Several weeks passed since Thomas and Gabriele realized that they would only be able to have a brother-sister relationship. When Thomas told Tadi he was free to get to know Gabriele, he was ecstatic and quickly left to gather some flowers to give to her. They had been practically inseparable since then and were planning on marrying.
Although Gabriele was not the right match for him, Thomas felt a dull ache in his heart after they stopped spending time together. Gabriele awakened feelings in him that died when Nara died. He was grateful for this awakening, yet it reminded him of how desperately he missed Nara; how he longed to be with her and hold her again. He began to wonder if it was time to move to a different village so hopefully, he would be able to move on with his life. He could easily build a wood shop somewhere else and his reputation was well-known throughout the land, so he knew he could easily make a living anywhere his lived.
One cool autumn day, Thomas invited David and Mary to his home for an evening meal. It was a simple meal which consisted of some boiled beef, bread, cheese, and tomatoes from his garden. Thomas really did not enjoy cooking, but while spending time with Gabriele, she taught him a few vital and time-saving tricks. Mary was actually quite impressed with his cooking skills.
After they finished eating, Thomas nervously announced to his parents that he was considering moving to a village that was about a two-day journey from them. He confessed that he felt like he was not able to progress where he was at and wanted to be able to work through his grief and start fresh in a new area. He expressed his appreciation for Gabriele and how she renewed hope in him and gave him courage to again open his heart. He informed his parents that he felt he needed to move to a place that was not filled with memories of Nara, a place where he could heal and then make a clean start, and then maybe consider opening his heart again.
Tears easily came to Mary’s eyes as Thomas spoke. They were tears of sorrow and joy; sorrow at the thought of her son moving away from his home town and joy that he was finally thinking about moving on with his life. She would fiercely miss seeing her son several times a week, but felt a peace within her that brought her joy and understanding that moving was a step in the right direction for her son.
David congratulated Thomas on the decisions that he was making and encouraged him to move forward. He conveyed that he would also greatly miss his daily associations at their wood shop and the expertise that Thomas brought to their business. Many tears were shed and hugs shared as they contemplated the changes about to take place; peace and certainty filled their hearts. Even Thomas wondered if Nara was in the room bringing them peace and encouraging him to move forward.
Within just three weeks Thomas was ready to move to his new home. Immediately after Thomas talked with his parents, he, along with Pipi and Riporty, traveled to the new village in search of a new home. Several people in the village already knew Thomas and were pleased that he was moving there. With help, he quickly found a place to live, a home that was vacated by a small family who chose to move closer to the wife’s family. It was practically perfect for Thomas as it had a nice barn and coral his animals and an area for a large garden. An abandoned shop sat near the house that Thomas would be able to quickly and easily transform into a wood shop. He felt amazed at how everything fell into place and how easy it was to find everything he needed.
David, Mary, Gabriele, and Tadi helped Thomas move his belongings, tools, and animals to the new village. They borrowed three wagons with extra teams of horses to pull the wagons filled with his tools and equipment. Thomas’s chickens were extremely displeased about being stuck into cages and loaded in a wagon. They noisily clucked and cackled their disapproval to the amusement of Thomas. Gabriele road Flora while Tadi road his horse to help herd the animals. Pipi and Riporty were especially helpful at keeping the goats and a cow on the right trail.
Due to the wagons and the animals the journey took three days. At one point, they had to stop to find a missing goat. David was ready to move on and just to leave the goat, but Thomas intently insisted that they find her. The goat was one that Nara handfed as a small kid and was her prized goat. Thomas did not have the heart to leave the goat behind. The group, all but Thomas, knelt in a circle and prayed to God that they would be able to speedily find the goat. Shortly after the prayer, Pipi began enthusiastically barking toward an area off the trail where they previously looked. Riporty headed in the direction that Pipi was barking and soon herded the missing goat back to the wagons. Thomas, filled with relief, hugged the goat and warned her to stay with the group (as if the goat would understand his words).
When they arrived at Thomas’s new home, there were warmly greeted by many of the villagers. They helped unload the wagons and put the animals in the barn and coral. A kind family that Thomas met on his previous visit, invited them to eat their evening meal with them. David was impressed with the hospitality of the people in the village. Most were believers in Jesus Christ which gave him hope that Thomas might rediscover his testimony of Jesus. Even though Thomas recently felt more peace, he still struggled with his faith in God.
Thomas quickly settled into his new life. He loved this new village as the people were warm and friendly. His business continued to prosper, although he greatly missed being with his father. Several of the single young women in the village came by his wood shop to purchase his carvings, with the intent to capture Thomas’s attention. Thomas laughed inside and not completely sure he enjoyed the attention. Sometimes parents of single young women anticipating an eligible match for their daughters came to the wood shop.
Thomas did make an effort to get to know single women in his village. He went to parties and celebrations with the intention of getting to know more people, especially single women. Gabrielle had awakened an inner yearning, a yearning to have a relationship again.
Four months after Thomas moved to the new village, a strikingly attractive tall young woman with dark hair and dark eyes came to his wood shop. Thomas had seen the woman before at one of the village celebrations and was impressed with her beauty. She carried a boy that looked to be about two years old in a back pack. The boy shared her dark hair and eyes and smiled at Thomas with a mischievous grin, immediately capturing his attention.
She introduced herself to Thomas revealing that her name was Maren and her son’s name was Daniel. Thomas was immediately intrigued with Maren’s beauty, but assumed since she had a child, she was married. Maren told Thomas that she heard that his bows and arrows were the finest made and she wanted to purchase a customized set. Thomas felt excited and pleased to help her, then realized that he had to bridle his excitement for her. She gave him her specifications for the bow while Thomas listened and took notes. He informed her that the bow and arrows would be ready in two days.
For some reason, Thomas felt a strong eagerness to work on Maren’s bow and arrows. He chided himself for even having such feelings of excitement for a married woman. He reflected on times when he had previously seen her, remembering that he never saw her with a man and wondered about her husband. As he contemplated, one of the villagers, Myron, who was one who first greeted Thomas when he moved to the village, rode up on his large brown and white horse. He dismounted and tied the horse to a post. With a cheeky grin, he walked over to Thomas and stated that he observed that Maren finally came to see him. Thomas stared at him with confusion in his eyes. Myron, seeing the confused look, explained that Maren was a widow who usually took her time getting to know new young men who came to the village.
Myron reported to Thomas how her husband, Teetonka, was tragically killed by a ruffian before Daniel was born. He had joined a group of people who lost their faith in God and in Jesus and so did not follow the basic laws set up by most villages. One of the men in the group wanted to take advantage of Maren because of her exquiste beauty and offered Teetonka a large sum of money. However, he was not going to allow anyone to touch Maren and told the man no. The man increased the amount of money he was willing to give him. Teetonka actually felt tempted, and contemplated about how that amount of money would allow him to build a larger home for Maren and to purchase many items that she desired. The man, sensing his hesitation, quickly added more money to what he was willing to pay. Then, Teetonka, remembering his love for Maren unequivocally told him that he would not take any money for Maren and would not allow another man to touch her. The man became very angry, pulled a knife and silently stabbed Teetonka in the heart killing him instantly. He then hid his body.
The man went to Maren and took advantage of her, after confessing to her about the conversation he had with her husband and revealing that he killed him. Myron said that Daniel was definitely Teetonka’s son, as he has his mischievous smile, turned up nose, and square jawline. Also, Maren already knew she was with child when the man came upon her.
Thomas was stunned at Maren’s tragedy and asked if the man ever took advantage of her again. Myron informed him that Maren’s father, uncles, and brothers hunted for the man until they found him and brought him to the judge. He was convicted and sentenced to a prison in another village.
Myron smiled at him and informed him that he had seen the way Maren looked at him at a village celebration and thought he should know the complete story. Thomas thanked him for the information and gave him a small wood carving of a squirrel for his son who Thomas knew liked squirrels. Myron thanked him and departed.
With this new information, Thomas was excited that he did not need to bury the eagerness that he felt towards Maren. He then searched through his wood pile and found one of his best pieces of hickory wood and began carving her bow.
(To be continued…)
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