3

 

              The half-moon was behind a dense cloud later that night, barely visible. There was no light to be seen in the windows of the du Lac house.

              Suddenly, the silence was broken by the grating sound of a door opening. Nearby, Collin waited behind a large elm tree and strained to see movement from the direction of the house. He was wearing dark clothes and a leather skullcap. A shadow crept out a side door.

              “Psst . . . Johnny boy,” he whispered in the direction of the house, spotting movement and waving in that direction. “Over here,” he said in a louder voice.

              “Shhh,” replied the shadow.

              “John du Lac?”

              “Shhh,” replied the shadow, again. “You’ll wake them.”

              Suddenly Collin recognized the shadow’s true identity.

              “Oh no! Not you! Go back and fetch your brother, Anne!”

              “He’s seven years old,” said the shadow. “You’ll have a far better lookout in me, Collin.”

              “Forget it!” Collin said. “A woman! I’m not leaving without John, do you understand? You can’t replace him, even if you are wearing his pants. You need me to forgive your debt and rent.”

              “You need a lookout and you need one now, right?”

              Collin bit his lip, thinking.

              Anne pressed her argument home. “So how about if you forget that I happen to wear a dress most of the day, and let’s get on with it?”

              Collin said nothing, thinking. He sighed, resigned now to a change in plans. “Follow me. The horse is this way.” He turned away from the house and started walking.

              Anne was smiling as they picked their way along the path into the dark woods. When she thought Collin wasn’t looking, she adjusted the ill-fitting pants with a wiggle.

              “You’ll have to act less like a—a—girl,” mumbled Collin.

              Anne lifted one eyebrow. “Only if you act less like a fool.”

  

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