The Newspaper Ad Offered an Escape From Her Father's Matchmaking Schemes....
Ruby Torvald has turned Dove House, the scandalous inheritance her father left to her and her sister, into a respectable establishment. Her newest boarder is Pearl Hossfuss, a twenty-two-year-old schoolteacher from Chicago. Hiding scars within and without, Pearl has given up hope that any man would want to marry her. Her father has his own ideas, insisting she marry his clerk, a widower with five children.
So Pearl flees to Dakotah Territory in response to an ad requesting a teacher for the town of Little Missouri. She finds teaching in this rural setting rewarding and interesting--even more so when she makes the acquaintance of an intriguing young carpenter, Carl Hegland. But just as her future begins to look brighter, news arrives that her father is coming to take her back to Chicago.
When disaster threatens, will these lovely jewels of the West be forced to abandon their dreams?
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Baker Publishing Group
March 31, 2004
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Excerpt from Pearl by Lauraine Snelling
Chicago, May 1883
Growing town in western Dakota Territory seeking teacher for all grades. Applicants must be of good moral character, preferably with teaching experience, without family encumbrances, able to relocate by the opening of school in September. Send letter of intent and list of qualifications and experience. Include return address and references.
The ad closed with the address to which applications should be sent.
Pearl Hossfuss read the advertisement for the third time. She had all the qualifications but one family encumbrances. Would her father let her go? Would it be worth applying?
At a knock on her door, she laid the paper back on the table after folding it so the advertisement lay hidden.
Come in. With an unconscious movement, her right hand checked to be sure the high ruching-trimmed neckline of her fine lawn waist covered the wrinkled red scar on her neck.
Supper is served, miss Erin, the newly hired Irish maid, bobbed her head, setting the curls that were supposed to be covered by the white mobcap to bouncing.
I will be right there, thank you. Pearl stopped at the mirror to make sure not a hair had escaped from the chignon bound firmly to the base of her head. Neither dimple in cheeks that once bloomed like the freshest of peaches had the temerity to show forth. Seeing herself as passable, Pearl adjusted her favorite piece of jewelry, her mothers cameo.
She shook her head at the image in the mirror. She should be smiling, happy. After all, her father was out of town on business, and the family would eat in the nursery, no formal dining room tonight. No surprise guests. None of those looks shed been receiving since she had explained to her matchmaking father that the man hed been bringing around was not acceptable.
Pearl made a face. As if what she thought and had expressed so gently she still thought she had done well in not speaking the way she wanted to was of any value in her fathers eyes.
Youve always done what he said, so why should he expect anything different this time? I have tried. I really have given it my all. Pearl Elaine Hossfuss has been a model daughter, on the outside at least. She repeated the words, this time aloud, then added, I should be grateful for all the education, the freedom to teach, access to books and art and music, and a stepmother who cares deeply for me instead of treating me the way others have been known to do. Should be grateful. But wasnt. Lord, please help me feel grateful. I have so much to be grateful for. She waited, hoping to feel a rush of something. Dead and empty wasnt what shed asked for.
Thank me anyway were the words that came.
Now that was an unusual thought. A sacrifice of praise. Where had she read that? In the Psalms? Mentally she flipped through the verses shed memorized over the years. Memorizing had always come easy to her. I will praise thee, King David sang and said often.
Lord, I will praise thee. I will come unto thee with singing. For thou are my God, and I am thy handmaiden. Thou, O Lord, art the keeper of my ways; thy thoughts to me art constant, thy ways thy ways....
Is all this thy way, Lord?
What a question. Now, if only she had some answers.
She fingered the ruching again and turned to look at the advertisement. Should she show Amalia? Should she just go ahead and apply? Should she accept the attentions of Sidney Longstreet?
She shuddered at the last thought. No, that one was not even a possibility.
* * *
The next day Pearl and Amalia were taking tea in the library where a fire snapped and crackled in the fireplace to ward off the chill. There are far worse problems in life than being married to a boring man, Amalia said. I do not think Mr. Longstreet would ever be cruel to you.
Pearl sipped her tea, cupping her cold hands around the warm china. No, I dont believe that about him. But would no conversation not be a cruelty also?
Perhaps he is merely shy around your father. After all, he is in Mr. Hossfusss employ.