They said he was waiting to marry one of us, Colombe or me. That was being told in the village, and we were sometimes teased about it. Camille said it was just a story and we should pay no heed to it.
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I remember how one day we were hemming sheets for the shepherd. There were other shepherds in the area. But when we talked about the shepherd, we meant Michel.
Sheets for a shepherd, it was unusual. Shepherds were said to sleep on a straw-filled sack, on ferns, or on a woven cot. But this one apparently owned a bed. And therefore, also a house. They said he owned his own flock of sheep. They said he was waiting to marry one of us, Colombe or me. That was being told in the village, and we were sometimes teased about it. Camille said it was just a story and we should pay it no heed. She didn’t want us to talk about it anymore. But Colombe and I did talk about it.
“You go ahead and marry him,” she said.
“Are you crazy?” I said, “I’ll never marry.”
“If you don’t get married, you won’t be able to have babies,” Colombe said. She loved her two sisters and her little brother. I liked them too. I enjoyed playing pretend school with them and Colombe.
A long time passed before the shepherd came to collect his sheets. They were sheets made of strong linen. We had simply hemmed them, there was no need for lace or an embroidered border.
Colombe and I had heard the shepherd enter, and we were waiting in the kitchen. We were wondering what they had to discuss.
“He’s come to ask for your hand,” I said.
Colombe pushed me.
“You’re crazy,” she said. It was crazy. We were twelve or thirteen. But I was unable to shake it. The thought of that shepherd coming to take one of us was hanging over our houses like a dark cloud.
Camille wouldn’t say what the shepherd had come to discuss. He had come to pay, she said. And that was all we got.