Bertram: Who are you?
Karl: My name is Karl Joseph Wildbach and I’m a younger son of the local miller.
Bertram: Where do you live?
Karl: I live in German’s Mill, PA, but most of the time I wish I didn’t.
Bertram: What is your problem?
Karl: My relationship with my father has always been difficult, but that doesn’t seem as important anymore as getting my peace of mind back after the long years I spent as a Union soldier.
Bertram: Do you run from conflict?
Karl: Well, that’s not a question I’m happy to answer, but I do run—in my case, into the army, and now that I’m back home, all I really want to do is leave again.
Bertram: Do you have a goal?
Karl: To live honestly, to succeed through my own merits and not be beholden to any one.
Bertram: Do you have any skills?
Karl: I was raised to be a farmer, to know about land, crops and animals. I was also taught to balance the mill books, something I surprised myself—and everybody else—by learning to do darn well.
Bertram: What do you want to be?
Karl: A free man, free of my memories, and free of all the obligations my father has tried to wrap me up in.
Bertram: What makes you happy?
Karl: Not much these days, although seeing a field of corn in tassel, or buckwheat in bloom can take me out of myself. A piece of Divine’s blackberry pie and a fresh cup of coffee…
Bertram: What are you afraid of?
Karl: My temper—and of losing it like my father used to.
Bertram: What makes you angry?
Karl: Things that don’t make any sense—which seems to be a lot of the things that make this world go around. People who don’t stand up for themselves make me angry too.
Bertram: What makes you sad?
Karl: Thinking about my mother, who died the night I ran away. If I’d been in the house, maybe I could have saved her.
Bertram: Are you lucky?
Karl: You must be kidding!
Bertram: Who was your first love?
Karl: Well, that would be Miss Dawn McNally, my best friend’s sister.
Bertram: Who is your true love?
Karl: Don’t have an answer for that one yet. Maybe someday, but I’m not ready for a wife just yet.
Bertram: What is your most prized possession?
Karl: My saddlehorse, Buck. He’s a dream to ride, and he’s a looker. It’s vanity, I guess, but I’m always proud to ride him out.
Bertram: Do you have any hobbies?
Karl: Those are for old folks who have time to waste. I’m at work, one way or another, from dawn to dusk, making sure the mill turns a profit, and that’s fine by me.
Bertram: What is your favorite food?
Karl: Chicken pot pie, the way our cook, Divine, makes it. She doesn’t stint on the chicken. Sometimes she puts it all under a good pie crust instead of using noodles, but that’s more for Sunday dinners. When she uses noodles, she’ll balance a big hunk of chicken–white or dark–right on top of the bowl she serves you.
Bertram: Name five items in your purse, briefcase, or pockets.
Karl: Five? Let’s see. I’ve got a handkerchief, a pocket watch and a good sharp folding knife. If I’m riding the fields and ‘susing the crops, I’ll take a notebook and a pencil stub along, but that’s about it.
Bertram: How do you envision your future?
Karl: I’m heading out west to tame some raw land. I’m hoping for the good luck and the good health to make my fortune by the work of my own hands, and to be away from German’s Mill, from everybody who knows me, and start my life fresh.
Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?
Karl: Cassie Taylor, the little brown girl who is growing up with the good Reverend Taylor and his wife over in Yellow Springs.
Bertram: How can we learn more about your story?