Breaching Worlds: Chapter Three
Breaching Worlds: Chapter Three
The harsh summer sun beat down on the boy’s back. He looked up at it before wiping away the beads of sweat forming on his brow. His tunic slung lazily over the handle of the plow attached to the horse’s harness. Tristan was amazed at the heat of morning, and dreaded thinking how hot it would get when the sun came to its peek. He clicked his tongue to urge the horse along, knowing he only had one more field to plow before he moved on to the rest of his chores.
This was the third year he had tended to the fields. Jonathan had taught him before he left to beginning his training in the Upper Mildas Military. Tristan was to take the eldest son’s place in the fields while Gabriel, of the same age as Tristan, would learn to shoe the horses, milk the cows, and collect eggs from the chickens - the far easier jobs. Tristan had always thought it was unfair that he should have all the more strenuous jobs than Gabriel, who had all the jobs the women of the family should be carrying out. The only reason he was plowing so young any way was due to Jonathan and Gabriel’s father’s death in the battle field.
He could remember how cool the day had been despite it being summer, the horrible squeal omitted from Elsie as Tristan watched her scan the parchment he delivered to her. She gathered her children around her, trying to comfort and consol them whilst they did the same for her. Tristan was not included. He took a step back, then another from the family before turning his back and running to his favorite tree to hide in.
Jonathan, however, had ideas which differed to Elsie’s vow to keep her children near her at all times. With his eighteen years, he declared he would leave, to fight against those who had slain his father.
“You will do no such thing!” Elsie retaliated, her sorrow absorbed briefly by anger. “I’ve lost a husband, you think I want to lose a son as well?”
“Don’t be so selfish!” Veronica hissed to her brother, her arms wrapped around her mother. “Don’t put such foolish ideas in your head. We need you here. Who else can till the fields? We need a man here.”
“I don’t want to lose one of my babies!” Elsie sobbed.
“I would do some of the work,” Veronica said, ignoring her mother. “But I wouldn’t be able to see if I were making straight lines, or if I were planting the right crops in the right fields.”
“Your blindness doesn’t make you special, Veronica!” Gabriel growled.
“I don’t see you doing anything to ease Mother,” she shot back.
“See? You’re seeing now?”
“Mother, don’t cry,” Jonathan cooed, interrupting the inevitable argument about to bloom. “I can teach Gabriel.”
“You’ll do no such thing!” Elsie’s anger rose again. “If I’m losing one son, I’ll keep the rest as close to me as possible.”
It was true that these times were dangerous. The war was killing many men, leaving families without any one to do the hard labor required to survive. Many women had taken to sending their children out to find what they could to eat, under strict instructions they were not to know how the goods were found. Children became rampant, running to neighboring farms to steal chickens, vegetables and even horses and cattle. There had even been stories of six-year-olds running in packs and killing those who were working in the field to take their horse. Some grown men even, who were too cowardly to fight for their King and too lazy to grow their own food were attacking farming families.
Letting Gabriel or any other of her children to work away from her protective eye was out of the question. She sighed. “Show Tristan. He’s a strong boy. If he wants to eat he’ll do it.”
Tristan watched the scene on the front porch from the concealed safety of the apple tree’s branches a few yards away. He was not surprised that this was Elsie’s wish. He was well looked after, but he never had the love of Elsie like the rest of the children. And with the arrival of her third son, William Jr. a year after Gabriel, then followed by Jessica two years later, the house was over crowded. Jessica and Veronica shared a room while Jonathan shared a room with William Jr. and Gabriel. Sarah had left three years earlier, after marrying a man who owned an inn in Elequan, south of Mildas. While the other children slept in crowded rooms in the house, Tristan was sent to live in the loft of the barn during the summer’s warm nights. The boy was made to learn at an early age that the barn equaled safety, that the horses would sense danger and alert him, as long as he knew what to listen for. Even in the winter, when he was allowed to sleep on the kitchen floor in front of the fire he did not feel as safe as he did in the barn.
And now, it was the cooling shade of the barn he longed to be in, at eleven years of age. The sun was burning his skin, which would blister, and he knew that it would cause him to lose sleep that night lying on his prickly straw mattress. It would be no matter. He would be beaten by
the sun again the following day, and the next and the next.
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Read Chapter 1 of Book Two: A Good Sailor's Old Lament Here