Chapter 22

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Hattie smiled as she reminisced about the sacrifices she'd made since first learning she was to bear her own child. How she'd longed for her little one. For two decades she saw to the needs of the women in her neighborhood, nursing their injuries, healing their children, providing them food when needed, and assisting with their daily needs. Her body showed signs of wear, and still the Good One had not blessed her with a child of her own.

She clearly remembered the day she learned she was pregnant. It was a morning like any other, ushered in by the sounds and smells of the neighborhood. It was also the morning her dear Charles's heart gave out. Hattie still thought of him constantly.

Her back aching, she set out for home, her infant, Claire, in her arms. All day, her spirit had worried. She couldn't pinpoint the reason, but something caused her anxiety. She concentrated on the things around her, so as to be responsive to anything Ehyeh might try to communicate through events, or through others' words and actions, but as yet, she could make no sense of her feelings.

She looked forward to a calm evening with Claire, if only she could shake this odd feeling. She looked up to find a young woman running toward her.

"Hattie! Hattie, have you heard the news?"

"Slow down, Dora." The poor young woman worried Hattie as, inclined to act on impulse, she had two small children, no husband, and no prospects. Young men sought Dora out, but did not consider her seriously as a possible future bride. As such, she was constantly needy, and various social circles ostracized her. Hattie hoped her own influence might be helpful. She spoke wisdom and restraint into the young woman's life whenever possible.

Dora, carrying an infant in one arm, grasped Hattie's hand.

Upon noticing the young woman's bedraggled clothing, Hattie made a mental note to go through her own things to find something she might pass on to her. "What is it? And where is your other little one? Where's Larry?"

"Oh," Dora said with a wag of her head, "I left him at home so I could meet you."

"It is unwise to leave your small child unattended."

"It's only for a minute, Hattie. I can see our place from here." She pointed toward home. "Really, relax."

"No, child. You don't seem to understand how quickly things happen, but I do. One minute my Charles was alive and well. The next, his heart gave out and he left me for all time."

Dora pouted. "Don't be ridiculous. Larry's heart is not going to give out."

"Maybe not. But life is full of unforeseen dangers. Now, you run along and we'll catch up later."

"But I have news!"

"Very well then, child, but be quick about it. I'll not be responsible for your leaving Larry unattended."

Dora sighed. "I thought you'd want to know was all."

It had been a long day. Hattie was not up to playing games. Dora could tell her the news or she could move along. "You thought I'd want to know what?"

"Well," the young woman said, pulling a paper from her pocket, "did you see the fliers today?"

"No. Why? What's happening?"

"Oh, it's all so exciting! There's a small army making its way here. Imagine that. To Polesk! And they're nearly here. See, it says so in this." Dora waved a flier.

The hair on Hattie's arms rose. Was this what her spirit had been dreading all day? Was this the danger she'd been anticipating? "What army? What for?"

Dora smiled, clearly satisfied that she finally had Hattie's attention. "Lilith is with them. Or rather, they're with Lilith."

"Lilith! Of the first family?"

"The very one."

"Why are they coming here?"

"She's coming to bestow blessings on all of the infant girls."

Hattie's heart beat wildly. Something was not right. She stopped in her tracks. "Why?"

Dora laughed. "Oh, Hattie, I don't know why. But just imagine, an army! And I saw them. Earlier, I went out to take a look. Ooooh, they looked good." She closed her eyes and smiled.

Hattie scowled. "Dora, you cannot go gallivanting about. You have two small children. You need to be responsible for their sake."

"Oh, blah, blah, blah." The young woman didn't hide the fact that she didn't like Hattie scolding her. "I didn't say I was going to do anything."

"Very well then."

"So, do you want to go with me when I bring Leena for her blessing?"

"When?"

"Midday tomorrow. Lilith is going to be in the town square. The flier says she'll seek out any infants not brought to her. But I want to go. It'll be so exciting, don't you think? Will you go with me?"

"I'll think about it."

"Good. I'll come around for you tomorrow. We should leave early to get a place up close. Well, I've got to go now. I don't want to leave Larry unattended any longer, you know." She skipped away.

"Wait!"

Dora turned back.

"Be careful."

The young woman shook her head. "See you tomorrow, worry wart."


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Oathtaker is an award-winner in the 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award contest. A completed work, it is currently available in print form at CreateSpace at createspace.com/4767727, in print and for your Kindle on Amazon (see the link) and from Barnes and Noble for your Nook.

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