Authors: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Tags: #FIC042040, #FIC027020, #Amish—Fiction
© 2012 by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Published by Revell
a division of Baker Publishing Group
P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
Ebook edition created 2012
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—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Most Scripture used in this book, whether quoted or paraphrased by the characters, is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Published in association with Joyce Hart of the Hartline Literary Agency, LLC.
Any internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers used in this book are provided as a resource. Baker Publishing Group does not vouch for their content for the life of this book, nor do they imply an endorsement by Baker Publishing Group.
“Suzanne Woods Fisher’s
is a heartwarming story of faith, family, and renewal filled with characters that come alive on the page like old friends. The story will captivate fans of Amish fiction and readers who love an endearing romance.”
, bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series
“Shy Sadie Lapp returns to Stoney Ridge to find her quiet Amish farm life has turned upside down: two suitors, a nesting peregrine falcon pair, and one whopper of a secret.
is a warm, touching novel about the power of familial bonds. Once you dip into this novel set in the charming town created by Suzanne Woods Fisher, you’ll be hooked.”
, bestselling author of the Daughters of the Promise series
“Suzanne Woods Fisher’s novels are always such a joy to read! I found
charming, humorous, and compelling—so much so that I had to remind myself to put the book down and get back to work! I’ll be joining her many fans by the calendar, anxiously awaiting her next book to be released.”
Shelley Shepard Gray
New York Times
To Lindsey, my darling daughter.
My first cookie turned out! She turned out
t never failed to amaze Sadie Lapp how the most ordinary day could be catapulted into the extraordinary in the blink of an eye. She was still a little dazed. She couldn’t shake the feeling that it seemed her whole life had been leading to this particular moment. She had a strange sense that this day had come into her life to change her, to change everything.
But that didn’t mean she felt calm and relaxed. Just the opposite. She felt like a homemade sweater unraveling inch by inch. As she caught her first glimpse of Windmill Farm, she hoped that, maybe, things could get straightened out, once she reached home.
Sadie had spent the winter in Berlin, Ohio, helping Julia and Roman, her sister and brother-in-law, settle into Rome’s childhood home. A part of every day was spent shadowing Deborah Yoder, an elderly Old Order Amish woman who was known as a healer. Knowing of Sadie’s interest in healing herbs, Rome arranged a meeting with Deborah that resulted in a part-time job. A part of Sadie wished she could have spent years studying and watching the wise old woman.
But last week, Sadie woke and knew she needed to return home. When Sadie told Julia, her sister’s face fell with disappointment. She had expected Sadie to stay through the summer and tried to talk her out of leaving. But Old Deborah understood. “The wisest people I know,” she had told Sadie, “learn to listen to those hunches.”
The taxi swerved suddenly, jerking Sadie out of her muse. A few more curves in the road and she would be at Windmill Farm. She hoped the family was there for her homecoming. Wouldn’t it be sad to try to surprise everyone, only to arrive to an empty house?
Maybe she should have called first, to let her father know she was coming. But he would have asked her why she was changing her plans and she didn’t want to say. Maybe she should have at least tipped off Fern, their housekeeper. The one person she knew she couldn’t confide in was Mary Kate, her twelve-going-on-thirty-year-old sister. It was well known that M.K. liked to babble and tell. She was the self-appointed bearer of all news—truth or otherwise.
Sadie gazed out the window. Coming home felt harder than she thought it would be. The family was much smaller now. It would be quieter without Rome and Julia. Without her brother, Menno. Even Lulu, Menno’s dog, was living with Rome and Julia now. Sadie leaned her head on the back of the seat and closed her eyes for a moment, remembering. They used to be a family with a mom and a dad, three sisters and a brother, and crazy Uncle Hank. Pretty normal.
Until her mom passed and her dad, Amos, developed heart trouble. Then Uncle Hank found a housekeeper in
The sisters secretly called her Stern Fern. She took some time to warm up to, but she was just what the Lapp family needed. Sadie would have to add the Bee Man to the “just what we needed” list too. When Roman Troyer came to live at Windmill Farm last summer, life took a happy upturn. For Julia, especially.
But then Menno died in a terrible accident and his heart was given to his father. Everything changed again.
They weren’t a normal family anymore. Julia had married Rome and moved to Ohio. And wasn’t that also the way life went? Sadie thought, moving the basket beside her out of the direct sun. One minute you felt like laughing, and the next thing you knew, you were crying. She glanced at the basket. Would she ever feel normal again?
As the taxi passed along the road that paralleled Windmill Farm, Sadie scanned the fields, horrified. Dozens of cars were parked along the road. Near the barn, horses and buggies were stacked side by side. The amount of people up there looked like ants at a picnic. There was even a television van with a large satellite dish on top, like a giant sunflower turning to the sky. She unrolled the car window to get a better look. What on earth was going on?
She told the taxi driver to pull over at the base of the hill rather than go up the drive. After paying the driver, she stood by Julia’s roadside stand, a small suitcase flanking her on one side, an oval-shaped basket on the other, a small box in her hand. She wasn’t quite sure what to do next. The thought of walking up that hill into a crowd of strangers mortified her. Strangers were on Sadie’s avoid-at-all-costs list. She was shy to the point of sickness among strangers. When she was out in town, she almost swooned with fear.
Why had she let the taxi drive off? Why hadn’t she called her father first, to let him know she was on her way from Ohio and to find out what was going on at home?
going on at home?
Suddenly, a familiar voice came floating down the hill, followed by pounding footsteps. “Saaaa—dddieeeee!” Mary Kate was running toward Sadie, full blast, arms raised to the sky, a look of pure joy on her face.
Sadie threw open her arms and hugged her little sister. “Mary Kate, you’ve gotten so tall!” Fresh and tall and sleek, though starting to fill out her dress. Her little sister was on her way to becoming a woman.
“You didn’t let anyone know you were coming!”
“I wouldn’t even recognize you if I passed you on the street!” She handed M.K. the small container. “Rome sent along a new queen bee for your hives. I worried through the whole trip that the queen would escape out of that box and sting me.”
M.K. peered through the screen top of the box. The brown bee queen was gripping the screen with its tiny fuzzy black legs. “Oh, she’s beautiful!” M.K. was enamored with bees. Sadie liked to stay clear of them. “You won’t believe what’s been going on around here!”
“Take a breath, M.K., and tell me what all these cars are doing here. Is everyone all right? Is Dad doing all right?”
M.K. put the bee box on top of Sadie’s suitcase and glanced at the house. “Dad’s having a good day today. I’ve never seen him look so proud and pleased. When the president of the Audubon Society gave him the letter for Menno, I thought Dad was going to bust his britches.”
“What letter? What are you talking about?”
“For all those rare birds Menno found! Turns out he spotted more rare birds than anyone else in the state of Pennsylvania. The Audubon lady brought a newspaper reporter with her.” She stretched her arms over her head and released a happy giggle. “And right when they were presenting the letter to Dad, the game warden drove up. He sent an intern to stock the creek with trout and he spotted another couple of rare birds. This pair is an endangered species, and it looks like they’re settling down to raise a family right on Windmill Farm! So that meant the game warden had to put No Trespassing signs up all over the farm. Of course, that was like sending out a skywriter with the news that Windmill Farm has another rare bird. Suddenly the whole town arrived. Even a telly-vision crew.” She pointed to the news truck. “They’re trying to film the birds. That’s got the Audubon lady all upset. She’s worried so much interest will disturb the birds. But the game warden says that the public has a right to observe the birds, as long as they’re not trespassing on private property. I don’t think there’s anyone left in town—they’re all up there listening to the game warden and the Bird Lady and the news reporter. It’s better than a volleyball game.” She spun herself in a little circle and clapped her hands, her grin wide. “And now you’re home too! This is the best day, ever!”
“The entire town is up there?” Sadie said.
“Even folks from our church?”
“Everybody! Even on a perfect spring day—folks just dropped their plows in the fields and hurried over. Fern is trying to figure out how many think they’re staying for supper.” M.K. turned to look up the hill. “There’s Dad!” She cupped her hands around her mouth and called out, “Hurry, hurry, hurry! Sadie’s home!” She turned back to her sister. “Uncle Hank is trying to get himself on the local news. It’s making Edith Fisher mad as a wet hen.” She drew herself as tall as she could, hooked her hands on her hips, made a terrible prim face and, in a husky voice that sounded eerily like Edith Fisher, said, “Pride goeth before a fall, Hank Lapp!”
As kerfuffled as Sadie was, she couldn’t help but laugh. M.K. was a regular little mimic, as good as a tent show, Uncle Hank said, and he would know. Under normal circumstances, Sadie would have enjoyed M.K.’s imitation of Edith Fisher, but these weren’t normal circumstances. She was preoccupied with the mighty flood of news M.K. had dropped on her. The timing for her homecoming could not be any worse. How had this happened? Why, oh why, did she feel she should come home on this day, of all days? Why did she happen to be in the bus station—at that exact moment—earlier today? She had to believe it was meant to be. What other explanation could there be? The circumstances of the day couldn’t be accidental.
Nearly down the driveway, Amos Lapp held his arms out wide for Sadie and she ran into them. She breathed in the sweet familiar smells of her father, of rich coffee and pine soap. Maybe . . . everything was going to be all right.
“What a wonderful surprise, Sadie! Today of all days! Why didn’t you let us know you were coming?” Amos leaned back to look at her, hands on her shoulders. “I shouldn’t be surprised. Not a bit. You always had a way of knowing the right place to be at just the right time.” He sounded so pleased. “Did M.K. tell you the news about our Menno? Did you hear that the president of the Audubon Society brought a letter congratulating us on Menno’s keen eyes for birding?” He shook his head. “Our Menno. He would’ve been pleased.”
“I think Menno would have wondered what all the fuss was about,” Sadie said. “He would have told all these folks that they should be out looking for rare birds themselves.”
Amos smiled, a little sad. “You’re probably right. You always knew him best.”
Sadie looked at her father, really looked. He had gained a little weight and it suited him. But his warm brown eyes had dark circles underneath, as if he wasn’t sleeping well. He looked positively careworn.
“Let’s get you up to the house, through that clump of people, so you can wash up and get something to eat.” He reached down for her suitcase, noticed the bee box, picked it up, and peered into it. Then he handed the bee box to M.K.
“Dad, there’s something—”
“Say, does Gideon know you’re coming?” Amos lifted his head as he picked up the suitcase. “He’ll be anxious to see you. I wish I had a silver dollar for every time he asked me when I thought you’d be coming back.”
“Gid’s my teacher this spring, Sadie,” M.K. said, eyes fixed on the queen bee. “Did you know that? He’s the best, the very best! So much more interesting than his crotchety old maid sister—”
“Ahem,” Amos interrupted, giving M.K. the look.
“Yes,” Sadie said. “Of course I know Gid is your teacher. You’ve told me hundreds of times. And no, Gid doesn’t know I’m coming. I was trying to surprise all of you.” She turned to her father. “Dad, before we go up to the house, I need to tell you something—”
A strange little squeaking sound came out of the basket behind Sadie’s feet. M.K. peered into it and looked up, shocked. “Sadie, it’s . . . you . . . you have a baby!”
Amos crouched down to look. He pulled back a little quilt blanket to reveal a tiny baby. The baby started waving his arms and crying like a weak lamb. Amos looked up at his middle daughter, stunned. “Sadie, what’s this?”
Sadie took a deep breath. “Dad, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I need . . . some . . . help.”
Will Stoltz pulled out the tape to rope off the area below the ridge where the American peregrine falcon pair had claimed their nest—just a scape, because falcons didn’t use nesting material. They were smart, those birds. Very possibly the shrewdest birds of all. Falcons chose the highest point in the area to provide an easy vantage point for hunting.
A week ago, in late March, Will had been stocking streams with trout for the game warden, and lo and behold, he spotted a pair of American peregrine falcons. The male—actually called a tiercel—was about one-third smaller than the female, and the pair seemed to be soaring in the sky in specific flying patterns. When Will saw the male bring food to the female, he knew they were courting. He smiled. Falcons mated for life. The male would select a few sites for a scape and let the female pick the place she wanted to raise her clutch. Very civilized, he thought. He would do the same, if he ever married.
He nailed one end of the yellow Keep Out tape to a tree. There was a line of people standing behind the tape, with telescopes and cameras fitted with enormous zoom lenses. This was a big event to hit Lancaster County. Even for the state of Pennsylvania—an endangered species on its list had chosen a little Amish farm to nest in. Will knew the game warden was determined to squeeze every ounce of publicity he could out of this American peregrine falcon pair—partly for the sake of the falcon pair but mostly to breathe life into his sagging career.
Last year, Game Warden Mahlon Miller had been criticized for not giving enough protection to a bald-headed eagle pair that had built a nest in a tree in an unfortunate location—a popular civic park. One of the eaglets had been killed by a kid messing around with a BB gun and Mahlon Miller had been publicly chastised. Eagles were increasingly common to parts of Pennsylvania, unlike falcons, and Mahlon wasn’t going to let anything happen to jeopardize these rare birds.