Saturday, May 07, 2005
the child, fifty-eight
Starr turned and followed Jack to help with the tents. Stone, for his part, hesitated a second, wondering why he was being thrown together with Mac of all people, before he hurried to James' side. 'What do you want me to do?' he asked.
'Let me think,' James replied. 'All right - to set the leg, we're going to need two sturdy sticks to hold his leg immobile from his ankle to above the knee. So we'll need to make a search for suitable sticks... Hmm. Not much here...' he added, looking about at the sparse scrub vegetation surrounding them. 'Stone, you go up the valley and see if you can find the kind of sticks we need. I'll backtrack the way we came in. Mac?'
'You stay here and watch over Forest. Make sure he doesn't try to get up. Sit on him if you have to.'
As the angel nodded, Stone started to lope off in the direction James had pointed out for him. First, though, the big man cast a glance back at Starr. There she was, doing as James had said, helping the others to set up the tents. The tents - hmm...
James was trotting off in his own direction, and didn't hear him at first.
'Hey, James!' Stone shouted.
That caught the man's attention. He turned. 'What is it?' he hollered back, frowning.
'I think I found the sticks we need!'
'What? How'd you do that?' The man started back.
'Tent poles!' Stone called to him. 'We could use a couple of tent poles.'
'But...' James waited till he had come all the way back to finish his sentence, 'if we use tent poles to splint Forest's leg, what will we use to set the tents up with?'
'My companions and I can contribute poles from our tent,' put in Mac. 'It will not harm us to do without our tent for a time.'
James blinked. 'You'd really do that, Mac?'
'Yes. I will go and consult with them, but I am sure they will say as I have.'
'Wow,' James muttered as the angel walked over to speak with Mal and Morgen. To the man's amazement, the two of them nodded their assent.
Mac returned quickly with two tent poles. James put his hand to his chin, thinking hard. 'Let's see... Here. I won't need this one after all,' he added, handing back one pole. 'We'll need to cut the pole in half to make it short enough to go along Forest's leg,' he said to Stone, 'so the one pole will be plenty long enough to make both sticks.'
'All right,' Stone replied. Setting to work with the group's ax, he soon had the pole cut in two. A bit of trimming to bring both halves to the proper length, and that part was done.
'Now,' said James. 'We need some strips of cloth to tie the sticks alongside his leg.'
'I have those,' said Mac. And he produced a piece of cloth from his pack, and began tearing the cloth into strips.
'Fine,' James nodded. 'Now for the fun part.'
Stone's eyebrows arched. 'Fun?'
'Not really,' James answered. 'Sometimes Jack rubs off on me. This isn't going to be fun a bit, really. We'll have to pull on the boy's leg till the bone snaps back into its proper place, and then tie the splint on. So you, Stone - you hold him under the armpits while I pull his leg straight. I just need... hmm...' He unfastened his own belt, folded the leather in two, and offered it to Forest.
'What is this for?' the boy asked.
'For you to bite on. This is going to hurt tremendously, so you'll want something to bite on.'
'What? Not me! I'm tough.'
James all but laughed. 'Tough - right. Suit yourself then. All right, let's do this.'
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I'd just like to say: CUT IT OUT! This would all be great if I could just keep reading until it was all over (this would definitely be a late-nighter), but the slow reading pace is killing me.
You're now officially worse than Donald :-).
I just hope he doesn't read this comment and take it as a challenge...
Of course, I post a new chapter every three days, unlike Donald's once-a-fortnight...
Just wait till I post chapters sixty-three through sixty-six!
They will be out of school for the summer shortly, so I'll have to see how that affects my writing time.
There's also the fact that your chapters are longer than mine; I write very short chapters sometimes.
Hope the dialog works out. I always look forward to the next chapter of your novel.