Staying Near Stanly [3 of 6]

He had hitched the cow to the sled and laid her in the middle of it so she faced backwards. He went in for a moment more and she could hear his boots rocking on the wooden floor. Then came out wearing the huge bear coat he had arrived in the one that fell from hood to floor. He was carrying a rug bundle that seemed to be full of something squirming. Her dog trotting beside him half jumping to sniff the bundle. He placed the bundle at the woman’s feet under the curved foot box. She heard a yelp and realised; the puppies. Then he went back for one more check and then pulled the door closed. She had the feeling he had straightened her bed and made sure her home was neatly left. She felt grateful for that. As she did to find the small box of baby things she had been making over the winter. And her only bag that contained her good dress and boots, her fancifuls and her hidden trinkets that she had brought from her mother’s home and always kept in that bag.

He stepped up either side of her head as it rested against some sort of padding and the box. He pulled the fur up over her head and turned to the reins. With a slap and a shout the cow begrudgingly moved, the dog trotting along behind.
She watched the sight of her cabin diminish. And remembered the sight of it standing beside her man as the horse proudly brought them home. Days and days from anyone else the cabin looked welcoming. Snow began falling as the cabin was still in sight and suddenly it had vanished in the snow.

Days passed where they travelled slowly, the man walking where he could, the dog in with the pups when she needed to be. As they travelled they ate the food he had brought packed in another box at her head and at night they slept in the sled, he sleeping bundled in his rugs beside her; for just a few hours until he moved them along to keep the cow from freezing.
Finally wearily the cow pulled the sled down the main street of the town. Cosey in the cocoon of furs the woman fed her new born. At her feet the seven fat bellied puppies slept, wearily their mother trotted along beside doggedly. Up front the man stood bracing himself against the dash with quaking thighs, driving the cow onwards through the town with the last of his strength willing the beast to not fail in it’s last ounce of strength. It seemed to know where to stop, at the livery door, and stood quivering, steam hissing from its cramping heaving flanks.
‘Yo there!’
More harsh calls. Would she ever be used to the sound of language again?
The old man came from the stables and grabbed the cow’s head as if that would stay the exhausted animal from falling into the slush.
‘She needs a doctor.’ He grunted as he stepped from the sled waving to the massive snow covered fur bundle on the sled.
‘Doc Worster is out of town. Just Ma Crimpton. What ails her?’
‘Child birth.’
‘Yup Ma Crimpton cures that.’
‘Stall the cow rub her down and find the pups somewhere.’
‘I look after horses, I’m no dairy or kennel!’ the man complained
‘You’ll get extra.’
The man eventually grunted in agreement.
‘Ma Crimpton’s the fourth place down.’ he waved down the street
Unceremoniously the man hoisted the woman into his arms; baby, furs and all. The disturbed pups squealed in the sudden cold and their mother lept onto the sled to settle them. The old man grunted over and over as he encouraged the cow to slowly step into the stables out of the cold.
The large bundle on legs marched briskly down the slushy road to the fourth hut along. From the outside the dwelling was a large wooden shack. There was a covered porch with a swing-to door and he managed to maneuver them into this area before he gave in to a cough.
‘I can stand.’ she offered softly wary of his reply after her last attempt to speak.
He ignored her and thumped on the door with his foot.
‘Coming! Coming! Hold your horses! Don’t kick the door in!’ they heard screeched from within and then the door opened and a woman half his size stood there brandishing an ancient blunderbuss neither of them thought would be of any real use. ‘What is this? A bear on my door?’
‘She needs help’ he grunted at her
‘Well bring her in then!’ the woman screeched and held the door open as wide as it could go. ‘Lan’ sakes! If’n you stand out there any longer you’ll freeze yer bits off!’
He went through and found a room with a bed in the glow of a roaring fire filling a small stone fireplace. He lay her on the bed with the utmost of care. A smile his last action before unconsciousness enveloped him and he sunk to the wooden floor.

Staying Near Stanly [3 of 6]


Frankston, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

It stems from a quick piece I wrote to the beautiful art of Bob McKain
Please view his gorgeous panorama that inspired this! :O)

Enjoy! :O)

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