Audrey – Scott Pedersen

That evening Audrey sat with her father and explained what had happened. Surely he could explain the girl’s odd behavior.

Hiram smiled and shook his head. “So, this girl said she would be walking alone in the village?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure when. Father, do you ever get so nervous in front of a judge that you can’t think straight?”

“Not for a very long time.” Hiram leaned forward and spoke softly. “Audrey, I need to ask you something. Do you have feelings for this girl that come from here?” He pressed both his palms against his chest.

Audrey nodded.

“Then I have some advice that may help you,” Hiram continued. “Mr. Prinzing isn’t the only wise merchant in the village. Years ago your mother and I had a horse reshod by Mr. Bonetti, the blacksmith. He had just learned an American expression:  ‘Strike while the iron’s hot.’ He loved to say this. Laughed every time. So, if you ever have a desire in your heart that can be fulfilled only if you act, think of Mr. Bonetti.”

“Father, will I always learn the hard way?”

“Yes, but each time you’ll get a little more of the hardship behind you.”

For the next week, Audrey and the girl passed each other without a word. She imagined ways she and the girl might become friendly again. Then, as Audrey walked toward the village on a Friday, the girl came to a stop directly across the canal. Remembering her father’s advice, Audrey called out, “I was hoping we could talk again.” The girl stared expressionless.

Audrey placed the portfolio on the ground and removed her boots. She stepped to the edge of the canal and jumped in, feet first. As the water was only waist-deep, she was able to walk to the other side within seconds. She hoisted herself out of the water and then stood, dripping heavily, close to the girl. She was shorter than Audrey had thought, with pale eyes, not quite blue.

“We’re having dinner on Sunday at two,” said the girl. “You’re welcome to join us.”

Surprised that the girl had ignored her drenched condition, Audrey resolved to appear just as collected. “I’d like that. Where will I find your farm?”

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