Through his fug, Olivero heard the street bell, but he thought it was his imagination. He was, once again, sitting on the flat-topped rock in the garden. But he heard it again. Was there really someone there? Laboriously, struggling with his despondency, he made his way to the tall gate, fumbled at the latch, and opened it a crack. Outside stood a young woman with glossy black hair and a very old woman, shrunken and leaning on an oak stick, and with a scarlet parrot—half as long as she was tall—sitting on her shoulder. The old woman looked up at him with very bright eyes and said, “Are you Olivero Russo?”
“Yes . . .”
“Oh, good. We were looking for you. I’m Caspertina Passala and this is my granddaughter, Lydia. We live on the other side of Hafling Hill.”
The young woman spoke: “I accidentally sold some of Granny’s pots in our yard sale some months ago, and a neighbour thought you might be the person who bought them. We wondered if we could buy them back?”
“I’m a potter of sorts,” said Caspertina Passala, “and those are among the first proper pots I made.”
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