“Verena!” Hans Kaspar called through the open door. Inside, he saw Verena and Katarina, the kitchen maid, making jelly. It bubbled in the copper kettle like liquid rubies.
Hearing his voice, Verena’s heart filled the sky. “I will be right back.” She handed the wooden spoon to Katarina. Hans Kaspar stood in the shade of the apple tree, a traveling bag over his shoulder.
“Come with me,” he said. “Now.” He reached for her hand and pulled her close.
“We’re in the middle of making jelly.”
“Jelly?” Hans Kaspar sighed in exasperation. “Verena.” he looked into her blue eyes. “I’ve missed you so much, and — JELLY?”
“Come help us. We’re about to pour it.”
Hans Kaspar followed her, ducking to escape a head-banging on the low lintel. He was useful. He was tall, strong enough to lift the copper kettle high and pour the boiling liquid into the jars.
When they were finished tying oiled paper to the top of each small jar, Hans Kaspar took Verena’s hand and led her outside.“I brought you something.” He held out a linen packet tied with string. “Open it.”
Verena untied the string. Inside was a shift made of linen so fine she could almost see through it. It was edged in subtle cutwork that had come from Bruges. It laced up the back with a blue ribbon.
“Hans Kaspar. It’s beautiful. Where did you…?” Verena blushed.
“A customer paid me with that lace. I had the linen left from a shirt I made for someone or another.”
It was an intimate gift, saying many things that had not been spoken between them. Verena did not know what to think. He’d thought of her, imagined her wearing this, made it. She held the fine linen to her cheek, feeling deeply happy and deeply confused at the same time.
He took her hand and held it to his chest. “Come with me now, Verena. There’s a meeting in the forest, half a dozen or so people who are also interested in going America. It won’t be long. Then we can go to my rooms.”
Verena’s heart sank. Hans Kaspar had been gone for six months. He’d traveled with his brothers, Othmar and Kleinhans, to help them settle in the Alsace, the first stepping stone to their great plan of life in America. They planned to emigrate within the year. America was Hans Kaspar’s obsession, but he was not ready, not financially, and not yet settled in his heart, so he had come home. Verena let go of his hand.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Hans Kaspar, if you come by, and I am home.” She handed him the shift and turned toward the house.
“Verena, you are unfair,” he called after her, grabbing her arm. “I do not say I’m going to America, but I have pamphlets and letters for those who are. And this is yours.” He put the package back into in her hands.
She shook her arm loose from his grip, but she took the linen blouse with her.
Meanwhile, our high school band — which is a champion band — is practicing marching and playing at the same time. They’re getting ready for the Veteran’s Day parade. In a small town like this, when someone dies overseas in a war, it’s a sizable percentage of the community. So far, the town has lost two young people in the action in the Middle East. There is a park dedicated to them. It’s a tiny park, but it has a beautiful monument and a small walking trail. One of the two is Faith Hinkley, for whom the park is named, and the other is Glen Martinez, whose parents live on the other side of the golf course from me. I’ve met and chatted with his father who was first wanting me and the dogs to get off his road, and then realized I’m a nice lady with nice dogs. I don’t say that gingerly.