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The Englisher, страница 1

 

The Englisher
 

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The Englisher


  The Englisher

  Copyright ©2006

  Beverly Lewis

  Cover design by Dan Thornberg, Koechel Peterson & Associates, Inc.

  Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

  Scripture quotations identified NIV are from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.®Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

  Published by Bethany House Publishers

  11400 Hampshire Avenue South

  Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

  Bethany House Publishers is a division of

  Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

  Printed in the United States of America

  ISBN 978-0-7642-0106-6 (Paperback)

  ISBN 978-0-7642-0218-6 (Audio CD)

  * * *

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Lewis, Beverly.

  The Englisher / Beverly Lewis.

  p. cm. — (Annie’s people ; 2)

  ISBN 0-7642-0216-2 (hardback : alk. paper) — ISBN 0-7642-0106-9 (pbk.) — ISBN 0-7642-0217-0 (large-print pbk.)

  1. Children of clergy—Fiction. 2. Women artists—Fiction. 3. Amish— Fiction. 4. English—Pennsylvania—Fiction. I. Title. II. Series: Lewis, Beverly. Annie’s people ; 2.

  PS3562.E9383E54 2006

  813′.54—dc22

  2006003140

  * * *

  Dedication

  To

  David and Janet Buchwalter,

  my cherished cousins.

  By Beverly Lewis

  SEASONS OF GRACE

  The Secret • The Missing

  ABRAM’S DAUGHTERS

  The Covenant • The Betrayal • The Sacrifice The Prodigal • The Revelation

  ANNIE’S PEOPLE

  The Preacher’s Daughter • The Englisher • The Brethren

  THE COURTSHIP OF NELLIE FISHER

  The Parting • The Forbidden • The Longing

  THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY

  The Shunning • The Confession • The Reckoning

  The Postcard • The Crossroad

  The Redemption of Sarah Cain

  October Song • Sanctuary* • The Sunroom

  The Beverly Lewis Amish Heritage Cookbook

  www.beverlylewis.com

  BEVERLY LEWIS, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, fondly recalls her growing-up years. A keen interest in her mother’s Plain family heritage has led Beverly to set many of her popular stories in Lancaster County.

  A former schoolteacher and accomplished pianist, Beverly is a member of the National League of American Pen Women (the Pikes Peak branch). She is the 2003 recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Evangel University, Springfield, Missouri. Her blockbuster novels The Shunning, The Confession, The Reckoning, and The Covenant have each received the Gold Book Award. Her bestselling novel October Song won the Silver Seal in the Benjamin Franklin Awards, and The Postcard and Sanctuary (a collaboration with her husband, David) received Silver Angel Awards, as did her delightful picture book for all ages, Annika’s Secret Wish. Beverly and her husband make their home in the Colorado foothills.

  Circles of sunlight dappled the side of the old covered bridge and the rushing creek below. On the treed slope to the west of the bridge, two children gripped the long rope in a jumble of fear and delight, swinging double. Their hands smelled of twisted hemp and sweat, but neither minded. The warm breeze on their faces, the ‘‘tickle in their tummies,’’ as the little girl often said when swinging fast, were enough. That, and playing here in this enthralling place, where their older brothers caught pollywogs in the creek, jabbering in Pennsylvania Dutch and nibbling on soft pretzels all the while.

  ‘‘I won’t let you fall,’’ the boy said.

  ‘‘You’re sure?’’ the girl asked.

  ‘‘Here, I’ll show ya how.’’ He crisscrossed his black suspenders over the smaller girl and then snapped them onto his britches again. They began swinging high and higher as the sky opened its arms wide.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Epilogue

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  Creative redirection. That’s what my English friend Louisa says I need, though she says it ever so gently. Which is a right fancy way of saying I must be vigilant in finding acceptable ways to express my art . . . my very soul. She and I both know I belong here with the People, so I continually stifle the part of me that once gave me such joy. My never-ending urge to draw and paint.

  It must be hard for Louisa to witness this grief of mine, especially as we are ever so close, like sister-cousins. She, too, mourns what she’s abandoned, for the time being—her fashionable life in Denver, the modern world that weighed her down. She lives each day to see the beauty in all things Amish, the art of being, as she calls the simplicity of our lives here in Paradise, in the thick of buggies, social gatherings, and cookie-making frolics. And Louisa Stratford has experienced a broken engagement, as have I.

  It’s odd, but nearly the minute I had promised my preacher father I would turn my back on my artistic passions for a full six months, right then, all kinds of new temptations popped into my head like never before. I find myself tracing a design with my finger on my dress, or squinting and eyeing the shape of the castiron bell Mamm rings for supper. It’s as if the drive to create cannot be squelched, neither from within nor without. But I hope, for the good of my word and for the good of my family, I can suppress it long enough to join church. By then surely I will have learned to obey. Without Lou’s loving support, though, I can’t imagine succeeding.

  Nearly as strong as the tug to express myself on paper or canvas is my eagerness to see Ben Martin again. This befuddles me. An Englischer? Just as I am free of Rudy Esh, in every way, I am determined to forget about this boy who can be nothing but trouble to my goal of joining church.

  Yesterday, out on the road, we happened to run into each other when I was bringing the horse and sleigh home from an errand. Lo and behold if I wasn’t alone, which is mighty unusual, as Luke or Yonie, two of my younger brothers, or Mamm regularly accompany me.

  There he was. Tall and blond, just strolling along in the cold, his strong arms swinging at his sides, his head turned to gaze at distant snowy hills. Well, I didn’t even think twice about whether or not to stop the horse—I did so straightaway, sitting alone in my father’s buggy, risking being caught talking to Ben in afternoon’s brash light.

  I felt downright peculiar listening to him talk about his ‘‘hope,’’ as he put it. Ja
h, he’s determined to change my mind about turning him down for coffee—‘‘we wouldn’t be gone but an hour,’’ he coaxed.

  Of course, I couldn’t even begin to ponder such a thing, and I managed to steer the conversation to something else altogether— the menfolk’s local championship game of checkers over at the Gordonville Fire Hall. Ben’s eyes brightened and not surprisingly. I’ve learned that most men perk up at the mention of games: corner ball, baseball, volleyball, and whatnot. So I was glad to have diverted his thinking away from me, at least for a time. Now, if only I can stop thinking of him.

  We must’ve talked for a good quarter hour. And without considering the consequences of being caught, I fed his obvious hope, slipping out from beneath my warm lap robe and climbing down from the carriage to talk with him. Right there along the road in the frosty air, where ofttimes I walked in the warmth of a summertime night, breathing in the sweetness of honeysuckle while cornstalks creaked in the field. On such evenings I liked to stare up at the stars, bemused at just how many the Lord God created. Right there, where it struck me anew that if the almighty One had taken time to form all those stars in the vast heavens, then did He also have time to heed a sparrow’s fall and the number of hairs tucked under my white prayer Kapp?

  I stood there and visited with Ben, where any one of the People could have witnessed the intriguing intent in his eyes. I can only guess what my own face—my too-readable eyes— communicated back to him, because my heart was saying some fearsome things to me. Things I don’t recall feeling toward another man, not even my former beau, Rudy. And if it’s true that the Lord God sees everything, He must never again see me with Ben.

  Oh, such ill timing! On the heels of my handshake-agreement with Daed, yet. First, the pull of art on me, and now suddenly another issue weighs so heavily. What on earth can I do about Ben?

  Honestly, I find myself sighing loudly whenever I think of this most recent encounter. That and dear friend Lou’s kind admonition. Creative redirection, indeed.

  Fair seedtime had my soul, and I grew up

  Fostered alike by beauty and by fear.

  —WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

  Chapter 1

  A half dozen blackbirds perched themselves on the makeshift scarecrow on the edge of the snowy garden. The figure wore Preacher Jesse Zook’s own black trousers and green shirt, which had already seen better days when twenty-yearold Annie had snatched them up, rescuing them from the rag bag. The long shirtsleeves had been rolled up months before to reveal the straw man’s upper appendages. Now the old felt hat and wind-tattered clothing were quite frozen, unyielding in February’s blustery gale.

  The stark white clapboard farmhouse was a welcoming sight in the fading light as Jesse made his way to the back porch. Stomping his snow-caked boots against the steps before making his way indoors, he was immediately aware of a tantalizing aroma.

  Barbara’s zesty veal loaf.

  He hurried to the sink to wash up. ‘‘Smells wonderfulgood, love.’’

  ‘‘It’s just us tonight,’’ his wife said from the cookstove, her black apron barely spanning her fleshy middle.

  ‘‘Oh? And where are the boys and Annie . . . and Louisa?’’

  Barbara Zook straightened, her face pink from the heat of the old stove. ‘‘Well, our sons were each wearin’ their for good clothes, headed for some business in town.’’

  Jesse nodded and gave a breathy chuckle. ‘‘Which means they each have themselves a girl. And Annie? Where’s she keepin’ herself this Saturday night?’’

  Barbara explained that a friend of Louisa’s was flying in from Denver. ‘‘Annie hired one of the Mennonite drivers to take her and Louisa to the Harrisburg airport.’’

  Another Englischer coming yet, Jesse thought. There had been nothing smart about his permitting Annie’s fancy friend to stay this long, either. And now there would be two of them?

  Since Louisa Stratford’s arrival, Jesse regularly tossed in bed, wishing he had done things differently back when he might’ve changed the outcome of all the foolishness between Annie and her longtime pen pal, who was, more often than not, referred to as Lou by not only Annie but now Omar, Luke, and Yonie, his three teenaged sons. A young woman with a masculine nickname—downright peculiar.

  Even so, this Lou had kept Annie here amongst the People. She seemed to be something of a balm to his daughter’s soul, as well. For that, he was obliged.

  He dried his hands on the towel and dropped into his chair at the head of the table. He considered his daughter’s promise to refrain from painting pictures such as the one on the cover of last month’s Farm and Home Journal, which he had prudently hidden away in the barn. When Annie set her mind to do something, she generally followed through. The difficulty was in knowing whether or not she’d been sincere when she gave her word to him some days back.

  He recalled the time he’d caught his only daughter drawing in the barn as a wee girl, and her promising never to do it again. Some offspring were mighty easy to know, to have a real, firm connection with—and he certainly had this with his sons. But Annie? Well, they had the typical family rapport, but she was different . . . which was to be expected, he guessed. After all, she was a daughter.

  Put aside your sin and give obedience a chance, he’d told her. And she had shaken his hand on it.

  Now his present appetite for food quelled the jumble in his head, and he was pleased to see Barbara bringing the meat platter to the table and setting it down near him. She returned to the counter for a bowl of creamy scalloped potatoes sprinkled with bacon bits, and there were serving dishes of buttered red beets and of snow peas. When she’d seated herself to his right, he bowed for a silent prayer.

  Afterward they ate without speaking, for the most part. No need for his wife to be made privy to those things that caused him continual irritation.

  Truth be known, it wasn’t just Annie’s worldly pen pal that concerned him so much. No, his grim memories of an impromptu burial—the remains of one Isaac Hochstetler, too young to die—also kept him awake at night. Jesse had been the one to handle the small knit of bones while the bishop gingerly pointed the flashlight over the hole as Jesse dug. Then he placed the skeleton in a clean burlap bag, laying it to rest back a ways from the cemetery itself. The knowledge of the lad’s remains lying in the undisclosed grave gave him the willies . . . as though he and the bishop had done something altogether deplorable.

  With the bishop’s agreement, he had told Zeke where Isaac had been laid to rest. Zeke’s response had been troubling.

  Now Barbara spoke up suddenly as she served a piece of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream. ‘‘I guess Louisa’s friend won’t be stayin’ with us.’’

  Jesse grunted. ‘‘Why’s that?’’

  ‘‘Evidently Courtney Engelman turned up her nose, according to Annie. Wanted electricity, I guess.’’

  He felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle out. ‘‘This one’s a gut friend of Louisa’s, ya say?’’

  ‘‘Well, she must be, ’cause she was goin’ to be in Louisa’s wedding back last fall.’’

  ‘‘So where’s this Englischer stayin’?’’

  ‘‘That perty Maple Lane Farm guesthouse, over yonder.’’

  Barbara forced a smile. She looked down at her generous slice of pie, not speaking for the longest time. ‘‘I . . . uh, I’ve been meaning to tell ya something,’’ she said, meeting his gaze.

  He touched her arm. ‘‘What is it, dear? You look all peaked.’’

  ‘‘Well, jah, I s’pose I am,’’ she said softly. ‘‘I’ve been having dreams—the same one—for a week now. ’Tis awful strange. Isaac Hochstetler’s back in Paradise . . . like nothing ever happened to him.’’ Tears filled her eyes and she reached up her dress sleeve and pulled out a small handkerchief, her lower lip quivering.

  ‘‘Ach, Barbara . . .’’ He did not know what to say to comfort her. He couldn’t just come out with the fact that Isaac could never, ever simply return.
His bones were the final proof, although scarcely a soul was aware of them, aside from the bishop, himself, and Zeke. ‘‘I’m sorry your dreams are so troubled,’’ he managed to say, stroking Barbara’s hand.

  Jesse retired to his rocking chair, mentally adding his wife’s woes to his own while sitting near the fire. After a time, once Barbara was finished with her kitchen duties and had turned her attention to her needlework, he got up and donned his old work coat, carrying his uncertainties silently to the barn. He went straight for the rolled-up magazine cover, tucked away in the haymow in a safe and out-of-theway place, where he had also hidden the old rope swing. He’d thought of turning it over to Zeke years ago but could never bring himself to relinquish it. More recently he had thought of simply burning it in a bonfire.

  He sat on an old willow chair—his ‘‘thinking chair,’’ he liked to call it. His father, a sage if ever there was one, had crafted the now ragged-looking chair in a hodgepodge sort of symmetry. Jesse had helped gather the willow sticks in early spring, when the sap was running, he recalled.

  Now he looked at the cover art—Annie’s own—holding it in his callused hands for at least the hundredth time, so mesmerizing it was.

  Why would she choose to paint this?

  He huddled against the cold, breathing in the pungent scents of manure and feed. Comforted by the presence of the livestock, he pondered Annie’s odd decision to paint the very place where Isaac had been abducted.

  How could she possibly remember him yet? Does Isaac haunt her dreams, as well?

  Louisa and Annie stood near the baggage claim area, across from the rental car counters, waiting for Courtney’s arrival. Terribly fidgety, Louisa adjusted her head covering, then went to check the monitor for the second time. ‘‘Looks like her plane’s late,’’ she told Annie, returning.

 
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