be someone who’l marry her.”

“That’s hard to believe when they have mothers and sisters who can cook for them,” Katie said.

“She might not be attractive, but I think she’s doable,” Stan protested. “You just dim the

kerosene lamp and you hardly notice how she looks.”

“Let’s just face it,” Leah began as she adjusted the cameo locket around her neck. “This is the

last wedding we’l be attending until little Betsy grows up.”

The memory faded as someone cal ed her name. She blinked and turned her attention to Dave

who was standing beside her.

“What?” she asked him, struggling to keep her emotions under control.

He motioned to the pan. “I think the pancakes are done.”

Her gaze returned to the pan where the pancakes were starting to burn. “Oh!” She quickly

removed the pan from the cook stove. As she dug the spatula under them and studied the

brown edges, she sighed in frustration. They weren’t edible.

Katie glanced at the pancakes and offered Mary a reassuring smile. “That’s stil better than

what I do.”

Mary forced a smile in return, but it was a painful experience. It was either stay here or with

her mother, and as much as both options made her cringe, at least Katie wasn’t upsetting

Dave. So what if Katie had thought Mary wouldn’t ever get married? That didn’t change

anything. Mary did get married, and Katie got to see it for herself. Feeling better at the

reminder, she scraped the pancakes off the pan and placed the pan back on the cook stove so

she could put more batter into it.

“You don’t have to cook if you’re not up to it,” Dave told her.

“He’s right,” Katie quickly agreed. “I’m sorry I asked you to make them.”

Though Mary doubted her sincerity, she said, ‘I’m fine. I wanted to make something this

morning. I was distracted by a memory that was coming back to me. It made me lose track of

time. I’m fine now.”

“What did you remember?” Dave asked.

Mary glanced at Katie and decided this was one of those moments it was better to lie. “I was

recal ing a time when I was with Grace.”

“Then it must have been a good memory,” Katie replied as she turned back to the slices of

bread so she could spread jam on them. “Mary and Grace were always close, Dave.

Wherever one was, you’d be sure to find the other.”

The front door opened and she heard Grace’s family enter the house. Knowing Grace had

returned made her feel better about standing there in the room when Katie was being overly

nice to her—something she didn’t particularly care for since it seemed as if Katie was

BOOK: To Have and To Hold
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