A Lady in Defiance
Book One By Heather Frey Blanton
Copyright 2012 Heather Blanton
Hannah tried for one last glance up at the window where she had seen the girls but as they pulled away, the wagon’s bonnet blocked it. She settled back down in her seat, scratching at her waist, and pondered Defiance. The town terrified her. Even so, she could see past the wanton lust, the drunkenness, the false bravado exhibited so perfectly in their “welcoming committee.” Against her better judgment, she looked into the sea of faces and met the bold stares. Looking deeper, she saw emptiness, loneliness, hopelessness. Like their clothes, threadbare and worn, so were their souls. [HANNAH ISN’T PERFECT, BUT HER ONE, HUGE, LIFE-CHANGING “MISTAKE” TURNS OUT TO BE WHAT ALLOWS HER TO GIVE SO MUCH GRACE. SHE IS THE CHRISTIAN I WANT TO BE.]
How could she know that? How could she sense it so perfectly?
Hannah also knew, however, that once word was out about the baby, these people would probably be more vicious than her “friends” back home had been.
Her memories of Sunday afternoon picnics, summer nights sitting on the front porch with Momma and Daddy, even the sweeter remembrances of Billy, had been shoved to the background because of that one, humiliating night in church. The thought of home now conjured up, in exquisite detail, the shame of confessing her sin before her congregation and the resulting torrential rain of judgment.
“She is young; she made a mistake.”
“Young and loose it sounds like!”
“She’s asking for forgiveness!”
Hannah squeezed her eyes shut as if that would silence the voices in her head.
“We can’t turn her out! It wouldn’t be right.”
“We certainly cannot have her teaching our children in Sunday school.”
“This should have never happened in the first place.”
“We can’t be seen as condoning this situation.”
At her lowest point, when she was raw and bleeding from the verbal lashing, God had reminded her that she was not alone nor was she forsaken. She was forgiven. That thought on its own had made it possible for her to walk out of church instead of crawl.
The wagon lurched; Rebecca gasped and Hannah’s eyes flew open. A man had leaped up on the step, pulling himself to within inches of Naomi. Spackled with mud and smelling like sweat, rotten food and alcohol, her sister winced as this new troublemaker removed his shoddy brown bowler in a grand, sweeping gesture. With the slurred Irish accent of a proficient drunkard, he announced, “Ladies, I am Grady O’Banion. Allow me to welcome ye to Defiance.”
Naomi recoiled at his breath and scowled menacingly. “We’ve had enough of this town’s welcome. Now, get off our wagon.”
The man’s drunken countenance changed instantly, darkening to a more threatening expression. “Ye need to learn some manners, missy,” he growled, reaching out and grabbing hold of Naomi’s wrist.
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