From the Sky - Part XII

The sisters were quiet a moment, watching the rain falling harder as the storm intensified. Sal broke the brief silence: "Or maybe this woman really is a strega. She's driving a wedge between us and Zia just like she is with Papa and Gio. We have to find out who she is."

"I've already been to the hospital and the library," sighed Rae. "I learned what little I could. Her grandfather had a dozen children. Most of them had big families as well and they're scattered all across Europe. There must be dozens of grandchildren. The librarian was helpful, but she's not a magician. All I have is the Grandfather's name: Jan Schmidt. Schmidt is a very German common name. It's like Smith over here. Imagine trying to find every John Smith in America from Walnutwood's little library! There are probably half-a-dozen in Walnutwood alone! There's no magic button we can press to solve this mystery."

"And what if she's lying, Rae? Lying about everything? Maybe the man in the painting isn't her grandfather. Maybe she's not even German. Her hair…Zia says the woman is strawberry blond. I think it's a lot more strawberry than it is blond. In fact, I think it's ginger if it's anything."

"I've thought the same thing. And that accent! I think she's faking it. Maybe she's really Scottish or Irish. You go to Dublin to find redheads. The blondes are on the continent."

"And Madame's book!" exclaimed Sal. "Madame scribbled a warning on the inside of the back cover: 'There was never a saint with red hair.'"

"I saw that," Rae said, nodding. "But I didn't know the warning was for us until the woman appeared in the bakery. Redheads are trouble. You know what Papa told me once? He said that when people in Corsica pass a redhead in the street, they spit on the ground and turn around."

"Yet Papa and Gio are enchanted by her," Sal sighed.

"Beguiled," Rae sighed in return.

"Do you think she'll come to the picnic?"

"Yes. I've been reading the cards and looking up my dreams in Madame's book. The other night I dreamed the woman was being burned in a fire. I rescued her."

"What does that mean?"

"Unhappiness. Unhappiness and sickness. She will come to the picnic, I'm sure of it."

Sal walked to the front of the bakery, watching from the window as the rain fall ever harder. After a moment she turned and said, "Start the coffee, Rae. There's taxi in the lake."

Rae walked to the coffee pot and started a batch, and over her shoulder said: "I'll call Caruso's and tell them they might have some business. A taxi! Who hails a taxi in weather like this?"

Her taxi...

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