Judith Hershberger wonders what her life would have been like had she been born into an English family instead of an Amish one. Would she be happier with the freedom to obtain more schooling as an English young woman instead of being limited to only an eighth grade Amish education?
In Judith’s Place, the second book in the Dreams of Plain Daughters Series, schoolteacher Judith Hershberger yearns to learn more despite the educational restriction imposed on her because of her Amish upbringing. Wanting more than an eighth grade education, she puts off joining the Amish faith. During her rumspringa, she’ll be able to obtain her high school diploma without being shunned. Her father is afraid Judith will leave their Amish community if she passes the GED test. He knows she’s unhappy that Amish women are expected to follow a certain path in life.
When a non-Amish college student, Eliza Dunbar, observes Judith in her classroom, a friendship between the two young women develops. Eliza gives Judith the nudge she needs to study for her GED test. Eliza wonders what it would be like to switch places with Judith to live a simple life without electricity and other modern conveniences. Judith envies Eliza because she is free to attend college.
Jacob Weaver finally gets the courage to ask Judith to go with him to a Sunday singing. Like Judith, he wants to do something that isn’t allowed in their Plain community. Jacob wants to get his driver’s license so he can drive a truck to make the deliveries for the lumberyard. He needs to earn enough money to buy his own small farm. But even though it sounds plausible, Jacob feels stress with trying to learn to drive a truck instead of a buggy. Once he accomplishes this, Jacob plans to become baptized and join the Amish church.
Will Judith decide to stay in her Amish community or will she decide to leave in order to attend college? Will Judith’s friendship with Jacob influence her as she finds her place?
As soon as Jacob returned to the lumberyard, his boss Mike asked, “How’d it go? Do you have a date?”
“Yep,” Jacob answered.
“Give me five.” Mike put his hand up in the air.
After slapping Mike’s hand, Jacob moved away quickly to start loading a truck for a shipment that was going to Milford, about a fifty-minute drive from Fields Corner. Mike was a talkative guy, and he didn’t want to be questioned about Judith. No need to tell his boss how Judith hesitated before saying yes to going sledding with him. It took him a long time to get courage to ask her. Now he wondered if he’d made a mistake. Did she think I’m not bright enough for her? She’s a scribe for the The Budget. Samuel said she hadn’t been courted so I thought she might be a little eager to go sledding with me. Maybe Judith doesn’t like sledding. No, that’s not it. She wasn’t sure about going with me. Although his confidence took a hit from her hesitation in saying yes, it couldn’t be all him. Judith wasn’t the first girl he’d asked out for the Sunday get-togethers. A year ago he’d courted Leah Hostetler a few times, but she’d moved away before they could get serious about each other.
“Hey, Jacob,” Mike yelled. “Have you ever thought of getting your driver’s license? It’d be a big help for me if you could drive some of the shipments.”
“Don’t you remember I’m Amish? I don’t think driving one of your big trucks would be the same as my buggy.” Mike appeared by his side so he stopped loading and wiped his sweaty forehead with his sleeve. You can’t miss Mike when he stands by you, Jacob thought. He’s a huge guy, even his neck is thick. But Mike blamed his large neck on wrestling. He’d wrestled while in high school and college in the heavyweight class.
“You said during you rumspringa you could get your license. I didn’t know that you had joined your church.”
“I haven’t joined.” Leaning against the wagon of the truck, Jacob continued, “A few of my friends have gone together and bought a car so that’s why I mentioned getting my license. I’m not sure what my parents would do. They might ask me to move out.” He didn’t think his parents would tell him to leave home and might look the other way, but he wasn’t so sure about Judith’s daed. He’d been interested in Judith Hershberger for a long time. Baptized or not, he wanted to see what happened when he took Judith sledding. He hoped she’d want to see him again and if she did, he didn’t want to upset her daed by doing something English like driving a truck.
“I don’t want to cause any problems for you with your folks but if you decide to get your license, let me know.”
Jacob grinned at Mike. “You’ll be the first to know. If I drive one of your trucks, you better have good insurance.”
Mike laughed. “No problem on the insurance.”
After the truck was filled with the lumber order, Jacob opened a Coke to drink. He needed the caffeine before cutting trestles. He hadn’t slept much last night, thinking about seeing Judith. He didn’t remember feeling this naerfich when he’d first asked Leah out. Maybe it was because Leah had attended the youth gatherings, so he’d talked to her a few times first before asking her for a date.
He fingered the cold Coke can while he couldn’t stop thinking about Judith. Sure, he knew her from their families being close, but she’d always been quiet when the Weavers and Hershbergers used to get together. Many times she’d go off with Katie when Samuel and Rachel were busy talking. And they hadn’t gotten together as much since Irene Hershberger passed on. Irene had been his mamm’s best friend. Now that Samuel and Rachel had married in November, they enjoyed visiting with Rachel’s brother, Peter and his wife, Ella.
Judith looked pretty in her blue dress with her bright blue eyes in a delicate face. She was the prettiest teacher Fields Corner Amish School ever had...probably not only the prettiest, but the smartest one too. Samuel told him that Judith had changed her mind about joining the church with Katie and Rachel because she wanted to study and get her her high school diploma. Why would she want to do that when she was Amish? She didn’t need more education to teach in their Amish school. Was she thinking about going elsewhere to teach? He hoped not. One thing for sure, I better think of interesting things to discuss with Judith on Sunday. I enjoy reading her letters in The Budget. That will be a good topic for us. I can also ask her about her scholars. She likes to read, but I haven’t read any books lately so that’s out.
With both of them not being baptized, he hoped Mr. Hershberger wouldn’t object if they started dating. They shouldn’t officially date until both were baptized, but Rachel wasn’t baptized when she dated Samuel. And they were just going sledding as friends, not as boyfriend and girlfriend. I’m getting way ahead of myself here. I just need to get through Sunday evening. I hope that Judith will want to spend more time with me, even though I don’t like to read. Hey, they say opposites attract.
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