Brother Dirk and Other Stories

Chapter Seven: Haddie Escapes

Chapter 7

Meanwhile, in her new cell, Haddie poured out her heart to the Lord. "Oh Father, exceedingly good and loving Savior, look with compassion on me. You know my weakness and ignorance. Do not let them test me beyond my ability. If it is your will, save me from this trial by Your divine hand."

As she prayed, she thought she heard a voice exclaiming, "Haddie!" It seemed so real that she looked around. When she didn't see anyone, she continued praying with all her heart. A second time, she thought she heard the same voice, but again nobody was near.

As she kept praying, she distinctly heard, "Haddie! I tell you, come out!" When she looked up, she saw that the cell door was open. Putting on her hood, she walked through the door and out of the prison, nobody stopping her. But now where could she hide? Haddie had to get off the street before they came looking for her. So she went into a church, putting herself into the most obscure corner she could.

"Have you heard?" a woman in the church told another. "The gates of the city have been closed because an Anabaptist woman has escaped from prison. Nobody knows how, and they strongly suspect witchcraft. They're searching everywhere for her." Hearing that, Haddie slipped out the back door.

Back in the street but partially hidden behind a fruit vendor's stall, Haddie heard the town messenger announce, "Whoever shall find the prisoner will receive a reward of one hundred gold coins. Whoever helps to hide her must pay a fine of one hundred and fifty gold coins."

Haddie now knew that she had no hiding place but the Lord. Her own home was certainly not safe. She dared to go to the couple for whom she had worked before her marriage, who thought much of her. But they turned her away. Walking back through the streets, she prayed that no one would recognize but her friends.

Looking up, she saw she was passing the house of the town priest. "I can't think of a place that could be more dangerous," she thought, but as she tried to hurry past, the priest's mentally-retarded servant appeared in the doorway. She knew the servant well, and breathing a prayer, called to him, begging for him to hide her. Quickly, the man took her inside to the attic room, above the priest's chambers, and brought her food and water.

In this hazardous place, Haddie sensed that her trials were not over. But she knew now that her Lord was protecting her. That night, the priest's servant, a big man with little fear of God, came back to the attic. "Where's your husband?" he grinned. "I don't see your husband these days. Can I be your husband?"

Now Haddie realized her situation was growing worse. If she screamed for help, the officers would take her back to jail. If the servant tried to bother her, she wasn't strong enough to keep him away. And because he was retarded, mentally and morally, she wasn't sure if she could reason with him. So she prayed to God again.

"No, I still have a husband, so you can't be my husband," she told the man. "That would be a bad sin, and we would both go to hell. You wouldn't want that to happen, would you?"

Haddie saw the disappointment in the man's eyes. "This lady knows the Bible very well," the servant mumbled. The next day he went to the market where Haddie's brother-in-law sold buttermilk every day.

"I know where Haddie is," he told her brother-in-law. "I let her hide in the priest's house. You need to come get her. Bring your boat. Come to the back stairs. It's next to the water."

The brother-in-law nodded, and that night, when no one could see, he took Haddie in his boat through the floodgate and safely out of the city. Haddie lived with the believers in the town of Emden until she was an old woman, when the Lord took her home peacefully.

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