"But why would someone do that?" Jonas asked. "Set a fire?"
"For all sorts of reasons. Some people set fires to get insurance money, but I realize that isn't the case with you Amish. Sometimes it's firebugs."
"Firebugs?" Jonas asked.
"People who love to set fires." The man paused and cleared his throat. "But as these fires have been on Amish farms, we have to consider that it could be someone who doesn't like the Amish."
Simeon was looking at Grossmudder, and he saw the man's words knock the air from her. Simeon saw her face flatten and her mouth drop open. Sylvan was open-mouthed, too. They looked like fish, Simeon thought, hooked and left on the ground by the pond. Should I say something? Simeon thought.
Simeon turned and looked at his father and saw the yellowy shine on his face. Daat was looking even more like Uncle Daniel. Simeon saw the quiver in his mother's left hand and her stooped shoulders, and the bulging pulse in the right vein of Jonah's cheek. His fear was drained down through his feet. His legs slackened, and he felt a weight in his ribs. His chest ached, fierce with a heavy love.
No, he thought quickly. He could never let anything happen to them. There was no doubt in his mind that the fire setters would harm them. None at all. He knew they would come and burn their house. And he couldn't let them do that to his family. What if they burned one of them this time?
The man's words on the night of the fire swirled in Simeon's mind and he wanted to shut them out, but instead he pushed them deeper inside, down into his aching chest. Surely it was the best way for them all. He was keeping them safe, wasn't he?
SIMEON’S FIRE by Cathyrn Clinton. Copyright (c) 2005 by Cathyrn Clinton. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
Excerpted from Simeon's Fire by Cathryn Clinton. Copyright © 2007 by Cathryn Clinton. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.