I wrote a short story, for our Coffee Clutch friends, "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). And Part 3 (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 4. – We left Frank and the boy as they were just about to ride up on his homestead.
|Kessy, Saturday & me writing a story|
We'll Sort This Out – Pt4
"My name's Mark." The boy hurried Blackie to catch up to Frank.
"What's that?" Frank slowed his horse and twisted in the saddle.
"My name's Mark. And he ain't our father."
Frank stopped his horse and reached over to take Blackie's reins. Mark felt his eyes trying to pull answers from him. "He's not your father? … Who is he? Maybe you'd better fill me in a bit more before we get there. Just over that knob is the house."
The boy knew where he was. He'd hidden behind this very hill many times to avoid the man's fury. He and his sister had huddled here often. They knew every tree, every rock and crevice on the slope. He'd been hoping they would find her here this morning. His worried young eyes had already scoured all their hiding places. It had been their plan, if they ever got separated, they would meet here. That had been their plan, until a day ago when the man had discovered them, and beat them both, again.
"No he's … nobody … " Tears streaked the boys face, his tiny body trembled. He looked deep into Frank's eyes. "He just took us. My sister and me, we were living with our momma." He broke a small smile. "We had a farm, like yours." Tears started again. "Then he just came, pretended to be our friend. After a few days, he beat our momma, and he just took us."
Frank swung from his horse, wrapped his arms around the boy, hugged him hard.
"We were here hiding here in our safe place, waiting for him to go away. I was gonna sneak to the house for supplies, then we were going to run away … but he found us. He knocked me down, then turned on my sister … She told me to run, Frank … She hollered for me to get away." Sobs broke his voice. "I ran to your barn … but I should never have left her."
Frank jerked his rifle from the scabbard, swung up on his horse, "You stay here!" Then started over the hill. At the crest, he stopped.
The boy rode to his side, his blank eyes surveyed what lay before them. A thick cloud of black smoke hung low over the ruble that had been the cabin. Their cow lay dead in the yard. The barn doors hung open. Without waiting for Frank he grabbed the horn and kicked Blackie to a run. He heard Frank order him to stop as he raced down the hill, but kicked Blackie on. Frank caught him, jerked the reins from his hands, then with his rifle at the ready, led them to the barn.
Together they searched the barn and found it empty. But in the mud just outside the doors were tell tale wheel ruts and tracks from a pair of horses. His sister's bonnet lay mashed in the mud.
They searched the tall grass in the fields around the barn. Mark knew all their hiding places. She was in none of them. No signs she had time to leave any messages either. Sometimes they'd left messages when hiding separately, a broken branch meant look for me in the barn, tiny twisted grass bundles meant I'm hiding behind the big oak. Today there were no messages.
Nothing could be made of the smoldering cabin. The boy was glad Frank told him to hold the horses and wait while he searched the black, smoking wood a piles of smelly junk. His heart pounded, his breath came in gasps as stood dazed, waiting to be assured his sister was not …
"He must have taken your sister with him. From the looks of all this he came back, set the place on fire and left right after he came looking for you."
The boy's eyes spoke for him. No sounds could come from his throat. His sister. She would be terrified now, without him there to protect her. Why did he run and leave her behind? Why didn't he tell Frank and Martha everything right away? How could he have slept a night safe in their cabin, leaving her with him?
"Yes we'll set out after him. We'll find them and get your sister. But first, we've got to get back, make sure Martha's okay." Frank's eyes washed with sudden worry. They set out with all the speed the horses had.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry