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Authors: Cathy Marie Hake
Tags: Fiction, General, Historical, Ebook, Religious, Christian, book
on my knees, praying about the right man for my niece for years. Only in the last two weeks, the matter weighed heavy on my heart, and that’s how God let me know things were due to change.” The old man’s voice quavered with emotion. “In the six days before you set foot in Maggie’s parlor, I told her each day that God was going to be bringing a husband her way. I prayed. You came.”
    Todd looked him in the eye. The old man met his gaze, unashamed of the tears wending down his careworn face. “Sir, you asked if I would lay down my life. Now at this very minute, you are setting the example. For your niece’s future, you are making a great sacrifice, letting her go.
    “There is a word: serendipity. It is when something unexpectedly good happens in the midst of the trials of life. For me to meet my wife now – it is because God has worked in a bad situation. Let Margaret become my bride. I will heed God’s commands, and I will come to love her as you loved your wife and as Christ cherishes the church. Until that love blooms, your niece and I have serendipity – this providence from God – that brought us together. It is a fine start.”
    For a moment, they shared a profound silence. A bittersweet smile tugged at the old man’s lips. “Son, you’re gonna have to talk her into it. I’ve done my best to get her ready. Problem is, Maggie’s as headstrong as you are proud.”
    “Ah, but just as the man is to love his wife, the woman is to respect her husband and submit to him. I’ll be good to her.”
    “You have my blessing.” The funny old man chuckled softly and extended his hand. “Just remember; there’s a world of difference between submitting and submission.”

    A blast of cold air blew out Maggie’s lantern just as she reached the barn. For all the work Mr. Valmer accomplished, he ought to be triplets.
    “Mr. Valmer, a strong young man like you could undoubtedly spell Atlas and hold up the world for a while, but my uncle’s recently taken to telling me he’s so old, I almost believe he and George Washington played marbles together. Come inside, eat a hot meal, and rest.”
    Chuckling, Mr. Valmer reached her side. He offered his arm, and she readily took it. For a moment, she looked up into his handsome face, and her heart pitter-pattered. Oh my. Granny would have laughed and said the sap was running a mite early.
    “What’s for supper?”
    “Sap. I mean, soup.” She didn’t even tell him what type. The less she said, the safer she’d be.
    A few minutes later, they were inhaling the soup.
    “Maggie? Maggie?!” Panic edged Jerlund’s voice.
    Maggie dashed toward the back door to help her friend. But Mr. Valmer had shot to his feet, too. Gripping her securely, yet gently, he murmured, “I’ll help. No man wants a woman to see him frightened. Go check Ma.”
    Everything within her railed. “He’s . . . Jerlund’s . . .”
    “Yet a man.” Mr. Valmer turned her shoulders and ducked his head to whisper in her ear. The warmth of his breath tickled and made her shiver. “I’ve trusted you. Trust me.”
    He had trusted her. Now the tables were turned. Jerlund wasn’t on death’s door, either. I do trust him. Maggie nodded.
    “ Sehr gut. Very good.” Mr. Valmer squeezed her shoulders and turned loose. The loss of contact left her feeling . . . alone. Adrift. In the past few days, she’d had more contact with a man of her own age than the entire rest of her life, and it left her breathless. Before she blurted out something to embarrass herself forever, she fled to the sickroom.
    Mrs. Crewel was stirring. Gently, Maggie stroked a few wisps of hair behind the woman’s ear. Mrs. Crewel’s right eye opened. With her left eye drooping, it didn’t open much unless she was wide awake. “Let me sit you up and give you some nice, thick soup.”
    After a few sips, Mrs. Crewel signaled she’d had plenty. “That ruckus – it’s the child-minded man, isn’t it? Go help him, girl. Strife

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