Suddenly she sat down and put a flour covered hand to her head. She felt strangely tired. “Come on, Jenelle,” she scolded herself. “This is not much more than you normally do. What is wrong with you?” After a few minutes the feeling passed and she went back to work.
The sun came out in the afternoon and the air grew heavy. “I don’t know which is worse,” Jenelle murmured, wiping her hot face with a damp towel as she prepared supper. “The dry heat and stillness before the storm or this heavy air after the storm. At least there is a breeze.”
It was during supper that Norman, after watching Jenelle closely, said abruptly, “You need some one to help you.”
Jenelle laughed. “You sound like your sister,” she told him. “And what would I do with help? And who would help?”
“Maybe Mrs. Carmond would lend us Flo for a few weeks.”
With a smile, Jenelle shook her head. “I’m sure she couldn’t. Not with the new baby and Mr. Carmond’s invalid mother coming next week. She is the one that needs help.”
Norman frowned. “Maybe I’ll check some of the other ranches. Surely someone could come.”
Again Jenelle shook her head. “Darling, don’t you remember that the other ranches have as much work as we do? I’m sure no one could be spared. Please don’t worry about me. Orlena will be out of bed in another day or so, the doctor said, and she can help some.”
“I have a feeling that she will cause more work instead of helping with it,” Norman predicted with a frown.
Inwardly, Jenelle agreed with him, but it wouldn’t help matters to say so, therefore, she laughed and rose to clear the dishes away.
In the kitchen such a wave of tiredness swept over her that she leaned against the counter and closed her eyes.
“Jenelle!” Norman had his arms around her before she could open her eyes. “Darling, you aren’t well.”
“I’m only tired, Norman. Please don’t make a fuss,” and her blue eyes looked up into his grey ones. “It’s been a busy day but—”
“But nothing. You are going to bed.”
Jenelle made a feeble protest but the thought of bed was too inviting to really argue. “As soon as I do the dishes,” she started.
“I’m washing the dishes tonight. I may not be much of a hand with cooking, but Uncle Hiram made sure I knew about dishes. Now you,” he kissed the fair, pale face in his arms, “are marching straight up to bed, or shall I carry you?” he offered.
“I can walk,” Jenelle giggled
“There has to be someone who can come help out for a few weeks. At least until Jenelle is rested and Orlena has settled into life here,” Norman thought as he washed the dishes. “Jenelle is right though, every ranch is just as busy as we are. Perhaps there is someone in town who could help . . .” Here a new thought struck him. Did he really want someone from town coming and then spreading stories about his sister? It was hard enough going into town for shopping or church without an added person looking on every day. “We need one who won’t be shocked by Orlena and who won’t need to be trained in what needs done.” Norman spoke aloud in the empty kitchen as he began to wipe the clean dishes and put them away in the cabinets. When the kitchen was spotless, he stepped to the door and looked out as the evening light fell quietly on the barn, corrals and fields.
Looking up into the sky full of soft colors, Norman prayed, “Lord, we need help. You know Jenelle needs a rest but she can’t get one unless we have help. It must be just the right help, for wrong help would only add to our difficulties with Orlena. There must be someone who can come help—” Norman blinked as a thought struck him. “That was a quick answer, Lord. Thank you. I’ll go right in and write.”
It was half an hour later before Norman entered his bedroom. A light was on and quietly he moved over to his dressing table. Pulling out a drawer, he began rummaging through it.
“Norman, aren’t you coming to bed?”
Norman turned. Jenelle lay looking at him from her pillow.
“What are you looking for?”
“Just a paper I had. Ah, I have it now.” He took up a pen and copied something down. “I will only be gone a minute. I must just take this out to Hardrich.”
Jenelle watched him, puzzled. At last she settled down, murmuring, “It was probably something for the ranch.”
Several days passed. Jenelle felt rested and refreshed each morning but by mid day was often so tired that she had to sit down and rest for a little while. Orlena continued to improve in health but not in disposition. She was fretful and cross at the slightest thing. Her sister took her sharp words and cutting remarks without a show of irritation, always trying to shield her husband from knowledge of them, for she well knew his indignation and sense of honor would make it harder for him to love his sister as he ought.
As for Norman, he tried to help his wife when he could and often St. John prepared meals for both the ranch house as well as the bunk house.
It was four days after Norman had sent Jenelle to bed and washed the dishes himself that he found a letter addressed to him when Lloyd Hearter returned from town. Eagerly he ripped it open and scanned the short note it contained.
“Dear Mr. Mavrich,
It’s honored I am that you have thought of me. I have all my affairs taken care of and can stay with you as long as you have need. Have no worries about me, I know what to expect.”
Questions or Thoughts?