Undaunted spirit, p.1

Undaunted Spirit, page 1

 

Undaunted Spirit
 


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Undaunted Spirit


  Books by Jane Peart

  Brides of Montclair Series

  1 | Valiant Bride

  2 | Ransomed Bride

  3 | Fortune’s Bride

  4 | Folly’s Bride

  5 | Yankee Bride/Rebel Bride

  6 | Gallant Bride

  7 | Shadow Bride

  8 | Destiny’s Bride

  9 | Jubilee Bride

  10 | Mirror Bride

  11 | Hero’s Bride

  12 | Senator’s Bride

  13 | Daring Bride

  14 | Courageous Bride

  Westward Dreams Series

  1 | Runaway Heart

  2 | Promise of the Valley

  3 | Where Tomorrow Waits

  4 | A Distant Dawn

  5 | Undaunted Spirit

  The American Quilt Series

  1 | The Pattern

  2 | The Pledge

  3 | The Promise

  ZONDERVAN

  undaunted spirit

  Copyright © 1999 by Jane Peart

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.

  ePub Edition July 2009 ISBN: 978-0-310-83428-1

  Value Edition 978-0-310-28803-9

  Requests for information should be addressed to:

  Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

  * * *

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Peart, Jane.

  Undaunted spirit / Jane Peart.

  p. cm. —(Westward dreams series : bk. 5)

  ISBN 0-310-22012-2 I.

  Title. II. Series: Peart, Jane. Westward dreams series ; bk. 5.

  PS3566.E238U54 1999 813’.54—dc21

  99-15208

  CIP

  * * *

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  * * *

  08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 • 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  CONTENTS

  COVER PAGE

  TITLE PAGE

  COPYRIGHT

  FOREWORD

  PART 1

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  PART 2

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  PART 3

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  EPILOGUE

  ABOUT THE PUBLISHER

  SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  FOREWORD

  “Independence? That’s no name for a girl,” declared the baby’s father.

  “Now, Jacob, you named the three boys, and this time it’s my turn,” came the gentle voice of his wife. “Besides, being born on the Fourth of July must mean something.” “Independence,” repeated Grandma Howard, nodding her head as she stitched a pink ribbon onto the flannel receiving blanket.

  “It has a pretty sound to it,” chimed in Aunt Sassy as she plumped the pillows on her niece’s bed. She herself had been named after one of her mother’s favorite medicinal herbs, Sassafras.

  “Well, if you ask me, this family is sure partial to unusual names.” Jacob shook his head. But he had long ago given up trying to understand his wife’s relatives. After twelve years of marriage, he had accepted the truth of the old saying: You don’t just marry the woman, you marry her family. He adored the petite, delicate Percy Howard (her real name was Perseverance), had courted her ardently, married her happily, considered himself lucky to have won her. Her siblings, aunts, uncles, and assorted cousins, however, were another matter, one that often caused him bewilderment if not some irritation, especially their penchant for peculiar names.

  Still, Jacob agreed that since his little girl—his first daughter—was born on the country’s birthday, she should receive an appropriate name, something symbolic to mark the historic date. He hadn’t come up with one to counter his wife’s unexpected suggestion, which was seconded by her busybody kin. Independence. Jacob’s lips formed the word, then his mouth tightened into a straight line. But when he looked at his wife—pale, with lovely blue eyes, dark circled from her ordeal, her lustrous mahogany brown hair braided and fanned out against the ivory pillows—his heart softened. Jacob was always his most vulnerable where Percy was concerned. Whatever she wanted, he wanted her to have.

  He straightened his shoulders, “All right, Independence will be her name.” It had been a hectic day. The planned gathering of fifteen of the Howard relatives, invited to celebrate the national holiday, coincided with the baby’s arrival, and that had turned everything topsy-turvy. For most of the day the house had been hushed in anticipation of the event, which had come earlier than expected. The other children had been taken to the parade, then to the park for the band concert and picnic. Now, as evening fell, the sound of the fireworks could be heard, and the dark summer sky was alight with sparklers and sky rockets.

  From outside came the snap of firecrackers. Aunt Sassy moved quickly to the window. Leaning out she called sharply, “You boys go on away from this side of the house. Your mama and your new little sister need their rest.”

  Jacob leaned over his wife and kissed her cheek. “I best go down now and leave you to rest.” Their eyes met and the mutual love, unspoken, unexpressed, was plain to both of them.

  One by one the room emptied. Everyone tiptoed out leaving the mother alone with her baby, the daughter she had hoped for. Percy drew the small bundled infant closer, touched the fluff of red hair covering the tiny, round head, whispered softly, “You’re going to have a wonderful life. You have three big brothers who’ll love, protect, and take care of you, my little darling.”

  She lay there, half awake and half asleep, listening to the sounds drifting through the open window and the low murmur of voices and laughter from the front porch where the adults had gathered to eat their strawberry shortcake. Percy smiled to herself. How blessed she was to have a loving family who came in any emergency and took care of things.

  Just then, she heard the squeak of the bedroom door being opened carefully, and a minute later a small figure appeared at her bedside. It was four-year-old Farell, her youngest boy. He was small and shy, and he stammered whenever he spoke. He was her “special” child. The other two, Thomas and Ephram, were boisterous, hearty, running, jumping, falling out of trees, climbing fences, shouting, banging in and out of the house with muddy boots, grubby hands, and tousled hair. Farell was quiet and sensitive—and very sweet. He came over to the bed, very close to her, leaned on the coverlet, bent right down into her face, and whispered, “Mama, you all right? Aunt Sassy said—” His voice caught in his throat.

  Percy
quickly covered his little hand with her own. “I’m fine, darlin’, just fine. You’re not to worry.”

  “Aunt Len said you had a hard time, Mama. I was scared.”

  “Well, there’s nothing to be scared about at all. Would you like to see your little sister?”

  “Have Tom and Eph seen her?”

  “No. You’ll be the first,” she told him with a soft laugh. She turned back the top of the blanket so he could peek down into the nest she had made of it, and he saw the round, pink face, eyes shut tight. “This is Independence,” she introduced them. Percy placed the baby’s tiny hand in her brother’s saying, “This is your big brother, who’s always going to take care of you and protect you, isn’t that right, Farell?”

  “Yes, Ma’am.” He nodded his head vigorously. “What did you name her?”

  “Independence.”

  Farell swallowed. It was a long word. He would have trouble with it, but he tried. “Mmmm-dee—.”

  “Try it again,” his mother urged. “Slowly.”

  He struggled. “Mmm-dee—.”

  Percy did not ask him to try again.

  And so it happened, as it does sometimes, that the little girl born on the Fourth of July and named Independence would become known within the family, and later in the larger circle of friends and acquaintances, as Mindy—because her brother could not pronounce her name.

  * * *

  PART 1

  * * *

  Chapter 1

  Almost from the first, Farell and his younger sister were inseparable. Because Farell constantly got teased at school because of his stuttering, Percy decided to teach him his lessons at home. Mindy, who always wanted to be with her adored brother, sat in on the lessons, and in no time, Percy recognized how bright the little girl was. She had no trouble keeping up with Farell. She was also imaginative and soon began making up little stories, and when she learned her letters, she began writing her stories down in her copy book.

  Mindy was far from being a bookworm, however. Even though she preferred the company of the quiet, thoughtful Farell, she was full of energy and had a high-spirited, adventurous personality. Whenever Farell was confined to the house with a cold, Mindy would try to tag along after her two other brothers, who would try to get rid of her by challenging her to perform some hazardous feat. Fiercely competitive, Mindy took any dare until a broken arm, several sprains, bruises, and cuts brought down their father’s wrath and their gentle mother’s firm reprimand. “You must be kind to your little sister. Remember she’s a girl,” Percy would admonish while, behind her mother’s skirt, Mindy would make faces, stick out her tongue, and waggle her finger at her brothers.

  By the time she was ten, Mindy could give as good as she took, and Tom and Eph regarded her warily. Small and wiry, she could outrun them if they took off after her. Fearful of the punishment they might incur if their sister really got hurt, they avoided actual confrontations.

  The summer she was twelve things changed. The family had gathered at the McClaren’s, as usual, to celebrate the Fourth of July—and, of course, Mindy’s birthday. The relatives arrived a few days beforehand from the outlying farms and small towns, and none came empty-handed. Laden with fruits, baked goods, casserole dishes, and delicacies, which were their individual specialties, they came bringing with them an assortment of offspring as well. Mindy and several of her cousins were playing outside in Jacob McClaren’s large backyard while the women gathered in the big kitchen. Preparations for the plentiful meal were in full swing. The sound of the egg beater, cream whisker, and batter spoon were heard along with the lively chatter.

  Suddenly Aunt Jen gasped, “Law sakes, will you look at that girl?”

  “What in the world?” exclaimed Aunt Sassy, joining her at the window.

  “My word, now she’s hanging by her knees,” gasped Grandma Howard, pulling back the starched, checked curtain so she could see better.

  “I declare, Percy, you’re going to have to do something about that Mindy. She’s growing up as wild as a March hare. If you don’t watch it, she’ll become a regular hoyden.”

  Jen turned and eyed her niece sternly.

  Percy calmly took another stitch in the table runner she was embroidering. “What do you suggest I do?”

  “Well, something—and soon,” Jen sounded exasperated. “Certainly, Jacob can.”

  Percy shook her head slightly. “Mindy’s her Papa’s pet.” She sighed. “He thinks anything she does is either entertaining or amazing.”

  “If she were my daughter—,” began Jen, but Sassy interrupted her.

  “Well, she isn’t, Jen. And we best not offer advice.”

  Ignoring her sister’s rebuke, Jen persisted, “Have you and Jacob discussed sending Mindy to Oakmere Academy? They’re known for turning girls into young ladies of refinement.”

  Again Percy shook her head. “I doubt Jacob would send Mindy away. He’d miss her too much.”

  “Even for her own good?” Jen frowned. “Maybe, I should talk to Jacob. After all I’m the oldest in our family.” Jen’s mouth folded into a determined line.

  “Please, don’t spoil his holiday by getting him all stirred up,” Percy begged. “Remember, it’s also Mindy’s birthday.” “She’ll be twelve, won’t she? That’s time to make plans. After all she’ll be sixteen ’fore you know it. Time to think of making a suitable marriage.”

  “You sure make time fly, Jen,” Sassy laughed.

  Jen gave her a sharp look. “Well, it’s the truth. Before you know it, children are grown up and on their own. If you don’t guide them, heavens knows how they’d turn out!”

  “‘Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it,’” quoted Sassy.

  “Exactly,” nodded Jen, unaware of the irony in her sister’s tone.

  Percy calmly threaded her needle with a strand of red floss and did not comment. She knew her husband. Their only daughter and youngest child was the proverbial “apple of his eye.” He would not easily agree to sending her off to boarding school although Oakmere Academy was only thirty miles from Woodhaven and near Philadelphia where many of the Howard relatives had settled.

  Endearing pictures of the two of them together passed through her mind. The tall man and the little red-headed girl hand-in-hand when Mindy was first learning to walk, Jacob keeping his long strides short for her tiny steps. Later, Mindy would sit in Jacob’s lap while he read to her; later still, with their heads bent over the globe Jacob had bought to show her the world, he would patiently explain to her about oceans, mountains, and plains.

  “I want to see all these places!” the little girl would exclaim.

  Jacob would assure her, “You can, you will, darlin’. You can travel or do anything your li’l heart desires.”

  He would take her with him when he went fishing. She would trail behind him carrying his creel. Jacob would shoulder his rod and the small fishing pole he made for her. They would spend the whole day together at the river.

  No, Percy couldn’t imagine Jacob thinking it a good thing for Mindy to go to Oakmere Academy to be made into a proper lady.

  The subject was dropped for the moment as one of the husbands strolled into the kitchen and the conversation became general.

  But Percy continued to ask herself, Are the aunts right? Was Mindy growing up without manners? True, she did emulate her older brothers in their exploits. She could also be sweet and sensitive and loving with Farell. Mindy instinctively understood how his stammer made him shy and often spoke up for him in difficult situations. Mindy had many good qualities, certainly; she just needed a little polishing, a little decorum. Was Oakmere Academy the right place for her to acquire them?

  Percy knew, however, it would take a great deal of persuasion to convince Jacob that this was the correct parental decision for them to make. It was for Mindy’s own good, for her future happiness and her ability to make a fine marriage.

  “That’s a lot of nonsense,” was Jacob’s first reaction. “
She don’t need any more schooling. You’ve said over and over how quick she catches on, how she keeps right up with Farell.” “

  It’s not so much the education, Jacob—it’s the atmosphere that’d help her. Here, she’s surrounded by her brothers. At Oakmere, there would be girls her own age. She’d learn the basics of grace, how to behave in social situations.” “

  How to hold a teacup and flutter a fan?” Jacob scoffed. “

  It’s more than that, Jacob. Being with other girls who are learning ladylike behavior would take off some of the rough edges. Seeing other girls enjoying things like pretty dresses. Learning to dance and play musical instruments could only make Mindy a more attractive person.”

  “You want her to go?” growled Jacob.

  “I’ll miss her as much as you will, Jacob. It’s not that I want her to go; it’s that it seems the right thing to do for our daughter.”

  Jacob always knew when he was overruled. He had an idea the Howard kin had something to do with Percy’ suggestion. He never underestimated the influence Percy’s family had on her. Besides, what did he know about girls being transformed into young ladies? He’d grown up with brothers and had three sons. Until Mindy was born he didn’t know a girl child could nestle in your heart and wind you around her little finger. So he gave in, and Mindy, protesting the whole thirty miles to the school, was enrolled at Oakmere Academy. Her copious tears and dramatic pleading had been to no avail.

  Mindy resisted the regimen for the first three weeks, until she finally decided she might as well make the best of it. With her usual optimism, she realized that the sooner she acquired whatever polish she was supposed to get, the sooner she could go home.

  She wrote voluminous letters to Farell citing all her complaints about the faculty, her fellow students, the food, and the relentless routine of sewing, piano, deportment—lessons that made up her day. She interjected this report with humorous accounts, character profiles, and incidents that with her keen eye and facile pen made these letters revealing and fun to read.

 
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