Susie nodded slowly.

“Why?”

“Because your mamm has been looking for you, and your mamm and my mamm need our help baking pies for Sunday after church at my folks’ house.”

Melinda groaned and flopped down on the log.

Susie pursed her lips. “I also knew that if I just whispered in your ear that you were needed in the kitchen, the deer would have stayed put, and you’d have kept right on drawing.”

Melinda pushed a wayward strand of golden blond hair away from her face and tucked it into the bun she wore at the back of her head. “How did you know where to find me, anyway?”

Susie wrinkled her nose. “You’re kidding, right?”

Melinda shrugged. Her gaze traveled around the wooded area, and she said, “Just listen to the music of the birds. Isn’t it the most beautiful sound you’ve ever heard?”

“It’s nice, but there’s other—”

“Do you smell that fresh pine scent from all the trees?”

Susie nodded and drew in a deep breath as the woodsy aroma filled her nostrils. “It does smell nice in the woods,” she admitted.

“It’s so peaceful here, don’t you think?”

“Jah, but there are other things I’d rather do than sit in the woods for hours on end.” Susie took a seat on the log beside Melinda. “What draws you to these woods, anyway?”

“The animals that live here, of course. Every creature God created is special, but the ones that live in the woods fascinate me more than any others.”

“There’s a big difference between fascinated and fanatical.”

Melinda snickered. “Fanatical, is it? Since when did you start using such fancy words?”

Susie shrugged. “I’ve been reading a novel about a young woman who likes to solve mysteries. Her mother accuses her of being fanatical.”

“You’d better not start shirking your duties because you’re reading too much, or your mamm will become fanatical.”

“Who’s going to tell her—you?”

“Of course not. You know I’m not one to blab anyone’s secret.”

“No, but you sure do like to change the subject.”

“What subject was that?”

“The one about animals and your love for them. Ever since you were little, you’ve been playing nursemaid to any stray animal that came near your place.” Susie shook her head. “I just don’t understand it.”

“Do you think me wanting to care for animals is a bad thing?”

“I suppose not, unless it’s all you think about.” Susie turned her head sharply, and a wisp of hair slipped out from under her kapp and fell onto her cheek.

Melinda pointed to Susie’s hair. “I thought it was only me who didn’t get her bun put up right.”

Susie snickered. “I guess that’s one thing we still have in common.”

“What do you mean? There are lots of things we both like.”

Susie elbowed Melinda gently in the ribs. “Jah—lemon sponge cakes, barbecued beef, and Aaron Zook’s new puppy, Rufus.”

“I’m wondering if it’s Aaron you’re interested in and not his dog.”

Susie’s elbow connected with Melinda’s ribs a second time.

“You’re such a kidder.”

“I wasn’t kidding.”

“Aaron’s more like a bruder to me than anything.”

“He’s like a brother to me, too. His mamm and my mamm have been friends a long time. Her kinner, Isaiah, and I have grown up together, so I could never see Aaron as more than a brother.” Melinda scanned the woods again. “I wish those deer would come back so I could finish sketching their picture.”

Susie stared at a noisy crow circling overhead. “You and Gabe Swartz have been courting several months now, right?”

“That’s true.”

“Do you think you’ll end up marrying him?”

“That all depends.”

“On what?”

“On whether he asks, and whether I decide to—” Melinda



© 2007 by Wanda E. Brunstetter
ISBN 978-1-59789-611-5

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683.