A Quilt for Jenna

A Quilt for Jenna by Patrick E. Craig Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: A Quilt for Jenna by Patrick E. Craig Read Free Book Online
Authors: Patrick E. Craig
they had on her. She was bothered that someone of the opposite sex could command her thoughts the way he did, for she had kept herself apart from the company of young men, even at the Sunday night singings, where discrete courtship was encouraged for young people past the age of sixteen.
    Jerusha had no interest in marriage. Her life was centered in her family, the dawn-to-dusk work of a farmer’s daughter, and quilting. As a result, this newcomer’s constant intrusion into her thoughts was aggravating. Yet she also found her heart being stirred in a way she had never known before. She remembered the smile hidden behind his stern eyes, the breadth of his shoulders, and the easy, confident way he carried himself. Jerusha was not a young woman without passion and had experienced moments of deep love and wonder in her young life—for her family, for her God, for the beauty of a sunset, for her grandmother. But these feelings she had when she thought of Reuben were unlike anything she had ever known. In one moment they were deep and still, like her father’s millpond at sunset, and the next minute they would carry her over rushing rapids, tumbling her thoughts and shaking the very foundations of her emotions.
    And so it was that she was lost in reverie as she walked the familiar path into the village to visit the store, not paying attention to what was going on around her.
    â€œWell, here’s one of them Amish gals,” said a thick voice, startling her. Ahead of her on the path stood two men, one holding a half-empty bottle in his hand.
    â€œAnd a mighty pretty one at that,” said the second man.
    The first man stepped forward into Jerusha’s path. He towered over her, his eyes bloodshot and his face grizzled with several days’ growth of beard.
    â€œThey told us over in Indiana that there was some holy gals out here, unspoiled, so to speak,” the first man said. “But we didn’t reckon they was as pretty as you.” He leered at Jerusha with a sly grin.
    â€œPlease excuse me so I can go about my business,” Jerusha said, uncertainty in her voice.
    â€œWell, we was thinking we might go about some business with you, say...in those trees over there. Just a few minutes of your time, and then we’ll be on our way. What say you?” As he spoke he reached out and caught Jerusha by the arm.
    The second man, who was small and thin, had edged around behind her and suddenly clapped his hand over her mouth. “Like he said, just a few minutes of your time, darlin’,” he whispered thickly in her ear, “and then we’ll be off. We’ll never tell, and you can keep your secret. It’s mighty lonesome out on the road, and we’re in great need of some female companionship.” His breath was foul, and he began to paw at her, his filthy hand fumbling at the snaps of her dress.
    Jerusha tried to scream, but the man tightened his grip on her mouth. She struggled in his grasp, but he was too strong for her. She bit down on his hand as hard as she could and tasted his blood in her mouth.
    â€œOwee! She’s a spitfire!”
    â€œHold her. I’ll quiet her down,” the first man said. He drew back his fist, but suddenly there was a thud , and he seemed to disappear. The second man suddenly loosened his grip on Jerusha and turned away from her. Jerusha collapsed to the ground, gasping for breath. There was a series of cracking sounds, another thud , and then quiet. A gentle hand touched her shoulder.
    â€œCome along, little Miss Quilter,” said a familiar voice. She looked up into Reuben Springer’s face. Behind his blue eyes she saw the same smile she had seen before.
    â€œBut those men,” she gasped. “They...they wanted to...”
    â€œThey appear to be taking a little nap, so that’s probably the last thing on their minds right now.”
    Jerusha looked behind her and saw the two men stretched out along the

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