the sky grew darker but the rain held off.
gertrude and denise continued to shear the sheep. denise gradually grew quieter as gertrude made few replies except nods and grunts to her flow of talk.
they were almost done. denise stopped and stared at the methodically working gertrude.
"well, i must say you do an excellent job. fast, and right down to the hide too! and look how quiet they hold for you! how you do it?"
"they are my sheep."
"they are used to me."
"i suppose so. but - ha, ha! if sister louise saw you she would say you were bewitching them! what do you think of that?"
"i am not a witch."
"oh, i should hope not! but at least you know what a witch is, eh? i half expected you to say you did not know what a witch is. that is your answer to half the things i say to you, ha ha."
"i know what a witch is."
"who told you what a witch was?"
"the old woman talked about witches sometimes."
"oh, she did, did she! i do not suppose she was a witch herself, was she? ha, ha!"
gertrude thought a bit before answering. "she was not a witch."
"oh? how do you know? that is what sister louise or brother august would ask you."
"she could not do anything, " gertrude answered.
"she could not do anything?"
"she could not do anything magical. she could not stop or start the rain or the sun. or make the grass grow faster."
"hmm. did the sheep always obey her? did she have a way with the sheep?"
"she was a shepherdess."
"ha, ha! you do not have to make a face at me! i am only telling you what sister louise or brother august would say."