Read Sarah's Christmas Miracle Online

Authors: Mary Ellis

Tags: #Religious, #Amish, #Christmas stories, #Fiction, #Religion, #Holidays, #Christian Fiction, #Christmas & Advent, #Christian, #General

Sarah's Christmas Miracle (3 page)

BOOK: Sarah's Christmas Miracle
9.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Finally, by the time Adam had split half a cord of firewood, his anger began to wane, and he felt ashamed of his impatience. As he headed to the house to wait his turn for the shower, he focused on how much he loved her and silently pledged to let nothing get him down for the rest of the day.


“Hey, Uncle Adam,” said Joshua. “What did one yawning two-by-four say to the other two-by-four?”

As people crowded around the Beachy table for Thanksgiving dinner, his nephew was ready with a joke. Adam smiled at his brother James’ youngest son, a clever seven-year-old with flaming red hair. “I don’t know,” he answered, spooning cranberry sauce onto his plate. Only half of the platters and bowls had made their way around the table, yet his plate was nearly full.

“I’m board stiff,” the child sang out and then laughed uproariously, as did his siblings.

“Good one,” said Adam, smiling with affection.

“I have another!” Joshua cried, waving a Brussels sprout on his fork like a banner. “What did the hammer say to the nail?” Without waiting to be prompted, he cried, “My, you’ve got a flat head!” As he delivered the punch line, the Brussels sprout flew off his fork and landed in the bowl of mashed potatoes.

Adam chose not to encourage the child further as both Adam’s father and his brother instructed his young nephew on proper mealtime behavior. Instead, Adam stole a glance at Sarah, who sat across the table, seven people down. At least they were in the same room. The crowd of Beachys, Troyers, and English neighbors had overflowed from the kitchen into the front room and onto the enclosed porch. Sarah’s father had set up a portable wood-burner to keep porch diners from freezing to death.

Sarah met Adam’s gaze with a warm smile. She enjoyed his eleven nieces and nephews as much as he did. She would make a wonderful mother some day…and that day couldn’t come soon enough in his opinion.

“I said…more turkey, son?” his
asked, finally getting his attention. She held out the platter with one hand.

, please.” He reached across and speared two slices of thigh meat.

“There’s only one thing that could take Adam’s mind off this delicious meal,” teased one of his sisters-in-law.

All gazes fastened on Sarah.

“Would that be the apple and pumpkin pies to come later?” Sarah asked, blushing to her earlobes. “He does love dessert.”

“If Adam’s not careful, he’ll be the last Troyer to get hitched,” said one of his younger sisters. “Now that we’ve announced our engagement, that only leaves Rosie, and she’s just fifteen.” Amanda smiled at her beau, who sat directly across the table.

Adam’s siblings never overlooked an opportunity to needle Sarah about her hesitancy to set a wedding date. “All good things come to those who wait,” he said, shooting his sister a frosty glare.

“Well, you’ve honed the virtue of patience to an art form,” said Amanda.

“I’ll tell you what’s an art form…these biscuits,” said Sarah, deftly changing the subject. “I love how the cheese melted throughout the dough.” She broke a biscuit in half to reveal swirls of cheddar to her employer. “Have you tried one yet, Mrs. Pratt?”

Soon the basket of biscuits stood empty, and the conversation shifted to recipes on the women’s side of the table and preparing fields for winter on the men’s side.

Adam had eaten his fill of turkey, dressing, potatoes, and vegetables. Pie and coffee would have to wait. As the men wandered off to the porch and the women began clearing the table, Adam stopped Sarah in the doorway from the front room. “How about taking a drive with me? All the leaves aren’t down yet, so there’re still some pretty oaks by the old mill.”

Sarah tried to step past him, but he blocked her path. “What kind of daughter would I be if I left this mess for my sisters and
to clean up?” She turned her dark eyes up to meet his.

“I thought with seven Troyer females to help, there wouldn’t be room for everybody in the kitchen.” He stuck his hands under his suspenders, suddenly self-conscious.

“I’ll do my share and then come outside when I’m finished.” She squeezed by, carrying a stack of dirty plates.

His three sisters and three sisters-in-law hadn’t missed this verbal exchange. They rotated their heads back and forth like owls in the rafters. Only his mother didn’t appear concerned with his love life.

“I’ll be out in the barn whenever you’re ready,” he called as he headed for the door.

For the next hour, he listened to his
talk about the winter wheat crop, nearly dozed off while his father looked at threshing implements with Mr. Beachy, and then refereed a game of dodgeball among the
. Finally, Sarah appeared on the back porch. She stood tall and straight in her cornflower blue dress and white prayer
. Then she hurriedly put on her black wool coat and heavy outer bonnet, but for a fleeting moment Adam glimpsed what she might look like on their wedding day.

How I love her. I will develop the patience of Job if only one day she will be mine.

“I’m ready for that ride now that everything’s straightened up inside,” she said, walking toward him with cheeks pink from the chilly wind.

“Still plenty of daylight left.” He helped her into the open carriage. The horse, which had been standing for an hour, stamped his hooves impatiently and snorted puffs of water vapor. As Adam released the brake, they took off down the driveway at a brisk trot.

Sarah scooted closer on the seat and tugged the lap robe up to her chin. “My, Amanda does love to talk, doesn’t she? She dispensed advice on cooking, canning, and cleaning as though we Beachys had never used a rolling pin or pressure cooker in our lives.” She winked slyly. “One would think she was a longtime matron instead of a bride-to-be.”

“Ah, that would be my sister.” He shook his head. “Whatever you do, don’t start her on the subject of potty training.”

Sarah hooted with laughter. “
, I’ll keep that in mind. You should have heard her instructing my employer on laundry stain removal and how to get out melted candle wax. Mrs. Pratt has been in business for twenty years and has received three stars in English travel guides. Folks come from all over the state, Canada, and even from out West to stay at Country Pleasures. Newspapers in Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus write articles about her every year. She once showed me a scrapbook filled with glowing publicity.”

“Is that right?” Adam turned off the county road onto a seldom-used gravel lane and then slowed the gelding’s pace.

“And her recipes,” Sarah enthused. “She’s had them published in tons of cookbooks.”

Adam rolled his eyes. “How many different ways can a person fix bacon and eggs or flapjacks?”

“You’re joking, right?” she asked, turning toward him. “Mrs. Pratt knows at least a dozen different pancake batters. Besides, breakfast is more complex than that. We also make omelets, soufflés, quiches, and cheese stratas.”

He stifled a yawn. After consuming so much food, cooking and recipes were the last things he wanted to talk about.

“And Mrs. Pratt doesn’t just fix breakfast. She caters small wedding receptions, bridal showers, and family reunions. With prior arrangement, she’ll even prepare elegant candlelit dinners with prime rib and twice-baked potatoes.”

“Why would anyone bake a tater twice?” Adam asked, slowing the horse to a walk as the road turned to follow the river. Swamp willows along the bank still had their shiny yellow leaves, while the majestic red oaks displayed full autumn foliage.

“It’s just a fancy way of fixing them.” Sarah reached for a low-hanging branch as they passed beneath a tree. A shower of dead leaves rained down on their heads.

“You said the key word…fancy. Why go to all that trouble to make supper?”

“But doesn’t dining by candlelight on a flagstone patio sound romantic? Then, during the winter, she puts tables-for-two in front of her living room fireplace and turns down the electric lights.” Sarah released a wistful sigh and folded her hands atop the lap robe.

Adam bit the inside of his cheek. He refused to show an ounce of irritation, but he didn’t like Sarah rambling on and on about the English inn. What did Plain folk care about soufflés and multibaked spuds? She’d once told him that she folded bath towels to look like swans when she made up a room. That was almost as stupid as streams of water hitting you from every side of the tub when a person took a bath.

“I’ll tell you what’s romantic,” he said, choosing a patient tone of voice. “This place right here.” He pulled on the reins. “Whoa,” he called to the horse. The buggy stopped in front of an abandoned gristmill. The rusty waterwheel had locked for all eternity into one position. Someone had thrown plastic sheeting over holes in the roof and latched the shutters over broken windowpanes to slow the damage. Entwining ivy and wild grapevines softened the effect of years of deterioration. “It’s hard to imagine that this used to be the center of our community.” He plucked a tall purple weed up by the roots.

“This is a pretty spot,” she agreed, glancing around. A smile turned up the corners of her mouth. “I love the sound of water rushing over the falls.” She jumped down from the buggy without help and walked to the massive slabs forming the chute.

Adam tied the horse to a pine sapling. “Careful,” he warned as he approached. “Those mossy stones can get slippery.” He pulled her back from the edge and wrapped his arms around her.

She laid her head against his shoulder. “Did you know that Mr. and Mrs. Pratt would have been alone today if I hadn’t invited them? Neither their son nor daughter could come for Thanksgiving. And they might not even make it home for Christmas, either.” She clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth.

“You have a kind heart, Sarah Beachy.” Adam nuzzled his chin on the top of her head. To do so, he’d moved one step higher because Sarah was at least an inch taller than him.

“It sure would bother
if my children didn’t come home on the holiest night of the year.” Her voice wafted into the chasm and echoed off the walls.

He tightened his embrace. “Maybe the holiest night of the year isn’t a big deal to the

“But it is…Mrs. Pratt loves Christmas. She sings in her church choir and talks about their musical cantata all the time.”

Adam clamped down on his back teeth. “If it’s that important, I’m sure they’ll work something out. And we’ll raise our
right, so they’ll never want to be away from home.” He turned her gently in his arms and then kissed her soft lips.

She returned the kiss with a shy smile. “I hope so.”

But unless he was imagining things, she had shivered and pulled back imperceptibly, as though an icy wind had blown in between them.

Something is wrong

Yet for the life of him, he couldn’t put a finger on what it was.



lizabeth Beachy looked over the shoulder of her youngest daughter and smiled. “Don’t get too carried away with those thumbprints in your cookies, Katie. You don’t want the jam falling out the bottom when you pick up the cookie. And you, Rebekah, leave some of those chocolate kisses for baking. You eat as many as you decorate with.”

BOOK: Sarah's Christmas Miracle
9.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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