Here I am at the last conference we'll be helping with this year. I'm in Wichita. If any of you Faithful Friday Fiction Fans are going to be at the conference here, stop by Light of Faith and say hi. If I'm not at the booth, I'm probably walking my niece and nephews around and am somewhere in the hall. :)
This week has been crazy! I've been busy but not with the things I thought I'd be busy with. I had a sudden opportunity to send some of my books to the OCEAN homeschool conference in OR next month and have been trying to get that all taken care of. (Heads up readers, I'm sending my Triple Creek Ranch books and they'll be at the Homeschool Authors booth.) Then I'm supposed to teach a three day class of writing in July and was getting lots of emails trying to get details figured out for part of that. And then my brother needed help pulling and pricing and getting ready for this conference so my mom and I went over and helped Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
Did I mention I was busy?
I did manage to get a little bit written before I left town. Not much though.
But now I need to get off so I can go eat breakfast. Then I'll stick around the hotel a while longer so I can help take my niece and nephews down to breakfast before going to the conference. Hope you all have a lovely week!
Even the Beasts
Last week . . .Somehow he managed to grab the rope which hung from a pulley overhead. A burning sensation stung his hands, tough and hardened though they were, as they slid down the rough rope, then the rope ended and he fell with a thud.
For several minutes he struggled to fight off the blackness which threatened to engulf him. How long he lay where he had fallen, blinking as the world revolved with unusual swiftness around him and he fought to recover the breath which had been knocked from his body, he didn’t know. At last the earth slowed its spinning and, drawing a long breath, Harold tried to sit up. His back and shoulder ached and his hands were nearly raw. Warily he looked around expecting to see Scat waiting to pounce on him again, but the mountain lion, perhaps understanding at last that the man who used to feed and play with him didn’t want to play anymore, had disappeared.
“That thing,” muttered Mr. Manning as he slowly, painfully got to his feet. As he stood, another wave of dizziness swept over him and he leaned against the side of the barn. All at once a new thought struck him. “What if Scat has gone to the house? Valerie is in no condition to withstand even one of his assaults!”
The fear gave new strength to his shaky limbs and he started for the cabin as quickly as he could. Nearing it, he called out, “Val! Val!”
Hearing her name called in such urgent tones, Valerie hurried to the door to see her husband, his shirt torn and dirty, his hat missing, limping rapidly towards her. “Harold! What happened?”
He reached the porch before she could come to his aid and gasped out, “Inside and shut the door.”
Greatly wondering, Valerie obeyed. “Harold,” she asked again, “what happened? Are you all right? Who was it? Let me get you some water.” She was frightened, for her husband had sunk down onto the nearest chair and closed his eyes.
“I can’t hold the cup, Val.” Harold turned his hands over on the table and looked at them.
Valerie gasped. “Oh, Harold!”
“I am so thankful you are all right,” was all he could get out after swallowing the cool water which Valerie held for him.
“Of course I am. What made you think I wouldn’t be?”
“I thought he might have decided to pay you a visit as well.”
“Me? Who? Harold Manning tell me what happened and who you are talking about!” Valerie was thoroughly frightened now. Never had she known her husband to act so strangely.
His answer was brief. “It was Scat.”
After Valerie pulled out the other chair and sat down heavily near Harold, she asked quietly, “Our Scat?”
“Did he attack you?” There was a slight quiver in Mrs. Manning’s voice as she spoke. In her mind she could still picture the frightened little cub caught in a trap and how it had followed her around for weeks after it was well. She also remembered the day when it had wandered off into the woods and never returned, until now. Somehow she couldn’t bring herself to believe, though she knew it was a wild animal, that it would intentionally hurt her or her husband.
Harold winced as he shifted his position. “Well, I don’t think he meant to . . .”
“Wait a moment, Dear,” Valerie interrupted. “Before you tell me, let me get some water and bandages.”
The cold water felt wonderful on Mr. Manning’s hands and even the sting of his scraped face was lessened by the gentle hands of his wife. Slowly, while Valerie worked, Harold told of his encounter with the mountain lion, ending with, “One thing’s for sure, Val, Scat certainly doesn’t have any trouble with his right foreleg; the one which was caught in the trap.”
“I’m so thankful he didn’t hurt you. Where did he go?”
Harold shook his head. “I don’t know. Hopefully back where he came from. I’m not up to wrestling with a full grown mountain lion, even in fun!” Carefully he stood up, his left ankle sending painful darts up his leg. After gingerly moving it and carefully putting weight on it, he decided that it was just painfully sore and not broken.
“Harold, where are you going?” Valerie asked in concern as he moved slowly towards the door and reached for his rifle.
“I thought I’d take a walk around to loosen up my muscles and see if Scat is still around. I don’t want to leave if he is.”
“Leave? Harold, you can’t leave today, not in your condition now. Besides, it would be after dark before you even reached town. Please don’t go today,” Valerie begged. “Wait until tomorrow. That will only be one day difference.” As he turned to look at her, she added softly, “I’d worry if you went today.”
Although he wanted to get to town and back again as quickly as possible, Harold also saw the wisdom of waiting one more day, for even holding the rifle in his raw hands was painful. At last he nodded. “All right. I’ll wait until tomorrow. But I still want to take a look around for that beast.”
Although Harold spent the greater portion of the morning searching, he found no further signs of the large cat. After the noon meal, he went out to the barn and carefully boarded up the window to prevent any further unwanted visits from the half tame mountain lion. As the day wore on, the muscles in his leg began to really ache and his limp was more evident as he came in for supper.
“Harold,” Valerie coaxed, “why don’t you remain home tomorrow and go into town the next day?”
Resolutely Harold shook his head. “I can’t wait, Val. If that lion hadn’t come around this morning, I’d have been in town already.”
“I know but . . .” her voice trailed off and she sat, her eyes on her scarcely touched plate of food.
“Val,” Harold reached across the table and placed a hand over her small one, “I don’t want to go into town and leave you, but we have to have that seed if we want to have a crop this year to last us through the winter. You know that as well as I do.” He spoke earnestly, almost pleadingly. “Please don’t fret. I’ll hurry as quickly as I can and you know I won’t be gone long.”
Nodding, Valerie didn’t reply for she knew she couldn’t trust her voice to be steady and soon the Mannings had put out the light and lay in bed, silent, though neither one could get to sleep for a long time.
Come back next week for the end.