Abram sat next to Ida on the front porch swing, watching the stars come out. He also noticed the lightning bugs were more plentiful than in recent summers, maybe due to frequent afternoon showers. “’Twas right kind of Leah to settle Lydiann in for the night,” he said.

Ida nodded, sighing audibly. “Jah ... even though she’s as tuckered out as I am, prob’ly. She’s such a dear ... our Leah.”

“That, she is.”

Ida leaned her head gently on his shoulder. At last she said, “We did the right thing treatin’ her as our very own all these years.”

Hearing his wife speak of their great fondness for Leah made him realize anew that his own affection for Lizzie’s birth daughter was as strong as if Ida had given birth to her. For a moment he was overcome with a rare sadness and remained silent.

Their flesh-and-blood Sadie was a different story altogether. Her defiance in not returning home after all this time had stirred up more alarm in him than he cared to voice to beloved Ida.

“The Good Lord’s hand rests tenderly on us all,” Ida said softly, as if somehow tuned in to his thoughts. “I daresay we’d be in an awful pickle otherwise.”

He had to smile at that and reached over to cup her face in his callused hand. Sweet Ida ... always thinking of the Lord God heavenly Father as if He were her own very close friend.

“Where do you think our twins are tonight?” He stared at the seemingly endless cornfield to the east of the house, over toward smithy Peachey’s place.

“Don’tcha mean whom the girls are with?”

He let out a kindly grunt; Ida could read him like a book. She continued. “Deacon’s wife told me in so many words that two of her sons are spending quite a lot of time with Hannah and Mary Ruth.”

“Which boys ... surely not the older ones?”

“I’m thinkin’ it must be Ezra and Elias.” Ida snuggled closer.

“A right fine match, if I say so myself. I best be givin’ my approval to Deacon here ’fore long.”

He heard the small laugh escape Ida’s lips. “Best not get in the way, Abram. Let nature take its course.”

“I s’pose you’re thinkin’ I shouldn’t have interfered with Jonas and Leah back when.”

Ida sat up quickly and looked at him, her plump hands knit into a clasp in her wide lap. “Leah would be happily married by now if you hadn’t held out for Smithy Gid.”

“Are ya blamin’ me for what went wrong?” he said.

Ida pushed her feet hard against the porch floor, making the swing move too fast for his liking. When she spoke at last, her voice trembled. “None of us truly knows what caused their breakup.”

He inhaled and held his breath. Ida didn’t know what had caused the rift between Jonas and Leah, but he knew and all too well. Abram himself had gotten things stirred up but good by raising the troublesome issue of Leah’s parentage with Jonas. He had never told her that, at Peter Mast’s urging, he’d put Jonas to a fiery test of truth, revealing Lizzie’s carefully guarded secret. When all was said and done, Jonas had failed it miserably. “Best leave well enough alone. Jonas is married to our eldest now.”

“Jah, and worse things have happened,” Ida whispered, tears in her eyes. “But I miss her something awful.”

Abram didn’t own up to the same. “What’s done is done,” he said. “Thing is we’ve got us a son-in-law we may never lay eyes on again. Could be a grandchild by now, too.”

“All because our daughter was bent on her own way....”

He leaned back in the swing and said no more. At times an uncanny feeling gnawed at him, made him wonder if Ida—who seemed to know more about Sadie than he did—might’ve disregarded the bishop and read a few of their eldest’s early letters, after the law was laid down about returning them unopened.

But no, now was not the appropriate time to speculate on that. Clearly Ida needed his wholehearted companionship and understanding this night.