All the way home Mitch was unusually quiet. I was glad in a way, because he seemed to forget about me getting into a fight and having to stay after school. But I knew the only reason he was so quiet was because he was thinking about Miss Martin.
Why, oh why did I have to get into that fight? I thought to myself. If I hadn't, Mitch would most likely not have seen Miss Martin.
As we pulled into the lane leading to our ranch I turned to Mitch. “Can I help you unhitch the buggy?” I asked.
Mitch turned and grinned at me. “No, you had better go straight into the house and change out of your school dress. You know Chad always has a bunch of chores waiting for you when you get home.”
I felt relived. At least he's not mad at me. As we pulled up in front of the house, Rosa jumped out and ran inside. I was just about to follow her when Mitch said, “How long has Miss Martin been teaching at school?”
“Oh, about three weeks. Why?”
Mitch shrugged. “No particular reason. Does she come to church? I've never noticed her before.”
I sighed. “Yes, Mitch, she comes to church. Is there anything else you want to know about her?”
Mitch smiled. “No, Andi, you can go ahead and do your chores.”
I walked slowly into the house, changed my clothes, and walked slowly back out to the barn.
What would it be like if Mitch got married? I thought the entire time I was doing my chores. Next to Justin, Mitch was my favorite brother. He listened to me, took time for me, helped me with my chores, listened to my worries about growing up, and wasn't bossy like Chad. Mitch can't get married! I thought. He just can't!
All week I dreaded Sunday. I wondered why no one else seemed to notice Mitch’s absent-mindedness. Maybe I'm just imagining it, I told myself. But no, there was no way even I could imagine something like that.
After church on Sunday, I watched to see what Mitch would do. Sure enough, he walked up to Miss Martin and began talking to her. I groaned. This was not going well. When we were ready to head home from church, Mitch wasn't with us. When I asked where he was, Justin said he was seeing someone home. Then Justin looked at Chad, and a knowing look passed between them. I got the feeling they had known about Mitch but had never let on.
Over the next few weeks it seemed as though Mitch found an excuse to be in town almost every day. And he mysteriously disappeared every Saturday and after church on Sunday. Finally, I decided this had gone on long enough. Mitch was not going to get married. Not if I could help it.
One Saturday I decided I was going to go along with Mitch when he went to see Miss Martin. I had already chosen my hiding place: the luggage compartment at the back of the buggy. From there I could hear everything that was being said, but no one could see me. I had told Chad I had something planned for the day, and that I would be home before supper.
Chad looked at me suspiciously, but he said that as long as I had my chores done it would be fine.
As Mitch got in the buggy and started down the road I began to feel uneasy. I mean . . . this was Mitch I was spying on. Plus, it was very uncomfortable in the luggage compartment.
After about twenty minutes the buggy stopped and Mitch got out. I heard Miss Martin's voice and felt the buggy sway as Mitch helped her in. Then we began to drive again. For a while they talked about nothing in particular then I heard Mitch say very clearly.
“Who would I have to ask permission from to have your hand in marriage?”
Before I could hear another word, I threw the lid off the luggage compartment and showed my face. “You can't get married!” I exclaimed.
Mitch reined in the startled horses and both sets of eyes turned toward me.