With apologies to Deryn for the delay.

If you are new to Crowsnest, and want to read the whole mess, click here.

The minister is due on Saturday afternoon, and Mr. Baeker is supposed to collect me at Mrs. Nowak’s house. All day, I feel as if my belly is a sack full of snakes, squirming and winding around one another, each reaching up, trying to escape through my throat. Again and again I have to swallow them down.

The minister has been invited to eat at Mrs. Nowak’s after the ceremony, and we’re making a venison roast in his honor. Yesterday, a man appeared at the door with an elk in his cart the size of an elephant, or so it seemed to me, never having seen either. This creature had horns — antlers, I suppose — like the winter trees laid bare on the Toronto streets. It looked as if it had once ruled the world and I felt this man at the door must be evil, to have slaughtered such a thing. But Mrs. Nowak said it was God calling, in time for his servant’s visit.

Now the smell of the slow-cooking beast is permeating the house, and my mouth is watering in spite of my judgements. The food at Mrs. Nowak’s establishment is plentiful, but plain. I’m not the only one making eyes at the kitchen door, wondering when supper will be ready.

Of course, with supper comes the minister. And with the minister comes the ceremony. And with that, I become Mrs. Marcus Baeker. Thus the snakes.

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