“Sure is a good turnout today,” Martin said.

“Jah. The house is almost done, and it will be good for Grace and Cleon to have their own place again.”

“I heard your daed say that the fire chief found a cigarette lighter on the ground outside their old house. He thinks the fire might have been intentional.”

Ruth nodded, wondering if she should tell Martin that Grace thought the English reporter she used to date might have started the fire before he left the area. She decided it would be best not to say anything since they had no proof it was Gary Walker. Besides, Dad had his own suspicions about who might have set the fire.

When they reached the home of Ruth’s parents, she turned to Martin. “If you’d like to have a seat on the porch, I’ll run inside and see if Mom’s fixed anything to drink yet.”


Martin took a seat on the porch swing, and Ruth hurried into the house.

She found her mother and two sisters in the kitchen, along with a few other Amish women and their nearest English neighbor.

Mom smiled at Ruth and pushed a wisp of dark brown hair back into her bun. “Are the men ready to take a break?”

“Jah. I came in to get them something to drink.”

“There’s iced tea and lemonade in the refrigerator.” Grace motioned toward the stove. “We’ve got some coffee heating, too.” Her blue eyes twinkled like sparkling water.

“You’ll need help carrying the beverages out,” Ruth’s younger sister, Martha, put in.

“Martin’s waiting on the porch to help me with that.”

“Martin Gingerich?” Sadie Esh asked.

Ruth nodded, and her cheeks turned warm.

“That fellow’s really sweet on my sister, and I think she’s equally sweet on him.” Martha grinned at Ruth, and the skin around her blue eyes crinkled. “Look how red in the face she’s getting.”

Ruth shrugged. She couldn’t deny her interest in Martin, but she wasn’t about to admit it, either.

“Leave your sister alone,” Mom said, shaking her finger at Martha. “When you find a fellow you like more than your dogs, you’ll turn red in the face whenever his name’s mentioned, too.”

“How are things going with the new house?” Grace asked.

“Everything was fine until I nearly got hit in the head,” Ruth said as she removed a jug of iced tea from the refrigerator.

Mom gasped. “Oh, Ruth, are you all right?”

“I’m fine. It just shook me up a bit.”

“How’d it happen?” their English neighbor Donna Larson questioned.

“A hammer tumbled off the roof. It could have hit me if Martin hadn’t shouted a warning.”

“Was it Martin’s hammer?” Cleon’s mother, Irene, asked.

“No, it belonged to Luke.”

Mom pursed her lips. “Luke Friesen’s here today?”

Ruth set the jug of iced tea on the counter and turned to face her mother. “He and his boss both came to help.”

“Your daed’s not going to like that. He doesn’t trust Luke, and if he thought for one minute—”

“Ach, Mom, surely you don’t think Luke would intentionally let his hammer fall.” Martha’s face had turned red as a pickled beet. “I think Dad’s still angry because Luke’s not working for him anymore.”

“Luke was fired, and you know it.”

“That was only because he didn’t see eye to eye with Dad on everything.”

Mom squinted at Martha. “Luke came to work late on several occasions, and he thought he knew more than your daed about things. And don’t forget about those sunglasses of Luke’s that were found near my clothesline after it had been cut.”