A Marriage of the Heart

A Marriage of the Heart by Kelly Long

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Authors: Kelly Long
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about the kitchen bringing various salves and herbs to where Rose sat holding the child at the table.
    “Teakettle’s always on the boil when you’re a bishop’s wife. Now let’s make a little tent with this cloth and get her face as near to the steam and herbs as possible. The menthol and peppermint oil act like bronchodilators. Fancy word for opening the airways. That’s it. Breathe it in, little one.”
    The kitchen was quiet as the child’s breathing slowly eased. Within minutes, Ally opened eyes and then coughed heartily, trying to pull back from the steam.
    “No,” Rose crooned, gently holding back the small hands. “Just be still, Ally. It will help you breathe.”
    In another ten minutes the asthma attack was under control. Everyone sat drained and silent for a moment when Mrs. Ebersol eased the teakettle away.
    “What you folks need is some hot chocolate,” the bishop’s wife announced, tightening the belt of her voluminous housecoat. She rose from Ally’s side and laid a reassuring hand on Sylvia’s shoulder. “It’s all right now.”
    She and the bishop moved about the kitchen with the accordof those long married, and soon steaming mugs of cocoa were placed on the table. Rose gave Ally back to Sylvia to hold when the child fussed for a drink.
    “Let her have a sip,” Mrs. Ebersol suggested. “Is your car somewhere about? You’re welcome to stay here for the night. Perhaps Luke and the bishop might bring in your things.”
    Sylvia raised a worried gaze to Luke and Rose. “I—I don’t have a car.”
    Luke rose to his feet. “Bishop Ebersol,” he said clearly. “Might we talk for a few minutes in private?”
    “ Ya , certainly. Come this way.”
    The bishop lifted a lamp, and Rose met Luke’s shuttered gaze as she began to pray for him and the words he might feel convicted to say.

Chapter Twenty-Four

    T HE NEXT DAY WAS CHURCH SERVICE, AND BEYOND DRIVING her home and telling her that he would speak at the end of the service, Luke didn’t go into what he and the bishop had discussed. Rose felt it within her spirit that it was not a time to question, so she went quietly to bed.
    “What was all the ruckus last night?” her mamm asked when Rose entered the kitchen the next morning. “I thought you and Luke might have been having an argument.”
    Rose sighed. She’d decided last night that the next time she was asked a direct question about what had been going on lately that she would give a direct answer. She found herself telling her mamm , and the rest of the family as they entered for breakfast, about Sylvia and the children.
    Her father pointed with his forked bacon. “You mean to say that Luke has been the Rob in the . . . the thief hereabouts?”
    Rose shrugged. “For a cause.”
    Her daed considered. “Well, Bishop Ebersol’s a wise man;he’ll handle it all right. But you, young lady, had no business out in those woods alone.”
    Rose was struck by a sudden inspiration. “I did say that your thief might be female, Daed . Perhaps I just had to prove my point.”
    Her daed stared at her, then laughed aloud as she’d hoped he would. Her brothers joined in reluctantly. Even her mamm and Aenti Tabby smiled.
    So they went in good spirits to the buggies and on to church, which was being held at the Lamberts’ that morning. Joseph Lambert greeted them with a warm smile at the door.
    Rose hoped that her marriage might go as well as that of Joseph and Abby. Abby Lambert certainly looked happy as she sat in the married women’s section, her stomach rounded with obvious pregnancy. Rose pushed aside the thought of carrying Luke’s child and made her way to sit down next to Priscilla. Rose squeezed her friend’s hand and decided that Priscilla was looking better, though still too pale, as the wedding loomed.
    Then the service began, and Rose was lost in the ancient soothing rhythm of the hymns and the message of Scripture. Then, at last, when she thought Luke must have been mistaken

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