Date: November 30, 2018 02:48PM
The night was humid. Lil Joe lay on the damp ground behind a fallen log trying not to breath too hard for fear of the ruffians hearing him. He didn’t know if they if were close by, or had stopped chasing him as he carried his precious bundle of valuable dinner plates that he had dug from the ground two hours earlier. His bum leg ached and there was something crawling on his neck, but he daren’t brush it away as he laid motionless and as quietly as possible. The heavy bundle was uncomfortable to lay on, but he endured somehow. He needed to pee, but that would have to wait. Off in the woods to his right he could hear a whippoorwill cooing for a mate. The smell of decaying forest leaves and green moss filled his nostrils with a soothing sense of safety, but he knew he wasn’t safe by any means.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, his parents paced back for forth in front of the fireplace wondering where their Boy had wandered off to this time. They hoped that when he returned he would be carrying another wild chicken. A single wild chicken would feed them for two days if cooked in a porridge with some spuds, rutabagas, and a few parsnips.
Mr. Brackwell lived a ways away, and had a nice flock of fatted chickens that roamed freely around his farm. Little Joe had worked for Mr. Brackwell before and knew that a half a pocket of borrowed grain from the barn sprinkled in the woods behind the barn would lure some of Mr. Brackwell’s chickens away and once a chicken goes into the woods, it “becomes wild” and fair game. Real wild chickens were impossible to catch, but a nice plump farmyard chicken, once it had “gone wild“, was almost too easy to chase down and grab.
Little Joe wasn’t thinking about chickens at the moment. After a long length of time had passed, Joe slowly shifted his head so he could hear better. Up, through the leaves, he could see a few stars as they twinkled, but the moonless night seemed exceedingly dark in spite of the stars. The forest sounds had returned, the whippoorwills’ were cooing, frogs were croaking, and a faint rustle of leaves in the breeze gave little Joe the courage to roll to his side and lean up on one elbow.
The ruffians seemed to have disappeared. Little Joe didn’t know if they had left, but he slowly and quietly sat up and placed his heavy bundle on the ground next to him as he quandered his next move. Carrying 50 pounds was a chore, but when running at full speed and fighting off three large men who seemed set on robbing him of his precious bundle, he somehow had found the strength and endurance to accomplish this Herculean feat.
Little Joe slowly stood up and quietly started walking back towards the path. His load seemed heavier now, but he was a strong lad and managed to carry it. His mind was going in all directions with what to do with his newly procured treasure. He thought about what his Mom and Dad might say when he finally walked into their cabin. He didn’t want to show them his bundle just yet, he needed to think it through carefully lest they started to have designs of their own. Joe stashed his heavy load in a hollow tree stump near the river and placed some branches over the opening to obscure the location.
He then used another branch to sweep away the footprints, and walked to his family home.
“Where in the Lord’s creation have you been Son?, we were worried almost to consumption about you.” Little Joe had to come up with a very good reason, real fast, for his lateness in coming home. He quickly dismissed using, “I got lost” and needed something must more powerful. He exclaimed, “I was attacked by five hooligan’s on my way home from working, and they beat me fiercely, and took the wages I had earned from Wilfred Timpson chopping wood. Joe senior looked at his Son and little Joe could see that his old man wasn’t buying the story, heard it too many times and even used it himself a few times So little Joe added, “and God appeared to me in the woods and told me of a great treasure.”
Papa Joe had always enjoyed a tall tale and was intrigued by little Joe’s story about God appearing to him in the woods so he let his Son have a sour-dough biscuit and go to bed. They would discuss it more in the morning.
As little Joe lay on his straw-stuffing bed, he pondered about how to smooth things over with his pa, and what to do with the dinner plates that were surely worth a great deal of money. They had the name of Melmac printed on the underside so surely they must be worth a lot, even a pearl of great price to the right buyer.
Little Joe was a dreamer like is old man, a schemer and knew that whatever he came up with, it had to be big. Like most boys his age, little Joe soon started thinking about the girl over in the next glen. She owned a horse and he had seen her riding along the road to Dodge. He imagined himself sitting behind her on the horse and feeling her reins as they trotted along. Little Joe sorely wanted to have a horse of his own, but the meager earnings he managed to find weren't enough to buy very much.
I'm dreadfully sorry, but I ran out of time because the home teachers came over, and I had a meeting with the missionaries, and I had to get my lesson ready, and it's tithing settlement time, and, and, and, Okay, I procrasted for too long, and just didn't get it finished in time. But, I wanted to submit what I had before the deadline. You know, it's the mormon way, everything is done on the last day of the month. Perhaps I can finish it for the next go around?