I JOHN 4:11

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

I John 4 v 11 roses

Our son is facing a cardiac procedure at Stanford soon.  He has tachycardia and had an episode of 7 hours with a heartbeat of 200 beats a minute.  All this to say is that the heart is vital to live.   This verse is reinforcing the same.  


I John 4 v 11 chalk heart

“Beloved.”  You are loved, by God and by this disciple with the message of love whose verses of love have stretched over 2000 years as if this was written just to you.  Creation was designed to show how much God loved us, yearning for fellowship with mankind whom He created in a perfect garden.  Then, the cross was the defining moment of love.  On the cross, Jesus took away the barrier of sin to make it possible to have that fellowship God designed us for.  

I John 4 v 11 no one loves

Adam Clarke said, “We should love God’s sake; and then, no unkind carriage of a brother would induce us to withdraw our love from him; for if it have God for its motive and model, it will never fail.”


I John 4 v 10 quote lover of soul

I JOHN 4:10

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

I John 4 v 10 cross and back

Contrary to the “it’s all about me” culture, this Scripture says, it is “not that we loved God.”  Human love is powerful, but not that powerful.  I John 4 v 10 c.s. lewis

Adam Clarke said, “And that He was thereby induced to give His Son to be a propitiation for our sins.  No: we were enemies to God, and yet Christ died for our ungodly souls.”

While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; through perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were enemies were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Romans 5:6-10

I John 4 v 10 quote lover of soul

He goes on to say, “No: we were enemies to God, and yet Christ died for our ungodly souls.  So it was God’s love, not our merit, that induced Him to devise means that His banished (us) might not be expelled from Him.”

 

 

 

I JOHN 4:9

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”

flag cross and flag

Every thing God touches is because of love.  God’s great gift was not just to show us that the universe was not just wound up and left to tick away.  God’s great gift was not just to show us how history is His story.  God’s great gift was much more intimate.  The love of God has shown up in us, those who have chosen to receive Him in.  His birth, His ministry, His death, His resurrection are all in our heart because it has come out of the overwhelming love of God.  God did not just give us His Son, but it was so that we might live through Him.  He is in us so we might live.  We were dead in sin, but He resurrected us by breathing into us the breath of God. It was so that like Adam, we live.  God is not just over us, under us and around us but in us.  

Sent.  God sent His only begotten Son, His precious one, His dear one, His most achingly loved one to our rescue.  

flag 911

This is 911.  It has been 17 years since it happened when cowards attacked our nation causing unimaginable destruction.  Yet heroes were made, heroes who rushed in to save.  These heroes inspired thousands to join the military, to become firemen and to join the police force.  It was a dark day, but love of country and the ultimate sacrifice of these heroes make our hearts swell and tears blur our eyes as we remember.

Sent.  Here we are reminded that God sent His only begotten.  He sent His one of a kind Son, His precious one, His dear one, His most achingly loved one to rescue us.  He will always be in our heart, at home in our soul.  We cannot hide the light shining in us, not under a bushel but on a hill.  Because He sent His Son, we can live.  

flag gif

Adam Clarke said, “The mission of Jesus Christ was the fullest proof that God could give, or that man could receive, of His infinite love to the world.”

‘That we might live through Him’  The whole world was sentenced to death because of sin; and every individual was dead in trespasses and sins; and Jesus came to die in the stead of the world and to quicken every believer, that all might live to Him who died for them and rose again.”  

His death was not as a hero for one specific date in time, but for as long as this earth stays spinning.  The flames of hell may have been licking and we may have covered us with ash, but He came to save us.  He died in the process, but because He was God, the grave could not hold Him.  Because He rose from the dead, we will as well.  Now that is love.

I JOHN 4:7-8

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

new photo bks flag antler

It is obvious, the plain truth of Scripture.  Love.  How much of all literature  and music is written to wrap our hearts and minds around love.  Yet, here, in these two verses it has been made it simple, the purest description and source of all love.   Even little children sometimes struggle to express their love, like our oldest son did as a preschooler when he said, “I love you, mom and dad.  I love you more than goldfish.”  How inexpressible is our sentiments towards the Lover of our soul.

 Addie holding goldfish

Here is our oldest son’s daughter who continues his love of goldfish.

Of course, I “love” how Adam Clarke expresses it.  “‘For love is of God’ And ever acts like Him; He loves man, and daily loads him with his benefits.  ‘He that loveth most has most of God in him; and he that loveth God and his neighbor, as before described and commanded, is born of God, is begotten–is a true child of his heavenly Father; and this his love to God and man proves.”

Ezra praying 2

“‘For God is love.’  An infinite fountain of benevolence and beneficence to every human being.  He hates nothing that He has made.  He cannot hate, because He is love.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust.  HE HAS MADE NO HUMAN BEING FOR PERDITION, (my caps)not ever rendered it impossible, by any necessitating decree, for any fallen soul to find mercy.  He has given the fullest proof of His love to the whole human race by the incarnation of His Son, who tasted death for every man.  How can a decree of absolute, unconditional reprobation (condemnation), of the greater part or any part of the human race, stand in the presence of such a text as this, It has been well observed that, although God is holy, just, righteous, etc., He is never called holiness, justice, etc. in the abstract, as He is here called LOVE. (his caps) This seems to be the essence of the Divine nature, and all other attributes to be only modification of this.”  

free girl in braid praying

When you hit the wall or come to a dead-in, His love searches you out.

This past Sunday, my husband led a Teen and Adult Challenge service with some of the students giving their inconceivable testimonies.  Some had belonged to gangs.  Some had been molested and turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain while others took to crime to belong.  One young man had one sister murder her own sister, as familiar as Cain killed Able.  Pain.  Yet, God in His infinite love has brought them out into the sunlight of His love. 

One beautiful woman had a father who was a gang leader with a mother who was a believer.  As a child, she followed her father into the gang.  It gave her a false sense of belonging.  Because of her crimes she was sent to prison.  There she spent over 11 years in solitary confinement due to her violence, being allowed out only 1 day a week.   When she was released, she went back to the crimes of the gang and was rearrested.  Fearful of the Third Strike Rule which would keep her behind bars the rest of her life, her praying mother asked her to sign up for Teen and Adult Challenge for probation, which would be a miracle because of the kind of crimes she had committed.  She was miraculously released to Adult and Teen Challenge and found her Father who she chooses to follow the rest of her life.  God is love.  There is an enemy of our soul who lies and is out to kill and destroy.  Nevertheless, God is the Hound of Heaven who pursues us in order to redeem us.  God is love.

 

FALLING FOR THE RIGHT ONE

A Regency Short Story of an Inelegant Young Woman

by Celia Jolley

riches girl in profile in hat

Matty sighed, while her best “friend Judith tried to cheer her up.

“It could be worse…” she began.

“You must be not seeing the same arrogant man I’m seeing,” Matty interrupted.  “My parents are so close to making a marriage agreement that would doom me to be with  that pompous man the rest of my life, that I feel sick.”

“At least we are not aware of any vices he partakes in.  For example, we’ve never heard that he has any gaming debts,” Judith tried to reason.

“Just because we are not aware of any, does not mean a thing.   How could we be aware of what goes on in those gentlemen clubs.  I just know that most of his married friends have mistresses set up in their own houses.  Their vows are only good until they have an heir, then they stray.  How do I know he will not do likewise.  I’m afraid he is without a soul.”

“Have you ever asked him about his faith?”

“I tried, and he just huffed and claimed that he was a proud member of the Church of England and was adamantly against upstarts like John Wesley and Whitfield and hated the music of Charles Wesley.  He looked down his nose at me like I was a failure on how a proper lady should comport herself.”

“Oh well, but have you ever seen him deep in his cups?”

“Actually I have.  It was at the Chesterfield’s ball.  He danced with me only once, then disappeared into the gaming room.   When he finally came out, he was walking like a crab scooting sideways, first one way then the other.  He never saw me standing there as he wove past me.”

“Hmm.  Hopefully, that was an unusual circumstance.”

“I do know that he thinks himself quite the connoisseur of French wine and loves nothing better than to opine on that subject.  I don’t think I could stomach being attached to such a puffed up peacock.”  

“But what can you do?”

Matty, threw herself back on her bed and stared at the ceiling watching a cobweb float back and forth in the breath of the wind.   Suddenly she sat up and clapped her hands.  “I know what to do!  I will use sabotage.”

“What?  Tell me?” Judith exclaimed.

“I will embarrass him.  He will be easily mortified, I’m sure.  The key will be to make it all seem like innocent clumsiness.”  

But what will you do?”  Judith began biting her nails.

“For starts, tonight when I come down to dinner, I’m sure he will be waiting at the bottom of the stairs.  I will stumble and just catch myself before falling all the way down.”

“Won’t you hurt yourself?  What if you are unable to stop yourself until falling all the way to the foot of the stairs?”

“Let me see my slipper.  She jumped up and grabbed her sharp letter opener.”

Judith nervously handed it over.  “What are you doing?”

Matty began pulling the heel of her slipper loose by inserting the letter opener, using it like a knife.  Finally, the heel was only holding on by a few little hobnails.  “There!  It will look like an innocent wardrobe mishap, but my stumbling will nevertheless embarrass the arrogant man who prides himself on his own perfection.  Any deviation from that, including the comportment of the lady on his arm, will alarm him.”

“Surely he will not count such a thing against you.” Judith held her hands in horror on her cheeks.

“That is only the beginning.  I’m sure I can easily think of other ways to embarrass him as well.”

“I don’t think I like this plan,” Judith began shaking her head heartily back and forth, so hard that a few  hair pins fell to the floor, and a lock of hair came loose.”

“See, just like that.  I can pull a few pins out so that my hairstyle will fall as well.  It will be another proof that I am not the perfect one to walk on his arm.”

“Oh, Matty.  This is terrible.”

“Said the young woman who isn’t about to be promised to the ostentatious man.”

Judith sighed.  “You must be desperate.”

“I am.”

Their maids arrived to finish preparing the ladies for dinner.  Matty  squeezed Judith’s hand.  “Trust me.  I will be able to run him off in one single evening.  Just watch me,” she said.  Then after the maids left, she began slipping out several of the pins that held her coiffure in place.

“Oh, Matilda, you worry me.”

“Here we go.  Wish me the best.”

Matty stood at the top of the stairs gazing below to make sure that Richard III, Earl of Gothmere was watching and waiting for her.  Unfortunately, another gentleman was waiting beside him who was likewise staring up at her.  Nevertheless, she held onto the rail with her gloved hand and began her elegant descent.  She was going to fake a stumble, but the loose heel on her slipper caused one before she was ready, and she almost did in fact fall all the way down.   She heard Judith scream as Matty grabbed the rail with both hands though she was almost unable to stop herself.  She could feel her hair falling down around her shoulders and was herself in disarray.  

A gentleman took the stairs two at a time to come to her rescue.  “Are you alright, miss?”  She looked up to find it was not Richard, but the other one who had been standing at the bottom of the stairs.  

Finally, Richard was beside her saying, “What an appalling misfortune, Miss Horn!”

Matty shocked him further by lifting her gown up displaying her ankle to take her slipper off in front of the gentlemen.  “Look, the heel came loose, see.  Please excuse me, gentlemen, while I change my footwear.”

She saw that Richard was successfully affronted while the other gentleman’s concern turned to amusement.  She sniffed and put on airs as if he had insulted her as Judith helped her limping back upstairs.  She heard her mother nearly weeping downstairs saying, “It’s her maid’s fault.  How did she not notice that the slipper was coming apart, or mayhap it was the shoemaker since those were brand new!”

Matilda had a twinge of conscience over passing the blame of her slipper onto others.  Besides, she was in a little pain having incidentally twisted her ankle. 

Once in her room, Judith exclaimed, “Oh, Matty, that was horrible!  I thought you were going to fall all the way down.”

Matty stiffened her back and pretended to be less affected than she was.  In truth, she had scared herself to death.  “Didn’t you see me grip the bannister?  So, have no fear.  I was safe from a perilous disaster.”  She examined her slippers.  “I just wish I had thought not to use my new slippers and should have pulled the heel off one of my older pairs.  Oh well, I’m sure we are keeping them waiting.  Betty should be here at any moment to fix my hair again.”

This time Matty was able to make a less notable entrance doing her best to hide her limp even with the pain increasing in her ankle.  But her mind was already planning her next ploy to distance herself from the all too perfect Richard.  Too bad that other gentleman would have to witness it.  Oh well, she thought.  It can’t be helped even though he seemed to be a good sort judging by the way he came to her rescue on the stairs.

riches lady at table

It was during the soup course when Matty looked over to ask a seemingly innocent question to make sure that Richard’s eyes were on her.  Then as he waxed eloquent, and she appeared to be delicately sipping a spoonful of soup, she suddenly spit it out all over the tablecloth, just missing Richard’s intricately tied cravat.  He jumped back with a yelp as she exclaimed, “A fly!  There was a fly in my soup!”

Her mother made the cry she always made right before she fainted, which she did as her father called for smelling salts.  One of the servers speedily swept her soup away with eyes full of horror.   She hoped he would not be blamed and be let go.  It was enough to have her almost question her strategy.  

In order to protect the server or the cook from being blamed, she asked the company, “Did anyone else see that fly buzzing around before it landed in my bowl?  I thought I had waved it away, but it decidedly wanted a taste of my delicious soup.”  Matty noticed that nobody else wanted any more of their soup having lost their appetites as waiters swiftly whisked their bowls away.   She saw that Richard was practically as white as the tablecloth as he carefully examined his cravat to make sure it survived unscathed from the spray.  He patted himself down as if making sure he was still all in one piece.  It was enough to make her laugh, which she had to swallow, of course.

However his friend who was seated on her left, a Lord somebody or other, whispered, “You must have swallowed that pesky fellow for neither was it in your soup nor was it evident in what you spewed across the table.  So I must ask, are you feeling alright, Miss Horn?”  He looked totally amused and barely able to keep from laughing at her.”

“How observant,”  she replied primly as she began patting her napkin to her lips.  The  insufferable man seemed to be closely watching her still as his gaze fell disconsertingly on her lips before he chuckled and turned away.  It was more disturbing than if there truly had been a fly in her soup.  It was too much, even if he was the one who had rushed up the stairs when she had fallen.

Now her mother was revived and glaring daggers at her.  Matty made a very, very tiny shrug of her shoulders so as not to appear more indelicate than she already was.  Her father was straining to maintain a facade as a gracious host when she was sure he was actually fighting to keep the dark thundercloud he was quite capable of, from gathering upon his countenance.

After the dessert of raison pudding, which somehow made her think of flies, the ladies followed her mother out.  As good manners dictated, the men rose as well.  Maddy failed to hide a groan while attempting to stand on her sore ankle causing the gentleman on her left to help her up.

He again whispered, “Are you alright, miss?  Perhaps you should prop that shapely ankle up on a cushion and put some ice on it.”

Her face bloomed a blush.  How dare the man speak of her ankle, an unmentionable topic for any true gentleman.  “No thank you, sir.  You may remove your hand on my arm now.”

He grinned and made a slight bow further incensing her.  She did her very best to hide her limp even if her ankle was now shooting pain enough to take her breath away.  

Once in the parlor, her mother grabbed her arm, shook her and harped, “Matilda!  How dare you embarrass your father and me like that!  I can’t imagine what your suitor must be thinking.”

That was music to her ears and worth the pain she was feeling.  But their butler appeared at her side saying, “Excuse me, Miss Horn.  Someone requested ice for your, um, your injury.”

“Thank you, John.”  But she knew exactly who had requested the ice.  However, there was no delicate way to put ice on her ankle without causing her mother to faint again.  So as soon as the men entered, Matty plopped her leg up on a cushion and placed the ice on her swollen ankle.   Indeed, her mother did faint again, but aroused herself before smelling salts could once again assault her.

“Matilda!” her mother gasped.  Put your um,” her mother struggled knowing it was unacceptable to mention any body part of a lady beyond noting her rosy cheeks or sparkling eyes.  “Put it down!” she finally commanded after settling on a proper way of saying it.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I believe your daughter has injured herself in her slip on the stairs.”  It was the bold stranger again.  “I am the one who suggested she needed ice.”

Matty finally had a moment to gaze across the room to see Richard sitting stiffly with his back neatly turned so as not to look upon her.

Her father ordered, “John, come help my daughter up to her room.  It seems she is unfit for company this evening.”

The faithful servant came, took up the ice packet and gently helped her to her feet.  She limped away much to her satisfaction.  Matty was in real pain and was relieved to not have to suffer the company, Richard most of all, any longer.  But she would have to brace herself for when her mother would arrive in her room later this evening after all the dinner guests had left.  

Her maid came apologetically to help ready her for bed.  “I am so sorry, Miss Matilda.  That shoe seemed fine to me when I brought it out of your closet earlier today when we planned what you would wear, and here you are with an injury.”

“It most certainly was not your fault, Betty.  The shoe just caught on a step and came loose.  It seemed perfectly fine earlier.”  Matty had a twinge of conscience for the little white lie.  The shoe was perfectly fine before she purposefully loosened it.  She shuddered at the thought of how she nearly tumbled all the way to the foot of the stairs.  Then she smirked imagining what if she had rolled down to land at Richard’s feet all inelegant with her skirt undoubtably a picture of indecency.  “Do you have that ice packet, Betty?”

“Yes, miss.  Let me put your foot up.  Here you go, Now let’s hope the ankle is better in the morning.  But I don’t like the way it is so swollen and turning purple.  Perhaps I should send word to your father that you need a doctor?”

“Please, let’s not, Betty.  I say we should wait until morning and see if it’s better.   But perhaps you could bring me the cup of tea I missed by being dismissed from the parlor.  No, I think I would prefer a hot chocolate, if cook doesn’t mind.  I do get sick of tea betimes.”

“Right away, miss,” she said before scurrying away.

Discouraging a suitor was a difficult business and was truly only for the stout-hearted.  Matty hoped it had indeed run Richard off, but wondered if she would have to improvise more clumsiness to come.

In the morning, she had to admit, at least to herself, that the ice had helped.  Matty was enough better to be assisted down to the parlor.  Rather than coming up and giving her a set down last night, her mother chose the silent method of punishment.  It was always Matty’s favorite.  

“Look, someone sent flowers.  Do you know who, Mother?”  She groaned thinking that it had to have been Richard.

 

riches woman in white from back

Her mother only sniffed and went back to her embroidery.  

Maddy hobbled over to the bouquet and read the note.  She was shocked.  If she was the fainting type like her mother, she would have been laid out on the floor. It was Lord Astor.   “Goodness me!” she exclaimed.  “I can’t imagine why he would do such a thing.”

Her only acknowledgement from her mother was a crooked eyebrow, but the woman kept her eyes down on her embroidery stitch.  Maddy plopped upon the sofa and put her angry ankle up on the cushion.  Now both of her mother’s eyebrows were cocked in displeasure, but she still refrained from speaking.  Just then someone was knocking at the door.  They could hear John’s droning voice in answer to another’s deeper one.

Before she could pull herself up and her foot down, their butler was announcing the arrival of Lord Astor.  

“Don’t get up on my account, miss.  I’m sure it is still troubling you to stand on.”

Her mother did not have to pretend a smile until she realized Richard was not behind his friend.  She recovered enough to be gracious, fortunately because Maddy was shocked speechless.

“Have the maid bring us tea, John,” her mother instructed as was proper.

Maddy’s head was spinning and could not think of a thing to say, so he once again came to her rescue.  “I see you are sensible and are keeping your injury elevated.”

“The ice you suggested did help last night, so thank you, Lord Astor.  It was very kind of you.”

“Yes, very kind indeed,” her mother tried to smile but failed dismally.  Matty knew she wished that the whole affair could be put behind her.

Matty finally managed to put one thought in front of another and said, “It was kind of you to send the flowers as well.  Thank you.”

It was her turn to be embarrassed when her mother asked, “Have you seen Sir Richard this morning, my lord?”

“Actually, I passed him a little while ago.  He said he was going to call on Miss Gundor.”  

Judith?  She almost exclaimed it aloud.  Richard was calling on Judith.  Matty was sure her mother would faint at any moment.

Instead her mother was declaring with certainty, “I’m sure he will be by later.”

Lord Astor looked around acting surprised.  “Did he not send you flowers?” Then he did the unconscionable thing and winked at her.  

She covered her gasp with her hand and glanced over to where her mother was furiously attacking her embroidery.

As was proper, the gentleman did not stay long and took his leave.  Her mother was fuming.  “To think, Sir Richard is calling on Judith!”

“But isn’t it a more distinct honor to have received a call from Lord Astor than a Sir Richard?” Why did Matty enjoy seeing her mother squirm?

Indeed she gaped saying, “I do believe you are right.  I just never considered Lord Astor’s attention on you as anything more than being polite.  But your father was so close to finalizing the marriage arrangement with Sir Richard that I hardly considered it.  Oh do pursue him, Mathilda!” 

Now her mother was quite gleeful while Matty was in horror.  Pursue him?  He was quite beyond her and was merely being decent coming to visit due to her injury.  Besides, hadn’t she made enough of a fool of herself to scare any gentleman away?

The next day while she and Judith sat discussing the most recent publication by the unknown author of “Emma,” John announced visitors.  It was Sir Richard and his friend Lord Astor.  Judith smiled graciously, her mother looked like the cat that ate the canary while she could only pale in shock.  However, Lord Astor caught her looking and seemed amused.

Sir Richard asked, “We were wondering if you ladies would care to join us for a ride through Hyde Park.  It is quite a lovely day out.”

Judith being her excitable self clapped and exclaimed, “Yes, yes, of course we would!”

riches two women from back

Sir Richard was about to take Judith’s arm until he glanced at Matty’s mother, and offered it to Matty instead.  Lord Astor escorted Judith out to their landau.  The ladies sat together looking forward, while the gentleman sat across from them.  Matty looked everywhere else except at Lord Astor, but couldn’t help but wonder how the two men were friends.  They were certainly quite different.

She found herself blurting out, “So, how did you become acquainted with one another, if I may ask?”

Of all things, Sir Richard nervously picked non-existent lint off his coat sleeve.  Lord Astor grinned and said, “Shall I tell them Richard, or would you prefer to toll the tale?”

Richard huffed and said, “No, you go ahead.  It seems to give you pleasure to speak of it.”

Lord Astor threw back his head and laughed before saying, “Indeed it does.  Well, prepare to be shocked, ladies, but one day I found Sir Richard hiding in our field in a hay mound.  It seems that one of our tenant farmers was not as charmed as his daughter with his attention.  But we were yet young lads wet behind the ears.”

“Quite young, hardly sixteen, I believe,” Richard sniffed.  “I have not been able to tolerate the smell of hay without sneezing since.”

That was enough to set Lord Astor to laughing again.  “Yes, we were both very young.  I had just come back from school in Oxford, while he was home from school in Eton.  Our paths had not crossed before then, but we might have had a few escapades after that, I confess.”

“Do tell,” Matty leaned forward excitedly.

Don’t tell, James.  I’m sure you wouldn’t want to shock the ladies sensibilities further.”

“Oh, but we would like nothing better, right Judith?” Matty was on the edge of her seat.

Lord Astor chuckled, “Alright, I won’t shock them with the worst of our mischievous deeds.  But are you aware that one can tip a cow?  The farmer was quite put out when he caught us, was he not  Richard?”

“Truly?” Judith exclaimed.

“Quite, but I’m sure they do not wish to hear…” Richard said try\ing to stop his friend from telling more.

But Lord Astor went on, “Then we went fishing and caught a trout and put it in my sister’s chamber pot.  You should have heard her scream in the night!”  He went off in peels of laughter punching Richard in the shoulder who couldn’t hold back a grin. 

“Quite so.  It was all jolly fun,” he admitted.

Judith was aghast while Matty was practically snorting in laughter.  Her corset constricted her, however, making her feel faint as she gasped for air.  So she waved her hands in front of her face calling, “Oh, stop, stop.  It is too, too much!”  But her face told otherwise.

Richard became once again a stuffed shirt and checked his cravat down to the pleat in his pants.  “I told you, James, the ladies sensibilities would be too shocked.”

Lord Astor was grinning with a gleam in his eyes.  “Oh, but there is so much more!”

Sir Richard was saved when another carriage stopped alongside them and greetings and introductions were called out.  The gentlemen seemed familiar, but Matty could not be sure if she had once danced with them or had been offered refreshment at one ball or other.

When they rolled off, Lord Astor’s face looked grim.  “Good men.  The best.  Sir Ashford, a second son, fought against Napoleon in France.  He was dreadfully wounded there, and it is a miracle he made it home.  The other is his friend who lost an eye in battle and thus, the patch.  We were all best chums while in Oxford.  I prayed for them most decidedly while they were away serving.

“Oh, dear!” Judith exclaimed while Matty wondered at herself that she had not even noticed the man’s eye patch.  It did dampen the company’s mood, however.

Sir Richard and Judith made small talk, a little fluff here and little tittle there.  But Lord Astor seemed lost in thought so deep that Matty did not want to disturb him.  Fortunately, the park was wearing its finery with the trees in lacy gowns of blooms with slippers of flowers at their feet.  It was not just the view, but the gentle swaying of the ride and the fresh air of Spring that relaxed her making her sigh.

“I hope that sigh is one of pleasure, Miss Horn.  I hope I did not disturb you with the tale of woe of our soldiers,” Lord Astor asked.  It seemed that Sir Richard and Judith were busy in witless conversation and did not seek to involve themselves in theirs.

“Oh no.  I don’t know when I have enjoyed a ride as much as this.  Thank you for inviting us along.”

“If your injury was further along in its healing, we could have stopped and walked a pace.  Perhaps next time, unless that is, you have a further mishap.”  His gaze was warm upon her, but still with a glint of humor.  

“I do try to keep my mishaps down to one or two at a time.  I would hate to shock another’s sensibilities beyond the pale too often,” she tried to say with a straight face, but could not hide the grin quivering on her lips as she glanced over at Sir Richard.

Lord Astor followed her gaze and raised an eyebrow.  “So, I see.  It is mostly done in certain company, I take it.”

“Perhaps.”  She certainly did not intend for him to know with certainty her intent of scaring Sir Richard off from his courtship, but he seemed to have guessed it.  She asked, “Was it the stumble or the fly that gave it away,” she whispered glad that Judith and Sir Richard were absorbed in each other’s company.

He chuckled.  “I perhaps was a little suspicious with the first, but was certain after the  second, especially as they both succeeded in cooling a certain gentleman’s ardor.”

“Precisely,” she admitted.  “It was like pairing a peacock with a barnyard chicken.  It never would have worked, but my parents thought otherwise.”

“Hmm, I never thought of describing him as a barnyard chicken…” he mused, but she swatted his knee, quite improperly.  

“I meant him as the peacock, as you well know.  You are quite impossible, sir!”

“Well, I could never compare you to a barnyard chicken, Miss Horn, that is for certain.  You demean yourself.”

“Hardly, but I do hope you can keep this revelation a secret.  I would rather he keep his attention elsewhere, if you know what I mean,” and she glanced over at a beaming Judith who was absorbing all the assumed grandeur of Sir Richard.

“Be assured it is quite safe with me,” he grinned catching her gaze with his a mite too long, enough to cause her to blush.

“You are not often in London, are you?  I don’t recall seeing you at any of the social events this season.”

“No, I studiously avoid the larger gatherings and only occasionally attend small dinner parties like yours the other night,” he replied.

“How fortunate you are, sir.”

“Do you not enjoy them, Miss Horn?”

“As much as a turkey can enjoy being trussed up and served on a platter.  It is a woman’s obligation to offer herself up to be so devoured.  I believe the beautiful gowns we wear are not sufficient reward for such suffering.”

Sir Astor was beyond belief at her description, then let out loud guffaws causing by- standers to stare.  “Oh, Miss Horn, you are too much, too much indeed.”

Matty did not know if that was a good thing or not, but assuredly, her mother would deem it a most awful thing for certain.  “I’m glad to amuse you, sir.”

With Judith and Sir Richard staring aghast, Lord Astor regained control over his laughter.  “That, miss, was the most enjoyable thing I have heard in I don’t know when.”

“But must you cause a scene, James?” Sir Richard was looking nervously around.

Judith whispered, “What on earth did you say, Matty?”  But Matty only  shrugged and looked away upset that she had so embarrassed herself again in front of this man.

By then they were in front of her house.  Lord Astor practically leaped down before the footman could step up to assist the ladies.  Instead, he did perhaps hold her gloved hand a little longer than necessary.  “Let me walk you to your door, Miss Horn.  I would not trust your injury to allow you to walk unassisted quite yet.  So saying, he tucked her hand in his arm and gallantly escorted her to her door.

“Thank you for a lovely afternoon,” Judith cooed.

“Quite so,” she agreed without meeting the gentleman’s eyes.

Once inside, Judith spoke in raptures over their excursion.

Her mother could not decide if it was a good sign or not, especially as Matty kept quiet as Judith went on and on.

“And how was Lord Astor,” she finally inquired.

“Oh, he’s a jolly sort of fellow,” she replied before going upstairs to her room knowingly leaving her mother confused.  She was confused herself not knowing if it was a good thing or not to have caused the man such amusement.  She’d never thought herself a comic before.  It made her wonder.

The next morning she came down to find her mother in ecstasy.  Lord Astor sent you another bouquet!  He must be quite smitten.”

Matty could not hold back exclaiming, “They are asters.   They must be hothouse ones as they are out of season.”  She took a deep breath of their herbal scent.  

“Truly?” her mother exclaimed.  “That does seem a bit intimate, if you know what I mean, sending flowers representing his name.”

“I doubt it, mother.  His name is an Astor with an ‘o’ while the flower aster has an ‘e.’  It is just a coincident that these were chosen.”

“Oh posh!  But I don’t know how you’ve accomplished it, especially after your initial meeting.  He must have already ignored your first unfortunate accidents.   Your father investigated him yesterday and finds him to be quite the catch with vast holdings and wealth besides being a lord.  Make sure you do everything in your power to catch him, dearest.  It would make your father and I extremely pleased.”

“Mother, I don’t believe I can boast of such charm.  I am merely a convenient pairing since Sir Richard is quite captivated with Judith at the moment, and he is his friend, and I am hers.”

“Nonsense.  A man does not send flowers unless he intends to signal an interest.  Make sure you are fittingly attired in case he comes calling this morning.  Perhaps you should go change now.”

But he did not come that afternoon or the next.  She did see Judith being spirited about with Sir Richard.  She seemed to be so enraptured that Matty felt sorry for her. 

By the third day, Matty had enough with waiting around for a caller and dressed in her oldest dress to go work in the garden.  Her hair was still in the braid she had slept with it in.  Tending the roses was something she enjoyed which tended to infuriate her mother.  However, her mother was out shopping for a new pair of gloves.  She had asked Matty to go with her, but she had made the excuse of her ankle still being sore.

So, it was extremely perturbing when John found her and announced that she had a caller.  She could only hope it was Judith.  Matty smoothed down her fly away hair that had escaped her braid and made her way inside.  Of course, it was Lord Astor along with Sir Richard and Judith.

Sir Richard seemed fittingly shocked, while her friend only sighed, “Oh, Matty.”

“I was not expecting company,” she managed to sputter.  “Please excuse me while I go make myself presentable.”  She laid down the roses she had not realized were still in her hands and hurriedly left the room. but not before seeing the amusement in Lord Astor’s eyes.

Once in her chamber, she urged, “Betty, hurry!  Lord Astor is waiting with Sir Richard and Judith.  I can’t believe I let them see me like this!”

It took a little more than a few minutes before Matty reentered the parlor.  Judith began bouncing on the edge of the sofa and clapped her gloved hands, “Guess what, Matty!  The gentlemen have asked to take us walking in the park and share a picnic lunch with them.” Judith was in raptures.

But what did surprise her was the way Sir Richard looked adoringly at her friend.  Fewer of his peacock feathers seemed to be displayed.  Matty glanced over at Lord Astor.  He was looking at her questioningly

“Is it too soon, Miss Horn, for you to be walking about?”

“No, for as you know, I was able to walk about my garden with ease earlier.   As you can also be certain, I do enjoy being out enjoying nature.  I am ready if the rest of you are unless, you would prefer to have tea first?”

“I don’t believe any of us will faint before we partake of our picnic lunch.  After you, Miss Horn.”

Judith followed them giggling as she leaned on Sir Richard’s arm.

This time Sir Richard sat beside Judith leaving Sir Astor to find his seat next to her.  She tried to tuck her dress in, but still managed to accidentally brush up against his leg.  As the carriage swayed, she was thrown against his shoulder causing him to smile down at her as if she had planned to do so.  She looked away blushing thinking of the audacity of the man!  He most assuredly was used to ladies fawning all over him and falling at his feet.  Matty had no idea why he singled her out except that he seemed to be constantly in Sir Richard’s company, and she was required to keep a foursome.

riches girl takes off hat

However, the loveliness of the Spring day soon had her relaxing as they strolled along.  Her gloved hand was in his proffered arm until she spied some fish in the pond.  “Oh, look,” she cried.  “Are they koi, do you think?”

But suddenly a flock of geese took exception to her being there and surrounded her honking.  She backed up until she found herself teetering, then with a loud splash she fell in.  Matty came up sputtering with pond scum dripping from her bonnet.  Sir Astor stood offering his hand, which was barely managed with him hooting with laughter.  She swatted his hand away and crawled up the slippery bank on all fours before standing and glaring at him with muddy water dripping down her nose.

“Sir, you are no gentleman!”

And you, miss, are the most glorious disaster I have ever beheld!  Here, we need to get you home.  Perhaps we will have a picnic another day,” he tried to say it with a straight face, but was unable to do so without a snicker.  

Of course Judith was looking on with pure unadulterated horror crying, “Oh, Matty, just look at you!” 

Indeed, she had created quite the spectacle that drew other spectators.  Only Sir Richard was speechless looking around to see who of note might have seen such a horrendous disaster  hoping it would not reflect upon him.  He began edging away to put distance between Matty and himself.

“Don’t worry, Sir Richard, I believe the only ones to have seen me are mostly nannies and grooms holding their masters’ horses while they sneak the boldest of maidens into the trees to steal kisses,” she huffed while walking unassisted to where the footman held the carriage door open. 

“Would your parents find it scandalous if  we left you in the care of Sir Richard while I escort Miss Horn back to her home, Miss Gundor.  I could return for you shortly,” Sir Astor asked her friend.

“I believe they would find it quite appropriate considering Miss Horn’s unfortunate circumstances.  I gladly defer my reputation for her well-being,” she said while smiling sweetly at Sir Richard without once looking Matty’s way.

Once seated and leaving a growing puddle upon the floor, she refused to look at the detestable man and kept her gaze out the window.  Actually, she had never been more humiliated in her life.  Matty could only hope that her mother would not be home to see her disarray.

“Truly, Miss Horn, I do hope you are uninjured?”

Matty only sniffed, which she most urgently hoped was in disdain and not the beginning of tears.  She would not, could not cry.  At least the man would not be able to tell if she was shedding tears or if it was more dripping off her bonnet.

I am perfectly fine, as you can tell,” she said tartly.  Matty still refused to look at him sure she would find disgust written upon his countenance.  Indeed, he had seen her at her worst, her most incredible, terrible, horrible, unthinkable worst.  She was sure that was the last she would ever see him, which gave her an unexplainable pang.

As soon as they stopped, Matty leaped out and ran ahead of Sir Astor as fast as her wet skirt allowed, not even knowing if he cared to follow her.  Of course her mother was there to scream and faint upon seeing her.  John was busy appropriating smelling salts while Matty escaped upstairs. 

“Oh, miss!  Whatever happened?” 

When Matty burst into tears, her maid was all sympathy and tried to calm her.  “There, there now.  You will feel better soon.  Just let me heat your bath.” 

In the meanwhile, Matty added to the brown puddle upon her carpet with her salty tears.  How very demeaning this day had been.  Add to that the disappointment of the missed opportunity.  It would have been her very first picnic with a gentleman.  Those stupid, stupid geese ruined everything! 

Once Betty helped her out of her wet clothes, she dared to ask, “Perhaps when you are more comported, you could tell me how your tragic circumstances came about. 

While she soaked and Betty pulled pond weeds out of her hair, she told the sad tale., practicing for when she must be held account before her mother.  “Out of nowhere, those wicked geese surround me, then attacked me before pushing me in.  Then they seemed to be laughing at me as they flapped away satisfied at my absolute humiliation.”

“Oh you poor dear!” Betty said in earnest.  “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Her mother burst in with no thought of her modesty.  “Young lady, how could you shame us so!  Lord Astor attempted to explain the whole ordeal, but I sent him on his way to get back before you ruin Judith besides yourself.  I am so ashamed of you!”

Indeed, her mother never even asked for her account nor her well-being.  She could not imagine how Lord Astor had related it, most likely with all the humor he could possibly glean from it.  Oh, what a horrid man! 

Why could not he have intervened sooner before she made her big splash in front of society.  She had lied to Sir Richard, for truly there were several of the ton enjoying her uncomely display she had noticed as she crawled out of the stupid pond.  She would be the latest scandal for the scandalmongers.  Her season was over.  She might never be able to show her face again in the unforgiving London society.  Oh, well.  She only went because her parents forced her, didn’t she?  She did prefer the country to London society, didn’t she?  And most assuredly of all, she would never have a glimpse of Sir Astor again, would she?  

But flowers arrived in the morning.  Roses.  She hoped they were his apology for enjoying her discomfort at her expense.  But soon after, John was announcing company though it was not the hour for callers.  She expected Judith perhaps, if she wasn’t too busy with her Sir Richard, that is.  But no.  She was almost shocked into fainting once again when Lord Astor appeared. 

He was all concern.  He came and knelt before her holding her gloveless hands in his own bare ones before asking, “Are you alright, dear?  I hardly slept a wink worrying that perhaps you had swallowed some of that filthy pond water and were in agony of sickness.” 

Matty was speechless as he seemed to be acting in all sincerity.  Just then her mother entered and gasped, “Oh, my!  Is this what I hope it means?” 

Matty quickly responded, “If you mean that the gentlemen is asking after my welfare, then yes.”  She noted the swiftness that Lord Astor stood to his feet with a redness creeping up from his cravat. 

“You can be sure that I was upset after you daughter’s mishap yesterday, madam.  I regret not being able to act quickly enough to prevent her fall.  I blame myself for everything.” 

Truly?  She wondered.  He was not laughing now.  “I am right as rain, sir.  I have felt worse after partaking of my father’s brandy as ordered once by the physician than drinking the pond water.”  Then she grinned, “I can’t even imagine how scandalized Sir Richard must have felt.” 

Lord Astor joined her in grinning.  “Indeed.  I thought he might faint, but Miss Gundor did an admirable job of keeping his feet under him and by fanning him furiously.  They do seem quite taken with each other, have you noticed?” 

“Most certainly.  Judith would never do anything to embarrass the peacock.”

Her mother exclaimed, “Mathilda!” 

Lord Astor only belted out an ungentlemanly laugh.  “I can see that your spirits have not been dampened from the events of yesterday.” 

“I wouldn’t go that far,” she said instantly blushing.  “I’m sure it was a season-stopper.  The only time I dare to be seen will be in church where the gossips will at least be silenced by the parson’s prayers and sermon.” 

“Do not underestimate yourself, Miss Horn.  I came here hoping you would allow me to escort you to the Standiforth’s ball on Friday.”

“Friday?  It is too soon.  I couldn’t possibly!” she stammered. 

But her mother inserted herself happily accepting for her.  “She would be delighted.  It most certainly is gracious of you, Lord Astor.”

“Expect me at eight.  Until then, ladies, I bid you good morning,” he said gallantly bowing.” 

Friday evening, her mother did not leave her room as Betty readied her for the ball telling Matty to do this and demanding she do that.  “This is so exciting!  From what I’ve heard, this will be the first ball Lord Astor has attending in years.  It is quite an honor he has bestowed on you,” her mother tipped her chin up and stared her straight in the eye, “So don’t ruin it!  No more catastrophes.  This is your very last chance, Matilda.” 

Matty did not need her mother’s reminder.  No one knew better than she, that she  did not deserve this chance with Lord Astor smoothing her way back into society. 

That evening, he was all elegance.  Sir Richard sitting across from them could not compare to this handsome man in his pristine white cravat beautifully knotted and his black top coat.  Oh my, what a man.  How had he put up with her insufferable behavior was beyond her.  She was taken aback when he continued to hold her hand in his after helping her up into the coach and four.

“You look lovely, Miss Horn,” and the gleam in his eyes seemed to attest to his sincerity. 

“Thank you kind, sir,”  she replied blushing.  What woman would not blush with compliments from such a man.  Still, she was clueless to how he still endured her company. 

“I hope you will allow me the first and the supper dance.” 

“Of course, Lord Astor.  We can also only hope there will be no fly in the soup tonight.”  

The man let out a loud guffaw at that.  “Oh, how you amuse me, Miss Horn, like none other.”  Then he winked at her. 

She looked over embarrassed once again at her tongue, but found Judith and Sir Richard rather occupied.  If she didn’t know better, she would think he might have stolen a kiss.  She should keep a better watch over her friend. 

Once upon entering the ball, the host and hostess acted a little surprised to see her.  She had, after all, received an invitation, but that had been before the pond mishap.  Probably no one was expecting her appearance.  Matty kept a tight grip on Lord Astor’s arm. 

“Worried, are we?  Do not fear.  I will be happy to fill in any dances unclaimed this evening.” 

She almost snorted.  “Would that not keep the harpies tongues busy if we were so daring.  But it would be totally unacceptable, and well you know it!  I can sit with the wall flowers after the first dance and wait patiently for the supper dance, kind sir.  I am fortunate to be here at all.  It is more than I expected.” 

“Well, I am afraid I must leave town after this evening, and I must confess, I will miss our outings.”

“Will you be back?” she asked with her stomach in knots. 

“Perhaps, but not before the season is over.  My estate has some issues I cannot ignore.  Will you miss me?” 

“Yes, yes of course,” she sighed as he took her out on the dance floor for the quadrille.  Matty decided then and there that tonight would be the crowning jewel of her season, for indeed, tomorrow did not promise more.  She could not deny it, she would miss him terribly.  Her bland days would reappear and go on endlessly. 

Even Judith would be otherwise occupied most of the time with Sir Richard who seemed most besotted.  In fact, she would not be surprised  if they announced their engagement tonight or another one soon after.  Matty hoped it would be tonight as she would not be attending anymore balls after this. 

riches dance

Lord Astor was an excellent dance partner.  He studied her face most seriously.  “You seem deep in thought,” he finally said when the dance allowed them to meet up again. 

“I am just wondering when Judith and Sir Richard will announce their engagement, hoping it will be tonight.” 

He seemed to have a smug smile.  “Would you care if your friend became so attached,” he asked kindly. 

“No, of course not.  They do seem rather fond of one another.  I’m sure you have noticed as well.  Better her than me,” she almost snorted. 

He grinned and shared her amusement.  “I would never pair you with him.  You have far more spirit than Richard could ever handle.” 

“Or any other,” she said under her breath, but he evidently heard.  “He tightened his grip on her hand and said, “Don’t underestimate yourself, Miss Horn.  Some men appreciate a challenge.” 

Nevertheless, she could not meet his eyes again.  After he escorted her to the side and brought her a glass of lemonade, one brave soul came forward to ask her to dance.  She noticed Lord Astor was much in demand and had no lack of dance partners.  Of course.  He was the most eligible bachelor here.  It was enough to make her wilt.  She sat gazing after him as he danced the evening away until he came to claim the supper dance.  

“At last, a befitting partner.  I was beginning to despair of enjoying dancing ever again,” he dramatically sighed in jest. 

It served its purpose drawing a smile out of her morose thoughts.  “You are an excellent dancer, sir,” she replied, “as you well know and quite popular it seems.” 

“Well, it seemed a bit of a waste of time to make me wait to dance with you again, society be blasted.”  Just then something ran yapping around their feet with its leash trailing behind it.  People were exclaiming and lifting their feet quite unceremoniously as ladies squealed.  Their hostess was crying after her child who was running after the little spaniel pup and when he caught it, the frightened puppy puddled. 

Lord Astor saw it too late.  His eyes had been on the child, and missed seeing the wet floor in time to circumvent it.  In a split second, his feet went out from under him and he fell pulling Miss Horn down upon him.  Ladies screamed, men gasped, old dames sputtered, the child cried, but he stared into Miss Horn’s shocked eyes and began to laugh.  Soon she joined him, much to the consternation of the ton.

When she finally had the sense to roll off him, he stood, a little wet for the wear and pulled her to her feet.  They repaired to their carriage chuckling after sending a message to Sir Richard that it would return for him later. As soon as one would get control of their laughter, the other would assuredly break out again. 

“Oh, dear.  I am a very bad influence on you, Lord Astor,” she declared gasping for air.  “You poor dear.” 

“Please call me James for after tonight,our names will forever be entwined.  So call me James, dear.”

“And you may call me Matty, just not in front of my mother, please,” she said looking shyly up at him.  He was much closer than she had thought him to be a moment earlier.  Why, was he…he couldn’t be about to kiss her could he?  But he most certainly did and quite thoroughly at that.  “Oh, my!” she hesitated.  “I never imagined you could ever be interested in a clumsy one such as I.” 

upstairs and down hands

“Why ever not?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye.  “Isn’t it of utmost importance to fall for the right one.  You, my dear have been falling ever since we met, and I too have quite fallen myself tonight.”  Then he proved it by kissing her again.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.”

I John 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I JOHN 4:4-6

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

new photo bks flag antler

I love the apostle John’s constant refrain, calling us little children. Here he is reminding us that we are from God.  Such comfort!  It is tender and loving.  Yet though we may be little children, though we are small, we are fierce: greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.  Our Daddy’s bigger than their daddy.

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Whose your daddy?  Is there a family resemblance?  Do you speak with the same accent?  Can someone tell by talking with you where you are from?  Once they find out that you are different from them, are they no longer willing to listen to you?  Do you know the difference between truth and error?  They do not.  Do you realize we live in a world that does not know the difference between truth and error?  Hang on to that truth even if you are ignored and discounted, made to feel a little less when actually you are a lot more. 

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Truth and Error

People believing in error, who have rejected truth, can get downright mean and nasty and argumentative, even hateful sometimes.  More and more they seek to censor us, make laws to inhibit and restrain us.  Have you noticed that happening in the world we live in?  It could be a sneer from a store clerk, a rejection from a friend on social media, even from someone you rub shoulders with in church.  When truth is opposed, it does not become of lesser value, but more.  We cannot seek the admiration of the world.  It is futile.  We must be discerning and not gullible.  We are fishers of men, and not ones who are caught hook, line and sinker. Don’t fall for error.  

 

I JOHN 4:1-3

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because may false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

new photo bks flag antler

In one sense, this is about Truth.  Lies have been loosed in this world, lies which have disdained and hated the Truth, antichrists.  Think how Satan attacked God’s word with lies in the Garden with consequences that have been felt evermore. However, now we are bombarded with the news, the internet and social media, with an attempt to feed us from the pap of these lies.  Fake news is illustrative.  Our universities have filled susceptible minds with this pap.  There is a battle for turning our hearts away from believing in the Truth.  Can one be able to discern truth without belief in the Truth?

As I’ve retold from the past, in one of the first Councils to bring the Church in unity over what was Truth, it centered on whether Jesus was fully God, fully man.  In was so heated that St. Nicholas (yes, of Santa Claus fame) socked another man in the nose who spouted a false doctrine, an antichrist.  The Council of Nicene agreed with St. Nicholas and were in agreement over this statement of faith.  It was even embraced by Constantine.  However, the one who tried to sway the Council away from this truth, went to Constantine, inserted himself into his inner circle and swayed him away from this doctrine.   Then look what happened to Constantinople.  It fell to the Muslims and became Istanbul.   This piece of history is crammed into a nutshell, but it is indicative of what is at stake.

I say this as a reminder that what a Christian believes, impacts not only one’s self, but the family, the church, the community and the nation.  There is a HUGE battle for Truth in our nation.  There are so many assaults with false reports that it has made many too sick and tired to battle.  But we cannot surrender, but must continue to proclaim truth and the Truth with the discernment to know the difference between truth and lies.  

 

EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ (DRIGGERS or DRIGGEZ)

iSince my last blog got taken over by widgets, and nothing is available any longer, I wanted to pause in my study of I John and rewrite and publish this blogpost from 2015 on one of my kinfolk.  Prior to this, it had over 500 hits on google because of the interest in this man, one of the earliest documented slaves in America.  Amazingly, he left quite a paper trail, and he shows up in my DNA.  So please bear with me so I can get this historical tale I wrote back out there again.  

I John 2 v 1 writing

 

EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ, EMMAUEL DRIGGERS, MANUEL DRIGGERS is my 11 X great grandfather.  This is a little story based on research into this man’s history.  

The massive man threw his shoulders back and lifted his head regally.  My name is Emmanuel Rodriguez, so of Emmanuel Philibert, the Viceroy of Sicily, Supreme Commander of the Spanish Navy I the Mediterranean, grandson of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, Knight of the Garter, son of Emmanuel…”

“And slave of Captain Potts,” the man smirked.  “It doesn’t matter who your daddy is.  He’s not here to claim you now, is he?  Although what you say does explain your straight black hair and lighter skin.  But where’d you get your blue eyes?” he said smugly.  “Are you trying to tell me that you got those from some Senegal mama and a Spaniard?

Emmanuel had shockingly brilliant blue eyes.  I’m half Portuguese.  My father the Admiral had blue eyes  He told me some Spaniards, like the Castilians, like Queen Isabella, have blue eyes.”


emmanuel blue eyes 2

“Well now, here you are in Northampton.  Congratulations, you are one of the first shipments of slaves from the islands to the colonies.  But tell me, where are you from originally now?  I understand that they only keep you slaves in Barbados long enough to acclimate you and teach you a smattering of English, but yours is better than most with all your fancy sounding names rolling off your tongue.”

“My mother was stolen and put aboard a slave ship in Senegal.  You heard of the Island of Goree there?  My father’s fleet pirateered the slave ship from the Dutch.  Once on board, my father chose her to stay with him in his cabin instead of down under like the rest of those poor souls.  She was beautiful, beautiful  enough to catch his eye and smart too.  She learned some of his language quickly, and a little English besides.  He was quite fond of her, treated her kindly, although she heard he was married to a Hapsburg of Spain back in Palermo.  After my father died of the plague in Sicily at 36, that’s when they took her and me to the auction block.  I don’t know who bought her or where she is now.  I was fairly young at the time and have been bought and sold a few times since working sugar cane plantations down there.”

Potts was amazed at how well spoken his new slave was, but kept his stern countenance.  “It doesn’t bode well for any kept woman like your ma.  ‘Tis a sin in God’s eyes, a sin that you are paying for now.  However though you serve me, I will allow you to till your own plot and acquire some stock to breed for your benefit.  Eventually if you do well with enough hard work, you can purchase  your freedom.  It’s a little incentive, shall we say, to make sure you work hard, and you won’t be treated much different than an indentured servant,” Mr. Potts said with a satisfied smile.

Then he went on, “See that woman over there called Francis?  As I’m sure you noticed, I bought her as well.  She will be yours.  Any children you produce will belong to me, however.  That’s how it works here.”

“Will she be my kept woman or shall we marry, sir?”

“Don’t get smart with me, Driggez, like I told you, this is how it’s done here.  I’m doing just like Mr. Custis and all the most prosperous  planters hereabouts are doing.  Indian Tobacco is the crop that’s paying the highest return, and your slave labor can help to accomplish it”  

Francis was standing close enough to hear everything, but kept her eyes cast down.  She had glistening black skin and her cropped hair was kept under a scarf.  She look skeletal, like she had barely survived the voyage from Barbados.  Emmanuel wondered if she truly would make it, if she could ever regain her strength.  He determined then and there that he would do everything possible to make sure this poor woman would not only survive, but thrive if she was going to be his, the mother of his children to be.  He wanted his children to grow up knowing who they were, somebodies, not just slaves.  No matter what man may do, he belonged to God.

“As you know,” Potts interrupted his thoughts, “several women died on the ship leaving their chits.  So, I have purchased the bonds of a couple of orphans, and I want to put them in your care.  They aren’t much use to me yet.  Just raise ’em up and keep ’em alive.  That’s all I ask.  I’ll be able to put ’em to work soon enough.”

Emmanuel saw Francis look over at the two little girls with compassion.  They were all skin and bones covered by dirty rags.  The poor children looked scared enough to perish on the spot.  As hard as it had been for him as a big, strong man to survive the journey, he couldn’t image what they had gone through losing their mothers on top of the rest of the deprivations and horrors aboard the ship.

“Yes sir, me and Francis will do that.”  For the first time she looked up at him and their gazes locked.  It may not be a marriage of hearts, but it was to be a marriage of determined souls, souls who had come back from hell in the bowels of the ship.  

He was sure that though the woman probably only spoke a smattering of broken English, she could tell what was going on.  She had an intelligent gleam in her eye.  Yes, she would be a survivor.  The first thing he would do once she was under his roof would be to teach her a command of the language that would be necessary to survive in this land.  His mother had taught him some of her dialect, bits of his father’s native tongue, and English as well, the language that was the currency of trade.

Emmanuel walked over and picked up the youngest of the two girls who was lighter than a basket of eggs and just as fragile.  He guessed her to be about one.  Her shuddering breath made him catch his own.  Then he reached down and took the other child by her boney hand and led her to Francis.  “She be your mother now, and I will be…will be taking care of you all,” he stuttered.  How could he say he would be their father?  He wasn’t actually the husband of the woman in front of him.  They were to breed like cattle and make more offspring for their owner to sell.  Emmanuel determined then and there he would work hard for his freedom and then for the freedom of these females who were thrown into his care.

When Emmanuel turned to Captain Potts, he boldly said, “I want it written down that you promise *’to give them sufficient meate, drinke, Apparael and Loginge And to use (your) best endeavor to bring them up in the fear of god and in the knowledge of our Savior Christ Jesus.'” Though his father’s spirituality was only surface deep as evidenced by his adultery, the Viceroy had taught him the tenets of the Christian faith while he was just a lad.  Whenever he was in port in Barbados, he would stay with them where his mother was his kept woman.

(*Information mostly from “Myne Own Ground,” by T.H. Breen and “Free African Americans of Northampton County, Virginia,” by Paul Heinegg.)

So is my kinfolk tale of Emmanuel Rodriguez.  And so it was written.  It is in the record that Elizabeth, age 8, and Jane, age 1, were to be so provided for while in the home of Emmanuel Rodriguez, who came to be known as Manuel Driggus, or Emmanuel Driggers.

emmanuel blue eyes.jpg

I truly don’t know the color of Emmanuel’s eyes though I do know many of his descendants did have blue eyes, but I added it in because may Castilians out of Spain do have those stunning “marble blue,” eyes as a friend with those roots pointed out recently while showing me a photo of his little daughter.  Thus it could have been possible due to Emmanuel’s Spanish-Portuguese heritage.  

But it is true that Emmanuel’s father the Viceroy had blue eyes as did his grandmother Margaret, Henry II King of France’s sister.  She was 36 when her brother Henry II finally agreed to marry her to the Duke of Savoy.  She was a “spinster lady of excellent breeding and lively intellect.”  However, shortly before her wedding, her brother the king was mortally wounded in a jousting contest celebrating his daughter’s wedding.  The wood splinters went through the king’s visor and into his eye an into his brain.  As Henry II lingered before dying, he insisted that his sister go through with her own wedding.  Instead of a lavish affair, it was a simple ceremony in a small chapel.  


emmanuel viceroy of sicily

Emmanuel’s father

This portrait gave him the dark eyes to make him look more the Spaniard.  He commissioned Van Dyke to paint his portrait, but the Viceroy died of the plague three months later in 1624.  Van Dyke was quarantined in Sicily until the danger passed.  

We can only surmise what is said of Emmanuel’s heritage is true or false.  My DNA shows 1% Senegal and 1% Spanish/Portuguese, so I’m guessing that Emmanuel’s tale of who his father was has a good chance of being correct, being named as the fourth in a line of Emmanuels.  So far, I have a positive DNA matchup with Betsy Driggers Ivey, a descendent  from the Iveys and Driggers of Northampton.  Betsy married into my grandfather George Wise’s mother’s Peoples line.  

Duke of Savoy, Emmanuel’s grandfather? One thing that impressed me in my study of Emmanuel Driggers is how much information has been recorded about him, “just” a slave in the early days of the colonies.  Also, impressive is his willingness to take in and care for two little orphans, the boldness to make a written agreement for their care, to treat them like his own, and to work to gain their freedom.  The early records show that Emmanuel did in fact give calves or foals to help others, some not even related to him, as a means towards their bids for freedom, even though he was unable to buy some of his own children’s freedom.  He had a generous heart.  Lastly I was astounded to find his faith in his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, recorded.  He helped to pass down a Christian heritage!

 

Now back to his father’s heritage.  The Duke of Savoy, an earlier Emmanuel, as an only child had a “midget” companion.  It is said of Emmanuel Drigger’s father, the Viceroy of Sicily, the Admiral, that his physical energy was marvelous.  He conducted his business standing or walking; he craved fresh air, and blazing sun, vowing fog was healthier than a crowded room.  After a nine hour run which had brought down a stag, he  split logs and built  a fire to cook his supper,  and afterwards played Quolits till dark, and participated in rustic games till midnight.  He was all bone and muscle.  His face was extremely handsome, not fleshy, eyes of blue, beard and hair ruddy.  He did not swear or make indecent jests.  He attended mass though he kept his religion and morals in separate compartments evidently, i.e. he was an adulterer.  He was born in Turin, the third son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy and was destined for a career in the church.  He entered at age 12 in Order of Knights Hospitaller, but later he decided for a military career.  In 1603 he and his older brothers went to Madrid for education.  Phillip the eldest died leaving his brother Victor in line as hereditary prince.  In 1610, Emmanuel went back to Madrid and entered into the service of King Phillip III of Spain who made him a general, then Grand Admiral of Spain.  Under the next king, Phillip IV, Emmanuel was appointed Viceroy of Sicily in 1622, Prince of Piedmont.

This is one side of Emmanuel’s heritage, the other is as a slave.  Emmanuel Rodriguez appearance on the Eastern shore was May 27, 1645.  This was during the time that the Dutch seizure of major Portuguese trading posts along present day Angola and Zaire took place with pirateering of ships. “On that day he signed an indenture with his master, Captain Francis Pott, who was newly come over to the Baye, (Magotha Bay, Northampton County, Virginia) with some servants whereby to make a crop.”  The covenant guaranteed “the freedom of two of Driggers daughters of my Negro Emmanuel Drigus to serve and bee with me.. the one who is named Elizabeth is to serve 13 yeare and the other children whose name is Jane Driggus (being about 1 year old) is to serve…until she arrive to the age of 30 (if she soe long live) which will and complete and ended in the year of our Lord God, 1675.”  Curiously while he and Pott referred to these girls as “daughter,” they were in fact not Driggus’ natural children, “I doe further testify that the Eldest daughter was given my Nego man by one who brought her upp by the space of eight years and the younger he bought and paid for to Capt. Robert.”

slavery children

Emmanuel and his wife Frances were assigned as servants to Stephen Charlton in 1649 to pay Pott’s debt to Charlton, though he made it clear, “ye said cattle, etc. are ye proper goods of the sd Negroes.”

Emmanuel once tended an English soldier who fell ill.  However, his condition worsened and this George Williams feared the worst and prepared his will: “In 1667 he bequeathed to Manuell Driggus, Negro, for his care and trouble in tending mee in my sickness, my wages due for eleven months service on the ship Luis Increase of Bristol.”

Emmanuel had ten children (3 adopted, 5 by Francis and 2 by Elizabeth a white woman he married in 1661).    He purchased the freedom of his wife Francis and son James and at least that of his adopted daughters, but not his son Thomas nor his eldest born daughter Ann who Pott sold to a white planter Pannell “to have and to hould the same with all her increase forever.”  There was also a son Edward who was sold away while at the age of three, I believe.  When Francis Pott who had bought Emmanuel died, his widow married a man named William Kendall who did not abide with slavery.  Probably within a year of his marriage to the widow freed Emmanuel and another.  It was noted that Emmanuel Driggers was highly regarded by whites in the area of Northampton.  However, this same Lieutenant Colonel William Kendall complained to the court that Thomas Driggus, Emmanuel’s son, who was still a slave and belonged to him and that he was neglecting his master.  Two other slaves complained that Thomas was abusing them and he was given 21 lashes.  In addition the court ordered Thomas’ child, who was then a slave of Kendall’s, to be indentured to John Francisco, a free black man until twenty-one.  At least by this arrangement, Thomas’ son Johnson at the age of twenty-one “then to sett it free for Ever.”  This is the same John Francisco who had raised Sarah, Thomas’ wife, until she was 21.  “The line between freedom and slavery was extraordinarily permeable,” as well as that of indentured service and slavery.

Emmanuel’s son Thomas married Sarah King (1645-1701), the one who was raised by the free black named Francisco, and who was the daughter of another of the earliest slaves known in the colonies, King Tony Negro.  She was proven to be free and was in and out of courts with charging others of theft and sometimes charged herself and lashed.  Thomas was a violent and abusive man.  The line continues as Thomas’ son Johnson (1716) served in the French and Indian wars, and  in 1754, marries a Mary Johnson and has a son William Driggers (1730-1822).  He served in the Revolutionary War under General Marion, who married Sarah Futch (1731) and they have a son Jonas (1755-1822) who also served also served in the Revolutionary War under General Marion.  Jonas marries an Eleanor Lastinger (1756-1860).


swamp fox

Swamp Fox, of French Huguenot heritage

Mourning Driggers (1754-1820) a mulatto married James Ivey (1752-1820).  Their son James Ivey Jr. (1770-1829) marries Marion (1770-1790).  Their daughter Elizabeth Ivey (Betsy) (1792-1880) a mulatto, marries William Peoples (1784-1860).  Their son David Peoples (1825-1847) marries Susan Long (1827-1851).  Their son Henry Peoples marries Susanne.  Their daughter Mary Francis Peoples married George Collier Wise (1851-1888).  Their descendant George C. Wise marries Ruby Robinson (1898-1983), my grandparents.  The English Ivey line went Thomas (1605) married to Ann Argent; to George (1638-1689) who married to Hannah Blanche (1636); to Henry (1687-1770) married to Mary Batte (1710-1780); to Joseph married to Elizabeth Travis to James (1770-1829) who married Mourning Driggers.

slavery mulatto children on porch.jpg

Mulatto Children

Since the Iveys were early planters in the colonies from England, this marriage would produce mulattoes.  There are hints that perhaps they had intermarried before James Ivey and Mourning Driggers.  They were listed in the families in which white men married free African American women.  Slave owning George Ivey in fact joined others in 1699 who petitioned the Council of Virginia asking for the repeal of the Act of the Assembly against English people marrying Negroes, Indians, or Mulattoes.  In 1691 the Assembly had prohibited blacks and whites intermarriage and ordered the illegitimate mixed race children of white women to be bound out for thirty years.  It also prohibited the manumission of slaves unless the were transported out of the colony.  They also could have their own indentured service extended and be lashed for the offense of Mulatto offspring.  (Insert the life of Thomas Jefferson here in this time period when his wife’s half sister Sally, a mulatto from her father, was their slave, to whom he later gave manumission papers.)
slavery mother ivey's bay uk

Mother Ivey’s Bay in Cornwall, England

 

Mourning Ivey moved to live with her  son Curtis in Alabama after her husband’s death.  It is said that he served with General Washington at Valley Forge.  Thus, the Iveys, Driggers, and other families sought freedom by moving to the border of North Carolina, then on to Georgia, Alabama, and the rest of the South.  Many in the next decades of census were considered white, while others were marked at Mulattoes.  It became very important to be called Portuguese after their forefather Emmanuel Driggers in order to be considered white.

A 1758 land entry: James Ivey 100 Anso County on North side of Pee Dee River in the forks of Gum Swamp…William Driggers was living on Gum Swamp as well.  This was the “Swamp Fox” territory.  Both William Driggers and Jonas Driggers served under General Marion, Swamp Fox, by providing beef and transportation.

In 1705 the Assembly of Virginia passed a law which all but eliminated the ability of slaves to earn their freedom by ordering that the farm stock of slaves “shall be seized and sold by the church wardens of the parish wherein such horses, cattle, or hogs shall be, and the profit thereof applied to the use of the poor of such parish.”  By 1712-15 the members of two families who were freed and given 640 acres in Norfolk County, Virginia’s legislative council proposed that the Assembly: “provide a law against manumission of slaves, which in time by their increase and correspondence with other slaves may endanger the peace of the colony.”  The Nate Turner slave uprising created fear.

To insure their legitimacy, many sought out churches to register their marriage and to baptize their children often traveling great distances to do so.  But even judges and ministers could be heavily fined if performing these ceremonies.  With the prohibition on inter-racial sexual unions, mixed race children became illegitimate by definition.  Thus began a migration of Driggers who had their beginnings in tide-water Virginia, to where they could be out from under Virginia laws and could be found in outlying areas such as North Carolina.

By 1723 Virginia law required legislative approval before manumissions could take place.  Families like Driggers who were free in the mid 17th century had several hundred members before the end of the colonial period.  One author wrote that very few free families descended from white slave owners who had children by their slaves, perhaps as low as 1% of the total. (Possibly it is thought due to the strict teachings and morality of the Church.)


slavery children of mixed race

Many free African American families in colonial North Carolina and Virginia were landowners who generally were accepted by their white neighbors.  Soon “the door slammed shut on black freedom.  Slaves had their privileges curtailed–most prominently, the right to trade independently…all but eliminated the opportunity to purchase their own freedom and that of family and friends…they were barred from voting, sitting on juries, serving in the militia, carrying guns, owning dogs, or testifying against whites.”

James Ivey who married Mourning Driggers was also known as Capt. James because he led a gang of regulators along the boarder of South Carolina.  Some considered it “a mob.”  Perhaps he took over for his brother Winslow who led an outlaw gang of 200.  This James Ivey of Drowning Creek was described as “of Portuguese descent, swarthy, hair black and straight.”

Many Driggers and Iveys were involved in the Revolutionary War in the South.  As said before, at least a couple of them served under the “Swamp Fox,” General Marion.  A couple were at Valley Forge with Washington.  “They led white men and black in rebellion too.  Winslow Driggers who served in the 1759 Expedition against the Cherokee, later became the leader of a large militant free black, white, and mixed Regulator Company in South Carolina.  Before the Boston Tea Party and before the ‘Founding Fathers’ of America gave voice to the ideals of freedom, he led backwoodsmen in the fight against the abusive British policies of taxation without representation.”  However a complaint on 23, October, 1773, listed “free Negroes and Mulattus living upon the King’s land…Raitously Assembled together in Bladen county: Captain James Ivey, Joseph Ivey…”  Then, December 18, 1773, “the number of free negroes and mulattoes who infest that country and annoy its Inhabitants…”  This sounds like a Torey and Independent American problem, whereas, others saw them as rogue bandits and river pirates, which was evidently true as well.  Winslow Ivey hung for his offenses by another gang of ex-regulators led by his cousin Gideon Ivey.

One cousin John Ivey was forced into serving the British by his Torey neighbors who threatened to burn him out if he did not.  After one battle in which a hundred and fifty Americans were taken captive, John Ivey, never a willing soldier, deserted but was captured by Swamp Fox’s sentries.  He convinced Marian that he was loyal by giving him the information about where the American prisoners were taken.  “Thirty-eight men under the command of Captain Jonathan Roberts.  They are camped just South of Jack’s Creek, holding prisoners near Great Savannah.”  “Close to Sumter’s house”  “Yes.”  “How many prisoners?’  “A hundred and fifty, thereabout.”  “Marion took a hundred strong, and the brigade raced to Sumter’s abandoned house, arriving after dark and quickly circled the mansion…The enemy only put up a brief resistance.  The skirmish was over almost as soon as it began.  Twenty-four enemy were killed or captured, fourteen escaped, one hundred and fifty Maryland Continentals were freed.” (Remember, there were often more Tories who were fighting their fellow Americans than there were British.)  The Continental Congress sent General Marion a notation of gratitude for this service.  all because John Ivey deserted.

slavery children at window

Even in South Carolina, the mixed race of Iveys and Driggers were endangered by slave traders:  Johnson Driggers, in the 1778 “North Carolina Gazette,” “On Saturday night, April 4th, broken into the house of the subscriber at the head of Green Creek, where I had some property under the care of A. Driggers, a free Negro woman, two men in disguise with masks on their faces and clubs in their hands, beat and wounded her terribly and carried off four of her children, three girls and a boy, the biggest of said girls got off in the dark and made her escape.  One of the girls is Becky with the other Charita, boy is Shadrack steal for slave trade.”  How scary!  It never says if they got the other children back.


slavery man and bl child

And there you have it, the lineage of Emmanuel Rodriguez, my 11 X great grandfather.  He was indeed a fascinating person.  I remember once asking my mother as a child about my great-grandmother Peoples-Wise, if she were Hispanic since they lived and Texas and she had darker skin in the family photos.  My mother only said no, not that she was aware of.  Evidently, according to this research, she was from a line of mulattos, of the Ivey-Driggers lineage.  This was before Ancestry.com made tracing such things possible.

Many of the quotes and information are from Paul Heingg, but also from ancestry records and sources.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I JOHN 3:23-24

“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.  The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.  We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

new photo bks flag antler

Around our house, we have learned to tell who is at our door by the sound of their knock.  We have a long hall to go down to reach the door, thus it is almost a game for us to call out before our son answers the door who we think it is.  One of our son’s friends has a firm, loud knock, that is more assertive than those unwanted solicitors.  On the other extreme, one of his friends knocks so softly that we can’t tell if it’s the soft clunk of ice cubes falling in the refrigerator or if someone is at the door.  How many times have I jumped up thinking it is this kid waiting at the door, when it is only the ice cubes!  You can almost hear the frig. chuckling.  

In order to abide in Him, we must open the door to the Son’s knocking and let Him in.  He enters only if He is allowed to be head of our household, and we are willing to follow the rules of the house.  We must trust that His loving commands are for our good.  This is the only way to have peace in the household, to trust Him.  This is how to abide, to rest in Him and allow the Spirit to reside in us.  So, what does He command us to do?  Love one another.  

closeup photo of person s foot near mountain

Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

You can’t have one foot in the world and one in heaven, a divided heart.

Is this the kind of home you want to live in?  That is the ultimate question.  If we can’t be comfortable living by the house rules here, how can we be at home with Him there, up yonder in His big house?  We can’t just move in with Him while leaving the door open in order to be able to walk out of the relationship if it gets too restrictive, incompatible.  Rather, we must totally commit to the Lover of our Soul.  After all, He is our bridegroom who has laid down His life for His bride. 

Do you recognize His knock on the door of your heart?  How’s that loving one another going for you?

 

ARRIVING BY TRAIN

 

train

 

Eva loved Sundays.  Work six days, then rest on the Sabbath, oh, and go to church, anything to get away from the mercantile.

As Eva left the plain sanctuary, she shook the pastor’s hand.  “Thank you for your sermon today, Pastor Griswold.   It gave me something to think about.”

He wouldn’t let go of her hand and continued to shake it, much to her surprise.  “I hear congratulations are in order, Miss Noble.”  She noticed people leaning in closer to listen.

“Congratulations?” she stammered.

“I heard that wedding bells will soon be ringing,” he beamed.

“Who on earth did you hear that from?” she sputtered.  Eva noticed that it had gotten as still as a night without crickets.

“Why from the groom, of course, Mr. Gordan himself!”  People began whispering all around her sounding like a rising swarm of locust chewing up the gossip.  “We all will feel better knowing you will be properly looked after by that fine man,” he added.

She felt faint.  No, it couldn’t be, Eva thought to herself.  She snorted as she began walking back to her apartment over his mercantile.  “Fine man indeed,” she huffed under her breath.  All Eva knew was that she was more and more uncomfortable being around her boss.   He used every opportunity to box her in, touch her hand, her shoulder, her hair, and just yesterday  he ran his finger over her cheek.  It made her shudder just thinking about it.  He was twenty years older than her, for goodness sake, and didn’t have a bone of kindness in his portly body.

“There you are, Miss Noble.  I brought my buggy today so I could take you on a picnic by the lake.”  It was him.

“No thank you.  I have other plans,” she murmured trying to walk past him.

But he grabbed her arm in a vice with his bruising fingers digging in.  “It is too fine a day to waste.  Besides, I have something important to tell you.   You know if you turn away this offer, I might have to tell the sheriff about how you’ve been dipping into the till.”

“I have never dipped into the till,” she exclaimed.

“Shh.  Do want everyone to know?  Now, let me help you up into my buggy,” his face was placid, but she knew what lurked behind that mask.  Eva also knew that the sheriff and the judge were his drinking buddies.  There would be no support there.  Eva decided to play along while all she could think about was escaping.

Eva begged to have a little more time to consider his offer of marriage.   Two days.  Two days is all he gave her.  When she turned her face away as he tried to kiss her, he gripped her cheeks tightly and forced a slobbery one on her lips.  There would be more bruises.

Once back in her apartment, she felt sick.  She was shivering either due to the spring cold seeping in or from fright.  She knelt to built a fire in the little potbelly stove when she grabbed an old newspaper to crush into a ball to feed the coals.  But her eye caught on ads in bold print, ads for mail order brides.   One was for an undertaker near here, one from a poor widower with six children in west Texas, and the other for a rancher in the hill country.  He didn’t say what he was looking for other than a Christian wife.  Her eyes bore down on those brief words with her heart racing.  Her mind whirred to form a plan.

After she changed into her nightgown, Eva began stuffing her things in an old gunny sack first putting in her two everyday dresses.  She would wear her Sunday dress again tomorrow in order to look her best when she met the rancher.  Her mother’s Bible went in next as well as her worn book of Pride and Prejudice and a dime novel.  She glanced at the fancy brush and hand mirror Mr. Gordan had given her and left them where they sat unused atop the dresser.   Finally, she hid her gunny sack so that no one would snoop and find she was leaving.  Her valise remained empty.

She decided that early the next morning before the mercantile opened, she would go send a telegram to that rancher, then purchase a train ticket.  Fortunately both were available at the same window.  Later if asked, she might have to hint to Mr. Gordan that she was leaving to go to the bakery about a wedding cake so that she could slip out to meet the train  when it was due at 1:00.  

The following day, her heart beat almost as erratically as the dot, dot, dash of the telegraph message.  So as to not arouse anyone’s suspicions, the telegram merely said, “Arriving by train tonight.”  

campaign cowboy bl hat

“Mr. Walton, Mr. Walton!” a young boy stridently cried.  “A telegram.  You got a telegram, and Mr. Ferguson thought you should get it as soon as possible.  The boy stood eagerly waiting for a tip when Manny strode out of the barn.  He read it, then reread it.  Who sent this?”

“I don’t know.  He thought you’d know,” the boy said scratching his head.

Manny tried to think of any livestock he might have ordered, and forgotten, but it didn’t seem likely.  He knew he wasn’t expecting any kin.  All the family he had lived right here in Salt Springs.   Surely if any of his men had ordered something, they would have told him.  He furrowed his brow.  This was a puzzle. But he tipped the boy and watched him kick up dust as he run back towards town.

He sighed.  It looked like he would have to ride into town this evening to meet this unknown delivery.  Manny thought maybe he’d stop by his sister’s on the way and see if she had any idea what this was about.

It buzzed his head all day like a pesky fly.  It’s not like he accepted many deliveries by train.  So after making himself a quick cold supper, Manny saddled up and made his way to town looking forward to dropping by his sister’s house.  Maybe she would have a piece of pie he could talk her out of.   

“Hello, anybody home?” He knocked and entered without waiting.  

“Manny!  What brings you out tonight?”  His sister exclaimed.  Something seemed forced, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.   She chewed her lip as she brought him a piece of pie.

“Pie, I want some pie,” his four year old nephew pouted.

“You already had your piece,” his dad said sternly, but almost melted when his two year old little girl said, “Pie!”

“Have either of you any idea what this might be about?” he threw the telegram on the table. 

His brother-in-law glanced at it and shook his head.  “Nope.  How ’bout you, darlin’?” He slid it over to her.

 

prov 10 v 14 chewed lips

He watched his sister suspiciously as she chewed on her lip some more.  “I can’t really say,” she said evasively.  He knew his sister.  Something indeed was up, especially when she wouldn’t meet his eye.  

Manny strummed his fingers on the piece of paper staring at her back as she took this moment to herd her children away to get them ready for bed.

“Your wife did something, Eddie.”

“Think so?” he asked perplexed.  He had always been clueless when it came to his sister Elizabeth.

“I think I’m about to find out what.  Tell her thanks for the pie.  I’ve got a train to meet.”

Why did he feel like he was striding towards his doom?  Manny got there right as the cloud of steam was clearing and the steps were being put down.  This late, not many passengers were disembarking.  He found a porter to ask if there was any freight for him.

“No, suh.  Ain’t nothing that’s supposed to  be unloaded here in Salt Springs.  Sorry.”

Just then a woman who was obviously with child waved at him calling, “Mr. Walton, is that you?”

He furrowed his brow and rubbed the back of his neck.  He’d never seen that woman before in his life.  Can I help you ma’am?”

The woman threw her arms around his neck giggling.  “Why, I’m your mail order bride, but the letter said I wouldn’t get to meet you until tomorrow.  This is a nice surprise!”

Manny heard someone gasp behind him, but he figured it was somebody eager for gossip.  He untangled her grasping hands from around his neck.  “I don’t know where you heard that from, but I am not, nor have I ever been looking for a mail order bride.  You have been misinformed.”

“But you sent me money for my passage after I answered your advertisement in the  ‘Texas Signal’.”  

Suddenly the pesky horsefly he’d been shooing away landed and bit him on the nose.  “My sister!” He growled under his breath.  Manny was steamed.

“Whoever it was and did so in my name will be severely reprimanded.  But I’m telling you right here and now, I’m not in the market for a wife.”  He pulled out his wallet.  “Here.” He peeled off some significant bills.  Take this for your trouble and buy yourself a ticket to somewhere out of here.  Somebody else will have to be your baby’s daddy.”

The poor woman sputtered then began counting her money.  A smile spread across her face as she walked towards the hotel.

“Sir, did you get my telegram this morning?”

Manny turned to find a nervous, pale looking woman staring at him like a doe in the woods waiting to be shot.  Now Manny knew everything in a skirt from his baby niece to old Mrs. Heinz, and he knew he’d never seen this comely young woman before.job bl and wh girl

“You?  You sent the telegram?  Why?”

“I’m here about your ad.”  She bit her lip. 

He rubbed his hands over his face.  “My sister did this.  However, she did it without my permission.” 

“Oh,’ she said as softly as a mouse, then in a whimper, “I have no where else to go.”

Manny didn’t know if this was true, but she did look about to faint.  “Come on, I’ll take you to my sister.  I’ll let her deal with this.”  He strode away so fast that she had to run to catch up with him.  After grabbing her gunny sack out of her hand, he swung her up on his horse causing her to squeak before he mounted up behind her.  

Not another word was said until his sister greeting them from her porch.  “Miss Sampson?”

“No, I’m Miss Noble.  I sent the telegram about my arrival.  I came because of the advertisement.”  Her voice quavered.

“What happened to Miss Sampson?  She’s the one who corresponded with me.”

“Ha!  So you admit this was your plot.”  He glared at his sister.   He helped the woman off his horse.  Under different circumstances, he might be interested.  But nobody, no matter how pretty, was going to be forced upon him.

“Well, you’ve passed up every female in the county, so I thought you needed some help.”  Was she crying?  His sister never cried.  Unless she was pregnant?

“Well that’s my concern, not yours.  And I’ll let you decide what to do with Miss Noble.”   He threw down her gunny sack in the dirt, swung up and rode away.

The only thing worse than how she felt right now standing unwanted on a stranger’s porch was if she was still facing an unwanted marriage to Mr. Gordan.  That man was despicable.  The rancher would have been a much better groom, but that was not to be.   She sighed.  Perhaps she could find work, and hopefully this lady would put her up until she could stand on her own two feet.

“Well, I must apologize for the predicament I’ve put you in, miss.  In the morning we will figure out what must be done, and I’ll try to rectify it as much as humanly possible.  Grr. My brother is impossible!   I was just trying to nudge him into matrimony.  Come in, dear.  I have a room ready for you even though I knew nothing about your arrival.” She began crying again.

Eva was the one who should be crying, but she just felt weak as a kitten.  Then she remembered that she had not eaten since the picnic yesterday and had hardly been able to swallow anything then.  She picked up her gunny sack and followed the woman inside.

“Are you hungry?  My name is Elizabeth, by the way, and this is my husband Eddie.  He is an attorney here in town.  Eddie, this is Miss Noble.”

“Nice to meet you, Miss Noble.  I’m a little confused about what my wife has done, but I’m sure we can straighten it out soon.”

“Please call me Eva.”

Over the delicious leftover fried chicken, okra and sliced tomatoes, Eva felt stronger and was able to step back from the pit of despair.  These were nice people, even if Elizbeth had meddled in her brother’s business.  The lady and her husband sat down with her while she ate.

“So not only did you arrive expecting to be a mail order bride, but a Miss Sampson did as well?” Eddie asked.

“I believe so.  I saw him give her money after which she headed to the hotel.  Then when I told him I was the one who had sent the telegram, well he…” her voice dropped off at the unpleasant memory.

Eddie chuckled, “I wish I could have been there to see his face!”

“Is it true that Miss Samson is with child?” Elizabeth looked upset.

“From what little time I was with her, it appeared so to me.  Your brother noticed right off and told her he would not be the baby’s daddy.”

Elizabeth was aghast.  “How dare she try to pull that fast one!  To think I corresponded with her, and she never said a word.”

“Don’t worry, Eva, my wife and I will pay for your train ticket to return home.”

Eva gasped, “Oh no!” Then she tried to calm herself,  “I can’t go back…I uh, no longer have my job and have given up my place to live.”  Elizabeth and Eddie looked at each other with an unspoken communication, but she rushed on to say,  “Have no fear, I will begin looking for work in the morning.”

“I will be glad to introduce you around town in the morning since I have no appointments before ten o’clock,” Eddie said.

“I just hope we haven’t made a laughing stock out of Mr. Walton.  I’m afraid some people were there at the depot to witness it all.  If it is like where I come from,  gossip will spread like a prairie fire.”

Oh, dear!  What have I done?”  Elizabeth put her hands over her face.  Manny is such a private person, he will hate being the butt of a joke.  It’s all my fault.”

“Yes it is, dear, but we’ll make the best of it.  You know how your emotions run wild  when you find you are with child.”

I don’t know what I was thinking.  It seemed so simple, but now I have injured three persons, Manny, Miss Noble and Miss Sampson.  If only he could have met you under different circumstances…”

“I would not have arrived by train otherwise, I suppose.  There is a widower with six children I could write and to see if he still is looking for a wife.”  Eva heaved a sigh.  She was tired.  She was embarrassed.   She was humiliated.  But she had no desire to answer another ad for a mail order bride.  Once was more than enough.

“Let’s not give up hope yet,” declared Elizabeth staring, sizing her up.  “You might be perfect for my brother.  It will just take a little more time for the kerfluffle to settle down.”

“Now, Elizabeth,” Eddie looked at his wife suspiciously,  “don’t be getting any more ideas in you head.  You need to step back from your matchmaking ploys.”

Elizabeth just shrugged her shoulders.  “I promise I won’t write any more ads, but all Manny needs is a wee push.”

Eva thought the only way Manny would get to the altar would be to hog tie him and  drag him there.  “Like I said, I will look for work.  Thank you for the good dinner, but I think I’m ready to turn in now.”

The only position she was offered the next day was for  part time work in a market which only sold fresh vegetables, milk, butter and eggs the farmers brought in as well as hulking carcasses of beef and hogs hung on huge iron hooks from the ceiling.  These she had to dodge so as not to be hit in the head.  It was fly heaven.  Part of her job was to swat them dead in between customers.  However anything was better than working for Mr. Gordan.

Eva was getting to know the town folk as she served most of them before the week was over, many of whom came out of curiosity about the new mail order brides in town.  They sure did like to talk.  A few brought up the disastrous meeting at the train station and enjoyed a good laugh over it at Manny’s expense.  She just stayed smiling, and tight lipped.  She had not seen Manny again even though she still lived at his sister’s house.   She did wonder what he must think about her, probably thought her a very desperate  woman, which she was.

However everything changed, and it was infinitely worse than ever.  Mr. Gordan found her.  Not only that, he delivered on what he had threatened.  It was the busiest day she’d had when the sheriff and her former boss suddenly showed up at the grocers.  Her stomach fell to her shoes when the man with the badge  announced, “Miss Noble?  You are under arrest.”

  Mr. Gordan almost looked gleeful with a evil glint in his eye.  He smirked, “You can’t say I didn’t warn you, Miss Noble.”

sheriff 1

The sheriff turned to Mr. Gordan and stated firmly, “We can take it from here, sir.  You will see her in court, but not before.”

Eva was so weak-kneed that the sheriff had to help hold her up so she could walk.

“I swear to you, I didn’t do it, whatever he said.”

“He’s pressing charges for embezzlement.”

“What!  It’s all because I refused to marry him, that spiteful, evil man.”  she cried.  She looked around at the swelling crowd.

What’s wrong with these people?  Haven’t they seen a woman in handcuffs before?”

“You’ll get your day in court, ma’am.  In the meanwhile, I’m obligated to lock you up, not that we’ve ever had a woman in the jail before though.”

Why should a person feel such shame when they were innocent?  So Eva found her  back bone, threw her shoulders back and glided beside the man wearing the badge as if he were escorting her to a dance ignoring the whispering hoard around her which had risen to a roar. 

Even the grocer had run after her shouting, “Have no fear, Miss Noble.  I will be checking my ledgers to see if you embezzled from me as well!”

It did not take long for Elizabeth to  hear about it and insist on seeing her.  She demanded to know why on earth the sheriff had thrown her in jail.  She was so loud that Eva could hear her through the wall from where she sat on a cot behind bars.  At least he took the hand cuffs off.

“Now you know, Lizzie, that I must enforce the law.  The man showed up with a warrant for her arrest.  He claims she stole from him when she worked in his mercantile.”

“Well you and I both know that is ridiculous!  This poor thing arrived on our doorstep with all her earthly possessions in a gunny sack.  You tell me where the money is, because she certainly doesn’t have any!” 

Eva heard the sheriff unlocking the outer door.  He was letting Elizabeth in.

“You poor dear, I’m so sorry!” and Elizabeth burst into tears.  “This is awful!  But we will get you out of here soon.  Our Eddie will be your lawyer.  You have nothing to fear from that vile man!  Why on earth has he followed you here, sweetheart?”

Eva was so thankful to have a true friend.  “The man threatened me that if I didn’t marry him, he would bring trumped up charges against me.  But I had hoped that he wouldn’t find me.  You remember the bruises on my face that you remarked on?  It was from him.”

Elizabeth growled. “Just wait until we get ahold of that man in court.  He’ll rue the day he ever stepped foot off the train into our fair town!  I’ll have to leave you for a while.  You know I can’t bring the children into the jail, even though they begged me to let them come.  But I’ll send Eddie in to see you soon.  Have courage dear.  God will not forget nor forsake you, and neither will we.”

“George, I’m done for now, but I’ll be bringing her supper a little later.  If you are a good boy, I might bring you a plate as well.”

“You know how I like your cooking, Lizzie.  I promise I’ll be good and won’t arrest any real criminals for jail mates.”  

He was grinning when he said that, but Eva was not.  When would the humiliation end?

Eddie did come in to see her and listened to everything she had to say.  He nodded and took a lot of notes.  “Don’t worry, Eva.  You’ll come out of this smelling like a rose.”  Then he left her after the sheriff refused Eddie’s request to put her under house arrest with them.

Right now she figured she smelled more like a turnip.  She took off her shop apron,  wadded it up and kicked it under the cot.  “So much for that job,” she muttered.

 Later that evening, she listened to the sheriff’s mournful harmonica playing before he stopped.  “Hello, Manny, what brings you into town.”

Just when she couldn’t feel much lower than a flat toad in the road, why did that good looking rancher have to come and scrape the bottom of her barrel of shame?

Unfortunately, the walls were so thin that she could hear everything they were saying.  Other than putting her fingers in her ears and singing la, la, la loudly, she couldn’t drown it out.  So she listened.  

“Heard there was quite the show in town today.  I can’t believe you arrested a woman!”

Believe you me, it’s not because I wanted to.  I can’t even arrest the usual drunks on Saturday night.  Heaven forbid if I am called out to bring in cattle rustlers, or there’s a shootout.”

Why did that man chase her here.  It must have been a lot of money missing.”

Eva took in a lot of air gasping.  Then she ground her teeth with frustration, but kept listening.

I don’t know about that, but I had no choice but to lock her up.  It’s for her own good though.  That man wanted to have her transported back to where he came from so he could have the trial there.  I nipped that one in the bud.  Better justice can be served here than there.  I’ve heard stories about the sheriff there who has the judge in his pocket.”

“Really?” she squeaked, then covered her mouth.  She had to keep quiet if she was to know what truly had gone on from his perspective.

So you think she’s innocent then?”

“If you had met the despicable man, you would too.  Did you know he threatened to frame her unless she married him?”

After a sound of disgust, there was a pause before she heard the rancher say, “So that’s why she arrived by train so quickly after she found the ad my sister put in the paper.”

“Since you don’t want to offer for her hand, I’m told that there are plenty of others trying to come calling, but your sister sends them all away.”

Really?” she squeaked again.  She had just assumed that it was people needing Eddie’s attorney services, not suiters, who came knocking.  So that’s why Elizabeth wouldn’t let her answer the door.  She  truly wished that they had been there to see Eddie rather than herself, however.  

“We’ll hurry this trial up, because I can’t just keep a woman locked up when there are real criminals out there, not to mention the usual inebriated men lying around needing a place to sleep it off.”

The sheriff went on, “The judge has cleared his docket, but we are waiting for Eddie to get back here after his investigation.  He even mentioned, now don’t tell your sister this, that he might even go to the saloon there undercover to see if he can hear the scuttlebutt.  He also wants to find a witness who can vouch for her character, besides your sister of course.”

To tell you the truth, I know nothing about her other than she came because she saw that stupid ad.”

“Still, as bad as this looks, it might have saved her skin the way this depraved man  tried to manipulate her.  Unfortunately, it will all be dragged out like dirty laundry even though she’s most likely innocent.   The shows not over.”

Eva groaned.

“I’ll say an extra prayer for her.  What did you say her name was?”

The sheriff hooted.  “You mean you don’t know your intended’s name?”  When he stopped laughing, he said, “Her name is Eva.  Eva Noble.  I guess she went to work for this yahoo after her pa passed away.  Her father was the foreman on a spread back there, and the new foremen needed the house she was in.  So she accepted the only job offer she could find.  Unfortunately, it was for this man.”

Some things got lost in the gravel of men’s voices, then she heard a door shut and the sheriff chuckle before picking his harmonica back up and playing some more.

The church bells woke her the next morning.  Eva was sad that she’d never even gotten the chance to attend church here.  She had been so looking forward to it. 

Instead she thought back on the last sermon she’d heard, even remembering the Scripture, “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure  our hearts before Him.” She remembered her pastor saying that it meant that we can be persuaded by our consciences that we have the truth.  He had also said that it was the greatest test of a man’s Christianity if he shows the fruits of this love, giving proof that he has the loving mind that was in Jesus.”

God, I need a little assurance right now, please, and help me show the loving mind of Jesus in all of this mess.”

Just then Elizabeth bustled in.  Eva could smell the sweet rolls from where she sat.  As he unlocked the outer door, the sheriff was saying, “Surely you meant one of those sweet rolls for me, Lizzie.”

“Only if Miss Noble says you behaved yourself and were kind to her.”  Elizabeth cocked an eyebrow looking at Eva for conformation.  She held the rolls just out of his reach.

“Of course, Elizabeth.  He has been all gentlemanly perfection and even brought me an extra blanket last night after making sure it didn’t have any vermin on it.”

Elizabeth visibly  shuddered.  “Here, kind sir, is a roll for you.  Come unlock her door, then bring Miss Noble her coffee.  Unlike you, she takes hers black.” 

Motivated with a carrot in front of his face, or rather a sweet roll waiting on his desk, he just left the door ajar so Elizabeth could enter.

He’s my husband’s brother, by the way.  I’m sorry I can’t stay.  I have to get the children to church or I would.  Eddie should be back by tonight.  Hopefully we can get that ridiculous trial over with in the morning and you’ll be sitting back down to supper at our house tomorrow night.”

“But what if Mr. Gordan has bought off the jury?  What is the punishment for embezzling?  It’s not a hanging offense I hope.”  The sweet roll stuck in her throat so she grabbed her mug of coffee and let it burn past her tongue and on down her throat.

Nonsense,” Elizabeth declared, but Eva could see the nervousness she was trying to hide.

Just pray for me.  But don’t ask the congregation to do so.  I wouldn’t want a dispute breaking out and people taking sides.”

“Your friends are all lifting you up, but I have to go.”  Elizabeth gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek then quickly left.  Eventually the sheriff got around to locking her up again.  

“Sheriff?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you have a Bible I can read?”

He chuckled in his easy going manner.  “I do believe you are the only one who has ever asked to read my Bible, other than that horse thief did right before we hung him.”

Suddenly, the sweet roll no longer felt very good in her stomach.  The man strode in and handed it over.  He went back to his office and played hymns on his harmonica.

In the morning, Eddie only had a few minutes to visit her in the cell before the sheriff escorted her to the courtroom.  As she entered the side door, she glanced at the packed house. She looked over and saw the smirk on her accuser’s face.   It sent a shiver down her back.  But then she was surprised to see her father’s old boss here, Mr. Calhoun.  He glanced over at her and winked.  Eva cast him a small smile.  He had known her since she was little and running around in pigtails.  It was almost as good as if her father was here.  Maybe she should have ridden out to Mr. C’s ranch to get his help instead of hopping on a train which had landed her in her present circumstances.

Eddie hardly had time to pat her hand telling her not to worry when the bailiff said, “All rise.”   And then it began.

First Gordan’s drinking buddies, including the sheriff were questioned.  Then it was her turn.  After the prosecutor called her up to the stand, he began a litany of charges.  The man was so convincing that she almost believed his twisted, sordid depiction of herself.  How ashamed her father would have been!  Eva felt like throwing up.

When Eddie’s turn came, all he asked her was if any of it was true.  She just replied truthfully, “No, sir.”

Then Mr. Gordan got up in the witness chair and pulled out his handkerchief as he wiped away crocodile tears.  “I confess I was smitten and fooled by a pretty face thinking I wanted to marry the young woman there.  But then I found out about her wicked deeds.”

Eddie was so calm as he had cross examined the earlier witnesses poking holes in their testimonies.  But up against this black hearted man, he hardly gave him the time of day only asking about her duties in his store.

“Did her duties include working the cash register,” he suddenly asked.  

Of course not, I mean…” he sputtered, but then Eddie continued.

Or was it her job to take the money to the bank to deposit it?”

No, but she could have snuck in…”  

But Eddie interrupted him and called for the next witness.  Mr. Calhoun took the stand.  State your name, sir, and tell us how you know this young woman.

“I’m Mr. Calhoun of the Big “C” spread.  Her pa was my closest friend and one of the best men I’ve ever met.  Then when he suddenly died and I had to hire another foreman, the house she grew up in was needed.  We offered to have her live with us since she was like a daughter to us.”  Then he chuckled and remarked, “But she’s pretty independent.  So I asked around,”  Calhoun speared him with a knowing look and spit his name out as if he was a bad taste in his mouth, “and Mr. Gordan said he would offer her a job and an apartment over his establishment.  What’s that saying, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’?  I had no idea at the time that his character is nothing like what he presents in church or in his store, but when Eva disappeared, we got real concerned.  I started asking around.  People were almost afraid to talk since Gordan could and would end their lines of credit or call it due at any time.  Then I had one of my cowboys go listen in at the saloon to see what he could find out from the man along with his cohorts, the sheriff and the judge.  But I’ll let him testify as to what he heard.  What I truly know, and have all these signatures from others who have known her from a bitty thing,” and he held up a paper covered in signatures, “is that none of us think she could be guilty of these charges.”  He got up and left the letter in front of the judge before stepping down.  

Eva had not noticed that Shorty was here.  He was sweating like a lizard on a hot rock, if lizards could sweat, that is.  He took his kerchief out and wiped his face and neck.  

By the time Eddie had drawn out the conversation that Shorty had overheard, it seemed that Mr. Gordan had been caught in his own web, cooked his on goose, and had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Now he was sweating worse than Shorty. 

The last witness Eddie called up was his wife.  Elizabeth strutted in, chin up in the air while dragging Eva’s burlap sack.

Poor Elizabeth.  Her husband put her on the spot making her confess to putting up the ad for a mail order bride without her brother’s knowledge.  Eva glanced back and saw Manny.  His eyes were on her, not his sister.   She finally pulled away and turned back around to see Elizabeth taking everything out of her gunny sack to show the courtroom.  She gulped.  It made her blush to see all that she owned in the world, what little  there was, laid out for all to see.

“Is this everything that she had in there on the night she arrived? Eddie asked Elizabeth.

“Yes, dear,” she said making the courtroom erupt in chuckles, “well, except for her unmentionables, which I didn’t think anybody else had a right to see.”

With that everyone burst into laughter with Elizabeth huffing while Eddie’s ears turned bright pink before he said pointedly, “Thank you, dear, you may step down.”  He went over and gallantly ushered her back to her seat while all of Eva’s worldly goods were still on display.  

“As you can see, your Honor, there is no hidden wealth supposedly brought with this woman, neither was it sewn into her clothing.  My wife knows this because she insisted on doing Miss Noble’s laundry that first week since she felt so bad about everything.”

Eddie continued pacing as he spoke, “There’s not much I hate worse than a virtuous young woman’s reputation being dragged through the mud.  What kind of man does this, I ask?”  He pointed at Mr. Gordan who was almost frothing at the mouth in anger.  “He’s the kind of man who would take an innocent young lady and  try to manipulate and force her into marriage by threatening her with pressing false charges if she did not accept his suit.  I rest my case.”

“But she’s guilty!”  Mr. Gordan ran up spitting spray on the judge.  “Besides, you can’t charge a man for asking for a woman’s hand in marriage.”

Just then, Miss Sampson jumped up and shouted, “If it’s a wife you want, sir, I’m available!”

judge

The courtroom erupted in chaos as the judge pounded his gavel.  One man shouted, “I’ll offer Miss Noble a marriage proposal!”  

“Not on your life, buddy!  She’s mine,” another called out.

“Clear the courtroom sheriff!” the judge hollered.

Eva looked aghast at the out of control crowd.  One man slipped by the sheriff and  went down on his knee.  “Miss Nobles, I would be honored to have you for my wife.”  His grin hinted it was for show, but still Eddie protectively forced her behind him.  “Go on now, Henry.  Git out like the judge said.”

The jury was hooting it up.  When the room was empty, one man spoke for the rest, “Not Guilty!”  He turned to her grinning saying, “Please don’t hold this against our good town, ma’am.  That man won’t dare show his face in these parts again.”

Eddie opened the side door and Elizbeth walked out with her exclaiming, “For lands sake, that was a circus!”  Eva was stilled too stunned to comment. 

Just then Manny appeared.  “Let me walk you ladies home since Eddie has to wrap things up with the judge.   I’m inviting myself to supper, sis.”  He lifted Eva’s hand and put it in the crook of his arm.  Eva took a deep breath of relief and said quietly,”The truth shall set us free.”

“Ahh, shucks,” Manny said as he put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.  “Just remember, Miss Noble, that you were my mail order bride first.  Don’t give any of those other galoots the time of day.  Besides, according to Mr. Calhoun, it sounds like you belong on a ranch,” he said with a wink.  

“That’s why I answered your ad instead of the others.  It said you were a rancher desiring a Christian wife,” she looked up into his sparkling eyes with a shy smile.  

“I have my sister to thank for pointing that out or I might have missed the obvious,” he said with a wide grin.

“I’m sorry, could you repeat that, Manny?  I don’t think I heard you right,” Elizabeth teased.

“You heard me, Lizzie, but don’t rub it in.  You gave Miss Noble and me more than a few conniptions over this whole mail order bride ad.  But I think I’m going to frame that telegram, ‘Arrive by Train Tonight’ because they ended up being the sweetest words I ever did see, and I’m becoming mighty fond of my special delivery.”

canceled mail kiss

“And hereby we know that we are of the truth,

and shall assure our hearts before Him.” 

I John 3:19