Friday, August 26, 2005

Mrs. Claus, Part 5: A pleasant trip

Anna Kristina and Nicholas arrived one hour later. There were several baskets of bread in the back of the cart.

I climbed aboard, and we set out immediately.

“I’m so glad you came,” she said.

“I am happy to help in any way I can,” I said. “I am a neighbor.”

I remember that ride to this day. She was so beautiful sitting there, wrapped with that red shawl, knitting a red scarf as we talked.

We talked about all sorts of things, we three. The war, the famine and drought, and the plague, yes, but also the songs of the birds, the beauty of the forest, the clouds drifting by, the joy of being part of loving family.

“It’s funny to meet someone else with my brother’s name,” she said. My father was always devoted to St. Nicholas. He used to tell us all sorts of stories about him.”

“You can’t believe everything you hear,” I said. “People exaggerate.”

“They stories aren’t true?“ She said.

“Some are legends, told to teach lessons, or share ideas, or even entertain. After all, Our Lord told parables. You don’t believe they were literal stories about real people?”

“True,” she said.

And the other stories, well, let’s talk about you.”

“Me?” she said.

“Yes. You show up with your basket full of bread. You never seem to run out. Maybe some day there will be stories about you performing a miracle so that you never run out.”

“It’s no miracle,” she said. “We bake it all.”

“True. But what a great story a miraculous supply of bread would be.”

“Did your parents know the stories about St. Nicholas,” she asked. “Is that why they named you after him?”

“I don’t believe they heard any of those stories. They just liked the name.”

“Still,” she said. “He must have been a great man that people would tell such stories about him. We don’t have men like that these days.”

I think there are men and women like him today,” I said. “Just look at your own family.”

“We’re not saints,” she said.

“You can say that again, Kris,” Nicholas said laughing.

“Kris?” I said.

“Her middle name. Kristina. We all call her that, when we want to tease her. She used ot be a bit of a tomboy.”

She playfully slapped his shoulder.

“You should see the scar on her knee from when she fell out of a tree,” he said. "Right, Kris?"

“Nicholas!” she said, blushing. “And that was a long time ago.”

“Yes, I suppose two years is a long time,” he said with a laugh.

The playful bantering and conversation continued until we reached the outskirts of Rhundveld.


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