When she heard loud crying, Edith walked to the other end of the porch, wondering where the baby was and why it was fussing. She spotted an enclosed buggy on the side of the road, and behind it two men in Plain clothing and black straw hats were having an agitated conversation.
Don’t they realize how they’re upsetting that poor wee one? Edith wondered as she hurried down the porch steps. And where’s its mother?
As she approached the buggy, the men’s raised voices became disturbingly clearer.
“What was I supposed to think when I got a phone message from a total stranger, accusing me of—of impregnating his wife?” the taller fellow demanded tersely. He was standing in front of a saddled black horse, gripping its reins.
“And how do you think I felt when your name was the last thing Moly uttered before she died?” the other man shot back. “Tell Asa I’ll always love him. Do you know how those words tore my world to shreds?”
Edith’s eyes widened. Clearly this conversation was none of her business, yet the crying baby compelled her to walk faster. Perhaps she could suggest that these two men speak with Bishop Tom about their troubling situation—although he was probably already at the Hooley home, preparing for the church service that would precede the wedding.
“I’m telling you I’ve never so much as met your wife, let alone—”
“Shut up! This explains why Molly got so big so fast, and why the twins came two months early!” the man with his back to Edith lashed out. “Not only have I lost my wife to cancer, but I’ve learned that my marriage of thirteen months was a lie!”
Twins? And their mother’s name was Molly—and she died of cancer? Edith’s thoughts whirled as she stepped up through the buggy’s open door. Two little babies wiggled in towel-lined half-bushel gardening baskets on the back seat as their wails filled the vehicle.
“Oh, look at you,” Edith murmured. “Shhh . . . it’ll be all right now.” She gently scooped the nearest baby, which wore a crocheted yellow cap, into the crook of one arm before lifting its white-capped twin to her other shoulder. It seemed these wee ones had no mother and a very distraught father, and they’d been born into a confusing, distressing situation.
As the men’s discussion escalated, Edith stepped carefully down from the buggy. One fellow’s voice sounded familiar. She didn’t want to believe the scenario he’d been describing, but right now her main concern was for the babies.
“Would you please lower your voices?” she insisted as she came around the rig. “You’ve upset these little angels so badly that—Will Gingerich? Are these your twins?”
“Edith! Thank God I’ve found you.” The handsome young man to whom her sister Loretta had once been engaged removed his hat to rake his sandy brown hair with his fingers. “Jah, I believed they were mine until Molly named this—this other dog as their father—”
“I’m trying to get to the bottom of that story,” the taller man protested, “but—”
“Stop it, both of you!” Edith insisted in a low voice. “These babies are wet and hungry and upset. Your problems will have to wait until we’ve taken care of more important matters.”
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Charlotte Hubbard is the award-winning author of The Christmas Cradle, which released September 29 and concludes her Seasons of the Heart Amish series. She has two new series debuting in 2016—Promise Lodge in March and Simple Gifts (a spin-off of the Seasons series) in June. She has also written a four-book series, Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family, as Naomi King.
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