anyway? Her mind wandered. And why was it that Rebecca’s daughter, young Katie, had not inherited a single one of their closely linked twin genes? At least, not so’s a body could tell it. Where was the broomstick hair and the hazel eyes—their family mark? Or the high forehead and the deep dimples?
Ella Mae had never been one to worry her head over silly goings-on. She was the sensible one people brought their worries to—not the other way around. Still, she thought it mighty peculiar how Katie’s reddish hair had shown up out of nowhere. Not even as far back as great-great-Grandmammi Yoder had there been a speck of red hair. Ella Mae knew that for a fact. Even though there were no photographs to prove it, the People of Hickory Hollow passed on the stories of their kin, knew what they’d looked like—right down to the last eyelash.
Not only that, she’d secretly traced the family line back several generations on Samuel’s side—to the man who’d built one of the best-looking sandstone homes in all of Lancaster County. Samuel Lapp’s ancestor, Joseph Lapp.
Later, after the family had gone to bed, Ella Mae closed the door between Mattie and David’s big farmhouse and her smaller attached Dawdi Haus. She sat in her tiny front room, rocking and thinking about the events of the day, then snuffed out the only lantern in the room.
How long she sat there in the darkness, she did not know. But around the time the moon started its climb into the sky, through the wide branches of the old elm tree on the east side of her house—about then—she heard the distinct sound of a car motor out front. Turning, she peered out the curtainless window. The pane was a bit frosty, but clear enough to see a long black car creeping down Hickory Lane. The closer it came, the better she could make out its front bumper and chrome-trimmed doors.
Seconds later, the fancy car—a lim-ou-sine, she recollected—came to a gentle stop across the road from the house. The lone yard light cast an eerie glow over the streamlined chassis.
Ella Mae abandoned her rocking chair to stand in front of the living room windows, staring out at the unusual sight. Then, quite surprisingly, the window glided down on the passenger’s side. A woman’s face stared out into the semidarkness. Had it not been for the full moon, Ella Mae might have missed seeing the white fur hat slip back away from the woman’s face, revealing a billowy cloud of hair. Such a splendid burnt red it was that instantly she thought of her grand-niece Katie.
“My, oh my,” she whispered into the darkness. “Who is this ?”
She inched closer to the window, knowing she could not be seen from the road. As she watched, a light came on inside the car. A man, dressed all in black and wearing an odd, beaked hat, unfolded a large paper. The woman and her driver bent over to study what must be some kind of map, best Ella Mae could make out.
“Strange,” she said to herself. “Imagine bein’ lost on a wintry night like this.” If she hadn’t been feeling her age tonight—what with the cold weather and all—she might’ve put on her warmest shawl and snow boots and tromped outside to help. Not wanting to risk a fall on the ice, though, she waited and watched from inside.
Soon, the English car rolled down the lane, and Ella Mae turned away from the window and headed for bed.
There were two large flashlights in Benjamin Lapp’s open buggy. Katie found them quickly and took one along with her. She stopped by Satin Boy’s stall just long enough to whisper to him, “I won’t be gone long,” then quietly hitched up Molasses to the family carriage. Dat and Mam surely were asleep by now—Eli and Benjamin, too.
The wind was stiff and cold as she rode to Mary’s house.
Once there, she shone her brother’s powerful flashlight up at Mary’s bedroom window, grinning to herself. Her friend would probably think a young man was outside, wanting to propose marriage.