SERIAL NOVEL: The Black Mennonite (Chapter 25) by Daniel Whyte III with Meriqua Whyte

Chapter 25

Elder King

An early morning visitor had left a box of homegrown vegetables, a freshly-baked apple pie and two baby bonnets before Jacob and Eva’s front door on Monday. The bonnets had the same unique design similar to a cross embroidered in an inconspicuous place—a place where it could be easily overlooked if one did not have an eye for intricate needlework and was not purposefully looking for the design.

“I believe Kezia’s mother or somebody is trying to keep up with her,” Eva said to Jacob after showing him the embroidered design on Kezia’s bonnets. “I noticed it on all the clothing they have left for her. I hope we can make this our homestead for years to come for her and her family’s sake. I can’t help but wonder why they dropped her off at our doorstep and not someone else’s doorstep. Do they know us? Have they been watching us? Why don’t they want to be known?”

“Those same questions have been passing through my mind. But we’ll just enjoy her for however long she’ll be with us,” Jacob said.

After kissing his wife goodbye, Jacob pulled out of the yard, made the left turn to ride through the community and exit by way of the main entrance. Elder King stopped him just as he was about to make the right turn on to the main road leading into town.

“Jacob, I want to apologize to you for what happened yesterday. Your father pretty much made that decision by himself. I believe he’s getting worked up over a petty matter when there are more important issues to concern himself with. I know I should be standing with your father, but I see this one as petty and unnecessary as I’ve felt about other decisions he’s made in the past.”

“Thank you, Elder King,” Jacob said. “With all respect, sir, why didn’t you express your true feelings to him?”

“As far as your situation goes, he had already made the decision without consulting with me or the other elders. We did not even vote on the matter. As far as past situations, I have stood up to him and he’s threatened me that I’d lose my position as elder and could be put out of the community and also that he would write letters informing the other communities of ‘my insolence and spirit of resistance,’ to quote him. I guess I am afraid of all that happening so I acquiesce to all his decisions without much opposition,” Elder King said. “I guess I am afraid of losing his friendship.”

Some friendship that is, Jacob thought.

“But I must say, I admire you and your wife for standing for what you believe—even if it’s against your own father. If there’s anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask,” Elder King said.

“I won’t,” Jacob said as he flicked the reins. “On second thought,” he said pulling back on the reins, “there is one thing that you could probably help us with. We would like to have a baby dedication service for Kezia; that is her mother’s wish. Can you make it happen for us? It would mean so much to my wife.”

“I’ll do all that I can to make it happen. Have a great day now. I’ll be getting back with you on that,” Elder King said.

The men went their separate ways—one forward into the town, the other back into the community.

“Do you think he can really make it happen?” Eva asked excitedly after Jacob shared with her his conversation with Elder King.

“I think he’ll put forth a good fight,” Jacob said.

Eva enjoyed herself tremendously fulfilling her duties at Things & Things. She and Kassie produced such excellent needlework that old customers kept returning, and as news got around, their clientele base increased. Little by little Mrs. Rothchild eased Eva into the main section of the store where she interacted more directly with the customers. Eva took Kezia with her once a week until she started working in the front of the store. After a while she was working four days a week for Mrs. Rothchild. Kassie was more comfortable remaining in the back away from the customers. On the days that Eva went in, Mrs. Rothchild left her to run the store by herself from opening until noon.

“So how do you like working here?” Mrs. Rothchild asked Eva one afternoon.

“I love it. It’s exciting interacting with new people. I’ve learned so much about the outside world beyond my Amish community from just the brief conversations I’ve had with the customers throughout the day,” Eva said.