Julia Spencer-Fleming

Out Of The Deep I Cry

The third book in the Reverend Clare Fergusson series, 2004

To Lois Greuling Fleming

You may have tangible wealth untold;

Casketes of jewels and coffers of gold,

Richer than I you can never be-

I had a Mother who read to me.



Getting a book out is like running political campaign: one person may be in the spotlight, but it took the efforts of many to get her there. With that in mind, I’d like to thank everyone at St. Martin’s Press, especially my editor, Ruth Cavin, the hardworking Rachel Ekstrom, and the sales reps who log so many miles in their cars selling my books.

Thanks also to my agent, the “brilliant and handsome”™ Jimmy Vines, and to Ross Hugo-Vidal, the greatest “husband-of-author” in history.

The Crandall Library of Glens Falls, the Nurse-Practitioner Association of New York, Timothy LaMar, and Roxanne Eflin provided expert assistance; Laura Rayfield and Norm Madsen allowed me to use their names, I thank you all.

Thanks to my parents, John and Lois Fleming, whose comments made this a better book, and to Mary and Bob Weyer, whose help keeps my family from imploding.

Susan and Peter Heldman, Tim and Margie Grein, Evonne, Daniel and Michelle McNabb gave me shelter in my travels. Thank you.

Tack vare allt, min reslig man. Jag saknar dig, min alsking.

Out of the deep I call To Thee, O Lord, to thee. Before Thy throne of grace I fall; Be merciful to me. Out of the deep I cry, The woeful deep of sin, Of evil done in days gone by, Of evil now within; Out of the deep of fear And dread of coming shame; All night till morning watch is near I plead the precious name. Lord, there is mercy now, As ever was, with Thee. Before Thy throne of grace I bow; Be merciful to me.

– Henry W. Baker, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal

(St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1942)

Chapter 1


Friday, June 26, 1970

Russ Van Alstyne had just gotten a tug on his line when he saw the old lady get up from between the headstones she had been trimming, lay down her gardening tools, and walk into the reservoir. She had been tidying up a tiny plot, four moldering grave markers tucked under the towering black pines, so close to the edge of Stewart’s Pond Reservoir that a good motorboat wake could have kicked spray over the stones. She had appeared at some point after he and Shaun had launched their rowboat, and he had noted her, now and then, while they had drifted in the sunshine.

They had been fishing a couple hours already, enjoying the hot weather, and some brews, and some primo grass Shaun’s older brother had scored down to Albany, but Russ had only landed a few sunnies, crap fish he threw back as soon as he had them off the hook.

So when his six-pound test tightened like a piano wire and his bobber disappeared beneath the water, he sat up, excited. He knew he had something good. Maybe a trout. He had just stowed his can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the bottom of the boat and flicked off his safety to let the fish run some more line when he noticed the old woman. She had on a loose print dress, like one of the housecoats his mom had had forever, and it rose around her legs as she waded slowly away from the shore.

“Shaun, check this out,” he said, uncertain that he was reading the situation right. “What’s it look like that old lady’s doing?”

Shaun turned his head, swinging his graduation tassel, which he had attached to his fishing hat. He twisted his upper body around for a better view. “Swimming?”

“In a dress?”

“Works for me, man. I don’t want to see her in a swimsuit.” Shaun turned back, facing away from the sight of

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