Gentle wafting soft breezes
off the prairie came across the home place like a dancer once here and
again there. It was flowing and tripping about the children tugging at the
ribbons on the girls dress and ruffling the boy's hair. Forgotten are the
driving freezing winds of the winter's rage. Dangling and innocent as the
touching of tinkling piano keys the playful thing became a playmate to
Spreading a heavy canape over
the yard the old Maple tree insisted not only on a stance of security but,
also a place where the little birds of the meadow could build and rest in
a quiet place. The highest branches were the support for the nervous
Mockingbird who brazenly imitated his peer's notes of their own design.
Calling and whistling he was in an instant rising up on wings in a
straight up flight and then back down to the tallest flimsy stem, all the
while continuing his constant report.
When evening began to settle
upon the place their mother brought the children inside with her while she
busied herself and them with the duties of providing their evening meal,
warm baths, and bedtime stories.
The children requested these
stories over and over as they had their mother's entire attention. Their
father was on business as was necessary at times to be away and late into
the night to travel the distance to a larger city. There was the moon so
bright it seemed more of a companion to them, rather than simply a far
away luminary. The light of it actually walked across the floor and was
there with them on their bed.
Dennis and Donetta were as
innocent as only children can be as to there being anything but peace and
pleasant surroundings for them. With this serenity they soon were sleeping
and resting leaving their mother awake. For all of her life she, true to
her Native American blood, slept so lightly even the quietest footsteps
across the floor would awaken her. Presently though, she along with the
children was asleep.
Shadows of the Maple tree were
in motion against the walls of the bedroom, but they were there for no
one. The children were tired from their day of play and their mother was
equally ready for a night of healing sleep to rebuild the energies she had
expended on the daily chores visited on a rancher's wife.
Suddenly the mother was
instantly awake. She could hear a knock, knocking at the back door. Now
this was not something to happen in the middle of the night in this far
out place. If someone should come up on the place, they came to the front
door. There were no lights kept on outside on strong moonlit nights like
this, so if a car drove up their car lights would still be on in order for
them to see their way to the front door.
Ever so slowly and quietly she
slipped out of the bed carefully so as not to awaken the children.
"Can I get to Lee's gun
without letting them know I am up?" She thought to herself.
The gun was kept over the
backdoor so certainly it would be a challenge. The house was open to bring
in the cool night air, so anyone could hear any movement within the house.
However, as she was moving, inching along a little at a time she was
reassured whatever, or whoever it was still continued with the soft,
knocking, knocking at the back door without seeming to know she was moving
toward the door.
The big old shotgun Lee taught
her to use but, she was not at all sure of herself with it. Was there
someone who hid in the background waiting for her to drift off to sleep
with the children only to come out and was trying to work the lock loose
on the back door? These were the thoughts going through her mind and she
was so very slowly trying to pull the heavy gun away from its stand
without making one sound. She was a tiny woman and the weight of the gun
she knew would drop and fall from her grasp if she didn't hold to it very
Now that she had the weapon
secure with not a hair breath of a sound she had to make up her mind to
unlock and shove the door open quickly as to surprise whoever was standing
on the top of the rather large landing at the top of the steps.
She slammed the lock free, and
all in one motion pushed the door open. Rather than the face of an
intruder in front of her she simply caught the lightning flash of a large
dog looking animal which was probably, a coyote. With one bound it was off
the top step and gone into the night.
The bright moonlight allowed
her to be able to see what had attracted the animal so as to cause him to
be knocking, knocking at the door. One of the children must have dropped a
chicken bone in between the door and the screen door. The wily coyote
would reach his paw into the space and could just almost reach the bone
causing the locked door to flop against the frame. Determined creature
that he was he continued to try to pull the bone out.
The next morning as she told
her husband about the visiting coyote and his knocking at the door.
Donetta and Dennis were all ears and would ask many times for the mother
to tell the story over and over until they had it quite memorized.