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Christian novel for young adult and adults. This is only the first chapter. I need to know if this opening chapter grabs the reader with a desire to know what happens to Olivia and her husband as part of The Clan.
Dawn was breaking over the mountains, misty and cool, spring in the air and with spring the promise of new birth. Olivia shifted her weight in the bed carefully so as not to disturbed Evan. Olivia was in her eighth month and very soon the long awaited arrival would come. Olivia was a dark haired beauty, no Clan could deny her porcelain skin, her hazel eyes, or her very feminine figure in being selected as Clan Eve. Chosen from among the girl Elites at the age of thirteen when the arrival of her monthly time came, Olivia had spent her teen years in Clan seclusion from other teens, a sort of purification time. In her time with just Clan Council Mother Leah, Olivia was trained in all the ancient ways of the Clan including Clan history, special festivals, herbal rememdies and medicines, Clan parenting rules and ceremonial rituals. In her isolation, Olivia also received the best in beauty treatments, fine oils to keep her skin soft and smooth, special herbal hair treatments to keep her burnette hair full and healthy, and special foods and herbs to make her fertile for the conception of the next generation of High Council members. As Clan Eve, Olivia was expected to have as many children as she was blessed by the Great Father. Each child would be passed
before the Seer and the child’s place among the Clan would be sealed.
Olivia was both excited and scared. The baby she was carrying was her first child. She and Evan had been joined by the Seer five years ago and had not conceived until the fifth year of their Joining Day. Both had feared that their inability to conceive would result in their removal as Clan Adam and Clan Eve. This had happened before in Olivia’s remembering. A public removal of Clan Adam and Clan Eve resulted in public humiliation and disgrace, the passing of the stone and exile to the Regulars for the barren couple. Olivia could still see the couple swinging from the oak tree near the Place of Gathering where only a few years before they had stood as a happy Clan Adam and Clan Eve, blessed to be the parents of the future High Council. Olivia had secretly feared for herself and Evan as month after month, her time came and she had not conceived. She understood the couples disgrace and she too had wondered if Evan and she would be found at the end of a rope.
To be marked as barren meant some secret or unknown sin, and the life of an outcast, to live among the Regulars, like Esther in the “The Scarlet Letter.” It was too horrible to imagine. Yet as the months and then the years passed, Olivia’s fears grew until she conceived. After the Celebration of Beginning by the Clan, Olivia’s fears changed as she worried that her anxiety may have marked her child.
But Olivia comforted herself this beautiful spring morning. She should not worry. The Great Father’s sending of new spring was peace and harmony to her soul. She was
big with child, near her month of delivery and her place and Evan’s was secure with the Clan. Olivia gently threw back the hand stitched quilt and eased her way out of the bed so
as not to disturb Evan. She tiptoed quietly into the great room of her primitive cabin to the fire place to start the morning fire. No modern amenities were a part of Clan life. Neither the Outsiders, nor their inventions were allowed in the Clan community.
The Great Father had warned that to bring the Outsiders conveniences into Clan life was the same as allowing Outsiders. Outsiders only brought contamination and sin into the Clan.
Olivia was used to no electricity, no indoor plumbing, not to mention such appliances as stoves, refrigerators, dish washers, toilets, or sinks. No hot water heaters or air conditioners to bring comfort to the cold of winter or the heat of summer. To step into a Clan cabin was to step back at least two hundred and fifty years. The Clan’s ancestors dated all the way back to the 1780’s when the Great Father brought the High Council from Scottish highlands to the America’s soon after the ending of the American Revolution. Persecuted in Scotland by the Catholics as heretics and by the Protestants as cultic, the Clan sought out refuge in the new founded America. But even in America, their hopes for acceptance or at least tolerance were denied by village after village, town after town. In the end, the Great Father took the original Clan to the Appalachian Mountains to be left alone to live the True Way of the Clan.
The Great Father did not mind. He and the Council had no desire for the temptation of influence presented by the Outsiders, whether they professed Christianity or they held to
pagan ideals of the Native American Indians or the United States government. So high in the mountains of Appalachia the Clan flourished and grew, isolated and content to be left alone. As the westward expansion of the United States progressed, it was an unspoken rule that the Clan lands were left to the Clan. Outsiders created stories of ceremonies,
witchcraft, and ritual sacrifices. These superstitious tales kept Outsiders from coming onto Clan land which suited the High Council. There were ceremonies, but witchcraft and ritual sacrifices were not a part of Clan, yet it satisfied the High Council to let the rumors continue as they kept the curious Outsiders at a distance. Even the United States government chose to let the Clan remain isolated and Congress passed ordinances giving Clan lands to Clan members and allowed the Clan to act as a nation within a nation. Left to themselves the Clan acted on its own government as written by the Great Father, adhering to His Clan Covenant as the supreme directives for Clan members. The population of Clan grew from a few hundred to several thousand by the time of Joining Day for Olivia and Evan. To each other they used their birth names; to Clan they were addressed with respect due their station, Clan Adam and Clan Eve. Highly favored by the Great Father it was their blessing to be the parents responsible for the conception of future Clan Council members and if truly blessed by the Great Father the apprentice to the Seer.
The fire caught up and blazed in the field rock fire place. Olivia warned her front, her belly straining the simple nightgown. She rubbed her stomach and felt the warmth of the fire and the warmth of new life at the same time. When she could no longer stand the
heat on her front side, Olivia but her backside to the fire and let the warmth of the fire settle on her aching back, strained from the extra weight that she carried in her womb.
Evan would stir soon, so Olivia went to the kitchen of her cabin. She stirred the embers in the ancient wood stove and added some kindling and a fresh piece of pine to the stove’s belly. The wood began to sizzle and crack as it flamed into fire. She poured out the herbal mixture that served the Clan as coffee minus the caffeine.
Olivia enjoyed this quiet time of the morning. Even though her back ached to stay in bed and her eyes longed for more sleep, Olivia chose to get up and spend some time in meditation to the Great Father. It was so easy to see His hand in the morning sunrise. She prayed for His blessings on the little one she carried, on herself and Evan. She asks Him to grant her and her household health, peace, and abundance on the Clan. She selfishly asked that the baby be a boy and that the Seer would look into his eyes one month after his Birthing Day and see extraordinary gifts. That the Seer would declare on his naming day that her boy would be the next Alistair, Head of High Council, or even Othel, Seer of the Clan. Some days Olivia’s mind would wander to the unthinkable. After nine months of anticipation, the Seer would look into the eyes of her son, and see no special gifts. That her child would be condemned to life as a Regular when the Passing of the Stone ceremony was complete. Her baby ripped from her arms and given to a Regular mother whose child had not survived, a mother of a still-born. Stop, Olivia, she said to
herself, you are only torturing yourself. The Great Father is good and He knows that your baby will be healthy and ready for his role as a Council member.
The sound of the percolator interrupted Olivia’s thoughts and she moved the percolator from the hot plate of the stove. She poured herself a cup of the brew. She knew that it was forbidden for her to drink during her months of bearing, but the warmth of the brew was surely good to ward off the coolness of morning and keep her from developing the running nose sickness.
Olivia heard Evan stirring in the bedroom. Soon he would come into the kitchen, warm himself by the fire, pat her mound of belly and sit down ready for his eggs and biscuits. She needed to get busy with the morning meal and bent down to get out the flour bin and skillet for making the morning bread. In bending down, Olivia grabbed her back as cramps began to move from her front pelvis to her back. This was a new pain and Olivia resigned herself to another set of pains to deal with in this eighth month of her bearing. Funny, these pains reminded her of the pains before her time before her conception. As Olivia set down the flour bin and skillet and straighten her back, she felt water trickle between her legs. The water made a sizeable puddle on the floor. But this couldn’t be thought Olivia. It is not time! Fear seized Olivia’s mind and for a few minutes she stood, puddling the floor, the loss of her baby flashing across her mind like a nightmare. Olivia recovered her voice and shouted to Evan.
“Evan, Evan, come quickly, the birthing has begun!” shouted Olivia.
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