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Chapter One


When I asked Pa at breakfast about the man they’d brought in during the wee hours of the morn, he said, “There’s something strange ’bout this. A lad was found out at the edge of the woods, thought to be dead, clad in naught more than he was born with. The ground round him was fresh with snow. No tracks at all, which would make one think he’d been dragged out yonder and then it snowed. Yet he didn’t have a flake of snow on him. And when William Smith brought me out yonder and I checked him for marks of struggle, the lad turned out to be alive.” Pa stroked his salt-and-pepper beard absentmindedly. There was a sparkle in his eye, the way it did when he had a mystery to solve. “So how do you propose he got there, Sarah?”

Being sixteen and always full of answers, I jested, “He must have fallen from the sky.”

At the time, I had no idea how close to the truth I was.

***

After breakfast, church elders stomped into the cabin to speak with Pa over the matter of the stranger’s sudden appearance. Upstairs they questioned the lad in the extra bedroom. Finding out little and leaving him to rest, Pa went to the courthouse. I was left tending the young man. Aware this might be my chance to prove myself worthy of being a healer, I determined I would nurse him back to health.

At midday, I peeked in on him to see if he still slept. My throat tightened with sorrow to see him in Paul’s old room, garbed in my late brother’s linen nightshirt. His skin was paler than the white washed walls, as brilliant as the patches of snow outside. I knew from the long mane of hair that he was no Puritan. The color was more silver than blond, yet the man’s face was fresh and smooth with youth. From his refined features and stiff posture, I couldn’t help wondering if he was nobility from the old country. Not that this would account for him being here in the New World among Puritans and savages. Most unusual of all was the way he studied his hands, opening and closing his fists, stretching his fingers like he was trying to make them work.

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