An Unpresentable Glory

An Unpresentable Glory

by Eleanor K. Gustafson

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Overview

“I trusted you, and some day, you may know just how much you hold in your hands.”



Linda Jensen leads a relatively quiet life in Westchester County, New York, as the owner of a highly-acclaimed garden. Inherited from her parents, the garden is her pride and joy. What is not so joyful is finding a strange man sprawled near her delphiniums! The mysterious man is sick, unable to do anything more than drink water—and beg for secrecy. Ignoring all alarm bells, Linda sees to his needs, but her caring act takes on unexpected significance, an unpresentable glory.



Seeds of trust, and perhaps love, are planted in Linda’s garden haven. But as secrets are revealed and scandal hits the headlines, the act of caring for this man threatens to tarnish both of their reputations. Like weeds in Linda’s garden, circumstances threaten to choke out their fledgling relationship, and small moments prove to be the biggest influencers—on a national scale.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620208427
Publisher: Emerald House Group, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/01/2018
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Eleanor K. Gustafson has been publishing both fiction and nonfiction since 1978. Her short stories and articles appear in a number of national and local magazines. An Unpresentable Glory is her sixth novel. In many of her stories, Eleanor explores the cosmic struggle between good and evil in light of God’s overarching work of redemption. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister's wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. She has enjoyed a variety of experiences, from riding horses to building houses, all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. She and her husband live in Massachusetts, where he taught philosophy for many years. They have traveled extensively, spend time with their three children and eight grandchildren, and enjoy camping at the family forest in Chester, Vermont.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

ON HER RETURN FROM CHURCH, Kileenda Jensen discovered a problem, and it had nothing to do with her name. Hardly anyone called her Kileenda. Early on, her parents shortened her name to Leenda, which quickly morphed to Linda. Now she herself, on all but the most serious and sacred of documents, signed herself as Linda. Though her parents, deeply rooted in Westchester County, New York, had made tiresomely sure she knew her uncommon heritage and social standing, Linda herself was comfortable with a plain name because her real worth did not rest on money or position.

Her immediate problem lay face-down between her perennial border and clematis arbor — more specifically, a man who looked to be either dead or unconscious. She assumed the less bleak view and spoke to him.

"Hello. Are you all right?" Stupid question. He was obviously not all right, but she could see neither blood nor bruise. Inordinately handsome, yes — but what was wrong?

A gray eye opened tentatively, then closed. "I'm ... in your way."

His voice conjured up Uncle Joshua reading The Velveteen Rabbit. Comforting, caring ... and a hint of a smile, perhaps?

But comforting voices from the past were irrelevant. This man, right now, needed care. She knelt beside him. "What can I do for you? Are you ill? Did you fall?"

"No," he said. "Just. Catch. My. Breath."

"I could call 911. Or take you to a doctor. It's Sunday, but —"

The fleeting smile vanished. "No! I'll be all right." He straightened his splayed limbs and turned on his side to look at her. In his forties? she wondered. His drawn, pinched face hurt his looks only marginally.

"Delphiniums ... dragged me in and ..."

Linda sat back and laughed. "Stop! You have to do better than that. You can't see my yard from the road, and with the gate closed ... Maybe you came from the nature preserve next door? Doesn't seem —"

"Yes ... off the trail ..."

"A bit," she replied tartly. "Two roads and twelve 'Posted' signs. But what's to be done with you? You obviously can't finish your hike — or whatever you were doing — and you don't want me to call 911. Who can I call?" "Please. Give me a minute. I'll be all right."

Her mouth pursed. "You're not all right." She evaluated the stranger, weighing her options. His eyes were glazing, his skin pallid. Whatever was wrong wasn't improving. He couldn't be feigning illness; she was sure of that. Nevertheless, could he be trusted indoors? She recklessly decided to test the theory.

"Can you walk to my house? A hundred feet or so?"

His face turned fractionally incredulous. "You don't mean that. Your husband ...

"I'm not married. I live alone." Dumb! Why tell him that?

He shook his head and echoed her thoughts. "What are you thinking? Why —"

He broke off and draped an arm over his face in a gesture of helplessness.

She grimaced. "Never mind. I'm thinking you're going downhill fast; and if I don't get you indoors, I'll have to care for you out here, and that would be hard. I could go call the police. But if I move toward the house, you'll crawl away, and I don't want to be responsible for what might happen to you." She spoke in a rush, then brushed a twig from his gray sweatshirt. "Yes, this tops the list of "Stupid Things to Do," but I can tell a lot from a person's eyes, mouth, and the way he talks; and you pass. Just raising the question speaks well of you. Now, if I help you along, will you come into my house? And quickly, please. You're a bit much to carry."

He looked at her bleakly, then away. "The cost ..." he said to the sky. "I know what's wrong ... not life threatening. Time ... sleep ... couple days. But please don't tell anyone I'm here." He looked back, imploring. "Not a hooligan. Promise." He closed his eyes, rocking his head forlornly. "Please. Go inside. Forget. A poor time ... delphiniums ..."

She leaned over and grasped his arm. "You're fading. Come," she said gently. "Check my indoor flowers."

With her help, he pulled himself to his full height of six-plus feet, his face turning to chalk. He bent to force blood to his head; and when he straightened, she wondered if he'd make it to the stone patio, let alone the house.

By sheer grit, he did make it. Once inside her sprawling, dark-wooded house, he pulled for the nearest chair, but she murmured, "This way," and steered him down a cool hallway to a small bedroom. He staggered toward the bed, but she held him back long enough to yank off the bedspread and pull back the sheet and blanket.

"Now, sit, but let's get your sweatshirt off before you lie down. Much easier."

After she worked it off, he fell on the double pillows as though unconscious. She untied his sneakers and drew them off, but his jeans gave her pause. He had wet himself. Did it happen on the way in? Whenever, it required action — right away. She knew how to undress men, having cared for her father in his last days, but this was different. Was this man asleep, or maybe unconscious? That would be best for such a procedure. She decided to wait a few minutes.

She sat down and blew a breath. What was wrong, and what could she do about it? He had said it wasn't life threatening, but shouldn't she call a doctor? This is really stupid. A man — in my house — mysteriously ill — requesting secrecy. Was there any identification? No wristwatch even, and nothing bulged in his pockets. Who is this guy?

She studied his broad head and tapered, stubbly jaw. Only his temples and chin showed signs of gray. His nose sketched an irregular line down his face, and an untidy clump of hair fell across his bloodless forehead. She reached to pick wisps of hemlock detritus from hair that itself resembled hemlock bark — scraggy, with a reddish tinge. Yes, he had come from the preserve, one of the few stands of hemlock in Westchester County.

He seemed cool to her touch — too cool, actually. No fever. No rash. Pulse rapid, but steady. No sign of a cold or congestion. A virus, perhaps? Lyme disease? She had no clue. He could die right here in her guest bedroom. How would she explain that? He had said it wasn't life threatening, but had she done the right thing? If she'd gone inside for her phone, how far could he possibly have crawled? Certainly not through her locked gate. And why wasn't she calling 911, despite what he'd asked? She shook her head and sighed. What I've done, I've done — stupid or not. Lord, You dumped this man here. Help me care for him with dignity and honor.

Heart accelerating and hands trembling, she unfastened his button and zipper. Pulling the sheet over him, she grabbed jeans and underwear and tugged the clothing below his hips, keeping watch on his eyes. Relieved at no response, she worked them the rest of the way off, then checked his pockets. Nothing but lint and hemlock needles — proof positive of the woods route. She sighed, took his clothing to the laundry basket, and hunted for an alternate garment to cover his nakedness. An old pair of roomy pajamas would give him a trace of dignity. More maneuvering under the sheet, and she had him tucked up and apparently unaware — or unconcerned — about the procedure.

What next? Water is always good for what ails you. Lots of water. Should she give him Aspirin? No. Allergies and all. Water, though, should be safe. She went to the kitchen and drew a pitcher of warmish water. With glass and articulated straw, she returned to the bedroom. But did he need water more than sleep? To find out, she stroked his head until his gray eyes opened.

"A drink of water? Try a sip." His eyes closed again; but to her surprise, his mouth opened, and he drew most of the glassful through the straw.

Sleep and water seemed good. And time, he had said. He slept as she ate her sandwich and nectarine, and every hour she pushed as much water as he would take.

Toward evening, after he drank, his eyes remained open with a frantic, deer-in-the-headlights expression. Uh-oh. Water in, water out. He must be desperate. What to do? She couldn't get him up; he could hardly open his mouth. Her only option was to go at it forthrightly and see what happened.

She'd need a container. Her father had used a plastic urinal, but that was long gone. A bottle, maybe? She ran to the kitchen and settled on a quart-sized plastic container that looked ideal, but as she hurried to the bedside, she realized the mouth was none too big. Major complication. Why hadn't she grabbed a yogurt container? No time now; his eyes were fixed on her.

"I have a jar. Can you manage it?" She smiled brightly.

His hand crept toward the bottle, but when he tried to grasp it, his eyes closed in despair.

All right. Forthrightness. She couldn't even fall back on father experience here. Her dad had been able to see to himself until the day he died.

She drew off sheet and pajamas, watching his face closely. No panic — yet. With a big breath, she positioned the container appropriately. "Okay — go to it." For a moment, she wondered if she should've grabbed a larger container, but the stream finally stopped, and she covered him again. The relief on his face was unmistakable. She patted his arm and went out to empty the catch. When she returned, his breathing was again heavy with sleep. She backed off and scrabbled in the kitchen for a yogurt tub.

* * *

At night, he slept a lot, and she slept little on the floor with her three-cushion bed and pillow. She checked him several times, terrified at the thought of finding a cold body. Though not cold, he remained far too cool to suit her. She rubbed his arms and legs and spread an extra blanket.

Linda reflected on what she'd done so far. She'd been right in bringing him indoors, taking off his clothing. She had served him in his time of need, and the very doing of it became a moment of glory, with angels present in the room, serving her as she served him. She had felt this tangible Presence the night before her father died as she watched over him alone, her mother being on the point of collapse.

* * *

At daybreak, the sound of water in the yogurt tub woke Linda. She was about to spring up but thought better of it and waited till he resettled. He had carefully set the container where it wouldn't be kicked over, and she tiptoed out to empty and rinse it.

When she returned, his eyes were open, dark and sunken, his skin pasty. She stroked his head. "You do exist behind those eyelids."

He murmured, "I blink; therefore, I am."

She laughed heartily. Nothing wrong with his wit. "Do I hear Descartes chuckling from his grave?" She put glass and straw to his lips. "How about something to eat? Never mind. I'll bring something, and we'll see what you're up for."

She returned with a tray of bland digestibles — applesauce, mashed banana, dry toast. He raised his hand. "No banana. Brought this on."

Her eyebrows went up. "Ooh! Glad to have that bit of information." She propped him with yet another pillow and fed him the rest, as much as he would take. As she brushed away crumbs, she asked, "Am I allowed to call you anything other than sir?"

His crooked smile brought warmth to the sunken contours of his face. "How about Jay? Your name?"

She considered saying Kileenda, but changed it to Linda. But why had her face grown warm?

"Linda." He tasted it. "Linda. Beautiful name, beautiful person." He smiled wryly. "Does illness excuse lame lines?" Linda rolled her eyes. "Well, either you're outrageously gracious or hopelessly blind."

"Do I have to choose between outrageous and hopeless?"

She smiled impishly. "Um ... let's not go there." She picked up the tray. "Can I get anything else for you?"

He smiled but shook his head. "You've been ... more than kind." And she understood what he meant.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "An Unpresentable Glory"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Eleanor K. Gustafson.
Excerpted by permission of Ambassador International.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Praise for An Unpresentable Glory,
Copyright Information,
Dedication,
Preface,
Opening Bible Verse,
Chapter 1,
Contact Information,
Did you enjoy this book?,

What People are Saying About This

Award-winning author of A Conspiracy of Breath and Latter-day Cipher - Latayne C. Scott

“Gustafson’s literary treatment of a theme of redemption and restoration is set in a literal garden of delights. It is both a parable and a provocative contemporary story, crafted by a writer who is skilled, precise, and imaginative in her use of words.”

Author of Premium Mixed Nuts: An Anthology - Ralph D. James

“Eleanor Gustafson is a sensitive and skilled writer who has not only an authentic relationship with the Lord, but a powerful relationship with language. You feel the beauty of an enchanting Westchester garden and the bitter cold of a North Dakota winter as she deftly weaves a disparate cast of powerfully presented characters and settings into this tale of love, loss, redemption, and unpresentable service. Gustafson puts 1 Corinthians 12:22-27 into action in An Unpresentable Glory. Yah, you betcha!”

co-author of the bestselling Windy Gap Wishes series - Rachel L. Miller

“A story our weary world desperately needs . . . An intense and personal exploration of one woman’s journey of faith and the struggle to follow God’s leading in this modern world of ours.”

Author of Don’t Tell the Rabbi Series - Sigrid Fowler

“The lives of Jay and Linda twist and turn like paths in her garden—from light to shade, from a trollish darkness of injustice and fear, anger, grief, and regret, to the light of God’s love, forgiveness, and new life. Shock and uncertainty become epiphanies. Loose ends come together, the unpresentables make us pause and consider. The novel has substance, the style smooth as a current of cool water over rounded stones. A pleasure.”

Author of I Always Cry at Weddings - Sara Goff

“An Unpresentable Glory is a spiritual pilgrimage, a fairy tale, and a mystery all in one, but most of all it is a story about the unexpected miracles that come when you give of yourself for someone else. Eleanor Gustafson writes with humor and heart.”

From the Publisher

“A story our weary world desperately needs . . . An intense and personal exploration of one woman’s journey of faith and the struggle to follow God’s leading in this modern world of ours.”
—Rachel L. Miller,
co-author of the bestselling Windy Gap Wishes series “An Unpresentable Glory is a spiritual pilgrimage, a fairy tale, and a mystery all in one, but most of all it is a story about the unexpected miracles that come when you give of yourself for someone else. Eleanor Gustafson writes with humor and heart.”
—Sara Goff
Author of I Always Cry at Weddings “Eleanor Gustafson is a sensitive and skilled writer who has not only an authentic relationship with the Lord, but a powerful relationship with language. You feel the beauty of an enchanting Westchester garden and the bitter cold of a North Dakota winter as she deftly weaves a disparate cast of powerfully presented characters and settings into this tale of love, loss, redemption, and unpresentable service. Gustafson puts 1 Corinthians 12:22-27 into action in An Unpresentable Glory. Yah, you betcha!”
—Ralph D. James
Author of Premium Mixed Nuts: An Anthology “The lives of Jay and Linda twist and turn like paths in her garden—from light to shade, from a trollish darkness of injustice and fear, anger, grief, and regret, to the light of God’s love, forgiveness, and new life. Shock and uncertainty become epiphanies. Loose ends come together, the unpresentables make us pause and consider. The novel has substance, the style smooth as a current of cool water over rounded stones. A pleasure.”
—Sigrid Fowler
Author of Don’t Tell the Rabbi Series “Gustafson’s literary treatment of a theme of redemption and restoration is set in a literal garden of delights. It is both a parable and a provocative contemporary story, crafted by a writer who is skilled, precise, and imaginative in her use of words.”
—Latayne C. Scott
Award-winning author of A Conspiracy of Breath and Latter-day Cipher “In An Unpresentable Glory, Ellie Gustafson has spun another tale that will stay with the reader long after the last page has turned. This unlikely love story is as timely as the latest scandal out of Washington and as timeless as the long history of human tragedy.
“From the mystery of the opening pages through a myriad of twists and turns and surprises to the tantalizing questions of the epilogue, an intricate plot draws the reader ever deeper into the lives of Linda, “Jay,” and a sprawling cast of lovingly-drawn supporting characters.
“An Unpresentable Glory is not about politics, or gardening, or immigration, or marital love and honor; and yet all of these are here in rich and intriguing detail. Like the paths of a well-designed garden, Jay and Linda’s lives lead in unexpected directions, but ultimately point to the gracious hand of the God of mercy.”
—Sally Wilkins
Writer and Teacher “In An Unpresentable Glory, Gustafson weaves an intricate plot of unexpected twists and turns surrounding Kileenda Jensen and a stranger she finds sprawled in her renowned garden. God’s grace and providence govern every episode of this tale of searching and sacrifice that will leave the reader’s soul enriched.”
—Brenda Cox
Author of Tethered: The Life of Henrietta Hall Shuck, The First American Woman Missionary to China (Finalist for Best Books Award and Foreword INDIES Award)

Author, Finalist for Best Books Award and Foreword INDIES Award - Brenda Cox

“In An Unpresentable Glory, Gustafson weaves an intricate plot of unexpected twists and turns surrounding Kileenda Jensen and a stranger she finds sprawled in her renowned garden. God’s grace and providence govern every episode of this tale of searching and sacrifice that will leave the reader’s soul enriched.”

Writer and Teacher - Sally Wilkins

“In An Unpresentable Glory, Ellie Gustafson has spun another tale that will stay with the reader long after the last page has turned. This unlikely love story is as timely as the latest scandal out of Washington and as timeless as the long history of human tragedy.

“From the mystery of the opening pages through a myriad of twists and turns and surprises to the tantalizing questions of the epilogue, an intricate plot draws the reader ever deeper into the lives of Linda, “Jay,” and a sprawling cast of lovingly-drawn supporting characters.

“An Unpresentable Glory is not about politics, or gardening, or immigration, or marital love and honor; and yet all of these are here in rich and intriguing detail. Like the paths of a well-designed garden, Jay and Linda’s lives lead in unexpected directions, but ultimately point to the gracious hand of the God of mercy.”

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