“Calm yourself, Lars. It’s not seemly to get so excited. It’s a beautiful morning,” Elder Wilhelm Yoder soothed. “Look there. You see how the trees form a line like they are walking to market?”
“Yes,” he sighed, “I see them.” He clucked at Mila and Kesta to hurry up. The two black mares obligingly moved into a light trot, their unshod hooves making soft ‘clops’ on the pavement.
The road was only two lanes. He and Wilhelm drove in the right-hand one. The English in this land drove on the right, but in their home country drove on the left. It numbered among the many things Lars didn’t understand. To the right of the white line separating the road, the ugly hedgerows began. Nearly waist-high and wide to the depth of his forearm, trees had been planted just beyond them, spaced evenly like in an orchard. But this close to the exhaust fumes of automobiles, the trees would be useless for produce. Another hedgerow started just after the trees, like a fence, and then the woods began.
“Are those Mr. Madden’s woods too?” Lars demanded, the thought popping unbidden to his mind.
“Mmm,” Wilhelm responded. “I do not know. Why is it you ask?”
Lars blushed and looked away. “Curiosity only, Elder.”
“We Amish are a curious people,” Wilhelm said softly.
After a moment, Lars realized he was teasing. “Forgive me, Elder. I feel out of sorts this morning.”
“And why is that, young Lars?”
“It’s Rebecca!” he burst out. “Viktor Sauder gave her flowers at the Meeting. Flowers!”
“It is Easter, my son,” Wilhelm said quietly. Then, “Are you out of sorts because you neglected to bring any?”
Lars shot a look at the Elder and found himself regarded by calm, age-filmed blue eyes. “Yes,” he said miserably and looked back at the road. “What if she chooses Viktor?”
“If you neglect to bring her any gifts, perhaps she will,” Wilhelm said gently. When Lars whirled to retort, he held up a hand. “I said ‘if,’ my son. ‘If.’ We go to market after Mr. Madden’s delivery.”
Lars stopped. That thought had not occurred to him. “I brought candles to barter,” he noted thoughtfully.
“Perhaps you should barter with Mrs. Mills, young Lars. She makes such pretty hair ties.”
When Lars met Wilhelm’s gaze, he found the old man twinkling at him. “Do you approve of the match?” Lars asked, greatly bold.
“I do, my son.” He patted Lars’s knee. “But first, to business. We have much work to do, and we are missing the scenery.”
Lars grinned and turned back to the road. The sun, not up yet, provided enough light that the woods were cast into bluish shadows. “Aren’t the hedges rather attractive in this light?” he asked the Elder.
Elder Wilhelm just smiled and settled deeper into his seat.