Chapter 4 – Underneath A Blue and Cloudless Sky
With some assistance the next morning, Henry sat me down on the porch at the front of the cabin. He wrapped me in several thick blankets and left me to look out at the view as he tended to his goats, few chickens and the swaybacked old mare, who I later learned was called Delilah.
It was a view worth looking at. We were high up in the hills and the sky had that odd darkening blue effect you get at altitude, where the pale blue deepens almost to indigo. A slight breeze toyed idly with the dust at the front of the cabin making swirling patterns that seemed to dance and play with each other in an endless and varied game of tag. The pine trees around the clearing in which the cabin sat talked gently to each other in a grumpy rasp of creaking boughs and a lone eagle circled lazily overhead, seemingly unimpressed with our presence.
It was a place of peace and beauty, with a view clear down the narrow tree edged valley to the plains beyond. A small spring bubbled up alongside the cabin, which was solidly built up against an outcrop of granite-like rock. I could almost feel the air cleansing my soul, the slight bite of the snows higher up making their presence known in the crispness of the air, and over the weeks that followed I spent a lot of time sat on that porch watching the world, thinking, contemplating and slowly recovering from the beating and near burial that had left me all but dead.
Once I'd gotten over the worst of the bruising and the old man decided that my ribs were sufficiently healed that I could start doing something useful, he put me to work.
I started with the chickens, feeding them, collecting the eggs and making sure they were secured at nightfall. Then, when I felt stronger, Henry decided I should take over the milking of the goats.
A more cantankerous, bitter natured and awkward animal I have never encountered. The old man watched with obvious glee as I was butted, kicked, knocked over, trampled on and generally abused by his two horned charges. I lost count of the amount of times he cackled with laughter as I tried for the umpteenth time to milk one of them, often ending up dripping with the sweet milk and nursing a bruised foot, or other similarly tender part of my person.
Eventually I got the knack of it, and as my strength returned to me it became easier and easier. The work gave me a purpose and got me moving and building my strength once more. Movement became easier and less laboured, and bones knitted back together, muscles repaired and the pain decreased. I was young then and healed quickly.
My body was almost fixed, but my mind and my confidence most certainly weren't.
A full month after he'd rescued me, the old man finally broached the subject that had been torturing me for some time.
"So," he started as he finished off the last mouthful of his meal, "what are you goin' to do about that bastard Tennant?"
"I don't know. I'm not sure I want to face him."
The words slipped out before I knew it, memories of fists and pain flashing into my mind and I unconsciously massaged my damaged left hand. The old man paused for a moment and then replied in a quiet voice.
"You can't hide up here for the rest of your life son, I know you're afraid, but..."
"I'm not afraid of anyone or anything. You know nothing old man!"
I didn't realise I was standing over him and shouting into his face until I finished my sentence, not that it seemed to faze him. My fists were clenched, my body shaking with anger and repressed memory as I sat back down. But the old man carried on talking as if nothing had happened, smiling gently through his words.
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Windblown SaviourHistorical Fiction
(Historical Fiction / Action) - Gunslinger: I may be feared and admired, but I call nowhere home. My gun and my skill define my existence. I was born fast, and endless practice has made me the best. For now. A brief rush of adrenaline. Noise, the s...