Julia's Last Hope

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Book: Julia's Last Hope Read Online Free PDF
Author: Janette Oke
Tags: Ebook, book
young woman.
    “Mountains,” said Julia, writing the word in big letters. “Lots of people love mountains. Now—what do people go to mountains for—besides lumber?”
    “Restin’,” answered an elderly woman almost hidden in a corner.
    Julia stopped with her chalk suspended. An idea was beginning to form. She wasn’t sure if it was crazy—or feasible. But she had to share it with her neighbors.
    “Do you—do you suppose we could make our little town into a—a resort town?” she asked breathlessly.
    “Don’t have much for a hotel,” commented the banker’s wife.
    Julia shook her head. It was true. The only hotel in town was in sorry shape. It was used mostly as a boarding place for unmarried, often transient mill workers. The owner had never bothered to “fancy up” the place.
    “Well, maybe we could—could use our own homes,” Julia ventured.
    Eyes moved about the room. They traveled over Julia’s thick carpets, rich velvet draperies, expensive paintings, china cups, and silver service. No one spoke but each of the women knew what the others were thinking. Julia Harrigan had the only house in town that visitors might pay to stay in.
    “Well, we might not be able to handle many at a time,” Julia went on, “but the train will continue to pass through. If we could just advertise—then we could—could set up attractions and tours and cottage industries.”
    “Such as?” probed one woman.
    Julia lifted her chalk again. “How many of you can knit?” she asked. Eleven hands went up. “Crochet?” asked Julia. Nine responded. “Sew?” All hands were raised, though some hesitantly.
    “See—it’s not impossible. And we can cook—and bake—and grow our gardens and make jam from those wild berries. We could make this a real tourist town if we tried.”
    By now Julia’s face was shining with the possibility. Others seemed to catch the spirit.
    “Do you really think—?”
    “Would there be enough—?”
    “How could we advertise—?”
    Questions began to flow. Julia had no ready answers, but she did have interest. Would it really work? Could it?
    “We need to think about this some more,” she said. “I know the children will be returning from school soon and you need to be home—but let’s think about this and meet here again next Tuesday.
    “And spread the word to your neighbors,” Julia suggested. “If—if it seems workable, we will form committees. There will be much work to do. It will take all of us—working together.”
    It was a different group of ladies who left Julia’s house than had gathered a short time earlier. Dull eyes now had a sparkle. Worried brows were smooth again. Dark shadows had disappeared from faces.
    Where only despair had been, there was now hope. Frail, fragile hope—but hope nonetheless.

    “Hettie, do you think Mama’s plan could work?” Jennifer asked a few days later.
    “Why not?” responded the older woman. “Your mama is a capable woman. When she puts her mind to something, it is likely to happen.”
    “But people around town are saying it’s a crazy idea—just a silly dream,” Felicity dared to state.
    “An’ who’s sayin’ that?” asked Hettie, her eyes flashing.
    Felicity shrugged. “I don’t know. I just heard—”
    “Well, you don’t listen none to such talk. You hear? Folks should at least give your mama a chance to prove herself.”
    “I sure hope it works,” said Jennifer slowly. “I like it here.”
    Hettie sighed as she lifted a pan of corn bread from the oven. She liked it too, and if the town folded, as folks said it was sure to do, she and her Tom would be without work along with everyone else.
    “Well, your mama has been doing all she can. She has sent off a number of letters to see what kind of interest there might be in a tourist town here. We have about as nice a location as one could want. Beautiful mountains, pretty lakes, nice fishing streams. Your mama has summed it all up in her letters.”
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