Read A Baby for Hannah Online

Authors: Jerry S. Eicher

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

A Baby for Hannah (4 page)

BOOK: A Baby for Hannah
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“But Jake,” she said, grabbing his arm, “the way you preach and the way you pray and how you talk with God. I know you’re saved because I know your life. I’m your wife. You surely don’t doubt, do you?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head in the shadows. “But I guess I grew up in a different community than you did. We believed a man’s relationship with God was a private matter. That you didn’t go talking about it with everyone, like it didn’t mean anything, and like you could tell God what He was and wasn’t supposed to be doing.”

“You are a
gut
man,” she said, still holding to his arm. “If I love you so much, God must love you a whole lot more.”

He bent over slowly to kiss her cheek. “We really should talk about something else, Hannah. What if Betty looks out her window and sees us kissing in her yard?”

Hannah giggled. “Then she’ll think we’re really in love.”

“She also will think we’re losing it. We’ve been married long enough to have two pregnancies.”

“All the more reason to have you kiss me,” she said, letting go of his arm as they approached the front door.

Jake rapped gently with his knuckle. Soft footsteps followed, with Betty’s oldest daughter, Kendra, opening the door. She squinted for a moment and then broke into a broad smile.

“It’s Jake and Hannah,” she shouted back into the living room, turning to hold the door wide open. “Do come in. What brings you out tonight?”

“Hannah wanted to speak with your mom,” Jake said, stepping inside.

“About what?” Kendra asked Hannah as she walked past.

“Secrets,” Hannah whispered back and Kendra gasped.

“Really?”

“No, not really,” Hannah said. “Miriam wants to come out for the summer, and we need to see if that might work into your mom’s plans.”

“I would
love
to have Miriam here,” Kendra said. “So
my
answer is definitely yes.”

Hannah smiled. “I also think it would be great, but we’ll have to see what your mom says.”

“Jake and Hannah,” Betty said, entering from the kitchen, “what a surprise! And we have no popcorn made at all.”

“There’s still time,” Steve hollered from his chair, observing the scene.

“I think I will,” Betty said. “Are you staying long enough for that? Surely you are. You can’t just drive all the way over here and not stay for popcorn.”

“We can’t stay long,” Jake said. “But a little popcorn would be great.”

“Then Kendra,” Betty said, “get some made up right away. It won’t take long at all.”

“I’ll get right to it,” Kendra said, disappearing into the kitchen.

“I can help,” Hannah offered.

“No you won’t,” Betty said, taking her arm and leading her after Jake. “You are visitors tonight and will be treated as such.”

“Visitors do work,” Hannah said with a grin.

“Not tonight they don’t,” Betty said, letting go of Hannah’s elbow as they walked into the living room. Jake was already seated on the couch next to Steve in his rocker.

“I had to talk with Betty,” Hannah said, explaining the visit to Steve as she sat beside Jake.

“Women’s secrets?” Steve said. “I suppose Betty will be glad to get in on the new gossip.”

“Now, Steve,” Betty said with a glare, “Hannah is a minister’s wife, and she doesn’t gossip.”

“Oh, I suppose minister’s wives still have a few faults,” Steve said with a smile, glancing at Hannah. “Don’t they, Jake?”

“She doesn’t have very many,” Jake said, patting Hannah on the arm.

“Now see there,” Betty said. “You’ve hurt the poor girl’s feelings for no good reason at all.”

“I’m not perfect, Betty,” Hannah said, getting a word in edgewise. “Now, let’s talk about something else besides me.”

“Do I get in on the secret?” Steve asked.

“Really, it’s nothing much of a secret,” Hannah began. “Well, maybe it is, but Mom wanted me to look into this right away so they can make plans.”

In the background the sound of popcorn popping came from the kitchen, and Hannah paused to listen.

“Go out and help your sister,” Betty said to twelve-year-old Nancy. “Maybe you could get the apples from the basement.”

Nancy closed her book and headed for the kitchen.

Hannah followed the young girl with her eyes. “Your children are growing up so fast.”

“Yes, we all are getting older. I suppose it won’t be long now before Steve and I are grandparents.”

“Hey, don’t be rushing things,” Steve said. “He just brought Kendra home on Sunday night for the first time.”

“It was Mary Keim’s boy, the youngest—Henry,” Betty explained. “He’s so handsome, I couldn’t believe it when Kendra told me he asked her. I always wanted good-looking boys for my girls, but this was such a surprise. It’s as if
Da Hah’s
actually seeing eye-to-eye with me on the subject!”

“They’re not married yet,” Steve cautioned.

“But they will be…in a few years,” Betty said knowingly. “Kendra won’t let this one slip away.”

“So, I still haven’t heard the juicy gossip,” Steve said, rocking steadily.

“Steve, there are children around, and there is no gossip,” Betty said. “So please quit saying so.”

He laughed, “Well, I’m waiting all the same.”

“Popcorn!” Kendra announced, coming into the room with a heaping plastic bowl, carrying smaller bowls with her other hand.

“Popcorn,” Steve said. “Help yourself there, Jake. You’re sure not saying much tonight.”

“Well, it’s Hannah who wants to talk with Betty,” he said.

“Jake uses up all his words preaching,” Betty said. “Don’t you know that, Steve? You shouldn’t tease the man like that.”

Jake grinned. “I’d talk if I had something to say, but eating popcorn looks like a better idea.”

“That’s the man for me,” Steve said, heaping high one of the smaller bowls. He handed it to Jake, who took it, settling back on the couch. Steve filled his own bowl, while Betty stood up to prepare one for Hannah.

“Just a little popcorn,” Hannah said with a wave of her hand.

“So start from the beginning,” Betty said, sitting down again.

“Mom wrote a letter,” Hannah said before chewing some popcorn slowly. “She wonders whether Miriam could come out for the summer and perhaps on into the fall. Miriam has been wanting to travel for some time, I guess, and this would be the year for it since she turned twenty-one last summer.”

“Oh,” Betty said. “Well, of course she would be welcome.”

“Mom is wondering if she could work at the riding stable like I did those two summers.”

“Hey, that’s a great idea!” Steve said. “I could use all that money like you made for us those two years.”

“Steve,” Betty said, “watch what you’re saying.”

Steve laughed and Jake joined in.

“Well, I guess it did help,” Betty said. “So maybe it would be an idea to consider, as I’m certainly not hiring that
English
girl again. But we don’t have but two horses this year. Although I don’t imagine Miriam would care.”

“She shouldn’t,” Hannah said. “It might leave her more time for other things, as I remember us being pretty busy with four horses the year I worked.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Steve said. “So let’s consider the matter settled. I’ll even get two more horses if Miriam’s as good with them as Hannah was.”

“They’re sisters,” Betty said. “She ought to be.”

“I think Miriam will do fine,” Steve said.

“Well then, there’s your answer,” Betty said. “If Steve has no objections, then neither do I.”

“I have no objections,” Steve said.

“Then I’ll write Mom right away,” Hannah said, “and see when Miriam can come. I have a feeling it will be fairly quickly.”

“Oh, it will be a great summer then,” Betty said, smiling from ear to ear. “I can feel it in my bones.”

Jake cleared his throat on the couch, and Steve glanced sharply at him.

“Is something wrong with this plan?” Steve asked. “Are there ministerial objections?”

“No,” Jake said. “It’s just that Betty’s comments about a good summer just reminded me that Ben Stoll is setting up a tent in Libby for Mennonite revival meetings.”

“Oh no,” Betty groaned. “Not the Mennonites in Libby. What is this world coming to, anyway?”

“I’m afraid it’s true,” Jake said.

“Do you think they’ll give us much trouble?” Steve asked.

“I hope not,” Jake said. “Bishop John has things fairly well under control, I think.”

“That’s good,” Steve said, scooping up another bowl of popcorn.

Betty groaned again, “I think I changed my mind. It’s going to be a perfectly awful summer. I can feel it in my bones.”

Four

 

Hannah sat writing at the kitchen table, the cabin silent around her. Signing her name with a flourish, she paused to read what she had written.

 

Dear Mom,

 

It was so good to hear from you yesterday, and thank you so much for your concern. We are doing well, and the baby is fine as far as I know. I hope and pray things will stay that way.

 

Jake is doing well at the furniture shop. Mr. Brunson is such a blessing to us and has become a good friend. He is coming down for supper tomorrow night. He wants cherry pie for dessert and one to take home with him. I’d better get busy soon with the food making.

 

Jake took me over to Betty’s last night so I could ask her about Miriam’s visit. Betty agreed at once. They were all very excited, including Steve. I think Steve wants the extra income this summer again. I don’t think Betty planned to do much with the riding stable this year since they had trouble with the English girl they hired last year. Kendra could manage, I suppose, but she doesn’t like horses that much. Plus she’s dating Mary Keim’s boy and likely has her mind on other things.

 

So Miriam is welcome to come. I say the sooner the better. If she wants to stay at the cabin for a while, I would love to have her. Long term of course, she could stay at Betty’s place. Jake is talking of building a larger house higher up on the ridge, but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon. Such things take money, and even if Jake is doing well, I’d hate to spend his hard-earned money on a new house unless it’s absolutely necessary. He works so hard already, and then there’s the church work yet.

 

Which reminds me to tell you

Jake said the Mennonites are setting up a tent revival this summer here in Libby. That’s our closest town. Jake thinks they are definitely targeting the Amish community, which seems like an awful thing to me. We only have one district and not that many people. Last year we lost Ben and Sylvia Stoll, the young couple you met on your visit, and it’s not like we can afford to lose any more.

 

I know each loss would hurt Jake and Bishop John terribly. Jake has a lot of faith in Bishop John. He thinks John’s steady hand will guide us through this time. But the reason I’m telling you this is in case it has any effect on Miriam coming to Montana. I don’t think it should, but I wanted to warn you. Jake and I certainly have no intentions of being drawn into this new thing, and I can’t imagine there being much danger to Miriam either.

 

Well, I have a house to clean and plans to make for Mr. Brunson’s supper, so I’d better get busy.

 

With much love,

Hannah

 

Hannah sealed the envelope and walked quickly out the front door. She glanced briefly at the mountain range shrouded in low-hanging clouds before walking down the graveled lane toward the main road. A gentle breeze from the south pushed gently at her back. Hannah spread her arms, throwing her head back and laughing softly. Summer really was just around the corner, and Miriam was coming to visit.

“It will surely be a
gut
year. Won’t it?” she said, looking over her shoulder and pausing as the sun broke through the clouds, flooding the distant valley in sunlight.

“It sure will be,” she whispered, still watching as the sunlight grew until the whole mountain range was filled with light. As Hannah waited, the growing light paused, and began to slowly fade away as clouds moved in.

A smile trembled on her lips before Hannah turned to walk on. At the blacktop road she placed the letter in the mailbox and raised the flag. Turning to walk back up the hill, the wind was in her face now and she spread her arms again, closing her eyes.

“Go ahead, world,” she whispered. “Make your trouble. Because I’m safe with God and with Jake. They love me.”

The gravel crunched beneath her black shoes. Hannah opened her eyes, looking toward the mountains. All was cloudy now with no sign of the earlier breakthrough of sunlight. Approaching the cabin, Hannah paused at the split-rail fence.

BOOK: A Baby for Hannah
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