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“It’s me, darling,” said the early morning voice on the other end of the phone.

“Hi Mum,” said Maria.

“Happy twenty-sixth birthday,” said Lucy. “I was going to post your present but I, also, have preserves for you which are too heavy to post. I made them from the last of our orchard’s fruit. I saw Farkas the other day and asked him if he would drop them to you as he is travelling back and forth from Waldmeer, at the moment, for work.”

“What sort of work?” asked Maria.

“Oh, who knows,” laughed Lucy. “You know Farkas. He is so private. Dad says he might be a drug lord.”

Maria laughed. “I don’t think he is rich enough to be running a drug ring.”

“Well, you never know,” said Lucy. “Remember old Mr. Perkins in the hills? We all thought he didn’t have a cent to his name and we, often, gave him things. Then when he died, we found out he left a fortune to an estranged relative who, also, had no idea of his wealth.” Lucy laughed at the memory. “Anyway, to be serious, Farkas did reluctantly agree. Goodness only knows when he will turn up.” Lucy paused. “We hope you know how much we love you.”

“I do know,” said Maria. “I love you too. I could not have asked for better parents.”

“I remember when Maria turned eighteen and was working here in the cafe with you,” Farkas said to Lucy as she handed him the box of preserves and the present.

“Yes, that was eight years ago,” said Lucy. “You had not long been in Waldmeer then.”

“That long? It seems like yesterday,” said Farkas not wanting time to pass so quickly. He was now in his late forties. A few more lines but the same searching eyes. Since his winter in the North Country with the wolf pack a few years ago, he could see and remember more of other dimensions. However, his recall was still very sporadic and unreliable. Sometimes, he thought he was drunk and that’s why he thought about such things.

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