Radu had the afternoon off. His father was caring for the goats now and he only needed to pick up a few things from the market and deliver some cheese from his mother to Maria.
Radu liked Maria. She seemed more grounded and stable than his parents, despite her habit of talking to her dead and buried husband.
She had great stories to tell. She and her husband had helped many refugees, including his parents, come into Walachia safely when Austrian rule made it difficult for serfs to continue living in Transylvania. He was just a baby then and did not remember any of it. But it seemed clear that the experience left painful scars on his parents’ minds. Maybe that was why they were so daft.
At first he thought to deliver the cheese on the way to market, but then — because he wanted to be free to dawdle at Maria’s — he decided to go to market first. He was glad he did for when he arrived at Maria’s he found she had a lovely guest — the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
He found them working in Maria’s garden. Maria, as usual, was humming and singing away. In fact, she was in unusually good spirits today. Her guest was quietly helping her.