Read Sarah's Christmas Miracle Online
Authors: Mary Ellis
Tags: #Religious, #Amish, #Christmas stories, #Fiction, #Religion, #Holidays, #Christian Fiction, #Christmas & Advent, #Christian, #General
ith his chores finished, Adam dressed warmly that morning, combing his hair and shaving with the utmost care. He would see Sarah that afternoon for the third time within a week. An ice skating party had been planned for today as soon as the forecasters predicted that the cold snap would continue.
A Wednesday get-together wasn’t a problem for most Amish young people, who either farmed or were somehow connected with agriculture. Although barn chores continued year-round, farm fields buried beneath a layer of snow eliminated the most time-consuming tasks for farmers. Not so for Adam. A furniture maker’s job didn’t depend on seasonal cycles of planting and harvesting. However, he had two weeks of paid vacation, and his boss allowed him to take days off on short notice so he didn’t miss every social event.
Upon his suggestion, Sarah agreed to come skating, even though she wasn’t fond of winter activities. Mrs. Pratt would drop her off at the pond behind the schoolhouse on her way to a dentist appointment, and Adam planned to drive her home afterward.
Tonight he wanted to bring things to a clear understanding between them. He loved her. He saw her warm smile each night when he closed his eyes, and her sweet face greeted him every morning. They were meant for each other. Their families approved of the match, and he possessed the wherewithal to support a family. They weren’t too young. She had no elder sisters who should wed first. And they got along well, never bickering the way some couples did. Sarah might be unsure of herself, but he possessed enough assurance for both of them.
His only concern was his delivery. Adam knew that women liked a little romance while courting and, unfortunately, although his skills as a master craftsman landed him the best contracts for custom cabinetry in restaurants and galleries, he was far less proficient with speaking his heart.
When he arrived at the pond, the skating party was in full swing. Most of the scholars hadn’t gone home after school but had stayed for the festivities. Boys were separating into two teams for a hockey game, with straw hats versus black hats distinguishing the sides. Some of the hockey sticks had been store bought, but Adam had crafted his stick from hickory. After tying up his horse and setting out a bale of hay, he grabbed his skates and headed toward the sound of laughter. Because he didn’t see Sarah among the girls already skating or huddling close to the bonfire, he had time for some male camaraderie.
“Adam, over here,” hollered a friend. “We’re a man short on our team.”
He laced up his skates, turned up his collar, and glided over to join the game. The ice had frozen thick and glassy over the pond’s deep end, offering a smooth surface for skate blades. Early arrivals had swept the surface clear of snow with giant push brooms. Unlike Sarah, he loved winter. With the wind whistling in his ears, skates scraping on ice, and shouts of encouragement from his teammates, Adam never grew cold because the fast action kept his blood pumping through his veins. Finally, the team captains called for a snack break.
Snacks? In his hurry to leave, he’d forgotten to grab a bag of chips or a tin of cookies. His thermos of hot coffee had doubtlessly grown cold by now. “I didn’t bring anything to eat,” he said as the men skated toward the bank.
“Don’t worry,” said one of his friends. “The gals always bring plenty. Rebekah Beachy brought a pot of sloppy joes, and Jessie Yoder brought corn dogs. Jessie kept the corn dogs warm with a battery-powered heating pad, while Rebekah kept her pot warm with hot coals.”
Adam nodded, duly impressed with female ingenuity. But with the mention of her sister’s name, Adam remembered Sarah and felt guilty. He’d played hockey for more than an hour and hadn’t thought once of his girl. As the men approached the bonfire, where lawn chairs ringed the warmth, he spotted Sarah. With her hands beneath her wool cloak, her bonnet pulled forward to shield her face, and her skirt down to the frozen ground, Sarah Beachy was barely recognizable. She stood so still she could have been a female scarecrow, positioned to thwart scavenging crows.
“Sarah,” he called while still several paces away.
She half turned, revealing a porcelain face with an expression of misery. “Hello, Adam. Lovely weather we’re having, no?”
he agreed, “but it would be nice to see the sun every now and then.” He held out his palms to the roaring blaze. The heat began to seep through his soggy leather gloves.
She cocked her head to the side. “I was being sarcastic. It’s colder than the North Pole out here and that wind nearly cuts a person in half.” Several of her friends nodded in agreement and moved closer, as though closing ranks.
He regretted playing hockey for so long. Because he’d invited Sarah to the party, he should have been more aware of her comfort. “Let’s get you warmed up near the fire,” he said, taking her hand.
“I was standing closer, but the wind kept shifting and blowing smoke in my face. I feared the sparks would catch my cloak on fire. But then again, I’d no longer be cold, would I.”
“Don’t be such a complainer, Sarah,” said Rebekah. “Adam didn’t come over to listen to you whine.”
Sarah’s frozen expression altered as her jaw dropped open. “What do you mean?”
“It’s winter, isn’t it? Of course it’s going to be cold today.” Rebekah smiled sweetly while Sarah frowned at her sister. “Adam, have you tried my sloppy joes? The meat is still warm. I’ll fix you and Sarah each a sandwich.” She scurried off without waiting for a reply.
“Come with me, dear girl,” said Adam. “Let’s go to the other side of the bonfire, away from the sparks and from the others.” He tugged off her mittens and started rubbing her fingers one at a time. “Hold your hands out to the heat. Is that better?” he asked after a minute, shielding her body from the wind with his.
“Much better,” she said. “Sorry. Rebekah is right. I am a whiner. Better not ask me out again until April. I’m bound to be in a better mood by then.”
“It’s freezing out here if you’re just standing around. Didn’t you bring your skates? Will you try out the pond today?” He caught the scent of strawberries despite the tang of wood smoke in the air. Sarah used strawberry shampoo and body lotion.
She moved away from the blaze while slipping on her mittens. “
, I skated for a while with my sisters. Then my blade snagged a rough spot, and I lost my balance. I fell down hard on my backside without a shred of gracefulness. Rebekah said if I kept that up, the ice would crack and everybody will fall into the water.”
“Your sister is in rare form today. But you don’t have to worry about the ice. The schoolteacher’s father drilled a hole to gauge the thickness. He would have canceled the party if there was any danger whatsoever. This ice will support tons of weight.”
“Well, thanks a lot, Adam Troyer. I feel much better now.” Sarah huffed out a cloud of condensed vapor.
“You know what I mean. You’re as skinny as a rake handle.”
“A rake handle? My, you’re just a real sweet-talker today, aren’t you? You’re doing my icy heart a world of good.”
Adam swept off his hat and thumped it against his leg. “I’m sorry, Sarah. Let me walk to my buggy, come back, and start this afternoon over.”
A slow smile pulled up the corners of her mouth. “If you head to your buggy, I’ll be right behind you. Then we can go someplace warm.” She turned her other side to the fire as though frying an egg.
“We can leave whenever you’re ready,” he said, tugging his hat back on. “I don’t want you being miserable when this was supposed to be a fun occasion for us.”
Her smile bloomed across her face. “
, but we’ll stay a while longer. I can once again feel my fingers and toes. Let’s eat those sloppy joes my sister fixed before they freeze solid. I’ve worked up a fierce appetite with my moaning and complaining.”
Adam slipped an arm around her shoulder as they walked back to the group.
So like my Sarah.
Her sense of humor never failed to rescue him from some blunder or bad choice of words. And she wasn’t afraid to laugh at herself. There wasn’t a prideful bone in her body. Although she didn’t need flattery or praise, he wished just once he could express how he felt about her.
Working in an all-male factory provided little opportunity to learn how other men conversed with women. He might be an expert with hand lathes, sanders, and every stain and wood preservative made, but with social conversation he was a dismal failure. Sarah occasionally eavesdropped on the guests’ breakfast conversations at Country Pleasures. The bed-and-breakfast attracted business folk, doctors, nurses, and teachers on school break. She’d once served two college professors, a writer, and the governor of Ohio at the same meal. Those people knew how to string words together into a sentence.
Don’t worry…this ice will support tons of weight.
An Amish woman might not be looking for glibness in a mate, but if he could express his heart, he might have an official fiancée instead of a beau.
“There you two are!” Rebekah called. “I fixed your plates. Adam, I gave you two sloppy joes because your hockey game must have worked up an appetite. How about a cup of hot chocolate?” She handed each of them a plate.
he said. The girl had heaped potato chips next to his sandwiches, but she had given Sarah only a few. As Rebekah hurried off to the folding tables, he and Sarah settled into lawn chairs by the fire. Adam transferred some of his chips to her plate.
She smiled, popping a chip into her mouth. “My sister must still be worried about the ice.”
“I should have brought a bag of something,” said Adam. “I was in too big a hurry to get here.”
“Don’t be silly,” said Rebekah, appearing with two cups of cocoa. “There’s plenty of food. Sarah brought Jell-O cubes, but I’m not sure who would want to eat Jell-O on a frigid day.” Her words trailed off as she headed back to the group of girls.
“Now Rebekah seems to be worried about you,” said Sarah. “She fears you’ll waste away to skin and bones if we marry.” Sarah blew lightly on the foam of her cocoa.
The hot chocolate chilled inside his belly, but he couldn’t bring himself to say
If we marry, not when we marry?
“Let Rebekah worry all she wants. I’m not the least bit concerned.” He reached for her hand, but she was holding both her plate and cup. “I’ve tasted your fried chicken and mashed potatoes—even my
makes none better.”
“My sister says my mashed potatoes have lumps.”
“Your sister has lumps in her head,” he whispered by her ear, not certain if she’d heard him.
Her sly grin indicated otherwise. “That’s what I’ve suspected for some time, but Rebekah is a better baker than me. You should taste her cheesecake and buttermilk biscuits.”
Adam scowled, not wishing to discuss her sister or baking any longer. “Man does not live by food alone. She probably has no gift with
, while I watched you with my nieces last Sunday. You were so patient with them, encouraging their ideas instead of doing things for them.” He sipped his drink, ending up with foam on his nose.
Sarah dabbed his face with her napkin. “Your nieces are little darlings. Being patient with them is hardly a challenge.” She took a bite of sandwich.
“Even so, you’re a natural with children. After you left, my eldest niece told me how much she liked you.” He took a deep breath before continuing. “I wish your classes would start soon because I can’t wait to make you my wife. You’re going to make a wonderful mother someday, Sarah. And that day couldn’t come soon enough for me.”
The roaring bonfire, the skaters on the pond, and the woods behind them turned eerily silent after he uttered the words that occupied his every waking thought. Or so it seemed to Adam. He’d finally found the courage to speak the words in his heart, and now it seemed that his entire life hung by a thread in the crisp December air.
Sarah wasn’t quite so affected by his revelation. “Do you think so? Only time will tell about that.” She rose to her feet and brushed crumbs from her skirt. “You know what? Too bad for the ice on the pond. I’m having another sloppy joe. That sandwich was delicious. And I’ll bring you some Jell-O cubes.” Off she marched to the snack table without a backward glance.
He might as well have declared his prediction for January snowfall, considering her reaction.
Am I beating my head against a door that will never open?
He could abide with her reluctance to commit. Becoming an Amish wife meant a lot of work and responsibility, but maybe her hesitancy was with him. Adam tossed his paper plate with the rest of the sandwich into the fire. His appetite had vanished.
Sarah had a kind heart. Maybe her sensitivity to his feelings kept her from admitting the truth…that she would never marry him.