Face wet with tears, she hugged her knees towards her ripening belly, seeking to keep out the chill night air. Her heart ached. This was not how she’d imagined it. Why did no one believe her?
Her cousin had understood, rejoiced with her, but on returning home she’d faced utter rejection. Father wanted to turn her out of the house. Mother thought her mad, raving! They all thought it was him… that they’d…
She remembered his face, the pain inflicted by her seeming betrayal. At least he was prepared to send her away, wouldn’t enact the law as was his right. He’d considered it, she knew, but couldn’t face the thought. The law was explicit. She was not fit to live. He was not a vengeful man, for that she could be thankful, but he would never forgive her.
She recalled his anger at her stammered explanation.
“You expect me to believe that!” he’d yelled. “I’ll be the laughing stock of the village! Even if I send you away they’ll guess.” What would she do, where would she go. No one would take her in her present state.
Red tinged the sky, a narrow band on the horizon greeting the day. A shape appeared midst the shadows, coming closer. Then suddenly he was there, arms open to encircle her.
“It’s alright Mary. I believe you. We’ll be married.”
“But they’ll all think it was you…”
“I know,” Joseph replied. “But I know who the child really is. It doesn’t matter what they say, God has given me a great honour.” Shyly hesitant he placed his hand on the small mound of her belly. “I’ll take care of you both, I promise.” He whispered.