Authors: Janette Oke
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Fiction - Religious, #Christian, #Christian - Romance, #Religious - General, #Christian fiction, #Religious, #Love stories, #Historical, #Religious & spiritual fiction, #General & Literary Fiction, #Modern fiction, #Romance & Sagas, #Romance - General, #Nurses, #Davis family (Fictitious characters : Oke), #Davis family (Fictitious chara, #Davis family (Fictitious characters: Oke), #Nurses - Fiction., #Davis family (Fictitious characters : Oke) - Fiction.
Love's Unfolding Dream (Love Comes Softly #6)
Dedicated with love and deep respect to the memory of three wonderful fathers-- Frederick George Steeves, the daddy I have loved from infancy on; John Gifford Steeves, the uncle who was like a father to me; Harold Edward Oke, my kind and loving father through marriage.
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. Belinda 10
Dr. Luke 20
House Calls 39
A Surprise 46
Melissa Joy 64
Getting Acquainted 73
Back to Routine 107
The New Neighbors 126
Talking It Out 133
Sunday Dinner for the Teacher 143
Hired Help 165
The Triangle 179
Helping Luke 190
An Accident? 199
Birthday Party 215
A Caller 223
Sorting It Out 233
The Davis Family
The Davis family has grown in size and maturity over the years. You may need a bit of help to keep them all straight:
Clark and Marty each lost the first partner in marriage and joined together to form a new family unit.
Nandry, their foster daughter, married Josh Coffins. Their children are Tina, Andrew, Mary, and Jane.
Clae, the Davis' second foster daughter and sister to Nandry, married a pastor, Joe Berwick. Their children are Esther Sue, Joey, and Paul.
Missie, Clark's daughter from his first marriage, married Willie LaHaye, and they moved out west. Their children are Nathan, Josiah, Melissa Joy, and Julia.
Clare, Marty's son from her first marriage, married Kate, and their children are Amy Jo, Dan, David, and Dack.
Clark and Marty's first son from their marriage, married Anne. Their children are Silas, John, and Abe.
Ellie, Clark and Marty's second child, married Lane Howard. Their children are Brenda and twins, William and Willis.
Luke, Arnie and Ellie's brother, married Abbie. Their children are Thomas and Aaron.
Belinda is Clark and Marty's youngest child.
At the cry from her youngest, Marty turned quickly from the biscuits she was shaping toward the kitchen doorway. She knew by the tone of her daughter's voice that there was some kind of trouble--Belinda's cry trembled in the air between them as she stood before her mother. A chill gripped Marty's heart.
What is wrong? Is Belinda hurt?
Her eyes quickly traveled over the slight body of young Belinda, expecting to see blood someplace. Belinda's dress, which had been clean and neatly pressed when she had gone out just a short time before, was rumpled and dirty. One of her long, carefully plaited braids had come loose from its ribbon and hung in disarray about her shoulders. Her face was smudged and tear- streaked. But to her mother's practiced eye, she seemed whole and unharmed. Marty, unconscious of the small sigh of relief that escaped her, gazed into the blue, troubled, and tear-filled eyes.
"Look!" Belinda cried again in a choked voice.
Marty's eyes went to Belinda's outstretched hand. In it lay a small sparrow, its feathers ruffled and wet, its head dipping awkwardly to the side. Even as Marty watched, she saw the small body quiver, and Marty shivered in sympathy.
mourned the mother-heart.
Why did she of all people have to find the bird?
Marty knew the tender heart of her
daughter. She would sorrow over the bird all day long.
Marty wiped floury hands on her apron and reached out to draw Belinda close. She made no comment on the dirty dress or the messy hair.
"Where did ya find 'im?" she asked instead, her voice full of sympathy.
"The mother cat had it!" Belinda wailed. "I had to chase her all over the barn and then. . . then . . ."
She could not go on. Tears fell uncontrollably, and the small girl buried her head against Marty and let the sobs shake her.
Marty just held her until the crying subsided. Then Belinda turned those large blue eyes to her mother's face.
"It's gonna die, isn't it?" she quavered. She looked back at the tiny bird still held carefully in her hand.
"Well, I . . . I don't know," stammered Marty and took another look at the injured bird. Yes . . . it would die. Barring a miracle, it would die. But it was difficult for her to say those words to Belinda. Besides, she had seen miracles before.
she inwardly prayed,
I know it's jest a sparrow, but ya said that ya see each sparrow thet falls. If yer heart is as heavy as Belinda's over this one, then could ya please make it well again?
"We need to make it warm," Belinda was saying hopefully. "There's an empty basket on my closet shelf I'll get a flannel rag from the ragbag," Marty responded.
Belinda hurried off to get the little basket, and Marty went to her pantry, where she kept the supply of old garments and sheets for cleaning purposes. She found a soft piece of flannel and returned to the kitchen just as Belinda ran back into the room.
Together they made a warm bed, and Belinda carefully deposited the tiny bird. It was in even worse shape than Marty had feared. Its little head flopped uncontrollably as it was moved, and except for a slight tremble, there was little sign of life. Belinda's tears began to flow again.
"Can we take it to Luke?" she pleaded.
A trip to town for a dying sparrow.
How many of Belinda's casualties had Luke doctored over the years? Yet he was always so patient, doing all in his power to save each tiny animal.
But this one . . . this one is beyond his help,
Marty was sure. But she didn't say so to Belinda. Instead, she said, "We'll ask yer pa. He'll be in soon."
Marty's attention returned to her biscuits. Clark
be in soon, and he'd be hungry and looking for his supper. She went to wash her hands so she could get the biscuits into the oven.
Belinda took the basket with its injured sparrow and settled into her favorite corner by the kitchen stove. Marty noticed the little girl's tears had stopped, but her eyes were still red and shadowed with the horror of it all.
Why do cats have to kill birds?
Marty wondered silently as she slid the biscuits into the oven. She knew it was a foolish question, but her heart ached over her daughter's sorrow. Actually, Marty knew Belinda loved the farmyard cats, too. She would have fought just as hard to save the life of one of them--and had at times, along with big brother Luke's help. But they did insist on hunting the little birds.
"It just isn't fair, Ma!" Belinda's voice burst out as her finger gently traced the curve of the feathers on the small body. It no longer even trembled.
The outer door opened and banged shut, and Marty knew before she heard the voice that Clare and Kate's oldest child was on her way in.
"Gramma?" Amy Jo called before she even entered the kitchen. "Gramma, do you know where Lindy is?"
Amy Jo was the only one who called Belinda "Lindy." In fact, Marty was quite sure Amy Jo was the only one who could have gotten away with it. Belinda was always very careful to pronounce her own name in full, but the laughing, teasing Amy Jo
disregarded such personal preferences and called Belinda after her own whim.
"She's right there by the stove," answered Marty without turning from the pot she was stirring.
Marty could hear little gasps for breath as Amy Jo entered the room. She had been running again, but Amy Jo always ran.
"Do you want. . . ?" began Amy Jo as she approached Belinda's favorite corner. Then she hesitated. "What' cha got now?" she asked without too much interest. "Another mouse?"
"It's a bird," replied Belinda, her voice taut with sorrow.
"The mother cat."
"Is it hurt bad?"
"How come ya didn't take it to Uncle Luke?" Amy Jo was well aware of the usual procedure when Belinda found an injured
"We're waitin' for Pa."
Belinda moved her hand slightly so Amy Jo could get a look at her newest casualty. For a moment Amy Jo's violet eyes widened with dismay. It was so tiny, so helpless, so . . . so crumpled.
"I . . . I think it's already dead," she whispered, now in genuine sympathy.
Belinda was about to burst into tears again when the small bird shuddered once more.
"Is not," she argued fervently. "See!"
Marty checked on the biscuits in the oven, disturbed Belinda and her precious burden for a moment to add more wood to the fire, then turned back to set the table just as the farm dog announced that Clark was on his way in. Marty's eyes swung to the clock on the shelf She was behind schedule, but Clark was a bit earlier than she had expected.
"Grandpa," Amy Jo called to Clark from the door, but before
he could even greet her, she burst out, "Lindy's got a hurt thing again."
Concern was evident in Clark's expression as he entered the room. His gaze traveled quickly over the kitchen to the young girl crouched in her corner by the stove, holding the basket tightly in her hands. His eyes went on to meet Marty's.
he silently asked.
Is it serious?
And Marty answered with just a slight movement of her head back and forth.
It won't make it. It's hurt bad.
At the sight of her father, Belinda's eyes had filled with tears again. "It's a sparrow, Pa," she answered his unasked question. "The mother cat had 'im."
Belinda's disheveled appearance made clear she'd had quite a chase to retrieve the small bird, which no doubt told
as well as anything what shape the bird must be in. He hung his jacket on the hook and crossed to the two girls crouching over the basket.
Clark began to reach for the bird, but he stopped and said instead in a soft voice, "It's hurt real bad, ain't it?"
Clark's hand changed directions and went instead to their youngest daughter. He smoothed her tangled hair, then gently brushed a smudge of dust from her cheek.
"I dunno," he said hesitantly. "I think anything thet we try to do fer this little bird will only bring it more pain."
Fresh tears began to course down Belinda's cheeks. "But Luke--"
"Yer brother would do all he could--you know thet an' I know thet."
The door banged open again. This time Dan, another of Clare's children, burst into the house. He was breathing hard from running and called before he was even into the kitchen, "Amy! Ma wants ya home. It's suppertime."
Amy Jo stood slowly to her feet, obviously loathe to leave the little drama and probably hoping that if a quick trip were to be made to Dr. Luke's office, she would be asked to go along.
"Are ya goin' to town, Grandpa?" she asked quickly.
Clark shook his head. "I don't rightly know. We'll need to talk 'bout it. I'm afraid. . ."
"What's wrong?" asked Dan, who had by now crossed to squat beside his grandfather and peer into the small basket. "Oh! A dead bird," he said, not waiting for an answer. "It's not dead," cried Belinda. "It's just hurt."
Dan's eyes moved from Belinda's face to Clark's. Had he said something wrong? Was the bird.. . ?
Clark reached out a hand and laid it on the boy's shoulder.
"It's hurt pretty bad," he said, "but it's still hangin' on."
Marty checked her biscuits, which were browning nicely. Supper would soon be ready, yet she could hardly get near her stove. Four people huddled there--all in sympathy over the injured sparrow. Marty felt sympathy herself. She did not like to see a small creature hurt and suffering. But it was, after all, the way of nature. Animals killed and were killed. It was a fact of life. Nature's food chain required it.
The mother cat has babies to feed,
Marty reminded herself.
But any further thoughts on the matter were interrupted. "Are ya gonna take it to Uncle Luke?" asked Dan, his eyes round and questioning.
Clark slowly shook his head, but before he could speak, Dan commented, "Bet he could fix it."
"Yer uncle Luke is a good doctor, I'm not denyin' thet none!' said Clark in a low voice, "but even good doctors have their limits. This here little bird is hurt bad. I don't think--"
"Luke says thet ya never, never give up," broke in Belinda passionately. "He says as long as there's still life, then ya fight to save it!' "To be sure," agreed Clark. "To be sure."
"Then we can go?" pleaded Belinda.
Across the heads of the youngsters, Clark's eyes met Marty's.
Surely yer not gonna. . . ?
Marty's expression asked, but Clark's