Authors: Jerry S. Eicher
Tags: #Christian Fiction, #Amish, #Christian, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #Religious, #Love Stories
“I agree,” Jake said.
“Of course you would,” Betty said. “You’re thinking like men.”
“That’s the best way, isn’t it?” Jake said. Steve laughed heartily.
“You are a smart aleck, you know that?” Betty asked, joining in the laughter. “But something has to be done about this situation. We can’t have Hannah’s sister falling in love with someone as unstable as Dennis Riley.”
Jake and Steve shook their heads as Hannah brought the pie over from the counter.
Hannah drove the buggy toward Libby, urging Mosey to move faster as he plodded along. She shouldn’t have spent those last twenty minutes weeding in the garden, but it had simply been too tempting, the weeds coming out easily in her hands after the shower last night. The bus was due at ten thirty, but Jake said the arrival time could vary due to how the bus managed the mountain roads. It simply wouldn’t do to be late and have Miriam wait alone at the depot in a strange town. Traveling was frightening enough for a girl without having anyone to greet you at your destination.
Passing an open field at the outskirts of Libby, Hannah glanced sideways. Who were those three men and what were they doing? Two of them were obviously
and the third looked very familiar, his huge form standing with his back turned toward her. When he glanced in the direction of the buggy, Hannah caught her breath. It was Ben Stoll in his Mennonite clothing.
He waved, smiling broadly, and then turned back to the two
men. She clutched the lines, her heart pounding. So that was it. The men were obviously staking out the ground for where the Mennonite tent revival would be held. How did Ben dare do such a thing in broad daylight, coming to lure people away from the faith he once was a part of and obviously feeling no shame at all.
Oh, if Miriam only wasn’t coming this summer. Last summer would have been so much better—or perhaps even next year. Now she was walking into the jaws of a church storm…and looking for love on top of it all. Betty had agreed that they must do something, but there really was nothing that could be done. Some things were out of their hands.
Ahead on Main Street, the tall Greyhound bus came climbing up the hill. Hannah pulled into the gas station parking lot where the bus would stop. She climbed out of the buggy and tied Mosey to the fence. Behind her the roar of the bus filled her ears as it lumbered into the parking lot. Miriam was here, and she had best forget the community’s troubles for the moment and gather herself together to properly welcome her sister to the West.
The door swung open and two
women came out followed by a young boy holding his suitcase. He looked around, shading his eyes from the sun, before heading toward the gas station. Slowly the door of the bus moved in the slight breeze, but no Miriam appeared. Was Miriam not on the bus? Had she perhaps missed a connection and been unable to let her know?
Hannah walked forward quickly. Perhaps she could ask the bus driver. Clutching her bonnet she approached the open door, catching the words in her mouth just as Miriam appeared on the top step.
“Welcome!” Hannah shouted above the din of the bus motor.
“Oh, it’s so beautiful!” Miriam said, stepping down. “I can’t believe you live in such a lovely place.”
Hannah wrapped her arms around Miriam, pulling her into a tight hug. “It’s so good to see you.”
“And you too,” Miriam said. “Has Betty come along?”
“No, she’s busy at the house, plus we need all the room in the buggy for your luggage.”
“I don’t have much,” Miriam said, walking over to retrieve a single suitcase from the bus driver who was still unloading luggage.
Hannah took it from her hand and motioned toward the buggy. “I’m over there.”
Miriam was staring at the mountain range, moving around to catch a better look between the storefronts. “The mountains are so beautiful. I don’t remember noticing just how lovely they are when I came out for your wedding.”
“Come,” Hannah said, pulling on her arm. “You can see the mountains outside the town. People will soon be staring at us.”
“I guess that’s true,” Miriam said, pulling her bonnet forward and hurrying after Hannah. “I got caught up in the moment is all.”
“I still remember the first time I saw them when we came in with the van,” Hannah said, sliding the suitcase beneath the buggy seat. “I was hurting pretty badly from Peter’s funeral, but they lifted my spirits even then.”
“Talking about Peter…” Miriam said, climbing into the buggy as Hannah untied Mosey.
“What about Peter?” Hannah asked, swinging the reins to head Mosey toward Main Street.
“I saw Alice in the fabric store in Nappanee. She’s married now and has two children.”
“Well, she was his girlfriend. I’m glad she’s been able to move on with her life.”
Miriam continued, “She was friendly. I don’t think she knew about you and Peter—or that you were out with him on the night of his accident.”
“I would hope not. I have enough sins on my account without everyone knowing about it.”
“With people not knowing—that did make it easier, but then you’ve always had things easier.”
“Miriam!” Hannah exclaimed. “How can you say that? After all I went through. I mean, I was partly to blame that Peter had his accident. How can that be easier? Look at you. You’ve never done the things I have.”
“I know I haven’t,” Miriam said. “And look at the boring life I’m living. You take risks. Sure you make mistakes, but look at where you are. You had all kinds of chances for love. Sam was falling over his farmer’s feet, taking you right to the marriage altar, and Jake sure didn’t waste much time. And now your husband is a preacher. How much better can it get? But me? Look at me. I’m the older, ugly sister who can’t even get a date, let alone a husband.”
“Miriam,” Hannah said, snapping the reins sharply. “You could get all kinds of boys back home if you wanted to. You know that.”
“Perhaps,” Miriam said with a short laugh. “But I’ve been waiting for the perfect man, which I’m beginning to think doesn’t exist. So I’m ready to settle for the next decent boy that comes along, even if he drives a broken-down horse and doesn’t have two pennies to rub together.”
“Does Mom know all this?”
“Most of it. I think that’s why she agreed to allow me to come out here again. I think she hopes some of your good sense will sort of slide over onto me.”
“But you are a wonderful girl, Miriam. I’m sure the right man is out there for you. You don’t have to settle for second best. I thought I had to, but it’s not that way.
led me straight to Jake once I got my eyes opened.”
“I think some of your good sense is already trickling down over me,” Miriam said, watching the passing mountains out of the open buggy door. “And your beautiful mountains will completely set me on the right path. My, but what would it be like to find love here like you did, Hannah? It must be the most wonderful feeling in the world. The air here is clearer, the sky bluer, the people more dashing and brave, and the heart must be larger to take it all in.”
“I think you’ve been reading romance stories,” Hannah said with a laugh as she slapped the reins again, startling Mosey out of his plod.
“I don’t think so,” Miriam said. “The only romance story I’ve read was watching my sister and her husband. I still haven’t forgotten your little wedding out here, and I think I want to get married in Montana too.”
Hannah glanced at Miriam. “You can only do what
allows, and maybe He has other plans for you.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Miriam said, shaking her head.
“Betty wants us to stop in and say hi,” Hannah said, giving the lines another shake. “You’ll be staying at our place for the weekend, and then come back to Betty’s on Sunday night. Betty won’t open the stable for business until next week.”
“Sounds fine with me,” Miriam said, watching the passing fields.
“I would keep you at our place all summer and fall if we had room. But it will still be wonderful to have you so close by. I get lonesome for family, even with Betty around.”
“I can imagine. Now if only I can find love out here, you might have me around forever.”
Hannah laughed. “Can’t you think of anything else?”
“Not at the moment,” Miriam said. “Tell me something. You were so good at finding Jake. Pick out a boy for me. I’m sure he’d be perfect and adorable, and I might not have to settle for second best.”
“Miriam, you know I can’t go picking out husbands for other people.”
“But you could. Come on and tell me. My guess is you already know the perfect boy for me, don’t you? One that I would fall head over heels in love for, and with whom I could live for the rest of my life in these beautiful mountains.”
“Miriam! I can do no such thing.”
Studying her face, Miriam let out a yelp of joy. “I knew it! I knew it! You already
picked someone for me. And he’s the perfect Montana boy who will delight my heart. Oh, I can’t believe this.
has finally decided to have mercy upon my poor aching heart. Hannah, you’re so wonderful. Oh, Hannah, will I have to wait till Sunday to see him or will there be a young folks gathering sooner than that?”
“Would you calm yourself?” Hannah asked, giggling. “You will have to pick your own boyfriend. The only boy on my mind is one who is
right for you.”
“Oh, this is so sweet,” Miriam said, pushing her bonnet back. “I knew it. I just knew it.”
“But I said he’s
right for you.”
“That’s why I know he
If you said he was, I’d doubt you, but you said he isn’t.”
“How convoluted is that?”
“That’s how you think, Hannah. You may not know it, but that’s how you picked Jake. You liked him, but you didn’t think he was the right one at first. And then it turned out he was. This is the same thing.”
Hannah stared straight ahead, pulling back on the reins, and turning Mosey into Betty’s lane. Before she came to a stop by the front door, Betty was already running down the steps, her apron flapping.
“Oh, you’ve come back to Montana!” Betty hollered, grabbing Miriam in a hug before she barely touched the ground. “I’m so glad to see you. And how is your mom?”
“Quite well and she sends her greetings.”
“Of course, of course,” Betty said. “Can you come inside for a few minutes before you go on to Hannah’s place? We’re in the middle of the morning’s work, but we can chat for a little bit.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t keep you from your work,” Miriam said. “But there is one thing I would love. Could Hannah take me on a ride with the horses and show me around? Sort of where she used to ride while she was here and where I’m supposed to take the riders.”
“I suppose that would be a great idea if Hannah has the time,” Betty said. “Steve just opened the trail along the river a few days ago.”
“I’d be glad to,” Hannah said, walking around the buggy, as the house door opened again and Kendra waved a greeting to Miriam.
“Come and give your cousin a hug,” Betty told Kendra. She ran across the lawn and gave Miriam a hug.
“Let me know if you need something in the barn, Hannah,” Betty said. “I’d better get busy. We look forward to having you with us this summer, Miriam. You don’t know what a blessing that will be.”
“I’ll be the one being blessed,” Miriam said, smiling broadly. “Especially with the news that Hannah has already told me.”
“News?” Betty asked.
“That she already has a boy picked out for me. And the perfect boy.”
“Hannah! You didn’t tell her?” Betty gasped. “That’s exactly what you were not supposed to do.”
Hannah adjusted the stirrup on her horse’s saddle, while Miriam, still laughing, threw a saddle onto hers and cinched it down.
“It’s not one bit funny,” Hannah said. “Betty and I were trying to solve a very serious problem.”
“I think it’s funny that I caught you in the act, like two old women planning my future. And the look on Betty’s face. That was priceless.”