You know what? I plow ten acres, milk cows, cut wood, build my own house - but that was the longest walk of my life. When we got there I talked to one man that had helped me with the plowing once and asked where/what/who to ask about marrying my lady friend and he took up to a church building. We talk to the preacher and he showed us to separate rooms where I thought that we would be questioned. What actually happened was that I got a lecture on biblical marriage. He, verifying everything with two or three verses, showing examples, told me how to be a man and a husband. I agreed with most of it, the parts I understood, and agreed with the parts I didn't, oh, not that it is hard to understand, but this conversation was WAY over my head at times. We met again and said our vows, and were they odd ... see the preacher didn't marry us, our vows were to each other and to God concerning each other.
We have been married for a year now and Lynn wants to build a series of apartments but I can't see doing that. I talked it over with her and we compromised and I built a Barracks sort of building. It is divided in half, one side for men, one for women. Enough room for 10 each on either side in bunk beds.
We started building and it was ready in about two months. I had salvaged some oil drums and painted them black and put them up on the roof. A paddle wheel along the stream and we had a pump to pump water into them so that the sun could heat it for our showers. We had two showers ready, added another generator for the electric, and soon were ready to seek out a few good men and women. We decided on four volunteers to begin with and with the decision set we drove to town and quickly found a corner with women there. We picked one up, talked to her and paid her with food. She seemed interested buy seemed really unstable and dangerous. She eventually said no, so we stopped to eat and discussed this. WE figured that the ones the street already were going to like the ease of working for food, but not the work involved in farming. I was a little hesitant, wanting to take them in anyway, but not for the first of them, we needed more stable people. Suddenly, I thought, Shelters! We could look for shelters.
Lynn walked around and asked a few people about shelters and found one just a little later. AS we went up to the door, wondering what we were going to say here, we noticed a lady sitting and crying on the side of the building, holding a child that was about two. I shrugged, and went to her, asked her why she was crying. She told us a story and we asked her if she would like to come live with us and help with the farming in exchange for a place to live and food, most all she could eat, no strings attached. She agreed! Lynn asked if there were any more ladies or men that she could recommend and she told us of one other woman.
She went inside and brought out a woman about 25 years old. She had two children and they were all really thin and hungry. We talked, explained the situation, and told her as best we could what she could expect and what she could not expect and she agreed to come with us as well. I asked her if there were any men that she could recommend and she said that most men had taken the chip but she knew one that might be interested.
We all got in the truck and drove to a picnic area to talk a little. I built a small fire, roasted some corn and heated some ham up for everyone (I brought some of our first crop of beans and they were great!) Um, these ladies ate everything in sight, all of it. They both said that we must be rich to afford to give food away like that, no one does that, even the hookers get leavings, not whole meals. Sheesh, I was tickled over thinking up the 12 volt lights and generators. The new one came by soon after as expected.
Lynn and me started to question the new fellow and his name is Michael. Michael was a plumber's helper in the summer and went to medical school in the winters until the mark came up and he just didn't like it. Susan, the one with one child, was a teacher and Christian, she saw the chip as the mark of the beast, so she decided that she would die before taking it, and the other lady was named Andrea, Andi for short. Andi had two children and also decided that taking the chip was wrong as a Christian. I was really surprised, for of the three we found two were Christians. I asked Michael is he was still going to school and he said that he had dropped for a year, but when he tried to reapply the school said that he was too unstable for medical school so he would have to take a non-core class like English or Math to enter back. He thought about it, but when they said that he would now have to take the mark in order to go back into school, tracking reasons, he refused. He was wondering, doing odd jobs when he could, and now it was getting really hard to compete for the food out there.
We arrived at the farm and they stood staring - aghast. Chickens everywhere, 2 medium sized houses, 2 barns, all looking like something out of a crazy redneck farmer movie. I took Michael and Lynn took Susan and Andi to their respective places in the bunkhouse and settled them in. The place was all bare walls and mattresses with sheets and blankets only, no curtains, no carpet, really stark. I had found a few things to make it more tolerable, scrounged some eggshell mattresses pads and sheets form a local hospital, and found some old small shipping crates to use to store clothes in. I left Michael to settle in and met Lynn outside, she had just left them to clean up also and she said that both had decided to lie down for a while. I said that was fine and while Lynn went to start the stove (wood burner) I went to give cooking lessons to a couple of chickens. These ladies are great but know nothing about farming I thought as I took the clothes off the chickens, and I was thinking that we needed an older lady here that had been on a farm for a long time so that she could help us out. We had a great dinner on the floor (I had forgotten to make the table larger) and sat around and talked for a while before going to bed. This morning, Lynn and I showed the ladies how to hoe a garden, pick beans, dig potatoes, and later I took everyone to an old apple tree on the place and we sat and ate apples just chilling out. I realized that I was really going to be busy here trying to keep up with the ladies, Lynn is going to have to help out a lot, but I know she will.
Things were going great for a long time, but today one of the kids got sick. Michael helped but he didn't know enough yet to help more than to make sure he wasn't dying. I took some food and traded it for Ibuprofen at the store, and this helped a lot, he got better as the day went on.
Today Lynn and I made three decisions. I was to teach Michael how to plow, we were going to have two days off (not counting the milking and maintenance that MUST happen). One day was to be a "do nothing but enjoy yourself" day and the other was considered an improvement day, one was to improve the place or take care of personal projects or needs, and the other one was a free form bible study. I love being married, this is great, and with the extra help we can plow and care for even more land.
We shifted the plots the next year and put the corn in the back of the field as it takes the least maintenance. We planted strawberries and cabbage close to the house, added onions and radishes and planted wild lettuce all over the place as it helps keep the weeds down. Chickens are everywhere and now each year we take a portion of our corn and dry/crush it for them. I planted 5 acres in wheat - for us and the horses. I think that in a year or less we can add two or three more people.
We have started to call ourselves a family sometimes. Sister this and sister that (I think the Amish had something to do with that) and we are really happy now. Michael though, he is acting depressed all the time now. He is talking to Susan more and more and Lynn thinks that they might want to marry if it keeps up. I started the meeting by stating that I wanted everyone to bring a paper on marriage, defining marriage, adultery, and fornication. I have been doing this a lot lately, putting things out for them to study and then discussion what was found later. The meeting was on skills that each woman had that would benefit the family and I said that when winter rolled around we would have to have things to do. Each of these skills would need to be utilized by the members of our group to provide needs that we could no longer support with money and I would do what I could to provide the things to help them do their things. Here is the tally.
Susan: Seamstress for a couple of years. She knows how to can food a little and loves kids. Taught elementary school for three years.
Andi: Used to be a cook in a diner loves kids knows CPR.
Michael: Unhappy because he wants to be a doctor, hates farming, says that he will help with the plumbing though.
Today was the third family day. The ladies took an axe with them to the woods and have been bringing back trees all day. I couldn't help laughing, they have 4 trees now. OK, that'll teach ME to laugh, I got to build a swing set out of those trees. They helped make three swings for the kids. The kids and ladies have all gained weight now and have perked up immensely.
While we were watching the kids laughing and playing on the swings, a lady walking down the road stopped and stared at us. Andi started toward her but she turned and walked off.
Today has been interesting to the max! Michael was gone this morning with all his stuff. We sort of expected it but not quite so soon. We thought he would get something from the Bible studies and decide to stay. Susan is crying over him but we know that if she goes looking for him - well - she and I took the truck and spent the afternoon looking around for him. We saw the lady that we had seen a few days ago but as she saw us she ran for a ditch! Not seconds alter a police car passed us. I had an odd feeling and decided to stop and re-shift something in the bed of the truck, across from where she was hiding. After the police car was out of sight the lady came out and walked to the truck. Susan had the door open for her and we got her in, I went back around and climbed in, and we left with the lady hunched over in the floor. WE went home quickly and Susan and I took her to the bunkhouse - Michael's side - Susan stayed with her and I called a family meeting.
ESCAPE FROM UTAH
Susan took her to the kitchen and fed her while we held the meeting in the ladies' side of the bunkhouse. We didn't have much time, and little to talk about until she came in, but we discussed adding her if it was acceptable. We decided to ask her to tell her story to us all and we just sort of sat around waiting.
"Hello," she said. "My name is Sarah and I've been on the road for about 30 days now. Thank you all ever so much for the free food".
I asked her how she came to be here, and why was she running.
Oh, she said. "I was part of a great family like yours." I said, Susan? Family? She shrugged and said "I just told her about the family meeting that we wanted her to come to" I said, "Sorry, go on
She looked for a moment, collecting her thoughts and then said "Well my family was sort of like yours, large and all, but Mormon. My dad promised me in marriage but I disagreed with him about it. He was 45 years old and I had never met him." I said, "You don't even have a choice?"
"No, none" she said. "We are promised to wealthy men, or men that have a lot of property." She continued "I was told that I would fit in as his wives range from 15 to 23, but his mother wife, or the oldest one. passed away in childbirth a few years ago." She sighed and I sent Lynn to get her something to drink, and when Lynn returned she continued. "When I was supposed to marry I ran away. It is really bad out there now, I was stopped and they took me to a medical building and almost had one of them chips put in me - they do that now if you are caught stealing. I hit him hard when he tried to inject me and he stabbed himself. When he ran to get a nurse I ran out the door and got away. I stopped in Denver and the hookers are now regulated, the ones caught are given chips - special ones - you can only get bare minimum on them and they track you all the time, but they don't tell you that when you get it. Anyway, The hookers in houses are regulated and if you have a disease they report you and you are not coming back in again. So the streetwalkers are very busy but many of them are sick. They helped me, fed me, and helped me get some clothing and even helped me get a ride out of town with a trucker that they said I could trust". She said, after a thought, you know, they worked for favors and food." She saw that we already knew when we nodded and she went on. "I got rides from truckers and hand outs from small local churches but only a few had a lot of women like you do. I would have stopped before but you scared me."
I asked her why and she said, "Well, you we're on a small farm with lots of women and I thought you were Mormons - but you didn't act like Mormons, I would know. Anyway, I made it to the coast and there were some good people at little churches that were willing to help me, food, a shower, safe place to sleep and so on but I know that sooner or later the police will start looking for me - laughing - already got one that don't like me much."
I asked, "Just out of curiosity, what was it about us that is so different from Mormons that you picked up on it so quickly if we were so similar looking?" And she said, "I thought you were all married, but the four of you were building a swing for the kids together.
I asked what was so odd about that? She said, "In our town, a plural family works and are having kids" She looked at the women: "You all were not pregnant but were out laughing and playing together, not in the fields working on a good day like that." I said that we do that as well, but we all share the work, and the rewards, and the kids. She was stunned, and said to me, "You WORK WITH them?" I nodded but she looked as if she didn't believe me.
I asked her about the marriages, how they could marry so many women. She said "Well, Biblically it has always been done, from Abraham to Jacob, But the Mormons teach that it is good, but not to the good of the family but as a way to control and manipulate the people, that is why they "seal" marriages" "Men need to be prodded to marry a lot of women most times, they see how hard it is in practice and they want simplicity."
Lynn just muttered "Isaiah 4:1", nodding.
We asked her to step out for a few moments, and had a brief discussion. I said that the police probably didn't even know who she was and didn't care, and that was quite a way off from here. She had no chip so they probably will just write it off and wait until she is logged in the computers to flag and prosecute her. Lynn said that she would be a benefit but was concerned about her being Mormon, but the rest were mostly silent. I called her back in and invited her to stay with us and explained about the police probably not caring about her, no need to worry unless she got arrested for something else. I said that she could work with us and share the food, that I would be her boss with Lynn as my aide. She just smiles and said "My family are farmers, I would love to stay and help you all out".
I still had money, but not a lot. Mostly useless now, but I took it to the bank and the old ATM card I had and deposited enough to cover the taxes on this place. Like I figured the government itself is slow to catch up and they still allowed ATM cards after they called the bank to verify them. Getting the chip is still voluntary, but now it is nearly impossible to buy or sell anything without one. I paid the taxes on the farm without too big of a problem, and got the truck legal again for another two years. We had added Sarah to the "family" and Lynn was acting really strange lately. Reserved and stand-offish with me. I asked if she was pregnant and she said, no, not yet. Lynn said that she would talk to me in a few days and I know enough to not press her about it.
Lynn came to talk to me today and asked if we could go somewhere private and have lunch. I agreed and she packed a basket (Sarah makes baskets!) and we went to a grassy place that is really nice, close to the apple tree and a small pond.
Lynn said "Shut up, say NOTHING until I finish, no matter how bad you want to, please!" I agreed and she started.
She said "In a few years it is going to be hard here, can't pay the taxes forever without the mark (we started calling the chip that because Sarah does) and we will have to do something else. I have been looking at an atlas and think we should move north". "North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky there are places that we could go and just move onto a plot of land and no one would care, farm it, use it and keep a low profile". She said, "I have been talking to passers-by on the road and have heard some things". I started to ask her what, but waited, and she thought a while, then said "Mormons are growing because of the South Africans and Muslims. Seems that SuperPreacher has lifted the ban on plural marriage all over the US and actually apologized to the Mormons for their troubles in the past. This is really bad for the women there because they are being made in to baby factories". Lynn said, "Seems that he is allowing it mostly unregulated. Lynn said that she wants to move to a deserted spot but I asked her what we would do with the ladies that work with us now, they hadn't planned on moving around the country.
OK, you hear stories about being "Bowled over" or someone saying something that so shocks you that you fall down or have to quickly sit down? "Well," Lynn said, "marry them". Then while I was left speechless she got up and walked off from me.
I went to the bunk house looking for her but saw Sarah looking at the floor red faced, Susan smiled weakly at me and Andi just looked at me and giggled. I snorted at them and asked if they knew where Lynn was and was met with blank, sort of worried faces, Sheesh. WOMEN ! I walked around the property for a while, not sure if I should be angry, confused of perturbed over this.
We walked back by the same stream and then I got angry and said in a commanding voice "I
you. Why did?
I ... What
I didn't ask for this" then flopped down. We made love.
Afterwards she told me that the Bible study had been the talk of the ladies for a long time, the one about marriage. She said it was OK in the Old Testament and was supposed to happen again in the last days. I told her that I was sorry but I wasn't going to marry anyone else.
OK, Lynn perked up after this conversation for a few days then came to me again and simply asked why I said no. I had to think a few minutes and then said "I don't want to share my time with you". She didn't say anything more.
Today Susan slapped me on the shoulder. I asked her what THAT was for and she said, "For being an ass". - I was stunned. What did "I" do to HER!
I asked Lynn after dinner what Susan was so upset about and she said "NOTHING" and refused to talk. WOMEN!!!!
Andi got sick, flu probably. She was really sick for about 4 days with a 104 temp. She is feeling a lot better today I've been scared for her, we all have. I went on the second day she was sick and visited the Amish and they showed me how to use willow bark to make a raw form of aspirin, and it worked taking her fever down, but it tastes REALLY bad. I thought of taking her to the doctor, but if she goes there are only two choices now: take the chip or take the chip. They will no longer treat you if you don't have a chip, too much liability involved, they say.
Been a week now since she got better. Lynn and I were sitting eating dinner and the door burst open and there stood Andi, DRUNK. She said "You-you A**h**e" whaddif I ad died last week - then who would take care of my kids" She started crying and staggered off. I got angry over this and said "Lynn, what is wrong with HER NOW?"
"You are", she said.
"Hey", I said, "She was sick and I helped all I could"
"No you didn't. When she was sick she could have been forced to take the mark or die. If she had died then the government would come here and take her kids and put the mark in them. You're selfish", she blurted then stormed out to find Andi. Know what? I think that she's right.
I called a meeting the next day.
"Andi", I said, "Do you have any family?"
"No", she said, "none". She was really cold towards me.
Susan spoke up saying, "Andi has some good points". "Look", she said, "we don't like this any more than you do, but Lynn brought it up to us". Lynn said, "Individually we are dead meat but together we are really strong."
I asked, or started to, when Susan spoke out. "Mormons figured this out a century ago and they are born record keepers. They knew that this was for the good of the women and the kids, it has been for ages, Jewish and native American people did it when there were not enough men to go around, well, sucker, you seem to be it. Besides, you are a good man."
Susan said, "We can go to Kentucky ... Plenty of land and fuel and there we can hide if we need to."
"I don't like hiding," I said.
Lynn said, "Look you, when they came here I was worried, but now I know that we wouldn't have made it without them. We had land that we couldn't use, and I was exhausted taking care of what we could use. If we had had even one kid we would not have made it at all. You couldn't have fed us by yourself and the medical bills would have been the end of us. How could I have kept up the pace with a 3 month-old to care for?"
Andi said, "I don't like the way the Mormons are - They abuse the women and overwork them while the men sit on their butts while the women do all the work". Sarah said, "Yep"
Lynn said the obvious. "You don't want to share me, I don't want to share you, but look, we are already sharing you, we share your talks, help, comfort, time, food. Yeah it bothers me that you will have sex with these others, but I am not jealous because you aren't looking to leave me for them - just be a dad to their kids?"
I was stunned, uncomfortable and waiting for the 20 ton weight to squish me amid canned laughter. But all I got was the "Look" from four ticked off ladies.
I said, "You all agree on this?" Andi and Susan said, "Yes". Lynn and Susan nodded.
As I turned and walked out, Lynn handed me a Bible. I walked for hours and finally went home exhausted. Dull headed, confused and wondering why this has to happen to ME of all people. I knew that I needed them and that they needed me, but how was Lynn going to react. I decided to find out.
CHOICES AND CHANGES
I was working planting potatoes all day today. Susan was dropping the cuttings and Andi was covering them with the help of two of the kids. Sarah was dropping manure after I drove the mule and plow making the furrows. We talked all day but marriage hadn't come up. When we got home I decided that now was the time. I just walked to Susan and hugged her, nervously, looking at Lynn to see her reaction. Lynn turned and started to walk off, but stopped and walked to me. I thought that she was going to slap me, but what she did was wait. I pulled her to me and hugged her at the same time. Every eye was on me and frankly, I was at a loss to even know what to feel at that moment.
I didn't do anything else for over a week and then Andi came and asked if she could go talk to the Amish about jelly-making and some other things. I said, sure, but she asked if I could take her myself. I said that I would but Lynn was there a few days ago and would be happy to go back with her, but she said please. I thought she needed to talk to me or something.
When I woke this morning Lynn was gone. She left me a note that said that she was going to check on getting some strawberry plants and took some farmer money (preserves) with her. I shook my head, we would get to the Amish not long after each other and if I had known it would have saved me a trip. Andi was ready early and the others were probably still asleep. We left, walking the three miles to their village. I expected Andi to talk to me but she was mostly silent. We got to the village and I went to talk to one of the blacksmiths while Andi went off with a stern looking lady.
We talked for a while and the smith showed me how he made bands for the wagon wheels. I helped him wrap a wheel with an iron band and then made a comment about ball bearings. He was curious about it and I showed him a few drawings of how they fit together and worked so we worked the afternoon making a bearing of sorts.
Towards the end of the day a man came and asked me to go with him but he had a really silly grin on his face. I wondered what am Amish practical joke was like but went along anyway. Boy, did I EVER find out! He took me to a small chapel and as I entered I remembered an old saying, "Alas, I've been killed, the horror of it all."
I looked around and, yep, they were all there, all the ladies. I just walked up and took my medicine. I was startled when the preacher said to the people there, a LOT of people. "As Sarah once gave to Abraham, as Rachel and Leah once gave to Israel, Who gives Andrea?" Lynn rose, and nervously walked to the back of the chapel, then hand in hand brought Andi to the front of the church, saying "I, Lynn, First wife, give Andi to my husband" The Amish preacher quoted the Bible about taking from the first to give to the second, then we said our vows.
Hello, my name is Matthew and I now have two wives, one ulcer starting, a rather bad headache, a case of freaked out and a feeling of being really trapped.
The ladies were taken home in a tram, all except me and Andi, and we had to walk. We talked only a little on the way home, after all, what do you say to your SECOND wife? When we got there I was shocked because my house had an extra room on it. You doubt that, just go watch an Amish barn-raising sometime. I went inside to see, of all things, a CAKE. Do you know how long it has been since I have eaten a cake? We had a great supper, wonderful cake and then everyone left except me, Lynn and Andi.
Lynn said, "Look, we need new rules here. I have you every other day and the odd day, starting tonight. For a while at least. I will ask that you two refrain from open displays of affection for a time at least and I hope that you will be mature in public and in private.
Andi said, "We have talked about this and it is best at least for a while until everyone is used to it."
Lynn gave me a kiss on the cheek and then left.
OK, so I had to be a husband, most people would think that this would be great but in reality I was scared to death, she was nervous, things almost didn't happen at all. I couldn't sleep that night, got up a lot, then finally fell asleep later in the morning.
Lynn was really cool to me today, not angry acting, but really reserved and hardly talking to me but she is talking to Andi, whatever. I wanted to call a meeting about moving but didn't. Lynn said that she wanted to go to town and then to the Amish village so I walked to the village with her but we talked very little on the way there. I figured that it would take time to get used to this.
The Amish men asked to speak to me. I went with them and we talked about the growing season, crops, and other pleasantries. I asked the smith what he would charge to make some wheels for me. I made arrangements to buy a horse and have them shoe it for me. They asked me if I would come to their meeting on Friday and I agreed to.
On the way home Lynn stopped and said "You are ... you ... I can't BELIEVE you ... I am SO ashamed!" Then started walking away, stomping actually. I KNEW it! "Look," I said, "YOU talked me into this marriage and I did it, I am not the bad guy, I KNEW you would do this!"
She stopped, turned to me and I saw that she was furious, "You think ... You WOULD!" she shouted, then stormed off again with me following her.
She walked, called me names, yelled about inconsiderate dumb men, kept it up and finally I had had enough! I stopped her and said "I do NOT like you talking to me like this, I am STILL your husband and I deserve respect". She looked at me and said "You really don't see it do you?" I said roughly, "No, I guess I don't, starting to get puzzled. She said "If you had taken me to bed! Just climbed on and then off, rolled over starting at the ceiling, then get UP and walked OUT like you did her, I would have freaked out and left you in a heartbeat!" "I TOLD her that you were CONSIDERATE in bed!"
Do you know that a fellow can feel like a butt one moment, find that he was wrong and feel even worse moments later? She refused to talk to me the rest of the way home and when we got there everyone was staring at me like I was the plague. I found Andi, took her hand, walked with her to the house, and then sat with her at the kitchen table.
I said, "Please don't say anything for a moment. Then I sat thinking for a moment, then just took her to the bedroom. I stood there staring into her eyes and said "I felt like I was cheating, too many years of un-teaching to be done. Please be patient with me while I learn". I said this as I undressed her. We made love that afternoon, really made love this time.
We sat in the room talking for a while, her leaning on my shoulder. She told me that she had cried most of the morning because she felt like she wasn't, well, like I had not loved her but used her and that she wasn't wanted but a burden to me. I told her that she was not, that I did love her very much, but I was scared. I felt like I was doing something that would hurt Lynn even though she wanted this. Andi said, "We all did" and started to cry again. I held her close and touched her face, looking into it for the first time, really looking. I kissed her and we made love again, slowly and wondrously. I want to tell you now that at that moment I knew that I really did love her.
We talked for hours that afternoon, and afterwards we cleaned up a bit, dressed and she and Lynn took off to town while I cooked dinner for everyone. Both Susan and Sarah came to me during the evening and said "Thank you":
Lynn and Andi came back from town and I saw what they had with them and my heart broke! They opened the car door and helped a woman out, she was bone thin and weighed no more than 60 pounds. Sunken eyes, no muscle, almost dead. I picked her up and took her into the house.
She was sick, had dysentery and we had to clean her up, washed her down, dried her and then put her in the bed. Sarah and Susan came in and saw her and almost screamed. They both broke into action quickly though going into the kitchen and boiling some beef and a few potatoes. We fed her as much broth as she could hold then let her sleep. Lynn said that they found her in a dumpster, wouldn't have known she was there except that she was moaning. I shook my head in sadness and we all took turns sitting by the bed. Next morning she was able to eat an egg and a piece of toast. No one asked her anything except what her name was and she said "Lea".
Later in the day Lea seemed to start, then asked if her kids were OK? I asked her where they were and she said they were in a shelter in the town. I got names, descriptions and ages and went into town promising her that I would try to get them back for her quickly, that they were welcome here with us.
I got to the shelter and found the kids easily enough, they were underfed and sick looking. I found the office and told the man about the kids' mom. He said that the kids were OK there, but he couldn't release them to me, that their mom would have to come pick them up, but he was under a deadline with them. It would have to be in the next three days or the state would take them. I talked to him for a long time and he told me about the situation in town, the prostitution, forced chip implanting, prison sentences for vagrants that refused the chip. I told him that I thought it was still voluntary and he said that it was, but that they tended to release the ones that took the chip on "probation" while sending the ones that refused to prison, and there they were implanted as part of the prison security procedures. I asked him if he had a chip and he said no, he wouldn't accept one himself, still used an ATM card to survive, but he only could buy a little food at a time, little to share with the hungry here. He said that they get handouts to feed the kids, but it was only the kids that were keeping the place open now. If it were only adults no one would care. He said that there were new public campaigns promoting the implants in children that were really rough, blaming the hunger and suffering on their parents. He thought that soon it will be Social Services that made the next move, claiming child abuse if the parents don't agree to take a chip. I told him that I would try to be back tomorrow to get the kids if she was able to travel and we shook hands. When I got home Lea was up and moving around a bit. I told her that her kids were OK and that we would go tomorrow if I thought that she was up to it.
Last night Lynn sat with her while the rest of us loaded pork, chickens, corn, beans and some new potatoes on the truck. Today Lea could walk unassisted and thought that she could make the trip, so Lynn, Lea and Andi and I went to get the kids.
We got into town and I parked in the back of the shelter by a loading door. Lea and I went into the shelter and picked up the kids while Andi and Lynn unloaded the truck. When I was sure that everything was out of the truck I went and told the operator to come out back with me. He was dumbfounded! I should have felt pride, but funny, I didn't. There was just too much pain here and this little bit of food was only a drop in the bucket. The kids rode in the bed of the truck with Lynn on the way back and when we got home we all ate dinner. Susan and Sarah can put on a really good spread, I tell ya'. I slept with Lynn that night and not only was it fine, but in ways, it was better than before.
Lea is much stronger now and today I spent the day with Andi while Lynn and the other ladies went to the Amish village to sew quilts, a "quilting bee" I think it is called. I was glad that family day was working out so well, giving us all a much needed break. Andi and I went fishing and caught enough for supper. We had a wonderful talk and she told me about her days working in the "Greasy Spoon Restaurant". I laughed because of the name of the place and she just looked at me and said, "I'm Serious!" She said that the name must have been great because they stayed busy. I wondered how many people that they would serve in a place in a day and she said that they served over 300 a day. She said that she served tables and cooked, and I said to her, "Andi, how many would that truck load of food that we took fed?" She thought a moment and said about 50 people for about 8-10 days if they were careful it could last longer but not much. I nodded.
We all eat well here, and after two weeks Lea is up and running again. We have all talked to her now finding out her story and filling each other in on the missing parts. Lea was a nurse in one of the hospitals, worked in the maternity ward. She was trying to decide if she should take the chip because of her kids when she found out that they were injecting newborns without the parents' permission. She decided that she didn't want to even consider it anymore and quit, living off her savings until they ran out. She lost her place about a month later and ended up in the shelter. She told Sarah that it had been really bad for her, almost no food, and she was giving her small portions to her kids.
It's harvest time now and we have all started to eat together outside because with all the canning and pickling and baking they are doing it is WAY too hot to eat indoors. I got up one evening, kissed Lynn then Andi and heard a gasp from Lea. She sat there at the table, pale, staring at the three of us, then finally said "What is going on ...?" Lynn said that I had married both her and Andi. Lea said, "You people are SICK!" and stormed off.
Lea is still here, the ladies have all been talking to her reassuring her that I was not a monster or that I was going to try to force her to marry me because I helped her. I talked to her with Lynn there and we told her that I had no intentions toward her, but that she could stay as long as she liked, eat and work with us. She said that she would stay for a while, but only because she didn't want to take the chip and she had no other options open to her right now.
Today Lea and Lynn went to the Amish village and just got back a little while ago. Lynn said, "I want you to make me a butter churn". "A what? Why?" But she ignored me and said "I had a heart to hear talk to Lea today and although she still thinks that we are crazy and wrong she understands the reasoning behind this and agrees with that at least". I asked, "Did she say anything that would help me understand her total distaste for the idea? After all, she lives here with us." "Frankly" Lynn said, "I know what the problem is, but what can I say when she says that she is NEVER going to share a man with anyone".
I tried to make a butter churn and it leaked a little, no, it leaked a lot. Actually, it didn't hold the cream at all. It would have been nice to have butter, but, oh well. I had to clan up my mess after it leaked all over the place. What a mess!
We had been digging a cellar and it was finished this morning. It's not really big but it is cool. I cut some lumber and made shelves for it and put the door in. We were all tickled about it today and it will be really nice to keep meat longer and store milk. I think that we will have to add to it though, the ladies keep insisting that we put things in it like apples and potatoes, a few are OK, but we have to survive all winter and there are a lot of us now.
I went to the Amish village with Susan today and she agreed to go there once a week to teach the kids reading and math. They have a one-room schoolhouse where they teach their kids to the 8th grade. Susan is really happy and wants to take all our kids with her each day. While we were there we got some disturbing news. Seems that marriages (The Amish marry in their village then go to record it in the courthouse later) in the old way where they could be recorded later were not longer going to be allowed. The state has decided that you MUST have a marriage license first, and they also have made no accommodation for marriages without a chip, as that is how they are recorded now. This is to be effective in two weeks. If they marry any other way the marriage will be declared invalid and they will be arrested or fined. They were really upset about this and we were invited to a meeting in a few days to discuss it.
Today we started plowing the corn stalks under so that they could fertilize the ground for the next years planting. Susan was walking in front of me leading the horse and he got spooked. The plow backed up out of the ground and then jumped forward, landing on its side and hitting Susan in the head as she tried to get out of the way. I had been drug down myself and when I got up she was lying there unconscious with her head bleeding badly. I went to her quickly and saw that she wasn't dead so I propped her feet up and used a rag I keep to try to stop the bleeding. I was really scared for her, for me, for my family. I kept saying "I'm sorry", over and over. Her breathing got stronger and she moaned a little. I asked her if she could move everything and she could so I lifted her head up and put it in my lap, blocking the sun from her eyes while she recovered a bit. She looked up at me and smiled, and said "I love you" then winced in pain. After a while I got her up and we slowly walked back toward the house. She said, "I could have died there. That snake spooked the horse. Did you see it?" I said "No, I didn't.
"Why did you say, `I love you'?"
"Because I do"
We were almost to the house walking in silence when it dawned on me what had almost happened. The kids that she has were one thing, but she is family to me, as much a family as Lynn and Andi are now and I almost lost her. Remembering the marriage change coming up soon, and I can't believe it was me saying this, I said "Will you marry me?" She said something under her breath but I couldn't ask her what she said as the family spotted us and her with blood all over her shirt and came running.
We were all out eating dinner and we had potato salad and hamburgers! Our pickles had been chopped into relish and one of the ladies had figured out how to make mayonnaise. They really laid it to this dinner, I guess it was a celebration that Susan wasn't hurt badly.
After we had eaten, Lynn stood up and said, "Today I have some wonderful news! We have all been scared over Susan's accident, but she is OK, but she came to me and talked to me last night after everyone had gone to bed". Lynn looked at me and said "Susan got a marriage proposal". Um, My face went pale. Susan stood up and Lynn said, "Susan asked me if I minded her marrying my husband and I told her that I would answer her today." You know what Lynn said? Guess. Well, I'll tell you, she looked at us and said "'Bout TIME you two!" She said "Susan, I would be proud to have you as part of our family as a wife to my husband and a new sister to me".
I saw something out of the corner of my eye and looked over at Lea and she was pale as a sheet even as Susan said "Then your answer is Yes - Yes, I would love to marry you."
Lea got up and walked off and Susan and Lynn went after her. They came back really late and I had started to worry but Lynn said that things were OK again.
The meeting is tonight and Susan and Lea have been at the village all day. I figured that Susan was getting the "How to be a good wife" talk from the stern faced Amish lady that she won't tell me about until later, of course. Lea avoided me most of the morning before they left. We all left to go to the meeting about 2 hours before time, kids and all. I wanted to go early to talk to the smith. I had been concerned about Lea but Lynn told me to not worry about her, she was OK.
We got to the village and Lynn went off, the kids vanished into a game of kick the can, and I went to talk to the smith. I hadn't been there but a few minutes before Lynn came and asked me to go with her, it was about Lea.
We went to a small meeting room and I sat down as Lynn, Lea, Susan and Sarah sat across from me. Susan spoke first saying, "When I said yes to you and Lea walked off, I went to talk to her. She was ready to leave."
Lea said "I was feeling left out, Oh, I was part of the group - but I was still an outsider, I didn't feel as if I belonged."
I said, "You know you are welcome here."
"But I was a charity case, I was the one that was taken care of and I felt uncomfortable.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because, you all helped me, no one has done that before - I kept looking for the catch." She continued, "When I saw you kiss Lynn and Andi both I thought I found the catch ... This guy wants a harem!"
I said quickly, "I don't want ..." But Lynn raised her hand and asked me to hold on a few more minutes.
She said, " I was planning on leaving as soon as I could get my things together but Susan came and we talked for a while and I decided to stay for a while.
Sarah said, "I found them talking and Susan waved me over. We started telling her about the Bible, about Old Testament marriage and she said that she wasn't going to be nobody's concubine! As we talked I started to get sad, then upset, then angry over what Lea was saying. I was really angry over what Lea was saying because she was accusing YOU of what the Mormons do. I got angry and told her about the baby factories that the Mormons turn their women into, having them give birth until they are about dead if they don't die in childbirth itself. I told her how Mormon marriage works. I told her about the arranged marriages between young girls and old men, how they marry mothers and daughters, How some even married two sisters and about a LOT of things that I remembered."
"Well" Susan said, "we told her that you aren't like that at all, in fact, we had to rope you into marrying Andi." Lea said, "You have a real family here and I understand that now, we talked about it a long time. I was really upset when you asked Susan to marry her because I didn't expect that, but it was only because you reinforced my earlier beliefs about you wanting a harem." She continued, "I am still in shock over all this, but I see the purpose in it now and I can see the good in it and ...." She looked at the others and I had a sinking feeling. "I ..." she started. Susan said, "She wants to." But I got up and stated to walk out, I didn't know why, they are just going to follow me home later. Lynn grabbed my arm and said quietly, "Please, don't do this, please, not now."
I realized how Lea would take it and sat back down, I guess it's time to be a man about all this. I said, "Lynn railroaded me into marrying Andi, and I love her now very much. She is a part of me and we are growing closer every day. I am scared, pleased, happy but concerned at the same time. When all of you ladies were just living with us it was different, you could come and go as you pleased. I would have missed you, each, a lot, because I rely on you every day, shoot we all rely on each other every day.
"Lea, we need you. If anyone gets pregnant or sick you can help, you are probably the only one that could help if it was serious. I know that you aren't a doctor, but you have more experience and training than any of us have.
"Lynn is my first wife, but because of her love and understanding and also because she has been honest with me and a friend when I needed one, she is special to me."
"Susan, you almost got killed recently and I think that was when I woke up and realized that I had already fallen in love with you." I looked at each of the women to see their reactions but they were just listening. "This make me start to think, and with the Amish being pressured about marriage as they are."
"Lea, are you a Christian?"
"Yes" she said, "that's why I had such a problem with all this."
I said, "Lynn, please go find Andi".
She left, and I said, "Lea, were you going to ask what I think you were?"
"Because I want to be a permanent part of this."
Lynn came back with a rather puzzled Andi and they sat down. I said, "Lea, why not just live with us, then you can find someone to marry later?"
Lea said, "What later? Look ... "Andi's mouth was open, I got up while. Lea said, "I was starving but you weren't, you made it when I was about to die. You were kind and not selfish like I thought you were". I gently closed Andi's mouth amid a few giggles. Lea finished with, "... and I think I love you"
I said, "You're not sure though?"
She said, "Yes and no - look, this is new to me, I want it but I'm scared." She looked down at the table and Andi whispered to Lynn. "What happened to him?" Lynn put her hand on Andi's and whispered back "I think he just woke up."
I don't know why I was so bold here, but I think I am going to really regret this in the morning.
"Lynn", I said, "You are the first wife; when I am away you are me. I want no lording over anyone but all disputes and problems, as well as major decisions go through you. Do you agree?"
"Yes" she said.
"Anyone object or have a problem with this?"
A group of no's and then Sarah said "It's like that anyway". I nodded to her, and for some reason I felt 10 feet tall.
I looked at Andi: "When me and Lynn are away, you are me then. Same thing I told her, no lording over anyone, just answer questions and deal with problems as you believe I would. Agreed?"
"Yes", she said.
I steeled myself and then looked at Susan. "Susan, I did not ask you to marry me properly". I paused a moment, then, "Would you like to marry me?"
She said, "Yes!"
I looked at Lynn and Andi. "Objections?"
"Lea", I got suddenly nervous, "would you like to marry me and become a part of my family?"
She was nearly speechless, but she murmured, "Yes."
Lynn looked startled even as she reached over and shut Andi's mouth again ... giggles again.
I said, "Lynn, Andi, Any objections?"
No-No. "Susan?" She looked startled at being asked, but said "No, none."
I turned and looked at Sarah. Sarah is younger than everyone else, 22 years old, 10 younger than me.
"Sarah," (Lynn looked up startled) "you have taught us more about farming than you will ever know but I am not going to ask you to marry me yet. I want you to talk to Lynn first."
Sarah said It's my age isn't it?" I said, "Yes". "Is that your only reason?" she asked.
"Look," she said, "I was promised to marry a man that was 45 years old and ran away because he was too old but there were other reasons as well. I would have two kids by now and probably have a third on the way. I would not have any rights, I wouldn't have met him until the wedding and I had already heard that he was fat and lazy. You are a kind man. Patient and, well, sometimes silly. I know that you are having a hard time with this whole marriage thing and you probably feel really divided over everything still yet but we all love you, each and every one of us and we are determined to help you with this. We will follow you wherever you lead and I want that. It is what makes us a family, a home ... and I am not going to be left out!" She turned to Lynn, "Do you want me to leave the family?" and Lynn shook her head no. "Anyone else want me to leave the family?" Again, no's. She nodded and said to me "You got something to ask me?"
I shrugged my shoulders, got up, went over to her, kissed her lightly and then asked "Is this what you really want?"
"Then do you want to marry me?"
I said, "Anyone need to ask anything or have a problem with all this speak up."
Lea asked, "Is everyone here Christian?"
Everyone said yes except Sarah and I said, "Sarah?"
"How do I become one?"
"Accept Christ and ask him to accept you, believe, be baptized and then make a profession of faith."
She nodded, we prayed she accepted.
I said, "Sarah, if you still want to marry me, ask again in five days and I'll marry you."
The village decided that they were going to continue to perform weddings but after the deadline were not going to record them. Most agreed to this but there was a great deal of concern about the children were the husband and wife die and leave the kids. They discussed protecting the very few divorcees and the few widows with kids that lived there.
Lynn stood up and invited me to stand - she whispered to me about adoptions and single mothers and our concerns.
I addressed the assembly. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we have recently faced this very issue ourselves, in that a mother with children gets hurt or killed that state will take the children and mark them.
I asked Lea to stand, "Please, tell them about the hospitals, Lea."
She steadied herself and spoke, "The hospitals are now putting the chip in newborns with or without the parents permission."
One of the ladies there stood up and gasped out, "Without the parents knowing?" Lea said, "Yes"
The woman looked at her little newborn baby and I saw the reason she had asked, Oh man, that will be hard on her if it is marked. Her and a man just walked out and two elders went after them.
"After much talk," I continued, "I have decided to marry before the change takes place and to have my children at home if possible."
The speaker stood up again and said, "Who else would like to marry?"
About 12 men and women stood up, 8 women, 4 men, and one that was by herself. I remembered her and the conversations about her from Lynn and the others after they came home from the quilting bee - Cathy I think I remember.
After a little more discussion the meeting broke up. I went to the smith's while the ladies stayed behind to talk. I spoke to the smith for a while about barrel making and soon he seemed to suddenly get serious.
He said, "What you are doing is rarely done, that's a lot of women, a lot." He said, "Come with me."
We went to the forge and as I worked the bellows and the coals heated up he stuck a rod of iron in and then said, "This iron, it is hard and will break. It is strong but it has no give at all." He pulled it out and said, "Now it is malleable and you can work with it." He picked up a hammer, and laid the bar on the round part of his anvil, saying, "You hit it here,"... hitting it, mashing it flat at the tip with a loud ring and shower of sparks, "and it crushes it. You hit it here," striking it again off center from the tip of his anvil "... and you bend it. You make a chain and one link is wrong and the chin is weak and will break doing a lot of damage. You use different steel - or bad iron, then the chain is weak because of the weak links-beware of bad links."
He nodded to me, shook my hand and said, "Don't go adding bad links, don't hit too hard or too soft, and don't strike it wrong and destroy your master's piece. In the back of his shop he showed me a beautiful chain, hard and strong. "This is my master's piece, those women are yours. You gotta teach them how to hold together, stay strong and work together. If you find that you have a weak link, put it on the end, not in the middle. They can be your master's piece if you work them right and build them into something that will hold much weight. You are their smith, it is up to you".
He said, "Hey, I got sumpthin for ya!"
He walked with me outside and led me to the side of the barn and showed me. "..."I can't!" It was axles, wheels, mounts and springs!
"You insulting me"?
"No, not at all, but this is a lot of work! Can I give you something?"
He said "Lea, is kinfolk, You done did something for me, you saved her life, you all did by taking her in. Go find them ladies of yourn"
We went to the minister today and now I am married to Lynn, Andi, Susan, Lea, and Sarah. The minister asked us to come back in a week and talk to him, he had a favor to ask.
For the next few days we made interior walls in the bunkhouse, the smell of the place was SO nice! We made curtain walls out of some of the dried pine we had and covered it with planking. The place looks SO rustic now! WE added a hallway in the center but had to leave the ceiling open for now. Soon we should be able to cover it and totally enclose the rooms, but not yet. This would be so easy if I had drywall.
We built a few extra rooms so that we could have guests and I took one for myself when I wanted to get away from everyone for a day or two, hey, I DO need a little privacy once in a while. I decided that if one room was left over I would add a library room to the place in the future.
We talked about sex today over lunch and I decided that I would rotate and any night any wife doesn't want my company I would go back to the first, Lynn. I also left the choice of nights up to the ladies and just made sure they knew to keep it fair for them and for me. By doing it this way, I don't get into jealousy problems and don't show favorites, it seems like it would work out fine. You should have been there for the first of the discussions though. Lynn said, "We thought about giving you a room and visiting you, but if two or three wanted you the same night, we would bump into each other in the hallways, and THAT could get embarrassing quickly." "Yeah," Susan said. "BORING!" Then Sarah said "Yeah, and if we all went one after another we would probably kill him!" They almost didn't stop laughing.
Friday morning Lynn woke everyone up and we all got ready to go the Amish village. We talked about the things of life, laughed and played all the way there, it was really relaxed among us, really nice. We got to the chapel and the minister's assistant asked us to wait. He came shortly and said that he was sorry, he had to go find someone.
He seemed nervous and then asked me if I would come with him and I said, "Sure". In the other room was empty except for one young lady and a small boy. Boy, was the minister nervous. He said, "This is Cathy", gulped, then said "I want to introduce her to you, to see if you are interested in marrying her.
I said, "Hold on there a moment, I'll be right back."
I went and asked Lynn to come with me.
"Go ahead", I said.
Cathy said, "I had a baby out of wedlock. He promised to marry me if I would have sex with him, but when I became pregnant, well
no one here will marry me." She stopped and looked down at the floor.
The preacher said, "I know you and know you care. She wouldn't be accepted here anymore as family. Oh, she would be taken care of as best we could, but she is considered a "bad girl" now, unreliable, and well, not easy to find a man interested in raising another man's son or daughter".
Lynn got up, paced around a few moments then said, "Please, tell us about ... wait a sec, this should be heard by everyone," and she walked out to the main room, all of us following her.
As Lynn started to speak, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, "Wait, let me. Everyone, this is Cathy. She wants to join our family."
Everyone jumped up and went to her, everyone seeming to want to ask her questions at one time. I could see that Cathy was swamped and uncomfortable so I got everyone's attention saying, "Hold UP guys! lets make this a bit orderly!"
After things calmed down, we all sat down and I said, "Cathy, please answer the questions as fully as you can." She nodded and then I said "Lynn?"
"Do you know what you are getting into here? This is not an easy life for us at times."
"No", Cathy said, "But I am willing to try"
Andi said, "Are you a jealous person?"
"No, not at all."
Susan asked "Do you know that we may lose our place in a few years?"
"One, maybe two years, we are having a really hard time paying the taxes now, it will only get worse."
Cathy nodded. Lea asked, "Cathy, we've talked before but do you know how hard this can be on him, and us?" Not the sexual aspects of it as much as the acceptance factor. People look at us odd, talk about us and accuse us of things all the time."
Cathy said, "I am an unwed other in a community were that is a grave sin and because of this I am ostracized ... understand it? ... I live it daily!"
Sarah said, "The old time puritans used to have a courting ritual - it meant that the prospective groom lived with the future bride and she cooked for him, cleaned for him, took care of him. He, in turn, supported her, took care of his responsibilities and got to know what it was like being married. If we were to accept you, I would like it if you would live with us, share everything, for at least the last week. Would you be willing to do that?"
Cathy said, "Yes."
The preacher clapped his hands joyfully and said, "O.K. Matthew, What do you think?"
I said, "Vote, one week, then we vote."
On the way home, Andi and Cathy were walking together talking. Susan came to me and whispered, "Tonight is my night with you but I want you to sleep with her but not make love to her, me first if you need to, but not her." I said "Why?" She said - "It's a way to see how she will react tomorrow when you are with Lea."
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"Look, tell Lynn what you plan and then come back and tell me."
She did - "They both came to me - Lynn said that she agreed that it was a good plan as long as I didn't make love to her." I said, "O.K.
I haven't yet slept with Susan and consummated our marriage and it is important to me to do so today."
When we got back everyone left to go check the fields and they planned on having a late lunch while giving me and Susan some time together.
When everyone got back we talked a little and then the wives went off together to talk about what I was going to do that night, so that no one would be surprised.
Cathy slept with me that night, we were uncomfortable at first but after a while we started getting more comfortable and talked for a couple of hours.
Today is Lea's day with me and we talked for a while before making love. Later I got up and went to Lynn's room and talked to her for a while about Cathy. Lynn told me that Cathy's reaction was hard to it. She had seemed visibly shaken when she realized that I was not with her or Lynn, but with Lea this evening. She seems to have a problem with all of this ... we'll see.
Today we cut firewood for the winter. Most of the harvest is now in and the canning is over. Family is relaxing and settling down for winter. I talked to Sarah for a long time today alone. Tonight is my night with her and she seems both eager and scared. She told me that she doesn't want to make love for the fist time indoors but rather outside and it be really special. I nodded, took her hand and we packed a dinner and went for a walk to the little pond at the back of our property. I took my time and it was good. We swam for a while afterwards and then made love again, slowly, and it was much better.
The ladies have been kind to Cathy but have worked her hard all week. She seems to like fieldwork and the kids but hates housework. I asked Andi for her vote and she said that she voted with Lynn. I decided to go back to the Amish village and hold a family meeting there.
The meeting started with me making some new ground rules. I said, "We have too many people here now to just go on assumptions. I want to take turns, first to last, and voice your concerns over Cathy, as well as any problems and complaints. Everything needs to go through me now, no exceptions unless it is a trivial matter. I must know the status of my family, and you are going to have to talk to me and fill me in. If it needs to be dealt with, then come to me and I'll deal with it. Now, Lynn, give me your opinion of Cathy."
Lynn said, "She is nice, sweet, but she bothers me, mostly because of her upbringing with the Amish."
Lea said, "But I was once a part of them - and her having a child out of wedlock will keep her from marrying."
Sarah asked, "Do we want to take in, as wives, every woman that has a child? We support ourselves but you are only one man. If we get too large it will really make it hard on us all. If we had a drought, or some hail, or something that damages our crops then we could probably make it the size our family is now, but if we get too large, then we could find ourselves unable to grow enough to feed ourselves."
Susan said, "I agree with Lynn and Sarah, we have to be careful here. Cathy is a bit odd, but she does seem stable. When Matthew didn't sleep with her the next night she was terribly upset, but she faced the realities of this not long afterwards. She seems to have adjusted fine now. I am going to vote for her unless someone thinks that it will harm the family."
I said, "I am not saying this to influence you all, but we should be able to support her easily. Will she move or accept the lifestyle we have here is the real question. If we move, will she come with us or opt to stay behind. I have to be able to rely on her if she stays with us. We need to ask her if she is willing to move."
We called Cathy in and I asked her, "Cathy, do you understand that our situation here is still unstable and that we may have to move?"
She said yes.
I asked, "Do you understand, really understand, that if we rely on you, that you have to be there for us and the family, one and all?"
She said that she understood.
I wanted to make sure so I asked her, "You DO understand that if we move, that it will be really hard for you to come back here to visit?"
She nodded then said, "I understand that."
"Cathy, do you still want to marry me?"
"Cathy, please go outside and get the smith and the preacher."
I was really concerned over her. I was afraid that she would fold under pressure, and that is very dangerous; very, very dangerous in a fast paced or hostile situation where quick decisions and immediate reliance on everyone's skills and abilities will mean the difference between success and failure.
She brought the preacher and the smith. I told the smith, "I struck off center, it's a good looking link, but I worry that it is weak." He looked at me for a moment then said," I know that steel, it's good steel. Looks a bit rough on the surface, but underneath it's strong. Work is careful, but hard. Just like life."
I asked the minister if he would help us marry.
Cathy has been here for a year now, and surprisingly we haven't had any children yet. One of the kids got really ill and we have added two rooms onto the house. We now have a new waterfall with a generator that produces 110 volts of electricity so now we can run a refrigerator, but we use it for convenience, not a necessity. Cooking is a bit easier as well with an electric stove, but again, it is only a convenience.
We have continued to take food to the shelter as we could and have had a few male and female visitors. One of the females wanted to stay but something bothered me badly about her. I told her that she was welcome to stay as long as she wanted, but she left very soon afterwards. I don't know what it was that she was doing, but the time that she was here, we had a lot of arguments and problems. Just a few days after she left and things got back to normal, though.
Things were hard this last winter, as we had problems getting the jars to seal and lost some of our food. We ran really, really low on food before the first harvest but we made it. We have chickens, but the pigs were not as fruitful last year. I think it may be that the sow is getting old and I only started with two pigs so it could be that I need to add a new female to the mix.
Oh, Cathy had a dowry! She also owned a butter churn. Once she really opened up and got comfortable with the family it was great. She is now helping the others learn how to make butter and cheese. She also knows a lot of really great things about spices and plants. She has made a fantastic addition to the family.
We had a visitor named Brian who helped me build a box around the water barrels on the roof. We covered it with plastic and packed some old insulation around the sides. Now, the sun heats up the water and we all have hot showers, and even in winter it stays warm as long as the sun is out during the day.
Last year we traded corn for a stone wheel last year and now we can make our own corn meal. We made some cornbread and it was great. We found some wild blueberries and traded for some flour and we even had blueberry muffins. Life is getting easier every day for us now.
This year we have planted broccoli, bell peppers and squash - cucumbers to make pickles, and peppercorn to make black pepper. Brian is really good with his hands and we are making improvements to our wagon, making it more comfortable. We visit the library a lot and learn things that help us out here. They require the chip to check books out now, but we read them there and copy what we need by hand (the copier operates by chip as well) even though that gets us some funny looks. Taxes were harder than ever to pay this year. I can see us lasting a year or two more here, but sooner or later we are going to lose this place over taxes. Once I had a fellow stop by on the road and talk to me, seemed to think that it was all about sex. I tried to explain the reasons for this to him, but he just didn't get it, every time I said that God has blessed me, he said sex, sex, sex. Sad fellow, really sad.
Oh, we had two other visits that were memorable. Let me tell you about them.
A couple of women and a man stopped at our place. I went to see what they wanted. "Sir", said the man, "We are with a group that represents and assists women. May we speak to you?"
I said, "Sure, no problem" and took them to the house. The ladies asked if they could stay outside while we talked - for some reason this made me nervous. Jon and I (short for Jonavelli and easier to spell) sat down at the table and he told me that he was with a group of anti-mark protestors that had done much the same as I, setting up small farms and co-opting them. He explained the water treatment systems, hot water, electricity, cooking arrangements, and soon he was up to food storage. We were discussing large volume canning procedures when I heard yelling outside. Before I had time to even get up, the door slammed open and Lynn was standing therewith one of the women, holding her by her hair! In the background I saw Sarah and Susan arguing with the other women while Lea and Cathy watched. What a mess!
I was stunned standing there but before I could say anything Lynn burst out, "These ANIMALS want us to leave you and go join a slave farm!"
I looked at the man and said "Get Up!" We went outside and I yelled to get everyone's attention. As I looked over this mess, I saw Andi coming form the house with a skillet in her hands and MAN was she angry!
I looked at Andi and as soon as she saw me I made a gesture with my hand for her to stop and she did. I looked at the man again and said "Talk! Tell me what is going on here."
Jon looked at me, fire in his eyes and said "We came here to free these women." "Free them? From ME?" I asked.
He said, "People like you abuse these women. You catch them when they are weak and take their rights away. Using them and when they are all used up, finding the new ones!" I nodded, starting to see.
"And you two", talking to the women, "are here to free my captives then?". Both started talking and I held up my hand, then pointed to one, "You first."
She said, "I was in a group marriage and these people came and rescued me. Took me and helped me learn that all of these types of marriages are wrong."
I said, "What about the Bible?"
She replied "That was then, this is now - God does things differently now, and Adam and Eve was his plan, not Adam and Steve or Adam, Eve and Amanda!"
I nodded again.
I nodded to the other one, "O.K. your turn, why have you come here."
She said, "These women are so deceived that they don't even realize that you are a monster!" As she said this, she got red faced and the venom was oozing from her. She said, "All you are is a manipulating sex freak - and you force these women into a life of servitude to you and they will never grow or learn better unless we come here and help them see the light."
I wondered about her because as she talked she got angrier and angrier.
I turned to Lynn and said, "Lynn, could you and Lea go get some refreshments for our guests?" I turned to Andi and made another motion for her to stand down and then told the kids to go play that everything was OK, then asked everyone to sit down at the table.
Lynn started back and I waited for them to set the table. We had some watermelon and some muffins that we had made for breakfast (It pays to make a lot of them at once) and served them to our "guests" with butter!
I said to Lea, "Please Lea, tell these kind folks how you are abused here."
Lea frowned at me then told the three about how she was when we found her and what we had done for her since. The man, Jon, got fidgety at this, really nervous.
"Sarah, please tell the man about yourself please and how you came to be in our family."
Sarah told them of running from the Mormons, how she had been a 19 year old promised to a 45 year old man. She spoke of running and being on the road. She told of how she found us and even talked about how I had to be roped into marrying her.
I thought, one more ... "Cathy, if you would..."
Cathy said, "You three, I feel sorry for you, but I do hope that you help women out there that get trapped like Sarah almost did. See, I was engaged to be married but didn't tell anyone. My fiancé talked me into sleeping with him. I became pregnant and he turned his back on me. I was facing a life of loneliness and living off of alms when the matter was brought up to Matthew. He invited me here, let me stay and work alongside his wives for a week to get to know me and to let me get to know him and his family. Only then and after discussion with his other wives did he offer me marriage."
I decided to add the kicker.
I looked at Jon, about to burst at the seams, and said, "Jon, make your pitch to them, if they want to leave me, they are welcome to, this is what you wanted."
I can tell you that all three of them looked surprised at me, but Jon took the chance and started ... "You have all been manipulated - and this is wrong. We have farms set up that will let you have your freedom! We are all equals there. We grow food, have shops and trades and we are subsidized by the government. We have commissaries and money, nice clothes, dances and plays for entertainment."
One of the women said, "We are all equals. The women are free to do whatever they want to as long as it is proper. We have a very good time there. We have jobs, promotions and ..."
Lynn interrupted and said, "You tell him what you told us!"
She said, "We are free and can do whatever we want to."
"NO" Lynn said, "Tell him about passes"
She looked puzzled then shrugged her shoulders. "If you exceed your work quota you get a pass off the ranch?"
I looked around at my wives and saw a lot of angry faces. I wasn't sure yet, but I was starting to get a feel for what the wives were angry about ... I said, "Jon, how is the government set up at these places? You have a structure to see that things get done right?"
"We have leaders and work structures, yes, but only for the good of everyone. We have a pass system to reward the best workers."
"How do you punish bad workers? Sick or weak ones?" I asked.
"We suspend privileges, or if it is bad enough and they are consistent troublemakers, we expel them. So see ladies," he said to my wives, "you will be around a lot of good women that have proven themselves."
I looked at him for a sec and said, "Answer me truthfully ... what do you do with people that have become too old or sick to work anymore? Do you carry them?" He said, "We don't have any that old but when we do, we will set up places to take care of them." I asked, "What about the injured or the sick ones?"
He refused to answer ... but I knew already.
I said to the family and to him..."They don't have any sick, they can't afford it. To taking care of the sick is a drain on their resources. When someone gets sick they are taken and abandoned or taken to a public hospital for treatment. They don't have a problem doing this because they say that they take them to a place that has been set up for them, so they don't even have to lie about it. When they get there they tell them that if they get medical attention and the mark, they will have an income and be free, but if they refuse medical care they will be left anyway. They know that if you are in a lot of pain or really sick that they can do that. I'll bet that they even make them sign a release for treatment when they come to the farm and then when they get sick the release gives the hospital the right to mark them. That is why the government subsidizes them, they are their agents. If you are sick it is to get better or die. Is that not how you justify what you do to these people?"
Boy did HE get angry! "I don't have to justify anything to you!"
I looked at my wives and said "Vote! who wants to join this group?
Lynn ... "No!"
Andi ... Shook her head, no.
Susan, "Absolutely not, never!"
Lea, "Yeah right!"
Sarah, she just snorted.
Cathy said, "If you had come to me a year or two ago, I might have joined you, thank the Lord that you didn't." She said, "We have a chain of command here, Matthew is kept updated on all important issues, we solve everything else ourselves. Lynn loves us all and she is in charge if Matthew is gone. Andi is next then Susan then Susan, Lea, Sarah and then myself. Matthew `rules' us by love and because we want him to. You know? I can leave any time I want to and they will try to talk me into staying, but not because of what I DO for them but because of what I MEAN to them. These are my sisters, my family, and they love me."
Andi said, "You say that we are manipulated into this but we all decided to marry him even though he was already married, and of our own free will. We had a door to leave open but we decided to marry him anyway. Some of us were even encouraged to stay and find a husband as time went on. We all decided to make a commitment to this marriage."
Lynn said, "I am first wife and we were not doing well until our family came together. Now we have food, shelter, clothes and even have extra to give to others that are not so blessed as we are and I had to talk him into marrying Andi."
Lea said, "I submit to him because he loves me, he leads and he looks out for us."
One of the women looked up at the submit comment and said, "You don't need to submit to anyone! You can take care of yourself without following some sex-crazed man around!" It was the red-faced angry one that said this and I thought I was going to have to stop Lea from going over the table on her! She said "When his first TWO wives found me I was starving and my kids were in a shelter! I don't submit because I have to, I submit because I want to! When I was dying he took me in, fed me, gave my kids a home, and asked nothing of me, NOTHING!" She was crying now and said, "I was against his marrying two women and still he let me stay. He fed me and took care of me ..." She was sobbing now, I went over to her and gave her a hug, a nice comforting hug then asked Susan to go into the house with her.
I turned to the three and said, "No one here needs your help - no one wants you charity. We all love each other and all stand strong so that if someone is weak or hurt, can't pull their fair share, we not only take up her slack but try to help her not feel bad about it." I said, "If making each and every one of my wives feel wonderful and special means that I am manipulating and using them then I stand guilty!"
The man said that he had had enough of this garbage and rose to leave. The angry one did as well, but the other one said, "I'm staying". About half the wives smiled, and I asked her "Do you wish sanctuary or marriage?" She said "I just want a safe place too," and Jon moved to grab her.
I moved between them and asked him, "Is she your wife?" He said no. I asked her, "Do you have a chip?" and she said no. I said, "Objections?" None.
I said to him, "Sir, she has asked to stay with us, and I offer her the protection of my entire family when I say that she may stay here until she decides to leave. I could see the look on his face that said that he was ready to fight us, but he backed down and in anger said to her, "You are no longer part of us, you have no home, you are dead to us, never come back."
She started to cry and I didn't have to look to see that there were 8 arms around her. Jon and the angry women left and the wives took the new lady to the house to talk to her and comfort her.
We had another visitor later on that called himself a bard. Now, I know English but was not sure what a bard was. He said that he would perform for us if we would feed him and give him a few days worth of supplies. I was curious so I had him eat with us and then told him that he could stay for dinner and breakfast the next day, but that we didn't have any extra space at the moment. I said that he could sleep in our hay loft and that I would get him a comfortable cot to sleep on. He was happy with that and said that a hayloft was much better when a ditch was the alternative.
We helped him carry his guitar and the couple of small bags to the barn and settle in. We all gathered for dinner as always and afterwards we went out to the barn and lit some lights. The bard told us bible stories set to song and it was marvelous! You could feel the thrill as David gathered the band around himself, and you could see Solomon and his wives. You felt the wonder of God's victory for Jehoshophat and you could almost hear Gideon's Trumpets sounding! He stayed for three days and then we sent him on his way with enough food to last for a while, and an open invitation to come back any time he liked. I am still singing, "Praise ye the Lord, his mercy endures for ever and ever, praise ye the Lord our God, his mercy, will never end".
I let the ladies talk to Dawn, the new lady, for a while before I talked to her. I decided that a family meeting would be best this time and it was called for that evening.
"Dawn, please tell us about yourself."
She nodded and said, "I was born in a small town in North Carolina. I was the typical teenager. I worked for McDougal's restaurant and later went to work at a furniture store. I accepted Christ years ago and found a small church group to meet with. I haven't moved around much."
I asked her if she was married and she said "No, never." Kids? "Nope."
Lynn asked her "What made you get involved with that group?"
"Well", Dawn said, "I was pushed out. I felt that the chip was wrong and didn't want to take it. That man (SuperPreacher) was pushing and he just ... well ... he seemed nice enough, he gave me the creeps. Like he was twisted somehow, Oh, I don't know. Anyway, I kept resisting - even though it was harder and harder to use credit cards. One day I saw an ad in the paper - money, food, everyone accepted so I called. They helped me clear up my remaining finances and then we left for the farm. It was great at first, but after a while the food got less and the work more, but I was still content. One day I was sick and they had me visit the farm doctor and he said that it was nothing so they gave me a week of more work on less food. Once a woman wanted to get married and they told her no. I didn't discuss these things with the others, but acted as if I loved the place totally.
I asked her, "Did they give you a shot at all?"
"No, none, I was examined and then sent to work that day. Thinking back I think they wanted me to get sicker, I have no idea why, though."
I said, "Why did they want us?"
She said, "I don't know, Jon said that you were all being abused and that you were brainwashed into believing that this is good. He stopped by the courthouse this morning and then came out here to see you."
I asked her "What did he do in the courthouse?"
"Oh, I don't know, he had me and the other lady stay outside."
I was thinking that this has got to have something to do with land issues when Lynn said, "How many families have you done this to?"
"Twice, the first time was vastly different. There were 5 women and one man, and the man was lazy and cruel. He was rough with his wives and made them into slaves. There were other problems as well, bad ones. The second group was one man and two ladies. They were like you but starving. They didn't know how to farm or had started too late but they had nothing put up."
Lynn said, "We are well established here, why us?"
Dawn said, "Next one down the road," and shrugged.
"Do you want to go back?" I asked her.
She said, "I would like to stay here, if I may."
"After we vote, you know what is expected of you here?" I asked.
"No", she said.
I said, "You will be expected to work when we work, pull your weight, eat when we eat, help with the children and chores. You will be expected, no, required to bring your problems to Lynn, and then if she cannot help you, you bring them to me though her." This got a few stares but no one said anything. "If anything happens, I must know immediately, we have no secrets here. If you get sick, we will care for you the best we can, and you must obey my requests without question. If you are upset or concerned, then talk to me later. You will not be asked to do anything that I would not do, or Lynn or anyone else in the family. For the time being, you have no vote, that is only for wives, but we will listen to your input. Feel free to interject things if you feel they are pertinent, but if we are in a situation like the one when you first came here, then you look at me and pay attention to my signals. You are free to leave any time you wish, you are not held here or bound to this place in any way. Do you agree with this?"
She said that she did. She asked "Do I have sex with you?" And I said, "No, not unless we are married."
When she stepped outside at my request, the wives all said something at once, I stopped them and said, "Lynn, you first. "
Lynn said, "She is unstable, but I like her. I don't want to say this, but I would rather not give her any real responsibilities". I said, "I agree, that is why I set it up like I did. Lynn, do you want to take her under your wing?" Lynn said, "Is this like you are giving her to me?" I said, "She is not something that you give, but what I am saying is this. Lynn, you have a set of things that you do around the house. I want you to take her under you and let her share some of those things. It will mean that she is a helper to you and it also means that if she decides to split it won't hurt us. I want to do this with any future ladies that come our way. They will be assigned to one of you and will share your duties. Now, about Dawn, how do you vote?"
Everyone voted her in.
The adventure begins...
First created on 18 May 2002
Updated on 21 June 2016
Copyright ©2000 Andy Nonymousman
Reproduced by permission and with thanks by HEM, 2001
Endorsement of this book by HEM does not necesserily mean
endorsement of the author's other publications or views.