Chapter Three

“Marty!” He was running into the rain, yelling something, but she couldn’t hear him amid the thunder. Marty wrestled Andrew bodily through the front door, all the way from the furthest olive tree.

“The boy is bloody stubborn!” growled Marty. “I had quite the time with this ‘un on the way back here.” Andrew tore himself from Marty’s grip and fell to the floor.

Lori was taken aback. She had never heard Marty speak like that, especially around Fosters.

“Andrew!” Lori rushed to the strange boy but he shrugged her off. “Let’s get you into clean, dry clothes and--”

“It’s no use. He’s deaf and dumb.” Marty said. He pointed at Daniel. “That one can talk to him a little bit, using the hands.”

Marty rubbed his cheek. “Look, I’m going to take that bath now.” Marty brushed past Lori.

Lori gathered the Fosters and readied them for bed. Andrew sulked but  his alert gaze missed nothing. When Lori approached with clean clothes, he took them and allowed Lori to lead him to his bed.

After breakfast the next morning, when Marty showed the Fosters their duties, Lori took Daniel aside. “Danny, I want you to help me talk to Andrew, okay?”

“He doesn’t like to talk very much,” Daniel said, looking over at Andrew. “But I’ll try.”
“Andrew.” Lori nodded at Daniel and met Andrew’s sullen stare. “This is your home now. We won’t hurt you. We want you to have a place here where you can be with family.” Daniel translated, sketching the air with hesitant motions. Frustration etched his face.

Andrew responded with angry jabs before stalking to where Marty had the younger Fosters helping make more ticking. Marty had agreed with Lori about the mattresses and wanted to have them ready before winter set in.

“I’m sorry,” Daniel apologised, “I’m not very good at this.”
“It’s all right, you did your best,” encouraged Lori.
“I think he said that he’s not supposed to be here, that we all will pay.”
“Danny...” Lori said as she looked at Andrew. She did not understand why she was so set on him. “I want you to teach me.”

As the months passed, the Fosters took to their routine as readily as a fish took to water, and this was also true for Andrew. Marty had to admit that Andrew was one of the hardest workers he’d seen in his long experience with Fosters.Whenever there was free time, Lori practiced with Daniel, and occasionally Andrew conceded to conversation with her.

The days were shorter, and they worked to exhaustion in the fields. The bounty was good, but despite that, Marty predicted it would be a difficult winter. On the last day of harvest, Lori found Andrew by his favorite olive tree, where he often went.

“Why do you look to the North all the time?” Lori signed. “You’re missing a beautiful sunset!”

Andrew smiled. This was becoming something of a routine for them. He had warmed to her, but his manner was still cool. She was persistent, he had to give her that, and her skill in communicating with him had improved.

“Because it’s home,” he signed.

Lori was struck dumb for a moment. She had not really expected him to respond. “Tell me more,” she ventured, afraid that Andrew would revert to his usual attitude.

He didn’t. Lori stared, fascinated. His hands became a theater in which sweeping grandeur formed themselves in surrsurrations of fingers and nuances of flashing expressions.

“Ice,” began Andrew. “Ice as far as you see. There are no trees, so we use the fat of sea animals to keep warm. Our ships sail on hulls of majestic rowan wood from the southern forests.

“We live in long houses with massive fireplaces and walls draped with bear hide. There is much feasting. Tales of our gods are also sung....” Andrew was lost in a tide of memories.

“What are gods?”
“You Trabians!” His violent gesture bled with contempt. “They are to you and me like we are to the insects underfoot. One is the lord of thunder, and another is the lord of lies. They are legion and toy with the lives of men to pass the time before...”
“Andrew?” After a long silence, Lori started for the house.

“Our ship was accosted by pirates.” He turned his terrible blue eyes on her. “They took me and my brothers. They sold us.

“Me, a slave!” He spat on the ground and angrily retreated to the house.

“The Foster children are not slaves!” She yelled, suddenly feeling foolish, then startled by her vehemence. “We are...” She was stunned into silence. She could not remember life before she came to live with her parents. Marty would know.

She found him in the barn shoeing the horse.
“Marty. Where do the Fosters come from?”
“From the Exchange, of course.”
“Andrew...” Lori sighed. “Andrew says he was kidnapped. And sold in the market.”
“That’s impossible,” said Marty flatly. There was something about his tone that made Lori suspicious.

A cry rose in the night. Everyone rushed outside to see Andrew pointing at the northern horizon, where a red band of light faded into the jeweled spread of the Milky Way. The wind smelt of ashes. Andrew could barely contain his excitement.

“They’re coming!” he signed.
“Who’s coming?” asked Lori.

His eyes were ice chips in the starlight. “My father.”

The End

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