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Authors: Lauraine Snelling

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A Touch of Grace

A Touch

of
Grace

Books by Lauraine Snelling

A S
ECRET
R
EFUGE

Sisters of the Confederacy

D
AKOTAH
T
REASURES

Ruby
Pearl
Opal
Amethyst

D
AUGHTERS OF
B
LESSING

A Promise for Ellie
Sophie’s Dilemma
A Touch of Grace
Rebecca’s Reward

H
OME TO
B
LESSING

A Measure of Mercy
No Distance Too Far

R
ETURN TO
R
ED
R
IVER

A Dream to Follow
Believing the Dream
More Than a Dream

A Touch of Grace
Copyright © 2008
Lauraine Snelling

Cover design by Koechel Peterson & Associates, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN 978-0-7642-0474-6 (Large Print)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Snelling, Lauraine.

A touch of Grace / Lauraine Snelling.

         p.   cm. — (Daughters of Blessing ; 3)

ISBN 978-0-7642-2811-7 (pbk.)

1. Young women—Fiction. 2. Norwegian Americans—Fiction. 3. Farm life—Fiction. 4. Deaf—Fiction. 5. Teachers of the deaf—Fiction. 6. North Dakota—Fiction. 7. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3569.N39T68      2008

813'.54—dc22                                                                                              2007043451

DEDICATION

T
O
M
ARCY
, K
ATHLEEN, AND
C
ECILE
,
who help and encourage me far more than they realize.
Thanks is never enough.

LAURAINE SNELLING is an award-winning author of over sixty books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold over two million copies. Besides writing books and articles, she teaches at writers’ conferences across the country. She and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, a basset named Chewy, and a cockatiel watch bird named Bidley. They make their home in California.

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Bjorklund Family Tree

June 1902

Blessing, North Dakota

W
HERE IN THE WORLD AM
I?

Jonathan Gould stared at the open window with a sheer white curtain puffing in a slight breeze. While the world outside had light, the sun had yet to blue the sky. The voice came again.

“Jonathan, time for milking.”

Milking. He lifted his head enough to focus around the room. That’s right; he was back in North Dakota at the home of the Bjorklunds. And this time wouldn’t be like the first. That had been a brief visit for the graduation before heading to San Francisco, where his father had a business meeting. This time he was here for the summer to find out what manual work was like. The thought sent him burrowing back into the pillow.

He heard steps creaking up the steep stairs and then a knock on his door.

“Jonathan, the others are leaving for the barn.” Mrs. Bjorklund’s voice caught him by the nape of the neck and threw him from the bed. Not that she screamed or scolded, but she’d had to make the trek up those stairs just to wake him. After his father had admonished him to not make life any harder for these good people. People who’d been his father’s friends for many years and who were doing him a favor to employ his son for the summer. All he needed was for them to report to his father that he wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Then his father would believe the rumors he was becoming a wastrel.

“I’ll be right down.”

“Good. The coffee is hot if you’d like a cup before you go.”

He could hear her descending the stairs as he pushed his feet into denim pants that should have been washed at least fifty times to soften them before he tried wearing them. Stiff was a weak word for the rigidity of the heavy cloth. At least his long-sleeved shirt had been worn plenty of times. They’d said to bring old clothes to work in, but he hardly had any. He slammed his feet into his boots, threaded his belt through the loops, glanced in the mirror long enough to run a comb through his dark curly hair, and headed downstairs.

Was it Astrid, the Bjorklund daughter, who called him the first time when he thought it a dream? Last night when she’d told him that he’d be learning to milk the cows in the morning, he’d smiled and wished he’d headed back to New York on the train. While they didn’t look like dangerous beasts, he’d not had even a petting acquaintance with similar animals. His idea of cattle was the long-horned steers he’d seen in paintings, animals that roamed the Wild West along with the buffalo.

“Good morning. I hope you slept well.” Mrs. Bjorklund, garbed in a white apron from neck to ankle, turned from the huge cast-iron stove with a smile.

“I must have. Did someone call me earlier?”

“Ja, Astrid did, but she said you didn’t answer.”

“I thought I was dreaming.”
Actually I thought it a nightmare, but …

“You’ll get used to the early mornings. I think it’s the most beautiful part of the day, when the earth is waking and the sun peeps over the horizon.” She handed him a steaming cup. “Did you want cream and sugar?”

Her Norwegian accent reminded him of their cook at home. “Thank you, no,” he said as he shook his head. Not that he was a big coffee drinker, but right now he needed all the help he could get. He took a swallow and stifled a cough. Hot and strong enough to stand his hair on end. From now on he would ask for cream and sugar, although he suspected none of the rest of the family did.
“Fit in,”
his mother had advised him. Some fitting-in things would take a real effort, like straight coffee.

“Can I get you anything else?” Ingeborg was now breaking eggs into a large bowl from a basket of eggs she had sitting on the counter. The heat from the cookstove had already removed any coolness from the air.

“No, thank you.” He drained his cup and set it in the sink. More advice from his mother:
“Put things away. There will be no help to
follow after you like you’ve had here. You don’t want to cause them extra
work. They have enough to do.”
He’d not been sure if his mother was in favor of his coming west or not, since she had been so set on his spending the summer at the shore and then abruptly changed her mind. Maybe she felt responsible for the rumors flying around, since at her request he’d begun the party scene at prep school. “Is there anything I need to take to the barn?” he asked Mrs. Bjorklund.

“No, all the buckets and milk cans are already there. Breakfast will be ready when you are finished.” Her gentle smile made him feel welcome all over again.

He headed out, leaping down the three steps of the back porch. He jogged toward the big red barn, where the sound of cows and slamming wood, people laughing and a rooster crowing reminded him to hurry. He was late for his first day on the job—a mortal sin, according to his father. This was not going to help prove he could be responsible.

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