55: Work break
August slid into September, but it was a gentle collision, bringing sunny days more like July than the beginning of the end for Summer, and David Godwin was using one of those sunny days to catch up on previously neglected business.
Scooting along city streets, his small, perky little vehicle was busy going places. The brightly coloured little four-by-four was running zealously around town as it and the driver made a concerted effort to get the work done.
With only a short stop at a gas pump to keep it happy, and a hop through a take-out window for a quick lunch-to-go for the driver, it kept up the pace well into the afternoon, getting hot and hotter along with the sunshine which had changed from nice morning into geeze, its too damned hot by the time its driver finally managed to dust off previously shelved good intentions, making him feel almost virtuousor at least well pleased with himself for having finally got at it.
Just as the four-by-four was ready to make a run for it and get out of the horde of other vehicles surrounding it whose drivers seemed to have the same idea, circumstances beyond its control brought everything to an abrupt standstill.
Late afternoon found it going nowhere. The word rush seemed to have lost its meaning at the rush-hour. Fuming frustration might have been a better term. Somebody had run out of gas in one lane, and then somebody else had taken a corner on an amber and seen red when he got hit by somebody else rushing the green. Brakes screeched, rear-ends got bashed and drivers went into despair.
Gridlock took over.
In spite of the hassle and the delay the topless, hot little stationary vehicle didnt contain an uptight driver. David Godwin was whistling as he waited for a change in the situation. He was in a different space.
<Dinner at Yevys tonightif I can get there before midnight. Tomorrow its the Bay. Im sure looking forward to that. Been thinking about it a lot.>
Traffic began to move at last as tow-trucks and traffic officers straightened out the road rage, but once on his way again and arriving at his destination, finding a place to park close to Yevys asked for yet more effort.
He circled the area, searching, and eventually somebody pulled out from a curb. Being small, the little four-by-four whipped into the space before anyone else could get themselves together for a try. Ignoring the glares it was getting from the drivers of less fortunate hunters it had beaten to the prize, it gave a happy sigh of relief and lapsed into silence when the key was turned off, settling down for a well-deserved rest as David fed the parking meter and headed for the café.
Yevys permanently lounging, friendly old door reminded him as he opened it that he needed to do some work around the newly replaced window, where not only had the glass been shattered but the frame had been subjected to a couple of whacks as well. Inside he found Bert Raleigh sitting at the back table with Yevyotherwise the place was empty.
Hope Im not too late for dinner, he called as he walked up to them. Got kind of busy at the marina this morning and left downtown stuff pretty late, and then traffic was held up, and parking is getting to be something else too. More like that old kids game of musical chairs.
You work too much, commented Bert.
Whatcha doin here an not eatin at Grams? asked Yevy.
Oh, shes busy holding a meeting of her symphony group tonight so I said Id eat outand where else would I go for that?
Yeah, you got smarts for eatin, approved Yevy, Cept when you go to em fast flap windows.
Hey, a guy has to eat in a hurry sometimes, grinned David. Id rather come here, butno time sometimes.
You shouldnt eat on the run like that, Bert advised. Its bad for your health and dangerous, tooling your wheels around one-handed.
Well, fortunately for my health I dont do it too often, David defended himself, And I only take bites at red lights and stops and such.
Okay, whatcha gonna have? Special?
Sounds good to me if thats what Berts eating. It looks great.
Tis so too. Help youself.
David headed for the kitchen, catching the conversation the two older men were having as he got his dinner together.
When he returned with his plate and sat down he remarked,
How come you two are always grousing these days?
Aint grousin, jus pissed off, Yevy defended himself. Aint no fun round here no more. We all dont do nuttin but work.
Yeah, look at the three of us, continued Bert. Big healthy men in the prime of life and all we do is work. There has to be something better.
David raised his eyebrows at the two, accompanied by an amused smile at that summary of things.
Well, if you just sit here waiting for something to happen, its not going to come looking for you, he suggested. Why dont you go out and have some fun?
Oh yeah, we should just walk out the door and its there, growled Bert. You can go all over the place if you want to. Were stuck here.
Well, figure out some way to unstick yourselves, was the laughing reply, And my going all over the place isnt always for fun. Anyway, I thought you liked it here. Youre always saying theres no place like home and all that.
Well mebbe they aint no place like is, but it sure do get borin sometimes, countered Yevy. Usta be more fun.
Fun around here has turned into somebody smashing your window once a week. Were spending our investment in this place keeping up with glass replacement. You ought to put an iron grid across it, advised Bert.
I aint gonna have it lookin like no jail, objected Yevy. Anybody wanna get in aint nuttin in here for takin cept tables an chairs an Grams tableclots. Leave cash register open empty sos ey can see aint nuttin in it anyways. I gettin used to at window bein banged now.
Thats just it Yev. Weve been sitting around this place getting used to things for so long, Bert scratched his head, made a face, then said in a shocked voiceThat long?! No damned wonder its boring.
Maybe we quit an do sumpin elst, yeah? was Yevys response.
Here we go again, grinned David, shaking his head.
So what else should we do? queried Bert in a disgruntled voice. You and I dont know how to do anything else except what weve been doing all these years and were not quite eligible for the old age pension yet.
Silence, while David worked on his dinner for a few moments, then,
UhuhI cant remember either of you knocking off work except every time Yevy got hit by the health inspector, or your accounting office got audited. Isnt it about time the two of you took a holiday? How long has it been since either of you did?
You mean goin someplace elst? asked Yevy. Musta been at time I run like hell from where I usta was, gettin away from war. You bet I tink I like is place. Is sure home for me, an I aint goin nowheres.
How about you Bert? When did you get away last? queried David.
Think Ive forgotten what the word holiday means, replied Bert glumly.
Yeah, it figures. I bet neither of you has gone anywhere since way before I first met you. Tell you what, you twoyoure right. Youve been in the city too long. Im heading to Shalisa Creek Bay tomorrow to pick up Howie, and Im taking Stebby along so he can work on that power boat of mine. How about you two coming with us? Its a great place. Youd like it.
You nuts, returned Yevy negatively. You alla time yappin about at place. Nuttin but trees an water an stuff.
You mean it? queried Bert with surprised interest.
Yeah. That would be funand theres more than trees an stuff. We can go into the village and hit the pub and you can see what life in the slow lane is like.
Get any slowern is an we should mebbe oughta drop dead for goin some faster, was Yevys assessment.
Well Im not going to do that, Bert returned emphatically. Maybe a change of scenery for a little while might be a good thing.
Sounds like youre for it then, encouraged David, pleased that his idea was being given a little serious consideration. How about you, Yev?
Whos gonna look after is place?
Right now it doesnt need any looking after, scoffed Bert. That place across the street gets all the traffic, except for the kids who get free food at night here because you dont want to throw it out, and they gather like flies around a garbage can.
Hey! Is place aint no garbage can! objected Yevy in an insulted tone of voice.
I didnt say it was, soothed Bert, I just meant those kids know youre going to give them something free and they gather like flies, and all you get for thanks is a broken window. Any other time, if you, me and David arent here, who else is going to eat it?
My kids aint who bust at windowan it aint at bad, argued Yevy. I get lottsa people inna daytime.
So its the kids who dont get any freebies and get mad who do itand do you think your daytime customersll starve without you? Probably go across the street and eat that junk food. Its a weekend anyway and all your working guysll be at home. Theyll appreciate this place more when we get back. Let those damned kids kick the window in without waking you up for a change. Come on. Be a sport.
Dont like sports. Stupid. Guys chasin balls an tings around wit sticks an hittin each udder wit em instead.
The other two laughed at that and then Bert urged,
Come on, take a chance. Get your butt out of a rut.
It really is something different, elaborated David. Youd like everybody, and for sure the kids. Youre always trying to do something for young people even though you pretend youre not.
Gotta do sumpin to shut em noisy lil beggars up, Yevy defended himself.
How about it Yev? If I go youll go, okay? bargained Bert.
You can take your mandolin along, David added, for what he hoped would be an extra incentive. Stebbys taking his guitar, and well make some music together down by the beach. Fitz and the guys play a great hand of poker too and, thinking hard as to what else he could use as enticement he threw in, Rosell be happy to see you again, and wait till you taste Bettinas home made wine.
There were a couple of anxious moments for David and Bert as Yevy stayed thoughtful for a too long time, hugging his coffee mug, but he finally gave in because he was secretly beginning to think it sounded like a great idea.
Wellmebbeokayjus to please you guys an mebbe see lady law too.
Yippee! yelled Bert. Itll be fun.
Okay, agreed David quickly, to seal the bargain. Ill pick you two up here early tomorrow morning and well head out. Just bring a few things to last a couple of days.
Like cigars and brandy, speculated Bert, And a deck of cards. These guys play good poker you say?
Some of the best, he was assured, then added with a grin, And dont forget your toothbrush.
- - -
David whistled happily all the way to the marina with his three passengers wedged into his little four-by-four, along with their luggage, musical instrument cases sticking out at odd angles. The whistling was interspersed with remarks about why they hadnt done this before and what a great time they were going to have and how much theyd like it there, until Yevy piped up from the back seat,
You gettin pay from some travel place to heap all at toury yap at us? Tought is trip is for Stebby to fix at boat.
Sorry, laughed David. But this is just such a great idea, and a nice morning andyeahgetting to the bay again and having Steb fix the boat engine. We should have thought of this long agoandI just feel good.
He was actually thinking about Rose, and had been since his nearly disastrous and unsettling return from the bay, so hed come up with the idea of getting his mechanic over to repair LEAF WINEs engine a little earlier than hed planned on before his departure. That trip home had made him seriously consider his parting remark to Rose that nobody had promised him a tomorrow.
Tomorrow had suddenly become, do it today.
Yeah, I feel good too, agreed Bert enthusiastically. Its a great morning to start a holiday.
Bert liked that word, holiday. He hadnt entertained that idea for so many years that the thought of it as they arrived at the marina made him feel ten years younger.
The four went down the ramp to the floating office and set down their luggage as Yevy looked around and, seeing only the plane and Davids rowboat secured to the wharf, asked with something of puzzled anxiety in his voice.
Wheres Tooty Law?
David gave him a surprised look, then told him,
Shes up on the hard getting a refityou forgotten? Today we flyin more ways than one.
I toughtit take at long for fixin a boat?
Well yeah. She got a lot of water in herengine and everything needs a going over. Besides, the plane gets us there and back faster and we get more time at the bay. With TJUTELA it needs a week there and back if we want to spend a couple of days or so, and I havent got that much time right now.
Well, I aint gettin in at ting, returned Yevy with finality, regarding the plane with wary eyes.
You aint what?! exploded Bert.
You damned well am! declared Bert.
It aint safe. He allus doin crazy stuff wit it.
Like, Yevy thought hard. Like at time he got stuck from home cuz he got caught wit snow.
Well that wasnt his faultand he did get homeeventually. He doesnt control the weather.
Yeahats just it, was the gloomy reply.
Oh great, grinned David. Youre scared of flying.
Me too I think, came a small voice from the young mechanic standing quietly by the others.
David swung around.
Geeze! You too?! Why the hell didnt you tell me before?
Wellmaybebecause I felt I wasntbutI never flew beforeso I dont know.
Aw, come on guys, pleaded David. Getting on a plane is no big deal.
Lets leave em behind, suggested Bert with disgust in his tone.
This pilot was not about to have his day ruined by balky passengers. He tried reasonable persuasion.
Well, let me put it this way. You think Id take off in this thing if I thought I wouldnt get back down safely again? Im just as fond of living as you aremaybe more so. Ive got Gram and the pups to think of and all the guys at the marina. Ive got responsibilitiesso Im responsibleand do you think Id ask you to do something thats not safe?
What you tink Steb? Yevy consulted with the other reluctant traveller.
Guess he wouldnt, admitted the young man. Hasnt asked me to do anything like that yet.
Cept maybe is?
He just said its safe.
You believe at?
Well yeahyeah? Or well yeahmebbe?
You two gonna stand here all day holding that two-way going nowhere dialogue? Come onget in! ordered Bert.
As the three were carrying on their discussion David opened the luggage compartment, picked up Yevys overnight bag and mandolin case and put them in along with Berts tote bag and his own.
Ill just store your stuff safely in here, he murmured quietly, finishing off the loading with the mechanics backpack, guitar and tool case.
The verbal sparring came to an end when Yevy and Bert turned around at the sound of the luggage compartment closing with a sound of definite finality.
Okay, David told them with a bright stage smile, All aboard so the ship can sail.
Thats it, said Bert with determination, grabbing hold of Yevy and pushing him toward the plane. Get in there.
Yevy halted in front of the plane.
I gotta climb up on at dinky lil ladder?
Heyits not dinky and its solidlook. David swung himself up and down again. See? Nothin to it. Just stick your foot on there and step up. Oh geeze! Estéban, you get in and help him up from inside then, just to make him feel safe.
That tone of voice from The Boss, addressing him by his full name, prompted the mechanic to move. He got up his courage, climbed gingerly up the ladder and, finding himself safe inside the cabin, he turned to help. With Bert pushing from behind and Estéban pulling on his arms, Yevy got in and grabbed for a seat.
Hop in fast, David said to Bert, Before they change their minds and start getting out again.
With his luggage and passengers safely aboard, David slid the plane across the water and as they lifted off, Bert, who was thoroughly enjoying himself, turned to Yevy and said,
Look at that! Sure looks great from up here doesnt it?
I aint lookin! was the reply.
- - -
It was not only David who was utilising the sunny days to advantage. Bay residents were not only enjoying the good weather, but using it to finish off the harvesting of their gardens, which had grown so willingly, cheered on by all the enthusiastic green thumbs who had done just about everything they could think of to help the plants succeed.
Up-and-coming young green thumbs had some thoughts on that subject too, like the suggestion Walter made for giving a boost to help them grow bigger faster. He felt that maybe they needed to be shown some calisedics. Hed picked up that word from Therése who had told him it was what she was doing when hed seen her dancing to music, and shed told him that the movements she had learned made people graceful as well as supple and kept them growing well and in good health. People, she said, needed to move around a lot for that, and she then showed him how to reach and sway, taking his arms and stretching them over his head while he moved to the rhythm of the sounds.
This gave him the idea that the plants were maybe sitting around too long in the sunshine without getting any exercise, and since they couldnt get up and dance maybe he could teach them how to reach for Sky like his sister did. Giving them a little pull upward to show them how to stretch, the way Therése had done with him, might be in order. The plants were graceful enough he admitted, but he just wanted to make sure they were big and healthy as well.
Rose, seeing the little boys earnestness, refrained from laughing and told him that when he saw the leaves of the plants fluttering, and the plants themselves swaying in the wind, they were indeed dancing and reaching just like Therése, and were getting lots of exercise, which explanation brought a smile to Walters face. He next wondered if they should maybe play some music for them too. The answer was that if he listened carefully he would hear Wind singing, and playing beautiful music just suited to the way plants wanted to dance. Satisfaction took over as Walter agreed with Roses further words, that Mother Nature really was careful to supply everything all the green things needed for growing.
Calisthenics for plants was left to the care of Wind and Mother Nature.
The boon of fair weather also gave extra time for earthing up over-wintering vegetables to keep them safe from being washed out by heavy winter rains or possible frost damage later in the year. Vines and plants which had been plundered of their crops were being cleared away and chopped up to be added to the compost heaps each garden thriftily used to recycle natures own food requirements for next years growth. As Dancing Water put it, Earth too needs to share in what she has helped us grow so plentifully in our fine gardens and so we give back with thanks that which we do not need.
A general tidying up was going on, and settling the gardens down for the winter was resolutely progressing. Press of time was foremost in the minds of the gardeners. Rain and cooler days would make the work less pleasant, or sometimes even prevent it from getting done. This season things were being taken care of when they needed to be, without the interference of Weather for a change.
Shalisa Creek Bay rippled lazily in the sunshine, in contrast to the more animated movement of its residents. Visitors were expected and LEGER DE MAIN was delighted, as preparations to welcome them had the finishing touches added aboard the barge. That meant the setting out of donated goodies and the arranging of flowers gathered by the children.
Coffee aboard the barge was now considered the necessary happening for anything out of the ordinary which included the involvement of the collective bay population. One such gathering had determined that Estéban was to be given his choice of residence for his stay, up to and including a tent if he really wanted to be by himself. Otherwise, every homehouse, boat or bargewould make him welcome.
Rose was particularly looking forward to the expected company. Estéban would repair the commuterat least the engineand then the hull would be put in shape, and last of all the interior. She was more interested in getting the boat operational than in having that last requirement fulfilled, although restoring the cabin interior would be a beautiful finish to the project.
At first shed focussed her thoughts on being able to keep a watch on the Point. That was the object to be keep in viewrepairing the commuter was for Shalisa Creek Bays welfare. The idea of skimming over the water at a good clip was just an extra. That frame of mind lurked around until she caught herself in her little-white-lying to herself and admitted that fun was involved in the whole process too, and everybody would enjoy the boat when it was operational. She finally admitted to herself thatyes, she did want to get her hands on the controls of that fast little boat. It would be great fun as well as having a means of safeguarding the peninsula.
Soeveryone awaited the repair of LEAF WINEs engine, whether it was for business or pleasure.
Then, there would be Yevy and Bert. She had met the restaurateur on her trip to the city with Armand, but she was interested in meeting the other half of this duo who were so close to David andthere was David himself. For Rose that part of the visit was going to be the piéce de résistance among all the goodies set out on the barge.
The children could hardly wait for Uncle Twimbys visit so that he could meet his chickie, who was no chickie at all, but a full grown red hen. All the other Chickie Mansion dwellers except Davids had already been named, and the children felt it wasnt quite right to keep on calling her, No Name.
On the other end of these upbeat expectations, Howard was not the least bit excited about the arrival of his brotherit was a downer for him. He had been getting into the village with every chance which turned up, and some he manufactured. Lucy was there and he was infatuated. He didnt want to go home, but he knew that David was not going to let him stay behind.
Hed thought of simply disappearing until David had to leave under press of time, but then there was his father to consider. Education was big in that mans mind, and money was big in Howies. He didnt want to be cut off from this commodity which was so important to his life style, as had happened once before when he had become infatuated with somebody. It wouldnt matter to either of these men that this time it was different and meant a lot to him. Willingly or otherwise, he would go. No nonsense Big Brother would see to that. Unwillingly, he was facing the prospect of leaving.
The other bay residents were just pleased to have company, particularly the men, who had heard about the poker playing which went on in the back of Yevys Café, and they were always willing to hone their skills with anybodyexcept David. They had given up with that one.
The sound of the aircraft in the distance brought the usual reaction of, Sounds like him, and, Here comes Uncle Twimby!
There was a stampede of six children toward the beach as the plane came in and a more leisurely reaction from the adults.
Armand, who had brought METHUSELAH to the wharf the afternoon before, to get ready for a suggested trip to the village, was waiting as the plane taxied up to the old structure.
Hi Doc, David called cheerfully as he stepped out and saw the doctor ready to offer help if needed. Then, seeing everyone coming down to the shore to meet them he added, Looks like weve announced our arrival as usual when we come by air. I guess my noise travels far and wide. Sorry about that.
Its a sound which is appreciated here at least, Armand responded, But it is unfortunate that you have had to abandon the silent white wings of TJUTELA. Will she be on the water again soon?
Afraid not, was the negative answer. Im giving her a real going over and refit just to make sure everythings as it was before. Actually shes been needing a spiffing up for awhile now, and that trip home more than told me Id better get at it. The guys will work on her when theres nothing else to do and Im not going to push it. Shes not going back in the water until shes shipshape.
Perfect, that is, replied Armand with a knowing grin.
Okay, laughed the pilot, Guess I am kind of particular whereTJUTELA is concerned.
He turned to his passengers, who were politely waiting for the signal to disembark, and told them,
End of the line guyseverybody out.
We gotta stick out our necks on at wobbly ladder again? asked Yevy, as none of the three moved from their seats.
Well, thats the usual way, returned David with a laugh as he went to the luggage compartment and began to unload its contents, And that ladder doesnt wobbleits just the motion of the plane in the water, but if you can think of some other method of getting ashorego aheadgive it a try.
Come on, get out, ordered Bert from inside the cabin, addressing the two who were closest to the exit.
Stebby, you go first, yeah? suggested Yevy.
Estéban, having found that flying was not as frightening as he had built it up to be in his mind and, remembering how easily David had swung himself up and down, left his seat, made for the doorway of the plane and essayed to copy that deceptively easy looking technique, except Tide, never one to miss an opportunity, lifted the plane a little, which made the boards lower than the young man had estimated. Already launched forward, and caught by the unexpected shifting of parameters, he stumbled on the old wharf as he landed, grabbing David to save himself from falling.
See? Nothing to it, approved the pilot, steadying him out of sight of the other two passengers, and giving him a grin and a pat on the shoulder. Okay, weve both proven its safe. Come on out.
Estéban was greatly relieved at not having fallen flat on his face in front of the collected bay residents, however ungraceful the descent, especially since it included Davids brother whom he had seen lurking on the far edges of the gathering and who now shouted,
HeyStebby! Wheres your Harley?
He had met Howard casually a couple of times and hadnt been quite sure what to make of him, deciding that he was definitely not like his big brother. Now, glad to have stayed upright in front of what he considered to be a critical member of the audience ashore, Estéban added his assurances to Davids statement.
Its safe and youre not going to get out any other way.
Kinda wisht I dint get in, muttered Yevy, looking at Bert, who stared back, saying,
Go ahead, Ill help from here and theyll help from there.
There was such a long wait that finally David called,
Want me to flip a coin to see whos first?
You coward, Yevy, Bert laughingly labelled his friend.
Me, I dont care bein coward, snorted Yevy. You go, Bert.
Well, guess we cant sit here all day, decided Bert, got up and carefully lowered himself down backwards safely onto the wharf.
Okay come on out, you coward, he called, as those ashore began to exchange amused glances.
After a pause Yevy appeared, clutching the doorway, stepped cautiously onto the first rung of the boarding ladder and got swung up and down by Tide having fun with the newbies. Fearing that he was going to be dumped onto the wharf headfirst the restaurateur decided to jump onto the boards, ignored Davids outstretched hand, and let go of his hold. At that moment the plane rocked up and down some more, and Yevy lost his balance, fell sideways onto the planes float and slid off it into the saltchuck.
With a swift move David jumped onto the float where Yevy was scrabbling to hold on, grabbed him under his arms and hauled him bodily up and over onto the wharf like a sack of wet oatmeal.
Armand, Estéban and Bert all rushed over to help hoist him onto his feet and, as he staggered there on the wharf between his rescuers, sputtering and streaming water and curses, Yevy finally got out,
Allus said at damn plane dangerous. You crazy flyin aroun in at ting. I gonna walk home, and with that he waved off his rescuers. Get away! You tink I be some sorta weakly ole geezer or sumpn? I okay.
He pushed them off and, as the three backed away in surprise, he glanced around while using the palms of his hands to squeegee water from the front of his clothes and remarked,
Hey, nice lookin place. Sorta looks like ole home back when. Lottsa rockbut a lotta more greennice!
Relieved laughter and enquiries as to whether he was alright came from shoreward so Yevy waved an arm in the air, calling,
I okay tanks!
You all go ahead to the barge, Armand suggested, And Yevy and Ill get on METHUSELAH and find him some dry clothes.
As the doctor took him by a wet arm and started him toward the schooner, Yevy, not quite as got together as he was letting on, enquired,
Mebbe you got a good shot of some ole fashion medicine too?
We can sure fill that prescription, laughed Armand. Lets get aboard and dry you off first.
Dry hell! objected Yevy. I all wet nowbit more inside me aint gonna hurt first.
Anxiety replaced by relief as he saw that his friend was unharmed and in good hands, David looked toward the end of the wharf and saw who he was wanting to see, but before he could get to her the twins ran up and quickly took him over.
Wheres Ulf an Gurth Uncle Twimby? was the enquiry.
Well, their favourite seats were already spoken for so they couldnt come this time, explained David as they and his two dry passengers headed for the others ashore.
The newcomers had to be duly introduced, Yevy in absentia, as they were invited to the coffee get-together aboard the barge, but in spite of all this going on David managed to catch Roses eyes on him.
Hey Rose, he grinned, trying not to let too much diffidence show in his face, because he wasnt quite sure what her reaction had been to the termination of his last bay visit, as he hadnt stayed around long enough to find out. Hed been speculating on it ever since and, even though hed felt there had been a reciprocal response to his unexpected leave taking, hed been telling himself so to reassure himself. Now the moment of revelation was at hand.
The smile he got back banished all doubt, but at that point Therése excitedly broke in, telling him,
You have to come and see the chickens. You have such a really pretty big red hen and she is really sad because she doesnt have a name yet.
Yeah, an we all have chickies of our own, broke in Walter.
An Uncle Nohow an Uncle Tugboat got big red hens too, added Bernice. Cause theyre not here all the time like you arent an so we thought that big chickies dont need looking after so much cause they do that themselves an look after all the little chickies too.
Maybe wed better go see them right away, suggested Rose. Shes been waiting for you to name her.
He had been told all about the arrival of the chickens and their distribution when hed phoned Fitz to check on LEAF WINEs status, up to and including the colourful method of banding and the sorting out of who chose whom and hed been looking forward to meeting his new friend.
So now Ive got a red hen as well as two big white dogs! exclaimed David. Is she pretty and big or just pretty big?
Both, said the twins at once.
Hey! She must be fantastic then! was Davids exuberant reaction.
There! exclaimed Therése. Hes already named her.
Ooops, laughed David, Okay, Fanny for short. Lets go see my fantastic new pet.
The group headed toward the Chickie Mansion and as the youngsters ran ahead the two adults managed to trail behind, allowing them to have a few words by themselves.
Im looking forward to hearing your music again, she told him. Theres lots of music around here, but somehow I cant help feeling its lacking just a little shining something without your input, and since you couldnt play your flute last time I havent heard any of yours for awhile.
Yeah? Well I hope I can fill in the gap, he offered, pleased with her compliment. Also maybe get a little flute playing in by myself down by the big tree on the beach. Sounds selfish, but musicians need to keep their skills up and hate to bother other people with their bent notes, myself included in the bending. We not only have to keep our fingers flying but there are other things as well. Flute players not only have sensitive spirits but sensitive lips too. They have to be held just so, here he set his lips as though to play the flute, And thats not saying anything about the delicate and intricate tonguing which goes with itdoubles, triples....
Oh yes, broke in Rose, smiling at what she took to be an oblique reference. I recall the demonstration of that art you left me with when you went home last monthand I think your tongue is getting a bit out of hand again right about now.
Sorry, he backed off. Guess I did overstep the bounds of friendship when I left last time. Better not do that again.
Noting his disappointed tone of voice she replied quickly with a laugh,
Oh, how sad. I rather enjoyed it, which came as an immediate relief to David as she continued, You did catch me off guard though, but I havent been around the fast lane for awhile so maybe my judgement of these things is slipping. Am I to expect this every time you leave or will you keep your impulsive double and triple exercises in check?
That sounds like a reasonable question, he admitted. Okay, how about no more impulsive kisses under the stress of the moment?
That wont wash, she demurred. I note the conditional attachments. What about all the rest of the moments which arent stressed?
Does that leave the field wide open for interpretation? he asked back, answering a question with another.
Youre the gambler, she returned. I guess youll have to take your chances whenever.
Whenever doesnt wait too long, she prompted, with a meaning look.
You meanlike right now? he asked, caught off guard himself this time.
If you have to ask, its not gambling, its putting the onus on me, she objected.
Uhokay but, maybe not nowalthough Im willing and ablebut with all these people aroundIm a bit shy, he confessed.
Her laughter made him blush as she told him,
Thats about the last thing Id have thought you were.
Well, get used to the idea, because I amat least in public.
Its true, I did see you look upended that time at the party when you got kissed so publicly, she reminded him.
Yeah, I was, particularly since Id been doing my best to discourage that one. I just cant handle romantic overtures in front of an audience very well, and I dont mean the musical kind.
Lets keep them to ourselves then, she agreed with a smile. Go ahead and gamble some other time.
Ill be on the lookout for opportunities, he assured her as they saw the children heading back for them.
Okay crew, lets have a look at the pretty hens, he smiled as they came up and then, as they reached the chicken run, Wow! Thats quite a crowd. Which ones mine?
There she is, see? The big, fluffy, shiny one, Bernice pointed out.
The three hens all looked big, fluffy and shiny to David, but there was one who seemed to have a few more feathers in her tail than the other two.
That her right there? and on being given the affirmative answer, Shes beautiful all right, but its pretty difficult to tell her from the others. I know theyre colour coded, but which colours did I get?
Ohno problem, grinned Morgan. Shes the one with the plain yellow leg band, just like the colour of your plane. Heron figured that one out.
Great thinking! Thanks Heron, David told the smiling boy standing quietly by.
Were having a big argument with Uncle Nohow, Therése complained. He keeps saying that he has the right to her eggs because hes looking after your interests while youre away. Is he?
First Ive heard about it, grinned David. I think hes looking after his own. Ill have to discuss it with him. Dont worry. Well get it straightened out.
Good. Thats what I told him, said Isabel.
Anyway, hes leaving with me when I go, so the problem will solve itself, David added by way of clearing up the problem. Maybe you all can figure out how to take care of her and her eggs for me, since I wont be around all the time. Im sure youll come to a fair and equitable solution.
Whats that? asked Walter.
OhI meanshell probably lay an egg a day and, like sharing, maybe shell give them to each one of you at a time, until I get back again, David hastily came up with an explanation. You can decide who gets the first one and whos next in order.
That sounds really nice! exclaimed Therése. Dont you think so everybody? We can pull our names out of a hat like Dancing Water did for us with the leg bands.
That settled the matterequitably and fairly.
If there should be any surplus we can put them aside for baking and things like that, added Isabel thoughtfully, and got approving nods from the others.
Can I give them some food now? asked David, wanting to get a little closer to his new friend, and thinking that might be a good approach.
May I, corrected Isabel compulsively.
I stand corrected, as Rose would say in court, he admitted laughingly as he followed the children to the lean-to where the feed was kept, But maybe I should have said may I but I dont know if I can, because Ive never had chickens before.
What! Never? Ohall right, conceded Isabel with a gracious, smiling gesture, truly sorry for someone who had never had the pleasure of knowing such delightful and productive friends.
The chickens, very busy with their own affairs, didnt care if it was may or can as long as what they got was good to eat, and Davids generosity certainly took care of that.
His attempts to get friendly with Fanny werent as successful as the chicken feed was though. She regarded him suspiciously, called her chicks and told them to get under, because she wasnt sure just what this unfamiliar big man was up to.
The big man finally decided hed better give it up for the moment because he figured he was probably scaring her and as well, those on the barge were likely busy getting at the goodies he was sure were waiting, at which point he admitted he was pretty ready for them too.
Oh yes, theres such a lot of good things, agreed Therése, Lets go!
See you later Fanny, David told his pretty big red hen as the group left the chicken run and closed the gate.
This was one chicken who wasnt taking anything for granted. She waited until she was quite sure everyone was gone before she let her chicks have their freedom again, as a feeling of normality and security returned to these ruffled members of the Chickie Mansion flock.