I’m sharing another excerpt from He Leadeth Me for this week’s Fiction Friday. This story is not yet published but hopefully will be in the summer of 2020. As always, this is a rough draft and there could be typos, missing words and the like. Let me know in the comments if you want but know they’ll probably be fixed on the final draft. 😉
He’d asked her if she would take a walk with him after dinner and she’d been nervous, but she’d agreed. They walked for half an hour, chatting about the dinner they’d had, the weather in India, the weather in their perspective countries, the work they were each doing in India when suddenly he stopped, turned toward her and held his hand out.
“Have you had the chance to dance in the moonlight in India yet?”
His uniform had been replaced with khakis and a plain white button-up shirt like those commonly worn by the Indian men. His dirty blond hair was combed over to one side and though she couldn’t see his eyes clearly in the moonlight, she knew they were blue because she’d caught herself staring at them before when they were talking.
She looked nervously at her feet, unsure how to react to this pivot in their conversation. “I can’t say I have.”
“Well, come on,” he said with one corner of his mouth turned up. “Let’s be brave and see what happens.”
“There’s no music.”
“I can hum a tune or two.”
His hand was warm, the palms rough from days of working hard to build hangers for the Indian Air Force planes. He gently pulled her closer and placed his other hand lightly against her waist but pulled it back again.
“My apologies. Is it ok if my hand rests there?”
She immediately felt embarrassed and looked down at her feet.
“Um… yes? I guess so.”
She was ashamed to admit she had no idea how to dance and had never had a man ask to dance with her.
His hand barely touched her as he began to sway and gently guide her movements.
“Over in Killarney
Many years ago,
Me Mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And l’d give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don’t you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby.”
She couldn’t look up as he sang. Her heart was pounding and her head felt light.
What would her father think if he knew she’d come to India to care for orphans and tell others about the love of God but now she was dancing in the moonlight with an Irish airmen? And if Pastor James saw them? What might be said? Thoughts raced fast through her mind but she couldn’t seem to pull away, reveling in the feel of her hand in his and the smell of his cologne. She’d met him only a couple weeks before at the market, looking for vegetables and lamb for the mission and orphanage kitchen, and now here she was letting him lead her in a dance in the heat of the Indian summer.
He stopped singing, leaned back so he could look into her face and she looked up to see his blue eyes staring into hers.
“Tell me Emily Grant, the American girl with the very Scottish name, have you ever thought that God has made you for something more?”
The muscle in his jaw jumped a little as he started talking about what he expected for his future, not waiting for her answer.
“I mean, I grew up with my family, on a farm, thinking ‘There must be more to life than this.’ My brother loved farming, the shoveling of manure, and rounding up cows, but I just knew there was something more for me and I knew when I saw those children at the mission, my something more was here in India or at least in helping others.”
“Does it sound arrogant to say I believe God has a plan for me? A plan to show others His love not by what I say but by what I do? Is that what brought you here to India with your mission group? Did you think God would do something grand? That life could be something more and beautiful; the more you showed love and felt it back?”
Emily didn’t know what to say. She felt her face growing warm.
She knew exactly what Henry meant but she’d never known how to explain it. Her parents couldn’t understand why she had signed her name to the list to travel to India with the missionary who had been visiting their small rural church in Pennsylvania. They were worried for her safety, terrified she’d be killed by people her father called “Devil Worshippers” and “dark skinned heathens.” Emily had read the Bible. She believed God had created all humans and if that was true, then he had also created the Indian people and He loved them as much as he loved a white-skinned American farmer’s daughter.
“It doesn’t sound arrogant,” she said. “It sounds true and real and wonderful. I believe God has a plan for me, but I truly don’t understand it yet. All I knew was something inside me said I needed to follow Pastor James and Margaret here.”
Henry was still looking at her, eyes intensely focused on hers.
When his eyes glanced to her mouth as she spoke she tensed, suddenly self-conscious.
“Maybe God meant us to be here at the same time. For us to experience all this beauty together, ” he said, his voice slipping into a whisper.
He was too close.
Her heart was pounding too fast.
And when his lips touched hers it was too soon.
They’d only known each other two weeks and she hadn’t come to India to fall in love. She’d come to learn more about God’s will for her life.
She pulled away from him quickly and looked quickly at the ground.
“I’m past curfew at the mission. They’ll be concerned about me.”
She walked into the darkness before he could speak.
“Let me at least walk you home,” his voice followed her. “It’s dark and dangerous here at night.”
She paused and nodded an acceptance of his offer.
He fell in step beside her, silent as they walked. When they reached the gate of the mission she placed her hand on the gate and he reached out and wrapped his fingers around her hand.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep. I’ve never been so bold before. Will ya’ forgive me, Emily? I’ve enjoyed our time together. I hope you won’t disapprove of seeing me again.”
“It’s okay. I’m just – it’s – I’m here to be a servant to the mission. I shouldn’t get distracted. I don’t know – I just – wasn’t ready.”
She felt foolish as she spoke.
Wasn’t ready for what? To be loved? To let this young airman who spoke of wanting to serve God love her?
“I have to get to bed. We have open clinic in the morning for the village women. Thank you for the dance Henry.”
She pulled her hand from his and rushed through the gate, closed it and walked down the path toward the mission.
In her room, with the door closed behind her, she touched her fingertips to her lips, closed her eyes and remembered the warmth of his mouth on hers. She breathed deep, shook her head to clear her mind of the memory, and reached for her Bible to take her mind off the distraction she felt God didn’t want her to have.