The Rescue of Vilma: An Historical On Line Fictional Short Story
Vilma and Jon weren’t quite engaged, not even officially courting as the customs of the times would have it. However, they both liked to dance and became regular visitors to the towns Saturday night dance. If either of them were asked if they were courting, they would probably say no. They liked each other and were good dance partners. To other people they appeared to be seriously engaged.
Jon was an immigrant from Sweden and started working as a lumberjack when he needed work, which was most of the time. Much of the logging was done during the winter month and it was necessary for the men to stay at the logging camp during the season, which made it difficult to have much social life. When time allowed, the entertained themselves by telling stories of displaying various talents such as ethnic dances. For example, an Irish logger might demonstrate an Irish Jig. Others told stories and such. For those who liked dancing, they tried to attend dances in town. That is if they could avoid getting into fights with other loggers or townspeople.
Al was a clerk at the local all-purpose store that sold everything from tools to dry goods. Jon met Al when he went there to buy a suit of clothes to go to the dance after he met Vilma. When he first got to town, Jon stopped to read an advertisement for the Saturday dance. As chance would have it, Vilma stopped there too. They talked and Jon asked if it would be alright to escort her to the dance. When Al learned that Jon and Vilma were going to the dance together, he claimed to be her cousin and felt a need to protect her. Well, what Al claimed about being a cousin was technically true, but it turns out that they were not close cousins either biologically or emotionally.
They both had the Scandinavian features…blond hair, light skin, blue eyes and could certainly pass as family members. It turns out that they were distant cousins, far more distant than Al implied. For Vilma, the more distant the better.
Jon felt uncomfortable when Al hung around. Vilma felt that Al had some sort of fixation about her and Jon sensed that Al intently disliked him, probably due to his seeing Vilma.
“He will resent anyone, especially men, who pay me attention.” Vilma slightly cringed when she mentioned Al.
Jon was justified in the feeling Al resented him. It showed, even though Al tried to hide it. “I don’t know if Al dislikes me because I’m seeing you,” Jon told Vilma. When I first met him, he was selling me a suit and seemed pleasant enough. When I mentioned escorting you to the dance his attitude seemed to change.”
“He’ll resent anyone who pays attention to me,” she said rather heatedly. Her eyebrows tightened as if concentrating hard on something. “He definitely doesn’t like men who like me.”
It was odd, after all that a man who claimed loving kinship would, at the same time, act like a scorned lover. Well, common sense seldom ruled in such situations.
Jon tried to ignore Al as much as he could under the circumstances. He didn’t want trouble and it is hard to avoid anyone in a small community. “Well,” Jon thought, “if trouble can’t be avoided then sometimes it’s best to face it head on.”
I think what Jon was getting at is that it is best to try to control the situation. He liked to use logging analogies. If a logger wants to fell a tree,” he would say “he can’t let the tree fall just any old place. He has got to know exactly where he wants it to fall so as not to fall where it could cause damage. If you want the tree to fall true, you have to plan the cut where you want it. ” He sensed that sooner or later he would have a showdown with Al. He intended to be prepared.
Vilma and Jon
Vilma and Jon did enjoy being together and continued going to the Saturday dances. Together they were writing a newspaper article in English about the American Constitution. They were both impressed by how so much wisdom could be put in so few words. The men who wrote the constitution obviously realized that limits had to be put on the power of the government and chose to invest the citizens of the country with the power. Government and politicians have a great tendency to cling to and take power when they can. This naturally is done in the name of helping the people.
“How about George Washington,” Vilma said.
“He was the first President of the country. He turned down a second term.”
“I know that,” Jon said. “It is good to be reminded though. Didn’t the people want to make him a king?”
“They did….wanted to make him a king, but he thought kings were for the old world.”
“And that’s the sort of thing we want to pass on to the other immigrants.”
Jon is Attacked
They continued to work on their article about the constitution. They hadn’t heard from or about Al for several weeks. He was not at the store and had not come to the dances. Jon continued to stop by the boarding house on Saturdays and walk with Vilma to the dances. Then one Saturday Jon and Vilma were walking to the dance and two men, strangers to both of them, stopped the pair. A fight broke out between Jon and the attackers and Jon had knocked one of them down and would have subdued the other when a third man appeared and knocked him out with a stick. When he woke up he had a headache and Vilma was gone. His money had been taken but nothing else.
He made his way over to the boarding house to see if Vilma had returned there but nobody had seen her. He went to the places he knew, such as the dance, but no sign of the girl. Like cutting a tree. If it’s notched right, it will fall where you want it. If not, it will cause trouble. Jon very much doubted that Al would know how to notch a tree. Jon considered whether Al would take Vilma to his home and decided against it. He doubted that Al would take her to the dance either. No sense in going to the trouble of kidnapping her and then taking her where they were going anyhow.
Jon recalled running across an old hunter’s cabin in the woods. It had appeared abandoned. That could be a hiding place for a while. It’s somewhat isolated; it’s off season, so probably unused.
There were signs of recent activity when Jon got to the cabin. Leaves on the ground appeared disturbed by something or someone. He spotted traps that had been set “Just who was Al out to trap. Vilma or Jon?
Jon hoped he had a better plan to make things fall where he wants. He spotted a woodpile by a shed around a corner of the house. He made his way over to it by circling around through some trees in order not to be spotted from the cabin or leave any disturbance they could spot. He took his place at the far side hoping someone would be out soon because he was starting to get cold. He was calculating that with the sun starting to set that those inside would need some fuel for the stove.
Twenty minutes went by and Jon started to worry if his metaphorical notch was going to get the calculated results. Then the door of the cabin started to move a little. He could see a female form start to move out the door. She had no coat or bonnet on and was shivering. Jon was not sure if it was Vilma although the young woman was about her size. That scoundrel, Al must have made her come out without enough clothing to keep her warm, so she couldn’t run away.
Jon took off his own coat and when the woman got near the wood pile he threw the coat over her and held her so she couldn’t move. He then turned her around to and saw that it was Vilma.
“Jon, thank God it’s you. Al and those men that attacked us are in the cabin. I volunteered to come out for firewood because I couldn’t stand to be in there with them. I had to get out, even for a few minutes.”
“Alright.” He helped her into his coat. He figured there were tools in the shed and he did find some blankets an ax and a saw. “Wait here,” he said.
Looking around, he spotted a tree he wanted. It was not very thick, but it was fairly tall. He cut a notch on the side facing the cabin. In a few minutes he sawed through it and the tree fell in front of the cabin and its door. “Oh. My,” he said. They won’t be able to get out the door.”
“Too bad, there aren’t any windows.” Vilma said. “Let’s build a little fire out here to warm up before the long walk into town.”
“We’ll miss the dance,” he said.
Vilma smiled. "That is too bad, but maybe we can find something else to do. I wonder what all that noise from the cabin is.”
“Maybe we can send someone out from town to check it out.” Jon said as he lit the fire.
© 2014 Don A. Hoglund
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