The next morning, Freida had finished her chores with plenty of time to spare, but was feeling sleepy, even in the chill of another gloomy winter morning. She’d kept turning it over in her mind, all the news they’d learned the day before from Anders. Why had people been so cruel to the widow? How had the parson died? Was there any connection between his death and her disappearance? Was the hermit’s story true or the mutterings of a madman?
She was grateful it wasn’t a long wait for the cousins. It was cold! Freida rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked up to see Anders and Paign rounding the corner of her barn.
“Good morning!” she said, as cheerily as she could manage. “Ready?”
“Hmphf,” was all she got from Paign, as he shifted his large pack into a different position on his shoulders.
“Sure. Let’s go!” replied Anders. He, too, was carrying a bigger pack than a few days ago. “Are you bringing Tiny along?” he asked, looking at the huge mastiff, which had been making a misshapen snow angel next to his master, with his fluffy tail swishing a partial wing into the fresh powder that had fallen in the night. Tiny barked at the sound of his name, his back half wagging the front half.
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