Miriam Yoder has to decide whether to follow her head or her heart in this final installment of Jerry Eicher’s Land of Promise series. In this excerpt from Miriam and the Stranger, Miriam has completed a rough day of teaching when an unwelcome guest appears...
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Miriam turned away from the window but paused as a car appeared in the distance. Not too many Englisha vehicles came up the school road at this time of the day. Miriam studied the car and pulled in a sharp breath as it came closer. Her head tensed again until it throbbed. It was the Englisha man’s car. Surely Tyler Johnson wouldn’t stop in at the schoolhouse. He had no business with her, and yet this was surely his car pulling in and halting right where Mose Stoll had parked his buggy not an hour ago.
Miriam clasped and unclasped her hands. Should she hide in the closet? But the schoolhouse door was unlocked, and Tyler would know someone was around. And if she didn’t see him today, he’d only come back tomorrow. Weren’t reporters like that? Persistent? Tyler certainly seemed to fit the bill. Miriam gathered herself together. She would control her emotions in front of him, and he would soon leave. Then she would never see him again.
Miriam set her face in a tight smile and went to open the door. Tyler was standing there, ready to knock. He paused with his hand upraised and said, “Howdy there, Miss Yoder. Remember me?”
He appeared much too pleased with himself. Of course she remembered him. Her face burned from the memory, but he didn’t seem bothered by her tongue-tied condition.
He spoke again, “If this isn’t a good time, I can come back later.”
Miriam found her voice. “No, this is okay. The students left a while ago, and I haven’t started grading papers, and Mose… ” Miriam cut off the words. Tyler had no right to all this information, and neither should he see her turn into a blubbering mess.
Tyler continued in his pleasant manner, “Then perhaps you have a few moments for some questions. And a tour of the schoolhouse afterward? This would go along well with the article I’m writing on the Amish.” He flashed a grin.
“Well, maybe… yah, come on in.” Miriam stepped aside. “I do have a few minutes.”
That sounded too eager. She should order the man to leave, but that would have been unwomanly and unkind to boot. Even pushy strangers must be treated with respect. If only they weren’t so handsome and didn’t take her breath away.
Tyler followed her inside and looked around. His glances weren’t piercing like Mose’s had been. He appeared genuinely interested. “So this is where it all happens.”
“I suppose so,” Miriam allowed. “I know you don’t have a very high opinion of our one-room schools, but I do try.”
“I’m sure you do a fine job,” Tyler assured her. “And one-room schools are great for what your community needs.” He appeared concerned and stepped closer with one hand out. “Are you okay? You look a little pale. I’m not startling you, am I?”
“I don’t faint easily, Mr. Johnson.” Miriam met his gaze but looked away at once. His eyes were so blue, so clear—his chin with the slight stubble was… Miriam tried to breathe evenly. Maybe she was going to faint.
“It’s Tyler,” he said. His hand came down gently on her arm. “Maybe you’d better sit down. Over here perhaps.”
Miriam allowed him to guide her, and sank down at a student’s desk. Tyler peered at Miriam before he settled into a seat beside her.
“I’m okay,” she assured him. At least her face didn’t burn like a gas lantern right now. There didn’t seem to be much blood left in her body. It had all drained to her feet.
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Continue the story in Miriam and the Stranger!