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Authors: Lauraine Snelling

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A Promise for Ellie

A
Promise
for
Ellie

Books by Lauraine Snelling

A Secret Refuge
(3 in 1)

D
AKOTAH
T
REASURES

Ruby

Pearl
Opal

Amethyst

D
AUGHTERS OF
B
LESSING

A Promise for Ellie
Sophie’s Dilemma
A Touch of Grace
Rebecca’s Reward

R
ED
R
IVER OF THE
N
ORTH

An Untamed Land
 
The Reapers’ Song
A New Day Rising
 
Tender Mercies
A Land to Call Home
 
Blessing in Disguise

R
ETURN TO
R
ED RIVER

A Dream to Follow
Believing the Dream
More Than a Dream

LAURAINE
SNELLING

A Promise
for Ellie

A Promise for Ellie
Copyright © 2006
Lauraine Snelling

Cover design by Dan Thornberg
Cover image by William Albert Allard/National Geographic Image Collection

Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN 978-0-7642-2809-4

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Snelling, Lauraine.
     A promise for Ellie / Lauraine Snelling.
           p. cm. —(Daughters of Blessing ; 1)
     ISBN 0-7642-2809-9 (pbk.) —ISBN 0-7642-0259-6 (lg. print : pbk.)
     1. North Dakota—Fiction. I. Title. II. Series: Snelling, Lauraine. Daughters of
Blessing ; 1.
     PS3569.N39P76            2006
     813'.54—dc22                                                                                   2006013799

DEDICATION

T
O ALL MY READERS
who have been pleading for more about the Bjorklunds and Blessing, thank you for your love of Ingeborg and her family.
A Promise for Ellie,
book one in the DAUGHTERS OF BLESSING series, is dedicated to all of you.

LAURAINE SNELLING is the award-winning author of over fifty books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Besides writing books and articles, she teaches at writers’ conferences across the country. She and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, a basset named Chewy, and a cockatiel watch bird named Bidley. They make their home in California.

Contents

PROLOGUE

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

EPILOGUE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

PROLOGUE

Blessing, North Dakota
May 1900

T
HE CLANGING CHURCH BELL
woke them all.

Andrew Bjorklund and his father, Haakan, met at the bottom of the stairs, pulling up their suspenders as they shoved their feet into their boots by the back door. Clanging bells in the night always meant fire.

Astrid pounded down the stairs, tying her hair back as she came. “Where is it?”

“No idea yet.” Haakan stepped out onto the front porch of their two-story white house and scanned the area for the red of flames and billowing smoke. “Looks like the Olsons’ place. Andrew, you get the horses. Astrid, help me get buckets and shovels in the wagon. Andrew can ride on ahead.” He raised his voice. “You bring the rugs, Ingeborg.”

“Ja, I will,” she called from the bedroom. “I’m almost dressed.”

“Was there heat lightning?” Andrew asked a few minutes later as they threw harnesses over the horses’ backs.

“Coulda been. I was sleeping too sound to hear any thunder. Besides, it’s clear now.” Haakan finished snapping the traces onto the doubletree. “You take Jack and get on over there.”

Within minutes Astrid and Ingeborg were in the wagon and they started down the lane, Haakan driving the team all out.

“Lord God, please protect our friends. Keep everyone safe,” Ingeborg prayed, her eyes open, hanging on for dear life as they took a sharp corner at only a slightly reduced speed. She kept praying the entire way.

Haakan pulled the team to a skidding stop, the second wagon to have arrived. Already a bucket brigade had formed, but they were dumping water on the barn roof and soaking the other buildings. The fire roared as it devoured the machine shed, which was too far gone to try to drown the flames.

“What happened?” Haakan hollered as he climbed a ladder to throw water on the house roof.

“Don’t know. Woke to the dog barking.” Ole Olson handed up a bucket of water and reached for another from below as the lines grew with more wagons and horses arriving by the minute. “Just got to keep it from spreading.”

As the flames died down, the firefighters gathered together. “Thank God there was no wind.” Ingeborg wiped the sweat off her face with her apron and glugged the cup of water someone handed her. She turned to the woman behind her. “Any idea what started it?”

“None.” Mrs. Olson wrung her hands. “But if it weren’t for all of you, the entire place might’ve gone up. Thank the good Lord for friends.”

Reverend Solberg nodded and drank deeply. “That church bell saved us again. And to think we almost didn’t put one up.”

“We’ve talked about a fire wagon. I think it’s time to stop talking about it and start doing something about it.” Haakan clapped Andrew on the shoulder. “You young men did a fine job with the barn roof. That would have gone up next. And if the ground had been drier, a prairie fire may have started.”

“Lots of maybes and might haves. Let’s pray and thank our God for what is.” Reverend Solberg waited for silence. “Father in heaven, we offer our heartfelt thanks for your providence, for keeping the fire within bounds, for all the willing hands who came so swiftly, and for keeping us all safe. To you, O Lord, we commend our work, our dreams, our lives. In Jesus precious name we pray.” Everyone joined him on the amen.

“Uff da, what a stench a fire can make.”

“Pa, you better come look. I think there’s a body in that shed.” Andrew’s face appeared green behind the smoke stains.

May 1900

B
LESSING.
I’m going home to Blessing. Home to Andrew
.

“Ellie, you daydreaming again? I asked you to take this over to your pa.” Her mother, Goodie Wold, peeked around the doorframe, a handled water jug in her hand. “Uff da, look at you. One would think you’re pie-eyed or some such.”

“Pie-eyed?” Ellie turned from holding her graduation dress in front of her to see in the mirror. A lock of wavy golden hair lay over one shoulder. Concern wrinkled her wide forehead until she saw the teasing glint in her mother’s eyes. “Pie-eyed?”

“You know, mooning over that young man of yours. Here we’ve been gone from Blessing for two years, and you ignored every suitor who has come to call. Now take that handsome Mr.—”

“No, you take him and send him elsewhere. Andrew Bjorklund is
the only man for me, and he always has been.” She swung back and drew the waistline of the baby blue lawn dress against her slim middle and, with the other hand, held the bodice to her chest. “This turned out well, don’t you think?”

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