We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them. ~ Sean Covey
Abbie Mae pensively sat by the table, her eyes fixed on the door. Would he come home tonight? She had only been married for a little over four months, but married life wasn’t sweet and blissful. Oh, how she hated the lack of assurance if her husband would come home.
Was he out with her? Or was he doing his mysterious business that he never wanted to talk about? Or perhaps it was two combined into one.
There was a shuffling noise at the door. With difficulty, Abbie Mae got to her feet. The little life inside of her was growing every day and her stomach made her clumsy and awkward.
The door opened and her husband walked in. Abbie Mae fought to keep back the tears of relief at seeing him. After all, there was no assurance that he would stay for long. He might have to suddenly go out again within the next hour, maybe even less.
Their eyes met and he cracked a small smile. Abbie Mae felt her heart melting. For all his cheating, secretive, wrongful ways, he had a smile that made her weak in the knees. If only he would come home on time, if only he would be the way he was when she first let herself get caught up in his eyes, in his words, in his gentle nature.
“How, how long are you going to stay?” She said in her quiet voice.
He gave a bit of a shrug. “Ain’t got no business.” He sat down wearily at the table. No doubt he was going to ask if there was any dinner, but before he could there was a heavy banging on the door. After the determined knock, the door was flung open and Sheriff Jacobs came in, followed by two of his deputies.
“Seth Carthwrite?” The Sheriff asked.
“Yes,” Seth replied, rising from his seat.
“You are under arrest!” The sheriff informed.
Seth backed away a little at the sudden news. One of the deputies approached him, handcuffs in hand. A gasp was heard and all turned to Abbie Mae, the three intruders obviously seeing her for the first time.
“Oh, you’ve got company,” the deputy with the handcuffs sneered. “Sorry Miss, but he won’t be entertaining you this evening. He’s got a date with the law.”
“What do you want from him?” Abbie Mae whispered in terror. “What did my husband do?”
A look of sympathy immediately came to the sheriff’s face. He saw the growing stomach, the tiny figure that supported it, the horror in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Carhtwrite,” he said in a gentle tone. “But I’m afraid we have to take your husband into custody. He’s been charged with illegal trade and with theft. There’s a lot of evidence against him. I didn’t realize he was married, or I would have gone about this in a different manner. Ma’am? Ma’am!”
Abbie Mae’s legs had given way and she had collapsed to the floor. Seth had made a move for her, but the deputy snapped the handcuffs on him.
“Think of runnin’ off, don’t ya?” He taunted.
Seth gave him a rough shove with his shoulder, only to receive a punch in the face.
“Don’t you attack the law,” the deputy snapped. He was suddenly pulled back roughly be the sheriff.
“Deputy Harlow, control yerself!” Jacobs commanded. “Can’t you see the man’s wife just fainted? He’s not running off, he’s just trying to make sure she’s alright.”
The second deputy now took charge of Seth, while Jacobs knelt on the floor to make sure Abbie Mae was alright.
“We ain’t from here,” Seth quietly said. “If yer gonna put me in prison, please make sure she is taken care of. Our family is in the town of Apple Wine. Could you take her to the Carthwrite Farm, those are her in-laws. Her mother lives not far, but her father drinks and I don’t want her going to him and his beating ways. My family will take better care of her.”
Jacobs lifted his gaze to look at the young man. He couldn’t be older than twenty. How did he get into such a mess?
“I’ll take her there myself,” he promised. “Harlow, fetch the landlady and see if she can get some smelling salts and help Mrs. Carthwrite pack her things. Clement, take him away. I’m sorry it has to be this way, Carthwrite, I really am.”
“I’m afraid that makes only one of you,” Seth murmured as he gave a final, parting glance at the still unconscious Abbie Mae before letting himself be led out of the house and to the sheriff’s office to await his fate.