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The Girl

By: Roy Hare

'Saw that girl again today.'

' Still got the dog?'

' Yup.'

' Did she speak?'

' She muttered something, funny sort.'

' Funny peculiar or funny ha-ha?'

' I think she's shy.'

'Why do you think that?'

' Way she always looks at her feet can't look you in the eye.'

Bill Summers and his wife, Mary, had a similar conversation most mornings, when he returned from his jog/walk early morning exercise.

' Do you know.' Said Bill. 'I am going to solve this little mystery, once and for all.'

' You be careful. Know what it's like these days. Just look at somebody and they start showing aggression or they want to sue you.'

' Well, it's been a couple of weeks since she first appeared and being a nosy sort, I want to find out who, what and where she comes from.'

' Don't forget, why?'

Next morning, Bill huffed and puffed his way through the forest, it had snowed overnight but not enough to impede his progress. He had just entered the forest area when he tripped and fell catching his head on some hard surface. Flashes of brilliant light preceded the blackness.

' Hello, hello mister, are you ok.'

Bill heard a woman's voice calling as if it was coming from the depths of a well or a cave.

' What, what the hell --- Oooh my foot.'

Then he heard snuffling. Something sniffing at the pocket that held chocolate, nuts and raisins, he kept to eat on his jog/walk.

' Get off.'

He cried, lashing out at the intruder. His fist smashed against a hard and furry body, he heard a growl and something clamped on his arm, started to pull at his coat.

' Brutus; leave.' The sharp command snapped in the cold air.

Steadily raising his head, Bill took in the sight of snow covered fur boots, long black coat that seemed to stretch to the sky and a white blob of a face, haloed by blonde hair.

The face spoke.

' Hi, are you hurt?'

Not feeling very generous and a bit snappy, Bill replied.

' No I always like to lay in the snow and freeze.'

' Well if that's what you like to do. Sorry I disturbed you.'

The long black coat turned away. It took Bill about ten seconds to realise he would need help to get out of this situation.

' Don't go. I'm sorry, feel such a fool, slipping over, first time ever. My foot hurts like hell.'

The girl turned, looked down.

' Good job I have had some first aid training. Think you could get on your feet?'

' Give us a hand and I'll try.'

Grabbing a small sturdy branch, Bill pulled his body to a sitting position.

' The girl kneeled beside him.

' Let's have your scarf.' She said.' I'll tie it round your ankle; I don't think it's broken, badly sprained maybe.'

' Broken; sprained, it hurts like hell.'

' Right, let's see if we can get you up.'

Supporting himself against the tree trunk and pushing up with his good leg, Bill started to rise. He got the aroma of her perfume as she bent to give him some support.

' Gosh you smell nice.'

' Thank you, takes some of the pain away, doesn't it?'

' Sure does, what's it called? Have to get some for my wife.'

' Tell you later, first we have to get you some help.'

Bill felt comfortable with one arm round the girl's shoulders; it was a long time since he had been this close to a young pretty girl. He liked it.

As they stumbled to the edge of the forest, Bill felt the warmth and softness of her body through the fur coat. He felt light headed, wondering if it was the bang on his head or her perfume.

Finally they arrived at a dirt road, where patiently waiting were two horses attached to a sleigh.

' Well that's the last thing I expected to see.'

' Best form of transport there is, in the summer I change to a two wheeled cart.'

' Well I shall have to see if I can't get myself something like this.'

Scrambling up into the seat, Bill pulled the huge furry rug round his neck.

' Must've been a mighty big bear gave up his life for this rug.'

' He wasn't killed; died of old age.'

Snapping the reins along the horse's backs and clicking her tongue, the girl ordered 'Walk on.'

Trotting along, little bells fixed to the harness, tinkling their music, the heady aroma of the girls scent, Bill drifted away on a cloud.

'Every thing stopped, bells, horse's hoofs, hiss of the sledge runners on the snow. The pain returned, Bill forced open his eyes, as they gradually focussed on a large building. Raising his head, looking further into the sky, almost touching the clouds he saw a series of turrets each with a gold top, flashing in the sunlight.

' I must be dreaming.'

' No, this is where I live.'

' This is fairy tale stuff. I have lived in these parts for twenty years and never heard or seen of any thing like this.'

' You haven't lived; the castle has been in my family for hundreds of years.'

The girl tugged on a long rope, from within the castle walls a bell clanged.

Before the bell could finish resonating, the large oak door opened. Almost as tall as the door stood a man, dressed in a black morning suit, that rippled with all the muscles as he moved. His face would have frightened most babies, but it had something friendly about it.

' You're getting old and slower Bertie.'

' Yes your Highness.'

' Take this gentleman to the clinic. Ask Mary to attend to his foot, then organise some coffee for us in the drawing room.

'Yes Ma-am.'

Bertie lifted Bill out of the sleigh as if he weighed nothing and carried him along to a small room that sparkled with white paint and stainless steel fittings. Laying Bill out on a bed, Bertie spoke to a buxom, middle aged lady, in crisp white nurse's uniform.

' Madam says treat his foot then I have to take him for coffee.'

The nurse turned to Bill. In a soft lilting Irish voice she asked.

' Now what the devil have you been up to?'

Bill was about to speak, but she went on.

' Let's be getting these boots off, sure they'll be messing me clean sheets.'

Mary quickly and efficiently dealt with Bill's injury.

' There now, will you be trying to walk on it?'

Bill gently put his foot to the floor and found that he could stand on it, only a slight twinge of pain shot through his foot. Bertie arrived and half carried him to the drawing room.

The girl was draped on large sofa.

' How do you feel now?'

' Better, thank you. I think I ought to call my wife and let her know what has happened.'

' I'm sorry we do not have any telephones.'

' How do you communicate with the world at large?'

' I go out and meet them.'

Bill pondered on this for a moment.

' How do you know where any person will be at a certain time?'

' I have a large diary that has the dates, times and places of where I can meet all the clients in my area.'

The light started to brighten in Bill's brain.

' Does this mean what I think it means?'

' I am afraid so.'

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