He wakes up finding a baby on his doorstep, and he desperately needs help. She is the Godsent sign that Abraham prayed for. Can two hurt souls heal each other with God’s help?
“If God is for us, who then can be against us?”
Laura survived a troubled childhood, and she is convinced that she will never discover love in her life. God sends her a sign, and Laura decides to follow His guidance and become a governess to escape her world. Is this sign that will lead her to the path of true love?
After the Civil war, Abraham has trouble living a peaceful life. Haunted by a tragic past, Abraham thinks that God must be testing him when he finds a baby on his doorstep. Unable to take care of the ranch and a baby all by himself, he decides to find a governess to help him around. Can Laura show him true love and the way to God’s path?
God’s will brought Laura and Abraham together, but it is in their hands to make things work. How can they defeat the threats coming to their way and trust in God’s plan even if it’s scary to open up their hearts again?
Abraham could hear the roar of the tornado – nature’s fury barreling towards the ranch. He could see the mammoth funnel of wind, speeding toward him – ravenously swallowing objects in its path. Shrieks and screams assailed his ears above the whirlwind. He knew he had to do something to prevent the devastation it would inevitably bring. He had to lead everyone to safety; to get the cattle into a shelter, and make sure the horses were secure in the stables.
But he couldn’t move. His feet were riveted to the ground, and his hands were pinned to his sides. He could see himself clearly. He was wandering in the wooded area along the creek that formed the northern border of the ranch. The same ranch that had been his home from the time of his birth. He was sixteen years old and he should have been at work in the corrals. He had been told to get the horses into the barn, because the sky seemed overcast.
But he wanted to get some wood to whittle. He knew he had to obey his Pa and move the horses, but he thought it would be alright to go and get some driftwood from the banks of the creek. He liked carving these bits of wood into farmyard animals and other objects that he would dot around his room at the ranch. It was a harmless pursuit and he was getting better at whittling. Besides, if it rained, he would have something to keep him occupied.
Then he heard people crying out. He heard the word ‘tornado’. He even heard his name being called. It would seem that there were people looking for him. His Pa would no doubt chastise him for his disobedience. He had to go back now. He had collected the driftwood and was running towards the ranch. There were ranch hands struggling to get the cattle into the stables and barn.
Abraham was immediately regretful. That was his job. He had been told to do it and he hadn’t obeyed. The horses were bolting in different directions and the ranch hands were running to save their own lives. Abraham ran to the barn and cowered in a corner, his hands over his ears.
That memory returned, most nights as he fought for sleep. And with the memory came the guilt. If only he hadn’t been disobedient. If only he hadn’t been wandering in the woods. And, like most nights when the past filtered into his dreams, he tried to scream. But the sound froze in his throat, as around him the roar of the tornado grew to a wailing – like that of human voices raised in an expression of profound grief.
Abraham tried to part his lips; to release the great wail of sorrow that lay lodged in his chest, but he couldn’t. The knot of grief was too great – composed, as it was, of bereavement and the loss of irreplaceable lives. It was as if he was held in a vice and there was no way of escape.
As he struggled against the invisible chains that held him down – unable even to bring his hands up to cover his ears and thus keep out the thunderous sound of the maelstrom…he felt as if he was suddenly wrenched out of the grasp of whatever it was that was holding him down…and thrown with great force, so that he landed with a thud on the ground.
Gasping for breath, Abraham felt his eyelids spring open; his pupils adjusting to the darkness around him, as he unclenched his fists. He was twenty six years old now, almost six feet tall, yet still harboring a young boy’s memories within him. Ten years had passed since that fateful day, and he was on his bed, in his room at the ranch house.
He was a successful rancher, on the way to achieving even greater acclaim, yet he was still steeped in the guilt and recriminations of his past. He sat bolt upright, struggling to breathe, fighting off the lingering darkness of his nightmare, and covered in a cold sweat.
He sat thus, as if sculpted in stone, staring unseeingly into the gloom – his eyes moving gradually to find the single shaft of light that came through the open window. His heart was pounding so hard he thought it might jerk to a halt. He fixed his eyes on the light, thinking how bright the moon was that night. In contrast to the fury of the tornado, he felt the whisper of a breeze on his skin.
Along with the moonlight the night sounds crept into the room. The chirping of crickets, the rustle of leaves, stirred by the light wind, and the hoot of an owl. He could even hear the occasional whinny from the horses – a particularly comforting sound that reminded him how far he had come since the tornado a decade ago. He held on to that reality, afraid that otherwise he might be drawn back into his harsh and oft repeated nightmare.
Lying down again, Abraham found his mind resisting sleep; his inner turmoil stirring his thoughts to such a frenzy that his eyes refused to close. His gaze was now on the ceiling, fixed on a cobweb that hung from the rafters, illuminated by the moonlight. Something about the spider that he imagined he could see, reminded him of himself – trapped by the web of his past, and unable to escape.
The thunderous sound of the tornado filled his mind again, accompanied by the same overwhelming sense of guilt that he felt every time he relived that day. He should have listened to his Pa and taken the horses to the stables. He shouldn’t have been in the woods. His disobedience had caused death. The self-accusations came at him with greater force, until the sense of being submerged intensified once again. He had to get a grip on his thoughts, he realized.
He had to take control of his emotions. He began to breathe slowly and deliberately, so that the pace of his heart slowed down, and he felt more in control. But then, his heart began to race again as he heard a child’s cry slice through the silence of the night. He blinked rapidly, trying to ascertain if he was asleep or awake – afraid that his nightmare was about to suck him into its depths once again.
Abraham stared at the shaft of light in his window – concentrating on it with great intensity, and hoping it would somehow obliterate all other sounds and images.
Then, once again – the cry. It was unlike anything he had heard in recent months. It was like nothing that had been heard around the ranch, and now Abraham slowly stirred. It sounded like the cry of a very small child. He had heard a similar sound when he had visited one of the ranch hands whose wife had just given birth.
This was something that had to be investigated and not feared. It was reality and not his nightmare that was calling for his attention. He slowly moved his limbs and lifted himself up into sitting position; swinging his legs off the bed and planting them on the floor. And there it was yet again – the heart-rending cry of an infant.
Abraham walked slowly toward the sound that had drawn him out of his bed and followed it out to the porch. In the light of the moon, he could discern quite clearly the shape of a basket, from within which the plaintive cry emanated. While he was still staring at the basket, trying to make sense of its presence on his porch, through the open door another figure emerged.
“Aunt Amelia?” Abraham said, turning toward his aunt who was the only other occupant of the ranch house, having moved in with him after she was widowed. She had a nightcap and gown on and was standing on the porch, her hands on either side of her face and her mouth wide open.
“My word, Abraham, it’s an infant!” she exclaimed.
“So it would appear,” Abraham replied, leaning over the basket.
“Wait,” Amelia said. “I’ll fetch a lantern. We need to get a closer look before we do anything.”
Abraham stood rooted to the ground, his eyes now perceiving how very small the child was, who nestled in the basket. His mind instantly flew to the story of Moses in the Bible, in the book of Exodus, and how his mother floated him down a river in a basket so that his life would be spared.
As the infant emitted another cry, Abraham wondered who would leave a child there, and what danger had caused his mother to take such a step as to leave this helpless babe at the door of a stranger. He ran down the porch steps, peering into the darkness to see if he could spy anybody leaving the ranch house.
“Here,” he heard Amelia say, “I have the lantern. Now let’s take a closer look, shall we?”
The infant was wearing a linen slip and a cloth diaper held together with a large safety pin. Amelia leaned over the basket and nudged the diaper aside to investigate, and then looked at Abraham.
“It’s a boy!” she exclaimed, picking up the child and holding him up to take a closer look. “Who would leave a perfectly healthy, good-looking baby boy on our porch?”
Abraham said nothing. The lantern light now shone on the face of the baby. He had a head full of dark-brown hair, and a pair of bright blue eyes lit up his face.
Abraham shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, raking his fingers through his hair.
“Let’s take him inside, and then we can make inquiries in the morning,” he said.
“The poor mite needs some sustenance,” Amelia remarked. “The Lord only knows when he last had his little belly filled.”
“We don’t know how old he is and what he can eat…or drink,” Abraham replied. “This is not our responsibility, Aunt Amelia.”
“The Lord sent him here, and therefore there must be a valid reason why,” Amelia said stubbornly.
Abraham was peering into the basket from where Amelia had lifted up the boy.
“There’s something here,” he said reaching for the object that had arrested his eye.
“Aunt Amelia, there appears to be a letter in the basket,” he murmured.
“Read it, son,” his aunt urged him.
So Abraham read, “If you have found this letter, that means you have picked up my son Thomas and have him close in your arms. I beg you, please don’t let him go from this moment on. Do not send him to an orphanage, I implore you. Do not deny him the comfort and protection of your home. I confess before you and Almighty God my sin of bearing a child out of wedlock. But let not the penalties of my sin be visited upon this innocent baby boy, whose father is a ruthless man and must never know of the birth of my son. May our Lord abundantly bless you for taking Thomas in and giving him a home. I know you are a good man and will do your best for my son. Forgive me for not revealing my identity. My life is in danger and so is the life of my son if his father ever finds out about him. I plead with you never to reveal where Thomas has come from. May God be with you.”
“Oh dear, dear, dear,” Amelia said in a hushed tone.
“There’s another sheet of paper here,” Abraham said.
“What does it say?” Amelia asked.
“To whomsoever it may concern. In the event that I am incapacitated, deceased, or in any way unable to care for my son Thomas, I hereby give full custody of the child to Mister Abraham Harnell,” Abraham read, his features pulled into a frown. “I cannot reveal my identity,” the letter went on to say. “But please believe me when I say that I am of sound mind as I write this letter, and that only desperation would lead me to take such a drastic step as to give up my firstborn and only son.”
“Who could this woman be, who has borne a child out of wedlock and then thrusts upon me the responsibility to care for him? How can she speak with such authority when she calls me a good man?” he asked Amelia.
“Who’s to say how this child came to be here except that it has to be the will of God?” Amelia replied, holding the baby and cooing to him. “I will warm up some milk for him. He must be hungry,” she added. “Come with me, Abraham, and bring the lantern, will you?”
Abraham followed his aunt reluctantly and set the lantern on the kitchen table. The muted light cast shadows on the wall, and the child in Amelia’s arms whimpered as he looked around. His eyes wandered from the sideboard with its display of plates and cups to the dining table, to the stove, and then to the walls by the stove on which a row of hooks held, suspended, an array of pots and pans.
The shadows must have frightened him, because he opened his mouth and emitted a terrified yell. Abraham looked at him and winced. Then he watched, unseeingly, as Amelia set about pouring milk from a jug into a pan and warming it up on the stove with the residual heat from the embers that still smoldered in the firebox. His thoughts were far away from milk and the infant’s sustenance.
He was smoldering within himself; seething with righteous anger. The audacity of this anonymous woman, he thought, to thus plunge him into a situation that he couldn’t quite fathom how to deal with.
Watching Amelia hold a tin cup to Thomas’s lips and coax the milk into his mouth, Abraham once again raked his fingers through his rust-brown hair. All of a sudden he was overcome with great rage against God. Why was He doing this to him? Was this some sort of test that God was putting him through?
He couldn’t take care of this child. He was not known for his skills in bringing up infants. Oh no, he, Abraham, was a rancher bent on turning his horse breeding business into a thriving operation. He wanted to achieve something, and he didn’t have the time to waste on someone else’s illegitimate child.
“Take a look at this young ‘un.” Amelia chuckled. “He has finished the milk and obviously wants some more. Let’s try him with a biscuit. I made extra today and put some in that tin up on the shelf there. Fetch it for me from the sideboard, will you, Abe, my boy?”
Abraham quelled another surge of anger and hurried to do his aunt’s bidding. But he couldn’t bear to look at the little boy sitting on Amelia’s knee, hungrily eating tiny morsels of the biscuit that she was feeding him.
“Here, hold him, my son,” Amelia said, “while I get some more milk.”
“I don’t think he needs any more milk, Aunt Amelia,” Abraham replied, shaking his head. “Besides, I don’t have the time for this sort of thing. I intend to go and find out to whom this baby belongs, and why it is here at this time when we obviously cannot keep it.”
“He has a name, Abraham,” Amelia chided her nephew. “Call him by his name. It is Thomas, and the little one needs love, sustenance and a home. Will you deny doing what God has expressly asked of you?”
“It is an illegitimate child, Aunt Amelia,” Abraham retorted, unable to conceal his irritation. “God would not approve of what his mother has done – bearing a child out of wedlock.”
“Then you are obviously not reading the scriptures, son,” Amelia said. “Our Lord forgives. Do you not recall what He said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, in John 8:1-11?”
“Aunt Amelia, I have no time for this,” Abraham said, pacing about the room.
Amelia continued to speak as if she hadn’t heard Abraham’s remark.
“Our Lord Jesus said to the woman, ‘Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, sin no more.’”
“Are you telling me that the mother of this hapless boy has committed no wrong?” Abraham asked angrily.
“She did, but for certain she must have asked God’s forgiveness,” Amelia replied.
“How are you so certain?” Abraham asked.
“I suppose it is because young Thomas is here with us,” Amelia answered. “God’s hand is upon him. Therefore, his mother must have made peace with her Maker and cried out for His help. A situation like this doesn’t just happen unless the divine hand of providence is upon it, Abraham.”
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