The blacksmith, sweat clearing a path through the grime on his brows, struck at his anvil.

“Aah!” yelped Chris, swatting at a spark that singed her face. “Careful!”

“Quiet, woman,” the blacksmith grunted, perhaps thinking of all the times he’d barbecued his own flesh when there was no one to complain to, and stuck his iron back amid the tongues of flame in the forge.

“You won’t be grunting when I’m blind!” Chris added.

The blacksmith came back over, gently scootched Marion’s elbow out of the way, and resumed striking at his anvil. Each blow rang out like a harsh but pure musical note.

“You know,” Marion said, “the light of the forge makes you positively glow, Chris.”

Another shower of sparks. “You’re just saying that,” said Chris, turning away due to blushing and raining hot metal fragments.

“No,” Marion said. “I swear on a bundle of Bibles.”

At the blacksmith’s final blow, the handcuffs around the two ladies’ wrists parted with a ring. “There,” he said. “Now go be romantic somewhere that’s actually suited for it.”

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