The Promise of a Story

Going to fetch Francine

Biscuits, Milk, and Dewberry Jam

There we were: Eli, Warren, me, and Jessie, the girl we boys loved but wouldn’t admit it, eating biscuits with thick dewberry jam.


Considering we were visiting a witch named Marjolaine at her place where the river split and meandered in all directions, well, I figured it was the strangest thing we’d ever done.

Marjolaine put her half-eaten biscuit on a saucer all dainty like she’d just had a full meal and couldn’t eat no more. She shoved her bonnet back off her brown hair and leaned her head to one side. “Noah, you seem pensive. Is there something troubling you?”
I washed my biscuit away with a gulp of milk and took a stab at what “pensive” meant. “Yes’m. I ain’t sure we ought to be pestering you, but Old Roy said to come see you to hear a story.”
Marjolaine slapped both hands on the table, leaned forward causing all of us kids to sit back, and tried laughing and talking at the same time. “Old Roy?”
Her haw-hawing caught me by surprise, but Jessie answered. “Old Roy told us about Ragtail and Lark. When we asked him for another story, he said to come see you.”
I could tell that Marjolaine was trying to get herself under control, but some of her words was still spoke with a giggle. “He did, did he? How long has he been telling you stories?”
“It was just the one,” Jessie said. “He probably only did that to get rid of us. We couldn’t find him today, so we came here like he told us.”
Marjolaine clapped her hands and laughed. “So it’s a story you want?”
“Yes’m,” we all four responded together.
“I have chores before we can take to it,” Marjolaine said. “But if you want to help, we can speed ’em along.”
“What do you need?” I said right off.
“Out back is a trail that leads to a pasture,” she said. “On the gate post is a rope with a hook on it. Use that to attach to Francine’s collar. She’s the red milk goat, and bring her here.” Marjolaine fixed me with a steady eye. “You know how to tell she’s a milk goat, don’t you?”
“Yes’m,” I said, feeling the heat on my face.
“Good. Don’t forget to close the gate behind you.”
“I’ll go with you,” Eli said. I think he was afraid to stay there without me.
“There’s a bowl of milk on the table with two days of cream floating on it. The rest of us will start making goat butter with that,” she said. “Come to think on it, some can be shaking the jar, someone milking Francine, and I can be mending with my sewing kit while I tell you about the man that wanted to be a cowboy. How does that sound?”
“I never milked a goat,” said Warren. “Do they kick or butt?”
“Maybe they bite,” Jessie answered.
What does a swamp woman know about a man who wants to be a cowboy? Leave a comment.

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To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list to the right and start with Tales Old Roy Told.

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5 thoughts on “The Promise of a Story

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