Julia's Last Hope

Julia's Last Hope Read Online Free PDF

Book: Julia's Last Hope Read Online Free PDF
Author: Janette Oke
Tags: Ebook, book
quite sure how to go about it now—but something had to be done.
    “Did Rose tell everyone two o’clock?” Julia asked anxiously.
    “I believe your invitation told them that, ma’am,” Hettie reminded her.
    “Oh, yes. Yes, of course,” Julia responded, her cheeks slightly flushed.
    Hettie busied herself with the tea service.
    “Oh, Hettie, I am so nervous about this,” Julia admitted, lifting trembling fingers to her cheeks. “What if it all goes wrong?”
    “Well, now, what could go wrong? You are simply having neighbor ladies in for tea—and while they are here you will discuss your—our—problem and see if anyone has any ideas how it might be remedied. Nothing difficult about that. Neighborhood ladies always talk about neighborhood problems.”
    Hettie made it sound so simple. “We’ll need to get right to it,” Julia said, casting a nervous glance at the clock. “It won’t be long until the ladies will need to go home. We only have an hour or so until school will be dismissed.”
    “You can talk about a lot of ideas in an hour,” Hettie said to comfort Julia.
    Julia hoped so. She also hoped the women would be on time. Just as she was about to begin pacing, the doorbell rang. Hettie ushered in Mrs. Wright, the preacher’s wife.
    “Oh, I am so glad you were able to come,” said Julia, taking the woman’s hand. “I may need your help. I don’t know how to do this—this sort of thing.”
    Mrs. Wright held Julia’s hand firmly. “Don’t be nervous,” she whispered, “just pretend you are leading the missionary women’s group at church. You always do such a nice job.”
    “Thank you,” Julia returned, managing a smile.
    The doorbell continued to ring until fourteen ladies were gathered in the spacious Harrigan parlor. Hettie and Rose busied themselves serving tea and dainty sandwiches, followed by flaky pastries. Julia studied the clock and then the neighbors before her. The news about the mill hung heavily about each of them. An unfamiliar seriousness shadowed their faces, a darkness veiled their eyes, and their shoulders sagged under the invisible load. In spite of their attempts to be casual, Julia knew they felt every bit as anxious as she did.
    She rose to her feet and cleared her throat.
    “You all know that I have invited you here for more than just tea today,” she said candidly. “Though it is a treat to have the fellowship of good neighbors, we all share a common burden at this time. I—I don’t know if there is anything—that we—as women—wives—can do about the situation our husbands are in—but I thought maybe—if we put our heads together—we might come up with something.”
    All eyes focused on Julia. All ears listened carefully.
    Julia shifted her weight from one foot to another.
    “Now then—we know this is a lumber town. That we have no other industry to keep us going. But is there—is there any other possibility? I mean—what might this town be able to do for—for commerce?”
    They searched one another’s faces. Each woman seemed to be looking to a neighbor for an answer, but no one was finding it.
    “We must think,” said Julia with such urgency that her brow puckered and her hands twisted before her.
    “Without the mill I don’t see much hope,” ventured a somber faced woman.
    Several in the circle shrugged in agreement.
    “Let’s look at what we do have,” Julia suggested. “Hettie, would you bring that chalkboard, please?” With the easel beside her, Julia continued. “What do we have here?” she asked the women.
    Blank looks clouded faces.
    “We can’t farm,” said one woman frankly. “These mountains hardly leave room for a small garden.”
    “But we do have gardens—all of us,” replied Julia, and she wrote “Gardens” to get things started.
    “We have some wild berry patches scattered here and there,” one woman ventured, and Julia added that to her list.
    “We have more’n our share of mountains,” offered a timid
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