The air felt heavy as Christine stood there with her suitcase, waiting for the train. She glanced over at Reverend Regland as he stood straight as a ramrod with a stoic expression as he stared straight in front of him. Christine wasn’t sure if she felt pity for the man or herself at that moment. She felt judged in fact that she had been judged. Her parents had deserted her upon hearing the lie that viper Ethel Woods had spread. Reverend Regland had volunteered to take the matter into his own hands and here they stood waiting for the train.
Reverend Regland had come to her 3 months ago and plopped an advertisement in front of her. She obediently answered the ad. At the time she cried every day begging her parents to believe her. But as the days dragged on the continued shunning and ostracizing by her parents and small community turned her grief into anticipation of a reply.
Christine glanced down at her simple attire and remembered how it all fell apart. She had been sitting in the front room finishing a tablecloth she was embroidering for her upcoming wedding to Jonah Wilson when her father burst into the room. His face was red with anger as he walked up and stood glaring down at her.
“Papa, what is wrong?” she asked.
“You have shamed us. It is all over town. How could you!” he shouted.
Christine sat there stunned at his anger. “Papa what have I done?” she asked.
“You and that outsider Tom were seen down by the lake! Ethel has gone to the Elders in tears and told of your indiscretion,” he yelled.
“What? Papa I don’t know what you are talking about,” she replied. “When did she say this took place?”
“Monday afternoon,” he replied as he started pacing back and forth in front of her.
“But Papa please believe me when I tell you I did not meet up with this Tom. It was not Tom it was…” she abruptly stopped her pleading knowing what they had done was forbidden.
“You told your Mama you were going to pick wild berries with Sara that afternoon. Sara has confessed you two never went,” he said stopping in front of her as he glared at her.
“Papa, please,” she pleaded as she looked up at her Papa. She could see tears forming in his eyes.
“You have been shunned. Reverend Regland is looking into a resolution to this problem,” he whispered as he turned and walked away. “You are no longer my daughter.”
Christine lowered her head and began to cry, recalling that Monday afternoon. It was not Tom that she had stolen away to the lake with but Jonah. Ever since she could remember she had dreamed of being joined with Jonah. When the day came and she had been promised to him she was elated. She knew Jonah must have felt the same way or why would he of insisted on their secret meetings? She could feel herself blush remembering the Monday meeting as he pulled her to the ground and began feverishly pulling at her dress. She had been shocked at his behavior. The other two secret meetings were just stolen moments of hand holding.
She had quickly pushed him to the side and stood up. “Jonah what has come over you!” she hissed. Jonah laid there smirking as he looked up to her.
“What? You can fool around with another and deny me?” he said angrily.
“What? I don’t know what you are saying!” she said.
“I ran into Ethel on the way here and she told me all about your other secret meetings,” he murmured as he stood up brushing off his trousers.
“I do not know what you are speaking about,” she replied reaching out to him.
“Enough,” he said pulling away.
“Jonah, please believe me. I will speak to Ethel and clear this all up. I promise,” she said.
The next day she had gone to Ethel and confronted her. Ethel assured her that Jonah must have misunderstood what she had said and that she would talk to Jonah and clear things up.
Christine stood there recalling Jonah’s reaction when she approached him the afternoon her father disowned her. After her father had left she had set her embroidery to the side and gone in search of him. Walking down the street she watched as the people she passed quietly turned their backs on her. She burst into the shop owned by Jonah’s parents and walked directly up to him. He didn’t even look her in the face but quietly turned his back.
Two months passed before she got the reply along with a train ticket. The note simply stated “I look forward to meeting you. Sincerely, Joseph Turner.”
Not long after that Jonah and Ethel announced their engagement.
The train slowly stopped in front of her. Christine felt a gentle breeze from the west with a promise of spring as she leaned over, picked up her suitcase and without looking back boarded the train.
Hope you enjoyed the fourth short story in a series we call Four Mail Order Brides.
Here are the three previous stories and their links.
“The Pearl Necklace”
Please let us know if you are enjoying this series so that we can make a decision if we should continue it or not. I am considering just taking the idea and turning it into a novella series. Thanks!