"Caleb returns to his Amish roots, but his troubles are far from over"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted May 31, 2014
Inspirational Romance | Inspirational Amish
Caleb Beachy finds that the economic slump means his
carpentry skills are no longer valuable and, broke, he
returns to his Amish roots. He's welcomed at the Ohio farm,
but cautiously. After all, at twenty-four he's still
unmarried and he was away among the Englisch for five
years. Can he really ever be A PLAIN MAN?
Caleb helps with maple sap collection to make syrup for
sale. Pancake parties give young men and maids a chance to
mingle. He may have returned from his rumschpringe time,
but he has yet to be baptised as an adult member of the
community. This only occurs once a year, in fall. Sarah,
Caleb's sister, works at a guesthouse for polite Englisch
tourists, and she's determined to help him settle back
among the community. She couldn't bear to lose him again.
Lovely Josie Yoder is more than pleased to see the young
man she remembers socialising... she's grown up during his
absence and she's single... but her family feel distrustful
of Caleb. As does his own father, especially when Caleb
uses a battery-powered saw on a roofing project. This saw
may not be connected to an electrical cord, but it's still
not part of the old ways.
I was struck by the Belgian and Haflinger draught horses.
Such horses are few in Europe now; when the Iron Curtain
opened to free trade, many East European farmers sold their
horses to Germany for meat. The farming communities of the
Amish are acting as a reservoir of genetic stock, like a
Noah's Ark. Also, the hand labour of these people with
minimal pesticide use requires more workers, compared to
intensive monoculture crops.
I found a lot to like in Mary Ellis's story of contrasts,
especially when two Englisch friends of Caleb's come to
visit and Sarah takes down her hair to show the girl. The
family is very well drawn with contrasting characters and
an autocratic father who is starting to feel his age. I
know tradesmen value their tools and clothing, yet poor
Caleb is obliged to give away all the top-line tools and
stout coat because they are not Plain. He deserves a fine
young woman in return for his efforts. We see a barn
raising to convince us that Amish methods do work. Good
rich food is enjoyed by all, but what of romance in the
strict atmosphere? And can Caleb convince everyone - his
father, Josie and himself included - that he genuinely
intends to be A PLAIN MAN? This book by Mary Ellis is a
lengthy, descriptive, gently amusing tale, well worth
reading and with plenty of food for thought.
Though Caleb Beachy lived in the Englisch world for some
years, he is a Plain man at heart. When he decides to return
to the Amish lifestyle, he moves back home and goes to work
for his father. Soon these two strong–willed men find
themselves at odds. Caleb discovers there's more to
embracing his faith and reconnecting with the community than
merely driving a horse and buggy and giving up Levis.
Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left. All grown up now,
she gives Caleb hope for the future. She soothes his frayed
temper and is determined to remind him that while his faith
may have wavered, God never left his side. Caleb is tempted
to return Josie's feelings, but the choices he made while
away are a heavy burden on his conscience. Will past
mistakes end up destroying their fledgling romance? Or will
she be able to break through the wall around his heart?
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
March, Fredericksburg, Ohio
Caleb Beachy pulled the wagon up to the door; then carried
two buckets brimming with sap into the barn. Careful not to
spill the sticky liquid, he struggled up the stepladder and
dumped one and then the other into the sap evaporator.
"How many does that make, Cal?" Pushing up the brim of his
hat, James Weaver peered up from his crouched position in
front of the woodburner.
"These are seventy-seven and seventy-eight for today,
one-forty-two including yesterday's for the weekend. But
who's counting?" Caleb winked to let his friend know he was
teasing. Then he returned to the wagon for the rest of the
sap—his eighth load of the day and by no means his
last. Other friends and neighbors were collecting buckets
from Weaver maple trees spread over two hundred acres of
wooded hills. The trees had been planted by James'
grossdawdi many years ago. The other workers would
combine half-buckets together and set them in rows at the
collection point on the trail. Caleb and his daed
each drove a team of Belgian draft horses to the Weaver
sugarhouse, a veritable beehive of activity every January,
February and March.
Maple syrup, along with sugar candy in a variety of shapes,
was the cash crop for the Weaver family. Plenty of people
preferred real maple syrup on their pancakes and waffles
instead of the less expensive cane syrup. And judging by the
joyous expression on his face, James would still be
producing syrup when he was a grossdawdi.
As for Caleb, he couldn't wait to take a hot shower and wash
away any remaining amber goop. "How many trees did you tap
this year?" he asked good-naturedly. As much as he disliked
the work, he liked James. And friends within the district
were few in number since he moved back from Cleveland.
"Over two-thousand." James straightened to his full height
of barely five and a half feet. "That's a record for us."
Tugging off his gloves, he drained his water bottle in a few
swallows. "If prices stay as high as last year's, we should
have plenty to pay taxes and fatten the medical expense
fund." His bright pink cheeks and curly red hair gave him a
boyish appearance. James couldn't wait to find a wife so he
could grow a beard, insisting he would then look his age of
"Well, I plan to stay until your last tree runs dry." Cal
offered his most authentic smile. "Without a job, working
here for free was the best offer I got." They both chuckled.
"Don't forget we give you lunch. Plus you'll take home a
year supply of syrup." James followed Caleb out to the wagon
instead of feeding more wood into the evaporator. "Say, are
you going to the big pancake breakfast in Shreve in two
weeks? They hold it on both Saturday and Sunday, so it won't
interfere with preaching services."
Caleb fastened the top button on his coat before the wind
cut him in half. "I hadn't planned on it. My mamm
fixes pancakes all the time. Why would I pay money for them?
Besides, it'll be nothing but a bunch of English tourists
there." He lifted two buckets from the wagon, spilling some
on his leather boots.
"Nope, lots of Amish folk attend the annual event,
especially if it's a nice day." James stepped closer to
whisper conspiratorially. "Plenty of Plain women will
be there too."
Caleb almost swallowed his tongue trying not to laugh. From
his inflection, it sounded like James considered females as
rare as gold or silver. "Gosh, I'm not sure I've seen one of
them before." He strode toward the barn, trying to
keep his buckets evenly weighted.
James followed at his heels and took no offense from Caleb's
teasing. "Will you get serious? Here we are—almost a
quarter of a century old and still no wives. If we don't get
moving all the young, pretty ones will be snatched up."
Caleb climbed the stepladder, thinking his friend might
climb up behind him. "What will that leave
us—bald-headed grannies in their seventies? At least
they should be great cooks by that age." He leaned back from
the heat while emptying his sap into the evaporator.
James peered up from ground level. "Maybe Emma Wengard will
come or Dot Raber. Then we could—"
"Are you allowing this fire to go out?" Ben Weaver appeared
in the doorway of the sugarhouse, abruptly curtailing his
son's romantic plans. Although his father sounded stern, his
blue eyes twinkled with amusement.
"Nein, I'm just discussing something with our best
employee." James sprinted to the wagon for an armload of
"Employee implies a person gets a paycheck. I've only got
ham sandwiches with hot coffee for you boys." Ben set down a
cloth-covered basket and thermos; then returned to his own
tasks. No idle hands during sugar season.
James washed his hands in a bucket of soapy water. "At least
think about going to the breakfast. You need to get off the
farm more. Aren't you bored since coming back from the
Caleb rolled up his sleeves, picked up the bar of soap, and
scrubbed off the dried-on sap. Seldom did anyone bring up
his five-year venture into the English world. Most Amish
people preferred to forget the life he led since leaving
home in a fit of rage. "Bored? Nah, I'm not bored. I have a
roof over my head without a rent payment to worry about. I
eat three square meals a day from the second best
cook in Wayne County. I have clothes on my back and not one,
but two hats to my name." Caleb pulled on his suspenders.
"And I get to barrel down the road at eight miles an hour as
long as it's not snowing or raining too hard."
James wasn't sure how to take the sarcasm. "Are you thinking
about moving back to the city?"
Cal met James' eye. "Absolutely not. The English world isn't
what it's cracked up to be. When my car broke down, I
couldn't afford to repair the junk-heap. After I could
finally afford to buy a truck, it got towed because I parked
in the wrong spot. By the time I figured out where they
towed it, the impound fees and fines were more than the
truck was worth. Without a vehicle I couldn't get to work on
time, so I got fired."
James seemed to sort the details in his mind. "Wasn't there
public transportation or a coworker to give you a lift?"
"Even if I caught a ride to the union hall, I usually sat
around twiddling my thumbs. Construction was slow, and I'm
not just talking about winter. Without a paycheck a man
doesn't eat. I don't know if you ever tried it, but going
hungry is no fun."
James dried his hands and dug their lunch from the basket.
"There must have been something you liked up north. You
stayed away for five years." He handed Caleb two sandwiches.
Caleb slouched down against a post. "Plenty at first when I
had wheels and a good job. But money management didn't turn
out to be my strong suit."
His friend's confusion only seemed to deepen.
Caleb didn't know how much to reveal about his past. Could
he admit he hung out in bars until closing time and bought
people drinks he'd never seen before? Should he talk about
sleeping with women who were little more than acquaintances?
How about the fact he attended church only once during his
entire time in Cleveland. Unless he counted church basements
that operated as free soup kitchens. No, none of that would
help him reconnect with his few friends in the district.
"Let's just say it's harder to be successful in the English
world. And if a man's not successful, he's not going to be
happy." Cal lifted the top slice of homemade bread to
inspect the sandwich. It was almost an inch of honey-smoked
ham and Swiss cheese with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, purple
onions and bread-and-butter pickles. "Do you know how much a
sandwich like this would cost in the city?"
Shaking his head, James took another bite of lunch.
"Eight or nine dollars. All I have to do here is put in ten
hours of hard labor."
The two laughed in camaraderie before returning to their
assigned tasks—James tending the evaporator and
stoking the fire; Caleb ferrying endless buckets of sap to
the sugarhouse. But when Caleb climbed into his buggy to
head home that night, he felt tired but content. He had
helped a neighbor and filled his hours with muscle-building
work, instead of spirit-draining mental activity. Each day
the sun grew warmer and the hours of daylight longer. Cal
had even spotted a robin that morning—a sure sign that
spring was around the corner.
Spring would definitely help his disposition. He needed to
get out of the house. A man could only sweep the barn or
restack hay bales so many times. Once the land dried out,
they could start plowing and planting. Outdoors with the sun
on his face and the wind in his hair, he felt free.
And less like a prisoner.
His homecoming on Christmas Eve had been sweeter than he
imagined it would be, surely better than any prodigal son
deserved. His mother had fawned over him for
days—cooking his favorite foods and baking extra
sweets. His three sisters welcomed him with unabashed
affection. Sarah made no mention of his empty refrigerator
in a deplorable apartment. She greeted him with a smile each
morning, always ready to smooth his transition from English
back to Plain.
Caleb didn't mind owning few clothes. Or the fact his
mamm cut his hair to look like every other Amish man
in town. He didn't even mind his slow mode of
transportation. But must his father watch his every move
like a prowling dog near the henhouse? Couldn't he give him
the benefit of the doubt? Why did Eli Beachy treat him like
a shirttail relative dropping by on his way to a family
He had come home, but his father refused to believe it.
* * * * *
Eli watched his firstborn toe off his boots from the kitchen
window. His face looked smudged with soot and raw from the
wind while his chore coat was dirty beyond belief. It would
take Elizabeth every trick in her laundry book to get the
coat clean again.
As Caleb swept open the door, Eli let the curtain drop back
in place. "Leave that jacket on the porch, son. It's filthy.
What's the matter with you?" An icy blast filled the room.
"Nothing is wrong with me. It's cold outside." Shrugging off
the garment, Cal tossed it onto the glider. Once inside, he
headed straight for the bathroom.
"Your mamm's been holding supper for you. The rest of
us are starving. Do you know what time it is?"
He halted halfway across the kitchen and peered at the
battery wall clock. "It's six-thirty. Sorry, mamm.
James wanted all the buckets down to the Sugarhouse before
dark." Caleb spoke to Elizabeth over his shoulder. "You've
got no idea what critters come down from the hills to make a
feast...or a mess if we leave them out. Animals can smell
something sweet a mile away. Mind if I shower before I eat?"
"I can just imagine." Elizabeth lifted pans from the oven
with her mitts. "No problem, nothing bad will happen if
meatloaf, mashed potatoes and butter beans sit for ten more
minutes. You go ahead."
Caleb shut the bathroom door behind him without
acknowledging his father. A sign of disrespect,
thought Eli, joining his fraa at the stove. "That boy
spends more time down the road than he does at home. It's as
though we don't have enough chores to keep him busy."
"I heard him ask if you needed help with milking last
evening and you told him no." She carried the double
meatloaf to the table's center trivet.
"Well, I didn't, not last night." Eli frowned as she
returned to the stove.
"And he asked if you needed help ordering seeds. Sometimes
the fine print in those catalogs is hard to decipher, even
with reading glasses." She slipped her soiled apron over her
"The boy could see I had my magnifier out. How many people
does it take to order a few packets of radish, carrot and
turnip seeds?" Eli carried his mug of coffee to the head of
the table and eased into his chair. "Besides, I don't like
anybody to hover over my shoulder."
Holding a pot of beans aloft, Elizabeth stared at him over
her half-moon glasses. "If you want or need Caleb's
assistance, tell him what you wish done and when. Give him a
list of chores, ehemann. Stop waiting for him to read
your mind." She placed the pot on another trivet and walked
to the bottom of the steps. "Sarah, Rebekah, Katie, come
downstairs. It's time to eat."
Eli clamped down on his molars and dropped voice to a
whisper. "I haven't needed help since he came home. January
and February aren't exactly the busy season around a farm.
If the Weavers could use him with sugaring, I don't mind
sending him over. They gave me a hand last October with the
Elizabeth removed a huge bowl of salad from the
refrigerator. "Now you've got me confused, Eli. What exactly
is the matter?" She also spoke softly as she slipped into
"He barely pays me any mind a'tal since coming back. He
seems to go out of his way to avoid me. And I'm his pa."
"Jah, but he's twenty-four-years-old, not fourteen.
He's a grown man, accustomed to living on his own. You can't
expect him to ask for help with his homework or for you to
take him fishing down by the river. You said yourself not
much is happening this time of year, so maybe there's not
much to talk about." She pinched the bridge of her nose as
though to stem a headache.
"I watched him from the corner of my eye at preaching last
Sunday. He was practically dozing off."
Much to Eli's dismay, Elizabeth burst out laughing.
"Goodness, he wouldn't be the first man...or woman to fall
asleep during the younger minister's sermon. The man does
tend to get long-winded."
"It's not funny. The boy should show me some respect."
Elizabeth stretched out a hand to pat his arm. "Like I
said—he's not a boy; he's a man. Please be patient
with him," she pleaded. "He was gone a long time and his
shift back to Amish will not occur overnight."
He nodded, knowing she was right, but something still
niggled in the back of his mind. "We don't know what his
life had been like. Who were his people up in the city? What
kind of nasty business had he gotten involved with?" Eli
felt a frisson of anxiety run up his spine, not for his
son's physical safety, but for his eternal soul.
"You're right. We don't know and we never will. It's not our
concern. He hadn't joined the church yet so all can be
forgiven and forgotten once he does. Let the past go, Eli.
It's causing you much grief." Again she patted his arm as
though he were a child.
"Then the sooner he gets baptized the better." When he
lifted the lid from the meatloaf pan, the pungent aroma of
garlic and onions filled the room, whetting his appetite.
"Give him a chance. And while you're at it why not give him
"Work for me again?" His anxiety didn't diminish.
"You said yourself it's almost spring. Soon the roofing
contracts will pick up, along with barn building. Couldn't
you use an extra pair of hands?"
"With so small a herd of cows, the girls and I can manage
most farm chores. We won't need Caleb home all day."
"But I thought—"
His fraa interrupted a second time—a rare
occurrence. "Caleb is an accomplished carpenter. Sarah told
us he'd been an apprentice for three years and had made
journeyman. He was a member of the carpenters' union in
Cleveland, so it's not like you're hiring a man without
skills. The two of you working together makes perfect sense
"Mind if I put in my two cents' worth? Or do you prefer to
handle both sides of the conversation?" Eli glowered at his
She laughed at his distress. "Sorry, mei liewi, I got
carried away. I grant you the floor." Elizabeth flourished
her hand over the table just as his three daughters
sauntered into the kitchen, carefree as a picnic on a warm
summer day. Their youngest walked straight to the chocolate
cake on the counter and stuck her finger in the frosting.
"Leave the cake alone and sit down," he thundered. "Why must
your mamm fix supper alone while her three
dochders laze around their bedroom like
Sarah's jaw dropped, while the younger two slinked to their
seats like chastised hound dogs. "I baked the cake as soon
as I got home from work," Sarah said. "Then I ironed every
shirt and dress in mamm's laundry basket. I was
sewing in my room until Cal got home."
Rebekah looked annoyed. "And I fixed the salad along with
the mashed potatoes."
"I set the table." Katie sounded on the verge of tears.
"I can vouch for truthful statements all around." Elizabeth
appeared to be biting her tongue.
"In that case, danki." Eli couldn't quite bring
himself to apologize to his kinner. "Sit down, Sarah.
As soon as your bruder finishes—"
"I'm here." Caleb stood in the bathroom doorway. It seemed
to be the night for interruptions. His wet hair was
plastered to his forehead and his feet were bare, but at
least he wore clean trousers and a fresh shirt. "I hurried
as fast as I could." On his way to the table, Caleb pulled
both suspenders up to his broad shoulders.
"Let's bow our heads." Eli didn't close his eyes until every
family member shut theirs. Then he waited long after his
prayer before announcing, "All right. Let's eat." Faster
than a person could draw a breath, bowls started flying
around the table, silverware clattered, and female tongues
began to wag.
"How's James Weaver?" Rebekah asked her brother. "What's he
been up to?"
"Does anybody want to see Mrs. Pratt's new puppy after
supper?" asked Katie.
"Mamm, did you remember to buy shampoo on your last
trip to town? I'm practically out." Sarah's question was the
calmest and most reserved. However, since all three had been
asked simultaneously, none were answered.
Instead Elizabeth pivoted toward her son. "Sounds like
sugaring is in full swing, jah? As soon as the
Weavers no longer need you, your daed would like you
to work for him."
Eli choked on a mouthful of salad. Sarah jumped up to pound
on his back, while Caleb turned his dark brown gaze toward
Eli. "Is that true?" he asked.
Eli wiped his mouth once his coughing stopped. "It is, but I
don't seem to talk fast enough for the Beachy household."
His son neither laughed nor smiled. "Work for you for
"Of course, for money. I pay all the men on my crew." Eli
tossed down his napkin.
Rolling his eyes, Eli quoted the hourly rate for his most
Caleb considered for a long moment. "All right, I'll take
the job once James no longer needs me." Then he devoured his
three slices of meatloaf as though they would disappear if
he didn't wolf them down.
No I'm glad to be able to put my carpenter's skills to
No I would love a dependable paycheck so I can save for
Not even as much as a "danki, daed."
The next words out of Caleb's mouth had something to do with
mashed potatoes. But Eli was concentrating on his own meal,
so he wouldn't say something he would regret. He had already
questioned the wisdom of Elizabeth's suggestion, doubting
their son would ever come back to the fold.
* * * * *
Sarah stood next to her boss on the front porch of Country
Pleasures Bed and Breakfast. The requisite morning meal was
finished. Every fresh strawberry swimming in whipped cream
was gone, while the four groups of guests had put a healthy
dent in the cheese soufflé with crisp Canadian bacon. She'd
even seen one elderly woman fill a bag with the remaining
blueberry muffins and iced cinnamon buns. Not that she
needed to be clandestine. Lee Ann Pratt happily sent
leftovers home with departing guests, along with the
All you had to do was ask.
Lee Ann would give the shirt off her back as long as it was
warm outside. That had been Sarah's favorite quip since she
started working here four years ago. People kinder or more
generous than the Pratts would be hard to find in Amish
Country, Ohio...or anyplace else.
Amish Country—she and her Christian sect were the
reason tourists poured into Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas
Counties nine months out of the year. A few brave souls even
traveled during the dead-of-winter to snap photos of shaggy
draft horses creating clouds of white vapor with each
exhalation or farm fields blanketed in snow. Or they came to
relax by the fire in a cozy inn, sipping tea or cocoa while
reading a good book. The countryside was nothing if not
peaceful during cold months. Some guests came to buy
handmade quilts, oak or walnut furniture, local cheese, or
free-range beef without the crowds and heavy traffic like in
fair weather. Sarah enjoyed this time of year, especially
since the B&B was seldom at full capacity. But their
quiet weekends were rapidly drawing to a close.
"Thanks so much, Lee Ann!" A well-dressed woman in her
forties hugged the innkeeper for the third time. "As always
everything was perfect. We can't wait to come back, maybe in
June. I'll check my calendar." Waving, she carried a small
makeup case to their sleek sedan while her husband lugged
three large suitcases—one for each day of their short
Within a few minutes, the seven-member, multi-generational
group from Medina trudged out the door. They too were
effusive with their praise and grateful for Mrs. Pratt's
hospitality. Pausing in front of Sarah, the matriarch
studied her one last time. "It was a treat to meet someone
Amish while we were site-seeing. We really got our money's
worth." The woman pinched Sarah's cheek as though she were a
toddler, and then followed her family to the parking lot.
The last to depart were two young couples—one on their
honeymoon. Both pledged to return to Country Pleasures each
year for their anniversary. One husband added that it was
much cheaper than Florida, considering the price of
gasoline. Sarah and Lee Ann released matching sighs of
relief when the final car tooted and drove off in search of
their next bargain...or headed home and back to work.
"Goodness, that was a lively bunch." Lee Ann slipped an arm
around Sarah's waist. "Let's go inside. It's not as warm as
the sun would lead one to believe."
Sarah pranced ahead to open the door. "Is there anything
left for our breakfast and Mr. Pratt's? That was a hungry
group of people."
"I saved some in the kitchen just to make sure. With the
work we have ahead of us, I'm in no mood for cold cereal or
white toast with jam."
As usual, the innkeeper and employee ignored four messy
guest rooms, plenty of towels and linens to wash, a dining
room of dirty dishes, and a cyclone-hit kitchen until they
ate their own meal. Sarah loved chatting with Lee Ann. The
woman had enough stories about her missionary days in Africa
to keep breakfast interesting for years. But today she had
another topic in mind. "How's Caleb doing? You never talk
about your brother much. And I seldom see hide-nor-hair of
him on the lane."
Dividing the remaining food onto three plates, Sarah gave
Lee Ann's husband the largest portion. She delivered his
breakfast to the private family room where Roy watched
morning talk shows; then settled down to eat by the front
window. Their little table had a perfect view of the flower
garden, bird feeders, and busy street down the sloping lawn.
"There's not much to tell, I guess." Sarah picked up the
coffee cup Lee Ann had filled.
"Oh no, you don't. You always say that. Then I pry out all
kinds of tasty tidbits. Has he joined the Amish church yet?
Did he find a job? What about a girlfriend? Has he found
someone new or rekindled an old flame?" Mrs. Pratt's brown
eyes almost danced out of her head.
"I truly think you should write books in your spare time
with your vivid imagination." Sarah chewed a piece of bacon.
"Let's see...no, no, and no. Any more questions?"
"Only one—how come?" Lee Ann crossed her arms over her
"It's hard to find carpentry work in the winter, especially
since he doesn't want to work for Englischers. And he
can't join the Amish church without taking the classes to
prepare for baptism. And baptism is only once a year,
usually in the fall. I'm sure he'll join the next class that
will start in summer." Sarah swallowed some delicious egg
and cheese soufflé.
"And?" Lee Ann drained her cup and refilled
from the carafe. "He needs a nice woman to settle down
Sarah felt odd discussing Cal with Mrs. Pratt, but her boss
had only his best interest at heart. And she wasn't a
gossip. "I couldn't agree more, but he keeps to himself when
he's not helping one of our neighbors. In the two months
he's been home, he's gone nowhere other than preaching
services. And if the rest of us remain to socialize, he
walks home—no matter how far or how nasty the weather.
When we go visiting on Sunday afternoon, he stays in his
room. He tells my parents that he's not ready. I don't know
how a person readies himself for eating pie and
drinking coffee with folks you've known your whole life."
Sarah's exasperation with her older brother slipped out.
Lee Ann reflected quietly while finishing her eggs. "He must
be ashamed to face people—afraid they'll ask too many
Sarah shrugged, setting down her fork. "He can't hide in his
room or the barn forever."
Mrs. Pratt pinched her arm. "You need to do
something, young lady. Before he decides coming back to
Fredericksburg was a mistake."
"What can I do? Cal never asks me for advice."
"Think of something. What about those singings on Sunday
nights? I'll bet plenty of single girls attend them." She
leaned across the table as though in anticipation.
"True, but he says he's too old. He's not, but that's his
excuse. Lots of men his age are there."
"What else is going on, social-wise?"
"He won't go ice skating with Rebekah, Katie and me because
he hates being cold and it reminds him of his last
apartment. So that rules out sleigh rides, tobogganing and
ice fishing." Sarah finished her last bite of breakfast.
"I'll have more success when the weather warms up. Cal
always enjoyed volleyball and softball. And who doesn't love
picnics, hayrides and bonfires under the stars?"
Her boss clucked her tongue. "Nope, you can't wait that
long. Come up with something soon, before your brother
disappears as mysteriously as he arrived on Christmas Eve. I
know you love Cal, so put your imagination to work. Seek him
out and get him talking. Don't let him hide from the world.
He needs a confidant he can trust." She rose to her feet and
stacked their dirty dishes. "Now, speaking of Rebekah, I
think it's time your sister came back to work for me. If the
recent reservations are any indication, spring seems to have
arrived early in Wayne County. We can use your sister's help
making up rooms and in the kitchen."
Sarah scrambled up to start her chores, but her former good
mood had soured. Not due to Mrs. Pratt's suggestion about
Caleb. She had been worried that his return wouldn't be
permanent and agreed that he needed someone to confide in.
No, her bout of depression had everything to do her sister
coming back to Country Pleasures Bed and Breakfast. A
morning spent working with Rebekah Beachy all but guaranteed
a splitting headache by noon.
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