“It’s magic!” Kelila shouted, clapping her hands.
I glanced side-long at her. “Pfft. Don’t be insulting. If I was doing magic, you’d know. This is just simple engineering.” I cranked down one more time on the loose bolt and tossed the wrench back in the box.
“Well,” Kelila pouted. “It was broken before and now it works. Magic enough for me.” She ran forward and stuck her hands under the water flowing from the sluice. “How much do we owe you?”
I waved my hand dismissively. “I told you, I don’t charge for small things like this. It just keeps my hands busy between the important stuff. You know, the real magic.” I was probably more arch with that last statement than I needed to be, but it had been a long day.
“At least stay for dinner, young man,” Jonas said from the house. If I’d been busier – or, honestly, if it had been anyone else asking – I would have refused. But Kelila’s grandfather was the most renowned cook in the village. It was too late to head back to my cabin without dinner, anyway. A solid meal would make the five mile hike a lot easier.
“If you insist,” I said, waving to the old man through the window. He responded with a grin and a wink. I wasn’t going to fool him with false reluctance.
Kelila was suddenly all abustle. She looked down at her dirty hands and skirts like she was just noticing them. “I’ll help set the table!” she squeaked as she ran inside.
“Only after you clean-” Jonas started. Then I heard a door slam inside, I assume Kelila’s bedroom.
Great. Another village lass with a crush. One destined to be unrequited. I hoped this one would take it better than the last two.