It's been quite a while since my last teaser, hasn't it? Well, here's a new one for you! Just to remind you of what's going on: in the midst of the Irish potato famine, Maire has been whisked away from her shattering home and brought to this new place to work by a very mysterious character, all at a price she doesn't much like to think about. This picks up right after the man has left and Maire's being taken to the farm where she's going to work.
I also use the name I've finally settled on for Maire's mysterious benefactor. I think it fits pretty well, all things considered, but please do let me know what you think!
Maire followed the woman through the field of sheep and then around the field of winter rye, marvelling all the while at the soft squish of the fertile ground beneath her feet and the gently waving lines of golden grain, still half-convinced she was imagining everything. She said nothing as she followed along; she walked in silence, her head too full of questions for her to voice a single one, her ears buzzing with the once-familiar sound of farm work and sheep, of people’s voices – voices that did not sound so very desperate. What was this secret place she had found? Where was this Ireland that was healthy and whole again, and why was it only here?
Gritting her teeth, she tried to force her cacophony of questions to the back of her mind. If this was to be her new workplace – not her new home, it would never be her home, she would not allow it – then she would have plenty of time to seek out all the answers she needed. There was no need to fret over those thousand questions now. Now, all she had to do was follow this woman and do as she was told lest she be thrown out on her ear after only five minutes. And then where would she be? Nowhere. Nowhere at all, miles from a home she could not go back to, with no work and no shelter. It would be best if she forgot her questions for good, accepted her fate and moved silently, dumbly, into her new life.
But there was one question she could not help but ask.
“How do you know him?” she heard herself say, wishing it unsaid almost at once.
“Know who?” the woman asked, brusquely, but after a short pause, and Maire knew that the question was only to stall the eventual answer.
“Him. The man who brought me here. The... the Secrets Man.”
The woman stopped and looked at her, and Maire could not tell what it was that she was trying to judge.
“He has his ways. You should know that by now.”
Maire nodded and set off behind her again, feeling as though all she knew by now was nothing but a tangled mess of secrets that she would never be able to unravel.