Print ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-84-4 ISBN 10: 1-939217-84-9
Elnora!” Samuel’s German accent thickened the English words, giving them a
musical feel. He pointed to the vast expanse that spread out before them. “That’s
what the English call The Pike. Many are traveling west on this very road.”
peeked out from the wagon, her eyes searching the desolate vastness. “So this
is Indiana Territory.” She giggled. “I see, Samuel. Many are traveling this
road.” The lack of fellow wagons was sadly apparent.
Samuel swiveled on the driver’s seat to look at his wife. “Perhaps they have
already passed for the day.”
already miss Canada,” Heloise Graber whispered when Elnora turned back toward
her. “But not as much as I miss Germany.” Heloise patted the back of her boy,
Joseph, who was snuggled down in the cornflower blue quilt Elnora had stitched
just for him.
looked lovingly at her son. “At only two years of age he has already crossed an
ocean and three countries.”
face fell as her hand fluttered to her still-flat stomach.
the older of the two friends, smiled. “Your time to become a mother is coming.
God has a special plan for you and Samuel, I can feel it.”
lips pulled back in a genuine smile. “I must say, the weather is more agreeable
in Indiana Territory than Canada. I may pack the extra quilts when we stop to
rest.” She swiped at a trickle of sweat as it slid down her nose.
do no such thing!” Heloise placed one long, thin hand on an especially fluffy
blue quilt. “It may be a trifle warm, but pass those blankets over here. I’ll
sit on them, they ease the rickety ride.” The women dissolved into a sea of girlish
giggles. “Yours are the softest quilts of anyone else’s in the village.”
them with you when we swap wagons,” Elnora offered her fiery-tressed friend.
shook her head, the straps on her black head covering flailing about her
shoulders. “It’s not the same,” she insisted. “Part of what makes Elnora
Stoll’s quilts so soft is the wonderful company that comes along with them.”
quick yank on the horse reins interrupted Heloise’s compliment.
is that what I think it is?” he called to Heloise’s husband in the next wagon.
two women stared at each other, eyes wide.
Lucas called. “Ja, it is!”
Elnora could pull herself up to see the cause of the commotion, Samuel was off
the driver’s seat. She peeked out to see the menfolk piling out of all the
wagons. Lucas was even with Samuel, holding his hat on with one hand, and
pumping the air with the other. Simon Wagler stumbled as he ran, fumbling with
the black braces that looped over his shoulders and held up his britches. His
wife, Sarah, nuzzled their infant Elijah, who’d let out a shriek with the
sudden stop. Isaac Raber pulled on his broad-brimmed hat as Jeremiah Knepp,
Simeon Odon, and Abraham Yoder pulled their wagons to a halt in a haphazard
line. In an instant, all of the men of families who’d come so far together were
running toward the remnants of an English wagon.
of the torn canvas fluttered in a passing breeze and the box itself lay on its
side, looking as though it had rolled off The Pike. Blood spatters dotted the ground
around the silvery dust that refused to settle around the scene. Splintered
wheels hung broken and unmoving from the axels. Beyond Samuel, she could make
out the remains of a horse just over a small rise. Automatically, Elnora
searched for any sign of the tell-tale arrows she’d heard so much talk of during
their journey to Indian Territory. Trembling, she drew a fist to her mouth as a
prayer of forgiveness for judging those she didn’t even know filled her mind.
voice was solemn, as if in prayer. “God be with them.”
men’s chatter, broken by the shifting breezes, allowed her only fragments of
their hurried conversation. Lucas’s voice was the loudest. “No survivors.”
Slowly, the large German-born man trudged back to his wagon without so much as
a glance toward Elnora and Heloise. Without expression, Lucas rummaged only a
moment before pulling the hand-hewn spade from the wagon bed and started back
not to snag her handmade purple dress on the rough wood, Elnora climbed down and
made her way to the crash. She didn’t speak until she reached her husband, who
took the spade from Lucas as he passed. Not a word passed between the two men,
but it was as though they were of a single mind. Without hesitation, Samuel dug
the sharp end of the spade into the earth, oblivious to his wife’s presence. Spadeful
by spadeful, the grave dirt he turned became a small mound at his feet.
swiped at the trails of sweat that leaked from under his broad-brimmed hat,
down his neck. Beneath his arms, circles of moisture had long-stained his
favorite blue shirt. Elnora’s lips tilted into a smile at the memory of their
first anniversary, when she’d given him the shirt she’d made for him that
matched his eyes. He had pretended not to notice that one sleeve was just a bit
shorter than the other. Two years have
passed since that day, and we’re still without child…
Elnora spoke, her voice but a meek whisper. “May I tidy them before their
turned, revealing more fully the scene of death they’d encountered.
stomach wound up in knots at the sight of the mangled, crimson-streaked arm
that reached lifelessly from behind the overturned wagon, the blackness of
death already visible on the fingers. A crumpled bag, obviously store bought,
lay near the bloodied arm which eerily pointed at a rainbow of quilting squares
that trailed the barren earth. Dipping, Elnora retrieved a bright blue square that
would never become a quilt to warm a babe.
rested Lucas’ spade against his leg and offered a downcast smile to his wife.
he could speak, a shrill cry broke the solemn silence.
out of place as the cry was among the sea of death, Elnora recognized the sound
in an instant. An infant’s cry. Eyes searching the terrain, her gaze fixed on a
lone, scrubby bush. A wail pierced the air again. Tucking the English square
deep into her dress pocket, Elnora reached the bush in a moment, her hands
clawing and searching through the summer leaf litter. Finally, something warm
brushed her fingertips.
the English baby in her arms, Elnora rose to face the throng of women who had
gathered to witness the unfolding miracle. “It’s a girl,” she proclaimed.
Wagler’s mouth hung agape as she bounced Elijah absently on her hip, and the other Amish wives and mothers from the
wagon train allowed tiny smiles to creep onto their solemn lips. Even the men
awestruck voice was uncharacteristically robust. “Not a scratch on her! Not a
bruise, not a drop of blood!”
toting wide-eyed Joseph in her arms, stepped forward to get a better look.
voice took on the soft shushing of a new mother as she rocked the squirming
infant. “Hush now, sweet one. You’re safe now.”
a natural,” Heloise observed, a twinkle in her eyes. “Look how she’s already
calming. She feels safe.”
is safe, Elnora thought, unable to tear her gaze from the tiny girl. Safe
with me. Safe with us. “Come,” Heloise whispered. “Get her to the
wagon and out of this sun.”
her blue eyes also transfixed on the English baby. “It’s a miracle she wasn’t
injured … or worse.”
boiled for Katie and Annie,” Katherine Knepp cooed as she and the other women
joined them. “This little one must eat.”
girl clothes she can have.” Dinah Yoder placed her arm around Esther’s
shoulders. The memory of Esther’s hard labor on the trail that had resulted in
a stillborn baby girl was a raw one in all the women’s minds.
you. Thank you all.”