Carrie’s Hired Hand by Mary C. Findley
A Northern woman married to a Southern man gets enough stares and shunning. Carrie Wilkes isn’t about to take more from Robert Sallinger, handsome though he be, friend of her dying husband though he clearly is. He’s a mystery, though, either boring his eyes into at Carrie or ignoring her. And what is this “secret code” of his? He blames himself for Ben’s death and promise “the work will get done,” and he will look after Carrie and the children. But what work is Robert engaged in? Carrie can’t even read his letters. When deaf and dumb Robbie shows up at her farm, Carrie is startled by how much this “helpless” boy helps them all.