Today I venture into one of my favorite genres: Amish. Now, you will all find that hard to believe. But I believe I bring a special flare to what are otherwise bland stories. You will find my contribution to the Amish world below the next paragraph.
We hope you’ll visit the other authors who comprise this collection: Paul Bennett, Robert Cely, Derek Elkins, Jamie D. Greening, Kathy Kexel, and Joe Shaw. As always, there’s no fee, we’re doing this to help you pass the time. We do ask that you buy our books/audio books to help pay the freight here. But that’s up to you! Mine are all on the right margin of the blog.
The Bishop’s Son, The Mule, And The Maiden – An Amish Tale
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Jane had been hard at work the entire morning rolling out pie crusts for her mother. Not only had she been tasked with going into town earlier that week and obtaining the spices for the pies, but now she had to make them. She had plenty of help, for at age 19 she was responsible for watching the children of several families when these chores were assigned. That was a good thing in her opinion, for many hands made work lighter. The heat in the kitchen was dragging her down a bit, as it was already very hot outside on this June day.
The biggest problem was that most of the hands she had with her were under twelve years of age. The older children had been sent to the gardens to tend the vegetables they would rely on during the winter months. Consequently, she had a lot of work just watching the little ones, which took away from crust production.
But after a few hours, the smallest took naps, and she was able to get the older children to at least mix what she’d measured, and a few even did good work with a rolling pin. Jane had always had a light spirit, and loved to make work a game for all involved.
Just after two that afternoon, when the majority of the pies had been filled and distributed to ovens in the communal kitchen, she opened the rear door to the community bakery to go gather some more apples. Not particularly worried about anything except getting right back before the little ones caused any trouble, she ran face-first into the chest of an extremely handsome young man.
He was about her age, and had a long tussle of golden hair sticking out from under his hat. He was not yet growing a beard, so he was most likely not engaged. His hat was a soft cloth one with no brim, uncommon but not unheard of in their community. All of it went with his blue eyes and muscular physique.
Jane bounced off his chest and landed flat on her bottom. He expressed concern with a sigh, a gentle noise that surprised her, and he set down the bucket of apples to offer her a hand up.
Taking his hand, she allowed him to pick her up. Shyly, she thanked him and asked his name.
“I’m Thomas. The Bishop asked me to bring you these apples. One of the women said you’d almost run out and had pies yet to fill.”
Jane nodded, grabbed the heavy bucket and turned back toward the kitchen. She’d no more than finished turning away from the sunlight of the doorway when she lost her equilibrium and landed very hard on the floor. Several of the children squealed and ran to her side. Thomas scooped her up in his strong arms and carried her over to the sofa on the far end of the room, laying her down with great gentleness.
Thus began a love that Jane had never foreseen. Over the next half hour, Thomas bathed her face with wet cloths and fed her lemonade from the ice box. One of the children had gone to summon her mother and another to bring the bishop.
She was fine, she insisted, and after an okay from her mother, she went back to work on the pies. She wasn’t even gone from her task long enough for anything to be ruined.
That night, over supper, she asked every question she could think of regarding the new bishop and his son Thomas. It didn’t take long before Jane’s father pointed out how unseemly it was for a young woman to take such interest in a boy she’d just met. He reminded her that this was not rumspringa, for that time had passed and she’d cast her lot with the church. She humbly nodded and cleared the table. That night, she sat on the front lawn staring at the stars and contemplating all that had happened.
Two days later there was a knock on the door in the evening. The new Bishop was there -with his son. The men were welcomed to the home, and cool drinks and a rhubarb pie were brought out. Jane was sent to the other room while the adults – which included Thomas, held a discussion. After twenty minutes Jane was summoned. Her father informed her that Thomas had asked permission to court her with an eye toward marriage. The elders had agreed it permissible, and in a nod to modernity, they asked her if she would be interested.
Jane did a good job of not jumping up and down yelling, and instead demurely said that she had no objections.
Over the next few very hot weeks the courtship progressed naturally. There were no “patty fingers” as the old movie she’d watched during rumspringa had called it, as every encounter was chaperoned by a member of the families, but it was clear that things were moving along, and a wedding was imminent.
Just six weeks after meeting, the wedding was to take place on a Saturday. For two days before there was great preparation. This was the first wedding in over two years, for many of the children who would have married did not choose to return after rumspringa for three successive years.
The night before the wedding, Jane was alone outside talking to God and looking up at the stars. An old mule wandered through the yard on the way to the barn. Jane had never seen this animal before, and it frightened her a bit. Why would someone’s valuable creature be wandering loose in their farmland?
Getting up from her chair, she walked over to secure the animal until morning when they could find out who owned it. As she reached for the bridle, the mule said, “It is time to go.”
Pulling her hand back as though it were burned, she stood frozen to the spot.
The mule spoke again: “I came to give you a ride. You’re leaving.”
Jane didn’t even consider the fact that she was talking to a mule. “I can’t leave, I’m to be married tomorrow to Thomas.”
The mule swished it’s tail and lowered its head. “I know you think that, but the Father above has sent me to carry you to him. Your time for Heaven is now. You can ask your own heart and will find it true. I’ll wait.”
Jane had no more than processed the words when she had the answer. She climbed on the mule’s back and it carried her out of the yard. Away from family, away from the life she’d known, and away from Thomas.
“Time of death, 13:47. Cause to be determined, likely acute renal stress and respiratory failure from COVID-19.”
The nurse stifled a tear. “She’s the Amish girl they brought in a few weeks ago, isn’t she?”
“Yes. Passed out at some kind of bakery on their land. They didn’t get her any help until she was almost gone. Just prayed over her and wiped her forehead. I think the fever probably burned her brain out along the way. We were just tending to a bag of meat with an expiration date long past while we treated her.”
“Cheery thought, Doctor. You are such a jerk.”
Dr. Thomas Esel wasn’t too concerned. He’d done his job.