Courting Ruth [NOOK Book]

Overview


Amish widow Hannah Yoder prays her daughters will each find a husband someday. Still, sensible Ruth believes it's God's will that she stay home and help care for her younger sisters. But when a handsome young man comes to Kent County, Ruth starts to rethink her plans. Not yet part of the church, Eli Lapp is allowed to run wild. Yet something in Ruth's sweet smile and gentle manner makes him yearn to settle down—with her at his side. Can Eli convince her that their lives should ...
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Courting Ruth

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Overview


Amish widow Hannah Yoder prays her daughters will each find a husband someday. Still, sensible Ruth believes it's God's will that she stay home and help care for her younger sisters. But when a handsome young man comes to Kent County, Ruth starts to rethink her plans. Not yet part of the church, Eli Lapp is allowed to run wild. Yet something in Ruth's sweet smile and gentle manner makes him yearn to settle down—with her at his side. Can Eli convince her that their lives should be entwined together on God's path?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426866470
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Series: Hannah's Daughters Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 69,296
  • File size: 485 KB

Read an Excerpt


Spring… Kent County, Delaware

Ruth Yoder lifted her skirt and deftly climbed the wooden stile at the back corner of the fence that marked the property line between her family's farm and their nearest neighbor. The sun-warmed boards felt good on the soles of Ruth's bare feet, bringing back sweet memories and making her smile. Dat's stile, God rest his soul. How she missed him. The world had always seemed safe when her father was alive. Without him at the head of the table, life was more uncertain.

What was certain was that if they didn't hurry, recess would be over, and Mam wouldn't get her lunch. "Come along, Susanna," she called over her shoulder to her sister.

"Come along," Susanna repeated as she scampered up the stile, clutching their mother's black lunch pail tightly in one chubby hand. Susanna would be eighteen in a few months. She should have been able to carry the lunch across the field to the schoolhouse unaccompanied, but in many ways, she would always be a child.

The English said Susanna had Down syndrome or called her a special-needs person, but Dat had always said that she was one of the Lord's gifts and that they should feel blessed every day that He had entrusted her to their family. Susanna's chubby face and slanting blue eyes might seem odd to strangers, but to Ruth, her dear little face, framed by the halo of frizzy red hair that marked her as one of Jonas Yoder's seven daughters, was beautiful.

Susanna's white Kapp tied over her unruly bun, her Plain blue dress and white apron were exactly like those that Mam had sewn for Ruth. But Susanna's rosy cheeks, stubby little feet and hands and bubbly personality made her unlike anyone that Ruth had ever known.

Sometimes, to her shame, Ruth secretly felt the tiniest bit of envy for her sister's uncomplicated world. Ruth had to struggle every day to be the kind of person her mother and her church expected. Being a good soul just seemed to come naturally to Susanna. Ever since her sister Johanna had married and moved to her husband's farm down the lane, the responsibility of being the oldest child had settled heavily on Ruth's shoulders. It was that sense of responsibility that had caused her and Mam to have words after breakfast this morning. Not an argument exactly, but a disagreement, and that conversation with her mother made her stomach as heavy as one of Aunt Martha's pecan-raisin pies.

"You're twenty-three out, Ruth," Mam had reminded her as she'd taken her black bonnet from the hook and tied it over her Kapp before starting off for school. "You joined the church when you were nineteen. You've done a woman's job in our house since you were fifteen. It's past time you chose a husband and had your own home."

"But you need me here," she had insisted. "Without Dat, running the farm, taking care of Susanna and teaching school is too much for you. It's better that I remain single and stay with you."

"Fiddle-faddle," Mam had said as she'd gathered her books.

"…Roofie! You're not listening to me."

"Ya, I am." Ruth shook off her reverie and steadied her sister as she descended the steps on the far side of the fence.

"But you're not. Look!" Susanna pointed. Above the trees, in the direction of the school, rose a column of smoke.

"Samuel's probably burning brush."

"But, Roofie." Susanna trotted to keep up with Ruth's longer strides as they followed the narrow path through the oak grove. "I smell smoke."

"Mmm-hmm," Ruth answered absently. Tonight she would apologize to her mother and—

"Fire!" Susanna squealed as they entered the clearing surrounding the one-room schoolhouse. "The school is on fire!"

Ruth's mouth gaped in astonishment. Ahead, clouds of smoke billowed from the front porch and cloakroom of the neat, white schoolhouse. In the field, behind an open shed, Ruth spotted the children engaged in a game of softball. Upwind of the building, no one had smelled the smoke yet.

"Sit down, Susanna," Ruth ordered. "Sit here and guard Mam's lunch."

"But the school—" her sister protested, hopping on one bare foot and then the other.

"Don't move until Mam or I come for you."

Susanna sighed heavily but dropped to the ground.

Thank You, Lord, Ruth thought. If there was one thing she could depend on, it was that Susanna would always do as she was asked, so at least she wouldn't have to worry about her safety. Closer to the school than the field, Ruth ran toward the burning structure, bare feet pounding the grass, the skirt of her dress tugging at her knees.

As she drew closer, she saw Mam's new student, Irwin Beachy, crawl out from under the porch. His face and shirt were smudged black, and he was holding his hands out awkwardly, as though they'd been burned.

"Irwin? What happened? Are you hurt?" she called to him.

The boy's eyes widened in terror. Without answering, he dashed away toward the woods.

"Irwin!" Ruth shouted. "Come back!"

When the boy vanished in the trees, she turned back to the school. An ugly crackling noise rose and flames rippled between the floorboards of the front porch. Through the open door, she could see tongues of red flame shimmering through the black smoke. The cloakroom seemed engulfed in fire, but the thick inner door that led to the single classroom was securely closed.

Wrapping her apron around her hands to protect them, Ruth grabbed the smoking rope that dangled from the cast-iron bell by the steps. She yanked hard, and the old bell pealed out the alarm. Then she released the rope and darted to the hand water pump that stood in the yard.

By the shouts and cries coming from the ball field, Ruth knew that the children had heard the bell and seen the smoke. By school age, every Amish child knew what to do in case of a fire, and she was certain they would arrive in seconds. She pumped hard on the handle of the water pump, filling the bucket that always sat there, and then ran back to dash the water onto the front wall of the school. Two of the older boys pounded up behind her. Toby Troyer pulled off his shirt and beat at the flames with it. Vernon Beachy grabbed the empty bucket from Ruth's hands and raced back to refill it.

Ruth's mother directed the fire-fighting efforts and instructed the older girls to take the smaller children back to where Susanna waited so that they would be out of danger.

Two of the Beachy boys carried the rain barrel to the other side of the schoolhouse and splashed water against the wall. Other boys used their lunch buckets to carry water. One moment they seemed as if they were winning the battle, but the next moment, flames would shoot up in a new spot. Someone passed her a bucket of water, and Ruth rushed in to throw it on the porch roof. As long as the roof didn't catch fire, the building might be saved. Abruptly, a sensation of heat washed up over her. She glanced down to see that sparks had ignited the hem of her apron.

As she reached down frantically to tear off the smoldering apron, strong hands closed around her waist and lifted her off the ground. Before she could utter a protest, Ruth found herself thrown onto the ground and roughly rolled over and over in the grass. Her bonnet came off, her hairpins came loose, and her hair tumbled down her back.

"Are you trying to kill yourself? Didn't you see your apron on fire?" A stranger with the face of an angel lifted her into his arms, and gazed into her face.

Ruth couldn't catch her breath. All she could do, for a second, was stare into the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. Behind her she heard the shouts of male voices, but she couldn't tear her gaze from the eyes.

"Are you all right?"

She swallowed hard, unable to find her voice, and nodded as she began to cough.

"You scared me half to death," he murmured, still hold ing her against him, his body as hot against hers as the flames of the fire behind them.

"Is she hurt?" Mam laid a hand on Ruth's arm as her rescuer backed away from the smoking building.

The sound of her mother's voice brought her back to the reality of the situation. "Put me down," she ordered, embarrassed now. "I'm fine."

"Her apron was on fire. Her clothes would have gone up next," he explained, lowering Ruth gently until her bare feet touched the ground.

"It looks like the fire's almost out," Mam said, turning to see Roman and one of the older boys spraying the back wall with fire extinguishers. "Thank goodness they were able to climb in the window and get the extinguishers."

Ruth snatched off her ruined apron and accepted her Kapp that Mam handed her. Flustered, she stuffed her loose hair up in the dirty Kapp, stabbing the pins she had left into the hastily gathered knot of red hair.

"You sure you're all right?" The beautiful stranger was beside her again. He cupped a strong hand under her chin, tilted her head up and looked boldly into her face.

Ruth bristled and brushed away his hand. The man staring at her was no angel and entirely too handsome for his own good. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with butter-yellow hair that tumbled over one eye and a dimple on his square chin. He was clean-shaven, she noticed, so he wasn't married, although he was certainly old enough.

She choked and coughed again, more flustered by his familiarity than by the smoke still lingering in her mouth and lungs.

"Eli Lapp." He offered his hand to her the way the En glish did, but she didn't take it.

Another flush of embarrassment crept across her face.

"And you must be Ruth, Hannah's daughter," he said, letting his hand drop, but still grinning.

Ruth looked to her mother, feeling a betrayal of sorts. Mam knew this Eli? How did he know Mam? How did he know Ruth?

A hint of unease flashed across her mother's face, quickly replaced with her normal calm. "Eli is Roman's sister's son. He's come from Belleville, Pennsylvania, to work for Roman. We met at the chair shop yesterday. Thank the Lord he was close enough to help. You might have been badly burned."

"I didn't need rescuing," she protested. She didn't want to be beholden to this arrogant stranger who made her feel so foolish. "I saw the sparks. I was taking my apron off when he threw me on the grass."

"Nevertheless, I thank God that he sent someone to watch over you." Mam squeezed her hand. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

Mam turned to face the school. The fire seemed to be out, and the men had set aside the fire extinguishers. "I just don't see how this could have happened. We haven't had a fire in the stove in weeks, and we have no electricity."

"I'd say somebody started it," Eli replied. "That's how this kind of thing usually happens."

Immediately, Ruth thought of Irwin Beachy, who she'd seen running away from the school, but she didn't say anything. Irwin had a reputation for causing trouble. He'd been a thorn in Mam's classroom ever since he'd come from Ohio to live with his cousins after his parents had died. But Irwin could have just been frightened by the fire. It would be wrong to accuse him, especially in front of this Eli.

"It was good you came when you did," Mam said to Roman as he approached. "God must have sent you. If it wasn't for you, we might have lost the school."

"We were delivering a table to Esther Mose. We heard the bell." Roman glanced at Ruth. "Good you thought to ring it." He slapped Eli's shoulder. "And good my nephew saw Ruth's clothes catch fire."

"Glad to be of service." Eli stared boldly at Ruth and she felt heat wash over her again. "I'd hate to see such a pretty face burned."

Ruth felt so self-conscious that she wanted to melt into the grass. "We're thankful God sent you to save the school," she said stiffly.

"No lives were lost and no one was injured," Mam said. "Wood can be replaced." She straightened her shoulders. "It appears we'll be in need of a good carpenter. We're nearly at the end of the school term, and the children can't miss any days, especially those who are graduating."

Eli winked at Ruth. Even with her face smudged with soot and her red hair all in a tangle, she was the prettiest girl he'd ever laid eyes on. She had the cutest little freckled nose and a berry-colored mouth. She wasn't very tall; her head came barely to the top of his shoulder, but she was slim and neatly put together in her modest blue dress. But most of all, he was drawn to her eyes, nutmeg brown with dashes of cinnamon and ginger. "Aren't you a little old to still be in school?" he teased.

"I am not in school," she corrected him. "My mother forgot her dinner bucket, and I came to bring it to her."

He grinned mischievously. Ruth wasn't just pretty, she was saucy. A man didn't come across too many saucy Amish girls where he came from. Mostly, they were quiet and meek. Hannah Yoder's daughter was different, not just a pretty face and a tidy body. She had spirit, and he liked her at once. "If I thought you would bring my lunch, I might forget it, too."

The hanging oil lamp cast a warm golden light over the Yoder kitchen as Ruth's family prepared for supper that evening. This was her favorite part of the day, and despite the near-tragedy of the fire, she found sweet comfort in the familiar odors of baking bread and the clatter of dishes and silverware.

Dutifully, Ruth helped her sisters carry food to the old trencher table that Dat's great-grandfather had crafted. The kitchen was Plain, spacious and as neat as the starched white Kapp Mam wore to Sunday services under her black bonnet.

Ruth was carrying two steaming bowls of corn chowder to the table when she heard a knock on the back door.

"Whoever could that be?" Mam asked.

Anna placed an iron skillet of fresh-baked biscuits on top of the stove. "I'll get it."

Ruth had a strange feeling she knew who the unexpected visitor was, and she hurried to the window over the sink and tugged back the corner of the yellow chintz curtain. The minute she saw him, she dropped the curtain and spun around, leaning against the sink. "Don't answer it!" she called, panic fluttering in her chest.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Great!

    What a nice Amish fiction love story! Easy and fast to read. Very enjoyable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Enjoyable story

    This was a very nice story and was very easy reading. Introduced me to another great author

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2010

    Loved this book!

    I was so excited to find a new author writing Amish romances! Courting Ruth is set in Delaware where's theres apparently a large Amish population I didn't even know about. Even though the Yoder family had problems, the book left me feeling good, something I don't always find, even in Christian books. Ruth's story kept me turning the pages. I can't wait for the next book in the series. I hope it's out soon.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    highly recommend

    again an excellent

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