Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHILL (10/27/16)
TITLE: Ice Flower
By Francie Snell
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His brother handed him a steaming cup of freshly made coffee. “Good and hot,” Aime’ announced. “Meat ready?”
“Almost,” Pierre took the cup and blew into the liquid.
Aime’ sat down next to him. “We should make a good profit on our pelts this time, no?”
“Yes,” Pierre nodded as he sipped. “We have done well this season. The beavers are healthy this year.” He pulled a large knife strapped to his thigh and stuck it into the slab of bear meat roasting in the fire. “Should be done enough.” He dropped the meat on a metal plate that set on the hearth nearby. Blood oozed from the rare meat as he sliced it in two parts. “And we should make plenty enough to buy supplies for the winter,"he added, as he stabbed into a chunk and offered it to his brother.
Aime’ grabbed the steak and tore a chunk off with his teeth. He chewed as he spoke. “That is what I like about the buyer we deal with; he is fair with what he pays us. I am pleased the trading company sent a Frenchman who speaks our language to do their bidding. Yes.” He nodded. “I think we can trust him. “
“Yes, and I think he shows good judgement.” Pierre paused as he stared into the glowing flames. “Except when it comes to women.”
Aime’ glanced at him with questioning eyes. “Oh…why do you say that?”
“Because of the woman he calls his wife. She's a cold one, a pampered princess, never breaks a smile and rarely speaks to anyone.”
“Yes, but I hear she has changed, much different now, very talkative and friendly to everyone.”
“You sure we are speaking of the same woman?”
“Yes, even the Indians tell stories about her. They now call her the Ice Flower.”
“Yes. They say her kindness has grown out of a heart of ice and blossomed into a beautiful flower."
Pierre shook his head and took a gulp of the strong bitter coffee, then spit the leftover grounds into the fire. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” he scoffed. "I have known women like her before; too good for everyone else. She is a rich man’s prize and too much work to maintain, always having to wear frilly dresses.”
“Ah, but one can see how much he adores the woman. She is beautiful, no?”
“Ah, but he is blind as are most men I am ashamed to say, duped by a soft voice and pretty smile. He is like many men who are caught by the wiles of a woman, and no better off than the poor miserable creatures we trap in our snares.” He nodded slowly. “I have known women like her before.” He waved his hand towards the fire. “Even a fire such as this cannot melt a heart like that.”
But I hear she is a generous and kind now, and always speaks of a man named Jesus.
Pierre gasped. “So, she is married and openly speaks of another man? How can her husband tolerate such disgrace? Like I say, she is a heartless one and unpredictable as a chasing wind.”
Aime’ shrugged. “But who knows…perhaps the many harsh days of traveling on the ocean have worn away her hard shell since we last saw her.”
“Perhaps, and we will see with our own eyes. With the new snow and icy weather, we should travel swiftly with the sled and be to the coast by evening. Then tomorrow we will see. Are the dogs ready?”
“They are eating now. I think they are as anxious as we are to get started.”
Pierre grunted. “Good. When we finish our own meal, we can start off on our trip. This will be the last chance before winter to sell our pelts.”
“Yes, then it will be a long cold winter before spring is here again. I am already looking forward to the warmth of spring.”
The dogs barked wildly as they pulled the heavy-laden sled through the crunching snow. The men took turns riding behind the stacked pelts as the other jogged behind. Their breaths were continuous puffs of vapor as they labored over the rough terrain until they arrived at the port that evening.
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