Late April, 1638
 

Halfway down the next-to-last porch post, Alyse Ballentine set down the draw-knife. She ran a faded blue bandanna over her face, pulled in a deep breath, and stretched her aching back. "When y'all talked me into a front porch," she all but growled, "nobody told me I'd be doing this much of the work all by myself."

"Luis didn't realize he'd be tied up with finals when the porch started." Alyse's fostered-to-adopt daughter, Jakobina Haag, went on quietly, "I'm sure, Mama . . .

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff