When Sean had walked up the hill towards home, he had decided his rotten luck that day couldn’t get any worse.
It had started with blinding tooth pain, made worse by his need to work through the pain, expanded by the encounter with the beautiful but aggravating woman in the mercantile and had been topped off by the bone-wrenching visit to Doc Massey to have his tooth pulled. But, he’d been wrong. It had gotten worse. Instead of being able to come home and fix something soft to eat before he drowned his pain into oblivion that night with the rest of the whiskey, the woman’s boy stood before him trying to hand back to him a chunk of dried beef he had stolen because he was hungry. How was a man well on his way to being blind drunk with a swollen cheek dripping bitter-tasting blood and pus into a flannel pad, one whose head hadn’t waited for the hangover before it started throbbing, supposed to deal with this latest complication?
“Nay, I’ll not be offering you charity and I’ll not be telling your ma. But, you’ll get what’s left of the meat after I get my share. And, you’ll be working for it, boy. ‘Twill not be feeling like doing ought but crawl in a hole ‘til I get better or die, but ‘tis time I build a fire and put my coffee and a pudding on to boil. And, you’ll be helping me. When I’m done boiling my beef, you can have them both plus some of t’other.”
“Both? You’re going to boil two pieces of meat tonight?”
“Aye, if you shan’t be taking all day giving me that work you promised. See if there be a dry spot under yon cover,”
Sean pointed to the section of canvas still covering his roof trusses. “Gather some stones from that pile,” Sean pointed to the rocks he had collected for his fireplace, “and build a fire ring inside where ‘tis dry, but not too close to the walls, mind you. I’ll be starting a fire with the dry I have under the oilcloth,” Sean pointed to the pile of small twigs and branches he had gathered and kept as dry as possible. “You can be gathering the driest deadfall you can find to feed the fire whilst I start our supper. If need be, you can drag it here and use my hatchet to chop it in smaller pieces…” Sean stopped and eyed the boy critically before he continued. “Well, sore head or no, I may be needing to do the chopping. ‘Tis likely you’re not old enough to use a hatchet, now are you?”
Jesse pulled himself to his full height. “Ma says I’m too old for Christmas this year. If I’m too old for Christmas, then it must mean I’m old enough to use a hatchet.”
About the Author:
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels.
The author currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She
is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.