The unanswered question

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She lay back on the warm grass of the high pastures and looked up at the sky afire with the setting sun. It had been a hot day. “I don’t know the answer,” she said out loud though nobody was there to hear her but her dog and the sheep. “Why would he ask me such a question?”  She folded her hands together behind her head and sang softly the song her mother had taught her just before she died. It was odd when you thought about it: having to fend for herself although she had only been twelve at the time had not been easy, but singing that song always calmed her. “How could I possibly know?” she pursued her thoughts once the song was over. “She passed away before she could tell me.”  Her dog, a collie, came and curled up next to her, nuzzling her hands with its long, pointed nose. “What do you think?” she asked the dog as she turned to face it, propping herself up on one elbow. The dog had belonged to her mother while she was still alive. “Do you think I have special powers?” she asked him. To her surprise he jumped up and barked as he wagged his tail. The noise startled the sheep nearby who had been grazing peacefully. The dog bound off and circled the flock to make sure they didn’t get it into their silly heads to try to run off. “But even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell him. He’s not to be trusted.” Only the other day she’d caught the man rummaging through her mother’s belongings under the pretext that he’d dropped his pen there somewhere. What rubbish. She’d done well to hide her mother’s precious manuscripts in a secret place.

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