A Tendering in the Storm (Change and Cherish Historical)Jane Kirkpatrick
A Clearing in the Wild
by Jane Kirkpatrick
“A Clearing in the Wild is a joy to read.… It satisfies on every level.”
—Historical Novels Review
A Tendering in the Storm
“Jane Kirkpatrick again proves herself to be one of the finest writers working in historical fiction today. With A Tendering in the Storm, Kirkpatrick applies her usual meticulous research and rich period detail to give readers a wonderful story with strong, unforgettable characters. Beautifully and thoughtfully written as always, this novel will capture your attention, your imagination, and your heart.”
—B. J. HOFF, author of the Mountain Song Legacy and An Emerald Ballad
“In A Tendering in the Storm, Jane Kirkpatrick continues the story of the tensions between the individual and the community that are at the core of the communal experience. The voices of Emma Giesy and Louisa Keil offer personal and passionate perspectives of these often conflicting views. Kirkpatrick presents a historically based and emotionally charged account of challenges, change, and charity.”
—JAMES J. KOPP, communal historian, Aurora Colony Historical Society Board of Directors and the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission
“A Tendering in the Storm is one of Jane Kirkpatrick’s most compelling novels yet—and that’s saying something! With her skilled and lyrical writing, Kirkpatrick brings to vivid life the beauty and severity of pioneer living, a complex provocative villain, and a story that grabs the reader and won’t let go. But most of all, Emma Giesy emerges as a remarkable heroine: appealing and vulnerable, but possessing tenacious courage and true strength. This book kept me turning pages far into the night!”
—CINDY SWANSON, online reviewer and radio host
“Jane Kirkpatrick’s riveting history of Emma Wagner Giesy holds up an antique mirror whereby we may regard ourselves today. Kirkpatrick’s intuitive, effulgent prose leads us from our self-possessed age to the nineteenth century, where we participate through Emma in an emerging civilization. Kirkpatrick tears away the proscenium, allowing us to experience Emma’s firm opinions, ravaging losses, fathomless grief. Emma’s life teaches us that without community we lose synergy, love, protection—and perhaps even God. Yet without a strong sense of self, we have no convictions, no dreams—no Sehnsucht (to borrow Emma’s word), and therefore, nothing to contribute. In seeing ourselves through this true, fictional rendering of a real life, perhaps we can find the courage to grow and the wisdom to learn.”
—DOROTHY ALLRED SOLOMON, author of In My Father’s House; Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy; Daughter of the Saints; and Sisterhood
“Once again Jane Kirkpatrick’s attention to historic detail brings the hard-scrabble existence of the Willapa Bay pioneers to life. In A Tendering in the Storm, Emma Wagner Giesy struggles with choices she makes in response to great tragedy. With rigid honesty, Kirkpatrick shows the consequences of these choices and how Emma regains her strength through love, trust, and sacrifice.”
—KARLA K. NELSON, owner of Time Enough Books in Ilwaco, Washington
“The title A Tendering in the Storm keenly expresses the continuing story of the intrepid Emma Wagner Giesy as she struggles between the comfort and security of her religious community and self-reliance in the midst of tumult. Jane Kirkpatrick’s impressive research on this true character reveals many realities of one woman’s efforts to carve out a life for herself and her children on the burgeoning frontier of Washington Territory. In her engaging style rich with metaphor and imagery, the author explores issues still relevant in today’s world: women’s rights, child custody, property rights, domestic violence, and religious freedom. Bravo!”
—SUSAN G. BUTRUILLE, author of Women’s Voices from the Oregon Trail and Women’s Voices from the Western Frontier
BOOKS BY JANE KIRKPATRICK
A Land of Sheltered Promise
Change and Cherish Historical Series
A Clearing in the Wild
A Tendering in the Storm
Tender Ties Historical Series
A Name of Her Own
Every Fixed Star
Hold Tight the Thread
Kinship and Courage Historical Series
All Together in One Place
No Eye Can See
What Once We Loved
A Sweetness to the Soul
(winner of the Western Heritage Wrangler Award
for Outstanding Western Novel of 1995)
Love to Water My Soul
A Gathering of Finches
Mystic Sweet Communion
Homestead: A Memoir of Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility
A Simple Gift of Comfort (formerly A Burden Shared)
Daily Guideposts 1992
Storyteller Collection, Book 2
Crazy Woman Creek, “Women Rewrite the American West”
A TENDERING IN THE STORM
PUBLISHED BY WATERBROOK PRESS
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of The Original Tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised. New York: American Bible Society, 1858.
This book is a work of historical fiction based closely on real people and real events. Details that cannot be historically verified are purely products of the author’s imagination.
Grateful acknowledgment is made for the use of the Paul Johannes Tillich quote on this page.
Copyright © 2007 by Jane Kirkpatrick
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the United States by WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc., New York.
WATERBROOK and its deer colophon are registered trademarks of Random House Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kirkpatrick, Jane, 1946–
A tendering in the storm / Jane Kirkpatrick. — 1st ed.
p. cm. — (Change and cherish historical series)
1. Women pioneers—Fiction. 2. Domestic fiction. I. Title.
To the descendants
of Emma Wagner Giesy.
Other Books by This Author
Cast of Characters
An Interview with Author Jane Kirkpatrick
Suggested Additional Resources
Glossary of German Words
CAST OF CHARACTERS
AT WILLAPA BAY
Emma Wagner Giesy German American living in Willapa Bay area of Washington Territory
Christian Giesy Emma’s husband and former leader of scouts
Andrew “Andy” Emma’s children
Sebastian “Boshie” and Mary Giesy one of Christian’s brothers and his wife
Louisa Giesy youngest sister of Christian, sixteen years old
Martin Giesy a future pharmacist and one of Christian’s brothers
John and Barbara Giesy one of Christian’s brothers and sister-in-law
Rudy, Henry, and Frederick Giesy Christian’s brothers
Andreas and Barbara Giesy Christian’s parents
Karl Ruge German teacher, remained a Lutheran
Joe Knight oysterman and former scout
Sam and Sarah Woodard settlers at Woodard’s landing
Jacob “Jack” or “Big Jack” Giesy a distant cousin of Christian’s
Wagonblast family German Americans traveling to the
Bay with Keil, not members of the colony
David and Catherina Zundel Wagner Emma’s parents
David Jr. Emma’s siblings
Andreas “Andrew” Giesy Jr. one of Christian’s brothers; physician and codirector of Bethel Colony in Keil’s absence
August Keil one of Wilhelm and Louisa Keil’s sons, sent to assist with colony business
AT AURORA MILLS
Wilhelm Keil leader of Aurora Mills, Oregon, Colony
Louisa Keil Wilhelm’s wife
Willie their deceased son, buried in Willapa
Gloriunda their daughter
Aurora their daughter
Amelia their daughter
five other Keil children
Jonathan Wagner one of Emma’s brothers
Helena Giesy one of Christian’s sisters
* Margaret a woman of the colony
Nancy Thornton painter in the Oregon City area
* not based on a historical character
We cannot kindle when we will
The fire that in the heart resides,
The spirit bloweth and is still,
In mystery our soul abides.
Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD.… Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.
1 JOHN 1:7
Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual.… Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: “You are accepted.”
PAUL JOHANNES TILLICH
in The Shaking of the Foundations
JULY 4, 1857
The light of the whale-oil lantern I hold above my head fans out across the darkened beach like the tail fins of a dog salmon. I can only see what the arc of light unveils; beyond, all is black. A tiny crab startles at my feet. Tree roots of once noble firs have fallen and been tossed against the shore like the sticks my Andy uses for his sword play. Their roots, like knurled knuckles, reach out to me, then disappear as I pass by them in the night. It’s as though they seek me out of darkness. That’s an illusion, for I move toward them carrying the lantern Christian made for me, and they lie there still but for the brush of salty breeze lifting sand against their barren roots. It’s me who advances and then passes on by, darkness closing in behind me on the scent of loam and sea.
Though I cannot see the gentle waves pushing across the shoals on Willapa Bay, I know the tide line by the sound. I hear the lap of water and watch as some small bird flies through my arc of light. I know the sea is there and in the daylight I will find it once again, but it will look so different. This is the promise of a night walk on the beach, this, and that my light might shine upon some treasure, glass jars blown by hands and mouths a thousand miles away, arrived here whole, despite a shipwreck, glowing green beneath my fleeting light. I look for that. Something to remind me of the treasures of my days. Something to remember that is a joy instead of the times I stumbled in the blackness with no hand to catch me while I fell.
“Let me hold the lantern higher for you,” my husband says. “I’m taller, Emma. Let me be Luke, Bearer of Light.”
“Ach, no,” I tell him. “I want to do it by myself, see what my light uncovers from the darkness.”
“Ja, it’s what you do, Emma.” He spoke from the blackness behind me. “One day, I pray you won’t.”
We return to the tent and our sleeping children.
I lie down beside my husband, find comfort in his brackish scent, a blend of oystering and mustache oil and sweat. In our closeness, he gives to me without regard for what I might give him back. He offers without obligation, without debt. That is perhaps the greatest gift of love. In it lies sweet shelter.
The Image of a Hinge
A quiet surf oozed around our wooden shoes as we inhaled the salt and sea of Washington’s Willapa Bay. Beyond swirled the Pacific. I pulled my skirt up between my legs and tucked the hem into the waistline of my Sunday apron.
After months of having our days and nights and futures directed by Herr Keil, formerly of Bethel, Missouri, and now of … somewhere far away, I found that his departure from Willapa left a tear in our family’s fabric. That surprised me. I suppose when one devotes outrage and anger toward a person and then they leave, well, then one has pent-up steam to let off. We must find new things to fill the space, or so I told my husband.
That’s what we’d done this spring of 1856 in Washington Territory.
“What do we do first?” I asked our partner, Joe Knight. Joe, a former religious scout, had spent a year already in Bruceport on the Bay finding out about how one nurtured and protected oysters from starfish or drills or human thieves.
“Begin to see with new eyes. There,” Joe said. He pointed with his finger. “Those red alder saplings I placed in the water. That marks our bed.” He looked down at my clog-clad feet and shook his head. “You need boots,” he said. “And you’ll need to study the mud and sand. As the tide goes out, the mud can suck a grown man right in if he’s not careful. Someone as little as you are, or the children … ja, well, they could sink to Beijing.” He grinned, and might’ve been teasing, but I stepped back, putting my feet on solid wet sand.
“Nein,” my husband told him. “She has no need of boots. She’s going up the Willapa River where she’ll be safe.”
“I could learn oystering,” I defended.
“Emma, you agreed to remain with my parents until we build our house,” my husband, Christian Giesy, said. I stared at piles of oysters in the distant sea. They reminded me of cobbled dirt in dark fields back in Missouri. “Indeed, Liebchen, that was a prim
ary condition of my considering the possibilities in oystering, that you and the children will be safe.”
I pouted, dug at the sand with my toes. I could see Indian women separating oysters in culling beds. The green crown of leaves topping their alder stakes fluttered in the breeze. It was May and no one was allowed to harvest again until September, but clumps of oysters still had to be broken apart so they could grow larger, stronger. “I just thought I could help,” I said.
“You want to avoid living with my parents,” he told me. He knows me so well.
Joe interjected then with oyster talk. The salty air brushed against my face as I listened, still holding my Kate. Our two-year-old Andy slapped at shoalwater pools with his hand and looked so sweet. “His hand is already tan as walnuts,” Christian said, when I pointed with my chin toward our son. “Same color as your eyes and your hair. I’ll miss seeing those every day.”
“Ja, me too.”
Joe cleared his throat. He spoke mostly English now, having learned it from his time in San Francisco. My husband bent his head to catch Joe’s words over the loud calling of the seagulls fighting over clams or waiting for us to throw dried bread up to them.
“Charlie?” Andy pointed. I shook my head.
“During spawning,” Joe continued, “the water’ll be milky with the eggs and sperm of oyster beds. They’re a saucy creature, they are.” He looked at me, and I thought he blushed.
I surely didn’t. These were necessary discussions of the natural way of things. Why was a woman expected to be protected from the lusts of life?
Herr Keil, our former religious leader, came to mind. In spite of his own prolific family-building—he had several children—he advised lives of celibacy for the rest of us. This complicated, I thought, his view that women are saved from damnation only when they bear children and have to endure the pain of Eve’s sin. I doubted he’d thought of that contradiction as yet.
Ach, I must not let every thought come back to Keil!