This is based on a true story from what we call the Dark Ages. Thank you Google Images for the suitable picture.
Margit looked anxiously as her husband Jacob.
“Are you sure the children will be safe whilst we are gone?”
“They are in the Father’s care, wife. He will watch over them just as He will be with us.”
Margit nodded and picked up her satchel. If it were not for the urgent need to see her dying mother in another valley and another town, they would not have considered leaving their children overnight.
“Fear not, mother,” seventeen year old Eloise comforted, “We will be fine. Obed will care for the goats and other outdoor chores and I what pertaineth to the house.”
Margit nodded, and then whispered in Eloise’s ear. “Beware of the soldiers.”
Eloise was fearful, but pretended not to be, as she let her handkerchief flutter gaily in the breeze while watching their parents make their way through the empty streets.
Soon the early morning mist hid them from view.
Well, we might as well start with our chores,” she began. “It will make the time go faster.”
Obed nodded and picked up the milk bucket, “Beware of the soldiers,” he also warned.
Once again they were on a rampage against the Christians. She shook her head woefully before picking up the straw broom to sweep into all the corners of their three room abode.
After that was done, she cleared the breakfast dishes off the table, and washed them in a pottery bowl, searched for the eggs from their tiny flock of chickens clucking in the yard, and laid out the ingredients for making the daily bread.
A few minutes later her fifteen year old brother handed her the milk from the goats then caressed the Bible resting on the corner of the wooden plank table.
“Henrik and Maria were taken in for questioning, “He informed her.
Although Eloise’s hands were busy adding the starter mixture to the ingredients in her dough trough, she stole a glance at the word of God.
“Aye, but it is so precious,” she murmured. “Our lives have been much changed since Papa and Mama have been taught by the Word. Papa no longer comes home drunk and brutal, and---“
“Shh, I know. But be careful. I must needs bring the goats out to pasture. But ye be careful, ya hear?”
Eloise nodded and had a strange impulse to hug him, but that was not done in those days, so she dismissed it.
The silence hung heavily about the house after the last family member departed. Eloise wiped her hands on her apron and strained the milk.
I will put it to cool in the stream once the bread is rising.
Eloise found herself gazing frequently out the one small window at the street winding past their house. Then she heard it: the tromp of soldiers’ feet. They were across the street now, pounding on Neighbour Saul’s door but within minutes they would arrive at their own, ready to confiscate the Bible once they laid eyes on it, and possibly throw her in prison for breaking the law.
Eloise’s heart pounded as she snatched up the life changing word and pressed it against her bosom. Where oh where can I hide it?
The rough, angry voices grew louder, they were nearer.
“Forgive me Lord,” she whispered as she plunged the Bible into the dough that she had begun to knead and carefully folded another portion on top.
“Open up! We command ye!”
“My hands are in the dough,” she responded with a slight tremor, “But the latch string is on the outside.”
The three burly men seemed to fill the space as they crowded in. Eloise noticed their eyes were blood shot.
“Hand over the heretic’s Bible,” the spokesman demanded. “We have heard that your parents purchased one from that wicked bookseller who came into the valley.”
“How we can hide anything in this small abode, “Eloise asked gently, “If ye insist on searching, look for yourselves for my hands are sticky.”
It didn’t take long before everything was upturned and even their straw pallets were slashed open.
“Where are your parents?” Simon demanded.
“They went to visit a dying relative. “She sprinkled some more flour into the mix and continued pressing it with the heels of her hands. It is a good thing that Mama asked me to make a large batch so we would have some to give to the poor and needy, she thought, but one corner of the Bible did want to protrude.
“Did they take it with them?”
“Take what with them?
“The Bible, you imbecile!”
“I trow not. They would not prate around town with such a dangerous item.”
“Simon, we are wasting your time here,” Thomas grabbed him roughly by the shirt. “It’s obvious there are no books of any kind in this humble cottage. We must be going.”
Simon cast one last suspicious glance at Eloise’s pale face before stomping out.
Many hours later Obed returned, his eyes wide with concern. “Where is the Word,” he asked? “I heard they made a search."
“Be careful when you cut the bread,” she answered simply.
www.prairieviewpress.com (Marilyn Friesen)