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The Piper's Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

The Piper's Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

Author:Melanie Dickerson
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: 2019-12-02T16:00:00+00:00


Seventeen

Katerina nearly stepped in goat dung and called out, “Watch where you step.”

Steffan herded the children, watching until every child was on the grass and either sitting or lying down. Then he started walking toward her. Why did her heart thump at the way he was looking at her? He sat down near her and propped himself on his hands.

Her mind wandered to what he had said earlier, admitting the excessive drinking and that he hadn’t been the best son but saying there had not been any women. Did she believe him? Her first thought was that if he was going to admit all the other things, why not admit that too? He hadn’t lied to her before, that she knew of.

Her eyes started closing on their own, her head nodding.

She forced her eyes open and slapped her face lightly. She had to stay awake.

A little boy was whispering in Steffan’s ear. Steffan got up and walked with him to the edge of the woods. He stood guard while the little boy went into the trees. A few moments later he came back out and smiled at Steffan.

When Steffan sat down beside her again, he said, “Go to sleep and I will keep watch. After an hour or so of rest, we will continue on.”

“I shouldn’t.”

“Yes, you should. There is no sense in both of us staying awake.”

Perhaps he was right. “I shall stay awake and let you sleep the next time we stop for a rest.”

“Of course.” One side of his mouth went up. Did he wink? She wasn’t sure.

She lay down on the grass. She probably wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway, but she would close her eyes.

“Katerina?” Steffan’s voice drifted into her dream of lying in a meadow in the sun.

Katerina opened her eyes to see him kneeling beside her in the dark, with only the pale moon to see by.

She sprang up. “I’m awake.”

“We need to get everyone up and keep moving.”

“Of course.” Katerina felt a little sick. No doubt the children would feel even worse to be awakened from their short rest, but they had to do it. They had to be cruel, at least for tonight, in order to save them.

She and Steffan called softly to the children to wake up, having to gently shake some of them. Albrecht and Verena helped as well. When they finally had all of them back on the road, they moved forward at the slow pace of the youngest children, who looked as if they were sleepwalking, their eyelids nearly closed.

One little boy walked with his head practically resting on his own shoulder. When he gradually came to a stop, Steffan knelt in front of him, said something in a low voice, then picked him up and held him against his chest, the boy’s head on Steffan’s shoulder.

The rest of the children plodded along, but how long could they last?

Two hours later, Katerina carried one little girl in her arms. Steffan was now holding two, and Katerina was already seeing a bit of gray in the sky, brightening up the night.



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