Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The two boys... (day 2)

The days passed slowly for Nathan. Every morning when the light struck his window and the rooster crowed, he'd slowly roll over in his warm bed listening to the sounds of the others in the house. He'd rise to dress. Nathan would run down the stairs for the his morning meal. He'd rush to the road to look for his Father's horse. Disappointed he'd go about his chores and studies. After the noonday meal and customary rest time, he'd go find his friends to go practice their bows and arrows. He was part of the local bow and arrow club. They had a tournament coming up at the next community fair. He really wanted the blue ribbon. It would be a proud moment for him if he won. Father said he could ride with him on his next journey for ranch supplies if he did well. He wasn't a bad shot compared to the other boys. Grandfather had helped him carve and string his bow. He couldn't help but think it would give him a slight advantage.

On Sundays Nathan and his family would go sit with rest of the community at church to hear the words of the Lord. The man of God would stand before them to read from the scriptures. Nathan liked to listen to the ebb and flow of  this man's tone of voice while he instructed the congregation. He and his brothers didn't always get along but he wondered if he could ever sell them into slavery like good ol' Joseph.

 It was the day before the tournament when the ranch hand returned without his father. Nathan had eavesdropped when his grandfather inquired where his dutiful son was. The man said he wasn't sure, but knew he'd been asked to go ahead home to let him know everything was fine. The ranch hand had done as he was told. That night after Nathan and his brothers went to bed, he heard his grandfather's feverishly hushed discussion with his great uncles who'd arrived this evening for the weekly family dinner.

Grandfather sounded worried, "Ben didn't return today with our ranch hand. I'm worried. I've been hearing things about bandits in the hills nearby." Nathan shivered and muttered, "Bandits?" The adults moved to a different room. He couldn't hear the conversation below any farther. Nathan lay in bed for sometime staring at the ceiling. If anything happened to his father, it'd be his fault. He'd left the gate open when he'd went to find his friends that day. When he'd come back through that evening, all the animal's prints were in the dirt leading out of the gate. He closed it and went to find his father. Nathan was soundly scolded before his father had left.

Nathan awoke to an unusually quiet house. The sun had long since arose. He sat up with a start, quickly dressed and rushed downstairs. His Mother was sitting at the table. She was usually bustling about house. Nathan wondered where everyone was. His mother informed him, before he could ask, the wandering livestock had been recognized by one of their neighbors. The menfolk had gone to fetch them. Once the beasts were back where they belonged, they were going to town to inquire after your father. Nathan munched on some bread, cheese and grape juice. He had to get to his chores! While the others were gone, he'd have their chores to finish too. His tutors would be here shortly.

Two very busy days passed. Nathan didn't have time to even think. Grandfather and the uncles had returned not long ago. His father hadn't been seen. His normally gracious mother was worried. She kept snapping at his sisters. Grandfather would be pacing in his study with an anxiety etched into his wrinkled face. His bread forgotten. Why, oh, why had he forgotten to close the gate? Nathan disparately missed his father. He passed a window in the barn on the way to feed the chickens. He saw dust rising in the distance. Fearing the worst, he ran to get one of his uncles. They raced to the road to head off the stranger. As the figure approached the ranch, they realized recognized the horse and rider from a little ways off. Nathan's uncle told him to head back to the house to let his Grandfather know his father had returned. Relief washed over Nathan. His father was home! He glanced over his shoulder in time to see his father dismount and say something to his uncle.

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