Exclusive excerpt from Rebecca Grenville An Adult Romance Volume V
Mary could be very persuasive when she tried and soon Rosemary was trotting behind her as they went to board Mary’s buggy. I found out later from them both that Rosemary’s husband Jacob was very ill indeed. He had stopped coughing and vomiting so Mary thought the worst was over and he would recover but he was left so weak he could scarcely lift his head and this went on for weeks afterwards.
Jacob was the first to become ill in our Conewango community but he was by no means the last. About this time I began to gain weight and every morning I was sick so I thought I too was falling ill with the same illness although the weight gain didn’t make sense.
One month later it was becoming obvious but Mary had worked it out long before and one morning confronted me as I left the crude toilet after vomiting again and again.
“Let me look at you, Rebecca. You haven’t got the weakening illness, you’re pregnant.”
“It’s good news. I know you feel ill but many women do when they fall pregnant. You’re suffering from morning sickness. I have a mild herbal remedy that usually works with most of the women I’ve helped over the years.”
I didn’t know how to feel. Relieved that I wasn’t going to be laid low for weeks on end and anguish that I was carrying Will’s child and he didn’t know about it. Also I wasn’t happy about taking something to stop morning sickness when the aftermath of the thalidomide scandal was still rumbling on nearly fifty years later.
Mary took me back inside the house away from the bitter wind that was now starting up. “Sit down, Rebecca. What’s the matter?”
I told her my fears about taking something that may harm my baby and her reaction surprised me. She burst out laughing. “Rebecca, we never use any pharmaceutical inventions unless it’s absolutely essential to save a life. Any natural based products we test ourselves and use some of them but usually we only use products that we have developed over the ages, the old wives’ tales kind of thing. A lot of them have more than a grain of truth in them. Nothing I give you will harm your baby.”
“Thank you, Mary. Will you help me as time goes by?”
“Of course I will, I’ll be your very own personal midwife. This is a time for celebration. Well, it usually is in our community. I know your circumstances are very different but all we can do is look after both you and the baby and hope that you and your husband will be re-united one day. And if it doesn’t happen then he or she will live a very happy life in his or her extended Amish family.”
I was greatly relieved and told Mary so. She was very attentive and gave me a daily check-up. Her herbal remedy didn’t entirely stop my morning sickness but it greatly diminished it and I began to feel stronger.
Alec and I managed to slip away two more times without anything being said and we won our next two matches.
By now though, news of the mysterious Amish woman with the bow who was winning the league for South Dayton, began to circulate. It excited both Rosemary and Amy but then any bit of gossip did. I suppose in that respect they were no different to any non-Amish women. I think this comes from women being more interested in people in general than men. I often feel that men are more interested in sports events or cars or other material things rather than in how people feel. I may be wrong but too many men seem almost indifferent to people’s feelings.
“Who do you think it is, Rebecca?” Amy asked me one day as we worked on a quilt.
I smiled. “It could be anyone, I guess.”
Rosemary shook her head. “No, let’s work this out. Has any woman we know ever had the opportunity to learn how to fire a bow and arrow?”
“I don’t think so,” said Amy, “but there is an archery at South Dayton.”
“How do you know that?” Rosemary asked sharply.
“It’s on one of the brochures we get promoting the Amish Trail for tourists. We usually have some in the shop during the season. You must have seen them.”
“Oh, yes, of course, you’re right. I had forgotten about them. That still doesn’t explain who the mysterious woman is.”
“I suppose it could be anyone who saw the brochure and decided they wanted to have a go.”
“Perhaps you’re right. Some of the women do grumble about not being allowed to do some of the things the men do. There is bound to be one woman amongst us who is a better shot than George Oston.”
“George Oston? Who’s he?” I asked.
Amy and Rosemary laughed. “He’s the one who shot Adam Hart last year when they were out hunting. He’s so hopeless, and dangerous, that they’ve banned him from hunting this winter,” Amy said.
“Was he all right? This Adam … Hart?”
“He recovered but he’s been left with a very weak left arm where the arrow tore his muscle.”
Mary had seen me with my bow and it didn’t take long for her to figure out where I was going on my trips with Alec. As she had seen us returning from our first trip and commented favourably on my ability to shoot arrows I was surprised at her comments now.
“I don’t think the elders would approve, Rebecca.”
“Is it forbidden then?”
“Not exactly but you are mixing with the English far too much. We can trade with them but to socialise with them is definitely frowned upon.”
“Is that in case I pick up bad habits?”
“I suppose so. It’s just not part of our lives to indulge in frivolous pursuits.”
“What if I use my skills to hunt? This winter has already been very cold and we’ve had an early flurry of snow. You, or the Conewanga Amish community, may be grateful for my skills if the winter turns really hard.”
“Yes, your skills could be really useful but the Amish women don’t hunt. The men do, so whichever way you look at it you’ll be in the wrong.”
“Please don’t tell Samuel, Mary. I get so much out of my archery. I would be lost without it.”
“He may find out. But I’ll keep quiet for the moment.”
As it happened my archery didn’t last a great deal longer due to unforeseen and very unfortunate circumstances, but before that happened one other major incident took place that left me shaking. I was walking up the steps into Alec’s house on my own. Alec and Ben had not yet returned. I had just reached the front door, opened it, entered and was about to shut it when it was thrust open and in barged Samuel Guengerich. I hadn’t seen him but he must have been hiding nearby waiting for me.
“Hello, Rebecca, I’ve seen you with your bow and wonder how much you want to continue shooting at South Dayton?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well you must know that what you are doing is forbidden. If I tell the elders your bow will be taken off you. I’ve seen it’s a very fine bow too. It must have cost a lot of money. Mary told me you were pregnant so it won’t harm you.”
“What! What are you talking about?”
Guengerich moved closer to me. “You’re a fine looking woman, Rebecca. If you’re,” he paused, “nice to me I won’t say anything about your bow.”
“Nice to you. How nice?”
I know it was a stupid thing to say and I should just have sent him packing. I had now got myself into a position where I was indicating I was prepared to negotiate.
“For a start, this nice.” Guengerich