Roland | Teen Ink

Roland

August 23, 2012
By NinjaW GOLD, Indianola, Iowa
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NinjaW GOLD, Indianola, Iowa
14 articles 66 photos 11 comments

Author's note: Like everything I have been writing it is all connected in one form or matter with the world of Arundel. During all of these pieces the world is effected in one way or another from the war happening mainly in the Northlands where the Dark Races of nomads are trying to take over. In the South they are experiencing some difficulty while the dark races are settling there. In Liesta at this time they are effected little and I used this piece to expand a bit on the more advanced culture that Liesta enjoys.

Roland chuckled and moved my hair aside from my eyes. I kissed his cheek that the morning sun lightly touched. The wind whistled through the crack in the barn's side. I sat up and searched blindly for my dress in the darkness. Roland did not move, "Is it that time already?" He asked with a mumble.
"Yes, hon," I dressed and threw his shirt to him and looked for the bucket of water that I had brought in the previous afternoon. "If you want to eat, at least," I answered.
I left the barn and went inside the house quickly, wishing not to wake Madam Brisa and Mistress Rena. I proceeded to make the food and clean up the table. I sneaked a small bit of bread into my stomach while I set the table and cleaned out the fireplace. Soon Mistress woke and entered the kitchen yawning, her hair in a messy bun and her eyes filled with sleep. Her lazy daughter was still asleep although the morning was turning late. I greeted Rena and brought her, her food. She thankfully said nothing and I waited for her daughter to come to the table.
Finally Brisa did and she sat. I gave her the food, although she did not need as much as she ate, she was beginning to appear rather large. "Are you going to feed the boy or not?" Rena spit at me, I nodded and poured the gruel into a bowl for Roland. I ran out to the barn with the bowl and his cup in my hands. "Roland!" I called out. He had not moved from where I left him. "Get up, get up, there is much work for you to do. You better hurry before she gets mad, here's your food," I stated and sat it on a little ledge near the window of the barn. I helped Roland by letting out the sheep and the horses into the pasture. I went on with my chores immediately by picking up after breakfast and went to the garden, picking the harvest, cleaning the vegetables and watering the plants.
I had a chicken butchered that morning; and began to clean it for the midday meal. Bread was now rising and some more baking and vegetables boiling. I was ahead of my chores. Mistress noticed and sent me to go gather some kindling from the tree line out east in our land. I did as told, dragging Roland with me. With little words we carried the wood to the right side of the barn in wooden boxes and stacked it. "Is she in a good humor today?" Roland asked, his brown eyes twinkled with mischievousness.
"She's not in a bad humor, yet," I answered and I handed him a box of twigs that he put at the top of our stack. I went into the house and checked the stew that was being cooked. It was all in order, thankfully and the bread was finished. I set it out to cool, placing it on a rag near the window. I shooed away the birds that were curious, wanting more to eat. Madam and Mistress left the house to go to the market for their social hour.
I hoped that they would be back soon, but it was a time that I was able to sneak some more food from the stew. I was so hungry, the previous day Mistress was in a terrible mood, I was given nothing to eat, although she wanted the same amount of work done. I had been working for her for five years now. I had been hired after my mother needed more money coming in and I sent her what I did make, although I felt more like a slave than a servant. The money I was making was becoming so little it did not make a difference. I had made a contract with Mistress, and it did not end for another two years. I had a desperate want to leave, there was little more that I wanted at this point. Roland had worked here for three years, he was a kind young man, and I loved him. We were to be married once I was released from servitude. Roland's contract had ended at the same time.
My work was ended before Madam and Mistress had returned. The food was finished but it was warmed and ready for the two women to eat. I had eaten my fill already, and it was almost unnoticeable.
Brisa flew through the door first, giggling happily and then she stopped when she saw me, "Is the food ready?" She asked with acid in her lazy voice. I nodded immediately and set out their food. While they ate I went out and threw slop to the pigs in their pen. They looked at me and squealed, knowing they were going to be fed. "I gotta take Pilly to the market today," Roland sighed, and he patted the large boar. "Mistress says we don't got room for him anymore," Pilly was growing very large, he had eight siblings who were all much smaller than he and Pilly's father was not going to have him taking his food and soon the sows. "Not sure I really want to take him, but don't got a choice,"
"When are you taking him?"
"Once I'm finished with the sheep pen."

I went with Roland as he took Pilly to market, leading him with a large stick, and he had a rope on him like a leash. The poor pig was squealing and looking back at the house. "Aria," Roland said to me, "Are you really going to wait two years?"
"I would like to not, but there is little choice, you know,"
"We could run," He said immediately.
"Mistress has money; she will send the entire kingdom of Caithere after us. Do you really want that to happen?"
"We are near the borders of Kenna, Aria, we can go there, and be safe. You can go to school there." He was speaking very matter of factly and smartly but I hardly believed him, "Or even Leista, that place does not seem that bad,"
"Let us see," I stated softly and I could see the market ahead. There were many people there, all were crowded around the stalls and there were children laughing and running around happily and there were men standing on platforms yelling around, "Sale!" Roland had Pilly taken off of his hands quickly. He looked at the money in his hand, "We could go now,"
I closed his hand around the money and shook my head, "No, I do not think so," He huffed and looked ahead. There was a little workshop with beautiful dresses hanging on hangers in the windows. An old woman was sitting in a rocking chair sewing on crystals on the dresses. I felt specks of want in me for nice things, money, shoes, food even, and it was absurd.
I took Roland's hand in mine while we were still out of the sight of the farm. "Are you alright?" Roland asked me, his hand tightening around mine. I shrugged and looked up at his young face. "What is it that is eating you?"
"I wish that two years could go a little faster... but at the same time, once it arrives, you know I must return to my home. My mother does not want me to just disappear; she wants to know where I am."
"Or you could run and be free." He smiled.
I took that into consideration. As the day drew on, Mistress became sourer and sourer. To her, my cooking was terrible, there was too much dirt on the outside steps, the horses had not been let out into the large pasture, her daughter's dresses had not been dried completely and everything else. So we were scolded severely and sent out to fix everything that was already perfectly fine. Also we had been scolded for seeing each other. She said that she'd have me stoned if it happened again. She said that I'd be soon burning in hell for what I had done.
Angry, I went out and began sweeping, feeling the anger inside of me boiling past exploding point. Roland tried to calm me, "Aria, please, calm down, you need to just take a breath;" I slapped his hand away and retracted.
"Go away," I said with a snap.
"Aria," He said with more strength in his voice, "Listen to me, don't do that,"
"Why not? I'll end up in the same place anyways, you heard her! She's going to turn me in!"
"She does not have any proof," He said.
"She does not need any! And if she did, I am the proof!" I looked at him and a thought rose up in me, "She is going to have me killed, Roland," There was a desperation in me. I could not control it and it was driving me. I had to kill Mistress before she killed me herself. Roland put his hands on my shoulder to stop my mad pacing.
"Do not do it, Aria,"
"Why not? She will probably have you killed to, it’s a cheaper way of getting rid of us,"
He shook his head, "You are thinking absurdly, honey, just get a hold of yourself,"
I shook my head and through down the broom and looked to the house, it was quiet as the sun was beginning to go down, only the light of the fireplace made a glow. I did not want to die. I went to the tree line, there had been some plants growing there, each looked like a tomato plant, although I believed that it was poisonous, people said that it was. Roland was after me.
"Please do not,"
I almost touched the plant and then stood, feeling like I was going insane. "Alright," I said and I walked back to the barn. He sighed and touched his hand to my shoulder.
"Thank you, I was getting nervous,"
"Well I am nervous too, I am nervous about getting killed by Mistress."

I lay down in my little room and pressed myself to the cold wall as the air was not moving. It was warm and humid. I could hear Mistress's feet walking around so I could not sleep. She was speaking to Brisa, "You must keep an eye on those two," She said to her daughter. "If you see them touch, or anything tell me, and she will be stoned,"
"Alright, Ma," She said, "What about the boy? Will you have him killed too?"
"He's not as bad of a worker," Rena said with a snap. "But if he starts to slack, you need to look for that also."
"Yes, Ma, I shall."
I closed my eyes, thinking about what would happen if Roland did not think, if Roland and I even kissed one more time. I would find myself underneath a pile of rocks with my skull crushed. That was the worst idea of death that I could think of. I had to be as careful as I possibly could.
I slept unrest fully and woke earlier than normal. I went to the poison plants and I picked its fruit. I hid the fruit inside of my room and continued on with my chores. I did not even greet Roland in the morning. I was nervous; I was planning to poison my mistress... I felt like a heretic, an evil being, but at the same time, I felt that she was no more than a hypocrite. She did not deserve to do this to Roland and I, we were good, industrious and caring people, as far as I was aware, and she and her daughter were lazy and prideful. I wondered if this guilt would ever leave me, I did not want to continue on with this plan, but if I did not do this, I would die and Roland would die.
I would do as Roland said, we would have to run. I left the fruit to sit in my room, and the day went on. Roland understood what we were treading on. I only spoke to him after Mistress and Madam went to sleep and I went to the barn. I sat next to him and said, "She is watching you too,"
"Yes, I believed so, why kill just one? You are still going to...?"
"Yes," I croaked out, "But only if it is needed. This may just be another one of her moods that she needs to get through, I do not know. If it is not, then I may have to make a tea with that fruit, I could just put the juice of the fruit in that,"
He nodded and said, "Alright, just be careful, honey," He took my hand and kissed it. I stood and moved back inside and I made the tea and kept it in a bucket in my room. It smelled normal as I had put very little of the fruit in it, and I was to put the rest of the fruit into small bits in the soup. So I was careful to eat before it became ill causing. I felt terribly reluctant to kill a woman I had worked with for so long, but it was in self defense. I knew I did wrong, I knew that I sinned and was going to continue sinning, but she had done much worse and yet I still could not hate either of them. Madam was my age, she was about to be married off, although the bitter part of me wondered if someone would take her, she was so homely, and Mistress, she looked even odder. Her nose was tiny, almost too small; her eyes were beady and rat like with a red tint. Her skin had turned in some parts loose and lumpy, and hair was growing on her where it should not. Madam, though, was like a younger, lumpier version, she was not thin, but she was not large proportionally. Instead the top of her was small, up until her hips where they suddenly became quite large, three times larger than normal, and then after her hips her thighs would shake when she walked and then her little legs were so short. She became a point at either end, like a flower bulb. She was even missing teeth because she never decided to learn what hygiene was.
Finally I got myself together and put the poison in the tea and the food and I served it. Mistress said nothing to me, but instead had a dirty look on his face, "You look like you got spit up by a cow," She said, "You need to clean up," I did as she said and listened as she complained of the taste of her tea and food. She did not eat or drink her food. I was angry, she threw it out. That night I took our things and Roland and I ran.
The sun had gone down and the moon was full, lighting its way. I pulled Roland along as I knew Madam was dying. I could not feel worse at this point in time. We ran and ran and ran until there was no energy left and we walked. Neither of us knew where we were, but we had food and were near water and we were alright. Roland and I fell on the ground exhausted.
Roland pushed himself against me and kissed my neck, I giggled and kissed him back, although I felt both sick and dirty, not just about this but the fact I was a murderer. "We must leave," I said.
"Before we do that, we must talk," He said with his eyes still as bright as ever. "Where are we going?"
"I guess we are just going to go until we get out of Caithere," I knew that Caithere was the eastern part of the country and any further north we would be out of the country. We would be safe and away from Mistress, but she was going to look for us and hunt us down and I would be stoned if we were found.
"And then we will be married?" He asked, his hand touching my cheek. I took in and nodded, "Yes?"
"Yes,"
"Good, and we can have a house with a large garden, and our own horses, we can have flowers in little boxes, and I can find work in a blacksmith's shop and bring good food home. We can have that dog you always wanted and you can have those little bunnies you wanted. We can raise chickens and goats and sheep and grow a whole bunch of food. I want to make sure that you will never be hungry again. I want you to have those pretty dresses that you want and jewelry and crystals. I want there to be nice bowls and plates on the table for you and silver." He huffed and looked up. "That's going to take a lot of work, but one of these days, we are going to have that. I am going to make sure of that,"
I hugged him with joy and took in a deep breath, "I want to work," I said to him. "I want to help, it will be at least a while before we have any children, so there is time to work to help get a nice house and to get nice things,"
He nodded and said, "Well of course, you can do what you wish, dear, we can find a nice big town with a lot of people and a lot of opportunities,"
"So Kenna?" I asked, "Or Leista?"
"I think that Liesta would be closer to get to, at least for now," He said with a smile, "And Liesta is nice, we should be able to get to the town Bernda within a few days or so,"
"What if she finds us first?"
"Then I do not know," He helped me stand and we walked together in the direction toward Leista. The air was chilled and the trees were dripping with water from dew. Despite being uncomfortable it was pleasant and the freedom was feeling great. We were starting our lives now.
The night pulled on and we walked together, keeping step with one another, Roland was humming softly. The morning rose and we were exhausted. We looked for a place to sleep and there was little more than a little cave near a river. We moved in and lay on the cool ground. I slept in Roland's arms until the night once again came. We were each very hungry although we attempted to wait and eat until later.
I was very sore, feeling my muscles tighter than I had ever felt them before. I struggled to keep pace with Roland and each step was very much an interesting experience. "School," I said, "That is an interesting thought, they let girls into school in Kenna?"
"Yes, they do," He said, "I have read about that,"
"You never told me you could read," I said in surprise and I looked at him.
"Well, I can only read a little bit, but I can." He nodded immediately, "My father actually was a scribe, so for the short time that I knew him, I was taught,"
"Ah, I really want to know how to read." I said, "I feel like I have a right to learn,"
"You do," Roland said, "It’s an odd thing though, it’s not natural like other things," He shrugged, "I have been trying to teach myself to keep reading other words and things, but it is hard while working with Mistress, she would take the books I would sneak in. I do not know if she burned them, or kept them or sold them, but some of them were what my father wrote, and some other manuscripts about the Northlands,"
"Why do you need to know about the Northlands?" I asked, we were now near a little stream that was very calm and clean. I stepped into it, still holding onto Roland's arm.
"Well, it’s more interesting than the Southlands, that's for sure. They have a whole bunch of weird little creatures up there. Here we are all normal."
"Yes, but normal is good, right?" I said and looked around, "Right now, all I want is normal,"
"Aria, it is reading, it’s supposed to be weird, and different and sort of creepy. That is what the Northlands’ history is. Now they are normal, well somewhat normal, but they are out of war."
"Do you believe that the world will ever be out of war? The entire world?"
He shrugged and walked into the stream with me now, "I'm not sure if that is possible, peace would be great, but people can always find stupid things to fight over."
"Do you think you will ever see war firsthand?"
"I hope not, Aria, but sometimes they do not care if you have been trained or not, they just want young men who can hold a sword in their hand and wave it around at the enemy. Some of the wars I feel have no grounds other than to gain more land, which is dumb, why try to take more land to just kill a good amount of your people? The king sometimes does not think, I understand those defending themselves, but those who are being offensive make me mad,"
"And people call us dumb," I said, "Your head works more than most,"
"Sometimes I think that everyone thinks this much... but I have a lot to think about, I guess. Do you think a lot?"
"I think the only thing that has been on my mind for a while is how guilty I feel. I do not believe that Madam Brisa really needed to die... it was just Mistress that needed to, and she is the one who is alive, although I feel that it is a punishment to her to have her daughter dead, although I am not sure if she cares because she loves her daughter, or if it because she knows that this could definitely be cause to kill me."
Roland and I left the water and sat down to rest, "Are you tired?" He asked me.
"A little bit..." I mumbled, "When we get to Leista, what do you think it will be like?"
"It will be better, that much I know." He said and he kissed my cheek. "We will be safe, do not worry. No matter what, we will get to where we need to be,"
"Are you sure?"
"Well, I could lie and say yes I am completely sure or I could say that I am somewhat sure. So do you want the truth or a lie?" He pushed his hair out of his face and shivered a little bit.
"I'm not sure," I answered truthfully. “ Are you cold?"
"A little bit," He said, "I left my cloak in the barn on accident, but you seem to have remembered yours,"
"Yes," I smiled and said, "We probably need to keep walking, you will warm up then," We stood reluctantly and continued to walk, "How many more days?"
"At least two, Aria," He softly said to me, "Just keep going, would you eat some of the food?" He handed me a chunk of bread and I ate it.
"Are you going to eat?" I asked him.
"I am not hungry," He said.
"I do not believe you,"
"Well, you are going to have to, this food is all yours, I will be fine," He looked around and I was feeling angry.
"You are going to have to eat something, you will not be able to make it to Liesta without eating,"
"I will," He said, "Stop worrying,"
"I will not stop until you eat something," And I shoved a hunk of bread at him, "So you should eat if you did not get the hint,"
He laughed and he ate the bread, "Are you happy now?"
"Yes, thank you mister," We continued on with walking in the wood. It was a deep wood and there were few animals around us. Only did the birds give us their presence and it was nice and peaceful. "Roland? Do you hear something?" I asked when rustles were heard. There was a howl of a hound.
"Someone is just hunting," He said although he voice was getting strained. I looked behind us and there were torches and horses and people, "Alright, never mind," He said, "Go run ahead of me, I will lead them the other way. Where ever you land, stay there and hide, I will find you," I did as he said and he gave me our bag of food and I just ran with all the strength I had. I went into the thickest part of the forest, squeezing myself between the trees that were choking at each other. I was concerned for Roland; I hoped that he would get away from the mob hunting us down. We both were in trouble.
I ran until there was no strength left in me. I was exhausted and lay down in the grass and passed out.

I woke to the next day and I was still alone, there was no one around me, including Roland. There were only some slight noises of animals, few birds now and no water around me. I was thirsty; my mouth was dry and caked in saliva and blood. I coughed and attempted to sit up. I was unable to move much. I ate what I could, a few pieces of fruit that were able to refresh me. I threw the core into the trees and watched it oddly. A little squirrel moved down a tree and took the core in its hands and began to eat at it quickly, then as it shrunk, the animal took it into the tree.
The animal disappeared and I was left alone again. A feeling of desperation came into me and I lay back and looked at the sky. My stomach churned inside of me, a hot acid taste came into mouth and I threw up in the dirt beside me. The sick feeling went away for a little while and I moved away from the soiled area and went in the best direction I could think of. Although I was feeling like I had no sense of where I was.
I felt sick again. I shook a bit, feeling chilled and I clutched my cloak to myself harder. I began to walk in a single direction, I was thinking of if Roland was looking for me, but I had waited long enough. If I were to have stayed, the mob would have found me.
I checked my food supply, and it was enough for a few days still, but I was not hungry at all after the sickness. I found the stream that Roland and I were walking along and I made sure I was walking in the correct direction by what I remembered as our landmarks. It would be at least two days before there would be homes found. The weather was sunny and pleasant and it was now cool without the heat being overwhelming.
The trees were so high, their trunks were skinny and white, the branches did not appear until it was many feet high. The leaves were small and oval shaped with some odd colors appearing on the lower ones. I was feeling at peace, like I was just going to die out here and I was not concerned about it one bit and yet at the same time I wanted to live. I really wanted to live.
I had dreams and plans and wants, not just hopes... now they were all at risk of disappearing from me. If Roland did not find me, I could be lost out in the forest for the rest of my life. I did not know really if I was going in the right direction and at the least I had two days of travel ahead of me on foot, but if I was going in the wrong direction I would be going back to my enemies and be at risk of execution.
I had odd feelings inside of me that I did not understand, but they were the least of my worries. I just needed to focus on putting one foot in front of the other at a reasonable pace to make a good amount of space in a good amount of time. It was like a meditation and I felt so at ease.


Night came quicker than I believed possible. I was asleep faster than I believed possible. It was wonderful and I dreamed of Roland and I in a house in Kenna. We had a dog and a cat and lots of flowers in boxes in the window and I was hearty and we had a large fireplace. We were happy and Roland had good work, although when he took my hand in the dream I noticed how rough his hands were from the blacksmiths work. We had everything we dreamed of in the dream, including a child on the way.
I woke in the morning to the loud calls of birds and even the call of a cat. I began to walk in the direction of the stream and ate a little bit as I ate nothing the previous day. One more day of walking, I told myself, although I little believed that. I was beginning to feel very, very hungry and I ate at least two days worth of food before noon hit me.
I rested underneath a large willow tree with its roots in the water. I sat on its largest root and fell asleep in the shade until a few hours later where I kept walking and I continued well into the dark as I had to make up for lost time from my nap. My mind was basically going mad, it did not want to think now, it was working on its own terms, doing its own plans. I was a slave to it.
Exhausted I did not want to move the next day. I was throwing up again, my stomach was making odd feelings and my chest was sore. I feared the worst than, that I was carrying, but I ignored it, I felt that it was just the exertion and that I was fine... but it never ceased to be on my mind. I needed to accept that it was a possibility, but I knew that if I was carrying, I did not want to die out in these woods because the child would also die with me.
So, although my body did not want to, I walked and walked and walked all day and even into the night. I had felt that I drank half of the stream in my thirst, but I continued on. I just kept on walking and I planned to not stop until a house was found that I could stay at.
It was almost the next morning when I was able to see a house, which seemed to be away from any other civilization. It was a little farm with a nice large house and it was clean and well kept. I knocked on the door until finally a man answered. "Who are you? Are you alright?" He asked.
"I have been lost in the wood," I said to him, "May I stay?"
"Sure, sure, come in," He said and immediately took my cloak, hung it up, and gave me a warm quilt.
"Thank you so much," I said, and he showed me to a guest room where I sat down and did not wake until the midday meal. I went out of the room, with the blanket still around me to see the man at his table drinking some tea.
"Hello," He said, "Good morning, or afternoon," He smiled with such a kind smile, "Would you like something to eat? I have plenty,"
"Yes please," I sat down at the table as he gave me some bread with butter on it and some carrots. I ate it all quickly.
"Who are you?" He asked, "Where are you from? Oh, and why were you lost in the wood?"
"Will you promise to not throw me out if I tell you?"
"Yes," He said with a chuckle, "You did not kill someone, did you?" And he was joking.
"I did," I answered, "My mistress was going to have my stoned and I sort of had a nervous break and I poisoned her and her daughter, she did not get sick, but her daughter did, and I think she may have died."
"Why were you going to be stoned?" He asked curiously and he drank from his tea.
I looked around and thought about what to say, "I was seeing someone at the time... and I think I may be with child now, but I do not know. I have been lost for a few days now, but I lost track..."
"Have you eaten? You need to eat,"
"Yes I had some food, thank you, my name is Aria by the way,"
He nodded and took my hand and shook it, "I am Brandt. Would you like to stay? If you can work around the house and keep it in order while I am out, I have plenty of food and room here, if you like,"
"That would be nice," I said to him. I immediately went to work around the house, although I was still pretty tired and worked only a few hours. I helped to clean up the kitchen and made the next meal. He was very much grateful for that as he had been eating only what he knew how to make. I fell asleep as soon as things were put away after dinner in the room.
I woke late in the morning, near the midday meal again and outside the room I had been staying in was a nice new dress. I picked it up nervously and looked at Brandt who was sitting at the table, sipping his tea. He was smiling, "I also had some extra money and thought that you would like to be wearing something clean,"
"I am not sure how I can thank you for this," I said, my voice shaking.
"It is just nice to have some company around," He said softly and he looked around. "Ever since Ainsley died it has been so quiet,"
"Your wife?" I asked.
"No, my sister, she lived here with me for a while. My other sister, Lina, moved out of here soon after. That is why it is such a big house."
"Oh, I am sorry," I said and I went back into the room and pulled myself into the nice, clean dress. I was feeling much better and had my hair put up again and I came out. Brandt was not in the kitchen, but he was outside working. I continued on with the chores that I had at Mistress's house, instead here. I worked until I tired, and then I ate, feeling free to do so. Brandt came inside with a large bag of wool, "Do you know how to spin?" He asked me.
"A little," I answered back, "Would you like me to do that?"
"If you do not want to, I can. I work with Lina, and I help her make clothing." He answered, I smiled. That was rather sweet.
"I'll try," I said to him and I took up my place with the wool and the spinning wheel and spent a few hours each day at the wheel. The days were nice and quiet and Brandt was kind and generous to me. I spent long hours resting until I recovered, but by that time, it had been a few weeks and I realized that I really was carrying Roland's child. I told Brandt and he said, "Congratulations, and where is the father?"
"I am not sure, we were being tracked down by a mob of people, and we went opposite directions and I was not able to find him afterwards." I sighed and I sat at the table with the blanket he had given me the first day on my lap.
Later that day I went out and washed my other dress in the stream. Brandt was still at the home when I returned, "I have a question," I said to him, he nodded and placed his things to his side, "What kingdom is this and is there a city nearby?"
"Liesta, and yes there is a city somewhat nearby, about half a day away. My sister, though, lives only about an hour away to the north, if you would like to come with me when I visit her, you are welcome to."
"Is she nice?" I asked.
"Lina? Oh yes, she is very, very nice, and she has a little daughter also,"
"That is cute," I said, "When are you going?"
"Tomorrow," Brandt said, "Please wake before noon," He said, "We need to be to Lina's by the midday meal."

So I did as he said and by day break we were out on the road. Brandt and I were on a cart with all that was spun by Brandt and I. Brandt also had some cloth that he had made and large amounts of wool. I was surprised to see Lina's home when we arrived. It was very, very large. "She has a large amount of employees," He said, "About ten people work with her on a daily basis, although they do not live with her and I told Lina last time I was here that one of these days you would more than likely come." He walked up to the door and knocked loudly on it.
There was a young man who answered the door, "Hello Brandt," He said and he bowed, "Mistress is upstairs in the Window Room, would you like me to take your horse to the pasture?"
"Yes, please, Kellan, thank you,"
"Who is he?"
"She's her hired boy, she has a maid here somewhere too," We entered the house which was well lit by the large windows, and it was clean and well spaced. The maid that Brandt spoke about was also a nurse; she was with the little girl. The little girl ran to Brandt and Brandt picked her up and kissed her cheek. "Hello little Bethany," He said to her. The nurse came up and had her. "And Mayra," He handed off the little girl to the nurse.
We went up the stair and the nurse and girl followed. The Window Room consisted of the entire second floor, well laid out with many spinning wheels, dress dummies, and looms. There were her ten employees working and Lina was walking around explaining what needed to happen. "Lina!" Brandt called out.
She looked at us and ran over, "Oh this is the girl you were talking about! Hello Aria!" She shook my hand and then hugged her older brother. "What did you bring?"
Kellan was now behind us with the bags of wool and he placed it next to Lina. "Would you please bring me the other bags?" Brandt asked.
"Yes, sir," He ran back downstairs.
Lina then said, "I have a shipment of flax coming in, also, but thank you. Everything here seems to be going very smoothly," Lina nodded and looked at me, "Can you do some of this?"
Brandt answered for me, "She has been very helpful at my house at the spinning wheel. I feel that I could probably teach her to be a seamstress, if she likes," I nodded, although I really had no care of whether I did or not.
"Are you going to let her speak for herself, Brandt?"
She looked at me and I said, "Sure,"

Lina had explained to me and showed me things that I could do from Brandt's house and I listened. It seemed easy enough and I learned to spin flax and to dye cloth of both linen and wool. I wanted to help so that I was not a burden upon Brandt and his family.
We ate a large meal and it was one of the best things I had ever eaten. It was rich and delicious and I felt if I was considered part of the family. Bethany had sat on my lap during the meal and then she was cuddling up with me during an odd timed nap. "She likes you," Lina said with a giggle. At that time Lina's husband entered the house.
"There you are," She said, "We were going to wait, but I did not know when you would return,"
"Sorry," He said, "The horse got caught in the mud, she's out now, but I need to go send Kellan to clean her up,"
Kellan looked up from his place in the kitchen and he nodded and ran out to the barn, "Oh, I didn't see him," He chuckled and sat down at his place at the table. He talked about the city and how things were going and how there was a festival today and he had brought back a good amount of money for Lina. "Give a hundred to Brandt and Aria." Lina said quickly.
Her husband pulled out his pouch and counted out a hundred coins and handed them to Brandt. He looked puzzled, "I thought that it was only fifty,"
"There are two of you," Lina said, "And twice the work was completed, so twice the money."
Brandt looked at me and said, "Would you like to go to the market tomorrow than?"
I shrugged, "Why not?"

"Looks like Lina likes you," Brandt said to me when we reached his home with the new supplies and the money.
"I guess so, but I am not sure why."
"Because you are willing to help, that is something she has a hard time finding in the girls that she hires and it helped that Bethany liked you."
He opened the door for me and I entered and soon went to work putting the wood in the fireplace and lighting the candles. "Are you hungry?" I asked him.
"No, I am still past full from that pie," He said, "I think you should go rest,"
I went into my room and lit every candle and sat in front of the mirror. I thought of Roland, I missed him... all of our dreams were at stake and yet something told me that this was alright. I liked how things were now, but I still wanted my Roland back, I needed him back.
I removed my cloak and looked at the dress Brandt had given me and I looked at the fifty coins that I had earned with my work.
I had been here only two weeks, but I felt like I was a different person. This was the first time I had felt safe in such a long time, and yet I felt like I was still missing something because Roland was not with me.
I was still not sure of whether or not I was carrying his child, the only thing that really told me it must be true is that my monthly bleeding had not come to me yet and it had been past time.

The market was interesting, it was full of so many people and the city had tall homes that towered above us. There were cattle tied in the street and children running around, chasing after chickens. Some workshops and sale shops had their doors open to allow in light. Brandt seemed very comfortable and he asked me, "What would you like to get?"
"I'm not sure," I said, "Never had this freedom before,"
We passed by shop after shop and I did not know what I wanted. "How about you go shopping first," I said to Brandt, "I am clueless,"
"Alright," He laughed and he went to get a new pair of sheep shears and a decorative knife.
"Is that all?" I asked him, "You have not used up even half of your money,"
"I do not have too. I just figured that since you came with nothing, you would like to get some things of your own,"
"Can I pay you back for the dress?" I asked and I handed him the money.
"No," He put the money back in my hand and smiled. "What would a normal person have? A comb maybe? Go find one," He pushed me toward a shop and I found a painted comb made of bone. It was three coins, and I bought it. I bought some clips for my hair and a pair of shoes and asked if we could return home.

The days were short and time was fast. I enjoyed working with Brandt's trade and I was able to buy things of my own, like I had dreamed. I had told Roland that I wanted to work. It was very nice to own items.
Brandt was patient with teaching me what I needed to know. I was catching on and was dyeing cloth every day for Lina and she was beginning to like me more and more. Every time we visited, which was every Sunday, she would hug me and give me my fifty coins. Bethany always was happy to see me and she was call my name as soon as we arrived.
Within a few weeks, I really was part of the family. I had been living in Brandt's home for two months and it was amazing. I had time to do leisure activities while still feeling like something was being accomplished. I had never felt like there was this much money available to me, I decided that I wanted to save up to get a horse of my own. Brandt had only one horse and it was much too large for me to comfortably ride.
It would take at least a month for me to have enough money, and I would have to work extra for me to ask for a little bit more money. I had a plan and I was going to make it happen. I would dye up to eight skeins of cloth a day, but also I would spin a bag of either wool or flax. I was doing so much that Brandt joked about running out of wool, that his sheep just could not keep up.
The herd that Brandt had were a five hundred head. It was the time of the year for them to have their little lambs. I had to help with that also as up to ten of the ewes a day needed our services. Brandt sometimes never left the barn and for a week, he did not. I brought him his water and his food and clean clothes. He was just so busy and I needed to keep up with the chores. Each night I found myself exhausted, but in a good way. It was something to look forward to.
This spring was warmer than most and the sheep required more water, and the rain was frequent so the pastures were very green and rich. The dog that Brandt had was having trouble keeping track of them also as they were multiplying at such a rate. Brandt owned an immense amount of land, at least seven enclosed pastures to keep his sheep in and he said that even with so many ewes giving birth, he had been breeding them very carefully and that only a quarter of the ewes were going to be mothers this season.

Lina was kind and she did give me extra money for my work and I asked Brandt to take me to the nearest ranch he knew how that would have a horse I could buy. He said he knew a man by the name of Kip who was a friend of his and would give me a good deal on a horse.
Brandt took me in his cart to the ranch which was only a little while away. There were dozens of horses in the pastures and in corrals. The man named Kip was lifting hay into their pens and he smiled when he saw Brandt. "Hello!" He called out, "Are you a customer!"
"She is!" Brandt pointed at me and I shook his hand.
"I have a few horses that are available, I am boarding some for some of the city dwellers," Kip said and he led me to a pen and there were ten horses in there. "Here they are. I have some heavy workers here, light workers, good carriage horses; I'm not sure what you'd like."
I looked at Brandt and shrugged, he smiled and I said, "Just a basic riding horse. I am not sure that I will be working outside every day doing a whole lot."
Kip called out and whistled, "Banna!" A grey horse with a black mane trotted over and looked at me. "She's pretty darn good and she's two hundred,"
I handed him the money and took the horse, with the extra I was able to get a saddle and a bridle, happy that Lina had given me extra money. I felt accomplished then and the horse was very sweet. "Thank you Kip!" Brandt and I said to him and he just waved.
"He's sort of an odd little man," I said.
"Well, he doesn't talk to people very often, or see any people that often for that matter. He's just around those horses, all the time."
I now was able to help Brandt in the pastures by making rounds with Banna, so when Brandt became sick, he was grateful. The ewes had all given birth to their lambs and now it was just the upkeep of the animals that we needed to focus on and the dog was being used at full capacity. Brandt had a fever and he was very weak. I had him to lie in his bed and I brought him warm tea and cold water. It was hard to make him comfortable and work, but I did my best.
Within four days Brandt was better, but I was feeling sick myself after not sleeping at all. Once he was up and working and I had to take my work days down greatly so I could sleep and make up for the stress I put on my body and I was completely sure at this time that I was with child. I needed to take breaks and rest; the stress was not good on my child.

I had been with Brandt for three and a half months. I was now with my own possessions and a horse. I was also giving some of my money to Brandt to help with the upkeep of the farm as some of the fence needed to be repaired. I was enjoying basically every day at his home. He cared for me like I was family and he was like a brother to me. He wondered if I should go consult a doctor to make sure that I was with child and not sick. I told him it was unnecessary and I did not want to but he said if I did not start to show within a month and a half, he was going to take me, or when I did start to show, which could be any time, I already felt like I looked different. "Maybe we should talk to Lina and have her make you a dress,"
"I am fine," I said and wished he would stop treating me like a child.
"Well, you will need a different dress, you won't be able to fit in that one in a month or so,"
"We will worry about that when it gets there."
Brandt just smiled and walked away. I went back to my room and I looked in the mirror. I could see little difference, although a bit larger my middle was, I wanted to just think that it was from my ability to actually eat while I had been with Brandt. I had never eaten so much.
I sat down, and looked out the window to the large amount of sheep lounging around. I went back outside and did my chores immediately and then went into the barn and found Brandt. "Hey," I said softly.
"Oh hello," He said and put his things to the side, "What do you need?"
"I am not sure," I said.
"Would you like me to talk to Lina for you?" He leaned against a pen and said, "Did you tell her that you were expecting?"
"No, I think you are the only one I have told." I said truthfully. "Will she not like me then?"
"She does not judge," He said, "The girls she employs have children and they are not married. I know that three of her girls are in that situation, “
“but I do not know what happened to Roland. I need to find him." I shook my head and I said, "He just disappeared. I know that he was going in the other direction than I, but he could have gotten captured and killed, or he could be alive and well. There is nothing pointing to either direction being right. Oh I do not know what I'd do if he was dead..." Just the idea of it caused to me have to hold back tears. I did not want to lose him, but I already had.
Brandt hugged me and said, "It is alright, you will find him, you just need to look."
"Do you believe that he would be in the city? Is that the nearest city to this stream?"
He shrugged, "I believe so, Aria, we will see what we can do."
"Thank you,"

Within a week we were in the city, looking around, but we were out of luck so Brandt took me to the doctor to make sure that I was expecting. The doctor was nice, he was quiet also, and he would not turn me in, either and yes, I was carrying Roland's child without a doubt. The doctor told me I needed to rest a bit more than I had been and eat more also, he said that buttermilk would be very good for me if I could get my hands on it. Brandt immediately bought some and had me religiously drink the stuff every morning.
He wanted me to make sure that I did not overwork myself, but I did not feel all that different, I wanted to get things done and it angered me. I had lived with Brandt for about four and a half months at that time. I knew that I had to keep on looking for Roland though.
I went back to the city, this time, alone. I was looking for a smith’s shop, of any kind and I checked at least two before I came to a tiny little one with a black dog sitting outside. I peeked inside and saw a young man with dark brown hair. I went inside and looked for the brown haired boy. "Roland?" I called out. The movement I was able to hear stopped. The young man moved into sight and it was Roland.
I ran over to him and hugged him tightly. "Roland!" I giggled and hugged him again. His eyes were wide and startled. "Roland? You remember me right? It has not been that long,"
"I know, but I thought you were dead... Rena said that she caught you and had you stoned..." He touched my face and he looked so confused and nervous.
"Why, why are you not happy to see me?"
"I am," He said, "Just surprised, can we talk tomorrow?"
"Of course," I said, "You must be busy."
I went out of the blacksmiths shop and to the market to pick up the buttermilk that Brandt wanted me to drink. There was a girl at the stall that I was going to talking to the woman, "Gretchen, what is it?" The woman asked as the girl was beyond giddy; she was jumping up and down and pointing at a ring on her finger
"He asked my father finally if he could marry me!" She looked at me and said, "Oh sorry, here you can get what you need," She continued to talk to the lady as she was filling up my jugs with the milk. "It took him a while to convince my father because he's just working at a blacksmiths shop."
The lady said, "Roland, right?"
"Yes!" The girl, Gretchen said, my heart fell. I paid the woman and went to my horse. I knew, now, why he was talking and acting so oddly. If I had only came a few days earlier, if I could only find him... it was my fault, he must be so confused... I did not know what to do. I went home immediately in a confused daze.
"Brandt! Brandt!" I called out, I did not know if I should be happy or sad. I had found the man I loved and I knew where he was, that he was alright and alive... I should be so happy.
Brandt came out of the house and smiled, "You are back!" He said, "You did not tell me that you were going out."
"I got the milk for you," I said, "And I found Roland," I said.
"Are you alright?" He asked, "What is wrong?"
"He's getting married." I said, "And I did not find out from him, but the girl he is marrying, so... I do not know what to do now,"
"Oh, dear," He said and he brought me inside.
"He wants me to come back to talk to him tomorrow. He was in the blacksmiths shop." I sat down and Brandt poured me the buttermilk that I had ran out of in the morning. I sipped at it, despising the taste now. "I should have told him about the child..."
"It is not your fault, Aria, you need to take a break and just get your head back together, alright? I will make some food for you. Tomorrow I will go with you to the city."
"Brandt," I said, "I am a big girl, I can go to the city on my own,"
He smiled and said, "I know you can, but I am going to come anyways."
I was grateful that he cared so much and that he was willing to come and give me some support. So that night all I could think about was Roland, I thought about him being with someone else and that I was not going to have that dream that we had set out only about five months earlier. It was absurd to think of having to work for Lina the rest of my life because I could not find work anywhere else. I'd have to be able to care for my child, alone, and risk finding myself under a pile of rocks because I had committed adultery. No one would know if I only married the man whose child I was carrying. I was risking death here. He had to understand that for me, right? I was becoming so scared. I could not stay in Brandt's house forever, he was a grown man, eventually he was going to have a family of his own. Then I would have to live in Lina's home with the other girls. I felt that was not fair.
The morning came far too late and I was itching to get back to the blacksmith's shop. I practically pulled Brandt out of the kitchen while he was eating his sausage to the cart. "Will you be patient?" He asked, "You did not-"
"Yes, I know that I did not drink my buttermilk, I do not care, we need to get to the city. Bring your food with you, please, we have to get going soon."
He sighed and packed it up in a basket. He took the reins of cart and had me drink the milk and eat. I was not in a good humor at that moment in time. I knew what was at risk now. Brandt attempted to assure me that all was fine, but I was not listening to him.
"I do not see why you will not believe me. You will not be in danger,"
"If someone sees that there is no damn ring on my finger and my stomach has a child in it, I am doomed once it is born."
"No one will know." He said, "And if they do, we will figure something out. I have helped a few of Lina's girls before, and no one got them in trouble."
"Alright," I said, "How did you keep them safe?"
"I have brothers, and they are married, but they pretend to be their husbands if anyone became suspicious."
"How many siblings could you possibly have?"
"Ten..." He said with a sigh, "I have three sisters, two alive, and seven brothers,"
"Huh," I said and I lay back in the cart and looked at the blue sky above with few white puffs of clouds. "What should I tell him?"
"Roland?"
"Yes,"
"Well, you could just talk to him, tell him that you are expecting, that you are in risk of getting yourself killed, and that you have missed him."
I looked to Brandt, "Do you think that it will work?"
"Work? Well, I am not sure, it is not me making the decision, it is Roland and I do not really know him."
"I am wondering if I know him or not. I wondered if he changed... he said that Mistress told him that she had me killed, but he should not have believed her,"
"Aria, I do not blame him, if somebody said that you were dead, than to him, you were probably dead."
I sat up and said, "They did not have proof,"
"You said that you were going to be stoned, right?" I nodded when he looked at me, "Someone else could have been stoned and he would have never known it was not you. That person was probably unrecognizable at that moment,"
"Oh," I said, feeling that I should not be so critical and that I should think of the possibilities. I was just too terribly nervous as we approached the city. As Brandt had lived near the city his entire life, he knew exactly where it was the blacksmith's shop was.
"I will be waiting for you over there," He pointed to the tree line. "Alright?"
"Yes," I said and went over to the blacksmith's shop. I went into the shop and looked around. "Roland?" I called out. "Roland?"
He jumped out from the behind a shelf and he said, "Hello,"
"There is something I have to tell you,"
"There is something I have to tell you too," He said, "And I have a feeling you know," He sighed and said, "I am sorry, I really am, I thought you were dead, I really did."
"So only four months later you decide to get married?"
"Yes, I am sorry, but I got a job and she wanted to marry me and I decide that it was alright."
I went up to him and grabbed both of his hands and pressed them to my stomach, "Roland," I said, and his eyes widened. He looked more torn than I had ever seen him before.
"Oh Aria," He said, "I do not know what to do. I have made plans and promised her father and I bought a house..."
"I thought you would be happy," I said, "I guess I am just a bother," I said, I felt like there was nothing more than pain in me now. I put my hand on my slightly round belly and left the shop.
"Aria!" I heard when I crossed the threshold. I turned and he did not say anything else but, "I am not sure what we need to do."
I went to the tree line and fell down and cried. I was feeling like the happiness I had felt earlier was just going to have to leave now... it seemed that he did not care about me, even when I returned. I wanted those hopes and dreams to happen, but they were not going to happen if I was by myself, I was needing help. I did not want to take up Brandt's life... but I felt that right now, I had no choice. I just needed to take each step at a time. What I needed was to talk to Lina about what I needed to do.
I noticed that Roland was running toward me. He was calling to me and then he sat down next to me. Brandt watched curiously. He hugged me to his side and said, "I do not mean to hurt you, Aria,"
"Well, what did you expect?"
"I will see what I can do," He said with a little bit of a sigh, "I bought the house with Gretchen's father's money... but I will see what I can do. I did not know, I really did not know..." He hugged me again and looked up to Brandt then left.
I felt like this was just his way of diverting his own guilt. "Brandt, can we leave?"
"Yes," he said and he helped me into the cart. "I assume that was Roland?"
"Yes," I said, "That was Roland... and he has everything he wanted... and the girl he plans to marry is even rich. He has money now..."
"That does not mean that he does not love you anymore,"
"How do you know?" I asked and Brandt looked back at me and motioned for me to sit beside him.
"He seemed to really feel bad and care about you. For the most part he is probably feeling really torn now. If I was him, I would not know what to do." That was not what I wanted to hear from Brandt, I wanted him to say that he was on my side, and then I realized how selfish I sounded. "Would you like some sugar cake when we get back? I can make some, if you like,"
"Sure," I said with a smile. "Thank you,"

And he did as he said and I was given some sugar cake with honey drizzled on it. I sat in the sitting room and looked at the sheep in their pasture. The thin dog was panting and running around, trying to get the animals into their barn before sun down. Brandt asked me, "Would you like anything else?"
"No, no, but thank you for being so nice. If things ever decide to work out I will some how repay you,"
"That is not necessary," He said with some heat in his voice, "Really, you have helped me immensely. There is no need to repay me,"
I laughed and said, "Alright,"
My mind was going mad that night, thinking of what could happen. The good the bad and the in-between. I had an interesting dream of having a little girl in my arms, she was the baby and I was so happy, but I was at Lina's house, and I did not have my own home, so I lived in hers. I remembered being so surprised to see Roland outside with his wife, who was Gretchen, and they were laughing. Roland looked in to see me but then ignored my presence despite the child.
I woke, angry and unable to go back to sleep. I went into the kitchen and paced. Brandt was asleep at the table, his tea next to him and I almost smiled at how adorable he looked. I proceeded to go outside to see if the fresh air would help me out. The door opening, though, woke Brandt, "Aria?" He groaned and looked up, "What are you doing up?"
"What are you doing drooling on the kitchen table?"
"I'm not sure," He said, "I figure I should go to my bedroom, but are you alright?"
"I am fine," I said, "I just need some fresh air, I am not that tired," He nodded and moved himself down the hallway to his bedroom and shut the door. The birds were so loud that I wanted to press my hands against my ears. The horses were unrest full and pacing in their stalls. I went up to Banna and she came up to me and whinnied. "Hello, dear," I said softly and pet her nose. She turned around a few times and stomped. "What is it?"
She turned her head to the barn and I went inside, lighting a lamp and looking around. There was a hum. I became nervous and stepped carefully, although that was foolish because I had made noise enough that who would be there, would already know I was in the barn with them.
"Hello?" I my voice shook, and my heart raced. I looked for Brandt's pitchfork.
"Why are you living with this man?" A voice said to me.
"He offered me room and board if I worked on his farm. I needed to have a place to stay,"
The voice came from a figure leaning against the wall and it stood and looked my direction. "Come here," It said.
"You must come to me," I answered and I stepped out into the moonlight. He followed and I was able to see Roland's face. He looked a bit aged since I saw him five months ago. He touched my stomach and hugged me. I was surprised. "You are going to be a married man, this is not right,"
"I am not going to be a married man to anyone but you," He said, "I told Gretchen and she agreed that it was the best option for us. I still get to the keep the house if I pay back her father."
My eyes widened and I felt elated. I jumped up and into his arms, I was safe and I was with Roland. That was the only thing that I was dreaming about. It was my greatest hope. "So what do we do now?" I asked him.
"I am not sure, to be truthful. You may tell the man that you live with that you will be living with me and tomorrow we will move into the home." He kissed my cheek and said, "If you can continue to work with those you are now working with, you may earn money, if you wish and we can fill the home."
The sun of the morning approached the windows of the barn and the sheep stirred from their sleep. I led Roland into the home of Brandt and I began to make breakfast as soon as Roland found a seat the table. Brandt soon awoke and was puzzled to see Roland sitting at his table. "Good morning?" Brandt said and he sat down at his table. I put food beside them and Brandt continued to look at me, "What is going on?"
"I will be leaving," I said, feeling a bit heavy in those words.
"Did everything work out?"
"Yes," Roland said, "And we have a house, and I feel that it is possible to be married today," He looked at me, "We do not need a ceremony, I believe. This should have taken place months ago, by this time,"
Brandt looked at me, "And you are alright with this, correct, Aria?"
"Yes, of course," I said, "Do you think that I can still work for Lina? I need the work real bad and I enjoy what I can do."
"Sure,” He said, "I will talk to her today." He did not sound very happy, but I understood, he had finally had company with him for a few months and now I was just leaving. I felt a bit bad about that, but I knew he wanted this for me. "Would you like me to pick up your pay, also, while I am there? Unless you would like to come with, Roland could come with, if you wish."
I looked at Roland and he nodded, so I said, "That would be alright, could we possibly take the cart, then?"
"Yes," Brandt said, "I will go get it ready, if you would please pack your things," I did as he asked and put what possessions I had accumulated together and I wrapped them in some cloth and headed out the door with Roland following me. Brandt had the horse tacked up on the cart and my Banna tied to the back. She was looking at me intently as I walked up with the intruder that she had issues with last night.
She kicked briefly at him and I was able to calm her down as we entered the cart. Roland had his hand on mine as we moved forward. Brandt said, "We are going to Lina's home first, correct?"
"Yes," I said, "That is what I thought,"
It was quiet as we traveled, no one seemed to be in the best of humors. I felt bad for Brandt, Brandt was feeling lonely, and Roland and I felt bad, both for Gretchen. It was just a cycle of guilt, I wondered if it would feel as good as I believed it could, if I did not feel guilt at all. I wondered if people who did not feel guilt were people at all... if it was feeling that made a person a person, a man, a man, but at this point, it seemed that it was too much, and yet this, that I was feeling, was close to nothing at all.

Lina's large home approached and it was Bethany who found me. She jumped up so that I then held her on my hip. We walked inside to Lina who was working just as furiously as normal. "Brandt, there you are. I expected you yesterday,"
"I know, sister," He said, "But Aria here, has some news,"
"I am moving in with Roland, here, we are getting married," I said and he waved to them. "But I was wondering a few things, if I could get a new dress, and if I could continue to work with you, but from our new home."
Lina hugged me and said, "I thought that you were expecting," She looked at Roland, "You are one lucky man, Roland,"
"I know," He said and looked down.
"You can work with me as long as you want." She looked at Brandt, "Do you think you could house some more girls for me?"
He nodded immediately, "I was beginning to think I was going to be alone in that house forever again," He laughed and patted me on my shoulder, "Do not forget to drink your buttermilk,"
"I know, I know, I packed it," I sighed, feeling nauseous just at the thought of the disgusting liquid, but I knew it was good for me, so I had little choice. "I will still drink it, everyday,"
Lina said, "I have your pay here, and I will give you the dress as a present. Brandt had already told me that you were going to need another dress, so it is being put together, I will just let it out a little around the tummy and it will be nice and finished. When will you need it?"
"Any day," I said, "Anyway, it was hard to fit my dress on over this thing this morning," I said, removing my cloak that covered my tummy.
"I will have it done in about four days, and I expect to see you back here for a meal than too."
"Yes, I will be honored," I giggled and soon I acquired work to do for the next four days of my life, although I did not know how much I was going to be able to do. I had to start my life.


The house was small, but it was clean and cottage like with some land around it. Roland carried me in as if we were really married. Brandt and I said goodbye for the time being, and he went back to get three girls that needed to be housed. After we put our things down in the house, Roland urged me toward a house where we were met by a man who then married us that night. I had dinner with my husband soon after.
It was all quick happening, but I felt like everything worked out, except for Gretchen. I would never see her again, but I always felt a little bit guilty for taking Roland, but at the same time, I needed him to help raise the child.
My family included Brandt and Lina and Bethany, I went to work once a week and even once the baby, a girl named Hope, was born, I continued to go. Brandt also visited often and talked with us and had supper. Brandt was doing well and he bought more land for his farm. Roland has gotten a bigger position at the blacksmiths shop and he was saving up more money to buy our own animals to raise for food and other supplies.
Hope was a good child, with Roland's eyes and my red hair, she liked Brandt more than she liked anyone else in the world, including me. She always smiled so brightly when he came, as if she really recognized his voice.
I stayed on the buttermilk regiment throughout the time I was nursing Hope and that was something that made Brandt happy, that I was keeping healthy and not putting stress on myself or the child.
I missed my life with Brandt, although it was nice to be with Lina and her family on regular occasions, but Roland had completed everything. I was now where I was supposed to be, I had almost forgot about Rena and Brisa, how they had been looking for us, but stopped at the border lines of our country, but the guilt of Brisa's death never ceased to haunt me.



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