Anyways, in the future I'm planning on posting a part of Alice & Alyssa every other time. Different short stories (like "Thistle the Dragon 2") will be posted the other times. Hopefully this will keep me on track and you updated on all the stories. :)
As they came around the bend of the hill, Alice and Alyssa let out a gasp of delight; for in front of them, lying peaceful and quiet, was a beautiful village.
“Oh!” Alyssa exclaimed softly. “It’s just how I imagined it!”
The stranger smiled. “Of course, how else could it be?”
Alice returned his smile. “Well, we keep forgetting that we made it. It’s hard to imagine that we could even think of anything so pretty!”
The stranger shrugged. “Shall we go on?” He didn’t wait for an answer, merely continuing down the path towards the outskirts of the village. The girls followed him, looking about them in delight.
The stranger at last stopped in front of a small cottage that was situated between the hill they had just come around and a large field that seemed to be in the process of being plowed. A woman was sitting just outside of it, washing clothes in a tub of water. She looked up suddenly at the sound of their approach and gave a little cry of joy. Quickly wiping her soapy hands on her apron she ran out to meet the stranger. He ran forward to meet her and met her half-way up the beaten pathway. They embraced, tears of happiness flowing readily.
A younger boy came out of the house, closely followed by his older sister. They too ran to greet the stranger, who was no stranger to them. Soon their father came out, a smile lighting up his face.
“Welcome home, son! I’m glad you got back in time for our planting season.” He said, giving the stranger a firm handshake.
“I’m glad to be back too, Pa. It sure does feel like I’ve been gone for a long time!” the stranger replied, returning the handshake warmly. Suddenly, as if just then realizing they were still behind him, the stranger turned to the girls. “I didn’t come alone.” He said, with an apologetic smile to his mother. “I brought these girls. They…uh… well, they…” he trailed off in confusion.
Alyssa came to the rescue. “I beg your pardon ma’am, but we need dinner and a place to sleep tonight.” She turned to the stranger. “We can tell them about our mission later.” She whispered. The stranger nodded in obvious relief.
His mother gave the girls a gentle smile. “Of course you need something to eat! What was I thinking? Please, come in to our home. It may not be exactly what you’re used to…” (“That’s for sure!” muttered Alice.) “…but I am sure it will keep you warm and dry.” She finished by ushering them into the cottage and taking their bags.
Alice sat down with a sigh of contentment, and Diana and Alyssa quickly followed her lead. The whole atmosphere of the stranger’s home was so welcoming, the girls felt at home right away. When their guide went to get himself cleaned up, he left the girls to the open stares of his younger brother, and the more concealed stares of the older sister.
“I’m Corinne.” The younger boy said suddenly, his blue eyes fixed on Alice.
He seemed to be waiting for her to say something, so she smiled and said, “I’m Alice.”
There was a silence. Then again, “I’m Corinne.” This time his statement was directed, along with a blue-eyed stare, at Alyssa.
She smiled right away and said, “I’m Alyssa.”
Another pause, then yet again, “I’m Corinne.” His statement and stare directed in Diana’s direction.
She couldn’t help a smile as well and said, “I’m Diana.”
Another, longer, silence before he spoke again. “Corinne means brave. I’m very brave. Are you brave?” he gave this question, along with another stare, at Alice.
She was at a loss for words at first. “Um… well, not really.” She smiled. “Sometimes I do something brave. But I’m always afraid when I do it.”
Corinne processed this for a few minutes, then, seeming to except Alice, he said. “You can call me Cor.” There was a shorter pause. Then, by way of explanation; “My brother calls me Cor.”
Suddenly he turned to Alyssa and would have undoubtedly repeated the scene again, but his sister came up behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder. That silenced any further talking from him for the moment.
“I’m Bettina. I hope you will forgive Corinne’s questions. We don’t have a lot of strangers here.” She spoke quietly, but with such a calm confidence, that the girls immediately felt that here was someone to respect. Although the older girl was barely taller than them, she seemed to carry herself with an air of superior wisdom.
A sudden call came from somewhere above them. “Betts? Are you down there? Would you mind bringing my comb up here? I don’t know where it’s gotten to!”
The girl smiled softly. “I’ll bring it right up Ray!”
Alyssa glanced at me, and then at Bettina. “Betts?” she asked dubiously.
Bettina laughed. “We call everyone by a nickname in our home. Cor, Betts, and Ray. It’s just our way of saying how much we love one another as a part of the family.”
Alice smiled. “I like it. In fact, I may steal your idea when we get home and start inventing my own nicknames for everyone.”
Alyssa laughed. “I can’t wait to hear what you call me!” she turned to Bettina who was riffling through a drawer, undoubtedly in search of the elusive comb. “Can we call you by your nicknames?”
Bettina smiled, her eyes sparkling. “Of course! If you didn’t, we’d never be able to be completely at ease around you.”
Alyssa exchanged a grin with her sister before once again turning to Bettina. “One more question. What is Ray short for?”
“Raynold.” Came the immediate reply. “He was named after our great-grandfather on my father’s side.”
“I see.” Alyssa replied.
Bettina picked up a comb triumphantly from the bottom of the drawer and climbed up the ladder into the loft above. Corinne had stopped staring and was playing with Diana on the floor, showing her his blocks of wood. The stranger’s, or rather, Raynold’s, mother was working in the kitchen and was soon joined by Bettina. Alice and Alyssa were alone.
“I think we should try to work on our book some more.” Alice whispered to Alyssa.
Alyssa nodded. “Let’s find somewhere quiet for us to work, and then start as quickly as possible!”How do you like the stranger's family?
Are you looking forward to the next part?
God bless! :D