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- ISBN: 9780764207259
- ISBN: 0764207253
- ISBN: 9781615234820
- ISBN: 1615234829
- Physical Description: 398 p. (large print) ; 21 cm.
- Edition: Large print ed.
- Publisher: Minneapolis, Minn. : Bethany House, c2009.
Twenty-one-year-old Grace Byler longs to find her missing mother and to uncover the secret that drove her to leave them three weeks before. Grace suspects the reason has to do with her father and his reserved, uncommunicative ways. This conviction led Grace to break off her betrothal to her quiet, staid beau, and she is now resigned to remain single. But when the young Amishman she thought was courting her best friend takes a sudden interest in her, Grace is befuddled and wonders if he can be trusted.
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|Subject:||Amish > Fiction.
Family secrets > Fiction.
By BEVERLY LEWIS
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2009 Beverly M. Lewis
All right reserved.
PrologueI stumbled upon my mother's handkerchief in the cornfield early this morning. Halfway down the row I spotted it-white but soiled, cast in the mire of recent rains. Only one side of the stitched hem was visible, the letter L poking out from the furrow as if to get my attention. I stared at it ... all the emotions of the past three weeks threatening to rise up and choke me right then and there.
Leaning over, I clutched the mud-caked hankie in my hand. Then, tilting my head up, I looked toward the eastern sky, to the freshness of this new day.
Twice now, I've walked the field where Mamma sometimes wandered late at night-weeks before she ever left home. Like our sheep, she'd followed the same trails till ruts developed. I couldn't help wondering where the well-trod path had led her by the light of the lonely moon. Honestly, though, 'tis only in the daylight that I've been compelled to go there, drawn by thoughts of her and the hope of some further word, whenever that might come.
I shook the dirt off the hankie and traced the outline of the embroidered initial-white on white. So simple yet ever so pretty.
My hand lingered there as tears slipped down my cheeks. "Mamma ... where are you?" I whispered to the breeze. "What things don't we know?"
* * *
Later, when breakfast preparations were well under way, my younger sister, Mandy, headed upstairs to redd up what had always been our parents' room. The solitary space where Dat still slept.
Still shaken at finding Mamma's hankie, I wandered across the kitchen and pushed open the screen door. I leaned on it and stared toward the shining green field, with its rows as straight as the telephone poles up the road, near Route 340. Near where the fancy folk live.
I reached beneath my long work apron and touched the soiled handkerchief in my dress pocket. Mamma's very own. Had I unknowingly yearned for such a token? Something tangible to cling to?
With a sigh, I hurried through the center hallway and up the stairs. Various things pointed to Mamma's long-ago first beau as a possible reason for her leaving. But I had decided that no matter how suspicious things looked, I would continue to believe Mamma was true to Dat.
I stepped into our parents' large bedroom, with its gleaming floorboards and hand-built dresser and blanket chest at the foot of the bed. "I want you to see something, Mandy," I said.
My sister gripped the footboard. "Jah?"
I pushed my hand into my pocket, past Mamma's hankie, and found the slip of paper. "Just so ya know, I've already shown this to Dat." I drew a slow breath. "I don't want to upset you, but I have an address in Ohio ... where Mamma might be stayin'." I showed her what our grandmother had given me.
"What on earth?"
I told her as gently as I could that I'd happened upon a letter Dawdi Jakob had written when Mamma was young-when she and our grandmother had gone west to help a sickly relative.
"Why do you and Mammi think she might've gone there?" Mandy's brown eyes were as wide as blanket buttons.
"Just a hunch." Really, though, I hadn't the slightest inkling what Mamma was thinking, going anywhere at all. Let alone with some of Samuel Graber's poetry books in tow. "I hope to know for a fact soon enough," I added. She stared in disbelief. "How?"
"Simple. I'm goin' to call this inn."
Mandy reached for the paper, holding it in her now trembling hand. "Oh, Grace ... you really think she might be there?"
Suddenly it felt easier to breathe. "Would save me tryin' to get someone to make a trip with me to find out." I bit my lip. "And Dat says I have to ... or I can't go at all."
"you can't blame him for that." Mandy sighed loudly. Then she began to shake her head repeatedly, frowning to beat the band.
I touched her shoulder. "What is it, sister?"
She shrugged, remaining silent.
"It's just so awful dangerous ... out in the modern, fancy world."
"Aw, sister ..." I reached for her. "Mamma can take care of herself. We must trust that."
She nodded slowly, brown eyes gleaming with tears. Then, just as quickly, she wiped her eyes and face with her apron. She shook her head again. "Nee-no, we must trust the Lord to watch over her."
With a smile, I agreed.
Mandy leaned her head against my cheek. "I hope you won't up and leave us, too. I couldn't bear it, Gracie." She stepped back and looked at me with pleading eyes. "And if ya do get Mamma on the phone, please say how much I miss her. How much we all do." Mandy looked happier at the prospect. "That we want her to come home."
I squeezed her plump elbow, recalling the way Dat's eyes had lit up when I showed him the address early this morning. The way he'd turned toward the kitchen window, a faraway glint in his eyes as he looked at the two-story martin birdhouse-just a-staring. I'd wondered if he was afraid to get his hopes up too high. Or was there more to this than any of us knew?
But this wasn't the time to dwell on such things. I needed to think through what I might say to whoever answered the phone. How to make it clear who I was ... and why I was calling.
Mandy went around the bed and reached for the upper sheet, pulling it taut. Next, the blanket. She gave me a sad little smile, and after we finished Dat's room, she said no more as she headed downstairs to scramble the breakfast eggs.
I made my way to my own bedroom, down the hall. There, I took Mamma's mud-stained hankie from my pocket. Will you even come to the phone ... when you find out who's calling?
Then, as carefully as if it were a wee babe, I placed the handkerchief in my dresser drawer with a prayer in my heart. Grant me the courage, Lord.
Excerpted from the Missing by BEVERLY LEWIS Copyright © 2009 by Beverly M. Lewis . Excerpted by permission.
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