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Donna Flood
There Were Actually Six

WarrenCustoms of the Ponca tribe dictated one call their cousin, brother. Warren was everything as to being a brother to Donetta. He was gentle. He was rough. He was tolerant. He was removed and aloof. Sometimes, some small act spoke worlds as to his affection for her and other times he was in a world of his own.

Donetta was only a little girl aged seven. Her speech was filled with inaccurate mispronounced words and she knew it. How did she know? The laughter at some of her statements made her know. In that way the family around was not being cruel, they just loved the thoughts of a child's reasoning. No one seemed to be concerned about her being accurate in her pronunciation of words.

Not so with Warren. He was a grown boy, in high school. For the sake of the reader's observation. How many young, mostly grown boys would take the time to teach a child to speak correctly? Well, Warren did so, in Donetta's case.

They sat together on the back steps of her home. It was a rare moment because, usually, Warren was about his own business with friends, his animals, or whatever activities a young man was doing. Here he was, that, even then, hulk of a person with his whole interest centered on the child.

"Feather?" He would ask.

"Fellow." Donetta responded.

"Smile at me and pretend to blow a feather while you say the letter "f."

After she had managed the proper sound for "f." He would then tell her to roll up her tongue and blow through it for the "ther" part of the word. With practice she managed to speak the word "feather," properly.

He would just help her with a few words at a time. Vinegar for Binger and so on. With his interest in her, she became more conscious of the way words were spoken properly and, from this time forward, there became fewer and fewer times he worked with her. She still made mistakes in pronunciation, but evidently, he had alerted his sister to this weakness and she, as well, helped her. The older girl had not the same kind, careful way about her and, sometimes, her's was an impatience for the little girl's mistakes. The older girl would sometimes ridicule her in the way a young person can do a child. Warren was never guilty of this. How he had learned his gentle ways were, probably, from his own loving Mother, who he himself found in her bedroom after she had committed suicide. All these things had been kept away from her as a child. These were the times when the strong belief was upon the family as to the protection of the child especially as to the development of the mind. Carnal discussion, lewd works, illicit conduct was not even brought up and discussed. Therefore, Donetta truly had no knowledge of the boy's loss. This lack of discussion must have given him strength too, because he was a happy, genuinely outgoing person, who in high school, everyone admired and loved.

In retrospect one cannot help but wonder how much did the eight-year-old child know about the circumstances around his mother's death? As to that question, on a ranch there are always accidents with animals causing a need to put them to sleep. Sometimes, a severe injury, or an unfixable birth defect is a necessary kindness to them. Of course, too, the slaughter of animals for food was practiced. Warren was the oldest strong young man in the family and often this responsibility fell upon him. This saved this unpleasant duty from any of the hired hands, protecting them from the smaller but necessary problems. Warren simply went about the task, removing himself and the animal from around and where the children were. But, as all children are given the knowledge and understanding their parents so innocently believe they don't have, they were always aware of what had transpired if they had not themselves seen it.

One Thanksgiving; however, Donetta did actually see Warren kill the old goose for their dinner. The chain of events stuck in her mind throughout her life. Warren sauntered down the back path, axe resting on his shoulder. When he walked up to the goose, which was on the ground, the thing simply extended its long neck out and quick as anything, Warren lopped its head off.

Donetta had quietly observed the whole thing from her position at the window. When Warren came in to tell the family the deed was done and to say, "that old goose just stuck his neck out as if he knew it was time for him to go."

His statement brought side glances from her mother and their grandmother in Warren's direction and he quickly said no more.

Only Donetta could testify to the fact that he was simply relating an event surrounding what had actually gone down.

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