Adam moved back to his parents’ house. He had to bunk in with John, who was accepting of the situation. Seth liked to give him a hard time, though.
“She loves you so much that she doesn’t want to marry you,” he joked when Adam first moved back home.
“She does love me, and we are getting married. Just not as soon as I would like.”
“Maybe she’s putting you off for a reason.”
“What reason would that be?” Adam asked, feeling concerned.
“Maybe she’s hoping you’ll get better looking.” At Seth’s teasing, Adam reached out and lightly punched his brother on the shoulder.
“I hear Louisa is waiting until October to marry you.”
“Yes, she is. Her ma wants her to have a nice big wedding. Personally I’d just as soon get married before the planting season starts, like you are, instead of waiting until after harvest.”
“Maybe she’s hoping you’ll get better looking, too.”
“You’re both fine-looking men,” Dinah said proudly. “Those girls are lucky to be marrying you.”
Their ma did not praise them much, so Adam felt good about her comment. He felt like the lucky one, though. Cara was all he could hope for in a wife, and he was glad to be marrying her.
Their lives took on a pattern in the weeks leading up to their wedding. Since the wedding was simple and already well-planned, their conversations focused on the farm. Cara listened to Adam’s ideas for what to plant and how much of each crop he expected to seed.
“We really need a new team,” he said one afternoon.
“I don’t know how we can afford it.”
“I would use the money I earned from Taylor’s farm.”
“That is your nest egg,” Cara reminded him.
He reached across the table and took her hands in his. “It is our nest egg.”
She started to shake her head, but his eyes held hers steady. She relaxed. “It is up to you, how you spend it.”
“Then I think we should put it towards a new team. Simon is growing lame, and even if he weren’t, they are not able to keep up with the amount of land that we need to plant.”
Adam talked with his pa and brothers about purchasing a new team, then reluctantly told Cara what he had found out. “I hate to agree with my pa, but I think the team Luke Potter has trained is the best to be had.”
“I don’t want anything to do with him.”
“Neither do I, but he’s a good horse trainer, and he’s asking a fair price.”
“It sounds like you’ve already checked into it.”
“My pa did. He was considering buying the team for himself, but he doesn’t really need another team right now.”
“I don’t know, Adam. It seems that talking to Luke will be borrowing trouble.”
Adam let the subject drop, but a few days later, he brought it up again. “I’m thinking I should talk to Luke.”
Cara had done some thinking over the past few days, and to Adam’s surprise, she agreed with him. “If you feel that is the best choice.”
“What made you change your mind?” he asked curiously.
“I’ve been praying about it.”
Cara nodded. “I’ve been praying that God would help me forgive Luke for the way he treated me last fall.”
“And has the prayer helped?”
“Yes, it has,” Cara said with a smile. “I realize that Luke was only acting in the way he was accustomed to. He thought I was a different type of person than what I am, unfortunately, because of Lem’s lies.” She felt the pang of sorrow for a moment at her husband’s betrayal. “I don’t know if he would have acted the same way had I had a godly reputation.”
“I don’t know, either. I don’t know why he acts the way he does, Cara. He used to go to church all of the time, when he was younger.”
“But his pa never did, right?”
“He used to, but he drank a lot, and the church frowned on it. He eventually quit going.”
“And I’ve been thinking with that kind of influence, it’s no wonder that Luke turned out the way he did.”
“I guess you have a point there, Cara.” Adam reached out and took her hand in his. “And now you’ve forgiven him?”
She smiled. “I’m working on it. I haven’t seen him since the incident, so I’m not sure how I will feel when I come face-to-face with him.”
“I’m hoping to keep him out of your way entirely.”
Luke was most surprised when Adam approached him about buying the team.
“You’re not serious, are you, Kenley?”
“I am dead serious. I’ve heard that they’re well-trained, and that you’re asking a fair price.”
“If I’d known you were interested, I would have put a higher price on them.” Luke grinned as he said it, but Adam did not doubt that it was true.
“Do you want me to pay more than what you’re asking?” If it would help heal the wound between them, Adam would be willing to do it.
“Nah. My price is fixed, no matter who the buyer is.”
“Well, we’ll take the team, then.”
“Why don’t I deliver them tomorrow, and you can pay me then,” Luke suggested.
Adam dreaded having Luke come to the farm. Cara did, also. She kept the children in the house the whole day, while Adam stayed outside. He aimed to see Luke coming so he wouldn’t have to go to the house.
Luke hadn’t come yet when it was time for the noon meal, and Adam sat down to dinner with Cara and the children.
“Maybe he changed his mind,” Cara said.
Adam shrugged. “Maybe he did. If so, we’ll find someone else with a team for sale.”
There was a knock on the front door, and Adam opened it. He found Luke Potter and his pa standing outside on the porch.
“I’ve brought the team,” Luke said, indicating the horses behind him. They were a beautiful pair of horses, tall and sleek.
“I see that. I’ve got the money here for you.”
“Do you mind if we come in the house and get it?”
Adam could not smell alcohol on Luke’s breath, so he stepped aside and let the two men in the house.
Luke took off his hat, and his pa did the same. Adam went to the bedroom and brought out a roll of bills. He counted them out to Luke, and they signed a bill of sale.
“Is Miz Bancroft around?” Luke asked in a gruff tone.
Adam was immediately alert. “What do you want with her?”
“I want to apologize, for my behavior last fall.”
Luke looked humble and apologetic, but Adam still did not trust him.
“I’m not armed, if that’s what you’re afraid of,” Luke said with a sneer.
Adam saw the anger in Luke’s eyes, and he wondered how sincere his apology was. He didn’t want to cause Cara more grief. “I think it’s best if you go. I’ll pass on your apology to her.”
“If you’re going to be that way, then I’ll go. But don’t expect me to come to your wedding.”
“I didn’t think you would want to do that, anyway.”
“I hope you aren’t making the wrong choice, getting tied up with that kind of woman.”
“I thought you came here to apologize.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I’ll renege on my word.”
“I’ve got the bill of sale right here, and you’ve got my money. I think our business is done.”
“Let’s go, Luke,” Luke’s pa said calmly.
“All right, then.”
Once the two men were gone, Adam breathed a sigh of relief. He returned to the kitchen, where Cara had taken the children when the knock sounded on the door.
“Luke wanted to see you,” Adam told her.
She looked surprised, and nervous. “Why?”
“He said he wanted to apologize.”
“Well, that’s a good thing, I guess. What did you tell him?”
“I told him I’d pass along the apology to you.”
“You could have let him tell me himself.”
“I wasn’t sure how sincere his apology was.”
Cara breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad, then, that you didn’t call me out there. I couldn’t have stood any more of his snide remarks.”
The team of horses proved to be well worth the price Adam had paid for them. He worked with them, so they grew accustomed to his voice and commands. Remmie was in awe of them.
“They’re pretty horses, Adam.”
Cara and Adam had agreed that they would wait until after they were married for the children to call him “Pa.” It didn’t seem right to do it yet.
“Yes, they are. But they’re dangerous, Remmie.”
“They’re not used to children. They’re not gentle like Diamond and Simon. They’re young and fast, and they could easily kick or step on a child that gets in their way.”
“I’ll stay out of their way,” Remmie promised. “I don’t want to get stepped on or kicked.”
“Someday, when they’re a few years older, and you’re a few years older, I’ll teach you how to drive them, behind the plow. You can help me work the fields, and we can grow even more crops.”
“You’ll teach me how to be a farmer, like you?”
“Sure will,” Adam said with a grin. “You’re the only boy, so you’ll have to help me out a lot. The girls will learn to help your ma.” It was obvious that Remmie liked the idea, and was mulling it over in his head. Adam laughed and ruffled the straw-colored hair. Remmie was a good boy, and he had come out of his shy and somber shell. He liked the idea of having a son.
Of course, if he and Cara had more children, it was likely that they would have another boy, or two. He hoped they would, anyway, because he aimed to add more stock and land to his farm as time went on. If he had his way, one day they would outgrow the land they sat on, and he would have to acquire more. Plans for the future of the farm were always on his mind, taking second place only to thoughts of Cara becoming his wife.
He was still sleeping at his parents’ home, bunking in the same room as John. His brothers picked on him, especially Seth.
“You sure she’s going to want you living there after you’re married? You snore something awful.”
“You should talk,” Adam retorted. “How is Louisa going to put up with you?”
“She adores me. She’ll put up with anything I say or do.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure of that,” Adam told him. “You can be a right handful. I’m not sure she knows what she’s getting into.”
“I haven’t tried to win her over with lies,” Seth admitted. “I like to tease her, and most of the time she laughs. Sometimes she gets mad, but she gets over it. Then we kiss and make up,” he added, grinning.
Cara’s kisses were what made Adam get through those long days before the wedding. They were careful not to kiss in front of the children, not after Remmie had seen them the one day and asked about it. It wasn’t that they didn’t want the children to know they loved each other. They just wanted to keep their affection private, away from curious eyes.
Cara had her own concerns as their wedding day approached. Her wedding dress and trousseau were complete and ready. Dinah was finishing up the girls’ dresses. She had made a new suit for Remmie that matched one of Adam’s, so he would look like his new pa. That would please both of them, she was certain.
Doc had promised to give her away.
“I would like nothing better than to see you married to Adam,” he said, when she asked him after church.
The rumors about Doc looking for a new partner had been true. He hired a young man who had grown up in a neighboring town. He had been educated back east, but he had hoped to return to his community to work as a doctor. Since there was already a doctor in his home town, he had taken the position with Doc. Doctor Byford, as he was called, went with Doc on house calls with Doc for a few weeks. Then he took over all of the house calls, while Doc stayed in town and kept the clinic open.
Cara missed the times when Doc used to visit at the house, or have Sunday dinner with them. Now her Sunday afternoons were spent at the Kenleys’ house, where Dinah prepared the noon meal. She was becoming acquainted with Bertha, who was still sickly even though she was five months along in her pregnancy. Eliza was still tactless to the point of being rude. Mostly, Eliza complained about how much work it was to care for her baby and do all of her housework and outdoor chores as well. Cara listened without much sympathy. She had a baby nearly the same age as Eliza’s, and three older children to care for, also.
Adam helped out as much as he could, but he was working with the team as well as doing the outdoor chores. They had three spring calves. Only one was a heifer, which Adam thought was all right.
“It will be a few years before she is old enough to produce a calf. By then I hope to have a bigger barn built, and we can add on to our livestock.”
The other two calves were bulls, and Adam sold one to help pay for seed. The other one they would raise for beef.
It was frustrating to Adam to be living at home in the process of planning his crops. His pa had always told him what to do, and now Adam was starting to farm on his own, with Cara’s farm, to be sure, but she allowed him the say in all of their decisions. His pa wanted to know every step of what his plans were, and no matter what Adam told him, his pa tended to tell him to do the opposite. Sometimes it caused the anger to rise up in Adam to the point that he was nearly boiling over with resentment.
It was worse, because he went home every night, as he was still staying with his parents. Cara had not agreed to move the wedding up, so he accepted his fate that he would have to live at his parents’ home until their wedding. That meant that his parents were still up in the evenings when he left Cara’s and headed home. His pa took advantage of that time to quiz Adam on how the farm plans were going.
It came to the point where Adam would say simply, “I haven’t made a decision on that yet.” Then his pa would tell him his opinion. Adam found himself wanting to do the opposite of what his pa suggested, but it went without saying that Evan Kenley was a successful farmer. He decided to put into practice some of his pa’s suggestions, but held to the belief that he knew Cara’s land better, and had different dreams for the farm than what Evan had. Evan had built up his farm by buying more land and working his sons harder.
When they were alone one evening, Adam said to Cara, “I don’t want to raise Remmie the way I was raised.”
“You didn’t turn out to badly,” Cara told him with a smile.
“No, but that was because of my ma’s intervention,” he admitted. “Pa was all about the land and working hard. I want Remmie to learn to work hard, but it is important to me that we take time out to spend days at the creek with you and the girls, fishing. Or if we want to take a trip into town on a nice day and visit with the Ackerbys, we can do so without worrying that something won’t get done that day.”’
“In other words, you want to put the family first,” she said, admiring his decisions.
“I guess that’s what I am saying. And I don’t plan to spend our money buying more acreage. Your grandfather made good decisions when he added the forty acres to the original one hundred-twenty. This farm is big enough to not only sustain itself, but to produce a profit.”
“Which you did, last year,” Cara reminded him.
“Yes, and that was with the old team. We ought to do even more this year.”
Their time together was not all spent talking about the farm. Both of them were busy after breakfast, Cara with all of her work, and Adam with his. Remmie wanted to tag along after Adam in everything he did, but Adam made him stay behind in the mornings to help out Cara. Hope was crawling around now. Cara left her in Charity’s care as much as she dared, but it was difficult to do much of the outdoor work. Remmie took over feeding the chickens, and Cara sent Charity along with him to gather the eggs. He also helped churn, as there was almost more milk from their three cows than Cara could handle. They would have butter and eggs to trade at the general store as she had before.
Adam came into the house at noon and they ate a big dinner. Then Remmie was allowed to go out with Adam and follow him around, helping as much as he was able. Adam remembered being exhausted as a young boy and doing work that was almost more than his young shoulders could handle, so he was careful not to overwork Remmie. He tried to make sure working together was enjoyable. And working together was the key, not just standing over him telling him what to do.
Remmie stayed out with Adam until after the evening chores were done. Cara put the younger girls down for a nap after dinner, and spent this time with Charity, teaching her to cook and bake and manage a household. After Rose woke up from her nap, Cara sent the two girls outside, where they played in the yard, or if Adam was working nearby, they would tag along after him and Remmie.
After supper, Adam helped Cara clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes. Then they sat in front of the fireplace, where they continued with the Family Altar that Philip had encouraged them to start. Cara was still not comfortable reading aloud, or praying. But she was learning the hymns, enough so that she and Adam could sing one during their altar time. The children learned them this way, also. Cara tucked the children into bed, and fixed a cup of coffee for herself and Adam. Sometimes, they talked about the farm, and their hopes and dreams for their family.
They were a family in every way, except for one. Adam left the house at eight o’clock every evening, and walked down the road to his parents’ farm, where he slept in his own bed.
As their wedding approached, he found it more difficult to tear himself away from Cara in the evenings. And she had a harder time letting him go.
“It’s a good thing the cabin roof fell in,” he said one evening, when it was especially difficult to walk away. “Going to my parents’ house every evening holds us accountable.”
It was for the reason that Adam had moved back home before the wedding that the reverend had agreed to marry them in the church.
“I don’t want to disappoint your ma,” Cara said. “She was so pleased when the reverend told us we could hold our wedding in the church.”
“I admit, I am looking forward to standing before the reverend, and before God, and saying our vows.”
She tried not to show her nervousness, but Adam understood. “I know it will be hard for you, Cara. But I want to watch you walk down the aisle, on Doc’s arm, while the wedding march is played.”
“I want that, too,” she said softly. “I worry that Doc will not be well enough to walk me down the aisle.”
Doc’s strength was failing. He tried not to show it, but last Sunday he had not been in church. His young partner had tried to reassure Cara that he was merely resting. She and Adam stopped by Doc’s rooms after church, and he was in bed. He looked quite pale.
“Don’t worry, Cara,” Doc had said. “I will be up and around enough to give you away on your big day.”