- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
The huge Chicago railroad station teemed with passengers hurrying to catch their trains. Darcy Welburne, a slim, pretty young woman, stood on the platform, anxiously studying the departure schedule. Clutched tightly in her hand was her ticket for the Santa Fe Railway line taking her to her destination: Juniper Junction, Kansas. Her heart was thundering. Just turned twenty, she had never before traveled alone nor more than thirty miles from her home in eastern Tennessee. Had she made a terrible mistake? Well, it was too late to wonder, too late to change her mind. She was on her way now. However, she had no idea that this journey would alter her life forever.
"Boarding now for Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe, and all points between," the conductor announced. As Darcy showed him her ticket, he commented, "Juniper Junction, eh? That's just a ten-minute whistle-stop, little lady." Somehow that didn't make her feel any better.
She mounted the steps to her coach. Juggling her suitcase and valise, she made her way down the aisle, looking for a vacant seat.
At the end of the car she found an empty one. She set down her smaller bag, then lifted the larger one into the overhead rack. A little out of breath from the effort, she started to sit down, when she saw a tract lying on her seat.
Printed in large bold letters on the front were the words "You need Jesus." Probably left there by some zealot, she thought. She picked it up and distractedly put it in her handbag with her ticket stub. Then she sat down and leaned her head back on the worn, green upholstered seat.
With a jolting lurch the train started forward, moving through the railroad yard. Outside the city it began to pick up speed, taking Darcy hundreds of miles from home and the man she loved. She fought the beginnings of homesickness. After all, this was her own decision. Nobody had forced her to go. In fact, most of the people she knew had practically begged her not to leave Willowdale.
Darcy stared out the sooty window. With the clickety-clack of the train's wheels, she could hear her mother's voice endlessly repeating, "Mark my words--you'll regret it."
It had been an impulsive decision to break her engagement to Grady Thomas, to apply for a teaching position in Kansas. But a promise was a promise, and Grady had broken his promise to her not to run for sheriff.
How could he have done this to her? He knew how she felt about politics after having lived with her uncle the judge, who had to run for reelection every four years.
Their terrible quarrel rushed back to her. She had never been so angry. Certainly it was a righteous anger.
"You gave me your word!" she accused.
"I know I did, but--"
"There are no buts to a promise."
"Ah, Darcy, come on--a man's got to think of his future, don't he? Try to better himself? If I make sheriff, it will be for you too! Our future."
"Being in politics is not my future! I had enough of it from the time I was a little girl and Mama and I moved in with Aunt Maude and Uncle Henry. I saw firsthand what kind of life politics is for the wife, and I knew I didn't want what Aunt Maude put up with. Riffraff of all kinds parading in and out of the house any time of night or day. Fixing meals for ten or twenty or more at the drop of a hat. Having him gone to rallies, electioneering barbecues, and picnics all up and down the county six months out of every year. Having people banging on the front door at midnight, getting threatening letters besides. And being a sheriff's wife would probably be even worse. No, thank you. I'm not marrying a politician. So you can forget marriage and forget engagement." Out of breath, she had tugged off the garnet solitaire from the third finger of her left hand and held it out to Grady. "Here's your ring back!"
"Ah, honey, you don't mean that--"
"I never meant anything so much in my life!" she had flung back at him.
Grady should have known better. After all, they had known each other since childhood. He should have known Darcy wouldn't take his broken promise lightly.
Everyone was stunned at what she did, and further shocked when she got the acceptance letter from the Juniper Junction school board.
Her mother was not the only person who had argued against the broken engagement, her decision to leave Willowdale. Her spinster aunt Sadie had confided sadly, "You'll be sorry. I speak from my own experience. I did the same thing at eighteen and look at me now--a dried-up old maid living with relatives, with no home to call my own, no man to provide for me, no children to cuddle..."
Her Uncle Henry was outraged. "Don't a man have the right to make his own choice of how he makes a living? It's not a woman's place to tell him. Besides, sheriffs get paid a good salary, have standing in the community--a young woman could do a lot worse. A whole lot worse."
Even her best friend Carly Hampton, who had always admired Darcy's gumption, was taken aback. "I can't believe you're letting go a man that almost every girl in town has set her cap for one time or another. Somebody else's bound to snap him up quick as you can say fiddle!"
"Let them, then!" Darcy had retorted with a toss of her head. "Who'd want a man who can't keep a promise?"
She'd been mighty sure of herself when she'd said those words, sure that Grady would withdraw from the sheriff's race. But then, Grady could be stubborn too. He'd let her go, hadn't he? Now she wondered if maybe she'd spoken too hastily, burned her bridges too recklessly.
A picture of her former fiancé flashed into her mind. At six foot two Grady carried his height with a lanky ease. He was handsome in a rugged, outdoorsy way. His features were regular and his blue eyes most always held merriment. He was capable of boyish pranks as well as a genuine sweetness. In spite of herself, Darcy's heart softened a little as she remembered his bewildered expression at her ultimatum. But it was his own fault. Maybe this would teach him a lesson.
Deaf to entreaties from family and friends, she had packed, bought her ticket, and was on her way. A long way from Willowdale, her hometown, where she had been born, grown up, gone to school, fallen in love.
As the train rattled through the unfamiliar countryside, Darcy's troubled thoughts turned to the place that had been home to her since she was five years old.
The big, square, white frame house, built in 1850 by Joshia Baldwin, stood a block from Main Street. It was referred to by the townsfolk as the Beehive, not only because of the dome-shaped cupola on its roof but also because three generations of the Baldwins had occupied it. The matriarch Beatrice, a formidable old lady of seventy known as Grandma Bee, still lived there. Her three daughters made their home there, too: Maude, the oldest, married to Judge Henry Roscoe, who as a young lawyer and a new bridegroom had moved into his mother-in-law's house; Sadie, who had never married; and Ellen, who when widowed had returned home with her little girl. The household at 220 Elm Street was a close-knit one. That is why Darcy's decision had caused such an upset.
She had grown up surrounded by love and caring. Although she had sometimes found it cloying and almost smothering, still she knew she would miss it all. But there was no time for second thoughts now. As Grandma Bee was fond of saying, "No use crying over spilled milk." She was on her way. She had to think it was the right choice, that she hadn't made a dreadful mistake.
The hours on the train were tedious and long. Darcy found herself nodding off once or twice. Suddenly she was alerted by the conductor's voice loudly calling out, "Juniper Junction!" The train was slowing to a stop. This was it. She had reached her destination.
Posted May 2, 2012
Good morals to the story, I must say that I kept reading just to see what would happen next. The basic of this story is a young girl who knows what kind of life she is not willing to settle for. Even though she no doubt loves the soon to be sherriff, she is not willing to settle. Throughout the book she keeps "secrets" from her family, and in that she misleads them. But as we all know the truth usually always comes out. There are some hurts that run deeper than others, but thankful as in real life things always work out good for those who trust in the Lord! My only dissapointment was that the ending could have been so much better with only another chapter or so. I guess the author leaves its readers to make your own ending, which I did.