Drops of rain fell from the sky, tapping lightly on Lottie Payne’s uncovered head. The round splotches dotted her lightweight black mourning dress, and she wondered if she should go back to her aunt’s house. It felt so good to be walking out in the fresh air, which the thick atmosphere of accusation could not penetrate. Would being out in the rain hurt the baby? She didn’t think so, but she didn’t really know much about it. This was the first time she had ever carried a child inside her.
The baby was just beginning to make its presence known through the enlarging of Lottie’s abdomen, so her parents sent her away to live with Aunt Emma. No one knew her in Massachusetts, and she could pretend that the baby’s father was dead, which wasn’t difficult to do. She could take Douglas Kern’s name, and carry his child, but Lottie knew that she could never actually have him. He would never leave all the wealth and fame that being the governor’s son-in-law provided. Their final conversation had proven that.
“Lottie, you know I love you, but think of what this would do to my poor wife. I couldn’t bring this kind of scandal into her life.”
“But you can bring it into mine.”
“I wish things were different.” Douglas reached out to touch her arm, but Lottie pushed it aside.
“Don’t touch me.”
Douglas sighed. “What will you do now?”
“I’ll go home, talk to my parents, and try to raise this baby on my own.”
“Here? But then everyone will know.”
“They’ll know I’m with child, but they won’t know who the father is.”
“After the baby’s born … What if it looks like me?”
That was the last thing Lottie could remember her lover saying to her. She knew then that he didn’t care about her or their child. He only wanted to preserve his high standing in society. She didn’t, however, know that her own father would feel the same way. She shuddered as she remembered the violet shade her father’s face turned before he stormed out of the house, leaving Lottie to face her prostrate, weeping mother alone.
Lottie wiped the drops of water from her cheek. Tears mingled with the raindrops. “Oh, God!” she cried. “Why didn’t they love me more than their own reputations? Why did they exile me?”
Lottie heard the wind whisper through the leaves. Forgive.
“How can I forgive them when they haven’t forgiven me for not living up to their expectations? How can I forgive myself?”
Lottie fell against a tree trunk and sank to the ground, her head buried in her arms. In the stillness, she recalled the words she had read so many times before:
… For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect. (Matthew 5:45-48, KJV).
“Almighty God, I know that You have forgiven me my sins. Help me to forgive myself, Mother and Father, and Douglas. Help me, from this day forward, to be completely committed to you, so that I can raise my child to know his Heavenly Father, even if he can’t know his earthly father. Thank you for loving me and my unborn baby.”
Lottie smiled as she glanced up at the sun peeking through the clouds. God was shining down His mercy on her, and she accepted it with open arms.
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