Due to a small confusion, I just received my copy of Abby Ann yesterday afternoon. All I can tell you so far is that I love the story premise and Sharlene MacLaren’s writing style is very descriptive. I can tell you more after I’ve finished reading it. If you want a more thorough review now, pop over to Linda’s at Mocha With Linda.
UPDATE: I loved this book!Â It is a must read and now I want the other two in the series.Â Sharlene MacLaren is an awesome writer!Â This story was funny and serious and sweet and heart-wrenching all at once.Â It has social issues, history, romance, revenge, repentance … all the things of everyday life.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Whitaker House (April 6, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***
Sharlene MacLaren has released eight successful novels since retiring from her longtime career as an elementary school teacher. Her first book, Through Every Storm, won an American Christian Fictions Writersâ€™ award for best in general fiction in 2007. While both her historic and contemporary releases are unmistakably inspirational romance novels, her characters and plots deviate from formula, resulting in unexpected twists and turns â€“ and fat books â€“ to the delight of her fans. At 480 pages, Abbie Ann is her longest to date. Shar and her husband Cecil have two grown children and three grandchildren; they live in western Michigan.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 6, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
What Others Are Saying about Sharlene MacLaren and Abbie Annâ€¦
Multitalented author Sharlene MacLaren has once again given readers a story that artfully blends excitement, humor, and romance. It isnâ€™t every writer who can pluck every human emotion and deliver the promised happy ending, but this one can! If you can afford only one book this month, make it Abbie Ann. You wonâ€™t be sorry you did!
Author of more than seventy award-winning inspirational romances, including Love Finds You in Paradise, Pennsylvania
With the skill and flair her readers have come to know and love, Shar weaves yet another wonderfully captivating historical tale in Abbie Ann. This third book in her Daughters of Jacob Kane series will thrill and delight, as each character learns obedience to God and discovers triumph over tragedy.
â€”Jean E. Syswerda
Best-selling coauthor, Women of the BibleAuthor,
NIrV Read with Me Bible General Editor,
NIV Women of Faith Study Bible
A delightful voice in the CBA market, Sharlene MacLaren captures the true essence of Godâ€™s restoring power. Abbie Ann is a must-read.
Author, The Bride Wore Coveralls, DÃ©jÃ vu Bride, and Dixie Hearts
A fast-paced, gripping historical romance with true-to-life characters and lively dialogue, filled with surprising twists and turns, Abbie Ann, MacLarenâ€™s third and final installment in The Daughters of Jacob Kane series, will have you rapidly turning the pages. Absolutely captivating!
Author, Chasing Memories and Shades of Blue
With entertaining and emotive prose, Sharlene MacLarenâ€™s historical romance novels hold their own amid this ever-popular genre. Her characters have spirit and passion in abundance, and Michigan in the early 1900s is brought to life with her vivid and authentic descriptions. Abbie Ann is another feather in Sharleneâ€™s auspicious authorâ€™s cap!
Professional book reviewer, relzreviews.blogspot.com
Abbie Ann offers it allâ€”adventure, romance, and the rewards of seeking Godâ€™s will. As always, Sharlene MacLaren pens a story that will pull you in and not let go.
Senior Reviewer, The Christian Review of Books
Sharlene MacLaren has written a story rich in emotion that will tug at your heart with characters that will live on long after you reach the final page. If you love historical fiction with a sweet romance beautifully woven into a captivating story, then you will love Abbie Ann.
Author, Love Finds You in Last Chance, California and The Other Daughter
This novel is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, or places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Third in The Daughters of Jacob Kane Series
Printed in the United States of America
Â© 2010 by Sharlene MacLaren
1030 Hunt Valley Circle
New Kensington, PA 15068
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
MacLaren, Sharlene, 1948â€“
Abbie Ann / by Sharlene MacLaren.
p. cm. â€” (The daughters of Jacob Kane ; 3)
Summary: â€œAbbie Ann, Jacob Kane’s youngest daughter, is a busy woman with little time for frivolous matters, including romanceâ€”until a handsome, divorced shipbuilder comes to town, his young son in tow, and God changes their heartsâ€â€”Provided by publisher.
ISBN 978-1-60374-076-0 (trade pbk.)
1. Fathers and daughtersâ€”Fiction. 2. Shipwrightsâ€”Fiction. I. Title.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanicalâ€”including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval systemâ€”without permission in writing from the publisher. Please direct your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To my beautiful mother, Dorothy, and my precious mother-in-law, Chrystal. In so many ways, you two fabulous ladies, by SHINING example, have shown Christ to countless others. I love you both and thank you from the deepest regions of my heart.
Sandy Shores, Michigan
Abbie Ann Kane marched through the blinding snow on her way to her familyâ€™s general store as howling winds curled their icy fingers around the buildings of downtown Sandy Shores, hissing and spitting and stinging her nose and cheeks. She pulled her woolen scarf tighter about her neck, but the bitter air still managed to find a hole through which to pass, making her shiver with each hurried step.
The Interurban railcar rumbled past, its whistle alerting pedestrians and horses to make way for its journey up Water Street, Sandy Shoresâ€™ main thoroughfare. Through its frosty windows, Abbie made out a scant number of passengers and even caught a glimpse of someone drawing letters on a foggy pane. Probably some bored youngster, she mused.
Turning her gaze downward, she headed into the strong, easterly gusts, passing the Star Bakery, Van Poortâ€™s Grocery Store, Thom Gerrittâ€™s Meat Market, Jellema Newsstand, Morettiâ€™s Candy Company, Hansenâ€™s Shoe Repair, DeBoerâ€™s Hardware, and Grant and Son Tailor Shop. Two more doors and she would reach her destinationâ€”Kaneâ€™s Whatnot. Normally, her oldest sister, Hannah, would be working there, but Abbie had assumed primary responsibility for Kaneâ€™s Whatnot since the birth of Hannahâ€™s daughter on January 15. RoseAnn Devlin was Hannah and Gabeâ€™s third child, and Hannah had her hands full also caring for eighteen-month-old Alex and their eleven-year-old adopted son, Jesse. Taking responsibility for Kaneâ€™s Whatnot was the least Abbie could have done, never mind that she barely had time to turn around, what with her teaching Sunday school, serving as president of the local Womanâ€™s Christian Temperance Union, assisting Grandmother Kane with the household chores, and visiting the elderly Plooster sisters as often as possible. Poor things depended on her to keep them abreast of all the news in town.
The bell above the wooden door tinkled as Abbie pulled it open, a cold blast of air scooting past her ankles. Her father looked up from his place behind the brass National cash register. â€œAh, youâ€™re back from lunch, and not a second too soon. I have an appointment with a client at one oâ€™clock. Can you take over from here?â€
â€œOf course, Papa. Just let me hang up my wrap.â€ Besides owning Kaneâ€™s Whatnot, her father also partnered with Leo Perkins in the insurance business, and the Kane and Perkins office was conveniently situated directly across the street from the Whatnot. Both businesses thrived in this lively, little resort town on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, where the winters could be bitter, but the summers were delightfully warm and cheery.
The line for the cash register wound around the center aisle. There were Maxine Card and her young daughter, Lily, their arms full of candles, two loaves of bread, a wooden bowl, and an eggbeater; Landon and Florence Meir, each toting grocery items; and Fred and Dorothy Link, Fred hefting a sack of flour over his shoulder, Dorothy holding some canned goods and a few other items. Abbie moved past her father to hang her winter gear on a hook in the small closet behind the counter, which also served as a washroom. After a quick glance in the tiny mirror on the wall to rearrange the side combs in her flowing, black hair, she rubbed her icy fingers together and joined her father on the other side of the curtain. She felt slightly perturbed that the stove at the back of the store was not giving off nearly enough heat to quell todayâ€™s subzero temperatures.
â€œMy stars in glory, itâ€™s cold,â€ she said. â€œIn fact, I do believe I saw some icicles shivering on my way here.â€
Precocious Lily Card caught the joke and giggled. â€œYouâ€™re silly, Miss Kane. How could icicles shiver?â€
â€œOh, but they can! And not only that,â€ Abbie added, leaning over the counter to tap the little girlâ€™s nose, â€œbut I heard that when the farmers have been milking their cows, theyâ€™ve been getting ice cream!â€
This remark earned another rousing giggle from the child, as well as a few good-humored chuckles from the adults within earshot.
â€œAbbie Ann, where do you come up with these things?â€ Jacob Kane asked his daughter, shaking his head with a smile.
â€œIf you ask me, itâ€™s the worst winter we ever had,â€ Landon Meir groused, obviously finding no humor in Abbieâ€™s remarks. â€œGot more snow out there than Mr. Bayer has aspirin. Probably wonâ€™t melt till June, neither.â€
â€œOr later,â€ his wife countered, ever the pessimist. For as long as Abbie could recall, the womanâ€™s face had been pinched in a tight scowl.
Jacob finished ringing up Maxine Cardâ€™s order, put the items in her burlap sack, and then immediately set to ringing up the Meirsâ€™ purchases. Maxine and Lily waved good-bye and exited as two more customers entered, ushering in with them a blast of cold air. Saturdays in winter were usually like this, with folks considering the weather and feeling the need to stock up on supplies. Why, one turn of the wind could make for an all-out blizzard!
â€œYou go on now, Papa. Iâ€™ll take over,â€ Abbie said, edging her father out of his place behind the cash register.
â€œAll right, then,â€ he said, tallying up the last of the Meirsâ€™ purchases. Abbie began stack each item in a small crate. â€œYouâ€™ll find todayâ€™s receipts in the bottom drawer,â€ Jacob told her.
â€œFine, Papa. Go, or youâ€™ll be late.â€ The clock on the opposite wall registered two minutes till one.
Florence Meir stretched out a palm for her change of two dollars and some odd cents, which Abbie found interesting, since her husband had been the one doling it out. Jacob handed it over, and Florence dropped it into her little drawstring purse. â€œCome along, Landon; youâ€™ve got wood to chop and stalls to muck and cows to milk and feed,â€ she murmured through pursed lips as she turned to go. â€œBest get your chores done â€™fore this weather kicks up.â€
Landon shuffled along behind her. â€œCrack that whip, Mother.â€
â€œHush up, you olâ€™ fool.â€ The two were still going at it when they stepped into the arctic air, the wind catching the door and closing it with a loud whack. Jacob raised his eyebrows and shook his head, then donned his winter gear and left in the Meirsâ€™ wake.
â€œAinâ€™t them Meirs the happiest pair?â€ commented the middle-aged Fred Link as he laid a twenty-five-pound sack of flour on the counter.
Dorothy Link set her grocery items beside it and nodded. â€œI think they love each other in their own way, but Fred here thinks they drink vinegar for breakfast.â€
â€œOh, my goodness!â€ Abbie covered her mouth to hide her spurt of laughter. â€œYou two behave yourselves.â€
Behind them, Reba Ortlund chortled. â€œIâ€™d guess the last time Florence Meir smiled was that Sunday Tillie Overmyer tripped on the top step on her way to the organ. There she was, all sprawled out like a gigantic tortoise on its back, her petticoats fanning her chubbyâ€”â€
â€œMrs. Ortlund!â€ Abbie cut in, her eyes traversing from Reba Ortlund to her young son at her side. The woman looked only a little sheepish. Fortunately, it seemed that Robert was paying no heed to the conversation, his attentions focused instead on his peppermint stick, which was creating a pink smear across his face that grew with every lick.
Abbie proceeded to tally up the Linksâ€™ items as quickly as she could with hands that were still thawing, biting her lip to hide her smile. Then, all of a sudden, a thundering crash outside the store shook the buildingâ€™s foundation, shattering the front window and sending store merchandise in every direction. Abbie jolted violently and shrieked, Dorothy Link screamed, and little Robert Ortlund leaped into his motherâ€™s arms, his eyes as round as pie shells. It took several seconds to figure out what had happened, but the tongue of a wagon and a bent wheel protruding through the broken window signified a buggy mishap, whether from the icy road conditions, poor visibility, or, perhaps, a spooked horse.
â€œWhat in tarnation?â€ Fred Link bellowed.
Hardly knowing what to do first, Abbie instinctively left her station and ran around the counter, but Fred snagged her by the arm. â€œJust a minute, there, Miss Abbie. Thereâ€™s shattered glass everywhere. Best hold back till we find out the damages.â€
â€œOh, my London stars!â€ Abbie gasped, borrowing one of her grandmotherâ€™s favorite phrases of exclamation and then covering her open mouth. Icy blasts and bursts of snow blew in through the cavernous hole in the wall where a large display window had once been. Outside, a horse gave a mournful whinny, and a soothing, male voice said, â€œEasy, Ruby Sue.â€ Another male voice asked, â€œWhat happened here? Anybody hurt?â€
At that, Abbie twisted out of Fredâ€™s hold and rushed toward the front of the store, stepping over debris and nearly twisting her ankle as she picked her way through a pile of potatoes that had tumbled out of an overturned barrel. The frigid winds continued to howl, exposing everyone and everything to the outside elements.
Suddenly, folks seemed to come to life as frenzied voices started speaking all at once, and several customers emerged from the far corners of the store to investigate what had happened. Through the yawning hole in the wall, a tall, strapping man materialized, with a young boy clinging tightly to his thigh. â€œEveryone all right in here?â€ he asked, bending over at the waist to see inside. His striking, blue eyes came to rest on Abbie, and, despite her tangled thoughts, she couldnâ€™t help noticing the way they pulled at her. Sheâ€™d seen him before, but now was not the time for trying to remember when or where. From beneath the rim of his worn hat, a thick tuft of chestnut-colored hair fell across his forehead.
â€œIâ€”I think so,â€ she managed, pinching the bridge of her nose in consternation. â€œWhatâ€”what just happened?â€
â€œAnother rig slid out of control and nearly hit me head-on. I had to swerve to avoid a full-out collision. My horse panicked and went up on the sidewalk, veered off, and sent my rig through your window.â€ He gave a heavy sigh. â€œLooks like weâ€™ve done some serious damage.â€ As if on cue, the horse whinnied in loud protest, its hooves pounding on the walkway. Someone on the other side of the wall spoke in steadying tones to the animal, probably to try to keep it from going completely berserk.
â€œOh, my goodness! Are you all right? Wasâ€”was anyone hurt?â€ Abbie wasnâ€™t sure where to put her eyesâ€”on him or on the little fellow still clinging to the manâ€™s leg.
â€œWeâ€™re fine. Canâ€™t say for sure about that man who almost hit me, though. What about you folks?â€ At last, he looked away from Abbie to peruse the group of wide-eyed bystanders.
Fred Link stepped forward. â€œThank the Lord no one was standing at the front of the store when that window came crashing inâ€”or walking through the door, for that matter. An instant sooner, and the Meirs or Jacob Kane might well have met their ends.â€ Abbie shivered at the very notion of such a tragedy, the bitter air accentuating her chills. Some kind soul retrieved her coat and threw it around her shoulders. She muttered her thanks while trying to collect herself.
Just then, Jacob Kane rushed through the door, his eyes wild with worry. â€œAbigail Ann! Oh, thank God youâ€™re standing.â€
â€œOf course, I am, Papa.â€ Like a mere child, she wilted into his open arms, thankful heâ€™d arrived to see to things. She didnâ€™t mind the day-to-day responsibilities at the store, but the business end of thingsâ€”along with major crisesâ€”belonged to Hannah Grace and her father. In fact, if all went as planned, Kaneâ€™s Whatnot would one day fall to Hannah, who truly had a heart for entrepreneurship. Abbie would stick around for as long as necessary to help run the store, but she had no interest in owning or maintaining it.
â€œIs everyone all right?â€ Jacob asked, setting Abbie back from him to assess the matter.
â€œThat seems to be the standard question, Jacob,â€ Fred Link answered. He frowned and scratched behind his ear. â€œI do believe weâ€™re none the worse, but I wouldnâ€™t say the same for that window or the front display table, Jacob.â€
â€œAh, well. People are far more important than property,â€ Jacob said, his eyes making a quick scan of the place before focusing on the tall man who had yet to introduce himself. The fellow wiped a gloved hand across his clean-shaven, square-set face, then ducked all the way through the opening. The young boy followed him but stayed in the shadows, probably still frightened nearly to death. Praise God his little body hadnâ€™t been thrown from the wagon. The man removed his glove and extended a hand to Jacob. â€œNoah Carson, sir. You must be Jacob Kane, the owner of this store. I believe you know my uncle, Delbert Huizenga.â€
â€œDel Huizenga, of course. Weâ€™re old friends.â€ Jacob pumped the manâ€™s hand. â€œSo, youâ€™re Noah Carson. I hear you used to come here about every summer as a lad. Your uncle told me youâ€™d moved to town a few months back, said youâ€™d joined him in his window and door business.â€ Jacob made a half-turn and gestured toward Abbie. â€œThis is my daughter, Abbie Ann. Sheâ€™s been running the store pretty much on her own for the past few weeks.â€
Noah tipped his hat at Abbie, giving her a better glimpse of his sea-blue eyes with their ocean depth. If he planned to smile, one never materialized. â€œHow-do, maâ€™am,â€ he said in a stiff manner, his gaze flitting over her face. Despite his formality, she offered a pleasant smile and mentally berated herself for noting his wholly masculine deportment. Her best friend, Katrina Sterling, would say he was like candy to the eyesâ€”never mind that Katrina had a husband and twin girl toddlers, to boot. Whenever she saw a nice-looking man, sheâ€™d say, â€œI may have spent my money all in one place, but that donâ€™t mean I canâ€™t still look at the merchandise.â€ Of course, everyone knew that Katrina Sterling loved to say brash things. Good thing her husband, Micah, never took her too seriously.
â€œYou really couldnâ€™t have avoided that mishap out there,â€ Jacob was saying. â€œI witnessed the entire thing from my office door across the street. Was just about to step inside when I saw Shamus Rogan barreling up the road, his horses at a full canter.â€ He shook his head. â€œIf you ask me, he was driving that wagon of his far too fast for these weather conditions. Matter of fact, it almost looked like he was heading straight at you with the intention of ramming into you. Thank God things didnâ€™t turn out any worse.â€
â€œWouldnâ€™t doubt olâ€™ Shamus just pulled out of some saloon,â€ Reba Ortlund offered, sticking out her pointy chin with the declaration. â€œA body can spot his bloodshot eyes a mile away.â€ Little Robert had resumed work on his peppermint stick, fully engrossed in the gooey substance and seeming to have fully recovered from the shock that Abbie had only now started wrapping her mind around. â€œSeems like heâ€™s always cominâ€™ or goinâ€™ from one oâ€™ them dens of iniquity.â€
Despite the womanâ€™s lack of tact, she did speak the truth. Shamus Rogan was a menace to Sandy Shores and a terror to his family. According to Hannah, over the past year, Arlena Rogan had come into the Whatnot bearing suspicious bruises on her arms and face but always attributing them to her own clumsiness. Hannah had believed her, but Abbie hadnâ€™t bought it. Just a few weeks ago, when Arlena had come in bearing bad scratch marks on her neck, Abbie had pressed her for specifics, and sheâ€™d relented, her eyes moist in the corners. â€œMy Shamus gets a bit carried away with his temper. â€™Fraid he drinks too much, and I complain that heâ€™s lazy and doesnâ€™t give me any grocery money, even though he makes a decent paycheck at the leather factoryâ€¦and, well, one thing leads to another, and he puts me in my place.â€ Sheâ€™d fidgeted with her grocery list, looking down at her shoes. â€œI must learn to keep my mouth shut, I guess.â€
The door had opened just then, ushering in several new customers, so Abbie had leaned forward and whispered, â€œYou must take care of yourself and your children and get out of there as quickly as possible. He could kill you in one of his drunken fits.â€
â€œOh, I couldnâ€™t divorce him.â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m not suggesting that. Iâ€™m saying you should go to a safe place.â€
â€œBut I have no place to go. Besides, heâ€™d chase me and the girls down. He wants to be the one pulling all the strings.â€ At that, the woman had gathered up her purchases and headed for the door.
â€œMrs. Rogan,â€ Abbie had called after her. â€œAnytime you need to talk, Iâ€™m here.â€
And that had been invitation enough. Since her initial disclosure, Arlena had come back a number of times to talk to Abbie about her desperate situation. Unfortunately, Abbie had no real solution, other than to tell her she would pray for her.
Indeed, Sandy Shores had far too many drinking establishments, which was the very reason sheâ€™d joined ranks with the Womanâ€™s Christian Temperance Union a year ago to fight against the townâ€™s unbridled use of alcohol. Of course, educating folks about the destructive powers of alcohol wasnâ€™t all the W.C.T.U. stood for. They also fought for womenâ€™s rights and suffrage, fair labor laws, federal aid for education, bans on prostitution, improved public health and sanitation, and international peace, all things for which Abbie had a growing passion. Some called her radicalâ€”Peter Sinclair, her beau of eight months, for one. Peter thought a womanâ€™s proper place was in the home, and many were the debates theyâ€™d had over the matter. Although Abbieâ€™s father didnâ€™t go that far, he did worry about her, especially since she and several other members of the W.C.T.U. had started singing hymns and holding prayer vigils outside many local saloons. Last month, a dozen or so of them actually had walked straight inside Ervin Baxterâ€™s establishment, known simply as Ervâ€™s Place, to hold a peaceful gathering. Of course, Erv Baxterâ€™s rude behavior in response to their hymn singing, Bible reading, and praying couldnâ€™t have been defined as peaceful. No, heâ€™d screamed to the heavens at them after all but a few of his regulars had walked out.
â€œYouâ€™re ruining my business!â€ heâ€™d shouted. â€œAnd youâ€™re not welcome here. Matter of fact, women in general are not allowed through these doors.â€
â€œBut there was a woman singing on stage,â€ Abbie had countered, â€œnot to mention those sitting on your patronsâ€™ laps.â€
â€œThey donâ€™t count. We got women cominâ€™ in here for entertainment purposes.â€ Abbieâ€™s spine had gone straight at the implication. Entertainment purposes? â€œSimply put, we donâ€™t need your kind coming in here creating a disturbance.â€
â€œWe are not a disorderly organization, sir. We are merely interested in reform, of which this country is in deep need. Why, do you know that American men spend more money on beer than they do on meat for their families? That is a disgrace, Mr. Baxter, and you are part of the problem for peddling that poison.â€
The manâ€™s chest had swelled to twice its size as heâ€™d tried to breathe through his obvious anger. â€œHow dare you,â€ heâ€™d growled, putting a pause between each word. â€œItâ€™s not my problem if folks got a thirst for booze. It ainâ€™t like Iâ€™m forcinâ€™ it down their throats. Iâ€™m just tryinâ€™ to make a living, like everybody else in this town, and Iâ€™d appreciate a little respect.â€
The W.C.T.U. purposed not to argue or defy, a policy Abbie sometimes had difficulty following, yet it had been clear sheâ€™d get nowhere by continuing a dialogue with Erv Baxter. Best leave before his hostile attitude burgeons out of control, sheâ€™d thought. â€œWeâ€™ll be going now, sir, but you can be assured we will continue our campaign. Make no mistake, the prohibition of alcoholic beverages will one day prevail in this country.â€
Heâ€™d cleared his throat and spat on the already sticky wood floor, having no apparent compunction amid the small group of dignified women. â€œYou ladies stay away from my saloon, or Iâ€™llâ€”Iâ€™ll make you plenty sorry.â€
Ignoring his halfhearted threat, Abbie had turned on her heel, her silent band of nervous crusaders following after her like ducklings after their mama.
â€œWell, Gabe will get to the bottom of this,â€ her father was saying, quickly calling Abbie back to the present. â€œSomeoneâ€™s fetched him, so he should be arriving on the scene most any minute, if heâ€™s not already out there.â€ Jacob put a hand on one of Noahâ€™s broad shoulders. â€œLooks like weâ€™ll be needing your window-building skills around here, young man.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve got it, sir. In fact, Iâ€™ll take full responsibility for cleaning up this place and making all the necessary repairs.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll see about that. Seems to me Shamus Rogan ought to own up to some of the blame. In the meantime, weâ€™ll board up the hole and replace the window when the weather calms down.â€ Jacob took a moment to look at the young boy beside Noah. â€œWhatâ€™s your name, young fellow?â€
Noah nudged the little guy forward. â€œThis here is my boy. Say hello, Toby.â€
The child raised his gaze long enough to peek at Jacob, and thatâ€™s when it dawned on Abbie that sheâ€™d seen him beforeâ€”in her Sunday school class of six-year-olds. An older woman, Julia Huizenga, had started dropping him off at the door about three weeks ago. As far as Noahâ€™s familiarity, she now recalled having spotted him perched on a pew at the back of the church following Sunday school.
Abbie bent at the waist, her clasped hands on her knees. â€œWell, hello there, Toby. Do you remember me?â€
Toby considered her thoughtfully and scrunched his cherub nose, which was covered with a spray of freckles. Then, his blue eyes brightened. â€œYouâ€™re my Sunday school teacher. Youâ€™re the one what taught us about that old fellow who built the big boat before it rained. His name was Noah, just like my dad.â€
â€œThatâ€™s exactly right,â€ Abbie said, her eyes roaming from the boy to his father and quickly back again. â€œArenâ€™t you clever for remembering that?â€
â€œHeâ€™s a smart boy,â€ his father said, his voice bolstered by pride, and he pulled Toby to his side.
A gust of wind bellowed through the building. â€œMy sweet sister, itâ€™s cold in here!â€ Reba Ortlund exclaimed. â€œCan someone ring up my items so Robert and I can be on our way?â€
Abbie gave a quick turn. â€œOh, mercy, yes. I almost forgot I was in the middle of totaling up the Linksâ€™ items. Letâ€™s finish so you folks can go home and get warm.â€
â€œI think weâ€™d best close up the store for the remainder of the afternoon,â€ Jacob said. The customers who had been in the store prior to the accident had wandered out to the street, where a curious crowd had gathered, despite the unrelenting wind.
â€œWhat say I run over to the shop and pick up some wood to fix that gaping hole, sir?â€ Noah Carson said to her father. â€œAfterward, Toby and Iâ€™ll help clean up this mess.â€
Jacob nodded and pulled at his gray beard, allowing his eyes to appraise his surroundings. It took a lot to dampen Jacob Kaneâ€™s spirits, and this minor setback to his business would not come close to succeeding.