Authors: P. L. Gaus
Table of Contents
A PLUME BOOK
CAST A BLUE SHADOW
PAUL LOUIS GAUS lives with his wife, Madonna, in Wooster, Ohio, just a few miles north of Holmes County, where the world’s largest and most varied settlement of Amish and Mennonite people is found. His knowledge of the culture of the “Plain People” stems from more than thirty years of extensive exploration of the narrow blacktop roads and lesser gravel lanes of this pastoral community, which includes several dozen sects of Anabaptists living closely among the so-called English or Yankee non-Amish people of the county. Paul lectures widely about the Amish people he has met and about the lifestyles, culture, and religion of this remarkable community of Christian pacifists. He can be found online at:
. He also maintains a Web presence with Mystery Writers of America:
For Laura and Amy, and dedicated to my father, Robert L. Gaus, 1924-2002, one of the quiet heroes of the twentieth century.
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R oRL, England
Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Plume Printing, January 2011
Copyright © P. L. Gaus, 2003
A Prayer for the Night
, copyright © P. L. Gaus, 2006
All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
The Library of Congress has catalogued the Ohio University Press edition as follows:
Gaus, Paul L.
Cast a blue shadow : an Ohio Amish mystery / P. L. Gaus.
1. Amish Country (Ohio)—Fiction. 2. College teachers—Fiction. 3. Amish—Fiction. 4. Ohio—Fiction. I. Title
PS3557.A9517 C37 2003
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
All of the characters in this novel are purely fictional, and any apparent resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental. The Holmes County setting for this story is authentic, but Millersburg College is fictional.
The recent sensational trial of an Amish midwife in Holmes County was not used as a model for anything in the present story, and no similarities with, or conclusions about, this trial or the people involved are intended.
The author especially wishes to thank Pastor Dean Troyer, Heyl Road Church of Christ, Wooster, Ohio.
I Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
Some people, eager for money, have wandered from
the faith and pierced their hearts with many griefs.
I am always humbled by the infinite ingenuity of the
Lord, who can make a red barn cast a blue shadow.
—E. B. White
Saturday, November 2 Dawn, Holmes County, Ohio
CURLED up in her black down parka, Martha Lehman lay on her side, back pressed firmly against the polished wood door, knees drawn tightly to her chest. The white block lettering on the door read Dr. Evelyn White Carson, Psychiatrist. Martha was aware only of the rough, cold carpet pressing into her cheek and of long, ragged breaths that repeatedly dragged her out of a trance. Thus, for an hour, before sunrise bled pink hues through the window at the end of the second-floor hall, she lay in a stupor, hounded again by a dreadful loneliness.
In wakeful moments, with a fervor born of an all-too-familiar pain, she renewed a childhood vow. Silence, she thought, had never betrayed her, and it was Silence she’d cling to now. Silence had brought her to Dr. Carson as a child, and Silence she would trust again. Then, it had been Carson who had understood the wordlessness. The sorrow and isolation of a mute child. It will be Carson, now, she prayed, who will remember.
Thoughts formed only intermittently, in a cold, tortured nightmare of helplessness.
Silence again, she vowed—now, more than ever before.
The snap and pop of blue cotton shirts and black denim vests in a stiff winter breeze, clutching at her from a clothesline.
Alone again, and safe that way.
Menacing, cracked lips that sternly mouthed, “Save your little sisters.” A childhood nightmare, empowered, somehow, to hurt her again.
How had She known?
A man’s blue shirt tore loose from the clothesline, enveloped her face, and smothered her, its weight unbearable, its odor a familiar horror. On weak child’s legs, she struggled to carry the burden of an adult, and managed to breathe only in gasps.
Too soon for Her to have known it. And yet She had.
The wind began to whisper judgment from the clothesline. Shirt sleeves snapping near her eyes. Wagging fingers, all of them.
Fallen like Babylon, Martha Lehman.
“So, choose, young Martha,” an urgent voice pleaded. “Choose the better way.”
Sonny, what have you done?
The frowning congregation walked out of the barn, all their faces down, all their backs turned. No one dared to believe it possible. To accept the hell it signified.
What plans now? He’s lost to you. No place for plain girls in his murderous world. Nor any place in the old. No haven for outcast girls.
The cold tracks of tears on her cheeks slowly awakened her. She unclasped her knees and felt a binding stickiness between her fingers. Unzipping her parka, she instinctively pressed her palms to her belly and felt the stickiness there, too. Sitting up, she brushed hair from her eyes, smearing her forehead. She looked down in confusion and saw her white lace apron stained dark red. Gasping, she fell back on her side, knotting her fingers into the bloody fabric.
Vaguely, now, she recalled brief snatches of last night’s disastrous conversation with Sonny’s mother. She dimly remembered driving away in the snow. A sleepless night of confusion and frustration. Her decision to go back. The blood. Running. Fleeing in the storm.
But these were indistinct memories. Perhaps more dreams, she thought, as she lay motionless. Mere impressions. As if her mind had conjured events that her heart could not allow.