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 (9 page)

BOOK: Sarah's Christmas Miracle
9.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Thursday Morning

arah arrived at work right on time. The inn would be filled with guests staying through the weekend.
came down from Cleveland or up from Columbus to buy handmade quilts, crafts, pottery, and gift baskets for Christmas. Three couples had also arranged for candlelit dinners besides their complimentary breakfast. Mrs. Pratt would keep her busy preparing for tonight’s dinner in addition to their regular duties.

But that was fine with Sarah. Unlike yesterday’s skating party on the schoolhouse pond, the inn would be warm. Mrs. Pratt would light the fireplace, while bayberry candles and potpourri warmers would add holiday fragrance to the rooms. Sarah had slept under an extra quilt last night. The cold had soaked into her bones and wouldn’t leave, despite Adam’s tender ministrations. The bonfire had helped somewhat, but she would never be a fan of winter sports. She preferred curling up inside with a cup of ginger tea and a good book any day.

Sarah hung her cloak and outer bonnet on the hook by the door and walked into the kitchen. “Oh, good,” said Mrs. Pratt as she flitted around the room in a tizzy. “You’re here early. Hurry to wash up and get your apron on, dear girl. We have a barrel of monkeys today.”

Sarah complied with a smile. A barrel of monkeys was Mrs. Pratt’s favorite expression for multiple dietary requests from the guests. Without batting an eyelash, an innkeeper must learn to handle vegans, diabetics, and those who were lactose intolerant or required gluten-free fare. The two women served breakfast with their customary proficiency and then sent the guests on their way for a day of holiday shopping.

Sarah carried two mugs of coffee to their usual breakfast spot before going back for French toast. When she returned, Mrs. Pratt had settled in the chair next to the window. The slanted winter light revealed dark circles and deep creases around her eyes.

“You look tired,” Sarah said. “Didn’t you sleep well? Did Roy keep you awake with his snoring?”

“Nope, can’t blame my husband this time.” Mrs. Pratt sipped coffee and glanced down at her plate of food. The network of bright red spidery veins across her eyelids alarmed Sarah.

“Have you been crying? What’s wrong? Is there something you’d like to talk about?” Sarah set down her fork.

“Just eat, child. I’m all right.” Mrs. Pratt stared out the window at the low, threatening sky. “I talked to my daughter last night. She still can’t tell me whether they are coming for Christmas or not. Her husband’s still afraid to ask for time off. I’d like to know whether I should wrap the gifts for under the tree or pack them for shipping to Louisiana.” She returned her attention to the table and buttered an English muffin fiercely. “If I press her to decide yay or nay, she’ll just say they are not coming. Then I’ll have cut off my nose to spite my face.”

Sarah didn’t quite understand the English expression, but she caught the drift. “Perhaps you could wrap up the gifts fancy for under the tree, and then, if need be, we could pack them up for shipping at the last minute. If the gifts arrive after the holiday, so be it. You won’t be there to see your grandchildren’s faces during the unwrapping anyway.”

Mrs. Pratt met her gaze over her coffee cup. “That’s true enough, isn’t it? I’ll hope for the best, and if the worst happens, I won’t worry if the presents are late.” She ate her French toast with a bit more enthusiasm.

“It’ll be a big deal for you if they don’t visit, won’t it?” Sarah asked the question, but she already knew the answer by the woman’s expression.

“I can’t believe I might not see my daughter and her family on Christmas! Some things should be more important than jobs and paychecks. Maybe they have bills to pay and obligations, but if you can’t be close to your loved ones during the holidays, what’s it all for?” She dropped her fork on her unfinished breakfast and rose from the chair.

Sarah glimpsed tears in her boss’ eyes. “What about your son? Are you sure he’s not coming either?” Her taste for food had also evaporated.

“Who knows? I called him on the phone and went straight to voice mail. I’ve sent him three e-mails and haven’t received one reply. At least his present is always a gift card—no problem packing
up to send.”

“I take it there are no reservations for Christmas Eve?”

“Goodness, no. I wouldn’t take a reservation for that night even if I knew for sure my family wasn’t coming. People should be with friends or family on Christmas. If Roy and I are alone, we’ll go to church and then I’ll sit by the fire reading my Bible until bedtime. For supper, I’ll heat up something from the fridge. It won’t be the end of the world. You know I always have leftovers.” She walked into the dining room with Sarah on her heels.

As they scraped and stacked plates into the tub, Mrs. Pratt began humming—a sure sign she was upset. Sarah racked her brain for something to lessen her pain but came up empty. Her own mood, so filled with joy that morning, soured to match Mrs. Pratt’s. “Do you ever regret having kids?” she asked quietly.

“What kind of question is that? My goodness, Sarah Beachy, you do come up with some doozies.” She carried the tote of dirty dishes back to the kitchen, while Sarah brought the tray of silverware and soiled linens.

Sarah watched her closely while they loaded the dishwasher. “So you never regretted becoming a mother?”

Mrs. Pratt’s mouth opened with a ready retort, but when she saw Sarah’s earnest face, she swallowed her words unspoken. After a moment she said, “No, I’ve never regretted having kids, not even when they disappoint or anger or frustrate me. I love them with my whole heart, unconditionally. Being a mother is no guarantee you won’t ever be lonely, but our lives would be empty without the children and grandchildren. Even when they are far away and months go by without seeing them, they are always in my heart.”

“That’s good to hear.” With a deep sigh, Sarah filled the detergent dispenser and closed the door.

“What brought this on? Are you getting nervous about marrying Adam? That’s normal, but once the babies come along, I’ve never met a woman yet who wanted to send them back. Now, let’s get started on the rooms. We have a can of worms today with three couples expecting a gourmet dinner.” She purposely mispronounced the word “gurr-met,” her pet joke.

But Sarah hadn’t been reassured. While dusting, sweeping, and cleaning bathrooms, she stewed about the dilemma every mother faced. She’d seen the disappointment on Mrs. Pratt’s face over the prospect of an empty house on Christmas morning. And she knew her
faced painful memories. Although the Beachy home would be far from empty, Caleb’s absence would be keenly felt.

When the rooms were tidied, Sarah helped in the kitchen making salads, baking bread, and peeling potatoes. She listened halfheartedly to Mrs. Pratt’s chatter about the price of fresh vegetables during the off-season. When a lull in the conversation occurred, she rallied her courage. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something. If…if you had a friend’s address in another town and wanted to find out exactly where he lived, how would you go about it?”

“I would drive to the town and then ask somebody where the street was when I got there. They might even know the person and direct me right to their front door.”

“What about if you were looking for someone in a city like Cleveland?” Sarah placed the colander of potatoes under the faucet stream.

“Cleveland? Who in the world do you know up there?”

“My brother, Caleb. He moved there several years ago, and I’d like to know where he lives.”

“Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot. What made you think of him?”

“Folks are starting to forget him, and that shouldn’t happen. He’s my
and always will be, whether he’s Amish or not.” Sarah turned off the water, leaving the spuds to drain.

Mrs. Pratt wrapped the block of cheese she had been grating and wiped her hands. “We’re done in here. You come with me, young lady. You’re about to learn the wonders of MapQuest. Do you have that address with you?”

, it’s in my purse.” Sarah felt a seed of hope take root and begin to grow.

“Get it and meet me in my office.”

Sarah had watched Mrs. Pratt work at the computer before with its flashing colors and music in the background, but never with so much at stake. She placed the tattered envelope on the desk.

Mrs. Pratt stared at the return address over her half-moon glasses, and then she began tapping on the keyboard. “Okay, are you ready to see something amazing?” she asked with a grin.

Sarah pulled up a hassock and sat down. “As much as I ever will be.”

With a click of the mouse, suddenly the screen changed to a map. A large body of water marked the northern boundary of Cleveland, while a red arrow pointed to a spot on Davenport Drive. “That’s where your brother lived when this letter was mailed.” Mrs. Pratt picked up the envelope to peruse, while Sarah peered at the monitor. A complex grid of streets and highways offered no help whatsoever. Caleb might as well be living on the moon. She wrinkled her nose. “People locate each other using these things?”

“Just watch this.” Mrs. Pratt clicked the mouse three more times, and with each subsequent tap the display changed to one with greater detail. The final screen revealed a neighborhood with the names of side streets clearly marked. Sarah reached out an index finger to touch the home of her brother…at least where he had lived three years ago. “Oh, my,” she murmured.

“And if we wanted to jump in my car and visit Caleb? Just watch this.” Mrs. Pratt typed the address for Country Pleasures B and B into one box and Caleb’s address in the other. With another click of the mouse, numbered directions popped up, with left and right turns clearly marked.

“That is remarkable,” Sarah said without taking her eyes from the monitor.

“Yep. I’ll print copies of these maps and directions so you can show your parents.” The copy machine behind them whirred to life, and moments later pieces of paper began falling into the tray.

“No, these are just for me, Mrs. Pratt. I don’t want to get
’s hopes up. Caleb may no longer live anywhere near here.” She pointed to the spot denoting 885 Davenport Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

“If you decide to write him a letter and he writes back, you could look at these maps and find his neighborhood. Let me show you one more screen.” She typed in new commands, and soon the northern half of the state of Ohio blossomed before their eyes. Again, large blue Lake Erie offered a northern reference point.

“Here we are in Fredericksburg.” Mrs. Pratt held one finger on the spot. “And here is Davenport Street.” She pointed with her other hand. “We live in Wayne County, and your brother lives in Cuyahoga County. Now you have an idea where Cleveland is in relation to us. Not that far away, relatively speaking, when you consider that half my family lives in Baton Rouge and the other half in northern Virginia.”

On impulse, Sarah threw her arms around Mrs. Pratt and squeezed. “
You have no idea how much this means to me.”

The woman hugged her in return and kissed the top of her
. “You’re welcome, but now I want you to run home. I have things covered here, and your mother might need you. Thanks for your help with tonight’s dinner.”

Sarah tucked the papers into her purse, shrugged on her coat, and stepped out into lightly falling snow. She filled her lungs with clean air and prayed halfway home.

Thank You, Lord, for leading me to my
Please watch over Caleb and guide his path. Keep him safe over Christmas and during the coming new year. And if it be Your will, help me find him.
With her prayer on its way, Sarah cleared her mind of useless thoughts and waited for God to speak to her.

As the front porch and twin chimneys of her beloved home came into view, she was blessed with intuition and made her decision. If she was to become Adam’s wife and have
of her own someday, she needed to know why Caleb left home.

What is so important in Cleveland worth breaking
’s heart?


BOOK: Sarah's Christmas Miracle
9.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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