SERIAL NOVEL: The Black Mennonite (Chapter 14) by Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte

Chapter 14

Headed Somewhere, Going Nowhere

“Eva!” Jacob said as he burst through the front door. “I know how we can possibly find out who Kezia’s relations are. No one’s going to disappear into the bushes and trees as thick as it is at that time of night unless they’re familiar with the area. There has to be a trail or pathway or something between those trees. So do you want to go walking on a new trail with me?”

“Now?”

“Yes, now, while it’s still light outside,” Jacob said, taking her by the hand.

“I thought you weren’t interested in finding out who her family is,” Eva said, pulling her apron off with her free hand.

“Oh, don’t believe me. I’m just as curious as you are.”

“Wait. Let me get Kezia. She’s asleep. I can’t leave her here by herself,” Eva said.

Jacob and Eva found a grassy pathway that looked like it had recently been trudged on. They easily followed its twists and turns for about a mile until it suddenly ended at the main road. They crossed to the other side to see if it continued on the other side of the road. No such luck.

“Well, I’ll be,” Jacob said, scratching behind his ear. “It can’t just end here.”

“Well, it did,” Eva said. “Let’s go up and down the road a little to see if it picks back up.”

No such luck.

They stood stumped while Jacob surveyed the area. He suddenly started chuckling. “Do you know where we are?”

Eva looked puzzled.

“If you walk up the road,” he said pointing, “just beyond that bend is the back entrance into our community. We’ve been walking in twists and turns thinking we were headed somewhere but we were going nowhere.”

Eva giggled. “Come on. Let’s take the short route home ’cause I’m hungry. Little boppli is beginning to weigh my arms down. She is enjoying this time out, though.”

Taking Kezia from his wife, Jacob led the way home. “Well, little boppli, I guess I took you on a wild rabbit chase. If you could only tell us what your mamm looks like, that would help us greatly, not that I am in a hurry to turn you over to her.”

As they walked along the side of the road, they heard the soft clopping of a horse’s hoofs coupled with the sound of the wheels of a buggy on the dry ground. It got louder as it approached them from behind. Without looking behind, Jacob waved the driver on. The buggy pulled past them; it slowed to a stop a few yards ahead of them. The driver remained in the seat. Both recognized the familiar black buggy. It was Bishop Stoltzfus. Jacob’s initial response was to continue on his trek without stopping to acknowledge the buggy’s presence. He changed his mind.

“Daed, it’s good to see you. What brings you out this late evening?” Jacob said.

Eva respectfully nodded her head and smiled pleasantly at her father-in-law.

Bishop Stoltzfus kept looking straight ahead. He indicated with his thumb for them to get in his buggy. Eva waited to see what her husband would do. He hesitated. He looked down at Kezia who was looking up at him with her curious, bright, grey eyes. Jacob’s heart winced as he remembered the negative words his father had said about Kezia. He waved his father on.

“No, thank you. Kezia needs the fresh air and sunshine and the walk is doing us some good as well. We only have a few more yards to go.”

Bishop Stoltzfus snapped at the reins and rode off without a word.

“What was going through your mind?” Eva asked when they were seated at the dinner table.

“I remembered those treacherous words he said about Kezia. I couldn’t accept his ride—not today, anyway.”

For a few seconds a grim but thoughtful look came across Eva’s face. She sighed then said, “Let no root of bitterness develop in you. We don’t want to add to the tension that already exists between you and your father. Please be pleasant with him for Kezia’s sake. We don’t know how long she’s going to be with us, so let’s make her stay pleasant, and not only for her but for us as well.”

“It’s going to be pleasant alright,” Jacob said.

The following morning after a hearty breakfast and after loading and securing in his wagon the two chest of drawers and the Noah’s Ark with the animal carvings he had been working on and had finally completed, Jacob kissed his wife goodbye.

“I should be home in time for supper; but you know how it is on the days I have to go in to work at the hardware store. What would you like for me to bring you back?”

“You can just bring yourself back in one piece,” Eva said, returning his kiss.

“That I plan on doing,” Jacob said as he gently flicked the reins to get his horse going.

Eva watched him until he disappeared around the bend of the main road leading into town.

As Jacob rode into town, he remembered his father’s austere response when he shared with him the wonderful opportunity that had opened up to him to work for the hardware store in town. That encounter happened over a year ago, but it still pained Jacob whenever it crossed his mind.