Read The Mercy Online

Authors: Beverly Lewis

The Mercy

© 2011 by Beverly M. Lewis

Cover design by Dan Thornberg, Design Source Creative Services

Art direction by Paul Higdon

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438

www.bethanyhouse.com

Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan

www.bakerpublishinggroup.com

Ebook edition created 2011

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. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

ISBN 978-1-4412-3375-2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

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

Praise for
BEVERLY LEWIS

“No one does Amish-based inspirationals better than Lewis.”


Booklist

“Author Beverly Lewis has come up with a new magic formula for producing best-selling romance novels: humility, plainness and no sex. Lewis’ G-rated books, set among the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, have sold more than 12 million copies, as bodice rippers make room for ‘bonnet books,’ chaste romances that chronicle the lives and loves of America’s Amish.”

—Time
magazine

“Much of the credit [for the growth of Amish fiction] goes to Beverly Lewis, a Colorado author who gave birth to the genre in 1997 with
The Shunning
, loosely based on her grandmother’s experience of leaving her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible college student. The book has sold more than 1 million copies.”


Associated Press

“As in her other novels, Lewis creates a vividly imagined sensory world. . . . And her well-drawn characters speak with authentic voices as they struggle to cope with grief and questions about their traditions and relationship with God.”


Library Journal
(about
The Parting
)

“Lewis’ readers can’t get enough of her tales about Amish life, and this latest installment won’t disappoint.”


Publishers Weekly
(about
The Forbidden
)

“The reigning queen of Amish fiction is back with another tale of secrets, love, and relationships. . . . Lewis has penned another touching novel with well-drawn characters and a compelling plot. It is sure to be in high demand by the author’s many fans and anyone who enjoys Amish stories.”


Library Journal
starred review
(about
The Missing
)

“Lewis provides a satisfying conclusion to the S
EASONS OF
G
RACE
series. Touching scenes make it easy for the reader to connect with the characters.”


Romantic Times
Book Reviews
(about
The Telling
)

“Once again, Lewis has a hit with the first book in her new R
OSE
T
RILOGY
. The charming characters and captivating storyline underscore why Lewis has legions of loyal fans. They will all be anxiously awaiting the next installment.”


Romantic Times
(about
The Thorn
)

To

Dr. Nan Buchwalter Best,

always Cousin Betsy to me.

With love.

January 1986

A
solemn pallor covers the landscape of our lives since Bishop Aaron Petersheim was removed from his ministerial duties.

Silenced,
the brethren call it.

The Lord’s fingerprint on a man is a fearsome thing. According to my father and those who question whether God’s will was accomplished, Aaron is blameless. Yet his reaction to the silencing is astonishing. Our longtime neighbor friend appears to be genuinely at peace, as if nothing has changed.

“A man cannot determine his son’s destiny . . . whether Plain or fancy,”
my father uttered as he rose from the breakfast table just this morning.
“Neither is he responsible for the actions of a wayward child.”

Because I’d wheeled my mother back to the bedroom to rest and
Dat
and I were alone in the kitchen, I assumed he was talking to me, my hands already deep in the soapy dishwater. He must’ve realized how much I’ve gleaned from the neighborhood grapevine. Folks are not only wagging their tongues but their heads, too. ’Tis mighty peculiar, this harsh discipline doled out to our beloved bishop.

Despite that, no one breathes a word anymore about Nick Franco, his foster son. It’s as if Nick never lived amongst us here on Salem Road, rubbing shoulders with neighboring farmers or sharing the Lord’s Day at Preaching. As if he never existed.

Even so, while all of us feel downtrodden about the ousting of Aaron, I’m honestly taken aback by the fact he doesn’t seem affected by what’s happened. He simply goes about his farm chores with a cheerful attitude, caring for the animals, butchering, and chopping wood for the cookstove. Sometimes with help from his sons-in-law or his male cousins, like a man shunned but permitted to stay, work, and worship with the People. It’s the oddest thing I’ve ever encountered . . . except for my married sister’s return from the world. Another dumbfounding situation, for sure and for certain.

Hannah—or Hen, as most folks know her—is becoming reacclimated to her former Plain life here, all while caring for her
Englischer
husband in hope of his sight—and their love—returning. But the way I see it, she’ll lose any ground she’s gained the minute Brandon recovers. Next to the situation with our one-time bishop, my sister’s dilemma is the most perplexing I know.

On top of everything else, Rebekah Bontrager has quickly become Silas Good’s new sweetheart-girl. That wouldn’t be so peculiar, except that Silas was my fiancé until we recently parted ways. Truth is, nothing was the same between us after Rebekah arrived from Indiana—and all three of us knew it.

Just last week at Thursday market, I was minding my business and selling my handmade faceless dolls to tourists when who but Rebekah came right over to talk to me. She approached the market table rather boldly.


Denki
for releasing Silas from his betrothal,”
she said softly, her brown eyes mighty sincere.
“It was awful nice of you, Rose Ann.”

I merely nodded.
Ach,
I hardly knew what to say back to her. But what Rebekah added startled me even more.

“I wish you the same happiness.”
She lightly touched my hand.

I couldn’t help but smile, though I didn’t see how that could possibly be, given most all the fellas my age were already married or engaged. Somehow I held even the slightest bitterness toward her at bay . . . what little there was. No point in that.

“Kind of you,”
I said.

Rebekah’s shining face was a
wunnerbaar-gut
reminder that Silas and Rebekah are surely meant to wed. Honestly, I doubt I ever looked or felt so happy when I was engaged to him, fine fellow though he is. Well, maybe I did for a time, but that’s water over the wheel now.

Before breakfast this morning, I was out behind Dat’s barn, where the wind had flattened the snow cloaking the pastureland. I noticed deer tracks and followed them over toward Petersheims’ property. My boots crunched into the frosty snow as I remembered the many wintry adventures Nick and I enjoyed, growing up here on these heavenly acres. All those years together, we were each other’s closest friend. And I admit to having wondered why my father, or whoever found the money tin buried down in the ravine, hasn’t mentioned the letter I wrote one month ago . . . the one that revealed my feelings for our former bishop’s son. I suspect it was Dat who somehow discovered the letter, although I’ll probably never know. Even if he wasn’t the one who removed it from
Mamm
’s old market box, not a soul in the community has fessed up to it. How awkward would it be if someone did?

Sometimes I hope the Lord himself mercifully reached down and removed my impulsive letter from the battered tin. That would explain its disappearance, for sure.

I lie awake at night, hoping whoever
did
take it stopped before reading the letter clear through. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have my private thoughts about rebellious Nick locked away once again, safe inside my poor heart!

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