- Author: Ann Fryer
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Of Needles and Haystacks
Ann Elizabeth Fryer
Published by Ann Fryer, 2021.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
OF NEEDLES AND HAYSTACKS
First edition. March 18, 2021.
Copyright © 2021 Ann Elizabeth Fryer.
Written by Ann Elizabeth Fryer.
Table of Contents
Of Needles and Haystacks (Hearts Unlocked)
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About the Author
For Mark, my heart, my home. I love you.
Of Needles and Haystacks by Ann Elizabeth Fryer is a beautifully written story of the challenges and perils of family life in the 1880's. Dorothy and James are characters you'll love getting to know while you eagerly turn the pages to find out if they can find happiness after the hard times they've faced. Fryer has written a historical story you won’t want to miss. ...Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of An Appalachian Summer
AN UNEXPECTED INHERITANCE leads Dorothy Trafton to rural Kentucky and a family she hardly knew. And now she owns their farm. Strife and tension build to a stunning climax. Through it all, Dorothy seeks a way of peace and reconciliation in her strange new world. Of Needles and Haystacks is a heartwarming story of family and one girl’s journey to find a home.
An excellent debut novel. Ann Fryer takes the traditional Christian romance to new heights.
Award winning author, Henry McLaughlin
“Of Needles and Haystacks reads like cherished memories of a time when we bared our souls in the pages of diaries and hand-written letters.” —Michael James Emberger, author of Silent Altitudes
“Remember that there is only one important time and it is Now. The present moment is the only
time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person with whom you are, who is right before you...” Leo Tolstoy
February 24, 1880
James Bleu sat beneath a barren, overgrown apple tree that stood solitary watch over the winter-browned hill. Never-pruned limbs dipped and stretched, pointing gnarled fingers in every direction in accusation of its neglect. The road to town stretched out a good piece until another hill cut it from sight. James tossed a withered apple from autumn past and watched it careen down the hill. He’d been waiting a good part of an hour, his binoculars at the ready. Dust kicked up at the bend. “There you are,” he murmured. He scooted to his feet and adjusted the sights for a closer look.
In sharp detail he saw his friend, Hammond, politely nodding to the woman beside him. The infamous niece that everyone spoke of and nobody knew nothing about. She was fairly hidden by a cloak hood but turned just enough to make out her features. Her face plain as anything except for a delicately chiseled chin any artist would find intriguing.
He lowered the binoculars and traced a finger down his own cheek, imagining an undamaged face. Instead he felt bumpy ridges, a too smooth patch. He stopped at his lip and jerked his hand away. No more.
He raised the binoculars again. This girl was the Miss Trafton he’d been dreading. She wrapped an arm around her middle, clutched the other one around the back of the jostling seat. No doubt scorning every minute of the ride to her new country home. City girls. He well knew the difference. And the difference would be a fish bone in their throats.
He blew air from his cheeks. “What kind of bumpy ride will you give us?” But he didn’t have to guess. The girl had shirked her extended family for countless summers until now they were all she had left. Somehow they would have to learn to live together. “God help us.”
He turned towards home. He had a few days of work to accomplish before making his appearance. And doing what he’d promised Hammond.
“If she’s like her father, we’ll have nothing to worry about. Unless...” His thoughts trailed off. One could only hope. Mr. Trafton had been a rare man.
James broke into a run until the peaks of his house rose above the final slope. Nearly finished, this home had been a work of his hands and soul. A way to get past and sweat past any temptation to idleness. He refused to hide his manhood beneath prosperity. Or let another man build what he himself could create.
He gave a few instructions to his overseer, grabbed a pitchfork and tossed a pile of silage into the cattle feeder, then made his way towards the kitchen for a cup of Ruth’s tea. What would he do without Ruth? The older woman had been a slave in years past, but considered kitchen work next door to heaven. Always singing, always telling him how blessed they are. And that he’d better not walk in the kitchen with muddy boots again or he’d never see another apple pie. Unbearable thought!
The gray that topped her head came with a unique kind of wisdom. Not the kind that always made sense in his mind, but one that certainly kept her sparking with well-shod purpose. She’d truck over a snowy mountain or flooded valley to give a poor family their share of God’s good oats and potatoes. She didn’t bother about things like asking. She knew she had a Christian duty and assumed he had the same one. Be witless to shirk it.
He’d grown up on iced cakes and candied fruits, but during the war, he felt lucky to get a fresh apple. And to see succulent fruit transformed into a pie—well heaven surely would offer nothing finer. His life had been full of contrasts...having the best of everything, to nothing; to the brink of death, to life again. Managing to move forward, though jangled by it all. To finally get on his feet comfortably and now see a