We are to eat breakfast here at the inn this morning, then go on our way again, though I am not sure where. Mr. Miller is apparently somewhat familiar with the area, and says there is another village half a day's walk from here. We shall not reach it in half a day, however, as we are taking a rather odd route there.
The road winds around one branch of the forest (ha ha, clever wordplay--oh my, I am still tired, if such things amuse me) and into this village, but we shall only go down the road for a while to make the people here think we are taking it around, in case we are being followed and anyone here is questioned about us, then cut off the road and through that part of the forest to approach the village from another direction. As I understand it, it looks somewhat like this:
Oh my, that was terrible. No one ever did praise my drawing skills, though.
It looks as though it would be quicker to cut straight through the forest, yes? But it is not so, for the going is harder through the woods, with softer ground covered in dead leaves, and brambles and fallen branches to slow us as well. I am relying on Mr. Miller very much, in that I would have no idea how to keep a straight course and come out in at all the right place.
We must pack up and go soon. I am very much not looking forward to going out into the cold again, but at least I am clean and in better traveling clothes, now. I shall fold up the waistband of my skirt a little and hope that it will not catch on thorns and branches so bad as my black one did. As we will be traveling in daylight this time, and not stumbling around in the dark, I hope the going will be easier on my clothes as well as my body. Farewell until tonight, I think.
We're settled for the night again, though this time in the attic of someone's house. This village is even tinier than the last, and has no inn, so we were forced to ask for shelter wherever we could. I was terribly nervous walking up to the first house on the edge of town, but I told the maid that answered the door same story of my "husband" and I being robbed on the highway on our way to stay with relatives in a town Mr. Miller had written for me in the dust at the edge of the forest. We went by Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter this time, to be on the safe side. I said my husband had been ill and lost his voice but for a whisper, but would gladly do whatever work the master of the house deemed fit in exchange for supper and a place to sleep tonight.
The maid disappeared for a while, leaving Mr. Miller and I to stand anxiously in the fading twilight, but then returned and invited us in. I helped the girl prepare supper while Mr. Miller chopped wood until, as I saw later, his hands blistered. Then we ate a simple meal consisting mainly of potatoes dug from the little back garden, with a little stringy meat, some wooden-tasting carrots, and warm, crusty bread rolls with freshly-made butter, which was the best part. Actually, as neither of us had eaten since breakfast, it was all delicious at the time.
We are now huddled under the eaves of the house amongst broken furniture and dusty boxes, and have been allotted a lumpy mattress and a few blankets, which we have dragged near the chimney to soak up any lingering warmth from the fire below. Mr. Miller has again insisted I take the "bed," such as it is, and has laid down on the floor between the door and me. This means he is further from the chimney, but he "told" me with a combination of hand speak and finger spelling that it did not put off that much warmth, anyway, and he did not mind it. I can't imagine how I could ever repay him for all the care and kindness he has shown me, especially the last few days.
As we were making supper, the maid told me that the master wanted to put us in the tool shed outside, but mistress insisted we be given the attic room since it was so cold at night, now. I made sure to thank her privately when her husband was out of the room. She smiled and said they, too, had once been newlyweds and trying to scratch out a living without starving or freezing. She patted my cheek and said I had caught a handsome young man, which made me blush.
I must rest now, in preparation for still more walking tomorrow. I am sore all over, but Mr. Miller must feel worse, having slept on floorboards last night and the cold ground the night before, so I shan't complain.
Oh, and I did make the black skirt into a bag, though hastily as I did not have time to sew. I knotted the waist end of it with a scrap torn from the bottom, then tied a sort of strap onto it with some twine from Mr. Miller's pocket. I shall do it up right when we have some time to rest when I may sew. Tonight I was too tired, and the lamplight in the attic too poor. Goodnight.