Currently viewing the tag: "Caleb Sachs"

written by James Rada, Jr.

A new serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

6: A Life to Live

Margaret Rosensteel walked home to the family farm west of Emmitsburg. She walked in a daze, stunned at what Mrs. Sachs had said to her about not being able to see Caleb Sachs. How could Caleb’s mother say Margaret wasn’t good enough for her son? Margaret was a good person. She and Caleb were just friends. Well, maybe there was more there, but they hadn’t explored the possibility. They hadn’t the chance. Everyone was against them. Did they see something between her and Caleb that they didn’t see?

Margaret hadn’t taken an interest in a boy in quite a while. She avoided those feelings. Her interest in Caleb had just snuck up on her, but it seemed like she wasn’t the only one with a destiny, at least according to Mrs. Sachs.

Dinner was quiet. No one said much except for the younger children. Margaret’s parents kept looking at each other. After dinner was finished and the dishes washed, Margaret’s parents called her into the parlor.

“We need to talk to you about a decision we’ve made,” Samuel Rosensteel said. Margaret’s mother laid a hand on her husband’s shoulder. “But first, we want you to know that we think nothing inappropriate happened.”

Inappropriate? So were her parents now going to come out against her and Caleb?

Her father said, “That’s right. We know you’re a good girl, but nothing can come of this relationship between you and Caleb Sachs.”

“What relationship?” Margaret asked. “I admit I like him, but we only met for the first time at the dance.”

“Well, that’s fine. Then this shouldn’t be a problem for you. Your life has been committed to God, so we have decided to send you to the sisters early.”

Margaret jumped up. “What?”

“You are getting to the age where boys can turn your head. Your brothers and sisters certainly seem to think you’ve taken an interest in Caleb. Sending you away now will avoid that problem.”

Margaret nodded. “I understand… but I’m not sure I want to go.”

“That’s why we’re sending you away. You’re letting your emotions get the better of you.”

Margaret shook her head. She stood up and left the house for a second time today without a word. Outside, she ran off into the fields. She didn’t know where she was going. She didn’t care. She just wanted to get away.

When she tired of running, she started walking until she reached Gettysburg Road. She turned south and headed into town. She saw St. Joseph’s Church and went inside.

It was dim, except near the front of the church where candles burned. She walked up to the first pew, genuflected, and slid into the seat. Then she bowed her head and prayed. She needed help. She didn’t understand what was going on, not with Caleb, not with everyone else. What should she do?

Rosa Sachs walked upstairs to Caleb’s bedroom. He was sitting on the edge of his bed, staring out his window. He wasn’t looking at anything in the street, just staring off into the distance.

“Caleb, how are you feeling?” Rosa asked.

Caleb looked over his shoulder. “I’m sore, but I’ll be fine.”

“We should call the sheriff.”

“Why? I don’t know who did this to me.”

“I think you do.” She paused. “Even so, I know who they were. We can’t go around letting men beat up children.”

“How do you know?”

“That girl you’re mooning over came to see how you were.”

Caleb stood up. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because she’s not the girl for you. I told her the same thing I told you. She’s not Jewish, so she won’t be marrying you.”

Caleb shook his head. “You’re putting the cart before the horse.”

“I am not.”

“I don’t know what life has in store for me. It’s not like I’m on a train going along a fixed path where the destination is the most important thing. I want to enjoy the journey and explore my life.”

His mother scoffed. “And you want to explore it with that girl? She’ll lead you in the wrong direction.”

“How do you know that? How do you know what my life is going to be? It’s my life, and I don’t know. You’re no better than her brothers. They tried to scare me off. You tried to scare her off. What is everyone so afraid of? That we’ll be happy?”

“Happy? You will be miserable. Both of you. That’s what we want to help you avoid,” Rosa said.

“I like her. I like her a lot. I want to spend time with her. I don’t know if I love her, but I suspect I might. If not now, certainly in the future.”

“And what has that brought you? A beating. Arguments with your mother who loves you.”

“Neither of which I caused.”

He sat back down and stared back out the window. Rosa stared at him for a few moments more and then turned and left.

Caleb walked into a church for the first time. Only a few people filled the pews, and he quickly found Margaret near the front. He walked up the aisle and sat down next to her. He said nothing because it looked like she was praying.

She finished and looked up.

“Caleb, what are you doing here?”

“I figured you might be here after what my mother said to you.”

Margaret frowned. “Not just her. My parents want to send me to sisters early.”

“Because of me?”

She nodded. “Are we wrong?”

“Does it feel wrong?”

She shook her head. “No.”

He took her hand in his. “Then I don’t think it’s wrong. It’s not easy, but no one has had it easy since Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden.”

“But everything is so confusing now. It seems like everyone is against us.”

She leaned her head on his shoulder.

“I saw you praying,” Caleb said. “Did it help?”

“Not yet.”

“I want you to know that I won’t hold you back from your promise, but while you’re still free, I want to be with you and get to know you better. I want to have lots of wonderful memories to look back on and comfort me after you leave.”

“But it would break my heart,” Margaret said.

“And mine, too. I think that will tell me it’s worth it. If you were to leave, and I felt nothing, it would be like I had nothing invested in our relationship. I’m willing to hurt for a long time if it means I can be truly happy for a short time with you.”

She stared at him, her eyes glistening with tears. She nodded. “Yes.”

He smiled. Then he leaned down and kissed her. He pulled back, smiling.

“I said what I needed to say. I’ll leave you to your praying now,” Caleb told her.

He got up and left the church.

Father Harmon stood up from the pew where he had been sitting and doing his own praying. He walked over to where Margaret sat. She looked up, a bit startled.

“Forgive me, Margaret. I didn’t want to intrude.”

“You heard me talking with Caleb?”

He nodded. “Yes. Well, the young man has stated his intentions. Now the decision is yours.”

“What should I do?”

He motioned to the pew. “May I sit?”

“Please.”

The priest sat down and leaned against the back of the pew. “You have two admirable choices: Become a Daughter of Charity and be married to God or become a wife and raise a family in faith.”

“We haven’t talked about marriage. We barely know each other.”

“That may be true, but if it is, why does the decision trouble you? Your choice would be between an honorable life of service and a relationship you don’t think will last.”

“I don’t know how my life will be if I stay for him, but I do know what it will be like with the sisters.”

Father Harmon nodded. “Do you believe in Jesus?”

“Yes, Father, of course.”

“Well, he was a Jew. So loving a Jew must not be a sin, and I know your particular Jew. He is a good boy from a good family. If you were not committed to the sisters, your family might not worry.”

“But his family…”

Father Martin nodded. “Yes, that could be a problem, but those types of problems often resolve themselves, particularly when grandchildren come along.”

Margaret gasped. “Father, you have me married with children, and I don’t even know if I love him.”

“Then you need to decide that.”

“But would it be fair to get involved with him and then leave him?”

“Would it be fair to commit yourself to the Daughters with unresolved feelings? You must make that decision. That is why we are given life on earth, to make decisions and hopefully make the correct ones.”

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Our pets love being with us all the time, even when it’s hot and uncomfortable for them outside. They will never complain! So, let’s make sure we keep them safe and happy outdoors during the summer.

written by James Rada, Jr.

A new serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

5: Warnings

Caleb Sachs could see Emmitsburg in the distance as he drove his wagon along the dirt road. He’d spent the day making deliveries for this father to some farmers outside of town. His father offered the service, but it fell on Caleb to make the deliveries when the orders came in.

Caleb didn’t mind it so much on a day like today, warm and sunny. It was the wintry days or rainy ones that made him miserable, although he doubted much could have made him miserable today.

He was head over heels… what? In love? He wasn’t sure about that, but he definitely liked Margaret Rosensteel more than any other girl he had ever met. She understood what he was feeling, and she had had a great sense of humor. It didn’t hurt that she was also pretty.

He was so lost in his thoughts, he let the horses drive themselves back to town.

Two men on horses rode up on either side of the wagon and stopped the horses.

“What’s going on?” Caleb said. Then he recognized the two men as Margaret’s older brothers, Jack and Paul Rosensteel.

“We need to talk,” Jack said.

“Then ride along beside me. I need to get home,” Caleb replied.

The older men didn’t let go of Caleb’s horse, nor did they start walking alongside the wagon.

“People saw you and Margaret on the hill north of town yesterday,” Jack said.

Caleb shrugged. “So? We did nothing wrong. We were right out in the open where anyone could see us.”

“You need to stay away from her,” Paul said. “She has bigger plans for this life than being with a cheating shopkeeper’s son.”

Caleb wasn’t sure what angered him more: that these men had called his father a cheater or that they thought Caleb wasn’t good enough for their sister.

“I’d say that’s for Margaret and me to decide. It’s none of your business.” He picked up the reins and clucked at the horses, but the Rosensteel brothers held onto them.

“She’s our sister, so that makes it our business,” Paul told him.

“I’m not talking about this with you,” Caleb said. “Now let go of my horses.”

Jack poked Caleb in the shoulder. “We aren’t going to talk with you about it. We’re warning you. Stay away from Margaret.” He poked Caleb again, and Caleb knocked the hand aside.

“Get out of my way,” he said.

Caleb reached out to slap Paul’s horse on the rump so that Caleb could get the wagon moving. Paul grabbed his arm and yanked, pulling Caleb off the wagon. Caleb fell onto the road as Paul laughed. Caleb jumped up and pulled the bigger man off his horse.

“Not so funny now, is it?” Caleb said.

Jack rode his horse around the wagon and kicked Caleb, sending him sprawling. Then he jumped from the horse. Jack grabbed Caleb by the shirt and punched him in the stomach and the face.

“Some people just have to learn the hard way,” Jack said.

Paul jumped up and landed a few punches of his own. Caleb tried to defend himself, but these men were taller and heavier than he was. He hit back, but his punches didn’t seem to hurt them. They pounded him to the ground, and Caleb rolled under the wagon to shield himself.

The brothers mounted their horses, and Jack said, “You’ll get more of that if you don’t leave her alone.”

Then they rode off.

Caleb hoped he could sneak in the back of the store and up to his room before anyone saw him. His mother happened to be retrieving something in the back room when he came in.

“Caleb! What happened?” She rushed over to him. “Are you all right? Do you need a doctor?”

Caleb shook his head. “I’m fine, Mother. I just came out on the wrong end of a fight.”

“A fight! Why were you fighting? With whom?”

She grabbed a towel off the shelf. She pumped water into the sink, then soaked the cloth, wrung it out, and wiped at Caleb’s face.

He tried to shake off her ministrations. “It doesn’t matter. I just want to lie down for a little while.”

He could name Jack and Paul as his attackers. What good would it accomplish? They might get in trouble, but how would that make Margaret feel? Word would get out about him and Margaret, and it might damage her reputation or get her in trouble with her father.

“Who were you fighting?” his mother asked.

“It doesn’t matter. Some of the boys were roughhousing, and things just got out of hand. I landed my own punches.”

He hadn’t, but it made him sound like he was just as much to blame. His mother couldn’t get his attackers in trouble without getting him in trouble.

He walked upstairs, holding the towel to his face.

Margaret was kneading dough in the kitchen when her brothers came in. They were in a good mood, laughing and kissing their wives on the cheeks. They washed their hands in the sink and sat down at the table.

“You will not have to worry about that Jew boy distracting you from your calling anymore,” Paul said.

Jack elbowed his brother and glared at him.

Margaret paused. This did not sound good. “What are you talking about?”

Jack and Paul looked at each other.

“You might as well tell her. You let the cat out of the bag,” Jack said.

Paul grinned. “We gave Caleb Sachs a message to leave you alone. I think he understood.”

Margaret hefted the dough and considered throwing it at her brothers. “What did you do?”

Jack shrugged. “Nothing permanent.”

Margaret remembered how her brothers had handled the situation with Caleb’s friends at the dance. They were too eager to fight. She slapped the dough onto the table. Then she washed her hands and pulled off her apron.

“You’re not done yet,” her mother said.

“I need to go into town,” Margaret told her.

Paul said, “Don’t let her go, Mother.”

Margaret spun around. “If you did what I think you did, you had better hope the sheriff doesn’t come for you.”

“What are you talking about?” her mother asked.

“I think they beat Caleb up like they did to his friends at dance.”

“Oh, Margaret, they’re grown, married men. They know better than that.”

Margaret rolled her eyes. “Didn’t you hear what I said, Mother? They beat up Caleb’s friends at the dance. They like to fight.”

She hurried out of the house and nearly ran to town. Margaret found the store on West Main Street and walked through the door. She saw a middle-aged woman behind the counter. She must have been Caleb’s mother.

“Hello, I’m looking for Caleb,” Margaret said.

“He can’t see anyone right now.”

“I wanted to see if he was all right.”

“All right? What do you know about what happened to him?” Mrs. Sachs asked.

“Nothing for sure, but I think my brothers may have attacked him.”

“Who are you?”

“Margaret Rosensteel.”

Mrs. Sachs nodded. “Let me guess. You’re the girl who Caleb has been so interested in?”

“We met at the dance Friday.”

“I definitely do not agree with what your brothers did, but they were right in one respect: You and my Caleb can’t be together.”

Margaret felt her cheeks redden. “We’re not together.”

“Yet. Your brothers must see it in you. I can see it in Caleb. There’s more than a healthy interest. Look at what happened to him because of you. I’m sure you are a very nice girl, but you aren’t Jewish.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing except that your children would not be Jewish. When Caleb marries, it will be to an appropriate woman. Now I think you had better go.”

Margaret’s shoulders sagged. She had thought it was only her family that wanted to keep her and Caleb apart. Was what she and Caleb wanted so wrong?

…to be continued next month

written by James Rada, Jr.

4: Feuding

Margaret Rosensteel had been enjoying a magical evening at the town dance in Emmitsburg before everything fell apart. The decorations hung from buildings and strung over the street had been lovely. The weather was warm and pleasant. All the practicing the band had done paid off because they sounded wonderful.

She had danced, which she loved doing, but rarely got to do because her parents thought a future Daughter of Charity should be more serious. And she had met a boy. Not just any boy, either. This one liked her, not because he thought she was cute. He had loved her personality before he ever met her. He had seen her dancing and thought it suited her.

They had danced together, and after that initial uneasiness, they had felt comfortable with each other. She hadn’t restrained her enthusiasm for dancing, which had only made Caleb Sachs smile.

Then, her brothers and Caleb’s friends had gotten into an argument and spoiled the whole evening for her. Caleb had gone to see what was happening with his friends and had gotten swept up in a fight.

Wasn’t that just like boys?

Margaret and her sister Rebecca had left, and Margaret had felt like crying.

Margaret felt no better when she woke up the next morning. She poured water into her basin and washed off, making sure to remove the remains of the makeup she had worn last night. Otherwise, her parents were sure to comment on it. She dressed and went downstairs for breakfast.

Her brothers, Jack and Paul, were sitting at the table talking to her father. What were they doing here? They had their own homes and wives. They all went quiet when she came down. That wasn’t a good sign.

“So did you fight any other children last night?” Margaret said.

“They weren’t children,” Jack said.

“They were my age, and you two are both over twenty. You two looked ridiculous last night.”

“They were spiking the punch,” Paul said.

“Then you should have got their parents and made sure only the adults drank the punch. The last I saw last night was you rolling in cherry pie and yellow cake.”

Jack blushed. Paul colored, too, but he was getting angry.

“I didn’t mean for that to happen, but we didn’t start the fight,” Jack said.

“I was having a wonderful time until you two ruined it.”

“And why were you having such a wonderful time? Was it that boy you were dancing with? It was his friends that caused the problem.”

“From what I saw, Caleb tried to calm things down and you all caught him in the middle. He was acting more like an adult than either of you.”

“Well, your beau is the son of the shopkeeper that is always overcharging us,” Paul said.

Caleb was a shopkeeper’s son. Well, that was a little more she now knew about him.

“If his father overcharges you, then why do you buy from him?” she asked.

“Well, he’s the only one in town who carries some of the things we like.”

“Then how do you know he’s overcharging?”

“Because clothes shouldn’t cost what he charges.”

“I thought you said he sold things other merchants didn’t,” Margaret said. “Everyone sells clothes.”

Paul shook his head. “Sarah likes the fabrics Mrs. Sachs sells. We tried getting them other places, but no one carries them. We’d have to go to Baltimore or Frederick.” Sarah was Paul’s wife.

Samuel Rosensteel stood. “Enough of this arguing. You all are acting like you did when you were in grade school.

“Sorry, Papa,” they all murmured.

“I’ve already spoken to your brothers about their behavior last night, and I’m sure I’ll be hearing plenty more at church tomorrow. What concerns me now is this boy you were dancing with.”

“I danced with three boys, including Caleb,” Margaret said, sounding more defensive than she meant to.

“Apparently only one of them caught your attention enough that both your brothers and Rebecca remarked on it.”

Had her happiness last night been so obvious? What had she been doing that gave away her feelings?

“Let me remind you, Margaret, boys are not for you. Next year, you will become a Daughter of Charity.”

“I know, Papa, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have fun now.”

“It’s what that fun can lead to that I’m concerned about. You need to be preparing yourself for your future.”

“Why must I be reminded about my future all the time? It keeps me from enjoying my life now. I just want to be a girl for a little while longer.”

“You will be when you’re a sister.”

Margaret shook her head. “No, I’ll be a sister, and everyone will treat me differently and expect me to behave in a certain way.”

“You should be proud to be a Daughter of Charity. It’s a sacred calling.”

“But I didn’t get the calling. You did.”

She turned and ran out the back door, ignoring her father calling behind her. She ran until she reached the road, and then she walked toward Emmitsburg.

Her father was sure to scold her when she returned home. She needed to make sure she calmed down before she did, or she might get into an argument with him. She looked around and found herself where she had been dancing yesterday morning…where Caleb had first seen her.

He had watched her dance, and she hadn’t even realized it. She didn’t feel like dancing today. Such a difference in just a day. Even half a day because she had started out last night so happy.

As she crested the hill, she saw Caleb sitting on the ground and staring back into town.

“Caleb,” she said.

He turned his head. He saw her and waved. “I was hoping you might come,” he said.

She walked over and sat down next to him.

“Are you all right?”

He chuckled. “Yes. I just got knocked down. No one hit me. They were aiming at each other.”

“Two of them were my brothers.”

“Two of them were my friends.” He paused. “So, are your brothers angry?”

“Yes.”

He sighed. “My father caught me coming in last night. He wasn’t too happy I went out.”

“Why?”

“I’m Jewish. Friday night starts the Sabbath for us. It would be like you going to a dance on Sunday.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

Caleb smiled at her. “It was worth it. I got to meet you.”

Margaret sighed. “Why can’t things be simple?”

“Because we’d never learn if they were, and we would never appreciate the times things were simple.”

“That makes little sense.”

“Sure it does.” He lay on his back. “Here, lay back.”

Margaret copied him. He pointed to the sky.

“What do you see?

“Clouds.”

“I see a horse.” He pointed to one cloud. “And over there, I see a funny face.”

“Oh, you are trying to see shapes in the clouds.”

Caleb nodded. “You dance. I stare at clouds. We both have our ways of relaxing.”

“So, if I cloud-watch with you, will you dance on the hill with me without any music?”

“In a minuet.”

Margaret laughed at the pun and felt some of the tension drain out of her. She pointed at the sky.

“I see the sun.”

“That is the sun.”

Now, it was Caleb’s turn to laugh at her joke. When she lowered her hand, she found Caleb’s and held it lightly.

A serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

3: the dance

Caleb Sachs opened the rear door to the store and stepped onto the porch. He had been careful not to make any noise coming down the stairs from the second floor where he and his family lived above the family store in Emmitsburg. He was equally careful not to make a sound shutting the door.

He hurried around the brick building to Main Street and headed for the town square. Lanterns hung from ropes strung between buildings to light up the square. Tables filled with punch, cakes, cookies, and pies lined the edge of the square. A five-piece band was set up in one corner playing “The Rare Old Mountain Dew.” Some couples danced in the streets while the rest of the townspeople milled around off to the sides. More than 800 people lived in Emmitsburg, and Caleb guessed that at least 200 of them were at the dance.

He saw Peter Wilhide and Thomas Baker sitting at one of the tables eating pie. Caleb dodged between the dancers and made his way across the square. He cut himself a slice of pie and sat down next to his friends.

“I didn’t think your parents would let you come,” Thomas said.

Caleb grinned. “I told them I was going to bed, and then I snuck past them.”

“And they won’t check on you?”

“I stuffed a pillow under my blanket. It should work if they don’t look too close,” Caleb told them. His friends laughed. “So anything interesting happen yet?”

“Not yet, but people are still showing up,” Peter said. “I brought something to make things fun, though.” He opened his jacket and Caleb saw the top of a bottle of liquor sticking over the top of the inside pocket.

“Is that for us?” Caleb asked.

“Some of it, but most of it is going to end up in one of the punch bowls.”

Caleb ate pie and looked out over the crowd. The band sounded good. He guessed the crowd was split about half and half between teenagers and adults.

“Are you going to dance tonight?” Caleb asked his friends.

“It depends on who shows up,” Peter said.

“I really want to dance with Becky Everett, but she is only interested in Luke,” Thomas said. Luke Wilhide was Peter’s older brother.

“Well, if we get too bored, we can always grab a cake and sneak away with Peter’s bottle.”

Caleb looked across the square and saw two girls come in from the west. One was blonde and slim. The other had darker hair and a fuller figure than the blonde. Caleb didn’t know them, but they were around his age, and they were attractive.

He watched them walk over to a couple they obviously knew. The man was a couple of years older than Caleb, as was the woman he was with.

Caleb stared at the blonde. She looked familiar, but he knew he didn’t know her. He would have remembered her if he had seen her at school, unless she went to the Catholic school. She might also be visiting from out of town. That still didn’t explain why he felt he knew her.

As if feeling his stare on her, the girl looked up and Caleb saw her pale blue eyes even though she was across the square. She smiled at him, which caused him to grin like a fool. Then Peter elbowed him, causing him to look away. When he looked at her again, she was talking to the older man again.

“You guys may want to sit around eating, but I came to meet girls,” Caleb said. “I’m going to dance.”

He stood up and headed across Main Street to ask the girl with the pale-blue eyes to dance. He wasn’t even halfway there before another guy came up, spoke to her briefly, and then led her into the street to dance.

Caleb stopped, his shoulders sagged, and he walked back to sit with his friends again.

“So, this is what you call dancing?” Peter asked. “I call it sitting.”

“I was going to dance, but that guy beat me to it,” Caleb said, pointing to the couple.

Peter shrugged. “There are other girls standing around. Dance with one of them.”

“You dance with them. I wanted to dance with that girl. Who is she, anyway?”

“I don’t know.”

Thomas said, “That’s Margaret. She’s nice enough, but her sister is better looking and available.”

“What? Is she courting that guy?” Caleb asked.

“No, but I heard she’s going to be a sister.”

“Oh, she’s Catholic.” No wonder Thomas knew her. His family was Catholic. He probably saw Margaret in church.

Margaret. Caleb liked the sound of the name.

He watched her dance. She spun around and laughed. He knew where he had seen her!. She was his angel!

By the time Caleb realized the song had ended, someone else had already asked Margaret to dance. He watched her move, remembering how she had looked this morning. He stood up and moved to the edge of the dancing area. He would not miss another opportunity to dance with his angel.

As he watched her, he realized she was also watching him. Even as she turned around with her dance partner, she kept bringing her eyes back to stare at him.

The song ended, and Caleb barely waited for Margaret’s partner to leave before he approached her.

He stopped in front of her and felt his mouth go dry. She stared at him with those penetrating eyes.

“Would you like to dance?” he managed.

“Yes.”

He reached out and took her hands as they moved into a quadrille. Caleb was glad he knew the dance well because he found himself having trouble concentrating.

“My name is Caleb,” he said.

“I’m Margaret.”

“I haven’t seen you around town.”

“I don’t come in all that often other than for church and school.”

“That’s a shame.”

“A shame I don’t come in or that I go to church?” She must have noticed the flustered look on his face because she added. “I’m just teasing you.”

Caleb smiled.

“Do you know you’re an angel?” he said.

Her eyes widened. “I don’t know if I’d say that.”

“I would. I saw you this morning dancing.”

Caleb felt her miss a beat. Then he saw color rise in her cheeks.

“Really?” she said. “I was just enjoying the beautiful morning. I didn’t know anyone saw me.”

Caleb nodded. “I know. That’s what made it so wonderful. You were expressing yourself. It was so free, open, natural. I saw you dancing and thought of all the wonderful things in life. It made me smile all the way to Gettysburg.”

Margaret stared directly into his eyes. “That’s very kind of you to say.”

Caleb was about to ask Margaret to sit with him at a table when he heard shouts. He looked over his shoulder and saw Peter and Thomas arguing with the older man Margaret had been speaking to earlier.

The man held Peter’s liquor bottle while Peter shouted at him and grabbed at the bottle. Caleb stopped dancing and sighed.

“You’ll have to excuse me. My friends are causing trouble.”

He hurried toward the three men.

“Give me my bottle,” Peter said.

“Guys, calm down. You’re ruining the dance,” Caleb said.

“This guy stole my bottle, Caleb,” Peter said.

“You were spiking the punch,” the man said.

“So?”

“You could get someone drunk who didn’t know it.”

Caleb stood between them with his hands on Peter’s shoulders. “It’s all right, Peter. We wanted it for ourselves, anyway.”

“Well, no one’s getting this,” the man said.

He turned the bottle over and dumped the contents on the street.

“No!” Peter lunged at the man, grabbing at the bottle. The man stepped back and pushed Peter away.

Then suddenly Thomas was swinging at the man, and Caleb was caught in the middle.

“Wait! Stop!” he shouted.

Caleb turned to hold Thomas back and the man’s fist hit him from behind. Caleb stumbled and turned. He saw Thomas’s arm shoot past him as he punched the man. Then other men were grabbing the man, Peter, Thomas, and Caleb, pulling them apart.

Caleb shook the hand off him. “I’m fine.”

“You boys need to leave,” Jack Harrison said.

Caleb was fine with that. He would much rather spend time with Margaret. He looked around to see if he could find her in the crowd. He glimpsed her leaving the dance with her sister.

He realized he hadn’t gotten her last name.

written by James Rada, Jr.

A new serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

2: Anticipation

Margaret Rosensteel washed the dishes from her family’s dinner while she stared out the kitchen window at nothing. The next farm was over half a mile away to the west, and Emmitsburg was a mile or so to the southeast. She couldn’t see lights from either.

She scrubbed the remains of chicken and gravy from the plates and set them aside.

She remembered the young man she had watched drive past St. Joseph’s Church in town. He was her age, but she had never seen him before. Nothing surprising about that. Margaret doubted she knew everyone in town, but it probably meant the teenage boy wasn’t a Catholic. Between Mass and church socials, Margaret did know all the Catholic boys by sight. She even knew a lot of the other boys in town from her school classes. So, why hadn’t she ever noticed that boy before?

What did it matter? Why was she even thinking of him? Nothing could come of it.

Rebecca came downstairs in a blue calico dress Margaret had never seen her wear. She spun around, making the skirt flare.

“How do I look?” Rebecca asked.

“You look wonderful,” Margaret told her.

“I’ve been working on this all day. I saved for the fabric for two months, but could only buy it yesterday. I wanted to show it off tonight.”

“Tonight?”

Rebecca put her hands on her hips. “Yes. Tonight. The spring dance in town. How could you forget?”

Margaret hadn’t so much forgotten as put it out of her mind. She was going to be a Daughter of Charity, and Daughters of Charity didn’t go dancing, at least none she knew.

“Why was it so important to finish it for the dance?” Margaret asked.

“I want the boys to see me in it. Do you think they’ll like me in it?”

Margaret smiled. “Of course, they will. You look beautiful.” Her younger sister was a cute blonde with an outgoing personality. She was already catching the attention of the boys in town.

“You need to get ready now, so we can go,” Rebecca said.

Margaret shook her head. “I’m not going.”

“You have to, Margaret. You skipped the last two dances. I need someone to talk to. It’s no fun without you.”

“You’ll be too busy dancing and talking with the boys. Besides, other girls will be there.”

“Please, come. I won’t have any fun without you.”

That was a lie, but Margaret and Rebecca did have fun together. They were the middle children in the Rosensteel family, only a year apart in age. Jack and Paul were the eldest, and they were married and starting families of their own. David, Sarah, and Michael were all under 12 years old.

The problem was that Margaret would become a sister in another year. She needed to prepare herself for that. No use dancing with boys when there was no possibility of anything more. Her parents had planned her future already, more than they had any of their other children.

Rebecca took her sister by the hand and pulled her upstairs to their bedroom. She opened the armoire that both of them shared and took out Margaret’s Sunday dress and looked at it.

“Too churchy,” the younger girl said, as she tossed it on the bed.

“It’s my best dress.”

“But not one for a dance.”

Rebecca pulled out the second work dress Margaret owned and tossed it on the bed.

“Not that one either,” Rebecca said.

She pulled out the final dress. It was a light blue dress Margaret had made for Elizabeth’s wedding last year. She hadn’t found an occasion to wear it since. Her mother considered it “too casual” for church.

Rebecca shoved the dress into her sister’s arms. “There, now get dressed. You’re going to go with me, and you’re going to have a good time.”

                      ***

Caleb Sachs sat in his room above his father’s store on East Main Street. His parents had the room at the back of the building because it was quieter, but Caleb’s room looked onto the street. He didn’t mind. He could look outside and see what was happening, and tonight, a lot was happening.

People on the sidewalks headed toward the town square, where the spring dance was being held. Everyone would be there celebrating and having fun. Everyone except the Sachs family. It was Friday night, and the Sachs, being Jewish, began celebrating the Sabbath at sundown.

Weekends were never any fun for Caleb. His was the only Jewish family in Emmitsburg, so while his family observed the Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday, he was stuck at home unless his parents went to bed early, and he could sneak off to enjoy time with his friends. Then, on Sunday, when Caleb was free to do something, his friends’ parents were making his friends observe their Sabbath. With nothing to do during the weekend, it felt as long as the week to Caleb.

He walked out of his room to the parlor where his parents sat. His mother played a song he didn’t recognize, but she often composed her own music. His father sat in his armchair reading a book.

“I can hear the band warming up at the square,” Caleb said.

“Mmm-hmmm,” his father said, as he puffed on his pipe.

“I was thinking that since it’s a special occasion, I could go to the dance for a little while.”

His father removed his pipe. “Just make sure to come home at sundown.”

“But Papa, it won’t even be getting going by then. My friends might not even be there. I won’t stay out late. I promise.”

His friends were more likely to arrive early and sneak out early as well, but Caleb wouldn’t tell his father that.

“It’s Friday, Caleb. You know that.”

His mother stopped her playing and turned around on the bench. “We can take the train to Baltimore next week, Caleb. We’ll visit your grandparents.”

“That’s not the same thing, Mama. I wanted to dance.”

She frowned, wrinkling her smooth, pale skin. “With a guy? Why would you want to do that?”

“I like to dance, Mama, and since we’re the only Jewish family in town, if I’m to do that, it would have to be with a Christian girl.”

“If you want to meet a girl, I will have your grandparents find a Jewish girl for you,” his mother said.

Caleb sighed. “Mama, I don’t want to get married. I just want to go to the dance tonight.”

His mother shook her head. “No, better you stay here and not get yourself attached to someone you can’t have.”

Caleb hung his head. His mother just didn’t understand the idea of having fun. For her, it was about finding him a wife since he would soon be 17.

As Caleb walked back to his room, he thought of the one advantage of being the only Jewish family in town, he wasn’t married yet. If there had been an eligible Jewish girl in Emmitsburg or even nearby, his mother would have already paired them up and been planning the wedding.

He looked out his window and saw Peter Wilhide walking down the street. Caleb slid open his window.

“Peter!”

Peter stopped and turned around. He saw Caleb in the window and waved. “Are you coming to the dance, Caleb?”

“My parents won’t let me.”

“Won’t let you? Oh, that’s right, it’s Friday. Then maybe… later?”

Caleb grinned. “Yes, I think so.”

Peter laughed. “I’ll let the others know.”

Caleb shut the window. He glanced at the clock on his wall. The dance would be starting in half an hour. Everyone would be there by 6:30 p.m. He had that long to plan on how he would get past his parents without them knowing.

written by James Rada, Jr.

A new serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

1: Angels

When he recalled this day, Caleb Sachs was sure he would tell people Heaven had whispered to him, and in doing so, created the blustery wind that seemed to tell him, “Look! An angel.”

No one would mistake Caleb for a visionary man. Because the Sachs were the only Jewish family in Emmitsburg, they were too far away to travel to a synagogue on Shabbat. Since his father was a shopkeeper and Saturday was the busiest day of the week, he had made allowances. His father kept the shop open on Saturday, closing mid-afternoon, and then recognizing Shabbat from mid-Saturday through Sunday.

Caleb followed his father’s rules. He didn’t work after the store closed, and he read the Torah in the evening. However, he also liked to wrestle, play cards, and race horses with his friends. Although they were still a bit young, when Matthew Hayes could sneak a bottle out of his father’s tavern, Caleb and his friends would sneak off into the woods and drink.

This day, though, Caleb was sober and serious. His father had trusted him to drive the wagon to Gettysburg and pick up an order coming in on the Harrisburg and Gettysburg Railroad. It could have shipped to Emmitsburg on the Emmitsburg Railroad, but that would have involved sending the freight to Baltimore, transferring it to the Western Maryland Railroad, and then transferring it to the Emmitsburg Railroad at Emmitsburg Junction. Not only would that have taken another two days, but it would also have cost additional freight charges. With Gettysburg only 12 miles away, it was easier to send a wagon to pick up the goods at the depot in Gettysburg.

At 16 years old, this was Caleb’s first solo trip to Gettysburg, and he meant to show his father he could be trusted to do a man’s job.

He drove north out of town along Emmitsburg Road, which would take him right into the center of Gettysburg. He crossed the wooden bridge over Flat Run. It was a little trickle of a stream that rarely needed a bridge to span it unless it had rained recently.

That was when the wind picked up as Heaven whispered to him. He started the wagon up the hill when he saw her. She stood on the crest of the hill on the west side of the road. The sun behind her silhouetted her figure as she danced around to the sound of music that only she heard. The white shawl she wore billowed out, appearing to be an angel’s wings, and locks of her blond hair flew in all directions around her head forming a halo.

She looked so beautiful, Caleb had to stop the wagon to watch her.

She was so engrossed in her silent song, she never saw him, although he was only 20 yards away. Then, either she finished what she was doing, or perhaps she heard him. She stopped and ran off in another direction.

Caleb knew he would remember her. Even though he’d not seen her face, something about the love of life she showed in those moments or the carefree spirit of her dance told him she was beautiful no matter what she looked like.

The thought of her kept a smile on his face during the 12-mile ride to Gettysburg. He grinned at the stationmaster, who must have thought Caleb was crazy. He kept smiling as he loaded the goods his father had ordered for the store into the wagon bed.

On his way back to Emmitsburg, Caleb wondered if he shouldn’t have introduced himself to the woman. It just hadn’t seemed right. He had an image of what she looked like in his mind. Perhaps he imagined her nothing like she actually looked. It didn’t matter. The face he saw in his mind belonged to the angel he had seen dancing. Whether it was reality, it was still truth.

Margaret Rosensteel entered St. Joseph’s Church through the front doors. She paused a moment to let her eyes adjust to the dimmer light as she looked into the chapel. It had been warm in the light of the bright sun, but winter still clung to the inside of the church. The stoves couldn’t generate enough heat in the large room, and too few people sat in the pews to generate enough body heat to warm the room.

The young girl genuflected and slid into a pew near the rear of the chapel. Father Harmon was already well into the Mass, and he didn’t even glance at her.

Sister Mary Agatha did, though. The Daughter of Charity sat across the aisle and three rows forward of Margaret. The sister glanced back, saw Margaret, and she smiled. Then she mouthed, “You’re late.”

Margaret raised her eyebrows and shrugged. It wasn’t the first time, and it undoubtedly wouldn’t be the last time she was late to Mass. Her mother compared her to one of the foolish virgins in the Bible who arrived too late to greet the bridegroom, and so was locked out of the home.

“But I’ll never be a bride, Mama, so what does it matter?” Margaret had answered once.

“You’ll be married to God, but I guess you’ll be late for him, too.”

“Well, he must know what he is getting into. He made me this way.”

Margaret had known she was destined to be a Daughter of Charity since she was six years old. That was the year she nearly died from scarlet fever. As she had burned up from the fever, her parents had tried to lower her temperature and prayed at her bedside.

The doctor had told her parents to prepare for the worst, but Margaret had recovered. The Rosensteels declared their daughter’s recovery to be a miracle. That is when they told Margaret she would become a Daughter of Charity when she was old enough because they had promised God they would do so if he spared her life.

Margaret had trouble concentrating on Mass this morning. It was the first sunny and warm day of the year, and she wanted to be out and about, dancing and singing in the sunlight. Instead, she was sitting inside, trying to remember her Latin, so she could understand Father Harmon.

She walked outside after Mass ended and lifted her chin toward the sun, so her face could drink in its warmth. She heard the jangle of wagon traces and looked up Emmitsburg Road. She saw a pair of horses pulling a wagon crest the hill. Different size boxes were piled on the rear, but it wasn’t the boxes Margaret noticed. It was the driver.

He was a young man about her age. He sat proudly in the seat with his shoulders thrown back and his face concentrating on his work. She had never seen him before, although she spent most of her time on the family farm rather than in town.

As he passed, he glanced at her and did a double-take. Then he smiled and lifted his hat to her. Moments later, he was past her. Margaret turned to watch him as he turned the wagon onto West Main Street.

She couldn’t get past the fact that he looked familiar. She couldn’t place his face. Some might say it was the face of an angel.