It's a chilly morning here. I can tell it's below 50º because my hands are cold. :) We've been getting farther and farther into autumn's lovely weather. The trees haven't started turning yet. We need a cold snap to start them off.
This week has slipped by without me quite knowing how. :) It's hard to believe that yesterday was the first of October! I'm still writing. Last night I wrote 2,021 words of "Through the Tunnel." Hopefully soon I'll be able to show you the cover and give you a few parts to wet your appetite. :) Am I almost to the end? Well, I think so, but I've thought that before and it hasn't happened yet. Maybe soon. If you haven't seen the picture that started this story off, visit Read Another Page. What kind of story could you make from that picture?
Tomorrow my sister and I are heading to Farm Girl Fest! I'm sure it will be a fun two days. We'll have a tent there with her sewing and flexi-clips and my books, and some small bags we made. It looks like we'll have great weather for it!
But here is the last and final part of this Ria and the Gang story. I hope you enjoy it!
To the Farm
The Final Part
Ed, Jimmy, Raymond and Winston strolled around from the front of the house a moment later, with Winston whistling Dixie, while Jack darted around from the other side.
“Hurry!” he hissed. “Earl and Grandpa are heading towards the house!”
“Close ranks.” Uncle Frank’s words were low and clipped. Instantly, the five boys fell into place behind and beside him completely shielding Ria’s small form from sight. “Keep your head down and be as still as possible, Ria,” he breathed in her ear.
Ria clung to the neck of her uncle and tried to stifle her giggles as they left the house quickly, hid behind trees, crouched behind some large bushes, and walked, half bent over, in a ditch. Something strange was going on, but since it involved two of her brothers and her uncle, as well as some cousins, she didn’t care what it was. Anything was better than being stuck on the couch. When they neared the road, Ria was passed over to Ed.
“Stay low and wait for my signal,” Frank whispered, motioning with his hand. Then he turned and, crawling low to the ground, disappeared in the direction of the road.
“It seems like a military maneuver,” Ria thought as she clung to Ed and waited. They were screened from sight by tall grass and brush so she ventured to look around. Jack gave her a wink but the others were sober, each keeping a watch in a different direction.
“The signal,” Ray whispered, pointing to a blue flag just above the grasses near the road. “You go first, Ed, with Ria. We’ll keep watch.”
Ed didn’t reply, but started forward bent low, while his sister clung tightly, half afraid she would be dropped. But she wasn’t and soon they were on the road. A bend hid the house from sight and Ria was astonished to see a truck waiting a little farther away.
As soon as Walt appeared from the grass after them, Frank motioned them on. “Get her in and I’ll come with the others. And remember, stay low when you are in.”
Ed and Walt jogged along towards the truck, lifted Ria into the bed making sure her injured limb wasn’t jostled, scrambled up themselves and lay down.
“Ed, what are you doing?” Ria whispered.
“Later,” was all her older brother would tell her.
Lying there in the bottom of the truck, Ria stared at the deep blue sky. This certainly wasn’t what she had envisioned when she had first learned of Uncle Frank’s visit, nor was it what she had expected when Uncle Earl had ordered her to stay off her foot. “Ed-–” she began, but a hand was placed over her mouth and her brother shook his head. Just then Jack scrambled into the truck followed by the others. A tap was made on the cab and, with everyone staying low in the back, the truck began moving down the road.
With only a view of the sky, it was impossible for Ria to tell where they were going, and she quivered with excitement and suppressed the urge to sit up and look. At last the truck slowed to a stop and a voice said, “Here we are.” It was the driver, and Ria realized that it was a neighbor of her grandparents. “I don’t know what your gang are up to with Ria, but it looks like fun.”
The fellows grinned at each other and began sitting up. “Thanks Mr. Sandman,” Frank smiled, vaulting from the truck and shaking hands with the driver. “And we’d appreciate it if you didn’t let on that you had anything to do with this–um, situation.” And Frank nodded towards Ria who was being handed over the side of the truck to Ed.
“Oh, I had nothing to do with anything,” Mr. Sandman replied laughing.
Ria watched as her uncle instantly dove for cover in the tall grasses and brush beside the road where the others had already taken refuge.
As soon as the car had passed, Ria whispered, “What are we doing?”
“You’ll know in a few minutes, Sis,” Ed promised, a slight grin on his face. He stood up, shifted Ria in his arms, and fell in line with the others behind Uncle Frank.
The walk was short, and then, to Ria’s surprise and delight, they discovered the other members of the gang with a wagon loaded with hay and two horses hitched to the front.
“Care for a ride, Ria?” called Phil from his perch in the midst of the loaded wagon.
“Do I? Oh, how fun!” Ria clapped her hands in glee and was lifted up and settled into the hay. “Is this what you all were planning out in the yard earlier?” she asked Ray, who she found beside her as the wagon started off.
Raymond grinned. “Yep. Do you like it?”
“I sure do. But why did you all kidnap me and keep everything a big secret?”
“That was half the fun,” Winston told her, laughing. “Besides, if you had just been carried right out of the house, someone would have wanted to know where we were taking you, and if they had found out about the wagon, they would have all wanted to ride, and we weren’t sure we could fit everyone on at once.”
“Are the others going to get a turn?” Ria was laying back in the sweet smelling pile contentedly as she watched the trees slip by and felt the gentle bump and sway of the wagon.
“Sure, but we wanted you to have the first ride.”
“Yeah,” Chris added, leaning over to grin at his sister. “That way if it broke and everything crashed, you’d be the only lady we’d have to rescue.”
A general laugh went up at that and Ria wrinkled her nose at him.
From her position in the hay, Ria watched Grandma and Grandpa’s farm come into view. The ride had been lovely and all traces of self-pity had vanished. Idly she wondered if the sound of their singing or the sight of the wagon would attract attention first. She never knew which it was, but before the wagon had reached the house, everyone had gathered, and many were the exclamations of surprise and wonder, as well as a bit of good-natured scolding for the disappearance of Ria. The younger ones all clamored for a ride and, after Ria was lifted down and carried to the porch swing, the gang gave up their places to the youngsters.
“Oh, it was so much fun,” Ria sighed with delight as she watched the wagon drive away. “I didn’t dream I would get to ride on a hay wagon today. I don’t think I’ll even mind staying off my foot for the rest of the week.”
A chuckle went around the few lads who were standing on the porch, and Jimmy said, “We’ll remind you of that tomorrow when you are confined to the couch.”
Ria joined in the laugh at her expense. She knew she probably would complain again before the week was over, if she was confined to the couch, but she didn’t think she’d ever forget her trip to the farm, her sprained ankle and the thoughtful kindness of “the gang.”
Did you enjoy the ending?
Was it what you had expected?
Have you ever gotten to ride in a hay wagon?