Authors: Janette Oke
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Media Tie-In, #Fiction - Religious, #Christian, #Christian - Romance, #Religious - General, #Christian fiction, #Religious, #Historical, #Religious & spiritual fiction, #General & Literary Fiction, #Family Life, #Modern fiction, #Romance & Sagas, #Domestic fiction, #Romance - General, #Davis family (Fictitious characters : Oke), #Davis family (Fictitious chara, #Davis family (Fictitious characters: Oke), #Accident victims
Love's Unending Legacy (Love Comes Softly #5)
Dedicated with love to my third sister, Amy June Wilson, who, because of her gentle disposition, made it possible for me to have one sister with whom I didn't fight as a kid. We have shared many good times--often with the help of the old pump organ.
And to my talented brother-in-law, John F. Wilson
JANETTE OKE was born in Champion, Alberta, to a Canadian prairie farmer and his wife, and she grew up in a large family full of laughter and love. She is a graduate of Mountain View Bible College in Alberta, where she met her husband, Edward, and they were married in May of 1957. After pastoring churches in Indiana and Canada, the Okes spent some years in Didsbury and Calgary, where Edward served in several positions on college faculties while Janette continued her writing. She has written over five dozen novels for adults and children, and her book sales total over twenty-two million copies.
The Okes have three sons and one daughter, all married, and are enjoying their dozen grandchildren. Edward and Janette are active in their local church and make their home near Didsbury, Alberta.
Visit Janette Oke's Web site at:
1. Homecoming 9
2. Catching Up 17
3. Taking Stock 26
4. Happenings 34
5. Confessions 40
6. Announcement 47
7. Planning 53
8. A Visit With Ma 60
9. Ben 67
10. Good News 73
11. Ma Graham 83
12. Lane Helps Out 87
13. Marty Makes a Date 96
14. Christmas 103
15. Back to Routine 114
16. Secrets 121
17. Letters 127
18. A Talk With Ellie 137
19. Dark Shadows 143
20. Nandry 152
21. Lane Comes for Supper 164
22. Ma Comes Calling 173
23. Ellie Makes Plans 186
24. Church and Home 190
25. Sharing 203
26. Family Dinner 212
27. Surprise 217
28. Plans 227
29. The Legacy 235
Marty's trembling hand pushed back a wisp of wayward hair from her warm, moist
as she peered once more out the window. Why was she shaking so? Was it because they had been bouncing hour after long hour in the seemingly slow-moving stagecoach, or was it her intense excitement at the prospect of once again being home? Marty made an effort to still her hand--and the tumult within her. Her slight movement must have caught Clark's eye. Though busy talking with a fellow passenger about the need for rain, he reached for Marty's hand, and she felt the pressure of his fingers, his unspoken message that he understood--not only her weariness, but her impatient longing to be home again, as well. She returned the squeeze, assuring him that she was all right in spite of her overwhelming desire for the trip to end. Clark gave her a quiet smile, then turned again to the man who was speaking. Marty leaned forward for the umpteenth time to get a better look out the small stagecoach window.
They were in familiar territory now Marty recognized the landmarks, but they only served to make her more distressed with their slow progress. Oh, how she pined to be home again--to see the dear children whom she had not seen for so many months! Though her body was physically exhausted, her eagerness to come to the end of this journey had her sitting on the edge of her seat--every nerve and muscle vibrating with her concentrated energy.
Home! I want to get home!
She clutched at the door handle as the
coach lurched through another pothole.
Clark turned from his conversation with the black-suited gentleman and gave her another understanding smile. "Won't be long now," he assured her, looking over her shoulder at the landscape. "Thet's Anderson's Corner just up ahead!"
Marty knew he was right. Still, she told herself, it would seem forever before the stagecoach finally pulled to a dusty stop outside their local livery. She wondered if she would be able to keep herself in check for these last endless miles. In an effort to do so, she set her thoughts to imagining what lay ahead. Who would be there to meet them? Would firstborn Clare be the one driving the family team? Would he have his Kate with him? Or would it be Arnie who would be waiting for them? Would their youngest, Luke, be along?
Marty's thoughts switched to her home. Would it seem strange to her when she walked through the door? Would she feel she was entering the abode of someone else, or would she still have the delightful sense of fully belonging there? Would Ellie have supper waiting, impatient with the fact that the stagecoach was almost an hour overdue and things would be overcooked as the dishes waited on the back of the large, homey kitchen stove?
Marty thought of the farmyard, the garden, her chickens clucking about the pen, the spring, and the woods. She could hardly wait to see them all again.
Here I am, a grown woman, actin' like Lukey when he was a little shaver waitin' for an egg to hatch.
She smiled to herself.
She stretched her legs in an effort to relieve some of the stiffness from the long ride. Her glance
on Clark's one booted foot placed firmly on the floor, and she knew his long
must be even more cramped than her short ones. She did not look at the other side, the pinned-up leg of his trousers.
At least that one isn't complainin' about more room!
Clark had showed her how to treat his handicap lightly.
But it must ache, too, after this long period of forced
she reasoned and wondered if Clark was suffering any pain with the shortened limb.
Clark must have seen her glance and read her question. He shifted his position and spoke to her. "Really takin' this jostlin' fairly well," he said, patting his thigh. "It will be as glad as the rest of me to be out of this rockin' stage, though. Seems we been shut in here 'most a lifetime."
Marty nodded and tried another smile in spite of the fact that she was hot and dusty and longed to be out in some clean, fresh air. Even the switch to the old farm wagon for those last few miles would be a welcome one.
Marty leaned for another look out the window and discovered they had covered some good distance since her last check. Right up ahead lay the last bend in the road before the small community they called
would come into view. A quiver of excitement passed all through her--oh, to be home again! During the long trip home by train and stage, she realized just how much she had missed it--had missed all of them.
Her thoughts returned to Missie and Willie, Nathan and Josiah. How wonderful it had been to spend the time with them. She had learned to love and appreciate the West along with Willie's ranch and the men who lived and worked on it. She wondered how Cookie was doing. Was he progressing in his newly discovered faith? She remembered Wong and his last-minute gift of baking for their train trip home. And there was Scottie, the kind and patient man who needed to allow God to work in his life. She thought of the bitter Smith and hoped that it wasn't just wishful thinking on her part that the man's attitude was beginning to soften. Perhaps one day he would even venture to attend the Sunday services in the new church. Marty's thought of the new church brought all sorts of memories of the many people with whom they had worshiped and grown to love as neighbors and friends. How was Henry doing as he led the little flock in Bible study? Were the Crofts still coming faithfully, and had they found the peace that
Mrs. Croft especially had so longingly searched for? Did Juan and Maria ...? And then the stagecoach driver was yelling "whoa" to his horses, and the stage was sliding to a halt in a whirl of dust.
Marty's whole insides leaped with such eagerness she felt dizzy with the intensity Clark's hand was supporting her as she struggled to her feet.
Which of the family will be here? How long will it be until we see the others? What if they didn't get the message of our coming and no one is here to meet the stage? How can I ever bear the extra hours until we can find some way home?
Her thoughts clamored for answers. Dared she look beyond the stagecoach door?
Momentarily she shut her eyes and steadied her jangled nerves with a little prayer. Clark's firm grip on her arm calmed her. She took a deep breath and sat back down to allow the other passengers to leave the coach ahead of her, then waited for Clark to step down so he might help her as she left the coach, now finally stationary. She felt as if she were still moving--swaying slightly with the roll of the stage. Marty steadied herself, reaching for Clark's outstretched hand, and stepped down as gracefully and calmly as she could. And then the air around her seemed to explode in cries and blurred movement as family members swept toward her. Marty was passed from one pair of arms to another, crying and laughing as she held each one close. They were all there. Clare and his Kate; Arnie, Ellie, and Luke; Josh and Nandry and the children. Only Joe and Clae were missing--missing because they were still in the East, with little Esther Sue, where Joe was finishing up his seminary training.
Marty finished the round of hugs and turned to hug them all again. Wiping away tears of joy, she stood back to marvel at how much the grandchildren had grown, how pretty and grown-up Ellie looked, how Luke didn't look like a boy anymore, and how tall and manly her two oldest sons appeared. They had changed, her family. In just one short--and long--year, they had changed so much. Josh was shaking Clark's hand now and telling him how much he had been missed. Marty saw anxious glances at Clark's
pinned-up pants leg, and she knew that this was a difficult and emotional time for her family. Clark put them all at ease as he expertly maneuvered his crutch and picked up some of their belongings.
"'Member how we left this place? Stuff piled up high till I wondered iffen the poor horses would be able to pull the load. Well, we came back with far less than we left with." He grinned and slapped his short leg. "Even lightened
up a bit fer the return trip," he quipped.
The boys laughed some, and the tension eased. The menfolk started in on the luggage and soon had it moved to the waiting wagon.
Marty turned again to the girls. "Oh, it's so
to be home! It's such a long trip, an' I have so much to talk 'bout I'm fair burstin'." Then she spoke to Ellie. "Thought you'd be home stewin' 'bout the stagecoach being' so slow an' ruinin' yer supper."
"We got together an' decided to just this once be real extravagant," said Ellie, her lovely face and smile warming Marty's heart once more. "We knew you'd be tired after yer long ride, and we thought ya might need a little break before climbin' in the wagon an' headin' on home. 'Sides, we're all anxious fer some talkin' time, so we decided to meet in town an' eat together at the hotel."
Marty was surprised but, after mulling it over quickly in her mind, agreed with their decision. It would be good to just stretch a little and then enjoy a meal with the family. She would simply put off the reunion with her home and its familiar surroundings.
Marty turned to talk with Nandry, but the young woman was standing as though transfixed, watching the men move off toward the waiting wagon. The grown boys appeared to jostle for position beside their father, all talking and laughing at once. It was obvious they shared the joy of having him back. Nandry's Josh, too, walked with them, carrying their youngest, Jane, along with them. Andrew bustled along with the men, hoisting high Marty's prized hatbox. But it was on Clark that Nandry's eyes were fastened, and
Marty saw deep pain in her face. Marty wanted to assure Nandry that it was all right, that the stump of leg no longer gave Clark dreadful discomfort, that he was still able to do all the things he used to do ... well, almost all the things. He had made the adjustment well, and they had even been able to thank God for the life-changing event in their lives, since so many things had happened for God's glory from the results of the tragedy. But before Marty could even move toward her oldest daughter--this one whom she loved as truly as though hers by birth--Nandry had moved away, the pain in her eyes showing clearly on her troubled face.
It's a shock,
a terrible shock. She needs time to face it an' time to adjust. I didn't bear it very well at first, either.
Ellie was speaking. "Mama, how is Pa? I know thet he seems ... well, he seems his old self. Is he really? Does ... does it bother 'im?"
"Yer pa is fine ... just fine." Marty hoped her voice would carry to Nandry, who stood silently with her back to the group. "Course it was hard on all of us. It's hard on you, too. ... I know thet. 'Specially at first. But ain't nothin' much yer pa puts his mind to thet he can't do. He's a big man, yer pa. A little thing like a missin' leg won't slow 'im down much. You'll--"
But Ellie was weeping. Quiet sobs shook her slight frame as large tears streamed unheeded down her cheeks.
Marty crossed quickly to her and held her close, patting her back and rocking her back and forth until Ellie had cried herself dry.
"It's okay" Marty whispered. "I had me a lot of cryin' time, too. It's all right."
Ellie dabbed at her eyes with her handkerchief. "Oh, Mama," she apologized, "I thought I was all through with such like. I promised myself. ... But when I saw 'im ... when I realized it was really true, I...."
Marty held her close. "It's just fine," she assured her again.