Summer Heat in Frontier Oregon: WHEN HEART SHALL FAIL

Here’s an excerpt from my latest novel, When Heart Shall Fail, describing the Fourth of July as experienced by one of my protagonists.

Faith spent a quiet Fourth of July at home with Beulah and Mrs. Caraway. Lyman had left on another mission trip two days earlier. “I have tent revival meetings scheduled. Everyone will be out for the holiday celebrations,” he told Faith. “The audiences will be huge.”

Audiences? she thought. Not congregations. Not believers or worshipers. He thought of the crowds as his audience. And why did he think people would want to listen to a preacher’s admonitions instead of seeing politicians and parades? “I hope it goes well, Lyman,” she said.

Before he left, Lyman arranged for Mrs. Caraway to spend the nights at the parsonage while he was gone. Faith wished she and her daughter could have time alone without Lyman’s spy, but she knew Lyman wouldn’t agree, so she didn’t even raise the issue.

Beulah whined all day on the Fourth about missing the parade in Albany. They could hear the firecrackers and rifles and cannons from downtown. With every new bang, Beulah moaned about wanting to go outside. “Please, Mrs. Caraway,” she wheedled. “I’ll stay in the yard. Please let me listen to the fun.”

Faith bit her tongue when her daughter asked Mrs. Caraway for permission to do things. She didn’t blame Mrs. Caraway for usurping her role with Beulah—she blamed Lyman who had hired the woman.

Mrs. Caraway startled awake from her nap. “No, child, you must stay inside and rest with your mother and me.”

Faith stood up to Mrs. Caraway to the extent of telling Beulah she could play quietly with her dolls, rather than work on her sampler. “It is a holiday after all, Mrs. Caraway,” Faith told the older woman. “If she must stay inside, then at least let her have some fun.”

Mrs. Caraway sniffed but waved her hand at Beulah. “Go on upstairs, then, child. So we don’t have to listen to you.”

The hot summer day passed slowly. By midafternoon, the inside of the house was unbearably warm. Beulah stayed downstairs after the noon meal. “It’s too hot upstairs, Mama,” she whined. “Can’t I go outside?”

Faith’s ankles were swollen from sitting all morning in the stifling heat, and cooking had made it worse. “Mrs. Caraway,” Faith said. “We could all do with a respite from the temperatures. Why don’t we sit on the back porch? No one will see us there.”

Mrs. Caraway nodded, her mouth in a grim line. “I doubt your good husband would want us fainting from the heat.”

But once they were outside, the breeze blew the stink from the necessary into their faces. Soon, they returned inside. Faith took Beulah upstairs, where they stripped to their chemises and rested. Mrs. Caraway had taken over Beulah’s room, and Beulah slept with Faith in Lyman’s absence.

The house did not cool off until long after the sun went down. Even then, the firecrackers continued until midnight. None of them slept well.

Available as an ebook on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and as a paperback on Amazon.

I hope you enjoy the whole book.


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