Father Brandt was shuffling up the hill from Nothelm, his head bent and his chin tucked into his beard. He had just seen young Lord Dunstan, and there was something about the boy that troubled him: He was just too timid. He was not simply shy—in fact, he could be quite friendly—but he was afraid of so many things. Afraid of horses, afraid of dogs, afraid of thunder, afraid of the dark, afraid of being alone.

Not like that Bertie boy, Father Brandt thought as he came upon the Hogge farm. That boy could use a good scare to knock some sense into him.

As he passed, Bertie’s father came trotting up to him.

Bertie's father came trotting up to him.

“Hallo, Father Brandt,” the simple man said shyly.

“Good morning, young Alwy. How is it with thee?”

“Good, Father Brandt. Father Brandt, I want to ask you something.”

Brandt nodded.

“Father Brandt, how did you get to be a priest?”

“Why, Alwy, first I learned to read and write, then I studied the Bible in a monestary with other priests, then I swore to a life of poverty, chastity, and service to the Lord. And thus became a priest.”

“Oh.” Alwy squirmed shyly. “Father Brandt, did you do all that when you was a boy?”

“Of course, I began to learn when I was a boy, but I became a priest when I was a man.”

“Oh. Father Brandt, if you was still a boy, how did you know you was to be a priest some day?”

Brandt laughed. “It is always thus in my family: the eldest son becomes Baron after the father’s death, the second-​eldest son becomes a soldier, and the third son becomes a priest. And I am the the third!”

'I am the the third!'

“Well, I guess that’s the best son to be,” Alwy grinned.

“Oh, thou wouldst be a priest, young Alwy?”

“Well, I guess I’m not clever enough to be a priest,” Alwy said, shaking his head sadly. “But I guess it would be real fine.”

“It’s fine to be a farmer too, Alwy, and raise a fine family—and fine hams!” he laughed.

“Well, I guess I know a bit about hams!” Alwy said excitedly. “You just wait till winter when I smoke that black-​eared pig! He don’t know it yet, but he’s walking around on Father Brandt’s hams!”

'I guess I know a bit about hams!'