She slowly walked deeper into the yard, there didn’t seem to be anyone around but she could hear someone in one of the buildings. The house had a nice colored smoke coming out of the chimney and she could have sworn she smelt homemade bread.
Figuring it was now or never and thinking of Victoria, she made her way up to the back porch, slipped off her snowshoes and put them to the side so they wouldn’t be in the way. Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself and knocked firmly on the back door.
It didn’t take but a moment for a lady to answer with surprise on her face when she saw Coon standing there all bundled up.
The lady suddenly smiled really big and said “Well hello there honey, you must be Coon, Katie’s friend and little Victoria’s savior. Come in, come in! We are so glad you came back.”
“Thank you ma’am. And I thank ya’all for taking care of Victoria. I am ready to take her back with me now but I sure do appreciate you watching her for me. She is still here and ok isn’t she?” she asked.
The lovely lady with the laughing eyes exclaimed “Of course she is still here. We LOVE her! We have all bonded with her and she is an absolute delight! Actually WE are hoping you don’t take her back. And of course you can see her.” Then Coon realized that somehow the lady had managed to get Coon out of her winter coat and sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of cocoa in front of her -and for the life of her, Coon could not figure out just how the lady had managed it.
Just then Katie came into the kitchen and her eyes lit up at the sight of Coon sitting in the kitchen. She practically ran over to her and gave her a huge hug without making her spill one drop of cocoa.
“I knew you’d be back! Thank you SO much for bringing Victoria here, even though the adults all seem to go gaga whenever they get around her. Can ya stay awhile, I have so many questions and I can show you around and you can see Victoria and see how well we’ve been taking care of her and even though she isn’t my new sister. See the adults didn’t think you would be back and so they voted on who would be Victoria’s new parents. Her new parents are Clark and Ruth and she has two new brothers and a new sister so she is going to be really loved!” Katie gushed all in one breath and then in a more subdued tone asked “that is unless you take her back?”
The lady then interjected before Coon could reply. “Katie honey, why not let her warm up for a minute and you can go get the baby and Ruth.”
Katie was quick to obey and the lady said “First, my name is Glenda and that was my daughter. And I’m sure you are about to be overwhelmed with the whole extended families in about minute or less. Will you be ok?”
“Yes ma’am, I understand that everyone will want to know why I left Victoria here and ya’all need to know. Ya’all really want to keep her?”
“Oh yes, we definitely want to keep her” replied Glenda as she watched the relief flood Coon’s face.
“Ma’am, I feel I must somehow help take care of her and somehow provide for her as much as I can since her mom asked me to. I have a few things for her and I’d like to also give some things to ya’all for taking her in and all.” Coon was speaking softly but Glenda could hear the determination in her voice.
“Honey we can work all that out later because I think I hear a herd of horses coming this way….now don’t you worry about anything at all.”
And sure enough, while it wasn’t a herd of horses; it was a whole lot a people that came through the door from the depths of the house.
And for the next two hours, Coon had a spell bound audience as she told her story while little Victoria was cradled in her arms.
“My little brother and I were pretty much raised by our Granny and Poppy. Our momma just dropped us off one day when I was about four and The Bugger …that’s my little brother; was only about a week old. We saw her off and on about once a year or when she would suddenly remember she was a mom and would come and get us. Those times were few and far between…..” and so the story went.
Coon could not believe how many people were crammed into the kitchen, yet they were all very polite and actually listening to her. Not one interrupted her, well except Victoria when she needed changing and a bottle. Ruth managed to get her away from Coon for the few moments that were needed for the diaper change and handed her right back with a bottle. Glenda and Ruth exchanged many looks while the story was being told and were amazed that this slip of a girl was living in a cave of all things.
After telling her story, Coon offered “If ya’all would like, I can teach Katie and the other girls some of the things that my Granny and Poppy taught me. It could be to help pay for ya’all caring for Victoria.”
Now that comment did cause an uproar with the girls all saying “yes!!!” and the boys were asking “what about us?”
Ruth spoke up through the noise “Ok now, quiet down. Listen we’ve all got a lot to think about for tonight. Coon honey, will you stay here tonight and let us continue to get to know you and so you can also spend some more time with Victoria?”
“Yes, ma’am I can do that” was the soft reply.
“Ok then, that’s settled, we can work out all the details in the morning after we all sleep on it. Now why don’t you let me take Victoria and put her down because she is sound asleep despite all the noise.”
“Can I put her down, ma’am?”
“Of course you can dear. Katie why don’t you show her where Victoria sleeps and then you can show her around the place.”
“Sure, come on Coon; Victoria has a bed this way.” And the two girls disappeared through the doorway.
By the next morning Coon was exhausted! But she was very happy and satisfied that Victoria was in a great home and would be well looked after. The soaps and lotions went over great with the ladies and girls and they all begged Coon to teach them how to make them. And Katie just loved her quilt. Victoria’s things went into the room she was sleeping in and the little clothes fit her well and the cloth diapers were accepted with gratitude. The quilt was laid across the foot of her crib.
Plans were made for Coon to teach the girls some of the things that her Poppy had taught her and they were going to start with the slingshot. She was going to teach them from scratch, meaning they would be making their own to begin with.
Coon left that late morning with promises of return because Ruth and Glenda were not quite ready to just let the girls go off for a few days to hunt for the leather for their slingshots. Coon said that she would do it because she would have to go pretty far so that she wouldn’t scare off any of the game that was just beginning to repopulate the woods.
As she walked back to her cave, Coon began to realize just how alone she had been and how good it felt to be welcomed by new friends.
She hadn’t traveled far before she heard gun shots and decided to go see what was up. She really didn’t want anyone to see her, because it had taken almost Herculean effort to leave that morning and she finally had to sneak out of the farm house. She did feel awful for not telling anyone good bye, but she had left a note explaining that she was going hunting and would be gone for about a day or so. She gave Victoria lot’s of hugs and kisses before leaving. She also felt confident that no matter what the shots were, Victoria’s new family would protect her with their lives.
She made the crest of the hill but stayed in the tree line. She could see some men down the other side of the hill and it didn’t look ….BANG! The shot from the gun just about made her jump out of her moccasins and snowshoes. Those men had just calmly shot the man that was on the ground! She quickly and quietly backed up and looked carefully around; she didn’t see anyone else around.
As she was making her way back down the hill towards her cave, she could hear the whine of snowmobiles and they sounded like they were getting farther away.
We were in town on one of our rare trips. Granny had declared a trip was needed last night at the dinner table. Of course, The Bugger was all excited about possibly getting some new game for his laptop and I have to admit I was excited too!
It started out to be a cooler morning when we all set off for town. Although town was only about 25 miles or so, we lived so far off the beaten path; that it seemed like 100 miles. We were the very last house on an old dirt and gravel road that I think the county forgets even existed sometimes. They never plowed it in the winter but that was ok; Poppy said that it helped keep the riff raff out….whatever that was.
The snow was only about 5 or 6 inches deep, so it didn’t give Poppy’s old truck any trouble at all. And the paved roads were all plowed. The snowfall had been almost four days ago.
We saw two snowmobiles having a race in one of the fields and I wondered what it would be like to ride on one.
“Poppy, what’s it like to ride on a snowmobile?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve never rode on one. I imagine it would be like flying across the snow with the cold wind in your face….at least you wouldn’t have to worry about bugs getting in your teeth!” Then he began to chuckle. I have to admit, it took me almost a full minute to figure out the bug thing. Then I began to chuckle also…which developed into a full grown belly laugh when Granny began to laugh and The Bugger had NO clue what we were talking about.
“What? What do ya mean? Bugs? Why would you have to worry about bugs??” He kept asking over and over again.