Martha Palmer, the generous benefactor of Palmer House—a most extraordinary refuge for young women rescued from prostitution—has died. Denver society turns out in strength to honor the elderly woman, as do many of the young women who have lived, at some point during the past decade, under the roof of Palmer House and under the steady and godly leadership of Rose Thoresen.
For Sarah Ellinger, Rose’s trusted right hand, an invitation to the reading of Martha’s will raises the possibility—and the fervent hope—that Martha has endowed Palmer House with funds to keep the ministry running. However, Sarah expects to receive nothing from Martha for herself. She is as stunned as every Palmer House girl present at the reading to hear:
“To every young woman who lives or has lived at Palmer House and remains unmarried at the time of the reading of this will, I bequeath the sum of five hundred dollars as a bridal gift, payable upon her marriage. To those girls who have already married, I bestow the same amount, payable upon the execution of this will. If, however, a young woman who has lived at Palmer House remains unmarried, I bequeath the same sum, five hundred dollars, payable upon her thirty-ninth birthday.”
Five hundred dollars was a fortune many a Palmer House girl would never, in her lifetime, see again in a lump sum; it could enable a newly married couple to begin their marriage debt-free, perhaps buy a little piece of land or leverage a mortgage to purchase a home.
While the girls of Palmer House, current and former, wept and rejoiced aloud, Sarah did not. She slowly shook her head.
Oh, Martha. You left me a wonderful gift, for which I am most grateful. However, I cannot claim this gift unless I marry—or until I am quite near middle-aged. Why, Martha? Why did you arrange your generous bequest this way? I shall not be able to claim your gift for nearly eleven years . . . because I will never marry, whatever the inducement to do so.
Girls from the Mountain
Book 1: Tabitha
Book 2: Tory
Book 3: Sarah Redeemed