The stranger could spin straw into gold. Could he be the answer to all of Charlotte's problems?
It was as if he appeared out of nowhere. One moment, my sister Rosie and I were arguing about her trying magical spells to save our mill, the next she went deathly pale, staring at something behind my back. I whirled around to see a man leaning casually on the wall with the hex sign I'd tried to paint over so many times. He was a perfectly ordinary man, somewhat older than we were, dressed in worn clothing. He walked toward us, explaining that he was looking for work. He was a man of all trades, he said, and offered to demonstrate some of his special skills.
He pulled a length of straw from Rosie's hat, took an old fashioned spindle from his pocket, and began to spin the straw, and as it wound onto the spindle, it turned to gold. Pure gold, so pure that it softened if I held it in the heat of my hand, so delicate a mere pinch of my fingers could break the strand.
Gold, from a piece of straw! Our prayers were answered! With this gold, we'd be able to pay the mortgage from the bank, and our workers, and show those people from Pinchfield's that Stirwaters Woolen Mill was once again their biggest competition. And we wouldn't have to sell the mill, as our Uncle Wheeler kept urging us to do.
There's always been something about Stirwaters that made it different, special, although there were some who were sure it was cursed or haunted. It was as if the old mill had a life, an awareness of its own. But spinning straw into gold? This was beyond mere rumors or coincidences. This had to be magic, and I knew that magic always came with a price. What price would we have to pay for enough gold to save our home, our mill and our village?