Of all the days to resume wearing a dress, this was the worst. I peered up into the spreading branches of an apple tree and grimaced. If I still wore my trousers, climbing up to fetch the unblemished fruit from the branches would be easy work. However, I wasn’t able to do that decently in a skirt. Even if I tucked up the skirt, I would show off a lot of bare leg to anyone who happened to walk under my tree. I studied my empty bushel basket and debated doing just that.
“Need some help?” Arthus called as he strode down the row toward me. Under one arm, his good one, he carried a ladder. “Tourth sent me to assist you. He said I might find you up the tree already with your skirt about your knees.”
“It is a tempting thought,” I agreed. “However, I do have some sense of decorum.”
Arthus laughed as he lowered the ladder awkwardly to the ground. “I am sorry I have to say this, but it needs to be said. I can’t lift the ladder for you.” He pointed with his chin to his still bandaged shoulder. “I might have over done it with that demonstration of strength this morning.”
He fetched the water for breakfast to prove himself well enough to come with us on our next harvesting trip. It was the only way he was going to get out from under Kat’s watchful eye.
“I think I can manage it for you,” I offered. “Are you going to attempt to climb and pick as well?”
“Oh, no, the ladder is for you. I am here for the ladder, to make sure it doesn’t shift beneath you.”
“The others are not using ladders?”
“They are. They just don’t get a ladder assistant.”
I couldn’t hold back the smile that wanted out. “I thank you then.”
Together, we leaned the ladder up against the nearest tree. Arthus held it steady as I climbed. Once I reached the bottom branch and the first batch of apples, I gathered my apron end, looping it into the apron ties to make a temporary sack to carry my harvest. Arthus watched all of this with great interest.
“You have done this before?”
Fun fact: Arthus was the hero of my first draft
of Wren's story, but not the final draft.
Does he sound like hero material to you?
More formats and print to come soon.