Authors: Kim Vogel Sawyer
“Kim Sawyer knows what her readers expect and delivers it in
Echoes of Mercy
, a story you won’t soon forget with characters who grab your heart and a plot that keeps the pages turning.”
, author of
Love Stays True
in The Homeward Journey series
“Best-selling author Kim Vogel Sawyer pens an exceptional and utterly compelling story that shines a light on the appalling practices of child labor in the early 1900s. Her characters are richly drawn and heartbreakingly human.
Echoes of Mercy
is one of those novels readers won’t soon forget. I highly recommend it.”
, author of the Road to Kingdom series
Echoes of Mercy
, Kim Vogel Sawyer reveals the plight of working-class children and blends it with the perfect romance teeming with conflict and sprinkled with sweetness. As always with Ms. Sawyer’s work, the believable characters add reality to the strong, unique story line, and I found myself reluctant to put the book down. I was drawn in quickly and was held throughout the entire story. This is one I guarantee you’ll enjoy.”
, award-winning author of the historical-romance series Love Blossoms in Oregon
“Award-winning author Sawyer continues to craft engaging historical love stories brimming with characters who are bold in their faith.”
“Sawyer treats readers to love stories that speak to the heart.”
“Winsome characters, an interesting premise, and a heavenly match made on earth … fans of inspirational romance novels will not be disappointed.”
“Yet another entertaining novel that compels one page to turn as quickly as the one before.”
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All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version.
The characters and events in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental.
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-0-307-73127-2
eBook ISBN 978-0-307-73128-9
Copyright © 2014 by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Cover design by Kelly L. Howard
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, New York, a Penguin Random House Company.
and its deer colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sawyer, Kim Vogel
Echoes of mercy : a novel / Kim Vogel Sawyer. — First edition.
ISBN 978-0-307-73127-2 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-307-73128-9 1. Child labor—
Fiction. 2. Chocolate factories—Fiction. 3. Social reformers—Fiction. I. Title.
For Bev and Bonnie
who help pray me through
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Caroline Lang slapped the thick packet of meticulously handwritten notes onto the center of Noble’s leather desk blotter and then flopped into the nearest chair. The spindled legs slid on the glossy oak floor, raising a high-pitched complaint. Instead of apologizing for the scratches her carelessness had surely created—Noble was the most persnickety perfectionist she’d ever known—she said, “There you are. A completed report on accommodations for the sugar beet harvesters. I earned my week’s leave with that one.” She grimaced at her purple-stained fingertips. “If I never see another beet, it will be too soon.”
Noble had the gall to chuckle. “Oh, now, Caroline, you didn’t like beets before I sent you to Omaha. You’ve always said they stink when they’re cooking.”
“They do.” She nodded emphatically, causing several escaping tendrils from her simple bun to bounce on her shoulders. “And they don’t have to be cooked to stink. You ought to smell them when they’re just sitting in a bin in the sun.” Wearily she pushed to her feet. “I intend to spend my week of leave sleeping. You know where to find me if you have any questions about the report, but I’m sure you’ll find it concise. I was trained by the best, after all.” She aimed a fond grin at her friend and mentor.
Noble set the leather-bound packet aside without peeking in it. “You know I trust you, Caroline.”
His simple comment warmed her, and she gave him another smile as she turned toward the door.
“And since I trust you …”
Something in his tone stilled her hand, which hovered midway to the polished brass doorknob. She glanced over her shoulder and caught him stroking his beard, his familiar sign of worry. She returned to the chair, seating herself carefully this time. “What is it?” Fear struck, making her mouth go dry. “Has something happened to Annamarie?” She prayed Noble’s sweet, frail wife hadn’t met with harm while she’d been away on an assignment. She loved Annamarie almost as much as Noble did.
“Annamarie is fine.”
Relief slumped Caroline’s shoulders. “Oh, thank heaven …”
“But, unfortunately, I lost an investigator.” Noble’s face pinched into creases of sorrow. “A fine man—Harmon Bratcher. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.”
“Oh no.” As an investigator for the Labor Commission, Caroline knew they could meet danger. Sometimes entering workplaces to openly explore, other times posing as workers to observe the business practices on the sly, their presence was rarely welcomed and occasionally threatened. Even the required travel held various hazards. Each time she set out, Noble prayed over her for her safety. She depended on him and Annamarie praying her through the investigations. So far she’d always come back unscathed. Tired, yes, but unscathed. Her heart ached for poor Mr. Bratcher, for his family, and for Noble, who felt accountable for his agents.
Caroline rounded the desk and bent down to wrap her arms around Noble’s shoulders and press her cheek to his. His thick white beard tickled her jaw, but she didn’t pull away. He needed the comfort, and she needed to offer it.
He patted her wrists in a silent thank-you. “It has been difficult, I confess. I considered him a good friend.”
Although Caroline couldn’t claim Bratcher as a friend, she’d met him and admired his strong stance on changing the laws concerning the age of workers in the United States. The coalition to end child labor had lost a strong proponent with his untimely passing. She shifted to perch on the edge of Noble’s desk, leaving one hand on his broad shoulder in a gesture of comfort. “What happened?”
“According to the ruling from law enforcement officials, he broke his neck when he fell into an elevator shaft.”
Such a horrific way to end one’s life. But mixed with the horror, she experienced a niggle of wariness. “You don’t believe the ruling, do you?”
Noble pinned her with a steady look. “I suppose it could be true. Accidents happen, especially in factories. But the week before he fell, I received a telegram from Harmon saying he intended to sneak into the factory on Sunday—the only day no workers were on duty—to retrieve questionable bookkeeping records he’d glimpsed the week before. But he died before he could submit any other information. There were no documents on his body. So I can only surmise he fell into the shaft before he laid claim to the records, or—”