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Authors: Jerry S. Eicher

Tags: #Christian Fiction, #Amish, #Christian, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #Religious, #Love Stories

A Baby for Hannah (12 page)

BOOK: A Baby for Hannah
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“I have peaches,” she said. “Although these are from a batch I canned two years ago. I don’t know if that makes any difference to you. It’ll be a few months before the new crop of peaches comes in.”

“I’ll take a jar,” he said, reaching into his pocket for his billfold. “I’m sure they’ll be delicious.”

She took his money as she handed him the jar. “I hope you enjoy them.”

“I know I will,” he said, clearing his throat.

Did he dare? But what could he say that wouldn’t produce an automatic rift in their current comfortable relationship?

“Is there anything else?” she asked, waiting, her bonnet pushed back on her head, revealing her white
kapp
and the dark hair stretched tight across her forehead.

“You have a good day,” he said, looking away and turning back to the pickup. He pulled out of the driveway and headed back toward town. His groceries needed to be home in the refrigerator, but they could wait. He needed to speak with Jake.

Careful to maintain his speed, Mr. Brunson drove into Libby and pulled into the small parking lot in front of Jake’s furniture store. A small display room in front had a rocker, a log bed frame, and a dresser in the window. Mr. Brunson exited the truck, walked to the door, and entered. He stepped past the empty front desk and almost slammed into Jake when he went through the door to the workshop in the back.

“Oh, it’s you,” Jake said. “What’s the rush?”

“I’ve got to speak to you,” Mr. Brunson said. “Can we go to the front office?”

“Sure,” Jake said. “I hope nothing is wrong.”

“Not unless you count my feeling like a bogeyman,” Mr. Brunson said, taking the chair behind the desk. Jake dusted off his apron and sat on the rocker.

“You look distraught,” Jake said. “Is everything okay?”

“No, everything is not okay,” Mr. Brunson said. “And you’re going to have to help me.”

“All right. What can I do?”

“This matter of my feelings for Mary Keim, that’s what. I know you told me to stay away from her, but I can’t. At least not until I know how she feels. And I can’t ask her myself lest I get her into trouble with your people. Besides, she’d probably die from shock if an
Englisha
man asked her out for dinner.”

“She would be surprised, that’s for sure, and, yes, troubled,” Jake said. “Regardless of what her feelings might be on the matter. She would think she’s to blame for giving you ideas.”

“But how can it be wrong? I love the woman, Jake.”

“You
think
you love her,” Jake said. “Love to the Amish is much more than romantic feelings. It’s commitment, respect, and a willingness to place the good of the other first.”

“And what would be best for Mary? That I disappear?”

“I don’t know,” Jake said. “This situation is a new one on me.”

“And you think it’s not for me?” Mr. Brunson said, laughing grimly.

“Would you be willing to join the Amish?” Jake asked.

“Join the Amish? But why can’t she join me?”

“I don’t think she would. Mary’s been Amish all of her life. Do you want her to leave the faith now and face a separation from her family? That’s what she would experience if she marries an
Englisha
man.”

“No,” Mr. Brunson said. “She’s a sweet woman, and I wouldn’t wish any hardship on her, even for my own benefit. But still—if I at least knew how she felt that would help.”

“And if she expressed feelings for you, you’d really join our faith?”

“What would that involve? Do the Amish have any weird doctrines hidden under the surface that would come out to haunt me?”

“No.” Jake laughed. “I don’t think so, anyway. We are very similar to Protestant churches in matters of doctrine. Where we differ is in our belief that the church needs to be separate from the world. And you can see for yourself how that takes shape. We don’t drive cars, have electricity in our homes, and so on.”

“And would you take me in as a member? I mean, what could an old man like me lose from joining the Amish? And for a woman like Mary I would be more than glad to.”

“I don’t think you should rush into a decision,” Jake said. “It’s a lot harder than what it may look like to you.”

“I can imagine,” Mr. Brunson said. “Is there any way I can talk with Mary, perhaps with you or Hannah present? I could let her know that my feelings for her would prompt me to become Amish. That would prove I was serious.”

Jake shook his head. “I don’t think that would be fair. She’d think you were joining just because of her.”

“But I would be.”

“But that’s not good,” Jake said. “I think you’re going to have to take the risk beforehand. She’ll respect you for that. That is,
if
she has feelings for you, which I don’t know. If you attempt to secure her affections beforehand, it will never be quite the same. I think she’d want to know you had become Amish because you were convinced it was the right thing for you to do…not just to please her and win her heart.”

“I don’t know,” Mr. Brunson said. “Are you sure that’s not the preacher in you talking?”

“It could be,” Jake said, smiling. “But I’m responsible for her as a church member, as are the other ministers.”

“Still, I think the eloping idea is better,” Mr. Brunson said, getting up. “I’d sweep her off her feet with my offer of marriage. What could the poor woman say to the life I have to offer her? There’s the money. I could take her on cruises to Alaska, to the Bahamas, to Europe, to the Mediterranean, and that’s just the beginning. Plus, she’d be getting me,” he added with a wink.

“You would be a good catch,” Jake said. “You’re a good man, but we value our faith above anything this world has to offer. That’s part of who we are. Would you wish to take that away from Mary?”

“I declare you could outtalk a Princeton graduate in rhetoric, Jake. Let alone being a master at making me feel guilty. No, I wouldn’t want Mary to give up her principles.”

“Then you don’t have much choice, do you?”

“Look, Jake,” Mr. Brunson said, placing both of his hands on the desk. “At least tell her that I wish to speak with her. Do that for me, and I will take it from there. You don’t have to tell her why, just make it legitimate, let it be someplace where she doesn’t get in trouble for it and can give me a fair hearing.”

“So you want to get
me
in trouble?”

“No, but I have no other choice. I have to talk to her. Do you want me to go down and do so on my own?”

“No,” Jake said. “I like both of you too much to let that happen.”

“I’ll go to your bishop if you want me to.”

Jake laughed. “And what makes you think he’ll tell you anything different from what I say?”

“It’ll probably be worse.”

“Probably.”

“Then you won’t help me?”

“I didn’t say I wouldn’t.”

“But you didn’t say you would either.”

“Tell you what I’ll do,” Jake said. “I’ll send Hannah down tonight to speak with her. I don’t think it’s the best way, but coming from a woman, it might be better received.”

“That’ll be fine,” Mr. Brunson said, a broad smile on his face. “But let’s be sure about this. I won’t be getting you or Hannah in trouble, will I?”

“Not if you behave yourself,” Jake said. “Hannah will speak to Mary tonight, and I’ll let you know her response next week.”

“I knew you’d come through for an old friend.” Mr. Brunson beamed. “I can never thank you enough for this, Jake.”

“Just remember you said that—when and if you begin learning how to be Amish,” Jake said with a smile.

“It will be worth it,” Mr. Brunson said. “Trust me.”

Jake shook his head, turning back to his shop as Mr. Brunson went out the front door.

Mr. Brunson got into his truck and headed home. As he drove past Mary’s now empty roadside stand he smiled confidently. Jake had agreed to his proposal, and he would soon know what Mary’s feelings were for him. That would make things so much easier.

Turning onto the gravel lane toward home, he drove past Jake and Hannah’s cabin, slowing his truck to cut down on the dust. Then it occurred to him. Why couldn’t he make his own case to Hannah instead of having the words go through Jake’s mouth? He knew Hannah well enough, and she had always treated him with the utmost respect. The other night she had been very sympathetic to his story. Surely that all figured in his favor.

But it might not be wise. Better to let Jake tell her, as they had decided. The Amish faith was still a mystery, and there was no sense in stepping into any hidden traps along the way.

Continuing to his place, the truck bounced up to his house. He unloaded the groceries and hurried on his aching legs to get the now warm eggs into the refrigerator. If they spoiled before he finished the carton, the stop to see Mary had still been worth it. Finishing the last trip he walked back outside, standing on the front porch to look at the mountains in the east, his eyes following the long rise and fall of the majestic ridges.

What would it be like to join the Amish? Surely it would be fun, if nothing else. He had already experienced a life of seclusion in these mountains in the years after Bernice and Elsie’s deaths. Going Amish shouldn’t be that much different. And as close as the Amish community seemed, he would certainly no longer be so alone. It might be a good thing, this Amish conversion.

With Bernice he had dreamed of cruises and travel to exotic places. They had never gone, except for the trip to Guam on their honeymoon, always pushing the dates back until the day they would retire. Now Bernice was gone. Could another woman ever take her place?

No, but Mary was a different woman. She wouldn’t be taking Bernice’s place at all. In fact, with Mary it was obvious there still would be no cruises ahead or travel to exotic places. Perhaps it was just as well. He sighed and turned to go back inside.

Thirteen

 

Hannah turned Mosey into the gravel lane and drove up the hill toward the cabin. Miriam, impatient, pulled the storm front open and leaned out of the buggy front to look eagerly around her.

“You’ll fall out if you’re not careful,” Hannah warned, hanging onto the lines as Mosey lifted his feet high, almost prancing at the sight of the barn.

“I have to look around,” Miriam said. “This is such beautiful country. And look at your adorable little cabin.”

“It’s small,” Hannah said, “but we like it.”

“I can see why,” Miriam said. “I never dreamed it would be this nice—not even with all the descriptions Mom gave from her trip out here.”

“I suppose you have to see things before they’re real to you,” Hannah said, guiding Mosey up to the barn. Miriam was already on the ground before Hannah pulled to a stop, jumping out over the buggy wheels.

“This is where I will find love, and I will always remember this as the moment when I first knew for sure. The sight of your little cabin will be forever burned in my mind as the place I finally knew that love had come knocking on my door.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little silly?” Hannah asked, climbing down from the buggy and loosening the tugs.

“And this statement comes from the girl who used to dream herself!” Miriam said, turning to loosen the tugs on her side of the buggy.

“You don’t sound like it’s a dream,” Hannah said, leading Mosey forward while Miriam held the shafts. “You sound certain of it.”

“I
am
certain of it,” Miriam said. “And you will let me use the cabin on Sunday nights, won’t you? I don’t think I can risk having him take me over to Betty’s place. She would be up to her usual sabotage, like she was with you and Jake.”

“Don’t be hard on Betty. She had her reasons.”

“But you
will
let me use the living room, won’t you, Hannah? Please? Do I have to get down on my knees and beg?”

Hannah laughed, “He has to ask you first. Have you thought of that?”

“This Dennis will
swoon
at my charms,” Miriam said, rolling her eyes skyward.

“I’m glad Mom’s not around to hear you talk like this. She would scold you to no end—and rightly so.”

“Ah, but she’s not here.”

“No, but don’t forget that
I’m
here to watch over you on her behalf,” Hannah said leading Mosey into the barn. “You can go on inside if you want.”

Pulling the harness off the horse, Hannah turned Mosey into his stall. Making sure his door to the field was open, she left the barn. Jake would see to the horse’s feed and hay when he arrived home from work and took care of Joel, his driving horse.

Hannah entered the cabin to find Miriam standing in the middle of the living room, her suitcase beside her.

“This is where it will happen,” Miriam said, swinging her arms wide. “My future husband and I will have our first long talk right here.”

“I still haven’t said you could use the living room.”

“Come on, Hannah,” Miriam said. “
Please
let me.”

“But I don’t approve of the boy—if you’re still thinking of Dennis. I’m sorry now I even mentioned him.”

“Hannah, Dennis is a church member in good standing, isn’t he?”


Jah,
but I still don’t like it,” Hannah said and then quickly changed the subject. “We’d better get you unpacked. Let me show you where the spare bedroom is.”

BOOK: A Baby for Hannah
2.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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