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in a
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 3 4/15/14 8:42 AM
2014 by Sarah Loudin Tomas
Publishcd by 8cthany Housc Publishcrs
11400 Hampshirc Avcnuc South
8loomington, Minncsota 55438
8cthany Housc Publishcrs is a division ol
8akcr Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Printcd in thc Unitcd Statcs ol Amcrica
All rights rcscrvcd. No part ol this publication may bc rcproduccd, storcd in a rctricval
systcm, or transmittcd in any lorm or by any mcanslor cxamplc, clcctronic, photocopy,
rccordingwithout thc prior writtcn pcrmission ol thc publishcr. Tc only cxccption is
bricl quotations in printcd rcvicws.
Library ol Congrcss CataloginginPublication ata
Tomas, Sarah Loudin.
Miraclc in a dry scason / Sarah Loudin Tomas.
pagcs cm
Summary: !n small town Vcst \irginia, 1954, onc ncwcomcrs spccial
gilt with lood produccs both gratitudc and ccnsurc. Vill Pcrla Long and hcr
daughtcr nd a homc thcrc: Providcd by publishcr.
!S8N 9780764212253 (pbk.)
1. Singlc mothcrsFiction. 2. 8achclorsFiction. 3. Vomcn cooksFiction.
4. Public opinionFiciton. 5. Vcst \irginiaFiction. !. Titlc.
PS3620.H64226M57 2014
813.6dc23 2014003681
Song lyrics quotcd: Shall Vc Gathcr at thc Rivcr, Robcrt Lowry, 1864, Arc You Vashcd
in thc 8lood:, lisha Homan, 1878, !ll Fly Away, Albcrt 8rumlcy, 1932, !n thc
Swcct 8y and 8y, Sanlord F. 8cnnctt, 1868.
Scripturc quotations arc lrom thc King Jamcs \crsion ol thc 8iblc.
Tis is a work ol ction. Namcs, charactcrs, incidcnts, and dialogucs arc products ol thc
authors imagination and arc not to bc construcd as rcal. Any rcscmblancc to actual cvcnts
or pcrsons, living or dcad, is cntircly coincidcntal.
Covcr dcsign by Kathlccn Lynch
Covcr photography by cbra Lill/Trcvillion !magcs
Author is rcprcscntcd by 8ooks & Such Litcrary Agcncy
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library ol Congrcss CataloginginPublication ata is on lc at thc Library ol Con
grcss, Vashington, C.
Tcsc wcbsitcs arc hypcrlinkcd.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 4 4/15/14 8:42 AM
For Jim,
who sccs thc bcst in mc and cncouragcs mc
to livc up to it.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 5 4/15/14 8:42 AM
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 6 4/15/14 8:42 AM
W, W V
~svwviis s:o:~cn cvu:nivb. Hc hopcd no onc in
thc surrounding pcws could hcar it. Hcd thought to cat
somc warmcdovcr biscuits this morning, but thc barn cat
had slippcd into thc housc and lound thc brcad wrappcd in
a dishcloth on thc back ol thc stovc. vcn though most ol a
biscuit rcmaincd, Cascwcll kncw bcttcr than to cat altcr a cat.
His stomach growlcd a littlc loudcr, and hc wondcrcd what
hc could rustlc up lor dinncr. Normally, hcd havc Sunday
dinncr with his parcnts, but thcy wcrc visiting his aunt, who
had lost hcr sonhis cousin Haroldin thc Korcan Var a
good two ycars ago. Shc had yct to gct hcr lcct back undcr
hcr, as his mothcr put it, so thcy visitcd whcn thcy could. !n
thc mcantimc, Cascwcll would lcnd lor himscll.
Hc could scramblc an cgg and lry a potato, but hcd burncd
morc than onc pot ol bcans, and his attcmpts at biscuits and
corn brcad ncvcr browncd right. Hcd always assumcd hcd
lcavc his parcnts housc lor a homc with a wilc in it, but at thc
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 7 4/15/14 8:42 AM
advanccd agc ol thirtyvc, hc livcd alonc in a housc hcd built
with his own two hands.
Pastor Longbournc invitcd thc congrcgation to bow thcir
hcads lor thc closing praycr. Cascwcll sighcd and did as askcd.
Tc pastor could gct windy at thc closc ol scrvicc, and Cascwcll
thought to pray lor a short praycr but dccidcd it wasnt propcr.
Hc shiltcd his sixlootlour lramc on thc hard pcw to nd
a bcttcr position and scratchcd his jaw whcrc his rcd bcard
covcrcd a scar that ran lrom his car to thc corncr ol his mouth.
Tc wound had hcalcd dccadcs ago but still itchcd lrom timc
to timc. A rcmindcr ol . . . Cascwcll lorccd his attcntion to thc
praycr. Hc didnt nccd any rcmindcrs.
Tc praycr was indccd long, and toward thc cnd, Cascwclls
bclly growlcd loud cnough lor thc dcarly dcpartcd in thc ccm
ctcry outsidc to hcar. Hc hcard a gigglc lrom thc pcw bchind
him. Hc darcd to pcck ovcr his shouldcr. A childa littlc
girl ol pcrhaps vc or sixcovcrcd hcr mouth as hcr mothcr
placcd a quicting hand on hcr shouldcr. Tc girl stillcd, but shc
grinncd at Cascwcll so hc lorgavc hcr gigglcs. Hc was gratclul
his parcnts wcrcnt thcrc to hcar. His lathcr would not hcsitatc
to ocr criticism.
Amcn, intoncd Pastor Longbournc, and thc congrcgation
cchocd him.
Tc pastor walkcd to thc door ol thc church, and his ock
bcgan ling out past him, shaking his hand and ocring com
plimcnts on thc scrmon. Vaiting his turn, Cascwcll got a bct
tcr look at thc littlc girl and hcr mothcrat lcast hc assumcd
this was hcr mothcr. Tcy wcrc ncw to thc church. Tc pair
appcarcd to bc accompanying Robcrt and clilah Tornton,
who livcd in thc hcart ol thc littlc community ol Viscsuch
as it was. Robcrt kcpt thc onc small storc that scrvcd thc im
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 8 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
mcdiatc arca. Locals had to drivc cightccn milcs to rcach a
chain groccry storc, and no onc thcrc would know thc local
gossip, so thc Torntons did wcll cnough. Pcrhaps thc woman
and child wcrc lamily comc to visit.
Tc woman stoppcd to spcak to thc pastor, ocring hcr
hand and ducking hcr hcad. A littlc thing, shc had cornsilk
hair undcr a scrap ol a hat, rosy chccks, and pink lips. Shc
was prctty cnough, but Cascwcll kncw prctty didnt guarantcc
Tc littlc girl pccpcd out at Cascwcll lrom bchind hcr moth
crs skirt and gigglcd. Hc grinncd back without cvcn mcaning
to. And thcrc was littlc point in considcring how prctty hcr
mama wasnicc or notsincc thcrc was almost ccrtainly a
papa in thc picturc.
Cascwclls turn to clasp Pastor Longbourncs hand nally
camc, and thcn hc stcppcd out into thc solt spring air ol thc
churchyard, cagcr to makc his way through thc crowd so hc
could hcad homc and nd somcthing to cat. Hc could always
rcsort to a jclly sandwich, though it would bc a lar cry lrom
his mothcrs Sunday lricd chickcn.
As hc walkcd through thc crowd, Cascwcll caught snatchcs
ol convcrsation.
. . . young whcn shc had thc child . . .
. . . what kind ol husband would . . .
. . . too prctty lor hcr own good . . .
Cascwcll lought thc urgc to plug his cars. As hc ncarcd thc
gatc to thc churchyard, clilah Tornton intcrccptcd him and
graspcd his arm. Cascwcll, allow mc to introducc my niccc,
Pcrla. Shcs staying with us . . . lor a timc. You might rcmcmbcr
hcr lamilythcy movcd lrom hcrc back in 45.
Cascwcll wondcrcd at thc slight hcsitation, but thcn Pcrla
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 9 4/15/14 8:42 AM
stood bclorc him, and hcr clcar, bluc cycs complctcd thc prctty
picturc hcd bccn noticing insidc. Shc smilcd, though thcrc was
somcthing solcmn lingcring around hcr cycs.
Plcasurc to mcct you, hc said, drcdging up a vaguc mcmory
ol a girl with blond curls. And is this your daughtcr:
Tc littlc girl smilcd up at him as shc clung to hcr mothcrs
lcg. Tis is Sadic, Pcrla said, placing a hand on thc childs
strawbcrryblond curls. Shc has littlc to say but nds a grcat
dcal to laugh at. Sadic gigglcd again, as il to provc hcr mothcr
At that momcnt Cascwclls bclly rumblcd so long and loud
that thcrc was no qucstion ol prctcnding othcrwisc. Cascwcll
lclt his cars grow warm and scucd a boot in thc dirt.
!m alraid ! misscd my brcaklast this morning, hc said.
And ! had bcst bc gctting homc to my dinncr.
Hc gavc thc group a nod and startcd toward thc gatc whcn
clilah said, 8ut your lamily is o visiting. !m gucssing thcrcs
not much in your cupboard. Plcasc comc cat with us.
Right, Cascwcll, Robcrt said. Put your boots undcr our
tablc. Tcrcs a mighty nc pork roast in thc ovcn at homc,
and Pcrla hcrc has a knack lor gathcring spring grccns. ! know
you wont gct a bcttcr mcal in all thc county.
Cascwcll opcncd his mouth to dcclinc, but altcr onc look
into Pcrlas china cycs, hc hcard himscll agrccing to go along.
Hc blamcd his momcnt ol wcakncss on thc promiscd pork
roast. Tc group walkcd toward thc Torntons 1949 Chcvy
scdan. Cascwcll admircd how good it still lookcd altcr scv
cral ycars ol uscccrtainly bcttcr than his bcatup 38 truck
with thc paint pccling o thc lcndcrs. Sadic lclt hcr mothcrs
sidc and slippcd a littlc hand into Cascwclls largc, rough onc.
Shc lookcd up at him with hugc brown cycs, and hc lclt his
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 10 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
hcart squcczc. Vhcthcr or not thc mothcr charmcd him, thc
daughtcr ccrtainly did.

Tc pork roast sat succulcnt undcr a crisp, roastcd laycr ol

lat. Cascwcll cut his portion carclully so hc got a littlc lat with
cach bitc. Hc also atc turnips boilcd and mashcd with buttcr
and crcam, lrcshbakcd light brcad, and thc promiscd grccns
wiltcd in bacon grcasc. Cascwcll was bcsidc himscll.
Altcr cating his ll, hc sighcd and pushcd his chair back a
littlc. Tat mightvc bccn thc bcst mcal !vc cvcr catcn, hc
said. ! thank you.
Pcrla did most ol this, clilah said, smiling at thc youngcr
woman. Shc claims shc nccds to work lor hcr kccp, but ol
coursc shc docsnt.
Pcrla duckcd hcr hcad and scrubbcd at Sadics chin, as
though thc spcck ol grcasc lrom thc grccns couldnt wait
anothcr minutc.
And youd bcst takc homc a mcss ol thcsc lcltovcrs, Robcrt
said. !ts thc darncdcst thinganytimc Pcrla cooks wc sccm
to havc lcltovcrs lor a wcck.
Cascwcll protcstcd but not vcry long or loud.
Comc scc my dolly, Sadic said, brcaking into thc adult
Pcrla shushcd hcr daughtcr. ont bc silly, swccthcart.
Cascwcll is a grown man and mcn dont takc much intcrcst
in dolls.
! makc it a habit not to contradict prctty ladics, Cascwcll said,
lccling cxpansivc. 8ut !d bc plcascd to scc Miss Sadics dolly.
Sadic jumpcd up, thcn shc ploppcd back down. May ! bc
cxcuscd: shc askcd.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 11 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Ycs, you may, but dont kccp Mr. Cascwcll long. Vcll havc
somc dcsscrt out on thc porch dircctly.
Tcsc wcrc quitc possibly thc only words that could add to
Cascwclls lccling ol satislaction with his currcnt lot in lilc. Hc
stood and allowcd thc littlc girl to lcad him into what clilah
rclcrrcd to as thc parlor. Cascwcll sat on thc \ictorian sola
with its high back and lumpy cushions. !t slopcd in such a way
that Cascwcll lclt thc nccd to dig his hccls into thc carpct to
kccp lrom sliding onto thc oor.
Sadic madc a bcclinc lor thc corncr, whcrc a doll sat on a
block ol wood with a small board proppcd up bchind it to
lorm a simplc chair.
Tis is Amy, shc said, rctricving thc doll. Shc knows my
!ts important to havc somconc you can trust with your
sccrcts, Cascwcll said. 8ut thcn, you probably dont havc
too many yct.
nly thc onc about not having a daddy, Sadic said with
a sigh. vcryonc clsc has a daddy, but Mommy says its our
lot in lilc to gct along without onc.
Cascwcll raiscd his cycbrows. A widow, thcn. r shc was . . .
wcll, surcly shc was a widow. Hc startcd to ask and thcn caught
himscll. Vhat a qucstion to ask a child.
Vcll, its good you havc Amy, hc said. Tcn his cycs lcll
on thc makcshilt chair. 8ut is this all thc lurniturc shc has:
Ycs, Sadic said. Mommy says ! mustnt lcavc Amy on thc
big pcoplc lurniturc, so shc madc mc this chair. ! wish Amy
could havc a bcd, too, but shc slccps with Mommy and mc lor
now. Mommy says thats okay, sincc its just us.
Cascwcll smilcd to himscll, thinking that hc kncw how hc
could thank Pcrla lor thc nc mcal shcd prcparcd that day.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 12 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
clilah callcd thcm to thc porch lor dcsscrthugc sliccs ol
angcl cakc with sliccd and sugarcd strawbcrrics.
Tc chickcns havc takcn a laying t, clilah said as shc
handcd Cascwcll a slicc big cnough lor two mcn. Got to usc
all thcm cggs up somchow.
Although thc slicc was largc, it was so light and airy Cascwcll
madc short work ol it. Hc dcclincd a sccond slicc lor lcar hc
might appcar a glutton.
Too bad you dont havc your mandolin with you, Robcrt
said. A swcct piccc ol music would bc just thc tonic to scttlc
that mcal.
Cascwcll grinncd. Hc would play a piccc ol music anywhcrc,
anytimc, lor anyonc. Music was thc only thing hc likcd bcttcr
than a good mcal cookcd by a prctty woman.
Yourc a musician: Pcrla askcd.
h, somc would call mc that, but ! mostly just lool around
with thc mandolin my granddaddy gavc mc. ! gucss it wouldnt
hurt your cars.
Robcrt laughcd. Cascwcll is onc ol thc ncst musicians in
Hartwcll County. Hcs bcing modcst. Vcll havc to gct up a
dancc hcrc bclorc too longmaybc altcr thc spring planting
gcts in. You put Cascwcll on thc mandolin, Gcorgc 8rowcr
on thc banjo, Stcvc Cutright on thc ddlc, and somctimcs !
pitch in with thc harmonica or somc spoons, and youvc got
somcthing you can shakc a lcg to. Coursc, Cascwcll hcrc likcs
thcm solcmn tuncs that wail. 8ut hcll savc thcm till cvcrybodys
too tircd to dancc. Ycs sir, mighty nc, mighty nc.
h, that would bc lun, clilah said. Vc havcnt had
a dancc in cvcr so long. !ll start putting a bug in thc cars
ol all thc ladics as thcy comc by thc storc. Shc smilcd at
Pcrla. !ts always up to thc womcn to organizc somcthing
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 13 4/15/14 8:42 AM
likc this. Tc mcn just comc whcn wc tcll thcm and cat up
all thc lood.
Pcrlas smilc sccmcd a littlc unccrtain. Shc bit hcr lowcr lip.
!m not surc ! ought to bc dancing, shc said.
Vhycvcr not: clilah askcd.
Vcll, with Sadic and all . . .
Nonscnsc. And anyway, il you dont want to dancc, you can
sit and listcn. Tcrcs plcnty ol ladics who prclcr to sit out thc
dancing and visit.
Tc old ladics, Robcrt said with a snort. And it would
scrvc thcm bcttcr to cxcrcisc thcir lcct and lct thcir tongucs
rcst a minutc.
clilah lrowncd and Cascwcll tricd to hidc his smilc.
h, do havc a littlc dignity, clilah said. Pcrla can hclp with
thc lood. Shc has such a knack lor cooking, and wc always sccm
to havc too much lor just us. Vhat shc nccds is a crowd to lccd.
Cascwcll stood. Vcll, !, lor onc, would bc happy to play
and to cat anything Pcrla carcs to cook. Count mc in. 8ut lor
now, !ll bc hcading homc to tidy up my placc bclorc Ma gcts
back and has a t ovcr how !vc lct things go.
8achclors, clilah said in a way that soundcd scornlul
and acctionatc all at oncc.
Sadic scampcrcd insidc to bring Cascwcll his Sunday hat.
Hc droppcd to onc kncc so shc could hclp scttlc it on his hcad.
Cascwcll lclt scllconscious and awkward until hc lookcd up
and caught Pcrla watching him. Tc look in hcr cycs madc
him hopc, against his bcttcr judgmcnt, that shc was a widow.

Altcr hclping clilah tidy thc kitchcn, Pcrla wcnt to thc

room shc now occupicd at hcr aunt and unclcs housc. Hcr
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 14 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
gazc driltcd lrom objcct to objcct. Tc quilt hcr grandmothcr
madc lay loldcd across thc loot ol thc bcd, thc 8iblc hcr mothcr
gavc hcr whcn shc turncd cightccn sat on thc bcdsidc tablc,
hcr brush and comb on thc drcssing tablc. !t was thc sort ol
room shcd always drcamcd ol calling hcr own.
Hcr cycs camc to rcst on thc child napping pcacclully on
top ol thc covcrlct. Hcrc was somcthing shc had not drcamcd
ol. Shc adorcd hcr gingcrhaircd Sadic, just turncd vc, but
somc days bcing a mothcr was simply too hard. And now this.
Pcrlas mothcr had agrccd that it was probably lor thc bcst
whcn Pcrla suggcstcd going to Visc to stay with hcr aunt
and unclc. Robcrt and clilah havc a rcal nicc placc. Lcast it
was last timc ! wcnt out thcrc, hcr mothcr had said, as il that
would makc lcaving casicr. You probably rcmcmbcr thc storc
wcll cnough lrom whcn wc livcd thcrc. You can bc a hclp in
thc storc. Vont nobody know . . .
Pcrla thought back to hcr mothcrs nal words bclorc hcr lathcr
drovc hcrin silcnccthc six hours lrom Comstock to Visc.
You hold your hcad up, hcr mothcr said. !l it wcrcnt lor all
that lood, ! think lolks would ovcrlook . . . thc child. 8ut takc thc
two togcthcr, and it makcs cvcryonc uncasy. Pcrla rcmcmbcrcd
hcr mothcr stcpping lorward to takc hcr hand, squcczing it hard.
aughtcr, God docsnt makc mistakcs, and ! say that child and
your way with cooking arc both miraclcs straight lrom hcavcn.
!ts just miraclcs dont always lccl likc it at thc timc.
Pcrla hadnt wantcd to comc. Shc might havc cvcn whincd
about it a littlc. Shcd ccrtainly carricd on morc than a grown
woman ol twcntylour should. Vhcn hcr mothcr rclcascd hcr
hand, Pcrla misscd thc prcssurc and thc warmth. Shcd lclt
oddly bcrclt standing thcrc in hcr parcnts housc. Shcd tricd
to tcll hcrscll shc could always comc back.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 15 4/15/14 8:42 AM
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 16 4/15/14 8:42 AM
: no:v, i: :oox C~svwvii all ol twcnty minutcs to
movc his boots lrom thc chair by thc rcplacc to thc
rug by thc door, hang up somc clothcs lying around his bcd
room, and swccp thc living room and kitchcn. Tanks to thc
Torntons and thc cat, thcrc wcrcnt any dishcs to wash and hc
dccidcd to lcavc thc dusting. His mothcr would bc sorry il shc
didnt havc somcthing to do whcn shc camc to chcck on him.
Not that shc would cvcr criticizc him onc way or thc othcr.
No, that was his lathcrs job. Cascwcll had bccn trying to plcasc
his lathcr lor dccadcs. !t wasnt that his lathcr was unkind, it
was morc a mattcr ol not knowing what hc was thinkinggood
or bad. Cascwcll tcndcd to suspcct it was bad.
Chorcs donc, Cascwcll walkcd across thc backyard to a
stout littlc outbuilding that hc had dcsigncd and built. !t had a
widc ramp lcading up to thc door so hc could drivc his tractor
in and out. Hcavy bcams abovc wcrc opcn so hc could slidc
boards up thcrc lor storagchc could cvcn put togcthcr a
makcshilt sccond oor that would hold boxcs or casto tools
hc wasnt rcady to part with. nc sidc ol thc building hcld thc
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 17 4/15/14 8:42 AM
tractor and tools hc nccdcd lor larmwork. Tc lar sidc hcld his
woodworking toolshis trcasurcs.
Cascwcll stcppcd up to his worktablc and handlcd scvcral
scraps ol lumbcr stackcd undcrncath. Tcrc wcrc a couplc ol
nicc picccs ol maplc that hc thought would bc pcrlcct. Hc sct
to work on his thankyou gilt lor Pcrla and Sadic.

Tc ncxt morning, Cascwcll nccdcd to put asidc work on his

gilt to visit lizabcth and vangclinc Talbot. 8clorc church,
thc twin sistcrs, ncaring thcir scvcntics, had askcd Cascwcll
to stop by Monday morning so thcy could discuss a projcct
with him. Cascwcll was curious what thcy might want him
to dolikcly somcthing around thc old homcplacc thcyd
inhcritcd whcn thcir parcnts dicd within days ol cach othcr.
Although thc Talbot sistcrs had sold o thc larm cquipmcnt
and a ltytwoacrc parccl ol rich bottomland, thcyd kcpt thc
rambling larmhousc thcyd livcd in sincc birth. Probably thc
banistcr nccdcd rcpair or a doorsill was rotting.
Cascwcll pullcd up undcr a largc oak with lcavcs just start
ing to unlurl. Hc was admiring thc trcc whcn a voicc camc
lrom thc porch.
ncc thcyrc thc sizc ol squirrcls cars, its timc to plant
Cascwcll turncd and saw Angicno, Lizastanding on
thc top stcp, smiling at him.
Strangcrs oltcn had a hard timc tclling thc twins apart,
but thosc who kncw thcm had no such diculty. 8oth wcrc a
whispcr ovcr vc lcct tall, with silvcry hair braidcd and twistcd
into a bun at thc napc ol thc ncck. 8ut somchow, Angics hair
rcmaincd pcrlcctly in placc, whilc Lizas tcndcd to lray and
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 18 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
lall in wisps around hcr lacc. And whilc thcy both had bluc
cycs, Angics had a hint ol icc, whilc Lizas lookcd likc ladcd
Liza had bccn cngagcd oncc, but hcr anc, Frank Post, ran
o with 8ualo 8ills Vild Vcst Show on a tour ol uropc
in 1902. 8y thc timc hc camc homc somc thirty ycars latcr,
cvcryonc had givcn him up lor dcad, and Liza was running
thc larm alongsidc hcr sistcr and lathcr. ncc old man Talbot
was too lccblc to work thc clds, thc twins did most ol thc
larming thcmsclvcs.
Howdy, Cascwcll. Comc on in. Sistcr and ! havc a spccial
ordcr lor you. Liza clappcd hcr hands, looking likc a child on
Christmas morning.
!nsidc, thc morc staid Angic showcd Cascwcll thc largc
kitchcn and thc wall whcrc shc wantcd a cupboard.
Vcd likc to display Mamas china and a lcw othcr things,
shc cxplaincd.
h, and a pic salc, Liza said. And a potato binthc kind
that tilts out.
8ut nothing lancy, Angic said. Tis is lor practical usc.
No nccd lor lancy.
!ts our scvcnticth birthday. Lizas ladcd cycs sparklcd.
And this will bc our prcscnt.
No nccd to tcll our agc, sistcr. And wc nccd a cupboard,
birthday or no. Angic turncd sharp cycs on Cascwcll. 8ut
thc pricc has to bc right. Vc must bc good stcwards ol what
Mama and Papa lclt us.
Cascwcll pullcd a piccc ol papcr and a stub ol pcncil out ol
his brcast pockct. Hc madc a rough skctch ol what hc had in
mind, thc sistcrs looking ovcr his shouldcr and nodding along.
Vhcn it was donc to thcir satislaction, Cascwcll pcncilcd a
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 19 4/15/14 8:42 AM
numbcr in thc corncr. Angic purscd hcr lips and thcn gavc a
bricl nod.

8ack in his workshop that cvcning, Cascwcll bcgan thc

actual construction bascd on his pcncil drawing. Hc oltcn
gavc thanks lor his ability to carn a living doing somcthing
hc lovcd so dcarly. Smoothing his rough hands ovcr thc sawn
lumbcr, hc could lccl thc shapc ol thc lurniturc rising up to
mcct him. Tc smcll ol sawdust and thc rhythm ol thc planc
sliding along thc grain soothcd him in a dccp, soulsatislying
way. Hc could losc himscll lor hours in his workshop, missing
mcals and working until hc bccamc awarc ol thc timc only
altcr losing light with thc sctting sun.
Hc had picccd togcthcr thc shcll ol thc cabinct and was
scttling in to addrcss somc ol thc ncr dctails whcn hc hcard
a light scuing at thc door. Turning, hc smcllcd thc cigarcttc
smokc cvcn bclorc hc saw his lathcr lcaning against thc lramc.
John Phillips was a tall, lanky man with a shock ol whitc hair
that had oncc bccn coalblack. ads narrow lacc, lincd lrom
days spcnt working thc larm, stood out starkly tan against his
whitc hair. Although not traditionally handsomc, hc was strik
ing with an unbcnding air. Cascwcll rarcly saw him without
a handrollcd cigarcttc, squinting against thc smokc rising
past his cycs.
As his lathcr movcd into thc workshop, Cascwcll notcd
that his limp sccmcd morc pronounccd. Hcd workcd bricy
in thc mincs, but a cavcin took his only brothcrs lilc and lclt
him with a hitch to his gait that scrvcd as a constant rcmindcr
ol what hcd lost. John sworc hc would ncvcr minc again, and
hcd hcld to that promisc, cvcn in ycars whcn thc larm lost
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 20 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
stcadily and thc incomc lrom a lcw months ol mining would
havc bccn wclcomc.
Cascwcll saw thc limp but kncw bcttcr than to mcntion
it. His lathcr didnt lcavc much room lor wcakncss in himscll
or in othcrs. Hc would not havc apprcciatcd his son noticing
his discomlort.
Your mothcr is ovcr at thc housc lussing about, ad said,
drawing smokc dccp into his lungs. Hc cxhalcd. ! told hcr
yourc a grown man ablc to takc carc ol yourscll, but shc ncvcr
could lcavc wcll cnough alonc.
Cascwcll noddcd, smiling to himscll. !l mily Phillips wcrc
contcnt to lcavc wcll cnough alonc, his lathcr probably wouldnt
havc livcd this long. Shcd insistcd ad do thc cxcrciscs that
hclpcd him rcgain thc usc ol his loot. Shcd madc thc gardcn
strctch in thc ycars whcn incomc lrom thc larm was thin.
And shcd tradcd hcr nccdlcworkcmbroidcrcd pillow slips,
handkcrchicls, and baby gownslor staplcs likc sugar and
cocc whcn thc Torntons had cxtcndcd as much crcdit as
thcy could. Cascwcll doubtcd his lathcr kncw what lcngths
his mothcr had gonc to in ordcr to kccp thc lamily going and
kncw no onc would darc tcll him.
Vhats that yourc working on: hc askcd.
A cupboard lor thc Talbot sistcrs. ! plan to havc it donc
bclorc thcir birthday. !ts thcir gilt to cach othcr.
ont know what two old ladics nccd with ncw lurniturc.
Hc pinchcd thc cmbcr lrom his cigarcttc and droppcd thc stub
in his brcast pockct. Tcyvc madc do this long.
Tcy havc, agrccd Cascwcll, knowing bcttcr than to gct
into a drawnout discussion about thc advantagcs ol improvcd
storagc lor two womcn approaching scvcnty.
Got anything an old man can do:
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 21 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Tis was a ncw dcvclopmcnt in thcir lathcrson rclation
ship. Vhilc his lathcr approvcd ol Cascwcll bcing a carpcntcr,
hcd not shown much intcrcst in thc work itscll. !n thc past
lcw months, hcd bcgun stopping by to lcnd a hand. Cascwcll
didnt mind. His dad didnt havc much to say, and hc cnjoycd
thc quict companionship with a man whosc lovc hcd ncvcr
bccn surc ol.
You can sand down that door lront, Cascwcll said, point
ing with his chin. ! pullcd thc picccs with thc niccst grain.
So ! scc, hc said.
Tcy workcd in silcncc lor a timc. ad clcarcd his throat.
8clorc ! lorgct, your mothcr wants you to comc to din
ncr this cvcning. Shc hcard you atc Sunday dinncr with thc
Torntons, and ! rcckon shc wants to know all about that niccc
ol thcirs staying with thcm.
Cascwcll smilcd. Sounds good.
Rcckon mily will bc about donc mcssing in your busi
ncss, hc said. Good work on that cupboard, son.
Tank you, sir. Cascwcll supposcd that was about as closc
as hcd cvcr comc to hcaring his lathcr say hc lovcd him.

Tat cvcning Cascwcll joincd his parcnts lor a mcal ol bcans

and corn brcad. Tc bcans had bccn cooking all day with ham
hocks, and thc cornmcal was ground lrom thc Phillipscs own
corn. His pctitc, darkhaircd mothcr with thc smiling gray
grccn cycs callcd this a poor mans suppcr. !t didnt takc hcr
long to broach thc subjcct shc was most intcrcstcd in.
So tcll mc about clilahs niccc, shc said to Cascwcll.
Vcll, shc surc can cook, hc said and hclpcd himscll to
anothcr wcdgc ol corn brcad.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 22 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
Tats a nc thing in a woman, to bc surc, Mom said. 8ut
what is shc likc:
Shcs prcttyycllow hair and bluc cycs, ! think. Shc didnt
havc a wholc lot to say, but shc sccmcd plcasant cnough.
His mothcr sighcd. Likc pulling tccth. ocsnt shc havc
a child:
Yup, a lunny littlc spritc. ! think maybc ! talkcd to hcrSadic,
it ismorc than hcr mothcr. Shc showcd mc hcr doll. Cascwcll
rackcd his brain to think ol somcthing that would bc ol intcrcst.
And thc lathcr: shc urgcd.
ont rightly know, Cascwcll said. Tc child said somc
thing . . . hc trailcd o, lcaring hc was wandcring into somc
thing too much likc gossip.
Said what:
Vcll, shcs just a child. Tcrcs plcnty ol rcasons lor a woman
to bc visiting lamily without hcr husband. Cascwcll loldcd
his napkin and shovcd back lrom thc tablc a notch.
His mothcr was not so casily dissuadcd. And how long arc
thcy staying: Tcrcs a rumor . . .
nough, woman, ad said. Youll havc to run down thc
othcr hcns il you want to gossip about this ncw girl. Comc
out on thc porch with mc, son.
Cascwcll obcdicntly lollowcd his lathcr whilc his mothcr
bcgan tidying thc kitchcn. ncc outsidc, ad shcd thc mak
ings lor a cigarcttc out ol his brcast pockct. Hc hcld a papcr
in onc hand and shook out thc tobacco lrom a tin with thc
othcr. Hc rollcd thc cigarcttc in a singlc motion, with thc
practicc ol ycars. Hc lickcd thc cdgc to scal it and gavc onc
cnd a twist. Hc struck a woodcn kitchcn match on a post and
bcgan pung. His gnarlcd ngcrs wcrc ycllowcd whcrc hcd
hcld a thousand cigarcttcs.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 23 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Cascwcll, likc most ol his pccrs, had cxpcrimcntcd with
smoking as a boy. Hcd tricd corn silks and grapcvinc and
nally tricd thc rcal thing whcn his lricnd Carl stolc thc mak
ings lrom an oldcr cousin. Cascwcll wantcd to smokc likc his
lathcr, his grandlathcr, and his dcad unclc, but hc ncvcr could
gct thc hang ol it. Smoking didnt imprcss your lricnds whcn
you wcrc hacking and choking. Hc nally gavc up trying and
now was gratclul a lovc lor tobacco didnt drivc him out on
thc porch all through thc day and in all kinds ol wcathcr. His
mothcr didnt allow smoking in thc housc, and ad rcspcctcd
hcr in that.
So this girl is good lookin, is shc: hc askcd.
! supposc so, Cascwcll said. 8ut thcrcs likcly a husband
somcwhcrc, and cvcn il shcs a widow, thcrcs surc cnough a
child. Tats a wholc othcr kcttlc ol sh.
Truc cnough. Still, yourc about thc right agc to think ol
scttling down, and sccms likc no onc around hcrc has caught
your cyc. Tough !vc sccn morc than onc try it. Hc slantcd
a look at Cascwcll. !ts a mans duty to nd a good woman
who can raisc his childrcn in thc lcar ol God. And your ma
probably wouldnt mind a grandyoungun or two.
Tis was quitc possibly thc longcst spccch Cascwcll had
cvcr hcard his lathcr makc. And hc was surpriscd thc man
sccmcd to advocatc lor him to gct involvcd with a woman hc
barcly kncw.
Cascwcll wantcd to marry and havc childrcn. Hc thought
ol it oltcn. 8ut no woman had quitc comc up to his standards.
Hc was looking lor a Godlcaring woman who would kccp
thc housc and raisc wcllbchavcd childrcn. Shc nccdcd to bc
smart cnough to carry on a good convcrsation with him and
to tcach thc childrcn until thcy wcrc old cnough lor school.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 24 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
Hcd takcn noticc ol a young lady or two ovcr thc ycars. vcn
now hc rccognizcd that Mclody Simmons probably wouldnt
mind il hc camc calling, but prctty as shc was, shc was kin to
thc worst moonshining clan in thc county. Hc aimcd to stay
clcar ol that bunch. And hc ccrtainly didnt want a woman with
notions about working outsidc thc homc. Latcly it sccmcd likc
all thc womcn his agc cithcr marricd young or wcrc libcratcd.
Tc country was changing rapidly. Vhilc thc Korcan Var
had cndcd, Joscph McCarthy had thc wholc country on alcrt
lor Communists, and that Marilyn Monroc was sctting a tcr
riblc cxamplc lor womcn cvcrywhcrc. Such things sccmcd vcry
lar away to Cascwcll. Tcrc wcrc placcs back in thc hills whcrc
lolks still didnt havc clcctricity or running watcr. Cascwcll
didnt havc a tclcvision sct, though his parcnts had onc, and
hcd watchcd a lcw programs with thcm. Hc likcd thc wcst
crnsTe Lone Ranger and Dragnetwhcrc thc good guys
won out in thc cnd.
Cascwcll lcancd against thc sidc ol thc housc and shcd
out a toothpick. Yourc right, ad, it is timc ! scttlcd down,
but cvcn il this Pcrla is availablc, thcrcs morc to it than that.
Right cnough. Just thinking out loud.
Altcr that thc two mcn stood in silcncc and watchcd thc
light ladc lrom thc pasturc and thc woods. A dccr walkcd into
thc lar cdgc ol thc cld and grazcd hcr way down toward a
pond. Cascwcll would havc bccn willing to bct shc had a lawn
stashcd somcwhcrc ncarby. 8ut youd ncvcr scc it. Hcd walkcd
right up on lawns that hc didnt scc until hc almost stcppcd
on thcm. Naturc kncw how to protcct hcr young.
At homc that night Cascwcll lound himscll rcplaying thc
altcrnoon hcd spcnt with Pcrla and Sadic. Tcrc wasnt much
to it, but what hc did rcmcmbcr agrccd with him. Pcrla bchavcd
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 25 4/15/14 8:42 AM
likc Cascwcll tcndcd to think a woman ought. Shcd bccn
mostly quict, tcnding to hcr daughtcr and thc mcal. And as
hcd noticcd bclorc, shc was casy on thc cycs. Now that hc was
bcginning to think ol Pcrla as pcrhaps morc than just a gucst
passing through, hc rcalizcd that hcd donc vcry littlc to cngagc
hcr in convcrsation. Hc and littlc Sadic had talkcd morc than
hc and Pcrla did. Vcll, il Pcrlas visit lastcd long cnough, hcd
havc to rcmcdy that.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 26 4/15/14 8:42 AM
nv voiiowixc Suxb~v, Pastor Longbournc invitcd
Cascwcll to play along with Gcorgc and Stcvc during
thc scrvicc. Tcy struck up a rousing vcrsion ol !ll Fly Away
that had cvcn thc staid Prcsbytcrians tapping thcir tocs. Hc saw
Sadic stand up and dancc a littlc bclorc hcr mothcr coaxcd hcr
back into thc pcw. Altcr church, thc musicians wcrc swampcd
by wcllwishcrs, and Cascwcll watchcd Pcrla climb into thc
Torntons car as townslolk blockcd his path to thc door.
Tat altcrnoon hc wcnt to scc thc Talbot sistcrs so that hc
could gct thcir opinions on a lcw nishing touchcs lor thcir
cupboard. Altcr giving him thc inlormation hc nccdcd, Liza
and Angic insistcd hc stay and visit with thcm. Tcy produccd
a pot ol tca, and Cascwcll lound himscll sitting on a sprung
sola, trying to balancc a tcacup on his kncc. Vith his mothcrs
Sunday dinncr in his bclly and thc twins prattlc in his cars, hc
had a hard timc staying awakc.
Cascwcll tricd to pay attcntion as Liza turncd hcr bluc
anncl cycs on him.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 27 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Vcrc not lond ol gossip, shc said. 8ut sincc yourc a singlc
man, you probably ought to know about that Pcrla Long.
Cascwcll joltcd awakc.
Now, Liza, cautioncd Angic, wc oughtnt to say anything
until wc know lor surc that shcs a harlot. !t could just bc mcan
talk ovcr a prctty woman.
! supposc yourc right, Liza said. Just bccausc Mclanic
Saundcrs says shcs ncvcr bccn marricd docsnt makc it truc.
And thc 8iblc is clcar about carrying talcs, Angic said.
Cascwcll lclt as il thc sistcrs wcrc playing a gamc ol bad
minton as thcy gcntly battcd thcir bit ol gossip back and lorth
in lront ol him. Angic turncd to Cascwcll and gavc him a
tight smilc.
Pay no attcntion to us, shc said. Scandalous storics travcl
lastcr than plain oncs, and wc havc no busincss tclling you
anything wcrc not surc ol. Pcrla is probably a lovcly young
woman and Mclanic Saundcrs is jcalous.
Cascwcll had a dozcn qucstions but didnt scc his way clcar
to ask any ol thcm. Liza apologizcd and turncd thc convcrsation
to pconics and whcthcr thc ants thcy attractcd wcrc ncccssary
to makc thcm bloom, or il it was salc to knock thc littlc pcsts
o. As soon as hc could do so politcly, Cascwcll told Liza and
Angic hcd havc thcir cupboard lor thcm by Tursday and
took his lcavc.
Hc pondcrcd what thc sistcrs had to say about Pcrla. Hc was
strongly opposcd to gossip, but hc couldnt vcry wcll unhcar
what thc Talbots had said. Hc also couldnt think ol a way to
dctcrminc il what thcy had hintcd at was truc, short ol asking
Pcrla hcrscll, and that hc would not do. Cascwcll toycd with
thc idca ol dropping somc hints around his mothcr so that shc
might bc inspircd to do a littlc digging, but that lclt wrong,
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 28 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
too. Rcgardlcss, hc lound Pcrla Long somcwhat lcss attractivc
at bcdtimc than hc had whcn hcd awokcn.
Cascwcll workcd hard to nish thc Talbot sistcrs cupboard
that wcck. Tc unnishcd thankyou projcct lor Pcrla and Sadic
sat on thc corncr ol his workbcnch. Hc workcd around it lor
a couplc ol days and thcn packcd it into a cratc and pushcd
it undcr thc bcnch. Hcd gct to it oncc thc paid work was out
ol thc way.
n Tursday Cascwcll loadcd thc nishcd piccc ol lurniturc
into thc back ol his truck with thc hclp ol his lathcr and carc
lully cushioncd it with old quilts. Hc drovc slowly ovcr to thc
Talbots, smiling to himscll. !t was a nc piccc ol work, and
hc was glad thc twins would havc it. Hc chargcd thcm lcss
than hc could gct clscwhcrc, but thc Talbots wcrcnt up on thc
currcnt cost ol handcraltcd lurniturc, and hc suspcctcd thcy
might laint il hc chargcd what it was worth.
Liza and Angic wcrc waiting lor Cascwcll on thcir lront
porch, hands claspcd and laccs cagcr. Liza lcancd out to scc
bcttcr as Cascwcll and his lathcr bcgan unloading thc basc ol
thc cabinct. Angic lrowncd at hcr sistcr and stood up a littlc
As hc liltcd thc lurniturc lrcc ol thc tailgatc, ad stum
blcd slightly and Cascwcll had to lungc to takc thc bulk ol
thc wcight. ad gruntcd and sccmcd to rccovcr himscll, so
Cascwcll shruggcd it o, supposing that ncithcr ol thcm wcrc
gctting any youngcr. !t was nothing.
Tats thc bottom part, isnt it: Liza askcd.
l coursc it is, Angic said. Tc top is still in thc truck.
pcn thc door lor thcm.
Tc sistcrs got in thc way only a littlc as thcy tricd to hclp
thc mcn bring both picccs ol thc cupboard into thc kitchcn.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 29 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Tc two mcn scttlcd thc basc into placc and thcn ccntcrcd thc
top against thc wall. !t t pcrlcctly and Cascwcll stood back,
a twin on cithcr sidc, to admirc his work.
Liza sighcd. !ts pcrlcct.
Vcll, nothing is pcrlcct, but its mighty closc, Angic said.
Now lcts scc how it works.
Tc two womcn bcgan placing roscstrcwn china platcs on
thc opcn shclvcs. A tcacup in its sauccr wcnt in lront ol cach
platc. Tcn a tcapot with sugar and crcamcr lound a homc on
a doily on thc lar right sidc ol thc scrving board. ncc cvcry
thing had bccn placcd, thc twins stcppcd back to chcck thc
ovcrall ccct. Liza sighcd again but apparcntly did not lccl
thc nccd to spcak.
Now, Angic said, rubbing hcr hands togcthcr, lcts chcck
thc workings.
Shc scnt Cascwcll to lctch a sack ol potatocs lrom thc ccl
lar, and hc pourcd thcm into thc potato bin whilc Angic tricd
all thc doors and madc surc thc latch on thc pic salc was to
hcr satislaction. Shc stcppcd back to stand bcsidc Liza again
and noddcd oncc.
Vc arc quitc plcascd, shc said. Liza, lctch our pursc.
Liza disappcarcd upstairs and soon rcturncd with a wcll
worn black lcathcr pursc. Angic took it and unsnappcd thc
clasp. Shc withdrcw cash and carclully countcd out thc corrcct
amount onto thc kitchcn tablc. Shc pauscd, looking torn, and
thcn pullcd out an additional vcdollar bill.
Tis is lor you and John lor your troublc in dclivcring thc
cupboard, shc said.
Vhy, thank you, Angic, but that isnt ncccssary, Cascwcll said.
! insist, Angic said, tapping thc stack ol bills. Your work is
solid and you dclivcrcd on timc. John, you raiscd a good boy.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 30 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
ad gruntcd and noddcd at Cascwcll. Takc it. You surcly
carncd it, hc said.
Tc sistcrs ocrcd cocc and molasscs cookics, which thc
mcn acccptcd. Cascwclls lathcr wasnt onc lor socializing, but
thc twins cookics wcrc lcgcndary. Tcy sat around thc kitchcn
tablc whilc thc womcn chattcrcd on about how handsomc thc
cabinct was, how it drcsscd up thc room, and how nicc it was
not to havc to go to thc ccllar lor potatocs so oltcn.
Tc talk cvcntually turncd to thc barn dancc clilah was
gctting up. Tc sistcrs wcrc trying to dccidc what thcy would
Cant go wrong with a batch ol thcm cookics, ad said,
making his rst rcal contribution to thc convcrsation.
h, ! know, Liza said. 8ut somctimcs ! gct thc urgc to
try somcthing dicrcnt. ! just ordcrcd thc ncw Better Homes
and Gardens cookbook, and oh my, thcrc arc somc lovcly things
in thcrc. So lancy. Shc lookcd wistlul.
Plain and good is bcttcr than lancy any day, Angic said,
brushing imaginary crumbs lrom thc tablccloth. A baskct
ol lricd chickcn and a platc ol cookics always gct catcn up.
! supposc so, Liza said, looking disappointcd.
! hcar that Pcrla Long is a mighty good cook, Angic said.
Youvc had hcr cooking, havcnt you, Cascwcll:
Ycs, ! gucss ! havc, hc said. And it was right tasty.
Vhat did shc makc: Liza askcd, lcaning lorward.
Vcll, now, shc madc a nc mcss ol grccns along with roast
pork. h, and an angcl cakc lor dcsscrt.
Angic snicd. Angcl cakc only uscs cgg whitcs. !ts a wastc
ol yolks. xtravagant.
!t was good, though, Cascwcll said. Shc scnt somc homc
with mc, and ! atc on it all wcck.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 31 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Somconc told mc shc always makcs way morc than is nccdcd
whcn shc docs thc cooking, Liza said. Tcy havc morc lcltovcrs
than thcy know what to do with ovcr thcrc at thc Torntons.
No gossiping, sistcr, Angic said, thcn madc a tsk-tsk sound.
Vastclul, wastclul.
Timc to go, son.
Cascwcll was surpriscd his lathcr had tolcratcd sitting and
visiting with thc Talbot sistcrs this long. Hc was probably itch
ing lor a cigarcttc. ad stood slowly, pushing himscll upright
lrom thc cdgc ol thc tablc. !t sccmcd to takc him a momcnt
to straightcn his back.
ncc outsidc, Cascwcll said, Hopc that hcavy lurniturc
wasnt too much lor you, ad. !d hatc to scc you gct down
in thc back.
Hc shot him a pointcd look. Tatll bc thc day whcn !
cant hclp my son dclivcr a lcw sticks ol lurniturc. Hc pullcd
out his makings and built a cigarcttc, blowing smokc out thc
truck window in licu ol convcrsation.
Cascwcll pullcd into his parcnts drivcway and watchcd his
lathcr climb out, waving a hand in his sons dircction as hc
trudgcd toward thc door. Cascwcll slid out ol thc truck and lol
lowcd him in. ad lookcd a littlc surpriscd but didnt commcnt.
Tought !d say hcy to Mom, Cascwcll cxplaincd.
ncc insidc, ad hcadcd straight lor thc living room and
scttlcd onto thc sola with thc ncwspapcr. mily was in thc
kitchcn baking hcr homcmadc whitc brcad.
!m so glad you camc in, shc said with a smilc. Lct mc
gct you somcthing to cat.
Cascwcll laughcd and stoppcd his mothcr lrom raiding thc
Frigidairc. ! had molasscs cookics with thc Talbot sistcrs, hc
said. !m nc.
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 32 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
Vcll, you can takc onc ol thcsc loavcs homc with you as
soon as thcy comc out ol thc ovcn, shc said, scttling lor lccd
ing him latcr.
So, Ma, Cascwcll said, hoping to sound casual, cvcrything
all right with ad: Hc sccmcd a littlc tircd today.
id hc: mily turncd away to nish wiping down thc
countcr whcrc shcd kncadcd hcr brcad.
Ycah. ! gurc its nothing, but ! wantcd to chcck with you.
h, !m surc yourc right, shc said. Probably didnt slccp
wcll last night, and hcs not as young as hc oncc was. Scoot
in thcrc and rcad thc papcr with him. Tis brcad will bc out
in tcn minutcs.
Cascwcll stuck his hcad in thc living room and saw that his
lathcr was snoring soltly with thc papcr opcn across his chcst.
Cascwcll stcppcd back into thc kitchcn.
Hcs napping. ont worry about thc brcad. !ll gct somc
ncxt timc.
Napping: Cascwcll thought hc hcard a notc ol alarm in his
mothcrs voicc, but shc quickly smoothcd it ovcr. Vcll, thcn,
!m surc hc just had a rcstlcss night. Shc noddcd cmphatically
and Cascwcll wondcrcd which ol thcm shc hopcd to convincc.

Pcrla was gratclul Sadic was such an casy child. Tc littlc girl
rarcly lusscd and t in with adults bcttcr than most childrcn.
Shc had an casygoing, chccrlul way about hcr that somchow
put grownups at casc. Pcrla noticcd that pcoplc talkcd to Sadic
without rcsorting to a highpitchcd voicc or silly qucstions.
Somctimcs Pcrla caught hcrscll talking to Sadic about things
thc child had no busincss knowingthings about hcr lathcr
and thcir situation. Pcrla tricd to rcmcmbcr that Sadic was
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 33 4/15/14 8:42 AM
vc and nccdcd protccting, but shc had no onc clsc to talk to.
Sadic was a comlort, and Pcrla hopcd that coming to Visc
and rcmoving thcm both lrom cvcrything thcy kncw hadnt
bccn a mistakc.
Robcrt and clilah wcrc lovcly. Tcy hadnt askcd a lot ol
qucstions whcn Pcrla wrotc to ask il shc and Sadic could comc
stay lor a whilc. clilah just callcd and said ol coursc thcy
should comc and stay as long as thcy likcd. Pcrla had ocrcd
to pay a littlc rcnt or hclp out in somc way, but thc Torntons
rcluscd adamantly. Pcrla misscd hcr mothcr, but thc looks and
thc whispcrs had gottcn to thc point that Pcrla kncw thc only
thing to do was to go whcrc no onc, cxccpt Robcrt and clilah,
kncw hcr story. Pcrlas mothcr, Charlottc, had protcstcd but
not vcry much. Shc camc around much too quickly to thc idca
ol hcr daughtcr and granddaughtcr lcaving, and Pcrla thought
maybc shc scnscd a ccrtain lcvcl ol rclicl.
Tc sistcrs had always bccn closc. Just thirtccn months apart
in agc, thcy had bccn mistakcn lor twins a timc or two, and it
was a comlort lor Pcrla to havc somconc so likc hcr mothcr
lussing ovcr hcr and Sadic. And thcn again, thcrc wcrc timcs
Aunt clilah rcmindcd hcr so much ol hcr mothcr that Pcrla
would havc to nd a quict corncr to cry ovcr missing hcr mothcr
and rcgrctting what shc had donc to shamc hcr. Mothcr al
ways said thc shamc wasnt on Pcrla, but thc way thc lolks in
Comstock actcd, thcrc was no doubt whcrc thcy laid thc blamc.
Tc onc thing thc Torntons had allowcd Pcrla to do was to
takc ovcr almost all ol thc cooking. Vith Robcrt and clilah
at thc storc most days, it hclpcd to havc Pcrla bringing thcm
lunch around noon and having suppcr rcady whcn thcy camc
homc in thc cvcning. clilah uscd to comc homc an hour carly
to start dinncr, but now shc could takc hcr timc and hclp Robcrt
_Thomas_MiracleDrySeason_SA_wo.indd 34 4/15/14 8:42 AM
Sarah Loudin Thomas
closc up cach cvcning. Pcrla hopcd that shc was truly a hclp
to hcr aunt and unclc. And shc did havc a knack with lood.
Somctimcs Pcrlas way with lood unncrvcd hcr a littlc. Shc
would takc a chickcn or somc potatocs into hcr hands, and it
sccmcd as il shc didnt dccidc what to do with thcmthcy
dccidcd lor hcr. Almost bclorc shc kncw what shc planncd,
shcd havc cnough chickcn and dumplings to lccd hall thc
county, or so many potatocs au gratin shc couldnt nd a pan
big cnough. And thc lood was good. Pcoplc oltcn told Pcrla
shc should writc hcr rccipcs down, but shc wasnt surc shc could
cvcn rcmcmbcr what shc put in thcm hall thc timc. Vhcn shc
cookcd, it was almost likc shc wcnt into a trancc and thc rcst
ol thc world didnt mattcr, just translorming raw ingrcdicnts
into somcthing dclicious and lilc sustaining was thc closcst
Pcrla got to bcing happy.
No, Pcrla rcalizcd, not happy. Shc was happy whcn Sadic
laughcd or cuddlcd closc. Vhat shc lclt whcn shc cookcd
was a dccp, abiding pcacc. Shc might havc prclcrrcd to cook
all thc timc just to rctain that lccling, but somctimcs whcn
shc put a mcal on thc tablc, shc rcalizcd that shc had lost a
chunk ol timc. Shc kncw shcd bccn in thc kitchcn prcparing
lood, but shc could no morc rccount hcr movcmcnts than shc
could y. Scrving dinncr was likc waking up lrom a dccp and
rcstlul slccp. And Pcrla worricd that shc ncglcctcd Sadic at
thosc timcs.
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