For those of you who don’t know, I wrote and self-published the first five books of an historical series, Legacy of Courage.
Last summer I was able to invest in new covers and design and re-published the first three books on Amazon for Kindle and in print.
I had hoped by now to get a new cover and inside design for the fourth book and publish that as well. I know there were a few readers who were waiting on it.
However, I don’t have the finances to do so right now.
I decided to make the fourth book, Courage to Forgive, available on my blog with a chapter each Friday.
You may have already purchased and read the older style paperback of this book that I sold locally. When I worked on the series in 2021, I updated books 3 and rewrote parts of book 4. It had never seemed like a complete story to me. When I edited it, I ended up with several chapters at the beginning that had been “missing” from the original text.
I like the way the new version came out and that is the one I am posting here on my blog.
If you haven’t already read it or want to read the revised version, please enjoy this first chapter of Courage to Forgive, Book One of the Legacy of Courage Series.
Chapter One – Courage to Forgive
Adam and Cara stood near the porch steps, their arms around each other. He had just proposed to her, and she, of course, had said yes.
“You’re shivering,” he said with a smile, brushing a curl back from her cheek.
“I don’t feel cold.”
He kissed her again, a sweet, tender kiss that she had been dreaming of for so long.
“I’m glad to know that you return my love, Cara.”
The corners of her mouth turned up in a wry smile. “You’ve known for a while now how I felt about you.”
“I’ve had my suspicions that you cared about me. At one time, that scared me.”
“And it doesn’t scare you now?” Her serious question demanded an honest answer.
“No, not anymore. I love you. I promise that I will always be here for you.”
His words made her heart sing, but the practical side of her made her wary. “I have four children, by another man, Adam. Are you ready to be a father to them?”
“I love your children, Cara,” he said without hesitation. “I don’t know much about being a father, but I know I want to be one to them. I want to help you raise them. I want to be around to watch them grow up.”
Her eyes sparkled with joy. “I know you will be a good father to them.”
“I will try,” he promised solemnly. “Do you think they will be happy to have us get married?”
“They love you already. I don’t think Rose realizes that you haven’t always been a part of our family. And Hope will never know another man as her father, other than you.”
He had longed to kiss the corner of her mouth where the smile began. Now, he had the right to do so. He placed his lips against that spot, and then captured her lips in a sweet tender kiss. Having her in his arms felt so right. He wondered why he had waited so long to tell her how he felt.
She must have wondered, too. “I’ve waited so long to hear you say you love me.”
“I should have told you a long time ago.”
“It’s okay that you did not speak about it sooner. I know you weren’t sure you were ready to be a husband and father.”
“Now I can’t wait,” he said, with a wide grin. “Will you marry me, Cara?”
“I will, Adam. I will be so happy to be your wife.”
“I can’t wait to see Remmie’s face when we tell him.”
Her smile faded, and she looked serious. “I don’t want to say anything to them yet.”
“What? Why not?”
“I love you, Adam, but I don’t want to rush into marriage.”
It felt as though she had punched him in the stomach. The wind was knocked out of him and he stared at her incredulously.
“You do want to marry me, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. More than anything.”
“That’s a relief. We can work out the details later. Right now, it’s cold, and we need to go in. They will wonder what has happened to us.”
But he couldn’t help kissing her one more time before they went back in the house.
When they walked into the front room, the children came running up to them, as though they had not seen them for a very long time. Cara rejoiced when Rose held out her arms to Adam and watched as he picked her up and swung her up into the air. She unbundled her wraps and stooped to kiss Charity on the cheek. Remmie looked at both of them as though knowing that something was different.
“Do you have cocoa ready for us, Remmie?” Cara asked.
“Yes, Ma, we do. Reverend Ackerby helped us make it.”
His innocent remark made Cara smile. Her eyes met Adam’s and saw his amusement.
She heard Hope cry out and glanced self-consciously at Adam. “I’ll need to feed the baby,” she said in an apologetic tone.
“But, Ma, the cocoa is ready,” Remmie protested.
“Why don’t you and Adam drink your cocoa, and save a cup for me? I’ll join you after I feed Hope.”
Remmie’s disappointment vanished at the mention of drinking his cocoa with Adam. When Cara turned to leave the room, Charity followed.
“Don’t you want to have some cocoa, Charity?” Adam asked. She looked unsure of herself, as though she wanted to follow him but was too shy to do so.
“She can come with me.” Cara patted Charity’s curls. “We’ll have our cocoa later.”
Sitting with her back against the pillows while Hope nursed, Cara felt like she was in a dream. Adam loved her. He loved her! Of all the blessings these past few weeks, that was the greatest one of all. She had fallen in love with him what seemed like so long ago. She had known he had feelings for her, and that he struggled with the idea of becoming a father to four children. She had not dared think that he would really tell her he loved her and wanted to marry her.
So why did she feel so hesitant about it? It was what she had dreamed of, marriage to Adam. Having him become a permanent part of her family. Sharing her life with him. Why wasn’t she ready to tell her children, to tell the whole world?
There was so much of the past that she had not been able to put behind her. She still nursed Lem’s child. Her year of mourning had just ended today. When she married Adam, she did not want any of her memories to stand in her way of becoming his wife.
Adam’s grin stretched across his face when he saw Cara walk into the dining room with the baby in her arms. Her answering smile was just as wide. He felt so much love and joy in his heart. How could he contain it and not share it with her children? She passed Hope into his welcoming arms. This little one would be his daughter. Adam could hardly believe it was true. She would only ever know him as her father.
“Come sit down, Cara,” Philip said. “I will bring you some hot cocoa.”
“I can get it,” Cara said.
Philip shook his head and ushered her to a chair. “I don’t mind, please, sit down.”
Cara sank into a chair, watching the baby in Adam’s arms. He looked up and caught her eye, and the tenderness in his eyes made her catch her breath. Her heart was almost singing with joy.
Philip cleared his throat. Cara looked up and took the cup of cocoa from him. “Thank you, Philip.”
He looked from one to the other as he sat down in his chair. “Have the two of you something to tell me?”
The older children were in the other room occupied with their new toys, Adam replied, “Yes, we do.”
“But I don’t want to say anything to the children yet,” Cara said quickly.
“Have you told anyone yet?”
“No,” Cara said.
“I kind of have,” Adam admitted. Her surprised expression made him sheepish. “My brothers were really giving me a hard time at dinner. Somehow, they all figured out that I was in love with you. Even my ma knew that I was coming back to ask you to marry me.”
Cara blushed. “How did they know?”
“How could they not know?” Philip asked. “We have all caught the looks between you two these past few days. It’s no surprise to any of us that you have fallen in love.”
“I’m not sure I want everyone to know yet,” Cara said.
“Why not? Aren’t you planning to marry Adam?”
“Yes, but—” Adam and Philip both waited for her answer. “The children will be so happy, especially Remmie. I know he will not be able to stand it until we are married so he can call you ‘Pa.’ I don’t want to tell him until we’re ready.”
“How long do you think you will wait to get married?” Philip looked at Adam, and Adam looked at Cara.
“I thought we would get married right away,” Adam said. “I want to become a permanent part of Cara’s life.”
“You are a part of my life, Adam, even if we don’t get married as soon as you would like. I need time to get used to the idea of you being in love with me, to get used to being together as a couple.”
“So do you want a long engagement?” Adam asked.
Philip interrupted. “I think under the circumstances, with Adam already living here and eating meals with you and the children, a short engagement would be best.”
That was just it. There were no circumstances which made them have to get married right away. Adam and she had not been living in sin. She was not expecting his child, as she had been with Lem’s. The only reason she could see for rushing was to satisfy the gossips.
She didn’t want to say that, though. Especially not in front of Philip, who disapproved of their living arrangement.
“It’s all right, Cara.” Adam’s voice was reassuring. When she looked in his eyes, she saw no disappointment, only tenderness. “We don’t have to rush. I’m just so glad that you said yes.” He reached over and covered her hand with his.
“So your brothers, and your parents, all know. That means Eliza will know as well.”
“They knew I was going to ask you, and they will assume you said yes, unless I tell them otherwise.”
“And if Eliza knows, then everyone will soon know.”
Adam grimaced. “Yes, unfortunately that is how it is with Eliza.”
“Then we will have to tell the children soon.” Although it troubled her, she could see that it pleased Adam to announce their engagement.
Philip spoke up. “It should be a happy occasion, not a troubling one.”
Cara couldn’t help smiling as she met Adam’s eyes. “It is a happy occasion. I have been waiting so long for Adam to say he loved me.”
“I wish I hadn’t waited so long.”
Neither of them noticed when Philip left the room.
The children walked into the room, and Adam reluctantly stood up. He passed Hope back into Cara’s arms.
“I hate to leave this warm house, but I have chores to do.”
“Can I go with you?” Remmie asked.
“Yes, of course.”
After Adam and Remmie left the house, Philip came back into the room, “Wouldn’t you like to go and talk to Ayla? I’m sure she would enjoy hearing what has transpired between yourself and Adam.”
Cara’s face grew warm with embarrassment, but the thought of sharing her news with someone made her happy. “I think I will, but then I best be getting supper.”
She carried Hope into the bedroom. Ayla was holding Caleb and singing to him. She looked up and smiled as Cara entered the room.
“Cara, come in and sit down. I’ve wanted to get up and join you, but Philip thought I should rest.”
“Philip told me you have news for me.”
Cara’s joy bubbled over. “Adam loves me.”
“Didn’t I tell you so? Philip and I thought Adam’s feelings for you ran deep.”
“It’s more wonderful than I had imagined. He wants to marry me.”
“Cara, I’m so happy for you.” Ayla added, “Adam is a good man. And handsome.”
A giggle escaped Cara’s lips. “Yes, he is.”
“We’ll have a wedding soon.”
Cara’s smile faded almost immediately.
“What’s wrong, Cara?” Ayla asked. “I thought you wanted to marry Adam.”
“I do. I do want to marry him. I just don’t want to rush into marriage.”
“Why do you feel like you must rush into marriage?”
“Adam’s family knows he was going to ask me to marry him. When he tells them I said yes, his sister-in-law will tell her ma. Then within a short time everyone in the community will know we are getting married, and we will have to tell the children.”
“Why don’t you want to tell the children?”
“I’m afraid they won’t be able to contain their excitement, especially Remmie.”
Ayla’s mouth turned up in a gentle smile. Cara wondered if she were being foolish, but Ayla didn’t say so.
“I think you are worrying too much about it. This should be a happy day for you, not one to cause concern.”
Cara sighed. “I know. I don’t understand what’s wrong with me.”
“You and Adam will figure it out, Cara,” Philip said from the doorway. “I know you feel rushed, but God does not rush us. His blessings come in His time, not in ours. Ayla and I will be praying for you and Adam as you seek God’s will and direction.”
Ayla added, “Rejoice for the moment, Cara. Enjoy the newness of your love for Adam. And the two of you should pray together, too. You will know when the timing is right.”
“I’ll get busy with supper,” Cara said, rising.
“Have you thought about what you wanted to fix for supper?” Philip asked.
“I thought we would eat leftovers. There is so much left from dinner, and all the pies the preacher brought.”
“If you don’t mind, I will go and see what’s left, and put together a meal,” Philip offered.
It would be a welcome relief for her, but it didn’t seem right to have someone else fix the meal.
“Are you sure you want to do that?”
“Philip enjoys cooking,” Ayla said. “And he is a good cook.”
“I have seen that, with the pies, and the taffy. It’s all been delicious.”
Philip sat down on the edge of the bed and covered Ayla’s hand with his. “We’ve been talking about this very thing today.”
“Yes,” Philip said. “You have been working so had to make sure we all had three meals a day this past week, and I know you must be tired.”
“I am used to preparing three meals a day,” she said. “I have done it for a long time.”
“I would like to take over the cooking and baking for a few days, if that is all right with you.” Philip’s unusual request came as a surprise. “It will give you more time to spend with Adam, and the children.”
The thought of not having to plan, prepare and serve three meals a day sounded like a blessing. To have time to sit with Adam and the children would be a welcome change.
Ayla added, “You have been taking care of all of us, preparing our meals, helping out with Caleb—”
“Oh, but Ayla, I have been so blessed to have you here. I haven’t minded the extra work. And Adam’s ma has helped out so much.”
“It’s our turn to help out,” Philip said. “And I must tell you, I have looked over all of the supplies that Reverend Mathers brought over. There are some really good things in there that I can’t wait to use.”
“They were very generous, weren’t they?” Cara was still surprised by the amount of food the women had donated.
“So do you think you could give up your kitchen for a few days?” Philip asked.
“Yes, I can. And thank you. It will be a real blessing for me.”
They heard Rose’s voice call out, “Adam!”
“Well, I think the chores are done. Shall I go out and get supper ready, so you can spend time with Adam and the children?”
Hope started to fuss.
“Or so I can feed the baby,” Cara said as Philip left the room.
“Why don’t you close the door, and you can nurse Hope in here. It will soon be time for Caleb’s next feeding.”
The baby in Ayla’s arms started to whimper.
Cara rose and shut the door, then settled into the chair. She leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes for a few moments. Then she opened them and smiled. For the first time in a long time, she did not have to prepare supper.
“I do appreciate Philip’s help with the cooking.”
“I was talking to him about it earlier this evening. You are a very beautiful woman, but I can see that the extra care you have given everyone has tired you out.”
“You can see it on my face?” Could Adam see it, too? Cara wondered.
“As another woman, I can tell that you have been under a strain. I did not realize how taxing it was to nurse an infant, and you did that with two for several days.” Cara started to speak. “I know you were happy to help out, but it doesn’t change the fact that you put your body under additional stress to wet-nurse Caleb.”
Cara knew Ayla was right. She hadn’t realized how tired she was, until she sat down a few minutes ago. The excitement of the last few days, the Christmas baking and shopping, decorating the tree, and the wonderful celebration this morning with everyone, had all been overwhelming. She had put a lot of work into making Christmas dinner, and it had gone over so well. She had felt tired when she started picking up the dinner dishes. Then Adam had come back, and proposed. She had forgotten how tired she was.
Philip set the dining room table simply for their supper. There was a large pan in the middle of the table, and all Cara could see were mashed potatoes in it. A loaf of bread from the church donations was sliced on a plate, and there was butter to go with it.
She wondered where the rest of the meal was. Philip seemed pleased with himself, so she sat down and waited for his direction. As they bowed their heads to pray, she peeked at Adam. He had a confused look on his face that echoed how she felt. “I’d like you and the children to pray your prayer tonight,” Philip said.
Cara started the prayer, and Adam and the children chimed in. Even Rose knew some of the words now, and what she didn’t know, she made up, to their amusement.
Philip took a large spoon and scooped out some mashed potatoes. As he put it on Cara’s plate, she saw that it was like a shepherd’s pie. The top layer was mashed potatoes, the bottom layer was stuffing. In between there were pieces of turkey and gravy.
“Oh, this looks delicious!” she exclaimed.
Philip served everyone, before putting some on a plate. “I’ll take this so Ayla and I can share it, if that is all right with you.”
“Of course.” She took a bite of the pie. “This is so good.”
“This is really good, Ma,” Remmie said after taking a few bites.
“It really is. Did you come up with this?” Adam asked Cara.
“No, Philip did. He volunteered to prepare supper tonight. He also offered to do the cooking for the next few days.”
Adam was glad to hear it. “That will give you a much-needed break.”
“Do you think I have looked tired the past few days?”
“Why no, I have thought you looked very happy and excited with all that has been going on.” Adam grinned, and the look in his eyes warmed her clear to her toes. “And beautiful.”
“You think my ma is beautiful?” Remmie asked.
Cara met Adam’s eyes and shook her head slightly.
Adam was careful how he answered. “Your ma is a very beautiful woman, Remmie. And since she has been saved, her beauty comes from the love of God within her heart.”
Remmie studied Cara’s face, but it was Charity who spoke.
“I think you are very beautiful, Mama.”
“Thank you, Charity,” Cara said gently. She finished the last couple of bites. “I am tempted to take another scoop. It was so good.”
They heard Hope’s cries from the bedroom. Cara brought her out into the dining room, where she looked around and beamed at everyone. Her eyes rested on Adam, and she wiggled as though she would jump out of Cara’s arms and into his.
Adam pushed back his plate. “I’ll take her.”
“I’ll get started with the dishes. Remmie can help me.”
Remmie looked like he was about to grumble, but Cara’s stern expression stopped his complaint.
As Cara started to pour water into the basin, Philip brought in his plate. “Oh, no, Cara. I don’t expect you to do the dishes tonight.”
“But you cooked.”
“I meant to give you the whole evening off from kitchen duty, and for the next few days.”
“I can’t let you do that.”
“You can, and I expect you to.” The look he gave her was as stern as the one she had given Remmie.
Just as Remmie had obeyed her, Cara didn’t refuse. “You are a blessing, Philip.”
“Ayla and I had a reason for giving you the Bible story book. We thought it would be a nice way for you to start a family altar with your children.”
Cara was not sure what that meant.
“We had that growing up,” Adam said. He had followed Philip into the kitchen. “Pa read from the Bible. Ma led in singing a hymn, which we all sang as we grew old enough and learned the words. Then Pa he would say a prayer.”
“That is what I am talking about,” Philip said. “It would be a very good habit for you to start.”
Cara hesitated. Philip did not know about the struggle she’d had in school. Even Adam did not know what a poor reader she was. And she had never prayed out loud.
“I know you are nervous about leading it, Cara. Now that Adam and you—” He glanced at the children, especially Remmie, who was listening with great interest. “Now that you and Adam have an agreement, I think it would be a good idea if he would lead it.”
“I don’t mind,” Adam said, “if Cara doesn’t.”
“It would be a relief for you to do it, as you are familiar with it,” Cara said. “And you are a better reader.
“Are you comfortable praying aloud, Adam?” Philip asked.
“Only in front of my family. As soon as John started school, we stopped reciting the grace that Cara and her children say. Then Pa made us take turns praying before meals. Even John, as young as he was, had to take his turn.” Adam chuckled. “In fact, I think John is the one that prays out loud the best.”
“Then it would be a good time to start praying with your future—” Philip stopped abruptly as Cara shook her head. “With this family.”
Adam and Cara walked into the front room.
“What do you think about having a family altar, Cara?”
“I think it’s a lovely idea.”
“And the Bible story book is a good idea, too. I remember how long it felt to sit and listen to the Scripture when Pa read, especially in the Old Testament.”
Cara was aware that there were two parts in the Bible. Yet when Adam spoke, she realized how little she knew about the Bible and the things of the Lord.
“I don’t know if there is room enough for all of us in here to sit comfortably,” Adam said, looking around the front room.
Cara sat in one of the straight-backed chairs. “You go ahead and sit in the rocker,” she suggested. “Remmie can push the other chair up next to you, and he and Charity can share it.”
“Where do I sit?” Rose asked, her hands on her hips.
“On my lap,” Adam said. “Is that all right?”
“On Adam’s lap.” Rose smiled happily and giggled when Adam lifted her onto his lap. “Read book?” she asked, touching the book as Adam opened it.
Adam opened to the first story. It was the very beginning story of the Bible, about how God created the world and everything in it. The picture showed the sun in the corner, with rays coming down from it, and the earth in its shadow. There were stars in the dark sky. Adam showed the picture to the children, then started to read.
Cara had started to read the Bible several times, beginning with the first book, Genesis, and she knew the story of creation well. But she had not heard it read in such simple terms that even the children, at least Remmie, and probably Charity, understood. She was almost sorry when the story was over.
“Read another one,” Remmie begged.
“I was only going to read one tonight,” Adam started to say. Looking at the hopeful faces surrounding him, his eyes met Cara’s. “Do you want me to read another one?”
“It’s so cozy sitting here, and the stories are very easy to understand. I feel as the children do, I would like to hear another one.”
The second story had a picture of a beautiful garden and in the center was a tree full of beautiful fruit. “The Garden of Eden,” Adam read the title. “This is a book about the first man and woman God created. They were named Adam and Eve.”
Remmie exclaimed, “That’s the same name as you!”
“Yes, it is. My ma picked it out for me because it was in the Bible, and she liked it.”
He read how Adam of the Bible and Eve, his wife, lived in the garden and walked with the Lord in the evenings. The words were almost like poetry, and then the story of the serpent came. Adam changed his voice when he read the words of the serpent, and the children giggled. The story was not funny, though, as they soon realized. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit of the tree that he had told them not to eat, they were punished and banished from the garden of Eden.
“That’s not a happy story,” Remmie complained.
“Oh, but it has a happy ending,” Adam said. “Do you remember what we talked about the day you were saved?”
“Some of it,” Remmie admitted, embarrassed that he did not remember it all.
“We talked about how we are all born sinners who need God’s salvation. This story is about the very first sin. Sin means to disobey God, and Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit that he told them not to eat. Later in this book, we will read about God’s plan to save us from our sins.”
“I’m saved,” Remmie declared. He looked at Cara. “And Ma is saved now, too.”
“Yes, Remmie. I am so glad I am.”
“Charity and Rose are not.” Rose wasn’t listening. Charity looked like she was falling asleep.
“They are too young to understand, but someday it is our hope that they will also accept God’s salvation.”
“Then we will all be God’s family!” Remmie said excitedly.
Adam and Cara exchanged smiles that showed how much they rejoiced in Remmie’s excitement. Would he be even more excited when they announced the changes that would come into their family sometime soon?
“I think we will skip the hymn singing,” Adam said. “Until we can all sing them together. Now let us pray.”
Cara was happy when all three of her children bowed their heads and closed their eyes, as she had taught them to do when they prayed at mealtime. Gran would have been happy that she had done that much. Now they would learn how to pray from Adam.
“Our Heavenly Father,” Adam began in a clear, strong voice, “We thank You for Your gift of salvation. Thank You for the blessings you have given us this day, as we have celebrated Your gift with our family and friends. We pray that in the coming days, we will be guided by Your presence—”
“Presents!” Rose shouted. “I want presents!”
Adam choked and coughed and tried not to laugh. Cara was silently shaking with mirth.
Remmie was disgusted. “Not Christmas presents, Rose. God’s presence.”
“In Jesus’ name, Amen,” Adam quickly finished. He did not dare to look at Cara or he would burst out laughing. Family altar was going to be quite interesting.
Charity’s head dropped to her chest and Cara saw that she had fallen asleep. “Maybe we should have had family altar after I put them in their nightgowns,” Cara said.
She gently shook Charity. “Charity, let’s go and get your nightgown on.” Charity got up and stumbled. “Come along, Rose. We’ll get you ready for bed.”
Remmie took the lamp and started up the stairs.
Adam wasn’t sure if he should leave or stay. He wanted to stay. He hoped to have some private conversation with Cara. He stood near the fire, watching the flames.
Cara walked back into the room after the children were in bed. She was not ready for Adam to leave. As much as she had enjoyed their family altar time, she wanted to spend some time alone with Adam.
“Will you stay for coffee?”
“Glad you asked.” He winked at her, and she blushed.
Philip walked past Cara holding a steaming cup. “Warm milk for Ayla. I think we will turn in now.”
“Goodnight, then. Goodnight, Ayla,” Cara called, and heard Ayla’s cheery response.
“See that you don’t tarry long, Adam,” Philip called out.
When Philip was gone, Adam walked towards Cara, and they met in the middle of the room.
“I feel like I’ve just been scolded by your pa,” Adam said.
Cara giggled. “I feel as giddy as a teenager tonight, so maybe he was wise.”
“Now about that coffee—”
She had forgotten she offered coffee. “I can make another pot.”
He leaned closer and grinned. “Do you really think I want coffee right now?”
Her mouth formed an “O” as she caught his meaning. Suddenly there was no laughter as he leaned down to kiss her.
It was hard to move away from Cara’s sweetness, but Adam dropped his arms to his sides and stepped back.
“Philip told me not to tarry, so I will go on down to the cabin now. I hope you have sweet dreams, Cara.”
Her heart was filled with joy. “My dream has already come true.”