When the sun was up and bread was hot enough to steam in the crisp air, Tiri took a loaf to the river, and sat on the bank while Hekka ran up and down it, barking at fallen leaves and fairy kerchiefs in the grass. She waited until the dew burned off the green, until the sun got hot on her back, until the bread was stone cold, and her bottom was damp from having sat in the dew to begin with.
The fish still hadn’t come, and Tiri was quite miserable, wondering if her hasty anger had turned him away for good. She broke open the bread and tossed a piece in, watching it tumble downstream, with Hekka chasing it alongside, until it disappeared in the rushing water. She felt very sorry for herself.
She left the bread on the shore and went home to help with chores and such, and spent time at her mother’s side, doing needlework and caring for the hens and ducks, and stayed quiet and thoughtful even when her brother was quite rude — so much so that after a few days of behavior exactly like it, her mother checked her for fever at bedtime.
“I’m all right, Mama. I’m just sad. I haven’t been able to apologize to my friend,” she sighed.
“Ah well it doesn’t look like Willem is terribly upset anymore?” her mother offered. “His mother mentioned he was hoping to come by Tuesday week, and–“
“Willem?” Tiri looked baffled for a moment. “I’m not — I–” She blinked her big round eyes at her mother and finally said, “That’s good. But will you still wake me to-morrow, early, so that I can make another extra loaf?”
“Child,” Tiri’s mother laughed. “That boy will grow fatter than papa’s prize pig if you keep feeding him a whole extra loaf a day. But I will wake you early, and we can make an extra loaf if you want.”
Tiri smiled, but mostly hid herself under her blankets, her heart burning to know that she’d quite deceived her mother, and resolved to tell her all about the fish come tomorrow, even if he did not come back.
The next day, when Tiri arrived at the river, yesterday’s loaf was gone to the last crumb, and there was no sign of the fish, as it had been for days. She tossed in a piece of the fresh bread, and Hekka chased the morsel downstream, along the bank, as she had been, and Tiri was watching all of it (feeling increasingly terrible) when suddenly she realized —
“He went upstream!”
She ran up the side of the river, clomping along the grass in her boots, fall coat flapping in the wind, hair streaming out behind her, a loaf of bread crushed to her chest as she ran, and Hekka gave chase.