Altars & Blackboards - Part II
by Rosemarie

Ignoring the pain in his arm, Josiah made his way up the stairs to the church. The bullet had hardly scraped his skin, and he didn´t intend to make a fuss over it. He knew the teacher would still be in there, waiting for
him. She needed to talk to him, that much he´d been able to sense. Maybe he should ask her to postpone the conversation, until...

He caught sight of her slender form as she sat there completely unmoving and obviously lost in thought. It wouldn´t be easy for her to establish a school in this town and Josiah admired her courage.

Another thought flitted through his mind but he did his best to ignore it. Yet he couldn´t help but wonder why a lady as beautiful as she wasn´t married with a home and children of her own. But that was certainly none of his business.

"Miss Herrington," he finally said, making his presence known.

She rose and turned, and as her eyes met his he had to make a conscious effort not to lower his gaze. Once more he had a feeling she was able to look right to the bottom of his soul. Poor kids, he thought wryly. They won´t stand a chance.

"Josiah," she greeted him warmly. "Are you all right?"

He gave her a quick nod. Probably too quick, because there was a trace of suspicion in her features as she raised her brows.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Miss Herrington?" he asked with as much calmness as he could muster.

"I wanted to thank you, Josiah, for being so hospitableand so willing to help."

"I don´t own this church," he replied. "There´s nothing to thank me for."

She gave him a silent look he was helpless to interpret, but she didn´t say anything further. Turning to the blackboard, she said, "You know the people in this town, Josiah. How would you describe their attitude toward

He stepped up to her and wiped a trace of sawdust off the wooden frame of the board. "A lot of them think it's important."

He hadn´t meant to fall silent, so he wasn´t surprised that she sensed the unspoken 'but'.

"But some don´t," she added pensively. "That´s what it is like in most places. I can deal with that."

"Everybody knows you plan on starting lessons nine o´clock tomorrow," Josiah pointed out. "I´m sure the children will be here on time."

She gave him an uncertain smile. "Thank you," she repeated, placing her hand on his arm. He flinched and she withdrew her hand, her brows narrowing in concern as she studied the blood on her fingers. "You´re hurt," she stated. "You should go see a doctor."

"It´s nothing," he insisted.

"The wound could get infected if you don´t attend to it." She cast him a no-nonsense look that brooked no argument, and he knew that the children wouldn´t be the only ones who didn´t stand a chance in the face of so much

"I´ll talk to Nathan later," Josiah promised, seeing that she wouldn't be swayed.

She nodded. "I had better get organized. Will I see you in the morning?"

"I´ll be here to see if you need anything," he said.

She thanked him again before turning to leave. He watched her disappear into the light of the afternoon sun streaming in through the door, marveling at the sense of purpose that suddenly filled him.