Chapter 14- Fall 1853

Fall 1853

It was nearly a year since Dane had ridden through the rain and met Harriet. Not much had changed in Dane, though everything had changed in Catherine. She was fully happy. Joy exuded from her smile and her eyes. Her step was light to match her heart. Her joy seemed untouchable. Though she lost Harriet for a time, she knew she would be with her again.  She thought that should she lose everything, she would not feel any differently, for she was still a daughter of the King, and that never could change.

It was a cold winter day, and Catherine was ready to brave the winter winds and ride to St. Donatus to spend a few days with her mother and father. Elizabeth seemed in as good of health as she ever had been, and she continued to bake bread and collect eggs daily. Her father, Charles,  was not faring so well. His mining days were all but over. He coughed often and puffed on his pipe. Yet, with the help of their hired hand since Catherine’s marriage, they had been able to maintain their living even so.

 

She was packing her bags and humming a hymn when Dane approached.

“Catherine,”

“Yes,” she turned around with a smile.

“What happened?”

“Happened?”

“Yes. What happened?”
“When?”

“I don’t rightly know. A few years ago, I suppose.” Catherine knew what he meant. She had changed. Just like Harriet had told her the night they met- she had switched out her insides. She was a different person. She had tried to tell Dane how God had changed her, but he did not want to believe it. He kept saying he didn’t want to be forced into a church. Catherine had promised him she never would. But she knew that he could not help but see what a different sort of woman she had become.

“Oh Dane, I tried to tell you. Over, and over I have tried to tell you, but you didn’t want to hear. ”

“About church, I know. But not that.”
“Well, it’s not about church, really. It was more that I came to believe…..or rather I was faced with the reality that I was not a good sort of woman. And having come to realize I was not a good sort of woman, I had also come to see forgiveness and life and purpose, and meaning beyond anything I thought possible.” There was a brief pause and they looked at one another.

“I thought…” His face looked pained. She came to him.

“You thought what, dear?”
“I thought. That you had taken a lover.” Her eyebrows seemed to shoot up of their own accord. “Well, you can hardly blame me, Catherine. You were leaving nearly every day at the same hour and heading in the same direction and always claiming you were having tea with a friend. I knew of none of your friends, neither had I ever met this one. You had never had this friend over to our home, never offered to introduce me. You always came back with a light in your eyes, and I was certain you had taken a lover. I was enraged, but I could not prove it. Neither could I ask you.”

“Why on earth could you not?”

“Because if you had taken a lover, I knew that you would not be able to admit it, and you would take greater pains to hide it and I might never know for sure who he was. So, and I know I had no real right, but I followed you.”

“The day you showed up in the rain.”

“Yes, the day I showed up in the rain. You must understand. I couldn’t bear the thought of my wife in another man’s arms.It was only then that I realized how very much you do mean to me, that I would do anything to keep you and that I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you. Couldn’t bear the image of you in another man’s embrace.  I was so certain that was how I would find you. I was so angry I could hardly feel the rain soaking through to the bone. I was furious. As furious as ever I’ve felt. I was going to tear him limb from limb. I hardly knew what my next move would be, but I was not certain whether this man would make it out alive. I was certain I would never lay a hand on you, but he was going to pay with his life.  I was seething with anger as I followed you that day. I could hardly see straight. I watched you go in. I waited. I wanted to be sure to catch you in the act. I wanted there to be no doubt. As I waited what seemed enough time, I wondered who he was and what he gave you that I could not. It seemed like an eternity before I finally knocked, ready to bust through the door. I did not expect an answer. You can imagine my surprise when you opened the door, and there you were having tea with an old woman.”

Catherine could not contain herself. The hilarity of it was too much, and though Dane poured his heart out to her for the first time in years, she could not contain the laughter. It bursted out of her, a deep infectious laughter. Dane laughed too, deep and long. They laughed together until their stomachs cramped and their mouths ached and they had to wipe tears from the outer corners of their eyes. Catherine was not sure whether it was the incident itself which was so funny as to merit this kind of uncontrolled laughter, or whether it was that they had not laughed together in so very long that neither of them wanted it to end. It was good to talk about Harriet, to think about her, and to laugh. When finally the laughter died down, she found herself in his arms, a place she had not been for five long years.

 

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Chapter 3- Catherine

Fall, 1840

By the time Catherine reached womanhood, not even the most pious among men could pass her by without noticing her figure. Her soft blue eyes and dark, curly tousled hair captivated the young men for miles around. Catherine herself thought her mouth too wide-set and her teeth much too large. Besides, she was nought but a poor farm girl with not a penny to her name; only a few acres of land and a few shares in a failing lead mine.

 

Fresh and young, Catherine beamed with life and wonder and curiosity. Having grown up with no siblings to help carry the load, she was not only beautiful but strong and resourceful with a stubborn streak a mile wide.

 

Men fell for her for miles around. Catherine, however, was interested in none of them. She took great pains to let them down easy, and beseeched her father to allow no one admission to the home who might ask for her hand.

 

“I’ll have to keep you under lock and key,” he said, approvingly, and Catherine thought he seemed, if not pleased, amused by her ready refusal to any man who so much and gave her a sideways glance.

 

It was a warm summer afternoon when Catherine asked her mother a question she’d been pondering for some time,

 

“Mother…mother, did you marry for money or for love?” Elizabeth seemed quite taken aback by the question. In truth, she felt sorry it was not more obvious that she had in fact married for love.

“For love,” she answered, “Or at least for the thing I thought was love.” They kneaded silently for some time.

“Do you think I ought to marry for love?” Elizabeth stopped kneading, looked up inquisitively and thought for some time.

“You may marry for love. Or you may marry for money. Neither is guaranteed to last. Money can be lost. Love, more likely to be lost.”

It was not the answer Catherine had been hoping for, but she could tell it was honest and sincere. She never knew her mother to be anything to the contrary.

“But whomever you choose,” her mother resumed, “do not marry too harsh a man. Look for kindness in his eyes.” Then after brief pause, she resumed, “And Catherine,”

“Yes, mama?”

“Whomever you choose, whether he be someone I admire or someone I dislike very much, it will never alter my feelings of affection for you.” Catherine thought she detected a certain level of sadness in her mother’s eyes.

“Thank you, mother. If ever I marry, I will look for kindness, as you say. It is easy enough to see the wisdom in that. As you say, money and love are no sure thing. And yet, I have to think if I marry for both money and love, I shall be more likely to be happy.”

“T’would seem that way. But, not so if you forget about the kindness. Above all else, find the one with the gentle soul.”

 

Catherine thought of her father. She never imagined her mother and father to really be in love. But her father was so often distant- distant but not cold. And he had a sort of kindness in his heart when it came down to it. Though he was often listless, and more often tired, no one could say he was an unkind man. And though she often had to work for his attentions, he was never harsh with her. She thought of her father’s kindness to Black Hawk and the hungry child. He would likely be seventeen himself now. It had been ten years. But Catherine thought of it often, and always she saw the face of the boy. She aged, but he never did. Not in her mind, anyway. She couldn’t picture him grown like her. He’d always be a half starved child with ravenously hungry eyes. She wondered what had become of him. A question she’d be left with all of her life.

Will Animals talk in Heaven? #Nottheology

I have this idea that not only will animals be in Heaven, but they’ll be able to talk. Don’t take this as sound doctrine or theology. I wouldn’t teach this to my Sunday School kids or anything, but I find it intriguing, and that’s what blogs are for, right? Writing down fun ideas.

Here’s why. I think when the Earth was cursed at the fall, all creatures suffered the loss of greater physical and mental abilities that they enjoyed before the fall. If mankind had communication with and access to God, is it really so far fetched to believe that maybe animals had communication with and access to mankind?

On top of that, Even did not seem the least bit surprised when a Serpent spoke to her in the garden. The Genesis account is pretty straight forward. I would imagine that the story would have said something about Eve having responded in surprise or bewilderment. But it doesn’t. She simply responds to the Serpent as if talking to a snake in the garden were the most natural thing in the world.

God gave Balaam’s donkey the temporary ability to talk. I wonder why.

I would certainly not make this rather obscure idea central to my theology or anything, but it is interesting to think of it as a possibility. And, dare I say it, I believe C.S Lewis would have agreed.

#RandyAlcornHeaven