Back in January I wrote a short story, "We'll Sort This Out" about a boy fleeing a bad home situation set back in homestead times – You can find that story (HERE) – Off and on I've gotten requests to continue the story. Then I wrote Part 2 (HERE). Because of requests to keep the story going and I've decided to turn it into a serial like stories in old time magazines – I hope you enjoy Part 3. – We left the boy in the loft fighting sleep, intending to slip out to run to his sister after Martha and Frank fell asleep.
|Kessy, Saturday and me writing a story|
We'll Sort This Out – Pt 3
He didn't mean to fall asleep. But the loft was warm, and Martha and Frank's voices sounded so friendly. They and their tiny cabin made him feel safe. It had been a long time since he'd felt safe. Not since their father had driven away their mother. He missed her soft voice, her warm hugs. Her gentle kisses goodnight. He was thinking of her, pretending she was there this night, with him, tucking him into these warm blankets and kissing his cheek. But she wasn't. Neither was his sister. The rain on the roof, the warmth from the dancing fire, the soft voices below, and his own sobs lulled him into a restless sleep.
Light streaming through a crack in the highest corner of the loft told him he'd betrayed his sister. He'd fallen asleep. A rooster crowed, then another. The crack was not large enough to look out and see just how much of the morning had passed. Perhaps Martha and Frank were still sleeping. Maybe it wasn't morning yet and he could still dash home in the cover of the gray morning and bring his sister back here. He wasn't sure if they would help her too, but he was sure, either he went back to protect her, or they ran away together.
Without a sound, he pushed back the warm blankets and slid backwards on his belly to the ladder. His bare feet dangled over the edge, feeling, searching for the top rung. Left and right his toes searched, stretching as far as possible to feel that uneven top rung. He dared not to breathe, lest Frank or Martha hear him.
He gulped a sudden breath when a calloused, but warm and soft, hand grabbed his foot then guided his toes to the ladder. "There ya go young fella." Frank chuckled. "Hard to find that step from behind in the dark isn't it?"
"We thought you might sleep 'til noon," Martha greeted him at the bottom. "How about some hot biscuits and warm milk?"
He stood blinking at her, rubbing his eyes.
"Maybe he'd like a little bacon with those biscuits?" Frank offered a chair.
"Thanks. What about my sister?"
"I was just about to milk the cows. You go ahead and fill your belly, and as I promised I'll head right over there right after milking."
"Can't she milk?' He pointed to Martha, but looked at Frank. "We need to go right now!" He watched them study each other's face. He was not going to waste any more time. It was Martha who spoke first.
"I can milk, of course. But you should eat …"
"I don't want to eat!" He watched their faces change. He was good at studying faces; his and his sister's safety depended on it. He shouldn't have left without her. "I'm sorry," his voice broke. "It's just that … "
Frank's hand rested on the boy's shoulder. "Martha, stuff those biscuits in a sack. This young man and I have a ride to make. Son, slide back into your duds they're dry now, and meet me in the barn."
The barn looked different in the early morning light, not as big as it had seemed in the dark. Equipment and tools covered the far wall. A long wagon waited, piled high with split firewood. The cows looked just as friendly as they had in the dark, one turned to look at him. Frank stood with the horses, tightening the girth on the smaller black one.
"We call him Little Blackie." Frank said, handing the boy the reins.
As they rode from the barn, Frank on a tall horse, the boy riding Little Blackie, Martha called from yard, "Travel safe! I'll have a hot meal for you all."
He watched Frank turn toward her in his saddle, "I reckon we'll need it. All three of us!" Then set his horse into a trot.
The saddle felt odd, the ride rough. The boy'd never sat a saddle before, nor rode a small horse. He'd never been allowed to ride their father's horse, just the big field horse and that was a rare treat. It took concentration to stay with this fast little bouncing horse and his mind wandered from staying on the horse, and worry for his sister. Every now and then Frank slowed to a walk when they fell too far behind. Frank had tried to talk, asking questions about his father and sister and giving advice such as "hold that horn to help keep your balance."
When he got no response they rode in silence, simply tossing back a reassuring grin every now and then. Up one rise and down another, through the trees, back again to open grassland. They followed the very path the boy traveled on foot. At this rate they would soon be there. His heart began to pound. His hand, gripping tight on the horn, was slippery with sweat, even though he was cold.
The house was just beyond the next rise.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry
You can read Pt 4 HERE