gertrude rarely saw other human beings, but she talked to almost everything she did see - the sky, the clouds, the trees, the rocks and her sheep, and when she got close enough to it , the river. for the most part, only the river and a few of the sheep talked to her. a few mornings after her encounter with st james, she was standing on a ridge about a quarter of the way down the mountain, watching the sheep - who were unusually well-behaved - and talking to the clouds. the clouds almost never responded to her observations, so she looked around uncertainly when she heard a voice. sure enough, the voice had come not from the clouds but from a creature standing behind her, a little higher up the hill. the creature looked like herself, a human, but with two wings of moderate size, reaching from its shoulders to its waist, and each about the width of the unwinged portion of its body.
"greetings," the creature addressed gertrude. "a beautiful morning, is it not?"
gertrude thought before replying, as she always did. "most mornings are like this."
"the sky is very blue."
"it usually is blue, except when it rains."
"allow me to introduce myself. i am jehudiel, the archangel. one of seven archangels in heaven."
"i am gertrude, a shepherdess. i am the only shepherdess in the valley."
"i am pleased to make your acquaintance, gertrude." the archangel moved a little further down the slope. he looked uncertainly at a couple of sheep who moved closer to him.
"they won't bite you." gertrude guided the inquisitive beasts away with her staff.