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LaVyrle Spencer Years

LaVyrle Spencer Years

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Published by: S on Jan 06, 2013
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01/05/2014

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Years by LaVyrle Spencer
Chapter 1
1917 
LINNEA BRANDONBERG WAS neither asleep nor awake, but in a whimsical state of fantasy,induced—this time—by the rhythmic clatter rising through the floor of the train. Her feet restedprimly together and often she glanced down to admire the most beautiful shoes she'd ever seen—congress shoes, they were called—with shiny, pointed patent leather toes giving way to smoothblack kid uppers that hugged not only her foot but a good six inches of ankle as well.Miraculously, they had no buttons or ties, but slipped on tightly with a deep gusset of stiff elasticrunning from mid-shin to below the ankle bone on either side. But best of all they were the firstshoes she'd ever owned with high heels. Though the heels added scarcely an inch to her height,they added years to her maturity.She hoped.He would be there at the station when she arrived, a dashing superintendent of schools whodrove a fancy Stanhope carriage for two, drawn by a glossy blood-bay trotter...
“Miss Brandonberg?” His voice was rich and cultured, and a dazzling smile broke upon his handsome faceas he removed a beaver top hat, revealing hair the color of rye at sunset.
 
“Mr. Dahl?”“At your service. We're all so delighted you're here at last. Oh, please allow me—I'll take that valise!” Ashe stowed the suitcase in the boot of the carriage she noticed the sleek it of his black suit coast across nicelyshaped shoulders, and when he turned to help her into the buggy, she noted the fact that his celluloid collar was brand new, stiff and tight for the occasion. “Careful now.” He had marvelous hands, with long pale fingers that solicitously closed over her own as he handed her up. A reed-thin whip clicked above the trotter's head, and they sped away, with his elbow lightly bumping hers.“Miss Brandonberg, to your left you'll note the opera house, our newest establishment, and at the firstopportunity I hope we can attend a performance together.”“An opera house!” she gasped in ladylike surprise while delicately steepling five fingers over her heart.“Why, I didn't expect an opera house!”“A young lady with your looks will put the actresses to shame.” His smile seemed to dim the sun as heapprovingly scanned her narrow shoes, her new wool serge suit, and the first hat she'd ever owned without achildish wide brim. “I hope you won't think me too bold if I say that you have a definite flair for clothes, Miss Brandonberg...”
“Miss Brandonberg?” The voice in her fantasy faded as she was roused by the conductor,who was leaning across the empty aisle seat to touch her shoulder. “Next stop Alamo, NorthDakota.” She straightened and offered the older man a smile.“Oh, thank you!”He touched the brim of his blue cap and nodded before moving away.Outside, the prairie rolled by, flat and endless. She peered out the window but saw no signof the town. The train lost speed as its whistle sounded, then sighed into silence, leaving only the
clackety-clack
of the wheels upon shifting steel seams.Her heart thumped expectantly, and this time, when she placed a hand over it, there wasno pretending. She would see it soon, the place that had been only a word on the map; she wouldmeet them soon, the people who would become part of her daily life as students, friends, perhapseven confidants. Each new face she'd meet would be that of a total stranger, and for thehundredth time she wished she knew just one person in Alamo. Just one.
There's nothing to be frightened of. It's only last-minute nervousness.
She ran a hand up the back of her neck, checking the hairstyle she wasn't yet adept atforming. Within the crescent-shaped coil around her head, the rat seemed to have slipped loose.With shaky fingers she tightened several hairpins, then checked her hatpin, smoothed her skirt,and glanced at her shoes for a last dose of confidence just as the train huffed out a final wearybreath and shuddered to a halt.
Dear me, where is the town?
 
Lugging her suitcase down the aisle, she glanced through the windows, but all she couldsee was the standard small-town depot—a wood-frame building painted the color of a rutabagawith six-over-six window flanking a center door that faced a waiting platform whose roof washeld up by four square posts.She eyed it again as she emerged from the dusky depths of the passenger car into the brightSeptember sun, the metal steps chiming beneath her smart new heels.She glanced around for someone who might look like a superintendent of schools andquelled her dismay upon discovering only one person in sight, a man standing in the shade of thedepot porch. But judging from his mode of dress, he was no the man she sought. Still, he mightturn out to be a parent of one of her students: she flashed him quick smile. But he remained asbefore, with his hands inside the bib of his striped overalls and a sweat-stained straw hat shieldinghis eyes.Forcing a confident air, she crossed the platform and went inside, but found only the ticketagent, busily clicking the telegraph behind his caged window.“Excuse me, sir?”He turned, pushed a green celluloid visor higher on his head, and smiled. “Yes, miss?”“I am to meet Mr. Frederic Dahl here. Do you know him?”“Know who he is. Haven't seen him around here. But have a seat—he'll probably show upsoon.”Her stomach began to tighten.
What shall I do now?
Too nervous to sit still, she decided to wait outside. She took up her station on the oppositeside of the veranda from the farmer, set her valise down, and waited.Minutes passed and on one came. She glanced at the stranger, caught him studying her,then self-consciously snapped her attention to the train. It huffed and hissed, spit out funnels ofsteam with each breath, but seemed to be taking an inordinate amount of time to be on its wayagain.She chanced a peek at the man again, but the moment her eyes turned his way, his quicklydarted toward the door of the train again.Theodore Westgaard studied the train steps, waiting for the new teacher to emerge, but afull three minutes ticked by and the only person to alight was the thin young girl playing grownupin her mother's hat and shoes. His eyes were drawn to her a second time, but again she looked hisway and self-consciously he shifted his attention toward the door of the train.

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