Courting Cate
strained to get a look at his book.
    He tucked it under his arm.
    When he reached the tree, he asked, “Mind if I join you?”
    “Jah, as a matter of fact I do.”
    He ignored me, dropped his backpack on the grass with the book on top, and quickly climbed to the other side of the tree. Leaning forward he said, “I was hoping to see you before I left.”
    “I enjoyed our talk.”
    “But you were laughing with Betsy.”
    He shrugged. “Well, sure . . .” He poked his head around the side of the trunk. “Are you always so defensive?”
    I ignored him. “So what are you reading?”
    “For the answer to that you’ll have to wait, until tomorrow.” He jumped from the branch and picked up his book, tucking it under his arm. “I hear there’s a volleyball game at the Zooks’.” He looked up at me in the waning light.
    “I wouldn’t know.”
    “Betsy would,” he quipped.
    “I’m sure.”
    “I’ll see you soon.” He picked up his backpack.
    I didn’t bother to respond. Clearly, he thought winning my trust would increase his chances of courting Betsy.
    A moment later, as he reached the lane, he glanced back over his shoulder. “Good night!” He tipped his hat. “Sweet Cate.”

    I contemplated going to the volleyball match on Saturday with one goal in mind—to find out what Pete was reading. But even that wasn’t incentive enough. By that afternoon I’d decided not to go, which meant Betsy didn’t go either. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day.
    Late that night I feigned sleep through the ping of pebbles against our bedroom window. Our Plain courting ways likely seemed odd to outsiders, but that was often how it was done. Parents usually ignored the comings and goings, knowing it wouldn’t last long. Either someone would lose interest or the courting would lead to marriage. Amish youth generally didn’t court casually—if a young man called on a girl it meant he was serious—and parents relied on that. Not everyone who courted married, sure, but it wasn’t our way to date a lot of different people.
    Betsy scurried out of the room in a hurry. Regardless of her giggling on the porch the night before, it seemed she was still more interested in Levi than Pete. I could only hope Betsy and Levi were sitting in the kitchen, eating pie.
    Although I tried to stay awake until she returned, I didn’t, and the next morning it took me three tries to wake her forchurch. We ended up getting a late start, which made Dat grumpy. The service was at Mervin and Martin’s farm, held in their Dat’s shop. Their older brother, Seth, walked in front of us with his very pregnant wife as we arrived.
    Most everyone was seated when Betsy and I crowded onto the back bench on the women’s side and Dat walked toward the front on the men’s side. I always felt sorry he didn’t have a son to sit with at services. I was extra thankful for Betsy on Sundays, that I had someone beside me, but I wouldn’t for long, not if she had her way. I was certain she would figure out some way to marry Levi, and then they’d most likely join his parents’ district. Then again, Betsy might decide she was interested in someone besides Levi. Someone like Pete. It was hard to tell.
    As Preacher Stoltz stood to lead the singing, a straggler sauntered by. It was Pete, without a book in his hand. The Zooks didn’t live in our district. I could only guess his interest in Betsy had led him to our service. Even so, the sight of him made my heart beat faster.
    Pete paused and then made his way down the center aisle and settled on the bench next to Dat. Betsy nudged me, but I didn’t respond.
    After forty-five minutes of singing, the sermon began. After a few minutes, Betsy leaned her head against my shoulder the way she had when she was little. If we hadn’t been in the back, I would have made her sit up straight, but as it was I didn’t mind.
    Seth’s wife sat in front of me, her back ramrod straight. She

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