Lancaster Hearts (Out of Darkness - Amish Connections (An Amish of Lancaster County Saga))

BOOK: Lancaster Hearts (Out of Darkness - Amish Connections (An Amish of Lancaster County Saga))
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Lancaster Hearts

Part 5 of the Out of Darkness Series

An Amish of Lancaster County Saga

 

by

 

Ruth Price

 

 

This is the first novella of Amish Connections, part five the Out of Darkness series. This novella stands alone, but is best enjoyed with the other books of the series which tell a larger story. If you've enjoyed this novella, feel free to purchase the rest of Judith and Samuel’s arc in
Amish Connections: Out of Darkness Megabook 2
, and learn more about Sofia and Abram’s story in the first
Out of Darkness Megabook
.

 

Published by Global Grafx Press, LLC. © 2013

 

The Pennsylvania Dutch used in this manuscript is taken from the Revised Pennsylvania German Dictionary: English to Pennsylvania Dutch (1991) by C. Richard Beam, Brookshire Publications, Inc. Lancaster, PA 17603

 

 

Copyright © 2013 by Ruth Price

All Rights Reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including scanning, photocopying, or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

 

 

For my mother Judith who has forged a life of excellence

outside the boundaries of convention.

Prologue

The morning sun was bright and blisteringly hot over Lancaster County as the Hershberger family harvested their crop of sweet corn. Breeze rustled through the deep green rows, tickling sweat damp skin but providing little relief from the heat. The cornfield was fifteen by fifteen rows, yielding enough to cook, can, and send to market besides. God had only blessed Esther with four
kinner
before seeing fit that the doctors take her womb in order to save her life, and while Esther worked in the house, her oldest girl Judith, at age eight and Judith’s brother Samuel, who was just turned fourteen, helped their
daed
Mark in the field.

For Judith, being out in the fields was a bit of an adventure and certainly a welcome break from helping her
mamm
tend to the house and the new baby. Tramping through the corn was men's work, but the crop was large enough that an extra pair of hands, however small and feminine, were welcome. Besides, Judith had a greater eye for detail than her older brother, who tended to rush though things as quickly as possible in search of the next adventure.


I fear for his
Rumspringa
,

Esther often said, her head shaking in exasperation as she watched her oldest and only son flit from activity to activity like a hummingbird who had gorged itself on sweets.

Judith had her skirts tied up between her legs as she followed her daed between the rows, careful to note any ear that might have been overlooked. Her daed was a tall, gentle man whose round, cheerful face in the heat had gone ruddy and dripping beneath his wide brimmed hat. All three walked barefoot, the dry earth yielding little beneath their calloused feet.


Daed!

Judith exclaimed, pointing to an overlooked ear at the base of a nearby stalk.

What about that one?

Mark turned.

Let me see it,

he requested, and when she pointed to the ear, said,

Not quite.

He pinched the tip, and running the fingers of his opposite hand over frayed brown silk peeking out from the husk, added,

Look at the base. See how light colored the silk is yet, ja? It must be brown and dry all the way through, otherwise the corn is not yet ripe, do you understand?


Ja,

Judith said. She caressed the silky tail of the corn husk between her fingers and imagined the sweet taste of corn pudding in her mouth. 

Samuel ran back along the row towards them both, a half-full basket cradled in his left arm. Samuel had a classically handsome face, dark brown hair that fell in waves over smooth, tanned skin. His eyes were deep blue, and though he was young yet, he was growing into the same muscular frame that his daed had maintained until recent years. When Samuel smiled, his eyes twinkling beneath his hat, the local girls blushed and whispered behind their hands. Judith had always found it a bit annoying, though she enj
oyed the esteem that being Samuel's little sister conferred upon her with the older girls. Samuel smiled, half hopping, half dancing in place as he held out the basket to his daed.

I've gotten down to the end of the row,

he said.

We'll be finished before luncheon.


That's a right plenty, Samuel,

Mark said.

Put that basket here in front of me and your sister.

Samuel did, and his daed's arms shook a bit as he knelt over the cobs, and began to rifle through them. 

These are...

he took a deep breath and leaning against the basket, took off his hat and began to fan himself with it.

Very good, son.

Samuel's face tightened with worry.

Are you okay, daed? It isn't one of your attacks again, is it?


I'm fine, Samuel. Just the heat.

But Mark swayed, leaning more of his weight on the fragile basket, warping the weave as he tried to catch his balance.


Daed!

Judith exclaimed, grabbing Mark from behind to help steady him. Her daed had been having dizzy spells this past week, and though Esther had wanted him to go see an
Englischer
doctor, he'd insisted that it was just the heat and he'd be fine as long
as he took things slowly. Judith knew her daed worried that there were so few kinner to handle the farm duties, and though both Samuel and Judith were sincere in their work, they still looked to him for guidance.


I'm fine, Judy-light,

Mark said, a forced cheer in his tone.

It might be best if I sit for a bit, though, right here. Can one of you get something cold to drink from your
mamm
?


I'll go!

Samuel shouted and took off at a dead run for the farmhouse.

Judith helped settle her daed on the ground in the shade of the corn stalks. His skin had lost some of its deep red, instead far too pale. He breathed shallowly, with a slight wheeze, his right hand in a fist at his chest. Judith took off her hat and fanned him with it.


Ja, that's good, Judith,

Mark said, weakly.

Very good. These spells are getting worse.

He gave a wry smile, and Judith returned the smile with all of the strength of her fear.

I suppose I'll have to see that Englischer doctor your mamm keeps talking about.


You should,

Judith said.

We'll have the buggy take you right there. Today. I can drive if I have to. Samuel taught me.


That boy...

Mark closed his eyes, his face tightening in an expression of agony.


Daed?

The rustle of Samuel rustling through the corn sounded from behind Judith. Samuel shouted,

Judith! Daed! We have iced-lemonade!

  

Mark whimpered, his body curling in on itself. The pulse in his throat visibly beat.


Daed!

Judith screamed, her hands on her daed's arms.


What's happening?

Samuel ran towards them.

Esther, just behind him looked over at her husband and child.

Samuel, run to Annie's and call for a doctor,

she ordered.

Judith, get back to the house.


But mamm?

Judith's eyes burned with tears.

I can't.

She couldn't leave her daed. She just couldn't.


We must pray,

Esther said, kneeling beside her husband and taking his hand.

Mark? Mark, can you hear me...

Hysteria wove through her voice.

Samuel's getting a doctor. Please, stay with us.

Judith and Esther stayed at Mark's side, Esther loosening his shirt while Judith fanned him with her hat. Even after Mark stopped breathing and his body went limp, they stayed, prayers mixing with tears. Samuel ran. After the Englischers came and pronounced Mark dead with their machines, after the body was prepared, after the service and the summer had passed, in his heart Samuel was still running, and Judith still searching for the right thing to do.

 

Chapter 1

Judith tried her best not to resent her brother Samuel for defying the
Ordnung
by threatening those two criminals with a handgun the night before the church service and when they had a guest preacher, no less. Now, in addition to her own duties, Judith was seeing to the horses and unloading the church wagon, not to mention keeping an eye on the Englischer girl Sofia who looked at Esther and Judith both with a terrified guilt as though she felt responsible for Samuel's mistakes. Esther could have ignored many things, but a handgun? In her home? Judith didn't blame her mamm for being furious, though she recognized that Samuel's intent had only been to protect their guest, not to hurt anyone. As angry as she was, Judith prayed her older brother was taking care of himself. Samuel had always been restless, and besides he hadn't yet chosen to be baptized, so he wasn't really bound to the Ordnung. Not yet. Judith prayed she'd see him again, and that he and their mamm might, through God's infinite wisdom, find a way to heal the wound in their family.

An hour before the service started, Deacon Lengacher arrived with his two oldest boys who offered to help. Judith accepted, and though she knew they all expected her to go inside and make herself useful to her mamm, stayed on to supervise work with the horses. Better that than the kitchens, where the simmering of her mamm's guilt outsoared even the heat of the ovens. The boys, Joseph and Caleb, thirteen and sixteen respectively, unhitched the horses from the buggies before leading them to pasture. Then there was hauling the heavy buckets of water and hay. Judith's white prayer
kapp
was sweat soaked and dirt stained the hem of her skirts. Even so, Caleb stole glances at her beneath his broad rimmed, summer hat. He carried a large bucket of water in each hand. His sleeves were rolled up, and the muscles of his arms were well defined in his effort. Judith knew many of the other girls her age found Caleb quite attractive, and she could see the appeal, he had a handsome enough face with a straight nose and freckles dusting his cheeks, but in the quiet of her own mind, she found him dull.

Judith was careful not to give Caleb too much attention, instead chatting with Joseph, who mostly laughed at how the horses flicked flies with their tails. Judith had no interest in Caleb. She had no interest in any of the local Amish boys, though she did her best to attend the singing circles as often as her studies and her evening shift cleaning the local hospital allowed.

Eventually, in spite of Judith's best efforts to maintain a pleasant but neutral distance, Caleb worked up the nerve to speak to her.

Is your brother...doing okay?

Of course, Caleb would bring up Samuel. Judith bit back a sigh.

He's out. Rumspringa,

she said, giving Annie's horse a liberal helping of hay.


But--

At least Caleb had the good sense not to follow up with the obvious, that Samuel had never missed a church meeting for all six years of his running around.

I mean, okay. How's your
Rumspringa
going? Katie mentioned that you wanted to join in at
the Englischer
school.


I'm signed up for
Englischer
high school equivalency classes,

Judith explained.

G.E.D.
They’re in
the afternoons, before I go to work.


That's...well...your mamm has always been independent, my daed says. But what are you going to do with Englischer school?

Caleb's nose wrinkled, as though he found the idea of book learning highly distasteful, an attitude he'd had since they'd both att
ended school together as children.


I don't know,

Judith said, truthfully.

But I like learning.

She'd always found the natural world fascinating, and while her primary schooling focused mostly on math and reading, her daed had always kept a wide array of books in the house which she'd de
voured through her childhood. After he'd passed, reading those books made her feel closer to him.


Yeah, you were always asking Miss Wittmer a hundred questions.

Caleb smiled broadly, amused with his own observation. Judith returned the smile, and Caleb nodded.

You hold that grin right nicely, Miss Hershberger,

he said, tipping his hat at her.


Danki,

Judith said.

Joseph came running over, waving them towards Deacon Hilty's buggy.

They're here, the special preacher Mr. Graber and his son! They've come all the way from Ephrata.

Judith wondered if it might be better not to be seen by their guests with her skirts pulled up between her knees like a child, the hems damp with mud. She looked a poor sight, of that she had no doubt. But Joseph grabbed her by the hand and started towards
the buggy.

Come on, we have to help!

Judith shook her head and allowed herself to be dragged along. Pride was a sin, she reminded herself. She would receive her guests as she was, and if they judged her for her hard work, well, that was their concern and not hers. The door to the buggy opened, and Deacon Hilty, a heavy-set man in his late thirties stepped out first, behind him, a thin, middle aged stranger. The man's clothes were precisely ironed, and his profile severe, with a beard fanning out in brown with threads of white, but when Joseph
shouted,

Preacher Graber!

the stranger's face softened into a gentle smile.

After him a teen boy stepped out of the wagon. Judith straightened her kapp and wiped her hands futilely on her apron. The traveling preacher's son--he had to be the preacher's son--had the same strong bones as his daed, but finer somehow, and he moved with a fascinating grace.


Foolish,

Judith told herself, to be so moved simply by looking at a boy across a field. She figured the attraction would lose its sharp edge once she'd talked to him. Most of the boys her age found her interests to be odd. She had no interests in the bac
kfield parties that some favored, and while she enjoyed some Englischer music, especially the Salsa her coworker, a forty year old mamm of three who had taken Judith under her wing in her first week at the hospital, favored. Still, Judith wished she hadn't agreed to come. It was already improper for her to be caring for the horses, especially since she had two young men to help.

Mr. Graber nodded at Joseph and then his gaze rested on Judith.

Good of you to help your...brothers with the horses,

he said, brow furrowed.


Oh, Judith's not my sister!

Caleb cut in.

We're just helping,

he explained and Judith was, in that moment, grateful to him.

Her brother's off on Rumspringa, and Esther can't have any more children.

Just as quickly as the gratitude came, it was gone.

Mr. Graber nodded at Judith.

You're old enough for your Rumspringa too, aren't you?


Ja,

Judith said with a shy nod.


Well, a good-hearted, strong girl like yourself should have no trouble finding her way,

the preacher said.

Judith wanted to give her full attention to the preacher's, their guest's words, but his son was making his way to stand at the Mr. Graber's side, and Judith's mouth went dry. God, help me, Judith prayed. She'd never been so shallow as to be swayed by looks, not for long. The boy's gaze rested on her, and Judith could feel every disheveled hair and smudge of dirt.


Be careful not to allow yourself to fall into
Englischer
vices,

Mr. Graber said.

There are many perils of
Englischer
life, things that seem beautiful or fascinating but ultimately lead to ruin.

Judith nodded. A part of her wanted to say she was taking
Englischer
schooling, but it was as likely as not their guest would find that objectionable.

I'll take your horse, if I may, Mr. Graber. You must have a lot to prepare.


Oh, my son can do it.

He raised his voice.

Isaac!


Yes, daed,

Isaac said, with a smile. His gaze flitted over Judith, though his expression gave   away none of his opinion of her.

Where do you keep the buckets, Miss Judith? I'll draw the water. That's heavy work.


I can show you,

Judith said, surprised at her own boldness.


Gutt, gutt,

the deacon said.

I need to speak with your bishop.

Caleb said,

It'd be more proper for Judith to take you, don't you think?


Of course,

Judith said. Regret settled in her chest. It would of course be her responsibility to see the guest preacher inside.

Let me walk you. I should wash my hands and face anyhow.

The next glimpse she got of Isaac was across the aisle of benches that separated the men from the women as the service began. When their gazes met, he smiled. For a moment, she languished in the fantasy that his smile might have meant more than a passing expression for a person he'd barely met.


That's Mr. Graber,

Judith explained to Sofia, the Englischer girl who Samuel had brought to shelter with them two days before. Sofia was a thin, dark-haired woman who, due to her memory lost, always seemed faintly on edge. She didn't speak a word of Penn
sylvania German, and Judith was translating for her. Though the Englischer girl had brought no end of trouble on her heels, Judith found it impossible to dislike the woman. She had a sweet temper, and her interest in their lifestyle was both innocent and g
enuine.

And that's his son,

Judith guided the other woman's gaze towards Isaac, unable to stop her face from flushing.

Isn't he handsome?

Sofia murmured agreement, though her attention was only for Abram, the widower who had originally rescued her. When the service was over, Judith ran to help her mamm with the food. Sofia joined them, and went at her assigned tasks with the same cheerful determination she seemed to bring to all of her activities.

Over lunch, all the other girls could talk about was Isaac. They blushed and whispered behind their hands in a way that Judith had always found tiresome. Now, she longed to join in, words caught like butterflies in her mouth. But she had her own goals, none of which were centered on marriage at this time, which was the only reason she could think of why Mr. Graber would have brought his young, handsome son of marriageable age to join him in speaking with the young people. Judith reminded herself of the CPR classes she'd signed up to join on Tuesday, and how by passing her high-school equivalency, she might even have a chance to go to an Englischer college. The thought both exhilarated and terrified her. No, Judith didn't have time for love, no matter her fascination with the visitor.


We should have a sing!

Rachel, a plump faced blonde who had just turned seventeen suggested.

Won't your mamm agree to chaperone?


My mamm has to take Sofia to Annie's to call the Englischer police,

Judith explained.


Well someone should be able to supervise...what about Deacon Hilty?


With his wife seven months pregnant and a toddler at home?


Well, someone ought to supervise.

The other girls echoed agreement. Judith said,

There isn't even any guarantee that Isaac would come.


You're always so practical,

Rachel said, her nose wrinkled and lips pursed in accusation.

God wants us to find ourselves husbands, that's the entire point of
Rumspringa
.

BOOK: Lancaster Hearts (Out of Darkness - Amish Connections (An Amish of Lancaster County Saga))
2.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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