Authors: Jerry S. Eicher
HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
Cover photos © Chris Garborg
Cover design by Garborg Design Works, Savage, Minnesota
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to events or locales, is entirely coincidental.
KATIE OPENS HER HEART
Copyright © 2013 by Jerry S. Eicher
Published by Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon 97402
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Eicher, Jerry S.
Katie opens her heart / Jerry S. Eicher.
p. cm. — (Emma Raber’s daughter; bk. 1)
ISBN 978-0-7369-5251-4 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-7369-5252-1 (eBook)
1. Young women—Fiction. 2. Mothers and daughters—Fiction. 3. Conflict of generations—Fiction. 4. Amish—Fiction. 5. Mennonites—Fiction. I. Title.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
The early morning sun was rising over the well-kept farms of Delaware’s Amish country as Katie Raber drove her buggy toward Byler’s Store near Dover to begin her day’s work. She squinted when she spotted an approaching buggy in the distance. The horse had its neck arched high in the air. Katie didn’t have to think long before she decided who was coming toward her. Ben Stoll would be holding the reins. It was his buggy. She was sure of that. Ben was one of the best-looking Amish boys around. Blessed was any girl who was invited to ride with him in his buggy—something Katie figured she would never experience. Ben was without a doubt the catch among the community’s Amish young men. A cloud crossed the sun, and Katie held the buggy lines tight as she kept her eyes glued on the approaching buggy. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of Ben this morning. That was all she could hope for. He was from another world. Ben never spoke to her, and she only saw him at the Sunday meetings and the Amish youth gatherings
allowed her to attend. There he would be laughing and talking with someone else—someone more suited to his taste than “plain Katie,” the out-of-step daughter of the odd widow Emma Raber. Katie could walk right under Ben Stoll’s nose, and he wouldn’t even know a shadow had gone by.
, she was Emma Raber’s daughter. That’s how most people in the community thought of her. She even thought of herself that way—just an extension of her
was nice enough, and Emma really loved her. So,
, she wasn’t really complaining. But sometimes her
did unusual things, and that made Katie seem so…well, weird to the other young adults in the Amish community. For one thing, there would be no
for Katie. Everyone else she knew among the Delaware Amish would have their time to run around and try out the ways of the world. But not Katie. Emma Raber wouldn’t even consider such a thing for her daughter. And the Amish youth gatherings she was allowed to attend were few and far between.
was suspicious of even those. “Too much socializing,” she had said.
She could live without
. Or without Ben Stoll, for that matter. So what, Katie told herself, it might even be best for her if Ben were unobtainable. He might not be all that
if she ever got to know him. Katie sighed. These were desperate excuses, and she knew it, but lately
’s restrictions were becoming harder and harder to bear. She was only trying to make herself feel better. Ben was
. Even her friend Arlene Miller wasn’t above stealing a glance at Ben—and that with her boyfriend, Nelson Graber, sitting right across from her at the Sunday night hymn singings!
Katie wondered if all the girls were as taken with Ben as she was. She was aware of everything about him. She noticed when he wore a new black suit at communion time every spring. She noticed the way his buggy shone when the sun rays bounced off the sides at the Sunday meetings. The boy must spend hours waxing the black vinyl of his buggy, she thought. And most of all, she noticed the way Ben smiled when he was happy, which seemed like most of the time. What would it be like to be the kind of girl who made Ben smile that smile? Ha! Certainly a simple, plain soul like Emma Raber’s daughter couldn’t be such a girl…
Katie tried to look away from the fast-approaching buggy. She was way too fascinated with the boy. If
knew her feelings, Katie knew she’d be given a lecture the size of the state of Delaware and right at the kitchen table after supper.
would not understand how she felt. Life had been hard for
, especially when it came to men. Hadn’t
passed away when Katie was still a young girl? The loss had been so painful for
that she might never marry again.
The beat of horse hooves on pavement grew louder. Katie eased open her buggy door just enough to make sure that whoever was in the passing buggy could see it was her in case a greeting was forthcoming. With her hands on the reins, Katie held her breath as the buggy approached and passed without its buggy door opening even an inch. Katie saw the unmistakable outline of Ben’s face through the small window. His hat was tight on his head, and his eyes were looking straight ahead. The moment passed in a flash without the smallest flicker of a hand wave through the window. And then the buggy was gone.
It was the sun in his eyes, Katie told herself. That’s why Ben hadn’t slid open the buggy door or bothered to wave. But she knew better. Ben wasn’t being mean. No, she just wasn’t worth the effort. He had greater and better things on his mind than paying attention to Emma Raber’s odd daughter. Now if she were beautiful, or charming, or funny, or even talkative at the Sunday-night hymn singings, it might be different. With such qualities, perhaps her plainness could be overcome. But all that was a dream that would never come true. She couldn’t be what she wasn’t.
Perhaps she should settle for Joe Helmuth from down the road. Joe walked with a limp from a hay wagon accident when he was five. He would take over his
’s farm someday, but the scars from that long-ago day would never leave him. The problem was that Joe didn’t pay Katie any attention either.
Well, at least thinking about Ben Stoll helped ease the pain a little, Katie decided. She was only Katie Raber, after all. The girl who could barely open her mouth without dumb words falling out all over each other. If she could only be more like the rest of the Amish girls in the community. But that could never be either, not with how
felt about things.
Katie slapped the reins against her horse as her thoughts swirled through her mind. She couldn’t remember much about
. He’d been gone since she was three years old. She could remember happy times though. Going to the barn with him when they did the evening chores. But that was so long ago. If she only had a
, Katie decided, life would be different. If
married again, Katie figured both of them would be better accepted in the community and
might change her ways. The most obvious possibility was widower Jesse Mast. And he’d come calling on
again just the other evening.
hadn’t said anything about the visit, but Jesse had surely spoken of marriage.