Andrea and the Preacher an On line short story

Minnesota Point

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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

Duluth, Minnesota

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.”


Duluth, Minnesota

A markerDuluth, MN -
Duluth, MN, USA
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Location of Duluth, Minnesota

© 2012 Don A. Hoglund

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Comments 15 comments

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Great story. Will there be more of this? It seems as if there will.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Becky. If others respond like you I will write more. Andrea is a fictional version of my grandfathers sister who I wrote about in a series I called. Marie which has eleven hubs.I'll add some links.Thanks for commenting.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

dahoglund - Great writing and a master at work. The only way you can buy your way into heaven is by good deeds.

Great Hub.

The Frog


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Excellent story, Don, and a good lesson in morals!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Frog. Glad to see you here and thanks for commenting.I would go a bit further in thinking that if one has real faith it will lead to good works.

Hi Will. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 4 years ago from United States

Hi Dahoglund! I really enjoyed this story and the tremendous lesson for all to remember. More! More!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Dexter. Thanks for the comment. I think we both have the intentions of telling good stories. If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself.


Vern 4 years ago

Don,

Captivating story! Is there a sequel?


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Vern,

As soon as I come up with another plot.Thanks for reading.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 3 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

dahoglund, there is a depth to the characters, especially Andrea, and that is what kept my attention the most. I enjoyed the story very much. I'll go see if you built on it.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks for commenting Chris. I hope you like the other stories as well.


handymanbill profile image

handymanbill 2 years ago from western pennsylvania

Great story I sorta felt like I was hanging waiting for an ending.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Thanks Bill. I'm glad you liked this story and hope you like some of my other ones.


techygran profile image

techygran 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

Hi Don, This is very interesting, and a way to pursue genealogy in a way that brings the flat 'stats' to life in a way that rarely happens for 'ordinary' people in our pasts. ~Cynthia


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids Author

Hi Cynthia. I am planning to acquire more knowledge of genealogy and write more about family. I did do that with a series of hubs on an ancestor named "Marie" which was a mixture of fact and fiction.

Thanks for commenting.

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