The Shepherd approached the kitchen window. He watched as she stoked the fires of the stove. She did not look at the poker in her hand, nor the stove, nor anything in the room. Her eyes turned about as if observing but her blindness was plain to him. He walked around to the door and struggled to contain a cough. Blood gathered in his mouth and he spit.
“Best announce yourself,” said the woman.
He remained silent for a moment.
“Go on, unless you plan to invade a blind woman’s home and do what it is you’ll do.”
“A sick man,” he called out. “Not meanin’ to disturb, ma’am. Merely drawn in by the light of a warm fire.”
“And your intentions?”
“A chance at that warm fire,” he said. “And a corner to sleep in, if you’ll have me.”
“So you’re meaning to disturb?”
He turned and sat with his back to wall.
“I suppose so, yes.”
He heard her silently walk to the wall beside the door and pick up an object. Not likely to be a gun. A piece of wood or knife.
“You any good at hunting?” she asked through the door.
“Best there is.”
“’Best there is’ brings me a stag once he’s feeling better.”
“Yes, ma’am, he does,” he said.
She unlocked the door. He remained sitting for a few moments and then stood when he knew she was set in a safe place. He entered and found her facing him. She held a long, rusty sword in her hand.
“You won’t be needin’ that, ma’am. I’ll be no trouble.”
“We know that’s a lie,” she said. “Long as you bring me what you said and leave quick, there’ll be no problem.” She walked to the stove and shut the steel door. “Take them boots off. And don’t go thinking I can’t hear you if you sneak around without them. Make yourself known at all times.”
“I surely will. Thank you, ma’am. Mind if I set myself next to that stove?”
“Take your time. Suspect it’s cold out there.”
He sat on the floor again, with his back to the wall. He made no motion to remove clothing, but removed the boots. Shepherd sat and said nothing more as the woman finished her chores and disappeared into her room for the night. He lowered his hat over his eyes and slept until dawn.