Title: Wilbee a Brave Boy
Wilbee-- a Brave Boy
“Time to get up Willbee.”
So it was. He could see day in the window now. The bed was still warm around him. He sat up, hugging his knees. He burrowed his feet under his blanket. The name of the blanket was was linsy-woolsy. The sound of that made him want to laugh. And it tickled his chin at night when she tucked it around him, and that was like laughing too
But, oh. It was a new day. He could ask again.
“Is today the day? Will he come today?” But his mother shook her head. Her hand went down thoughtfully to the bump beneath her apron. She sighed a little
“Not today. Not for weeks and weeks yet. Do you recall what I said? I told you when to expect the baby.”
Oh yes. Will remembered.
“You said: 'when- the- roses- bloom,- and- you- get - very- fat- and cannot- get -out- of- your- chair.' ”
He said it all quick and run together, as he did with the Our Father. She nodded at him, reaching for his frock, holding out her hand for his nightshirt. Her mouth was smiling, but her eyes looked tired already.
“ And are the roses blooming yet?”
He was standing up now, he was shifting a little on his feet. He needed to go to the tree.
“No, not the roses, but you are really very, very fat.”
And that made her laugh. The laugh came bursting out of her mouth as though she wanted to hold it back, and it went all the way up to crumple her eyes. It made the day feel good. She put her hand down to the apron lump.
“Aye. I suppose I am.” She reached out and pushed back his hair. He went out to widdle on the tree. She gave him bread for breakfast, and a cup of milk. She would get cross if he asked any more questions, so he was careful not to do that.
He was allowed to play in the dooryard. He brought his cow. It had once belonged to Sally. But she had no time for such things now. Sally was 12. She had finished school, and now she put her hair up. Will thought it looked strange that way. Her hair had looked so pretty down her back. It had reminded Will of rain.
So Sally let Will play with Cow. Cow was a toy. She had been painted brown and white like a real cow once, but the paint was mostly gone. You could see where it had been though.. And her wood was soft. He liked to hold her up to his face. He made adventures for her. He made roads and mountains. Sometimes he played a ship with sails, and men to sail it. Cow loved to go sailing. She was very brave. Will made her lots of friends, but he had to use acorns for those.
So, he was busy. Cow was going on a long voyage today, out a river to the sea. He was making the river with a stick in some nice mud. When he dragged it and pushed down strong, the water came up from the ground a little.
He worked away for some time, making a gruff voice for the ship man, and a squeaking sort of voice for cow, (because she was a girl.) The mud came up between his toes too, and he wiggled them in the coolness.
He was still deep in thought when he looked up. Here was Sally, coming back from the privy, carrying an armload of wood. Everyone brought wood back from the woodpile. That was the rule. Sally was big and brought logs. Will brought kindling sticks. Mama said that was well enough. He would bring the logs when he grew. Kindling was good and helpful.
Sally paused, and shifted the logs to her hip to open the gate. Her feet were white and spotted with mud too, although she never stood in mud for fun like Will.
And now he could hear the voices in the house, Sally and Mama, Sally questioning, Mama telling. He could not hear the words clearly. Sally came back out.
“Come here .” She held out her hand, He stood up. “I am to take you to Miss Grey. Mama said.”
He was brushing the mud off his knees. He was being very careful to get all of it.
“I don't want to go there,” he tried.
He saw Sally's mouth go tight. He was not supposed to talk back, not even to sisters.
“Mama said. Come, Will.” And so that was that.
So they walked along the edge of the garden, and through the trees to the road. Will had a bad feeling in his tummy. The hand not holding Sally's was holding Cow, but both his hands felt hot and wet. Sally was walking a little too fast. His feet had to stumble a little to keep up.
He could see the gate now of the Grey's house. He tried to walk a little more slowly. He could feel his lip shaking. He was not making tears, but his nose was running now.
“I don't like it.”
But now Mrs Grey was at the doorstep and there was no more time. He leaned against Sally's leg. He didn't want to listen to what they were saying. But he felt Sally give a bob, and heard her say
“Yes, ma'am. I am to go there now. Yes ma'am, as soon as I can.”
Sally passed her hand over his head, like a kiss, and he was left behind.