Have you had your windows open this week? We have and are enjoying the weather. Well, it has gotten rather warm upstairs in the afternoons, but mornings are wonderful! And it's fun to wake up listening to the birds singing and twittering in the trees. Did you know that our mockingbird likes to get up at 3:00 to start singing? Do you get up that early? I don't.
I've enjoyed staying home all week and getting things done. Though there have been times when I've felt like I've remembered more things to do than I've gotten done. Maybe that's because I started a long list of all the things I needed to do or wanted to do. :) And I keep thinking of more things to add.
You are probably wondering how my writing is coming along. Well, it's slow. I did finish part 4 of TCR-4 and am over half way done with part 5. But then I got an idea for a new short story and started writing it. I haven't gotten too far yet, but since I've been wanting to write a new short story, it's rather fun. But don't worry, I'll keep working on TCR-4.
Speaking of which, my illustrator sent me a sketch of the first illustration of book 3. Very nice! I wonder how many of my readers have actually gotten to read TCR-1 or 1 & 2.
This story was written last year when I had the idea to write a story for each month and have a calendar to go with it. I got five stories written but only three of them had pictures and then I got really busy with a certain series and "Project 12" was set aside. Perhaps for good. If not, at least for quite a while, and so, instead of just having these stories sitting around, I thought you all should be able to enjoy them. So here is the first part of one of them. This story was supposed to be for the month of May. Enjoy!
Even the Beasts
Mr. Manning opened the front door and stepped out onto the porch. Leaning against one of the pillars which supported the roof, he gazed about him at the green grass; the trees, their leaves growing larger with each passing spring day, and buds bursting forth creating lovely dresses; the early flowers blooming around the base of the porch; at the deep, blue sky overhead dotted here and there with filmy wisps of clouds; the gentle breeze, warm and suggestive of life softly caressed his face, and he smiled. It was a perfect May morning. The kind of morning that makes one feel as though life must just be beginning and nothing could go wrong anywhere.
Turning, Harold called into the house, “Valerie, come see what a glorious morning it is.”
A moment later Mrs. Manning joined her husband. Drawing a deep breath of the spring air, she leaned against his shoulder and sighed. “Oh, it is lovely. You should have a good drive into town.”
“I should at that, but I wish you could come along too.”
“On a day like today, I wish I could, but—” She looked up into Harold’s strong, tanned face with a wistful look.
Unable to resist, Harold dropped a kiss on the upturned face before he replied, “ I know, Val. When I go again in a few months, after the baby comes and all, then the three of us will go together. We’ll make a vacation of it and stay two or three days.”
“I would like that, Harold. It does get a trifle lonely out here, especially when you are away. How long will you be gone?”
Filling his lungs with the fresh morning air, Mr. Manning let it out slowly before he replied, “One day to get there, one or two days in town. I hope it will just take one, and then one day coming home. And let me tell you, Valerie Manning, I’ll be starting mighty early coming home and I’ll be wanting a good supper!”
Valerie laughed. Even though she knew she would miss her husband terribly while he was gone, it was pleasant to know that he would be missing her just as much.
During the breakfast which soon followed, the couple tried to keep things cheery and light because it was always hard to part even for a few days, for their closest neighbor was a good hour’s ride away and they didn’t get many visitors past their place.
“Now, Val,” Harold cautioned, “don’t work too hard. You will only have to milk Gwendolyn, feed the chickens and gather the eggs. Don’t start plowing the fields until I return.”
“Harold,” Valerie laughed, “how could I start plowing when you’ll have the team?”
“And,” he went on, ignoring her question, “don’t go finding any wild baby animals to bring in. We’ll soon have a baby of our own.”
Together the couple shared a laugh, for Valerie’s love and pity for anything small, helpless and in need was now a standing joke between them. In the years they had lived on their homestead she had discovered many babies whose mothers had abandoned them, for whatever reason, which she had fed, raised and, to a certain degree, tamed including a deer, a raccoon and, most unusual of all, a mountain lion. All were gone now, back to their native habitat.
“I’ll pack your lunch, Harold,” Valerie said quietly, picking up the lunch bag to take with her and blinking quickly.
Harold saw the unshed tears and for a moment hesitated about leaving. Perhaps he could wait for a few days, he thought. But no, the longer he put it off, the closer it would be till the baby was due and he didn’t want to be gone then. If only they didn’t need the things he had to pick up. However, one can’t plant a crop without seed, so, with reluctance, Harold took his hat from the peg in the wall. “I’ll pick up the lunch after I hitch up the team, Val.”
Trudging out to the barn, Harold frowned. “I wish I didn’t have to leave her here alone. But there’s no one else to come stay with her. At least she can shoot straight.” He decided then to take his six-shooter with him and leave the rifle at home. “Val knows the rifle and a six-gun is easier to pack in town.”
Upon reaching the barn, he noticed the horses were acting rather strange. Both were uttering nervous nickers and frightened whinnies as they moved restlessly about in their stalls. “Now what’s wrong with you?” Harold asked gently, going into the first stall and trying to quiet the horse. “You didn’t seem bothered when I fed you this morning. Easy now, Duchess. That’s a good girl. Let’s just go out and soon we’ll be on our way. Whoa, steady, Duke!” The second horse had suddenly reared and given a sharp whinny. Stopping quite suddenly, Duchess planted her feet and refused to move from under the shelter of the barn loft; in terrified alarm, she backed persistently into her stall again refusing all coaxing to come out.
Harold looked at his two horses, usually so gentle and easy going, and frowned in bewilderment. What was wrong? It was then that his ear caught the sound of something moving about in the loft up above. “Now what could that be?” he mused. “I wonder if it’s what’s causing the horses to be so frightened.”
Silently he stepped over to the ladder wishing he had thought to grab his gun. “But who would have thought I’d need a gun to hitch up the team to the wagon,” he thought grimly.
With great caution, Harold climbed up towards the loft, carefully putting each foot on the next rung as silently as possible. At last his head was level with the loft floor. The next step would let him see what was in the loft, it would also allow whatever was up there to see him. For a moment he hesitated, then rapidly, he climbed the last two rungs and looked quickly about. At first glance he saw nothing unusual.
Stepping all the way into the loft he heard a sound. It sounded like the meow of a cat, a large one. Turning, Harold beheld a large, nearly full grown mountain lion!
“Scat!” Mr. Manning exclaimed as the mountain cat stretched and yawned. “What are you doing here?”
For answer the cat came over and batted a paw at Harold’s legs.
“Oh no,” Harold shook his head and stepped away. “I don’t have time to play this morning. Go on, Scat, scat!”
But Scat, the mountain lion, who had been raised by the Mannings, didn’t want to leave. He wanted to frolic. Leaping playfully, he struck Harold on the shoulder with all his one hundred ninety pounds. With difficulty, Harold remained on his feet and managed to push the lion down.
“Go on, Scat!” he ordered. “I don’t have time to play. Now get!” He had stepped towards the loft window, the only conceivable place the lion could have entered, hoping that Scat would decide it was time to leave. Suddenly, without warning, the large cat slammed full into Harold’s back with such a force that he lost his balance and found himself falling through the open window. 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.
To be continued next week.
Will you be back?
What do you think happens?