Andrea and the Preacher an On line short story
It was the autumn of 1894. The train was moving at a great speed north toward a lake that seemed like an ocean to Andrea. They call it Lake Superior. It must mean big in English, she thought. Andrea was going to work as a maid and housekeeper at a new hotel in the city.
“The lake is very big.” Startled, Marie looked up and saw the collar of a clergyman, accenting the handsome Nordic features of a young man she didn’t quite recognize. However, he seemed to know her, but how would that be?
“Good afternoon Pastor. Should I know you?”
The young man sat down opposite her and said, “ You used to call me Red” He scratched at a reddish spot just below his left cheek.
“Roald! I remember now. You were the pastor's son. My, but that was a long time ago when we were just children. You have grown to be fine looking and handsome. It was your reddish hair that made me give you that name.”
“That's right. I used to come to your house with my father and helped with Bible and reading lessons.”
Andrea sat quiet thinking back on childhood. “Learning to read was such fun and I am grateful that the Swedish church taught everyone to read. I have heard that there are grown men and women in America who can't read or write. They have to find somebody to read their mail for them.
Roald tugged at his collar. “It's true. In Sweden even the poor people are taught to read.”
Andrea noted the rash by his collar. “Your collar is too tight.”
“It's nothing. My skin is sensitive.”
Andrea was quiet for a few moments. “Our family is of the lower class in Sweden. Father was torpe, like what Americans call a sharecropper. I was just a baby when he died. But your family are clergy. Of course that is why we did not see each other when we grew up. How did you know it was me here?”
“I heard in the village you had decided to go to America. I saw you before—on the ship. I was going to talk to you then but you did not look well.”
“If I was leaning over the rail, you were right. I would not want company then.”
His lips smile, but his eyes don't, Andrea thought. Aloud she said,”I, of course, heard you had gone to seminary. I did not think you would be done so soon. “Have you a parish?”
He hesitated and the said smoothly, “ Truth be told, I have begun to find flaws in Luther's reasoning and I have heard God's call to go to America and establish an independent parish.” He must have been expelled from seminary, Andrea thought. Bet the only call he ever got from God is that itch by his collar. Then she admonished herself for such an unkind thought. Maybe he has changed, but she remembered him as a bully who used his status to take advantage of other children. She looked out the window and watched the scenery go by.and turned back to face Roald. “Does god always show us the way?”
Briefly his face registered surprise but he did a quick turnaround. With a frozen smile he said, “Andrea, who always recited bible verses flawlessly, are you having doubts?”
She calmly looked him in the eye and said,” Oh. I believe God is with me, but my belief is not blind. I wonder at times.”
“Oh? For instance?”
“Why are some people better off than others? Or why did that town we passed some time ago get burned down by fire and so many people killed?” Roald launched into a lecture about good and evil and gods plan.
With flaring eyes Andrea looked directly into Roald's face. “Roald! You always were a pompous ass!” She turned to stare out the window.
Roald got up to find another seat and then turned back to face her. “I need to ask you something,” he said.
The smile returned to his face. “I told you I am engaged in an independent ministry. I cannot take a Lutheran parish because I no longer hold with some of Luther's beliefs. I've heard that your brother is very well liked and knows many people. If you could get him to help me get a new church established it would help me very much.”
She didn’t return his smile. “And why should I do that? He knows you and your family. I am not sure he even likes you, although he does respect your father. And he is a devout Lutheran.”
Brushing back his reddish blond hair he looked straight into her eyes. “ I won't preach against Luther. You don't have to promote my views, just acknowledge that we are friends if anyone asks.”
She did consider him a friend of sorts as they came from the same village. He could be dreadfully annoying though. “I will only tell people what I know to be true,” she said.
Several weeks passed and Andrea stopped at the church that Roald had taken for his ministry. The service had started and she slipped into a pew near the back. As his sermon progressed she was impressed with a certain fire in his preaching and it took on a cadence that was almost hypnotic. She was alert enough though to realize it ultimately lead to pleas for more donations in the collection plate. After the service he seemed to pay especial attention to the young women in the congregation. A bit too much attention, she thought
She joined the others in line to greet him. When she got to take his hand he held hers just a bit too long and then recognized her. “Andrea! Thanks for coming.”
“I am disappointed. Where was the substance to your sermon. Are the rumors true? Are you taking the money for yourself and seducing the young girls? I don't think I can defend your behavior.”
“Is what I do so bad?” I don't steal.”
“Ah, Roald—what you do is worse. I am not educated like you. Yes, I question some of what we were taught But even I know you can't use god for your own ends.”
Roald tugged at his collar. “I need an assistant. You can work for the church. Do things like take up the collections and do the bookkeeping. ”
“And what else?” She folded her arms and looked right into his eyes.
“Into my soul,” he thought.
“I already have a job,” she said. He was slow to sense the anger in her tight lips and stiffness in her body. “and I will not sleep with you .I know from talk around town how you treat girls.” She walked away.
Time passed and winter snows melted. With the warmer weather it became more pleasant to walk around outdoors. As Andrea mingled with people in the streets and parks of what she found to be a beautiful city. She also heard more talk about the preacher who in addition to getting fees for weddings and, baptisms and funerals was buying on credit all over town. He was selling “holy objects” and making false claims about the powers attributed to them. She did find it shocking as these were the things that Luther thought were corruptions in the church centuries ago. There was also talk of his behavior toward women in and around town. She was not surprised..
Emotions were building in town and those people who felt cheated were working themselves up to taking action. Hearing talk of running him out on a rail Andrea went to see Roald and confront him. “I don't think you are working for God. What happened to the faith your father had?”
“Is it such a crime to take money from these fools? They would just use it for the devil's work. Look at the saloons and brothels getting rich.”He waved a hand toward the street.”
“You're the fool, Roald. How dare you judge. I don't think you give a damn about the people who donate to your mission. I'm not even sure you believe in God. Not really believe. And how dare you act like you wanted to help me when you were really trying to corrupt me..
A crowd of miners and others were coming down the street. “Come on out preacher. You've been cheating us out of our money....”
Andrea, with more courage than sense stepped between Roald and the mob. Pastor Roald is a fool and a cheat, but are not you people just as bad.? Who told you that you could buy your way into heaven? Who told you that you can seek vengeance for your own foolishness? The pastor didn't do his pastoral duty, but what have you folks done? I see poor people in this town. What have you done for them? And didn't we all come to this land to find a more just society. Is this the way you get it? Where are the police? If you have been cheated, have the man arrested.If you want to take the pastor and punish him come on up. There's nothing here to stop you but a girl.”
As the mob started to break up Roald came out and thanked her. “ I knew you would stand up for me.”
She just stared at him. “Roald, you really are an ass. I didn't do that for you. I didn't want this nice town to be ruined by a lynching. And you have to live with having hidden behind a girl.”
Location of Duluth, Minnesota
- Marie, Immigrant letters sent History of Family and19th Century Immigration to United States-Part 1
In 1891 two brothers like so many Swedish people then left Sweden for a new life in America. One went to Montana; the other to Minnesota. The one that settled in Minnesota was my grandfather Nels. Marie,...This is an introduction to the story of Mari
- The Story of Marie, a Swedish Immigrant During 19th Century to Minn in America, Part 3 Marie parts
With much emotion, Marie parts with her family in Sweden.She leaves for America where her brothers have gone before her.Maries mother is reluctant to let her go.
- The Story of Marie, a 19th Century Swedish Immigration and young girl immigrant to Minnesota in Amer
This is the climatic incident in Marie's story of immigration. Her somewhat quiet normal life is disrupted by a tragic that destroys a town.
- The Story of Marie, a 19th Century Swedish Immigration to Minnesota in America-part 4 The Voyage
a Swedish immigrants going to America writes this letter Now I’m in England now and my trip has gone well under the circumstances. We left Trondheim, Norway on October 18 at midnight. “Nordsjon” was calm, but I hadn’t seen it yet as it was 8 O’clock
- Ths Story of Marie, a 19 Century Swedish Immigrant to Minnesota in America part 5-her 2nd letter
A Swedish girl writes home about her trip to America. Although Marie does not mention the names of the ships it would appear that she probably took the S/S Juno of the Wilson line from Trondheim, Norway to Hull,...
- Marie, 19th C Swedish Immigrant to Minnesota in America-immigration from Sweden stories &Letter
The fate of Marie,the immigrant, is unknown. She may have perished in a ship such as the Empress of Ireland.Other letter which could have been lost might tell what became of her. We can only speculate about Marie.
© 2012 Don A. Hoglund
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