This is just a sweet start to an epic adventure; just the sprout of a massive sequoia; just a taste of childhood innocence.
Chapter One - The Wise Fool of a Father
It was an oxymoron sort of day.
As Aluitte walked down the dirt-packed road she noticed a chill running up her spine and finally settling in her head. The wind was warm but the air was cold, and she found herself shivering even though her armpits were collecting sweat. Aluitte wrapped her cardigan tighter around her shoulders and continued walking at a brisk pace. Spring was drawing near and she had no time to waste.
Aluitte could hear her father's voice even before she could see his broad figure. Her father was calling to Jessie, his beloved sheep dog. Jessie flew past him in a streak of black and white, and then circled around him like an orbiting planet. Even as the man walked towards the grazing pastures, the dog continued to circle him as if trying to prove her hyper-loyalty to him. Aluitte smiled and broke out in a sprint, letting the gnarled oaks pass in a blur.
Just before the girl could tackle her father, the man turned around and swung her up into his arms. It was becoming strenuous on his back to fling her around like a little girl for she wasn't so little anymore. She was nearly ten, and growing still, yet the man knew one day their games would grow old and he would have to treat his daughter like a lady. For now, the man laughed along with his daughter and held her in his arms.
Once Aluitte was set down, she took a small purse from the inside of her petticoat and handed it to her father, beaming in pride. The father knelt down so he could count the money she had earned for her to see. Inside the coin purse were three large silver dollars, five crowns and ten copper pennies. The father smiled and stood back up to tuck the purse safely away in his vest.
"You pull a hard deal, young girl," he said in a voice that sounded like the low rumble of thunder. "I should have you sell my wool more often. Maybe one day, you can even be manager of the money." The man laughed at his daughter's gaping mouth and exuberant eyes. "Don't be fooled though, child. You've got some years ahead of you."
Aluitte's expression of joy and pride transformed into one of impatience. "But Dad, I'm really good at barter! And math! Without even being told, I figured out how much the wool was worth and fought for a price just above what it would normally be sold at, and I didn't lose a penny! People at the market tried to cheat me because I'm small, but they didn't!"
The man continued walking toward the sheep pastures and let his gaze drift to the horizon, squinting as they usually did. Aluitte knew he was going to answer her with some sort of wise adult comeback. Just as she expected he nodded his head and said, "You're a stubborn one, that I can admit. But not all days are as beautiful as today, sweetie. Some days, no matter how sound your arithmetic is, no matter how solid you think your stance is, the wind will keel you over, and the storm will pull you up from the roots. You are a bright one, but still, you have a few years ahead of you."
Aluitte nodded and watched as the dust on her shoes was slowly washed away by the dewy grass. She sometimes wished she could be like her father who seemed to know all of the secrets of the world, or at least the ones that mattered. Not months earlier, she tried to teach him about the scientific qualities of stars, facts she had learned from one of her books, but her father dismissed all the physical traits of the stars as garbage. That same night he took her out to Croppers Hill and told her to look out at the sky. Laying on her back, Aluitte discovered the stories of an unfound world, lives of past heroes and learned how the stars could tell you the direction if you got lost. Aluitte's father seemed to know everything about the stars, and yet he knew absolutely nothing. He knew only what was important.