Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Meeting Mrs. Claus, Part 3

Back to the story of how I met my wife.

I visited the convent orphanage not long after I learned about it. The sisters were doing a good job of taking care of the children considering how little the convent had.

I made sure that there were some new toys for the children, and a few coins to help buy food.

With the help of Peter and my elves, I visited a few other places where the poor and the parentless gathered.

The church ran a soup kitchen. Many of the people served there brought in what little food they had to throw into the community pot. That way the food was stretched. I left a few contributions myself.

I also noticed that there was always fresh bread and rolls.

The tailor and shoe maker guilds held regular drives to collect and fix old clothes and shoes for the poor.

My elves helped a night with the shoes.

I noticed among the clothes well-made blankets for infants, all looking like they were made by the same person who made the shawl I’d seen the baker’s daughter wear.

The farmers held a public market every week. Food that was left over was put into baskets and given to poor families. The baskets always included bread and rolls.

“There is much charity going on in this town,” I said to Peter over dinner one evening.

“It’s the baker and his family,” he said. “That’s the word about town. Whenever there is a need, they help.”

“It makes our job easier,” I said.

I would have to speak to the baker.

Before I could do that, however, his daughter came to see me.

It was a few days after I’d had that dinner conversation with Peter.

There was a knock at the door. I answered.

She stood there, wrapped in that lovely red shawl.

“I hope I am not disturbing you, Master Nicholas,” she said.

“Not at all,” I said. “Come in.”

I led her to our visiting room, and she sat in a large chair.

“Would you like some tea?”

“No. Thank you. I have come for something else.”

“Yes?” I said, sitting in a chair opposite hers.

“Your servant, Peter…”

“Friend, not servant,” I corrected.

“Oh. Your friend, Peter, has sometimes come into town with medicines. He, or you, must have great skills.”

Or at least my elves do, but I did not say that!

“We find some things of that sort,” I said.

“There is a plague spreading through neighboring villages,” she said. “I fear it will strike ours. Is there something you, or he, could make?”

This was long before modern medicine. My elves were skilled, however.

“If we knew the nature of the illness, we can sometimes find something to help,” I said.

“Will you travel with me to Rhundveld, one of the villages where the illness has struck?” she asked.

“You would be taking a risk, yourself,” I said.

“When people need help, I must do what I can,” she said.

“Tell you what,” I said. “I will think about this, and give you an answer tomorrow.”

She smiled that wonderful smile.

“I look forward to your answer,” she said, standing.

I escorted her to the door, and watched as she walked down the path.

“She is pretty,” a voice said.

I turned to see Peter smiling at me.

“Yes, er, I , um, suppose,” I said.

He smiled even more broadly.

“Why,” I sputtered, “I’m old enough to be …”

“Her great great grandfather many times over,” Peter finished. “Still, you must admit she is lovely.”

“Yes, she is. And she's right. We do need to investigate this illness. I will ask some of the elves to pay a visit to Rhundveld tonight.”


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