I was recently asked to share some of my writing. As a result, I have decided to share one of my favorite chapters from No Greater Love.
At this point in the story, Jasmine is a captive of Marsden. Her clergyman husband, Trevor, is waiting back in Wynster for her return.
Trevor watched as seven-year-old Evelyn, six-year-old Teresa, five-year old Mary and four-year-old Simon, Elliot’s children, splashed in the river happily. Tabitha, Thomas, Heather, and Mattie, Vincent’s oldest children, played in the sand. Will, Jemma, Jared, and Jeran took turns running through the waterfall. John and Jessie soon joined them. Their laughter helped raise his spirits. Few things did these days.
Mindful of possible danger, King Caleb had sent soldiers to protect them on their trip to Peyton’s Tears. The circle of guards around the landmark would prevent against attack.
Mother Isabel sat on the boulder beside him. Her hair had grayed considerably since the invasion. “I am glad we came here. Thank you for suggesting it.”
Trevor nodded. “I have missed this place.” He stared at the rainbows that formed around the base of the waterfall as he watched the children frolic. “She said it is a symbol of hope.”
Forgive my impatience, Lord. I know they are trying. But my love is in chains.
Mother Isabel studied him. “You are a remarkable man, Trevor. My daughter has chosen well. I am sorry I did not see that at first.” She bowed her head. “I am sorry for a lot of things. There would have been no invasion if I had heeded my daughter’s objections to him last year.”
“You did not know this would happen, Mother.” Though Trevor was still adjusting to the notion of calling those in the Royal Family by their given names instead of their royal titles, he did feel comfortable calling Jasmine’s mother by the same name her children used.
“I knew that Marsden was a both a large, happy kingdom and a bloodthirsty nation. We have been at peace for many years because former Kings sent their daughters to Marsden whenever they proposed it.” She sighed. “One reason my husband decreed his daughters would choose was to prevent such a request.”
“I did not know that.
“My husband had three sisters. All were married before their fifteenth birthday. Two were sent to Marsden. One was sent further away.” She sighed. “All died before they reached the age of twenty.”
“I am sorry.”
“My husband grieved such things. His oldest sister went to Marsden. She died in childbirth. The son was stillborn. His third sister was sent to Marsden as well, since the second had married. She begged her father not to send her away. He did not listen. He feared invasion. So he ignored his daughter’s cries and married her off anyway. She died within a year. Of a broken heart, my husband believed.
“I knew we must be careful with Marsden. They had received two brides from us within recent memory and both had died without giving the King an heir. When they heard Elena had reached the proper age, they sent envoys to take her. I sent them my regrets, explaining my husband’s decree. By the time they objected to such a thing, she had married. The prince married soon after that. And I thought that was the end.
“I knew the moment that the prince stood on my doorstep as a widower to refuse him again was dangerous. I explained my husband’s decree again. I told him she was already seeing another suitor. I told him politely to go.
“He did not. He reminded me of the old treaties. He told me he wanted to win Jasmine’s hand. I asked for time to consider the request…and I made my daughter see him. To appease him. And no good has come of that decision.”
Another Bible story came to mind. He remembered Jesus’ words as he faced the mob that wanted to stone the adulteress woman. “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.”
Trevor knew Caleb blamed himself for signing the draft that Marsden claimed was the real treaty. But as time went on and the army drew closer, Trevor had become convinced no one was to blame. A man who would invade a country because he wanted a married woman wouldn’t have left anything to chance. He would have invaded regardless of what Wynster had done to appease him.
And now Trevor saw that Jasmine’s mother blamed herself, too.
“No one is perfect, Mother. You made a choice to appease the prince. You asked Jasmine not to send him away. Those things were not wrong.” The children kept laughing. More joined in as they ran through the waterfall. Trevor was grateful for the happy sounds to accompany such depressing topics. “You and King Caleb have done everything possible to stop him. I see that.”
She sighed. “My husband visited his third sister once before she died. He walked away convinced that no kingdom should run as Marsden does. But everyone lets them because we fear their wrath.
“Thank you for your words, Trevor. But I know I am guilty. I knew what my husband said of that place. He said the castle was no place – ” She stopped.
Trevor automatically finished the thought. The princes had been studying Marsden for weeks. He had heard things, too. “No place for women. I know. I studied some of their rituals. The bloody staff after victory. Feasts that honor pagan gods.
“My wife is in God’s hands, my lady.” At this point, he was reminding himself, too. “She has chosen to trust Him with her life. The Lord has seen what has happened here. He knows you were wronged. He knows you fight for the right reasons. And one day, I believe He will honor that commitment with victory.”
Jemma approached, bearing a smooth white stone that seemed to sparkle in the sunlight. “Look, Grandma! It’s so pretty! Can I keep it?”
“Of course, dear one.”
“Will you hold it for me?”
“Yes, I will.”
Jemma gave Trevor a quick hug. “Thanks, Uncle Trevor. I like your waterfall.”
“I’m glad you like it, Jemma. And it’s not just my waterfall, you know. It’s yours, too. You’re a princess now.”
“Do all princesses get a waterfall?” Jemma wondered.
He smiled. “Just the special ones.”
As she ran off to play, he recalled Jasmine’s words on the day after their wedding. “I have had many happy memories in this place. Most of them are with you. I remembered this place…when I needed to forget other things.”
God, when will you honor this family? They have been wronged. Their kingdom is nearly ruined. Why haven’t You stepped up to defend them when they cannot defend themselves?
Their trust is in what they can see and control. I have let their forces fall so they will know that I am the Lord.
As Trevor was absorbing the Lord’s response, one of the castle servants drew everyone’s attention with a few simple words. “Lunch time!”
The kids ran for the blanket where the food was set out.
Trevor and Mother Isabel took a seat nearby. The children happily munched and chattered. To them, the war was just a bad memory.
Jeran looked at Trevor. “We met you here last year. We came with Mama and Aunt Jasmine to the waterfall. You told us about Noah and the Ark.”
He nodded. “That’s right.”
Jared piped up. “Aunt Jasmine liked being here. She showed me it was safe to run through the waterfall.” He looked down at his sandwich. “I miss her.”
“I do too, Jared.” Trevor answered.
“Why did Aunt Jasmine leave?” Jemma asked. “Daddy said it was to make the bad men go away. But why did they listen when she told them to leave? They didn’t even listen to Daddy. And he’s the King now.”
She left to save your lives. Before you were murdered for being a child of the King. He chose a safer place to start. “Do you remember before Aunt Jasmine married me? There were lots of men that came to see her. They all wanted to marry her. But she didn’t like any of them.”
Will grinned. “I remember. Dad told Mom she was just being stubborn.”
Trevor smiled as well. “That might have been part of it. Anyway, that man from Marsden came. He was Marsden’s prince, and he wanted to marry Aunt Jasmine. But she told him no.
“That prince became the King of Marsden, and he told us again a while ago that he wanted to marry Aunt Jasmine. But she was already married to me.
“When those soldiers surrounded the castle…those bad men hurt a lot of people. So your Aunt Jasmine decided to talk to the Marsden King. He told us before they invaded…he wanted Aunt Jasmine to live in his castle.
“Jemma, your aunt left because she loved you. And she loved the people of Wynster. And she knew the Marsden King still wanted her to live with him. So she agreed to live in the Marsden castle…to save us…from the bad men.”
“Wasn’t she scared?” Jemma wondered. “Those men are scary.”
“Your Aunt Jasmine is one of the bravest people I know. She was scared, but she was trusting God to take care of her.”
“Braver than Daddy?” Jeran interjected.
“Bravery comes in different forms, Jeran. And your father is brave in many ways.”
“Is she coming back, Uncle Trevor?” Mary asked. “I want to thank her for sending the bad men away. I can sleep in my own room now.”
“I…I don’t know, Mary. I hope so.”
Jeran stared at Trevor for a long time before voicing his question. “Uncle Trevor?”
“Is the bad King…going to hurt Aunt Jasmine? Because he’s mad at her for saying no?”
I am certain he already has. “I…don’t know, Jeran. But I do know that she loves you all very much.”
Teresa cocked her head and looked at Trevor. “If Aunt Jasmine has to live in a new castle, why didn’t you go with her, Uncle Trevor?”
Lord, I thank You for their innocence. “The Marsden King wouldn’t let me.”
“Can we go to visit her sometime, Grandma Isabel?” Mary asked.
Jasmine’s mother bowed her head and wiped away her tears. “No, children. We cannot. The Marsden King…will not let any of us see her again.”
“That’s not fair!” Jared answered.
“No, it is not.” Mother Isabel hugged Mary, her closest grandchild. “But your daddies are trying…to change things, children. So they can bring your aunt back home for good.”
Done with his meal, Trevor stared at the river bank. He remembered a position of prayer that he had adopted here while Jasmine was in the dungeons. The Lord spoke to his heart. Show them you are trusting in Me.
Trevor was hesitant, but stood anyway. The others hadn’t left their places around the blanket, and all watched him, curious. Trevor approached the base of the waterfall and knelt, placing one hand in the flowing water as it rushed down.
“Whatcha doing, Uncle Trevor?” Little Jared had followed him.
“I am praying for Aunt Jasmine to come home. I used to do this before we married.”
Evelyn joined her cousin. “Why is your hand in the water like that?”
“It helps me to remember I am not always in control. I do not make this river run…but I trust the God who does.”
“Can we pray with you, Uncle Trevor?” Evelyn asked. “I want Aunt Jasmine to come home now.”
Jemma scrambled to join them at the bank when she saw the other two kneeling on the rocks, behind Trevor. “Can I do it, too?”
Before Trevor realized what was happening, the entire group of royal children knelt on the rocks by the waterfall, hands thrust in the flowing water. They closed their eyes and smiled. Trevor started to pray aloud when he heard a noise. He opened his eyes, curious. Mother Isabel had joined her grandchildren at the water, kneeling in prayer for Jasmine.
No Greater Love is available in print and as an ebook. Thanks for reading!