Heritage of Lancaster County 02 The Confession

The Confession

Beverly Lewis

1 THE

CONFESSION

2 THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY

The Shunning

The Confession The Reckoning

The Postcard

The Crossroad

The Redemption of Sarah Cain

Sanctuary*

The Sunroom

*with David Lewis

3 BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA 55438 ,

4 The Confession

Copyright 1997

Beverly Lewis

This story is a work of fiction. With the exception of recognized historical figures, all characters, events, and the setting of Hickory Hollow are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is coincidental.

Scripture quotation on page 219 is from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION-:. Copyright : 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United tates Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Societv. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Cover by Dan Thornberg,

Bethany House Publishers staff artist.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means--electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise--without the prior written permission of the publisher and copyright owners.

Published by Bethany House Publishers

A Ministry of Bethany Fellowship International

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Printed in the United States of America by

Bethany Press international, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55438

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Lewis, Beverly

The confession / by Beverly Lewis.

p. cm. -- (The heritage of Lancaster County ; #2)

ISBN 1-55661-867-0 (pbk.)

I. Title. II. Series: Lewis, Beverly, Heritage of Lancaster County ; 2. PS3562.E9383C6 1997

813'54--dc2197-21118CIP

5 To Judy Angle

Thanks for keeping the secret and

for blessing the idea with prayer, shaping it with wings.

With gratitude and love.

6 ABO[ T THE A[ITHOR

BEVERLY LEWIS is a former schoolteacher and the author of over forty books. She is a member of The National League of American Pen Women, the Pikes Peak branch, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her books are among the C.S. Lewis Noteworthy List Books. Bev and her husband have three teenagers and make their home in Colorado.

7 In writing the following pages, my heart was captured by Katie's emotional pain and her desperate search for truth. Her story now continues, just days after she abandons the Amish community anct moves in with Mennonite relatives. And weeks before Daniel Fisher's shocking letter ever arrives in Hickory Hollow ....

8 One can never consent to creep wh an impulse to soar.

Helen Keller

9 -n one feels

10

11 PROLOGHE: THERINE

I remember everything about my first glimpse of Cousin Lydia's kitchen. It was modern as the day is long and all aglow with electricity.

Being a curious three-year-old, I'd set out to reach the light switch, making determined grunts as I stood on tiptoe, stretching myself up... up while peeking around the wide doorjamb to see if the grown-ups were watching.

At last, my little fingers touched the magic. Off... and on, and off and on again, I made the long white ceiling lights buzz and flicker, splashing fluorescent gleams onto the floor and the wallpaper. I must've played that way for a good five minutes or more.

It was Dat who told me to stop. "Ya mustn't be playin' with the lights, Katie. Ya might burn 'urn out," he said softly but sternly. Then he scooped me up in his long arms and carried me to the front room with the rest of my Plain relatives.

Nearly twenty years later, I had to smile at my renewed interest in the light switches found in every room of Peter and Lydia Miller's Mennonite farmhouse. Especially the shiny gold one in the boarding room I now called home.

Being raised Old Order Amish meant I'd never lived

12 around such fancy things, and for all good reason: the Ordnung, an unspoken list of church rules and regulations that had put a damper on my every word, deed, and, ofttimes, my thoughts, too.

I, sadly enough, had gone and broken those laws, several of them--hadn't kept my confession promise to Bishop John, refusing to destroy a forbidden guitar. In return for my

wickedness, I was to be shunned all the days of my life. All my life...

If, and only if, I was willing to go to the bishop and re- pent--bend my knees in earnest contrition, pleading with God and the church membership for mercy--only then could a sinner such as I ever be brought back into the fold of the People.

So Katie Lapp, the secretly "adopted" daughter of Amish parents, was as good as dead. Shunning practices were carried out that way in Hickory Hollow--the way they'd been seen to for three hundred years.

But what of Katherine Mayfield--my real name and the real me? Well, I couldn't imagine Katherine thinking twice about a kneeling confession for what I'd done. Not for love nor money. There was too much at stake.

Still, the steady ache in my heart persisted, and sometimes on the clearest of days, from high atop the second- floor landing window, I managed to make out the snowy outline of a distant roof and double chimneys--the old farmhouse where I was raised.

True, Samuel and Rebecca Lapp's sandstone house was just one buggy mile away, up Hickory Lane a bit, though it might've been a good hundred miles on dark December days like today. 'Cause standing here, staring my past in the face, it seemed my whole world might fade to a deep, dark purple if I let it. Stubborn as I was, though, I refused to give in to the searing pain of rejection. And betrayal. Wouldn't let the memories of the shunning drape a dark cloud over my fu

13 ture. In a peculiar sort of way, that was my salvation--that, and my Mennonite relatives.

If it hadn't been for Peter and Lydia, I might're succumbed to despair. But they had a way of treating me like I was really and truly one of the family. Clear from my first day here.

My eyes had begun to open up in more ways than one. The way they talked to God, for instance. Why, it was downright astonishing at times. Oh, I'd heard them say blessings over the meals off and on through the years, but family devotions and the prayers that followed were brand-new to me. Ever so joyful.

And what singing! Three- and four-part harmonies filled the housevery evening after supper. My guitar had found a temporary home, and so had my broken heart.

Answering to "Katherine" instead of "Katie" took some getting used to, for sure and for certain. There was no easy way to change something as comfortable as your own first name just because one day you up and decided you were someone new. Still, I was determined to try.

Sometimes Lydia had to call me two and three times to catch my attention. I suppose it wasn't so much the sound of "Katherine" that threw me off it was latching on to what the name stood for that was the biggest struggle.

For truth, I belonged to someone who'd never known the Ordnung and its confining practices, someone who understood all about the busy modern world I'd missed out on. My birth mother, Laura Mayfield-Bennett--she was my true kin. And if I could trust what I'd been told, the woman was dying of some greislich, dreadful disease. I needed to act quickly, but the fear in my heart was powerful-strong. At first, it held me fast, even kept me from learning to drive a car or from trying out the telephone hanging high on the wall in Lydia's kitchen.

But there was something I didn't hesitate on. Something

14

no amount of fear could keep me from doing. Cousin Lydia drove me to town and dropped me off at the prettiest beauty shop I'd ever seen. 'Course, I'd never darkened the door of one before--just looked from a distance ... and wished. Didn't have an appointment, but they took me right in and cut and styled my hair just the same.

Glory be! What freedom I felt when the scissors started snippin' away at my long, uneven locks that'd never been cut my whole life long.

Well, the weight of the world fell right off me, in a heap of auburn hair all over the floor. I shook my head and the air swooshed through it, clear to my scalp, and I asked myself why on earth I'd waited so long for something so awful nice.

The answer was bound up in rules and expectations same as my waist-length locks--tied up in a knot under a veiled covering all these years. But there was no need for me to be carrying around a headful of long, too-thick hair anymore. I was free to do whatever I pleased with it... and my face. Clothes, too. A wonderful-good feeling.

Staring in the mirror, I saw Katherine Mafield's painted lips smiling back at me. When she whispered, "How do you do?" I heard the refined sound of her "English" voice in my ears. Still, it would take some practice to get it right every time.

I reached up and ran my fingers through my shoulder- length hair; honestly, feeling it so bouncy and free gave me the shivers. The new cut gave me something else, too. A curtain of soft curls!

"You have beautiful natural waves, Katherine," the beautician said with a big smile.

What a day! The curls, so long hidden, had finally made their appearance. I was more than grateful and told her so.

As for Lydia's telephone, I realized I couldn't be waitin' to use it anymore. Couldn't let the fear hold me down, so I

15 got real brave. Five days after coming to live in this fancy house--filled with electricity, microwave ovens, forced air heat ... and the tallest, prettiest Christmas tree I'd ever seen--I picked up the Lancaster phone directory and made myself read all about how to dial up a long-distance operator.

Then closing the pages, I thought about the sin I was about to commit. Would I never stop straying from the path of righteousness? Seemed to me I'd sinned so awful much, though, what would one more transgression lurt?

A sense of urgency swept over me. My natural mother was dying.., she wanted to see me. I wanted to see her, to know the woman named Laura, wherever she was.

Enough of this pondering over my faults and misdeeds. It was high time to take the first*step toward finding my roots. A giant step, to be sure.

I reached for the telephone ....

16

17

It was dark and bitter cold when Laura returned from the attorney's office. She was weary and sighed audibly, bearing the weight of this most recent appointment.,

Theodore Williams, her longtime chauffeur, peered at her over the leathered front seat of the limousine. "Mrs. Bennett, are you all right?"

"A bit tired," she replied. "Please don't be concerned." "Very well" came the deep yet gentle voice.

She allowed herself to lean hard against the backseat, waiting for Theodore as he made his way around to the trunk. Oh, how she longed for the days of mobility, freedom to come and go as she pleased. Could it have been only one month ago she'd braved the cold and the distance, hiring her driver to take her to a remote Amish community in Pennsylvania? She hadn't felt up to such a trip even then, but at least she had been able to get around while there, without much help.

Regrettably, the mid-November jaunt had turned up not a single lead. Her daughter--her only child--had not materialized, even though Theodore had so willingly backtracked to various spots in and around Hickory Hollow before driving home the next day, back to the place of her

18

childhood in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Yet, in spite of the futile search, she had held stubbornly to one small hope--that an Amishwoman sitting in a carriage in front of a general store might have followed through with Laura's request. She had entreated the elderly woman to deliver her personal letter to one of the many Rebeccas living in the community--specifically, to the only Rebecca who would understand the desperate, handwritten plea. The woman whose adopted daughter was to celebrate her twenty-third birthday next summer, June fifth ....

The familiar sounds of Laura's empty wheelchair, its thin tires making contact with the cold pavement, brought her from her reverie. She began to straighten herself a bit, sliding forward in the seat as best she could, despite her frail and weakened condition.

In an instant, her chauffeur, dressed in a tailored black suit and overcoat, opened the car door. She lingered a moment, struggling to button the top of her coat against the frigid air as Theodore stood in readiness behind the wheelchair. "Rosie! Miss Judah!" he called toward the house. "Mrs. Bennett has returned."

In the space of a few seconds, the housemaid arrived, followed by Laura's live-in nurse. The two women gently assisted the mistress of the house, easing her out of the black car and settling her into the wheelchair.

Theodore paused judiciously, then--"Shall we go?" Laura gave a slight nod and was cautiously wheeled over the wide, circular drive--freshly plowed from a recent snowstorm--and into the Tudor-style mansion.

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