Beyond What We Could Dream
Welcome to a new story about Nathan Grant, his daughter, Allie, and some of the citizens of both Hope Valley, British Columbia and Regina, Saskatchewan.
Nathan is promoted and now has a new title, a new position in a new city and a new job he will love. Allie is excited, ready and willing to relocate as nothing ties her to her old home. They leave Hope Valley, but will they find a reason to return some day?
Those they leave behind will be saddened, but the schoolteacher will be left reeling. This story begins in September, just before a new school year begins and some months after Elizabeth Thornton and Lucas Bouchard have become engaged.
(Lucas fans should avoid this fanfiction as it follows the original hints about his character from seasons 6 through 8 and he will be a minor player in this story.)
Thank you, in advance, for reading and please let me know your thoughts. EH
Old dreams are shattered and new dreams are tantalizing, but God has a good plan that is beyond what anyone could have asked or even imagined, and far beyond what they could ever dream.
A Promotion Prompts a Move
Nathan looked across the table at his daughter. Allie was engrossed in a new book that Nathan had ordered for her to read on the long train ride.
Glancing out the window he tried to focus on the landscape as it sped by, blurry in the pale moonlight. His better view was the reflection of the oil-lantern by which Allie read, so Nathan readjusted his focus, then closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He was developing a headache. He figured it was the result of Allie's and his copious tears when they departed Hope Valley earlier in the day. But as he leaned against the back of the cushioned seat, Nathan heard an intense wail, a keening sound replay in his head. It had filled the schoolroom and assaulted his ears, a startling wail that seemed loud enough to wake the dead. Nathan realized it was that sound reverberating in his mind that ushered in his headache.
If he could stave off the pain now, he hoped he would be able to sleep, so Nathan rose and went to his Mountie first-aid kit stowed in his saddlebag. After an aspirin and a glass of water, Nathan returned to his seat, closing his eyes again.
Eventually the rhythmic clicking of the rails returned Nathan's mind to a train ride just two weeks earlier.
Early September 1920, on the way to Hope Valley.
Newly promoted Staff Sergeant Major Nathan Grant stared out the window, aware of the ever-changing scenery yet not focusing on any element of the passing landscape. He held a leather bound journal on his lap while absentmindedly tapping a pencil against his lips, a light drumming that matched the repetitive sounds of the moving train. His journal normally contained hopes and dreams, quotes and Scriptures that meant something to him, ideas, plans and musings. Yet today's pages were a detailed list… A detailed and ever increasing list of things to accomplish in the next two weeks.
Nathan's penchant for planning made him an excellent Mountie. He had been a respected Constable who had led teams with thoroughly thought-out strategies that more often than not led to their desired end, whether that was a safe overnight trail ride, rescuing a lost child, mentoring a fellow Mountie on tracking techniques, or apprehending a criminal. Expressing thoughts on paper allowed Nathan to organize, prioritize and succeed. Not always talkative as many of his friends were, Nathan expressed himself best on paper and there was no shortage of words written in his journal.
As another thought came to him Nathan wrote, 'Get Allie's school records transferred.' He stared at the page considering how to best accomplish that when another item crossed his mind. He patted his chest pocket to be sure the two letters were there. They were. Thankful he had been able to register Allie into a highly recommended school, Nathan was grateful for the Collins family and the Commissioner's niece who had helped to advise and make plans for Allie's transfer into her new class. She had introduced Nathan to the Headmistress who had sent along a letter of request to the teacher at Hope Valley's Jack Thornton School.
Nathan re-read his list. At the top were the items to discuss with Allie. When Superintendent O'Reilly had called to discuss this possibility, Nathan had talked with Allie and they had weighed the pros and cons, and prayed for guidance. Having settled and made their home in Hope Valley, they had never dreamed of another transfer. The offer of the Inspector promotion to Union City had been a prestigious temptation until Nathan saw just how difficult it would have been for Allie to leave her friends and the Hope Valley they had come to know and love.
Now though? Things were different. Very different.
Allie had been the one to initiate the conversation and express her willingness to move. She had admitted that her hopes for a mother in Mrs. Thornton had been a big part of her desire to stay, but now that Mrs. Thornton was engaged to Mr. Bouchard Allie understood that dream was broken. In addition, now that Robert would be leaving Hope Valley for Mountie training, Allie felt she had no reason to stay.
Nathan noted he and Allie needed to address the facts about the Academy's requirements for Robert as Nathan wanted to be certain Allie was not hopeful about seeing Robert during those six months. Even if living in the same town, they could only correspond unless Robert remained in the city during his vacation.
'Sort and pack kitchen, parlor, books, my bedroom, Allie's bedroom. Collect my books from NWMP office and decide what to keep and pack.' Nathan kept jotting down his list of things to do. 'Arrange for transport of furniture & household goods. Notify Lee that our row house will be available in two weeks…'
Nathan sighed, looking at the growing list. Two weeks was not a lot of time to pack up their lives. He was grateful that the Commissioner had given him leave to prepare and that a temporary replacement Constable would arrive on Tuesday. Once the Constable was introduced to Hope Valley, Nathan could concentrate on Allie and his future.
Staring out the window once more, Nathan thought about the many previous moves he had made. He had been honored to follow the officer's leadership track that placed him in various locations in his early years with the Mounties. Each assignment increased his knowledge in a different specialty area of Mountie work. He had not minded the frequent transfers as a single man and had focused on excelling in every course presented.
When Nathan took guardianship of Allie, he had withdrawn from the officer training track and requested more stable assignments to allow him a more regular schedule for family time. Although greatly admiring Nathan's choice, then Superintendent Collins had been disappointed as he had hand-picked Nathan for greater things. Nathan suspected that the Commissioner had orchestrated a few assignments behind the scenes, so wasn't entirely surprised when that Union City Inspector position had been offered. With utmost professionalism Commissioner Collins had refrained from showing any personal disappointment when Nathan had declined that promotion.
Yet Nathan knew Collins had purposefully presided over the Inquiry about the failed prisoner transfer that occurred in Hope Valley. In their discussions over the past few days, the Commissioner had confirmed he had come to assess Nathan's position in the town. Collins had also explained that Hargraves' accusation and the Inquiry had been expunged from Nathan's record and he need never refer to it again. As far as the senior Mounties at Headquarters were concerned, that accusation never happened and further investigation had uncovered that Hargraves had numerous other instances of behavior that contradicted the core values of the North West Mounted Police force. Hargraves had been demoted for falsely accusing Nathan and two additional subordinates. Hargraves' assignment was now a permanent paper-pushing position at Headquarters where he had minimal interaction with others and was not responsible for any other men.
Commissioner Collins had also explained that Nathan would get a promotion to Inspector after his year of instructing recruits at the NWMP Academy. Collins had made his intentions clear when he stated the promotion to Staff Sergeant Major was a stepping-stone.
Nathan leaned his head on the back of the seat, pondering both what Collins had said and had not said. This new assignment and rank was in recognition of Nathan's accomplishments as a horseman and sharp shooter, so Nathan would be responsible for drilling the new recruits, as well as training them in tracking, one of his known areas of expertise. Beyond this year, Collins had not given any details. Because this assignment was temporary, Collins explained that was why he and his wife wanted the Grants to move onto their property so they didn't need to find a home for the brief span of a year. Collins had also arranged for his niece and her fiancé to join them for dinner to arrange for Allie's education at St. Anne's Academy for Girls, knowing it was ideal that Claire Collins would be Allie's teacher for the coming school year as well.
'Thank you, Lord for orchestrating all of this! I am amazed at this opportunity and all the details You have arranged beforehand. Help us to be prepared within these next two weeks? The list is long. Help us close Hope Valley relationships kindly and gratefully and well. Protect the good people of Hope Valley and the Constable who will replace me.'
'Protect Allie and give her comfort and even joy at this time of change. May Mrs. Collins as well as her new teacher, Miss Collins, be supportive women in Allie's life and may Allie make some new, wholesome friends as well. Protect Allie and me during all these changes. Go before us to make a way and walk beside us, with us each day. I give you thanks and praise.' Although Nathan had been praying silently, he verbalized his confirmation aloud. "Amen."
Returning to his list making, Nathan wrote all the people to whom he needed to bid farewell. 'Bill, Lee and Rosemary, Joseph and Minnie, Henry, Mike, Faith and Fiona, Florence and Ned, Clara and Jesse, Molly, Cat, the Weiss family, the Wolfs…'
Nathan shut his eyes, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the train on its way to Hope Valley.
Allie Grant stood at the window for the umpteenth time as she waited for her father to return home. This had been an especially difficult separation because she couldn't share where Nathan had gone and why she was so anxious to see him return. Aunt Rosemary and Uncle Lee had done their best to try to distract her, but it wasn't working. Every time there was a lull in conversation or a pause in a game they played together, Allie's mind wandered and wondered.
The only person in the know was Uncle Bill, but he was extra busy handling Nathan's rounds as well as his own court cases. Allie stopped by his office after school one day, but other than that visit and the dinner date Uncle Bill had treated her to, Allie was alone with her secret.
A knock sounded on the Coulter's front door, interrupting the third time Allie had tried to read the same page in her book. Hopping up from the chair she was opening the door before her father finished knocking. Her delighted squeal and hug was just what Nathan needed. Wherever his girl was, Nathan was home!
"Hey Allie-girl! I missed you." Nathan squeezed her tightly.
"Oh, I missed you more. You have no idea, Dad. I'm so glad you're back!"
"Welcome home, Nathan!" Rosemary joined them at the door. "I have plenty of stew on. Would you like to join us for dinner? I'm sure you don't want to cook having just arrived home. Allie made the biscuits!" Rosemary winked at Nathan over Allie's shoulder.
"As tempting as that may be, I picked up our meal at the Café on my way home. Thank you, Rosemary, for caring for Allie and for the dinner invitation, but we must decline. Allie and I have a lot to catch-up on this evening and the sooner we begin, the better." Nathan looked down and kissed the top of Allie's head. "I appreciate your thoughtfulness though."
"It was our pleasure to share time with Allie, Nathan. She is a joy and a delight! Our home will be rather quiet without her enthusiasm, although she seemed a bit distracted this visit." Rosemary smiled as Lee joined her at the door, having wrapped his arms around his wife's waist. "So sorry about tonight, but there will be plenty for tomorrow after church if you'd like to come then?"
"Please do, Nathan! And welcome back." Lee interjected.
Nathan knew the farewells had to begin sometime, so decided to accept this invitation, although he hoped to not prolong the meal as there was so much to do. "That timing sounds better. Thank you so much." Nathan turned to Allie who was searching his face for answers. "Allie? Can you gather your things?"
"Here is her suitcase, Nathan." Lee handed the case to Nathan as Allie collected her book tote and art supplies.
She gave hugs to both Coulters as she thanked them. "It was great to spend the time with you both. Thank you so much for your care while Dad was away."
"Our pleasure, Sweetheart. We'll see you at church tomorrow!" Lee had a soft spot for Allie Grant and bent to give and receive an extra kiss. "Mmmmm!" He grinned.
"Thanks again! See you tomorrow." Nathan waved then put his arms around Allie's shoulders as they walked down the row of houses.
As soon as their door closed behind them, Allie dropped everything and pulled her dad to the sofa. "Okay, Dad! Spill it please? I've been waiting patiently…"
"Patiently, eh?" Nathan chuckled. "Do you know the definition of that word? I'm guessing you've been looking out the window all afternoon, checking for my arrival." Seeing Allie's blush, Nathan added. "Yeah. Thought so!"
"Okay. Well, here's the news. I am now Staff Sergeant Major Nathan Grant!" Nathan paused to let that sink in.
"Say that again?" Allie's eyes went wide with excitement for her Dad.
"It's a mouthful isn't it? Staff Sergeant Major. People will now address me as Sergeant, not Constable."
Allie rolled the words around in her mind repeating them a few times. "Staff Sergeant Major. I like it! So… Tell me what does that mean?"
Nathan half turned on the sofa and took Allie's hand in his own, getting a serious look. "It means we'll be moving, Allie. Moving to the Mounted Police Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan."
Again, Nathan waited for Allie to absorb this momentous news.
"Really? Regina? Saskatchewan?" As Nathan nodded, Allie asked her next question. "What will you do there? What does a Staff Sergeant Major do?"
"I will be an instructor at the Academy, Honey. I will train and drill new recruits on horsemanship and practical aspects of making their mounts become their partners. I will also lead a course on tracking per the suggestion of the Commissioner. We'll be on a school schedule similar to yours so I'll be home in the evenings and have similar vacations. Does that sound good?"
"I think so. But what about me? Where will I go to school? And where will we live?"
"You have been accepted into St. Anne's Academy for Girls. It's a residential school with half the students being local, as you will be. I met your teacher and I think you will love her. Miss Claire Collins. She is the Commissioner's niece and will be your teacher until she gets married next summer. She helped me arrange your registration on Wednesday." Nathan squeezed Allie's hand. "It's a lovely campus, red brick buildings with large windows and two wings on either side of a central auditorium and gymnasium, topped by a bell tower. It really looks like a college campus."
"Are there a lot of students?" Allie inquired with a bit of trepidation.
"About thirty to fifty students in each grade level, beginning with grade nine." Assuring Allie, Nathan continued. "The advantage is you will be joining a class with some new high school students so you won't be the only girl who is new. I know you made wonderful friends here in Hope Valley, so you can do it again, Sweetheart."
Allie dismissed the compliment and continued with her questions. "So where will we live?"
"This is one of the most amazing things! Commissioner and Mrs. Collins have arranged for us to live in their guest house on their beautiful property. We'll each have our own bedroom, a shared sitting room, eat-in kitchen and indoor plumbing. I toured the little house and it is slightly smaller than this row house, but a charming cottage nonetheless. You can choose whether you want the blue or the green room when we get there."
"The Collins' are looking forward to meeting you, Sweetheart, and welcoming us into their family! I've known them both for many years and often danced with Mrs. Collins at the Mountie events! She is lovely and loving and is willing to care for you after school and if I have overnight assignments."
"Will you have to be away a lot, Dad?"
"Not really. There will be a couple nights when I take recruits out to practice handling their horses and tracking, but that's all. Are you happy about that?" Nathan watched Allie's face relax.
"I am. I don't like it when you are away, Dad, especially when I don't know a lot of people." Allie had tears forming in her eyes and Nathan reached his arm over her shoulder to draw her to himself.
"I know it has been hard, Allie, and I admire your bravery. I wouldn't take the position if I didn't think you could handle it all, but knowing the Collins family as I do, it couldn't be more ideal. I love you, Allie and you are my first priority. You know that, right?"
Allie nodded. "I do. I love you too, Dad."
They sat in silence for a while before Allie asked her next question. "When do we go?"
Nathan took a deep breath. "In two weeks."
Allie leaned forward, looking back at her Dad. "Two weeks? Dad we have a lot to do!" She was standing in a moment's time. "Let's eat and get started." She grinned at her father. "You have a list right?"
They both burst into laughter, then moved to the table to unpack dinner before they began to pack everything else!
A knock from Bill interrupted their dessert. "Come in, Bill!" Nathan greeted him at the door and ushered him inside. "I was going to call you later, but Allie and I have been discussing our plans and our timeline. May I offer you a piece of Clara's blueberry pie?"
"I won't say no to that. It's one of my favorites and Allie and I had a piece a few days ago so we know it's good. Right, Allie-girl?"
Settling at the table, Bill began his questions, many of which mirrored Allie's earlier ones. When they shared how soon they would need to depart, Bill immediately responded. "Well, Allie how about you and I wash the dishes so your Dad can begin sorting out the bookcase or the kitchen or? He has lots of decisions to make!"
Bill laughed. He had known of the possibility so he'd had a few days to get used to the idea. By now, he accepted the inevitable, knowing the move to the Academy would be good for Nathan and, the Collins' would be good for Allie. He had already decided to take a trip to Regina once the Grants were settled and he silently confessed to himself, 'That's what family does!'