Trivia, the bull they'd brought home from Saturday's Goverton stock sale, munched solemnly on dandelions in the upper pasture without interest in Kelly, the milk cow.
Plastic-gloved, Hortense gathered dry "cupcakes" from Kelly and calf, Beulah, carefully into her metal bucket for tilling into their early spring house garden.
Looking up at a scrunching sound, she caught a glimpse of Trivia from behind as he squeezed through an opening he'd nosed out of rotten boards of the old fence gate and headed for a thicket of honeysuckle girding tangled mountainside woods and bramble.
"Jeter!" she shouted in unreserved panic."Bring a rope! Quick now!"
Gangling tween Jeet jumped from the porch floor to the ground in one skinny-legged alarmed bound. Grabbing his cloth hat against the first drippings from thundering gray clouds gathered darkly overhead, he galloped in the direction his aunt pointed.
"Get in the house," he demanded firmly as he passed Hortense frozen blankly beside the half-full bucket Jeter overturned in a focused rush toward the treeline. Turning in a swoon, Hortense tripped into the strewn content and moaned, "Ooooooh." as she righted herself in chilled rain ruining the compost to clumps of clustered mud on the shorn grasses.
Despite blusters of cool wind, she hosed her dress and skin down by the side of the barn with its scattered shreds of remnant winter hay spilling down the plank they'd left in place for Troy's play party to celebrate school break with his soccer friends.
"GET IN THE HOUSE!" Jeter shouted, heading Trivia back toward his new home with its broken gate.
"Try Maddie's field," Hortense yelled back. "I think she fixed it last week."
Jeter's head drooped in passing despair. "Maddie's?" he growled, glancing at the wet-weather stream as a busting downpour followed a growl back from the angered sky.
"Trouble, lad?" Uncle Ralph put-putted alongside in his jeep and grinned, taking in the scene.
Jeet rolled his eyes. Trivia lowered his head contentedly to dandelions again as a calming sense of order and command spread under clearing skies.
Smoke drifted comfortingly from the kitchen chimney soon after Hortense stuffed the stove from her woodbin of pint-sized logs, scratchy kindling and yesterday's news.
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