I walked slowly, weighing a small coin purse in my hand as I went. Knowing money was a luxury not to be thrown away carelessly, I worried that the letter was perhaps not important enough. There was also the fear that the money would never reach its destination and the money would be wasted. Traveling Roman soldiers could, with a decent pile of coins and strong persuasion skills, often be convinced to be a form of mail system. But many times they were not diligent in looking for the person the letter was intended for and it would never reach them.
“Mary! How are you this fine day?”
Asher, whose name fit his personality wonderfully, was not only a happy man, but also one known for his ability to get mail from one place to another. He knew which Roman soldiers were reliable and, equally important, cheap.
“I’m doing well! And you look as cheery as ever.”
“That I am! The Lord has been good to me. Now tell me, what brings you here?”
“I have a letter for my cousin Elizabeth.”
“The Lord watches over you today. I have a bundle of letters going that way this very evening. It will cost you very little.”
I was overjoyed. I nearly skipped home, blessing the Lord for His kindness the whole way. When I reached home I must have been beaming, for my youngest sister gave me the most peculiar look. I picked her up and twirled her in the air at which we both began to giggle. At the sound of our voices Heidi came out of the house and gave me a triumphant smile while pointing at the house. Then without explanation she ran.
I must say, this confused me. Heidi was a peculiar child. She had such strange ways and I rarely could interpret her actions. After a moment’s pause, I walked with trepidation toward the house. Stepping inside I saw my mother stooped over, kneading dough. My father was in the corner speaking with someone in hushed tones. The bright sun outside made it difficult to make out the face in the dim interior. As my eyes adjusted I recognized Joseph. I now understood Heidi’s behavior. I wanted to run back outside, to escape the awkwardness of standing there looking at him, but I felt that would be more awkward still.
“Marry, set the table, dear!”
My mother’s shrill voice was a relief. I horridly set the table and then moved to help her with the other dinner preparations. I feared Joseph would stay for the meal and make it very uncomfortable. He did.
After he left my father smiled at my mother and she smiled back as if reading his thoughts; thoughts I was unable to decipher. I pushed it out of my mind and pretended not to notice.