|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.30(d)|
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An Amish Year
Four Amish Novellas
By Beth Wiseman
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2015 Elizabeth Wiseman Mackey
All rights reserved.
Rosemary crossed her legs, folded her arms across her chest, and tried to focus on the bishop's final prayer as he wrapped up the worship service. Saul Petersheim was making that a difficult task. She'd made it clear to Saul that she was not interested in dating him, but the man still gave it his best shot from time to time.
"He's doing it again," Rosemary whispered to Esther. "Smiling and staring at me."
Her best friend grinned. "Are you ever going to give that poor fellow a break and go out with him?"
"We've been through all this, Esther. Saul and I dated when we were sixteen. It didn't work out then, and it wouldn't work out now." Rosemary clamped her mouth closed when she realized that Bishop Glick had stopped talking and was staring at her, along with most of the congregation. She could feel the heat rising from her neck to her cheeks, so she sat taller, swallowed hard, and didn't breathe for a few seconds.
"See, Saul even gets me in trouble at worship service," Rosemary said once the bishop had recited the final prayer and dismissed everyone. She stood up, smoothed the wrinkles from her white apron, and shook her head.
Esther chuckled. "You're twenty-one years old. I think you're responsible for your own actions at this point."
Rosemary sighed as they waited for several of the older women to pass by before they eased into the line that was forming toward the kitchen. "I guess. I just wish Saul would find someone else," she whispered as she glanced over her shoulder toward him. "Someone better suited to him." The words stung when she said them aloud.
"Saul only has eyes for you." Esther smiled. "And I don't understand why you won't give him another chance. It was five years ago." Rosemary bit her bottom lip, tempted to tell Esther the whole story. But every time she considered telling her friend the truth, she stopped herself. There was once a time when Rosemary couldn't picture herself with anyone but Saul.
All the men had gone in the other direction toward the front door, most likely to gather in the barn to tell jokes and smoke cigars while the women prepared the meal. Rosemary shrugged. "It just wouldn't work out."
Esther picked up a stack of plates from the counter and shook her head. "I don't understand you, Rosemary. Saul is one of the most desirable single men in our district. The fact that someone else hasn't already snagged him is mind-boggling." She nudged Rosemary's shoulder. "But I really do think he is holding out for you."
"Well, he is wasting his time." Rosemary picked up a pitcher of tea and followed Esther out the kitchen door and onto the porch. As they made their way down the steps toward the tables that had been set up in the yard, Rosemary commented to Esther that the Lord couldn't have blessed them with a more beautiful day. She wasn't going to let thoughts about Saul ruin it.
It seemed like spring had arrived overnight following a long winter that had seen record-low temperatures in Lancaster County. The Zooks were hosting church service today, and their flower beds were filled with colorful blooms. Rosemary glanced to her right at the freshly planted garden, then sighed, knowing how disappointed her mother would be if she were still alive. Rosemary hadn't planted a garden in four years. She'd tried to maintain the flower beds, but even that effort had failed.
She'd filled up most of the tea glasses when she saw Saul walking toward her. She swallowed hard. All these years later, Saul still made her pulse quicken.
"You look as pretty as ever, Rosie." Saul pushed back the brim of his straw hat, then looped his thumbs beneath his suspenders. There was no denying that Saul was a handsome man with his dark hair, deep-blue eyes, and boyish dimples. He had a smile that could melt any girl's heart. Aside from her father, Saul was the only other person who called her Rosie, and a warm feeling filled her when he did. But she'd never tell him that.
Rosemary looked up at him and forced a smile, wishing things were different. "Danki, Saul." She turned to walk away, but he was quickly in stride with her. "Can I help you with something?" she said as she continued to walk toward the house. She kept her eyes straight ahead and masked any facial expression.
"Nee, just going inside." He scratched his chin. "And trying to figure out how long it's been since I asked you out. Wondering if I should try again."
Rosemary stopped midstep. She glanced around to see if anyone was in earshot, and after waiting for one of her brothers to jet past them, she said, "I-I just don't think it's a gut idea for us to date. I'm very busy trying to run a household full of boys and take care of mei daed." She locked eyes with his, knowing she'd do better to avoid looking at him altogether.
"Did I hear hesitation in your voice?" He grinned, and Rosemary's knees went weak. Saul wasn't just nice looking, he was also well respected within the community and known to have a strong faith. He was sure to be a good husband and provider since he ran a successful construction company. He'd taken over his father's business when his father never fully recovered from back surgery. But there were two reasons Rosemary wasn't going to get involved with Saul. And one of them was walking toward them. Her five-year-old brother stopped in front of her, his face drawn into a pout.
"I can't find Jesse or Josh." Abner stared up at Rosemary.
"They're around here somewhere." Rosemary straightened her youngest brother's hat, making a mental note to cut his blond bangs when they got home. "We'll be eating soon, and neither Jesse nor Joshua is going to miss a meal."
Saul squatted in front of Abner. "Anything I can help you with, buddy?"
Abner shook his head. "Nee."
Rosemary looked down at her feet for a moment. Saul was born to be a father. She'd watched him with the kinner in their district over the years. The man was loving and kind to anyone he came in contact with. She needed to get away from him before she threw herself into his arms or said something she'd regret. She held up the empty pitcher and focused on Abner. "I've got to go refill this and help get lunch on the table. Don't go far." Then she turned to Saul, and a sadness weighed so heavy on her heart, she couldn't even force another smile. "I have to go."
Saul scratched his chin again as he watched Rosemary walk away. Most days, he wondered why he continued to pursue her since she always turned him away. But every now and then he would see something in her beautiful brown eyes that made him think he might still have a chance. Or like today ... he was sure he'd heard regret in her voice.
Sighing, he turned and headed back to the barn. As he pulled open the door, the stench of cigar smoke assaulted him. He'd never cared for this recreational activity that some of the men practiced. It used to be reserved for after the Sunday meal, but somewhere along the line, a few of the men began having a smoke before they ate. Saul enjoyed the jokes and company of the other fellows, but considering John Zook had already lost one barn to a fire, Saul was surprised he allowed smoking in his new one. The men were already walking toward the door, so Saul turned around and they all made their way to the tables.
Saul took a seat at the table beneath a large oak tree, mostly because Rosemary's father, Wayne Lantz, was sitting there. Wayne was a leader, a fair man, and someone Saul had always looked up to. Saul wouldn't be surprised if he became bishop someday. He was also the first person on the scene of any emergency and available whenever a neighbor had a crisis. Saul glanced toward the Zook barn. On the day of the barn raising, Wayne had spent more time working than any of the other men. And even after his wife died four years ago, he continued to do for others.
"Any luck with that dochder of mine?" Wayne's face was void of expression as he picked up his glass of tea, then took several large gulps.
Saul had never been sure if Wayne approved of his pursuing Rosemary. "Nee. She still won't give me the time of day." He reached for his own glass, took a large drink, and hoped that his answer had sounded casual enough.
One corner of Wayne's mouth lifted into a subtle grin. Saul wasn't sure if the man was impressed with Saul's persistence or if he was happy that Rosemary wouldn't have anything to do with him. Wayne was quiet.
Rosemary walked up to the table carting a full pitcher of tea.
She'd stolen Saul's heart the summer they'd both turned sixteen. That was the year she had blossomed into a woman, and the maturity fit her perfectly, both her figure and her personality. She'd been full of life, always laughing, and a bright light wherever she went. Saul was pretty sure she'd stolen a lot more hearts than just his that summer. He was blessed to have dated Rosemary for three months. But then one day after worship service, she'd broken up with him without giving him a good reason why. Through her tears, she'd mumbled something about the two of them not being right for each other, and she'd run off before Saul could get a better answer. She'd refused to talk about it in the months that followed.
Then her mother died the following year, and everything changed. She withdrew from everyone, and responsibility swallowed her up as she tended to her father and siblings. But Saul had seen the woman Rosemary was meant to be.
She walked around the table topping off glasses with iced tea, and when she got to her father, she set the pitcher on the table, then brushed lint from the arm of his black jacket. Wayne glanced at her and smiled, and in a rare moment, Rosemary smiled back. She left the pitcher on the table before she walked away, not one time glancing in Saul's direction. The six other men at the table were deep in conversation about a new buggy maker in town, an Englisch man who was building the buggies cheaper than anyone else. Saul was only half-listening when Rosemary's father leaned closer to him.
"I'd tell you to give up, but I'm guessing that isn't going to happen."
Saul shook his head and grinned as they both watched Rosemary walk across the yard to the house. "Nee."
Wayne ran his hand the length of his dark beard that was threaded with gray. He didn't look at Saul, but kept his eyes on Rosemary as she walked up the porch steps.
"Will be a blessed man to win her heart." Wayne kept his eyes on his daughter. "She's so much like her mudder, though. Hard to tell what's going on in her head." He turned to Saul, and the hint of a smile formed. "But she will be well worth the time invested if you are that man."
Everyone had thought Wayne Lantz would remarry quickly after his wife died. Widowers and widows were encouraged to marry another as soon as possible. But Edna Lantz had been a fine woman. Saul figured Wayne was having a hard time finding happiness with someone else.
Even though Rosemary never did tell Saul why she broke up with him so suddenly, he couldn't imagine spending his life with anyone else. He'd tried to bring up the subject from time to time, but it had just put even more distance between them. But realistically, how long could he go on pursuing her?CHAPTER 2
Rosemary was giving the kitchen rug a good thrashing against a tree on Monday morning when a buggy turned into the driveway. Squinting against the sun's glare as it peeked over the horizon, she watched as Katherine Huyard slowed down and stopped. Rosemary bit her tongue, reprimanded herself for allowing ugly thoughts to creep into her mind, then put the rug down in the grass and walked toward the buggy. Katherine stepped out toting a basket that was most likely filled with fresh vegetables from her garden.
Rosemary glanced at the healthy weeds she was growing within what used to be a fenced garden, determined not to let Katherine get under her skin. The first few times Katherine brought vegetables, Rosemary had been grateful that she didn't have to buy them in town. But now Katherine came at least two times a week, and the woman made Rosemary feel inferior. Her tomatoes were the biggest and tastiest Rosemary had ever had. So were her cucumbers, zucchinis, squash, melons, and spinach. And Katherine was always dressed in a freshly ironed dress and apron. Even her kapp looked just pressed, and there wasn't a hair out of place. Rosemary blew a strand of her own wayward hair from her face as she took her wrinkled self toward Katherine. She waved, hoping the visit would be short.
"Your daed told me at worship how much he's been enjoying my vegetables, so I've filled the basket." Katherine flashed her perfectly white teeth as she handed Rosemary the produce. It seemed Katherine was always smiling. Rosemary wondered how that could be. Katherine had lost her husband to cancer a year ago. It had been four years since Rosemary's mother died, and only recently did her father show any signs of joy.
"Danki, Katherine." Rosemary accepted the gift, knowing her father and the boys would be grateful. "Would you like to come in for kaffi or tea?"
"Nee. I've got some mending to do for mei nieces and nephews. I try to help Ellen as much as I can."
For a few seconds, Katherine's smile faded and she got a faraway look in her eyes. Rosemary never knew why Katherine and her husband, John, didn't have any children. Rosemary was about ten years younger than Katherine, who was in her early thirties. In a flash, Katherine's smile was back. Rosemary wondered what it would be like to switch places with the woman for a day, to have no one to tend to but herself. Even though Rosemary longed for a husband and children of her own, having even one day to herself sounded like heaven.
"Anyway ..." Katherine bounced up on her toes, then glanced around the yard. "I just wanted to get out this morning to enjoy the beautiful weather and drop off these vegetables."
Rosemary looked around. In addition to the eyesore that used to be a garden, the flower beds were overgrown, the yard needed mowing, and Abner had left toys all over the place. There just wasn't enough time in the day to take care of everything. "Ya, okay. Well, danki again for these." She lifted the basket as she managed a small, tentative smile.
Katherine looked around again, and Rosemary shifted her stance. "I'm a little behind on my outside chores."
Katherine shook her head. "Not at all. I think everything looks nice." She gave a quick wave and turned to leave. Rosemary had to give her credit. She almost sounded sincere.
She walked back to where she'd laid the kitchen rug in the grass, gave it a final slap against the tree, then headed inside with the rug and veggies. She was thankful that Abner, Jesse, and Joshua were all in school. But school would be out for the summer in a few weeks. The older boys would likely help Daed tend the fields, but Abner would be in her care all day long, which would slow her down even more.
As she pulled out a chair and sat down at the kitchen table, she wondered why she was allowing bitterness to consume her. Her mother had died, and these responsibilities were God's will for her. To tend to her family and to have very little time to herself — and certainly no time for a relationship.
The sooner Saul found someone else and got on with his life, the better for both of them.
* * *
Saul got his brother lined up first thing in the morning on Lydia Jones's house. The Englisch woman wanted her entire downstairs painted. Saul thought it was an awful color, a dark burgundy that made the house look even smaller than it was. But Joel was the best painter he had on his six-person payroll. He'd dropped off the other four fellows at another Englisch home where they were putting in laminate floors. He'd been blessed to have plenty of work the past few months, but after these two jobs, he didn't have anything else lined up, which was a little worrisome.
"Why would anyone paint the inside of their house this color?" Joel finished covering a hutch by the door with plastic as he eyed the one wall he'd painted last Friday.
Saul shrugged. "I don't know. But it's her haus." He quickly inspected the work Joel had done last week. As usual, it looked good. Joel was only sixteen, but he was a perfectionist, and Saul was thankful he could leave him in a customer's home, knowing his brother would do a gut job.
"I'll be back for you at five." Saul maneuvered around furniture that he and Joel had moved to the center of the room. "You'll probably have half of it done by then." He sighed and stretched out the tightness in his back. Some new job opportunities needed to come up by the end of the week.
A few minutes later he was pulling onto Lincoln Highway and heading toward Bird-in-Hand. He had a few errands to run this morning, but he'd barely stepped out of his buggy at the market when it began to pour. He hurried to tether his horse, then took off running across the parking lot. He tipped the brim of his hat down in an effort to shield his face from the heavy pelts. He wasn't paying attention when he rounded a big blue van and slammed right into another person, hard enough that it brought them both down onto the rock-solid cement. He felt his arm sliding across the pavement, but he was more concerned that the person he'd slammed into wasn't moving.
Wayne Lantz. Saul's heart pounded in his chest as he reached over and touched Rosemary's father on the chest. The older man was flat on his back with his eyes closed.
* * *
Rosemary threw a twenty-dollar bill over the seat before she jumped out of Barbie Beiler's gray van. The Englisch woman was yelling that Rosemary didn't owe her anything for the ride when Rosemary slammed the door and raced up to the front of the hospital, dodging puddles along the way.
Excerpted from An Amish Year by Beth Wiseman. Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Wiseman Mackey. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsRooted in Love, 1,
A Love for Irma Rose, 93,
Patchwork Perfect, 185,
When Christmas Comes Again, 285,