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The Forbidden (Courtship of Nellie Fisher Series #2)by Beverly Lewis
New York Times best-selling author's continuing tale of a courting couple and the separation of families during an Amish split in Lancaster County. The Courtship of Nellie Fisher book 2.See more details below
New York Times best-selling author's continuing tale of a courting couple and the separation of families during an Amish split in Lancaster County. The Courtship of Nellie Fisher book 2.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.\
Read an ExcerptThe Forbidden
By Beverly M. Lewis
Bethany House Publishers Copyright © 2008 Beverly M. Lewis
All right reserved.
Chapter One Nellie Mae Fisher loaded her newly baked goods onto the long sleigh and covered them with a lightweight tarp before tying everything down securely. She slipped her outer bonnet over her Kapp and breathed lightly as she pulled the sleigh through the backyard, toward the bakery shop behind her father's farmhouse. The January air was frosty, and she pushed the woolen scarf into place to protect her nose.
The expanse of land beyond Nellie's Simple Sweets lay buried beneath a blanket of snow, the unfruitful cornfield of last summer now as white and perfect as any neighboring field. A ridge of tall trees to the west stood stark and forklike against the sky, and only a handful of stray leaves still clung to the maples near the barnyard. Closer in, a few scraggly remnants of cornstalks remained, their reedy stems silhouetted brown against the snow.
Our first Christmas and New Year's ... without Suzy.
Nellie Mae sighed, struck by the way the sky seemed to hold back the daylight behind a barricade of gray-white clouds, hoarding it away, depriving the earth of direct sunlight. She'd heard her father compare the icy ground to iron, telling Mamma quietly that even death itself was not as hard as a field of frozen ground. With recent heavy snows and continuous arctic air, Nellie was certainly glad to have rescued Suzy's diary from the earth well before this cold, long month.
There had been times as children when she and Suzy would wade through waist-deep snow, unbeknownst to Mamma, who would've had a thing or two to say about it had she known. They'd longed for summer's glow during the dark months of the year, just as Rhoda and Nan had. All four sisters had used this selfsame sleigh over the years, pushing through the snow on foot, in search of spring's greenery. Even the sight of dull green lichen on a tree trunk gave cause for rejoicing.
Oh, for spring to hurry!
Nellie opened the door to the snug shop and began unloading the sleigh of the day's inventory of goodies. Immediately, though, she sensed something was amiss, and when she moved behind the counter, there was nineteen-year-old Nan crouched with her best friend, Rebekah Yoder, Caleb's older sister. They rose, streaks of tears on each girl's face, and Nan quickly sputtered, "Ach, but it's just so unfair."
Confused, Nellie shook her head. "What is?"
"Rebekah's father ... well ..." Nan glanced at her friend, who was clearly as upset as she.
Instantly Nellie knew why the pair had been hiding.
Rebekah dabbed her face with a handkerchief. "I'm not supposed to be here," she admitted and sighed loudly. "What with the split between the People, my father's not in favor of certain friendships."
Unable to divulge her own predicament, Nellie simply nodded as Rebekah revealed that her plight was "all the family's, truly." She didn't go on to explain what that meant, but Nellie presumed she was speaking for herself and her brother Caleb, as well as Rebekah's mother, who until these past few months had often given Nellie's mamma rides to and from quilting bees.
Nan suddenly reached for Nellie's hand. "Would it be all right, do ya think, if Rebekah and I met here sometimes to visit?" Nan's eyes were pleading.
Nellie forced a smile. Will I get myself in further trouble with David Yoder, harboring Caleb's sister?
Nan groaned. "Oh, I don't understand why this has to be."
Rebekah's face was taut with worry. "Me neither."
"Even the bishop said no one's to be shunned for followin' Preacher Manny and the new church," Nan reminded.
"Well, you don't know my father, then," Rebekah said. "He'll shun if he wants to."
Nellie's spirits sank like a fallen cake.
"Come." Nan reached for Rebekah's hand and led her toward the door.
Nellie watched them go, not knowing who had her sympathy more-Nan and Rebekah, who were most likely scheming about future ways to visit-or her beau, Caleb.
She turned on the gas-run space heater in the far corner and then removed her coat, scarf, and mittens. Rubbing her hands together, she waited for heat to fill the place. As she did, she walked to the window and stared out at the wintry landscape. Why didn't Caleb send word during Christmas?
"How much longer till he gets his father to see the light?" she blurted into the stillness.
Deep within her, she feared Caleb's longing for his birthright. One hundred acres of fine farmland was nothing to sneeze at, and his father's land was ever so important to him. To her, as well, for it would provide their livelihood as Caleb cared for her needs and those of their future children. He had worried something awful about this when they'd met unexpectedly at the millstream-their last time together. She'd heard in his voice then the hunger for his inheritance. Soon she would know where things stood. After all, Caleb was a man of his word. He'd asked her to marry him and she had happily agreed, but that was before his father had demanded they part ways.
Why should David Yoder keep Rebekah and Nan apart, too?
Having witnessed Rebekah's misery, she worried that David Yoder had more sway over his son and daughter than she'd first believed. What with Rebekah busy working as a mother's helper for another Amish family, she had less opportunity to be influenced by the world than Nellie's sister Rhoda did working at the Kraybills' fancy house. No, Rebekah would most likely join the old church and stay in the fold, just as Nellie would when the time came. Doing so meant Rebekah would also eventually comply with her father's wishes and choose a different best friend, which would hurt Nan terribly.
Turning, Nellie took visual inventory of her baked goods-an ample supply of cookies, cakes, pies, and sticky buns. The bleak reality was that there had been few customers willing to brave the temperatures this week. She'd thought of asking Dat if she ought to close up during the coldest weeks as some shops did in Intercourse Village, although many of those were not Amish owned. Yet Nellie had hesitated to ask-her family needed the extra income from the bakery more than ever this year, due to last summer's drought.
"Right now we look as good as closed," she murmured, eyeing the road and the lack of customers. It was safe to head to the barn to see how Dat's new tables and chairs were coming along.
On her way, she noticed Nan and Rebekah now walking side by side toward Beaver Dam Road, Rebekah's hands gesturing as she talked spiritedly.
Rebekah knows her own mind. At twenty, she would be marrying before long-if not next fall, then the following year. As far as Nellie knew, Rebekah had no serious beau, though, of course, that didn't mean anything. Courting was done secretly, and most couples kept mum.
Glancing over her shoulder, she looked back again at Caleb's sister, graceful and tall even next to willowy Nan. Nellie couldn't help but wonder what the two girls were cooking up, the way they leaned toward each other. For now, at least, their tears had turned to laughter.
Nellie opened the barn door and headed to the area opposite the stable. Her father had carved out a corner there for his business records and occasional woodworking handiwork.
His back was to her as he appeared to scrutinize one of the chair legs, his nose nearly touching the oak. "Hullo, Dat," she said quietly so as not to startle him.
He turned quickly. "Nellie Mae?"
"Not many customers yet ... well, none at all, really. Thought I'd drop in." She paused, aware of his pleasant smile. "Just curious to have a look-see." She pointed at the unfinished chair.
"Two tables are done, but, well, I'm a bit behind on the chairs, as you see." He set the chair down. "You discouraged 'bout the winter months, with so few customers?"
"The pies sit, is all."
He nodded slightly. "Seems winter's got sharper teeth this year, jah?"
She couldn't remember such a long cold snap. "I daresay we'll be eatin' more of those baked goods ourselves if ..." She didn't finish. No need to say what Dat knew.
It wasn't merely the cold that kept folks away. Here lately they were seeing fewer of the families who held steadfast to the teachings of her father's older brother, Bishop Joseph. Uncle Bishop Nellie had always called him-a term both of endearment and reverence. Though the bishop himself had instructed the People not to shun one another because of the church rift, the truth of the matter was clear in the dropping number of customers at Nellie's Simple Sweets. Never had it been so quiet.
Nellie wondered if she'd have to start working for worldly folk, as Rhoda did, upsetting her father even more. Doing so would bring in extra money and help make up the difference for the family in the long run, though it would further jeopardize her chances with Caleb.
"Saw David Yoder's girl over here," Dat spoke up.
Nellie nodded, unwilling to say anything.
"Seems odd, ain't?"
"Jah." She sensed his meaning.
"We'll reap what we sow ... sooner or later."
She inhaled slowly. "'Spect so."
Dat winced openly. "It's a new day in many ways, and there's no tellin' folk what to do. You and I both know that."
She said not a word, for she was unsure now what he was referring to. She suspected he might've had his ears filled with David Yoder's disapproval of Preacher Manny's teaching on "salvation through grace." More than likely that was a big part of it.
Sighing, she figured if Dat suspected Caleb's father of keeping her and Caleb apart, he'd be all for encouraging them to continue courting. Dat was like that. When it came to love-the kind you married for-she was sure he would err on the side of the couple's choice.
"Like I said, people will embrace what they long for, Nellie Mae."
She caught the perceptive glint in her father's eye. He knows I have a beau....
Excerpted from The Forbidden by Beverly M. Lewis Copyright © 2008 by Beverly M. Lewis. Excerpted by permission.
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