Dare to Share A Dream – Full Story

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Dare to Share A Dream by Lorri Moulton

Dare to Share A Dream: A Historical Fiction Series Novelette 4

Copyright © 2018 by Lavender Lass Books – All Rights Reserved

This book is dedicated to my husband, who shares dreams, love & adventure with me every day.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events, places, businesses and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

As for content, this is a fictional book, loosely based on my great-great grandparents and the romance they shared.  As always, every effort has been made to cleanly edit the text. However, typos do happen.  If you find any errors, please accept my apology and bring them to my attention, so I can provide a better book for all future readers.  Thank you!

“Hope is a waking dream.” ~ Aristotle

The Classroom

As Henry walked around the classroom, he quickly put things to rights.  He liked everything to be in order with all items in their proper place.  He detested chaos, since his life was chaotic on all but the very best days.

It wasn’t easy being deaf.  In the 1870s, there were no interpreters to communicate one’s feelings to the public. And most people didn’t understand sign language.  Writing was the only way to let others know what he needed.  Let alone what he dreamed.

She would be coming to his classroom this afternoon.  He tried to think about something, anything else, but all he could see was her lovely blonde hair all braided up around her head.  He longed to run his fingers through those braids.  Thought of it often, too often lately.

But that was no good.  Even though she had completed all of her classes, technically, she was still a student.  She’d been tutoring a few of the younger girls this semester and might be considered for a teaching job, should she want to return in the fall.  When the Dean had informed him, Henry had tried not to look too pleased with the idea.

He reminded himself that they came from two very different worlds.  Her father was the mayor of a nearby city, while he was from a poor farm family.  The fact that he’d been given the opportunity to go to school was by the grace of a nearby, wealthy neighbor.  She had been his salvation, or so he had thought.  The chance to find books and learn to communicate with others like himself.  Yet, now that he’d been teaching these seven long years, all he could think about (besides those braids) was how much he missed the farm.  And the days, when no one had wanted him to settle petty disputes or grade papers. 

He remembered the lovely way the sun rose over the hills in the morning or the brilliant colors as it sank in the evening.  And his horses.  How he longed to have his own horse again.

He continued checking around the room, making sure everything was put away for the weekend.  After this final class, he would be free for two days with the luxury to read what he liked.  And thank goodness, no papers to grade this weekend.  He was so involved in his thoughts that he jumped when he felt the soft touch on his shoulder.

There she was, lovely golden braids and all.  God, he would love to see her with her hair down.  But he pushed all such thoughts out of his head and smiled, waiting for her to sign why she was there.

Clara caught her breath and smiled at the man before her.  He was a popular teacher and very well-respected at the school.  He taught mainly the boys, but she had been in his science lab a few years ago and remembered how he would run his hand through his hair, when he explained the amazing wonders of the universe.  He would forget and stop signing, then catch himself and go back to his lecture.

As she looked up at him this afternoon, she saw yet again those intense blue eyes.  Eyes she felt she could drown in.  But she stood tall and signed to him that she would like to ask him a question.  “As you know, I’ve been tutoring a few of the younger girls with their studies and usually come with them to the afternoon class.  Today, I am leaving early to travel home for the weekend.  May I have their homework assignment, so I can leave notes for them?”

Henry nodded and walked over to his desk by the blackboard.  He pulled out his notes and wrote down a few questions.  This was the gist of the lecture and he knew she would have no trouble with the topic.  She had done well in the class he’d taught two years ago.  Back then, the braids had hung down past her shoulders.  He had merely thought her a pretty girl but was more focused on her quick intellect.  Over the past few months, he had been watching her work with the two younger girls.  She was so good with them.  So patient.  And so beautiful.

He smoothed down the sides of his jacket and took the notes over to her.  “Are you looking forward to seeing your family?” he signed.

 Clara was surprised by the question, as Mr. Dawson was known for rarely getting involved in personal issues or even asking about what went on outside the school.

She smiled and replied, “Yes, I am happy to be going home for a few days and to be able to spend time with my sisters.” 

Suddenly, not sure if she was pressing her luck, she signed another question.  “Do you think I should go home after graduating next month…or possibly take a position teaching the younger girls?  There’s a chance I might be asked back as a teacher this fall.” 

Henry tried not to smile.  Looking as serious as he could, he sat back down at his desk and inquired, “What do you want to do?”  He caught himself tapping his foot ever so softly.  Calm down, he thought.  Don’t scare her off.

Clara smiled and replied, “I enjoy tutoring the girls very much, but I am not sure my family would support the idea of my being a teacher.”  Suddenly, she found herself going too far.  Maybe she just needed to confide in someone, but she added, “My family wants me to come home and get married.” 

Henry looked down at his desk.  Clara saw him run his hand through his hair, then slowly look up.  “Of course,” he signed, “whatever you think best.”

As he turned to get up, Clara touched his arm.  He looked back and she explained, “I want to get married for love.  Not because some clerk wants to marry into my family’s business.  My father is rich and has a great deal of influence in our community.  I don’t want to be married off as some prize, but I do want a husband and children. Is that so wrong for someone like me?”

Catching herself, she blushed and ran out of the room.  Henry looked after her for some time.  Maybe for the first time realizing there was a lot more to this young woman than beautiful blonde braids and a quick wit.

The Library

He had to be here somewhere, thought Clara.  The entire school knew he was always in the library on Sunday afternoons and she needed to find him before class the next day.  She couldn’t believe she had disclosed those things to him.  Why would anyone confide in a teacher about one’s family?  Let alone a male teacher?  And to have admitted that she wanted more than an arranged marriage.  How many girls would be thrilled to have her family connections to ensure a decent match?

She had to find him or face walking into the class with her two girls and being humiliated.  Better to get it out of the way today, she thought.  Let it all blow over and then they could get back to their usual routine.  She would tutor her girls and he would teach.  Wait, now they had a routine?  Time to put this to rest once and for all.

Finally!  There he was in the back by the poetry section. Of course, it would be poetry. With those dark blue eyes of his.  Taking a deep breath and forcing herself to stop this ridiculous fantasizing, she walked up to Henry Dawson.

“Hello,” she signed.  “I didn’t know you’d be in the library today.”  Since it’s impossible to cross your fingers over a little white lie, while signing…she mentally did it and kept going. 

Henry surprised her by smiling and indicating that she should sit down at a nearby table.  “Did you enjoy your visit home?”  Then realizing it might seem too eager, added, “With your sisters?”

She nodded yes and smiled, herself.  Oh, those eyes.  She forced herself back to the subject she wanted to discuss.  “I hope you weren’t embarrassed, when I asked your opinion the other day.  I know it’s not appropriate to discuss such things….”

But Henry interrupted her, signing, “Of course, it’s appropriate.  You asked my opinion about teaching here and I think you would do a marvelous job…if that’s what you want.”  And then he carefully put his hands on the table.  He didn’t want to add anything else as he was noticing the lovely green color of her eyes.  Why hadn’t he seen that before?  He’d been so focused on those beautiful braids, but her eyes were even more amazing.

Clara decided to change tactics.  “I was very glad for your advice, but tell me, do you play chess?  My father loves to play, and I miss our games.  Having all girls, he insisted we learn to play, so we could keep him sharp.  Mother would be wonderful but refuses to learn.” 

Oh no, I’m rambling, she thought.  She continued anyway, “He said I should find someone at school to challenge me.  Can you recommend any women teachers, who might play?”

Henry smiled and signed, “Yes, of course, but we have a club that meets on Wednesday evenings.  Some students, a few tutors like yourself, but mostly teachers. I’m afraid we don’t have many women members, but we would welcome anyone, who enjoys the game.”

Clara looked down at the table, then raised her eyes and looked directly into his.  “Would it be all right if I played against the men as well as the women?”

Henry’s eyes lit up and he rewarded her with a big smile.  “Of course.  We play for the game and we never have enough members to worry about that sort of thing.  Whomever is the better player moves on to the next round.  We’ll have our tournament at the end of the month. If you are able to attend this Wednesday, you could enter your name if you like.”

Clara smiled and stood up. “Yes, I would like that very much,” she signed.  “Thank you.”

Then, she turned around and left the library, smiling to herself as she walked out the front door.  So much for being embarrassed.  She decided she would no longer worry about anything but brushing up on her chess game.  She would win that match and she would play in that tournament.  And for the next three weeks, she would look forward to spending every Wednesday night with Henry Dawson. 

As she walked away, Henry watched the way the light caught her hair and for the first time, he didn’t think only of her braids.  He also thought about those lovely green eyes and how rewarding it would be to look across a chess table and see her on the other side.  Who knew?  She might even be good at it and that would be his downfall.  He was well on his way to becoming smitten, but if she really was a good chess player, he might just have to marry this girl.  He wondered if she liked horses….

The Park

Henry looked at his watch again.  She should have been here by now.  He hoped she hadn’t changed her mind.  She had been so eager to go to the gardens, when they discussed it last Wednesday night after she’d won her chess game.  He hadn’t played against her yet, but she had won the last two matches and assured herself a place in the tournament.

Looking around, he saw the roses were beautiful this spring.  The middle of May and they were spilling over the edges of the gardens.  He knew Clara would enjoy them.  One of the things he’d found out about her these past few weeks was her love of plants, especially roses.  She preferred the climbing ones and the largest shrubs.  They refused to be contained, she’d said…and he thought that was probably what appealed to her.

There she was.  Thank goodness, he thought.  He hadn’t realized how worried he’d been about her until now.  As she got closer, he saw she looked as though she’d been crying.  He ran over to her to see if she was okay.  She stopped as he reached her and signed that she was sorry for being so late.

“What’s wrong?” asked Henry.  “Did something happen to the girls?”  He knew she was very fond of the two younger girls she tutored in the afternoons. 

“No,” she replied.  “It’s my father.  He telegraphed to let me know he wants me to come home this weekend.  He says my future is assured and he and my mother want me to make plans to return at once.  They want me to meet someone, then expect me to move back home immediately after the graduation ceremony.”

Henry looked at the ground.  Then, carefully controlling his expression, he looked up at her again.  “Do they know you want to return after graduation?  Do they know you’re considering the teaching position that’s being offered by the school?”

He hadn’t told her that he had helped a bit with that, but only in making sure the offer would include living quarters and a stipend.  He told the administration that someone with her family connections would expect nothing less.  In fact, it was the standard pay for the men teaching at the school.

Clara fought to maintain her composure.  How could they do this to her?  She knew her parents loved her and were concerned about her future, but she was deaf not ill.  She could work, she could earn a living and she should be able to make her own choices.  After all, this was her life.  She knew they were concerned that if something happened to them, she would be alone.  With no sons to maintain the family business, they were hoping to get all their daughters comfortably situated for their own happiness and security.  She knew this…but she still thought it very unfair.

“Yes, I explained everything to them, but they didn’t seem too pleased.  I don’t know what I’ll do,” she told Henry.  When had it started being Henry and not Mr. Dawson, she wondered?  Focus, she thought.  Now was not the time to be distracted by thoughts that were not an option.  If she had been able to teach at the school.  If they had worked together for a year or two…then maybe.  But now?

Clara couldn’t help it.  She wiped her eye and Henry reached out and took her hand.  After a moment, he signed, “Clara, I don’t want you to worry.  Surely, your parents will understand what a fine opportunity this is for you?”  But even he knew that a good marriage was still a better option in 1874.  And if he had a daughter, he might very well be hoping the same for her.

“I don’t want to go,” Clara surprised herself with the veracity of her hand movements as she signed.  Catching herself, she dropped her arms.  Then she started again, more calmly.  “I mean that I don’t want to go today.  We had so many plans.  This park, the garden, the chess tournament.”  Then blushing, she quickly added, “I mean I had so many plans.”

Henry suddenly had a brilliant thought.  “Can you telegraph them back?  Tell your parents that you’d like them to see the school, meet some of the staff…maybe stay in town the weekend of the graduation?”  Then worried that he had overstepped, added, “They may not realize how important this is…to you.  Maybe we can convince them together?”

Despite everything, Clara smiled softly.  “Yes, I could do that.  Maybe they would reconsider whatever plans they have in mind.  It’s worth a try.”

Then surprising herself, she reached out and briefly took Henry’s hand.  “Let’s go look at the garden,” she signed, a few moments later.  “I refuse to let one more minute of my time here be ruined by what might be.  For now, I choose to enjoy what is right in front of me.”   She looked down for a moment, then back up.  “I mean, enjoy the present rather than worry about the future.”

Henry couldn’t help it.  He took her hand and pressed it in both of his.  Then, he signed something he hadn’t planned.  “Clara, I know there is so much going on right now, but I have to ask.  Do you like horses?”

Clara seemed surprised for a moment by the change in conversation, but quickly recovered.  She smiled and replied, “I do indeed.  I love horses.  I wish I had my own, but with school it would be too difficult.  I had one when I was younger though.  Pearl, a beautiful white horse that was too old to work.  My parents let me visit her in the stables and I would sneak down and see her whenever I could.”  Oh, no…I’m rambling again, she thought, but Henry just kept smiling.

“Clara, we need to talk about a lot of things, but right now, let’s go look at the roses.”  He placed her hand on his arm as they walked across the park and into the gardens. 

She smiled up at him and Henry knew he would never be able to go on without her.  But for now, he thought, they would simply enjoy the roses.

The Graduation

Clara was so nervous.  Her parents had come up to the school to see her graduate today.  Now that the ceremony was over, this was her one chance to convince them she could manage on her own.  She could be a teacher at the school.  She could determine her own future.

Clara looked across the lawn and saw her parents sitting in the shade, having some lemonade at one of the tables.  She walked over in her cap and gown, looking for some sign of Henry.  He had offered to give them a tour of the school and hopefully, convince her parents that she would be a valuable addition to the teaching staff. 

Just as Clara reached her parents, she saw Henry walking towards them from the other side of campus.  Suspiciously close to the library.  Clara smiled in spite of herself and walked over to her mother.

“I’m so happy you are here today, Mother,” signed Clara. “And you too, Papa.”  Leaning over, she gave her mother a kiss and her father a hug.  “I can’t wait for you to see the rest of the campus,” she signed to her father.  “This is Friday and if you like, you can stay the weekend.”  She knew her parents could easily find rooms at the local hotel.

She held her breath as she saw the look that passed between her parents.  Then, she turned to see Henry walking up to them.  “Mother, Father…this is Mr. Dawson, our science teacher here at the school.” 

Henry reached over and shook Clara’s father’s hand, then bowed to her mother.  “I am so glad you could be here for Clara’s graduation,” he signed.  “We are all very pleased with her success as a student here and now a tutor…and look forward to what she will accomplish in the future.” 

He stole a quick glance at Clara, who looked a bit concerned, then he smiled at her father.  “Sir,” he signed, “would you and your wife like to take a tour of the school grounds?”

Clara’s mother surprised Henry by signing very quickly and quite well.  “We appreciate the opportunity that the school has offered our Clara, but she will not be able to take a teaching position now or in the future.  So, there is no reason to take a tour, but if you’d like to join us for lunch…”

“Mama,” Clara signed.  “How can you say this to Mr. Dawson, as if I’m an 8-year-old child and have no input in a decision that will affect my entire life?”

Clara’s father was trying to keep up, but his signing was limited.  He reached out a hand and touched his wife’s shoulder.  “Katie, why don’t you sit down and let Clara enjoy her afternoon?  She must have friends she wants to see before she leaves.”

Katherine turned to her husband, talking and signing at the same time, so Clara and Henry would be included in the conversation.  “Jimmy, I don’t want to have this discussion again.  Of course, Clara could teach…but why should she?  What life is that for her?”  Turning to Clara, she continued, “I know you want a family.  If you get married, won’t you have to quit your job?”

Henry had to admit that was true.  As much as he wanted to keep Clara in his life, he knew he wouldn’t make enough money teaching to support himself and a family.  And the school only offered living quarters for unmarried teachers.  He had hoped to get a promotion, maybe become a dean in a few years.

Katherine was looking at Clara, who for some reason was turning a lovely shade of pink.  It took only a moment for Katherine to realize what was going on.  Turning to Henry she continued, “While my husband and I appreciate the interest you’ve shown in helping our daughter get a job with the school…” and glancing at Clara, continued, “anyone who really cares for her would realize this is not the best option for her future.”

Now, Katherine looked at Clara and her voice and signing softened as she said, “Darling, you know I want you to be happy.  And if I thought anything,” she looked briefly over at Henry, “or anyone could make you happy, really happy, of course I would support that decision.”

Clara blushed again and her father said, “Katherine, let the girl alone.  Can’t you see you’re embarrassing her in front of her teacher?”  

Katherine smiled softly and signed, “Yes dear, you’re right, we don’t want to do that.”  Then, looking at Clara, she continued, “Why don’t you stay until the weekend is over?  It will give you some time to say goodbye to all your friends.”  Looking at Henry, she finished, “You’ll want a chance to say a proper goodbye since you won’t be seeing them anymore after Sunday.”

Then, turning to her husband, she said, “James, we should get back.  The train leaves in an hour and I have many things to do before Clara returns home.” 

Clara put her hand on her mother’s arm.  “Thank you, Mother.  I will stay the extra day, but I don’t consider this discussion over.  When I come home on Sunday, we will finish it then.”

Katherine stared at her for a moment, then seemed as if she was going to say something but stopped.  Instead, she smiled and added, “Very well.  We’ll finish this then.”  Turning to Henry, she signed, “It was very nice to meet you, Mr. Dawson.” 

Henry took the opportunity to excuse himself, saying he had other students and families to see, but wished them a safe trip home.  He looked at Clara and signed, “If you are staying for the weekend, perhaps we will see each other at the dance tomorrow evening?”  Then, he turned and left. 

Clara watched his back as he walked across the lawn.  But he’d just asked her for a dance, hadn’t he?  Maybe there was still a chance they could think of a way for her to stay at the school.  But she had to admit her mother was right.  She did want a family.  The question was, did Henry feel the same way?

The Dance

Henry had not seen Clara all day, in fact, not since he’d left her with her family the day before.  He hoped she would be at the dance, but he had not given her a chance to respond to his invitation.  Actually, it hadn’t really been an invitation and he told himself he should have been more specific.   He was starting to wonder if she’d gone home, when he saw her across the room.

She was breathtaking.  That was simply the only way to describe it.  Her blonde braids, which he spent entirely too much time thinking about already, had been replaced with curls that dropped down in a lovely way he couldn’t really describe. It was magical and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. 

Again, he told himself this was inappropriate.  She was a student, but then realized that technically she was not.  Having graduated, there was no reason not to think about those curls.  Well, at least not from a safe distance.

She moved with such grace that he couldn’t stop watching her.  She hadn’t seen him yet, but everyone at the dance seemed to notice her.  Then, she saw him and came over to sign hello.  The pale blue dress she wore seemed to bring out the green in her eyes and Henry realized he had to do something.  He could not let her go home and marry someone else.  She was too precious to him.

“It’s so nice the way they’ve decorated the place tonight, don’t you think?”  As she looked up at Henry, all she could see were those eyes.  Why did they have to be such a deep shade of blue?  She realized she had been caught up in them for a few moments, then recovered by asking, “Did you have a nice time with the other students and their families?”

Henry just looked at her for a moment.  “Will you dance with me?” he asked, feeling the vibration of the music as the orchestra began playing.  The look in his eyes suddenly seemed hopeful and sad at the same time.  Clara took his hand and nodded yes.

It was the first time they’d danced together and somehow, neither of them was surprised at how well they fit together.  She seemed to anticipate his every move as he twirled her gently around the floor.  He looked into her eyes and time seemed to stop.  They danced in slow circles and there was no one else in the world, but her.  He looked at her hair, her eyes, and then her smile.  How could he let her go?

As the music stopped, he asked if she’d like to go outside and get some fresh air.  Clara agreed that it would be nice to get away from all the people, wondering why she hadn’t seemed to notice them before.   It was suddenly very crowded on the dance floor as she followed Henry through the French doors and out into the evening.

Henry turned around as they reached the balcony railing.  Most of the people were still dancing and they had relative privacy out here.  Looking at Clara, he signed, “I want to tell you something.  Something I want you to understand.  When I was a young boy, my older brother had a dream he shared with me.  He was going to get a large piece of land out west, where he and I would move and have our own farm.  A proper farm with horses and acreage that would support a family.  He would describe it to me every night, telling me how it would be, when he was old enough to go out there and arrange everything.  My brother learned sign language and then taught me, himself.”

Henry stopped for a moment and Clara just watched him intently, waiting for him to go on.  Henry took a deep breath and continued, “Of course, like so many young men, he didn’t come back from the war.  He made it to the end of August 1862, then died saving a friend during the Second Battle of Bull Run.  I know, because his friend came home after recovering from his injuries and explained to me what happened.  His mother is the one, who paid for me to come to this school.  She saw something in me, she said.  But later, I suspected she felt she owed it to my brother.  My point is…having a farm is still my dream.  My brother Charles convinced me that it was my future.  Teaching is just something I fell into because I lost my family.”

Clara, feeling a bit confused, signed, “Are you saying I should give up on my dreams?  Do what my family wants and go home?”

Henry knew he should answer yes.  He knew it was the best thing for her.  But he couldn’t do it.  “No,” he signed, “I’m saying if it’s possible, do you think you could share my dream with me?”

Clara’s face lit up.  “What are you asking, Henry?”  She held her breath for a moment wondering if this was real.  “Do you want me to live on a farm with you?”

Henry smiled.  “Well, only if we were married and actually had a farm, but yes, that’s the general idea.”  And with that, he reached up and touched one of her curls.  “I’m sorry, but I’ve been wanting to do that for entirely too long.”

Clara just looked at him.  Looked into those deep blue eyes and lifted her hand and touched his cheek.  “You have the bluest eyes….” 

Henry leaned over and kissed her.  A kiss that started out very sweet and turned into something deeper, full of longing.  He knew he couldn’t promise her anything yet.  But he had to try.  “Clara, I want to be clear.  I have to see if I can get the land.  And you have to go home.  Stall your family and give me a month to try and pull this together.  Can you wait a month?”

Clara smiled and signed, “I will do whatever it takes to give you that month.”  Reaching up, she kissed him again.  When she could gather her thoughts, she looked up and added, “I want to share your dream.  I want to make it my dream…our dream.  I want that more than anything, Henry.”

Henry gazed down at her and knew he would do anything to make her his wife.  “I will come for you.  I will be there by early July.  I promise you.”

Clara touched his face again, then signed, “I’ll be waiting for you.” 

The Picnic

Clara had been home for a month and still no word from Henry.  She had come up with every excuse she could think of and still no note, no telegram, nothing.  For the hundredth time that day, she wondered if she could stall much longer.  Then, she remembered the dance and the way his eyes had looked right before he kissed her.  She could wait.  She could wait as long as she must if it meant kissing Henry again.

Her mother walked into the library, where Clara was pretending to read, but mostly daydreaming.  It seemed the girl had a far-away look on her face every time she saw her.  Maybe it was the young man she’d introduced Clara to last week, but she doubted it. 

“Clara,” she signed, “I want you to go with us this afternoon to the Independence Day picnic.” As Clara started to lift her hand, Katherine followed with, “No excuses.  You’ve been very good at evading the invitations you’ve received since coming home, but we need to go as a family.  It’s important to your father.”

Clara thought how well her mother knew her.  She would never let her father down.  Neither of them would.  He was just too wonderful.  And much like with Henry, she would do anything she could for him.  So, she decided it was a lovely day to go to the picnic and maybe it would buy her an excuse, when the next young man looked eagerly in her direction.  But did they see her or the dollar signs over her head?

“Well?” her mother signed.

“Yes, of course I’ll go.  Anything for you and Papa,” she replied.  Then she smiled very sweetly and went up to her room.  That girl tested her patience, thought Katherine.  Of all her daughters, she was the most difficult to pin down.  She was so sweet, like her father…but underneath as stubborn as, well herself.  Katherine smiled, shook her head and went to find her other daughters. 

Clara was sitting on a blanket under the shade of a large oak tree, when her father came over to check on her.  “Hello, sweet girl,” he signed.  It was one of his favorite things to say and one of the first he’d learned to sign.  Even though it was more appropriate when she was six, she still enjoyed seeing it.

“Hello, Papa” she responded. “How are you enjoying the picnic?”

“I’d enjoy it more if you were having fun with your sisters or walking with one of those nice young men,” he answered, smiling. 

As they watched the young people walking around, her mother came over and asked Clara, “Do you know why your teacher is here?”

Clara jumped up and signed, “Where?”  To which Katherine answered, “Over by the grandstand, looking like a fish out of water, but very determined.”  Clara started over, but settled for a wave, when she felt her father’s hand on her shoulder. 

Henry came over to them and asked if he could talk to them about an urgent matter.  Katherine looked over at Clara, having a feeling what it might be, but waited to see what Henry had to say. 

Looking at them both, Henry began, “Thank you for your time.  I am here to formally request the hand of your lovely daughter in marriage.”  Clara’s eyes grew large, as she looked at her mother and then her father.  Henry continued, “I thought about what you said at the school.  And I’ve realized you were right.  A teacher’s salary would not support a family and Clara should be out in the world.  So, I have made a few changes since the last time we spoke.”

Clara looked at Henry with a question in her eyes and saw him nod very slightly towards her.  The smile she rewarded him with almost had him forgetting where he was, but he quickly recovered.

“As Clara’s parents, I want you to know that I can now offer Clara a better future…one that includes 320 acres of prime farmland in the Dakota Territory.  It will be a long train ride from here, but not so far that she can’t come back to visit.  And hopefully, you can visit us as well.”

Katherine held up her hand.  “Wait just a minute,” she signed.  “You and Clara are going to travel by yourself to God knows where and farm?  Do you know anything about farming?”

“I grew up on a farm,” Henry replied, “and we wouldn’t be alone.  One of my graduating students will be joining us, as well as his two brothers, who are able to speak and sign.  Clara and I will keep half the acreage and once it’s turning a profit, the boys will take over the other half.  They’ll be working with us and making improvements that will benefit us all.”

“And how far from a town will this be?” asked Clara’s father, a concerned look on his face.

“Only a few miles from a town with a train station and a general store.  My friend,” he looked at Clara, “the one I told you about…he knows some people, who decided farming wasn’t for them.  They built a nice farmhouse, a good-sized barn and even put in a garden.  Then, they changed their minds and went back to the city.  I can take over their claim and if we can make a go of it, then the land is ours.”

Clara was almost jumping up and down, so she told herself to calm down and look a little more composed.  She turned to her father and asked, “Don’t you think that’s an excellent idea, Papa?”

He looked at his wife and started to say something, when Katherine stopped him.  “Jimmy, we started out poor, remember?  And you told me I’d never regret believing in you…and I never have.  I think it’s time we gave Clara the same chance.” 

Jimmy smiled back.  “Aye, you did, my darling.  I suppose our sweet lass deserves the same happiness.”

Turning to Henry and Clara, Katherine signed, “I have one condition.  Until there’s a real hospital in this small town of yours, my daughter comes home to have her babies.  This is not negotiable.”

Clara blushed and Henry signed, “Of course.  I want only the best for Clara.”  Then added, “Do I have your permission?”

Clara looked at her parents and they smiled.  “Go ahead,” her father signed, “she seems to be pleased with the idea and honestly, so am I.”

Henry asked Clara to walk with him.   They strolled over to a stand of trees and he took her hand.  “Are you sure, Clara?” he asked. 

Clara smiled and answered, “To share a dream with you.  It’s all I want, Henry.  You are all I want.”

Henry reached into his pocket and pulling out a box, opened it and took out a ring with a small emerald.  “For the color of your lovely eyes,” he told her, “and a gold band to match your hair.  Will you marry me, Clara?”

Clara looked up into those deep blue eyes and replied, “Yes, I’ll marry you.” 

She gently touched his cheek and they just looked at each other for a moment.  Then, Henry ran his finger along her braid and kissed her. 

“Don’t ever change your hair,” he signed, then smiled. “Of course, I haven’t seen it down.  I might change my mind.”

The Farm

Clara and Henry stepped off the train.  So much had happened since that day at the picnic.  Now, they were man and wife.  After the wedding, they had packed up everything they could bring with them and traveled across three states on the train.  They were finally at the town that Henry had described at the picnic. Now, it was the end of August and Clara was anxious to see the farm.

“We’re almost there,” Henry signed.  “I’ve arranged to have someone take us out to see the place tonight and help us haul our possessions.”  Clara smiled, knowing that was his new word for her various boxes, bags, and other assorted packages.

“You’ll be glad I brought all this,” she replied, still smiling, “when we’re settled into our new home.”

New home, she thought.  Not that long ago, she didn’t know what her future held.  Now, she was starting off on the adventure of a lifetime.  As they rode, she looked at the landscape, marveling at all the trees.

“I didn’t expect so many trees,” she signed to Henry.  “I mean for farmland, I was expecting more fields.”

“Oh, we’ll see those soon,” he promised.  “Right now, we’re following the creek, so there are more trees by the water.”

As they turned another corner, she felt his hand stiffen on her arm.  She could just make out a barn in the distance.  The creek wound its way towards the barn, then veered off to the right. 

Henry, seeming to read her mind, signed, “The creek goes along the edge of the property, where it turns there.  The extra humidity will come in handy for the crops, but there won’t be a problem with flooding.”

He did know farming, she realized.  Smiling up at her husband, Clara asked if he had seen the house. 

“Only briefly,” he replied. “And I’m sure you’ll have ideas about that, so I thought I’d leave it in your very capable hands.”  Looking down, he squeezed one of her capable hands and surprised himself by turning it over and kissing her wrist.  She really brought out the romantic in him, he thought.  Then he smiled, thinking how lucky he was to have her in his life.

As they pulled in front of the house, Henry signed, “There is something I want to show you before we go in.”  Leading her around the side of the house, he waited for her to see it.  In front of her was the beginning of a lovely garden.  It needed a bit of work and some finishing touches, but she would enjoy the task.  As she followed Henry around the corner, he took her to the back door. 

“This is when I knew that we had found our home,” he signed.  He pointed to the pink rose bush climbing over the doorway.  “It grows where it will, beautiful to behold and refuses to be contained.”  He smiled at her, adding, “I have learned to appreciate those qualities in the past few months.”  

Clara looked into those deep blue eyes, eyes she could drown in, and reached up and kissed him.  Yes, she thought, this was home.

Thank you for reading Dare to Share A Dream.  I hope you enjoyed the story!  If you haven’t already, you can read about how Clara’s parents met in Dare to Cross The Water. 

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