Sarah took another sip of tea, listening to the silence of the shop. After Scout’s sudden cawing, Danny had run outside and the man had followed. Now there was only the white-haired woman, still bobbing her head as if she were listening to a conversation.
Once again Sarah was waiting. It was a familiar sensation – waiting for Amy to assign her a chore, for Nate to come home and eat dinner, for Amy and Nate to notice her as they talked or fought, waiting to be old enough, or brave enough, to leave.
Marigold stepped forward, breaking the silence as she refilled Sarah’s cup with tea.
“Thank you,” Sarah said, suddenly deciding that at least she would not wait in silence. “How long have you lived here?”
Marigold started, her eyes widening.
“I’ve never heard of Valleyville Bazaar,” Sarah said, trying to smooth things over. “This is a beautiful place. At least, it would be without the rain. And it must be nice to be around so many families. Do you have any children?”
Marigold shook her head, almost trembling now. Quickly she scurried to the other end of the room, tugging her apron into place. Sarah watched as the old woman found paper and a pen, writing something down before folding the paper carefully. Her heart sank but Sarah tried to smile as the woman slipped her the paper, signaling that she should hide it.
“Please tell me what it says,” Sarah begged, tucking the paper away. “I have not talked to anyone for a long time, except Danny now. Or can you not speak?”
“Marigold has not spoken a word in years,” the big man said, appearing at the doorway behind Sarah. “Perhaps I can help you. What were you asking her?”
Marigold stood by the stove again, her light blue eyes fixed on Sarah. Her eyes looked empty, like the broken shards of stained glass that Sarah had once seen scattered across the bare floor of a chapel.
Sarah smiled sweetly, twisting her fair hair in her fingers. “I only asked what I should call you, sir,” she said. “Please pardon me. I did not mean to intrude.”
“Not at all, my child. People here call me Deputy.”
“Pleased to meet you, Deputy, sir,” Sarah said. “Do you know where Danny has gone?”
“He was just outside. Maybe now that you are ready, the two of you will come see the bazaar. Afterall, we opened just for the two of you.”
Sarah rose and followed Deputy outside. She felt the note slipped into the waist of her skirt. Marigold had been so anxious about the note. It must be important. If she could only speak to Danny alone for a minute - maybe he would know how to read.