Love Is Enough
By Mabel Harmer
Geniel made almost daily calls upon Miss Blayney while she was recovering from the fall. Together, they talked over plans for the library. The parlor was to be left just as it was, to be used for cultural meetings of any groups. The dining room, on the opposite side, would be the main checking out room of the library, with additional book-shelf space in the original library room of the house itself.
The school board had rented a truck to go over to Denver and pick up the books from Geniel’s home. Also, they had an appropriate sign made to be placed above the front entrance.
“You have no idea what this will mean to the children of this town,” Geniel remarked to Miss Blayney one afternoon. “Some of them are simply starved for good books.”
“I think perhaps I do,” she replied. “I used to read everything I could get my hands on when I was a child, and it wasn’t very much. I always went through the school reader the first week I had it. Then I was bored for the rest of the term. I even read old almanacs.”
Thank goodness, thought Geniel. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been so sympathetic to this cause.
By the time she was completely well again, Miss Blayney had perfected her plans for moving to California. Geniel had rather hoped that she would leave before they took over the rooms for the library, but that was asking too much. Miss Blayney had to oversee operations, help select a librarian, and preside over a formal opening.
The mothers of the PTA served punch and cookies, and it was a highly successful affair.
“I’ve never see Miss Blayney quite so much in her element in all the years I’ve been here,” observed Christine. “In fact, she was having such a good time that I shouldn’t be surprised to see her stay on for good.”
“She is keeping the upstairs rooms intact for her lifetime just in case she does get homesick and wants to return. We can’t blame her for that. It’s sometimes hard for older people to adjust to a new place and way of living,” Geniel added.
Miss Blayney seemed to be very much afraid of just that but, after considerable hesitation, she finally departed for California to give the new life a try, at least.
“Spring was the wrong time for her to leave here,” said Marva dubiously. “But she may just love it down there. We can hope so, at any rate.”
“It really doesn’t matter too much if she does come back,” said Geniel. “We don’t have any use for those upstairs rooms so far, anyway. And maybe she’d pay the heating and light bills if she was there.”
“That’s the girl!” cheered Marva. “if there isn’t a silver lining, you grab some scraps and make one.”
They were just sitting down to dinner when Johnny came bursting in without even waiting for anyone to answer his knock. He promptly pulled up a chair and joined them at the table. “Hi, Ellie!” he called. “Bring on an extra plate. This is practically your last chance to have me honor your board.”
“Your money has come!” said Geniel, beaming. “Good for you!”
“And now you are leaving for school,” added Christine.
“You’re not!” Marva practically shouted. “Why not? I thought that you had been waiting for this most of your short adult life.”
“Take it easy, little one,” he countered. “So I have. But something else has cone up.”
“There wasn’t as much money in the estate as you had hoped?” Christine suggested quietly.
“Wrong. There was more. That’s what makes the difference. If there had been just what we expected, it would have taken care of Mom and I would have been free to work my way in school. But there was more. So now there is enough for me to go on a mission first, before I get all tangled up in books.”
“Oh, Johnny, how perfectly wonderful!” exclaimed Marva. Then she paused for a moment and added seriously, “What a shame you aren’t engaged! Look what an opportunity it would be for someone to write you a ‘Dear John’ letter.”
“True,” he agreed. “But, then, a fellow can’t have everything.”
“Where would you like to go?” asked Christine.
“To Japan and Tahiti and Finland.”
“Come now, make up your mind,” said Marva. “In your own words, a fellow can’t have everything.”
“Seriously, then, it doesn’t matter much. I have a sort of yen to go to Denmark because my grandfather came from there. But, since I don’t speak the language, that wouldn’t make much difference.”
“You’ll do well anywhere you go,” declared Geniel, “and we’re all very happy for you.”
“Thanks. I knew you would be.”
“I know one thing,” declared Marva. “This old town certainly won’t be the same with you and Miss Blayney gone. I’ve a good notion to pull out myself. Maybe I could get a job up in Alaska. How about you, Geniel? The contracts will be coming out in a week or so.”
“I haven’t decided. It isn’t a good idea to change too often, as you know. And I’d like to see the library get a good start.”
“On the other hand, it isn’t a good idea to stay too long, either, as I have,” said Christine. “It’s so easy to get into a rut.”
“But you’ve made such a nice rut,” said Johnny. “I, for one, am glad that I had a chance to travel along with you in it.”
“Thanks,” smiled Christine, “that’s one of the compensations – to see boys like you that are so full of mischief turn out to be the very foundations of society.”
Later that night, Geniel, thinking of Christine’s words, remembered that the compensation of helping students make good hadn’t been enough. That she had missed having boys of her own because the love that had been offered hadn’t seemed romantic enough at the time.
What about the teaching contracts that would be out soon? Should she stay here for another year – or would it be wiser to go back home again? On the whole, Geniel felt that she wanted to stay, either for the library or just because it was the thing she ought to do.
The long white envelope from the school board came a few days later, together with the weekly letters from home and from Ernest. She opened the home letter first. There was the usual chatty news, and she began to think with pleasure of the time, just a couple of months from now, when she would be sharing in their daily pleasures.
Ernest’s letter had special news. “I have managed to raise the money for a second store out in one of the better suburb areas,” he wrote. “It will be a struggle to keep up with it for the next few years, but with care and reasonable good luck, I am sure that I can make a go of it.”
She put the letter down thoughtfully. It didn’t take any second sight to read between the lines. For the next few years Ernest’s plans would include nothing beyond paying for the store. After that – well, he was ambitious. He would start buying other stores. He really ought to have a heart to heart talk with Christine, she mused. She’d tell him that money wasn’t everything. But he probably wouldn’t believe her anyway.
She opened the letter from the board last and quickly signed the contract. It was no sudden notion brought on by Ernest’s letter. She knew in her heart that she had intended all the time to return to Blayney.
She answered the three in reverse. After addressing an envelope to the school board, she wrote a brief letter to Ernest congratulating him on his successful business venture. Last she wrote a long letter to the folks at home, giving them the intimate details of her own past week, as she had received theirs.
She was a little surprised at her lightness of heart. Within the past week she had lost two beaux – of a sort. At least she and Johnny had been very good friends. And she had to admit that the idea had occurred to her – in her subconsciousness at any rate – that she might have been willing to teach school and help him get a degree. He was such fun to be with.
Well, when he came back, some other girl could decide that. Two years wasn’t a very long time. It would be much longer than that, she was rather sure, before Ernest would decide that he could afford to take on the responsibility of a family.
The next morning, Saturday, was a lovely spring day. Geniel awoke, feeling that it was wonderful merely to be alive. It was a day one should have spent working in the garden, clearing away the dead leaves to see green shoots pushing through, and violets here and there acclaiming the April day.
“Since I have no garden, I’ll take a walk,” she decided. Most certainly such a morning couldn’t be wasted indoors. she would take her letters to the post office and, after that, go anywhere there was a path. Any path would be pleasant.
“Anybody for a walk,” she asked the other two girls. “I’m out to revel in the spring sunshine.”
“‘Sorry, I have papers to correct,” answered Christine. “You should have invited me before I made this assignment.”
Marva merely shrugged. “Who, me? I have washing, ironing, mending, and six other chores to do. On top of that, I have a new magazine to read.”
“On top of that, you’re just not the type fully to appreciate the beauties of a lovely spring day. All right, I’ll go by myself,” Geniel said.
She walked down to the post office and had started up another street, when a car drew up to the curb. “Are you going some place, lady, and could I give you a lift?” Her heart missed a couple of beats as she recognized Jeff’s voice.
“To tell the truth,” she answered in some confusion, “I wasn’t going anywhere in particular. I am merely taking a springtime walk, so I hardly need a lift.”
“It sounds lovely. Shall I get out and walk with you, or will you get in and ride with me?”
“Aren’t you going any place, either?”
“By George, I guess I am, come to think of it. I have to go out to a ranch about five miles from here on a bit of business. You would sure be a big help if you could decide to come along.”
Geniel laughed. “Why not? What I mostly craved anyway was to get outdoors. I suppose that I can see a lot more of it this way.”
She stepped into the car and drew a deep breath. “Isn’t it wonderful just to smell spring? Is April always so lovely here?”
“I’m afraid not. And it’s very deceptive. About every other year we can count on a blizzard – just about the time we have new lambs to worry about. We’ve been known to get a heavy snowfall in May.”
Geniel shrugged. “That happens almost anywhere. You should see the beauties we get in Colorado sometimes. I’ve seen lilac bushes in full bloom almost bent to the ground under the snow. But that has nothing to do with today.”
“You’re entirely right,” he agreed. “It’s spring and April is bursting out all over.”
People were working out in the fields and in the gardens as they drove along. Young colts frisked by the side of their mothers in the meadows. Dandelions lifted saffron velvet crowns along the side of the road. Not a hint of clouds dared invade the blue of this April day.
As they turned up the lane to the Rebholtz ranch, Geniel’s soaring spirits took a sudden drop. There were unpainted barns and sheds leaning against each other, as if making a feeble effort to remain standing at all. Pieces of discarded farm machinery were scattered here and there, and a flock of chickens wandered about the doorway.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Does the place have to look like this? I mean, is the owner ill, or something?”
Jeff shrugged. “No. Just a bit on the shiftless side. He’s a good enough fellow.”
He stopped the car and got out. “You might as well sit here and enjoy the scenery,” he suggested with a faint smile. “I may be only a few minutes.”
He went into the house. Geniel was trying her best to ignore the scenery when three tow-headed youngsters came out of the barn. Each was carrying a very small lamb. They came over to the car and beamed at her.
“Hello,” she smiled back at them. “Are those your lambs?”
They nodded. The eldest, a boy of about eight, said, “We have a calf, too. Would you like to see it?”
“Yes, of course,” answered Geniel quickly. As she followed the trio around the old barn and threaded her way through the debris of the yard, she was grateful that she had put on walking shoes. Otherwise, the calf would have had to be brought to her.
When they reached the pen, the three looked up at her for her approval. “It’s a real darling,” she agreed. “You’re very lucky to have such a beautiful calf.”
“We have some baby pigs, too,” volunteered boy number two. “We can see them next.”
“Thank you,” she replied. “But I think that I ought to go back to the house. Mr. Burrows may have seen your father by now and be ready to leave.”
Eight-year-old shook his head. “He can’t. Dad’s in town.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” she said. “But if your father isn’t home I’m sure he’ll be ready to leave.”
“Dad had to take Jimmy in to the doctor,” volunteered the littlest tow-head happily. “He was trying to ride Mexie and broke his arm.”
Geniel went back as fast as she could find her way. Jeff was out on the porch tinkering with the washing machine, Mrs. Rebholtz came to the door and was introduced.
“I was right in the middle of my washing,” she explained, “and the machine broke. I have to finish my wash or the children won’t have anything to wear to Sunday School tomorrow. Will you come in and sit down?”
Geniel was hesitating when Jeff said, “I think this will do now. we’ll give it a try and be on our way.” He turned on the power, and the machine hummed satisfactorily.
“Thank you so much!” exclaimed Mrs. Rebholtz. “The water would have been cold by the time Jim got back. Maybe you’d like to wait?”
“You’re entirely welcome for the service. And we won’t wait today. I’ll try to drop by again.”
Geniel turned to the children. “And thank you very much for showing me your calf.”
“You could still see the pigs,” suggested one boy hopefully.
For a moment Jeff looked at Geniel with a wicked gleam in his eyes. Then he said, “Some other time, boys. We’re in a bit of a hurry now.”
As they drove away, she said, “I expect that your business wasn’t entirely to do with the broken machine?”
“No, not exactly,” he answered with a short chuckle. “I came out to collect some money from the sale of a heifer. He asked me to come today. It’s always like this. If it isn’t a broken arm, it’s a vital piece of machinery that has given up the ghost. So I might as well forget it. That’s quite a picture of farm life you get out there. I’m going to show you another one.”
He drove off a side road and stopped at the bottom of a small cove. Before them was an orchard of plum trees in full bloom. Beyond were fields showing the first green tints of spring. At the crest of the hill red barns contrasted with a white farmhouse.
“I wanted you to see that the rural picture isn’t always so dismal,” said Jeff.
“Oh, but I know! I think that your place is lovely,” she exclaimed.
“It isn’t so bad,” he agreed. “of course, I don’t happen to have a plum orchard in full bloom at the moment. But just remember this one sometime when you are married to your rich merchant.”
“Oh, but I’m not going to marry him!”
“You’re not?” His tone conveyed many emotions – surprise, joy, hope.
“No. You see, he isn’t rich enough yet to satisfy his ambitions, and I guess that I just don’t love him enough to wait until he is.”
“Geniel!” His arms slipped around her shoulder. “Then, there is a chance for me?”
“Oh, yes!” There was a world of happiness in her answer.
His arms tightened. “You’ve seen some of the rugged angles of farm life. You know that there isn’t always an orchard of plum trees. But I love you very much.”
“And I love you very much,” she replied, lifting her lips for his first kiss.
Yes, it was true there would be hard work and some loneliness and perhaps not a great deal of money. Perhaps, also, as Christine had said, “Love isn’t everything.” But this she knew for a surely, love is enough.