Amish Baby Blessing (LARGE PRINT PAPERBACK)
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Amish Women of Pleasant Valley Book 7
Was he content to remain single forever?
Amish bachelor, Mervin, doesn't know what he's done to deserve the attention of this woman, but it's too much.
He likes a quiet life and she will not stop talking and not only that, she grates on his last nerve.
When a young single Amish woman moves to Pleasant Valley and learns of Mervin Breuer, she is determined to 'help' him. It was reported he lived with his grandmother and rarely left home. No one knew whether he was shy or whether he was content to remain a single man forever.
What will she do when she discovers the secret he is keeping from the Amish community?
How will Mervin's secret cause them to overlook their differences and bring the unlikely pair together?
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Hannah despaired as she heard the silence in the living room. The occasional scratching of paper being unfolded was the only sound as her husband read the letters scattered on the couch between them. And that was hardly any noise at all. As the bishop’s wife, she knew there were many things she could be doing right now, but sadness over her youngest starting school had put her in a depressed frame of mind. All of her thirteen babies would soon be grown up and gone. That was why Vera’s letter had come at the right time.
She cleared her throat. “I’ve had someone on my mind lately, Elmer.”
“Who’s that?” Bishop Shroder carefully placed the letter he was reading onto his lap and looked through his glasses at his wife.
Hannah leaned further into the couch hoping he’d agree to her idea. “Mervin Breuer, Elspeth’s grandson.”
“Ah, that’s right. I haven’t seen him in some time.” Elmer fiddled with his letter and Hannah could tell he didn’t want to take time away from what he was doing to talk about Mervin.
“He hasn’t been to a meeting in a while. Now that Andrew’s settled into schul, I should get back into doing the Lord’s work.”
Elmer drew his bushy eyebrows together. “You’re doing the Lord’s work already by looking after our familye.”
After twenty-five years of marriage, she knew what he was going to say before he did and that was how she had her response ready. “I know there are lots of ways to do the Lord’s work, but I meant doing what I used to do before Timothy was born. You do remember him, our firstborn?”
Elmer laughed at his wife’s gentle teasing. “I do have a vague recollection of someone with that name living in our haus once. It might be an idea to invite him and Abigail for dinner soon so I don’t forget them completely.”
Hannah shook her head. “I told you yesterday we’re having a combined birthday dinner for them soon.” He’d had so much to do lately that sometimes he didn’t pay attention to what she was saying.
“Jah, you did, but surely we can have them here before that.” Elmer smiled at his wife, and then picked up his letter. Suddenly, he looked up. “Shall we have them here next week?”
“All right, if they can spare us the time, and don’t forget that Michael’s arriving the day after tomorrow.” They regularly had visitors from different communities staying for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
“Very good.” He looked up again. “And he’s from?”
“Vera’s community, Wiseman's Valley.”
“Isn't that Wiseman's Grove?”
“Ach, jah. I always want to call it 'Valley,' like our Pleasant Valley. Anyway, Vera thought it’d be a good idea for him to stay here. He’s been with her for two years, she said, and he’s unbelievably shy. That’s why I was thinking he might be a good friend for Mervin Breuer. Michael’s parents died leaving him an orphan when he was a very young teenager and he’s never been the same, so Vera says. He’s nineteen and he needs help.”
Hannah pulled her mouth to one side. Vera’s writing had been dreadfully hard to read, but she had deciphered the word ‘shy.’ “He’s shy. That’s why I thought he and Mervin might become friends. They could team up and help one other.”
“Ah, I see, two shy people together. It might work. I didn’t know you had a cousin called Vera.”
“I do. We exchange letters every few years. I can’t remember the last time I saw her. It has to be … well … since before we were married, so I suppose it's possible I haven't mentioned her to you.”
Elmer moved his letters to the coffee table. “And you’ll achieve what you want by visiting Elspeth today?”
“Jah, that’s where Mervin lives.”
“I’ll come with you. Give me a moment and I’ll change into better clothes.”
Hannah jumped to her feet wanting desperately to go alone, but she didn’t want to hurt her husband’s feelings by telling him so. “Look at all those letters. Nee, you stay here. We can do twice as much if we work separately.”
“I thought it would be nice to spend the time with you while we’re traveling there and back.”
“Denke. But nee.” Hannah needed to clear her head and stop feeling sorry for herself. It had been nearly six years since God had blessed them with a baby and it didn’t seem like there was another one coming. All that was left was to watch them grow and she had to adjust to that. It was a hard thing after thirteen children to realize that thirteen was their number. “I think it's best just I go this time, but I’ll make sure I’m back well before the boys are home from schul.”
“Okay. I’m happy with that. I’ll hitch the buggy for you.”
“Denke.” She hoped keeping busy and taking her mind off herself would make her feel better.
* * *
Less than an hour later, Hannah was in Elspeth’s house sitting in front of the fire while they both sipped hot tea. When a draft whistled around the room, Hannah saw the advantage of her own small home. It didn’t take long for a fire to warm the whole house. “How’s Mervin doing?” Hannah asked, as casually as she could.
Elspeth pursed her lips causing some fine lines around her mouth to deepen. Then she pushed some strands of her white hair back under her kapp. “I have to tell you I’m worried about him. He can’t live his life looking after me. He needs his own family. Who’ll look after him when he’s old?” She shook her head. “I keep asking him that. I worry about him so much at night I’m unable to sleep.”
Hannah shook her head. “You shouldn’t be so concerned about him. He’s certainly an adult now.”
“I know, but with his parents both gone I’m the only one he has.”
It seemed Elspeth thought it was a parent’s job to worry, and a grandparent's, too. “What we need is a plan to get him out of the haus and mixing with others.”
A smile lit up the old woman’s face. “Hannah, you’re an answer to prayer.”
Hannah laughed. “My cousin wrote to me about a young man who’s been living with her for a couple of years. He’s coming to stay with us. As I read the letter …”
Elspeth leaned forward. “Go on.”
Hannah took a quick sip of hot tea and then placed the teacup back on the saucer in her lap. “As I read Vera’s letter, I thought that Elmer might be able to ask Mervin to spend some time with this young man. Elmer could ask Mervin to show him around and that way Mervin would be forced to get out.”
Elspeth put her hands on her cheeks. “Wunderbaar.”
Hannah was delighted Elspeth liked her plan. Now they just had to convince Mervin. “Jah, they’d be helping each other.”
“That would work as long as Mervin doesn't think he’s the one being helped. He wouldn’t like it at all to think someone’s helping him.”
“If the request came from Elmer himself, I think that would be enough. What do you think?”
“He’d worry about me being alone. That’s what he’d say, but I’m fine alone. He does things for me before he leaves and when he comes home from work, and as long as he keeps doing that I can manage when he’s not here.”
Hannah had already thought this through, knowing that what she’d just said would be an objection Mervin would give because he was devoted to his grandmother. “I’ll tell you what. I can arrange for the next quilting bee to be held here on Wednesday afternoon. The young have their volleyball game at the Bylers’ that night. I’ll have Abigail look after my young ones after school, and I’ll come here too.”
“Will that be too much for you with all your thirteen kinner?”
Hannah giggled. “Only eleven at home now that Timothy and Rebecca are married. Abigail won’t mind a bit and the boys love playing with Ferris.”
Elspeth smiled. “I’ll look forward to seeing everyone.”
“Good then; it’s settled.”
Mervin opened the door just at that moment. “Hello, Mrs. Shroder, it’s nice to see you. What did you say’s settled?” He took off his hat and placed it on a peg by the door.
She stood and looked up at him looming in the doorway. He was the same as ever, standing tall, shoulders back, with dark hair sweeping to one side above his dark eyes. “Hello, Mervin. I was just arranging for the ladies in the quilting bee to meet here on Wednesday night.”
Before she’d even finished what she was saying, he was shaking his head. “Nee, I’m sorry, Hannah, but my grossmammi isn’t well enough to have so many visitors.”
“There’s only six of us, and we’ll do all the work. Elspeth can go to bed whenever she wants. It won’t be a late night.” When he looked unconvinced, she added, “And Bishop Elmer was going to ask you to do something special for him on Wednesday.”
Elspeth leaned over and tapped Hannah on her shoulder. “You ask him now, Hannah.”
“Okay, I’ll ask.” Hannah laughed a little to cover up her embarrassment. Elspeth was acting a little too eager and that, Hannah was certain, had caused Mervin’s brow to furrow with concern.
He took a step closer, frowning. “What is it, Hannah?”
“There’s a young man coming to stay with us, Michael Fisher, and he needs a little help. He’s shy and I thought you might be able to befriend him and show him around.”
He pointed to himself. “Me?”
He rubbed his chin and laughed with relief. The bishop’s wife was only there to ask a favor. The bishop hadn’t uncovered his secret. “Sure, I’ll help out. I haven’t done much for the community lately.” Even though his secret was safe, he sensed something else was happening here. Hannah was up to something. At first she’d said the bishop wanted to ask him something, and now it sounded like it was coming from her. Either way, he didn’t care. He’d do this one little favor. It’s not as though it was going to take too much time. “You said he’s young …”
“My cousin told me he’s eighteen, or it could’ve been nineteen. I know that’s a lot younger than you and someone older like you could be a good influence on him.”
“So, he’s troubled?”
“Nee. I don’t think so. All I meant was that you’d be a good friend for a new person to have.”
“Denke.” He didn’t know that was entirely true. There’d be many others better suited, he thought. He took two steps forward. “And you want me to take him to the volleyball on Wednesday night and that’s why the quilting bee’s to be held here?”
Hannah giggled. “That’s right, if you don’t mind.”
He walked over and sat down beside his grandmother. “I don’t mind at all as long as that’s all right with you, Mammi?”
“Jah. I’m looking forward to having people here. I haven’t seen everyone in so long.”
Mervin nodded, and said to Hannah, “I’ll collect him and take him to the volleyball. I’ll introduce him to everyone and do what I can to see he enjoys himself. Then maybe he could befriend others closer to his age.”
“Denke. That’d mean a lot, Mervin. I could’ve got one of my boys to do it, but …”
Mervin waited for Hannah to finish her excuse, but she didn’t. She had boys close to that age, and that confirmed to Mervin something was afoot. Both his grandmother and Hannah were trying to get him back into going to the community events. It wasn’t about the stranger at all.
Mrs. Shroder wasted no time in leaving once Mervin had agreed to everything she wanted.
Once he’d seen Hannah out, Mervin sat back down with his grandmother. “What was all that really about, Mammi?”
She looked down and straightened her white apron over her long dress. “She just wants what’s best for you, the same as I do.”
“And, what’s that exactly?”
Staring at him, she said, “We both think you should be more sociable. You’re too worried about me.”
He sighed. “I’ll cut the vegetables.” He bounded to his feet.
“No need. We’ve got last night’s leftovers.”
“Is there enough?”
“While it’s heating, I’ll cut vegetables for tomorrow night, then.”
“Will you make me one of your special hot teas?”
“Sure, with plenty of lemon and honey just the way you like it.” Mervin collected the used cups and saucers on the coffee table. His grandmother drank more hot tea than anybody he’d heard of. She never even drank water, just tea.
His grandmother chuckled and reached out her hands to be pulled off the couch. He put the cups back down, helped her off the couch, and then once he’d picked up the cups again, he followed his grandmother into the kitchen, already dreading going out on Wednesday night.