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Donna Flood
Dennis and Donetta

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 them.

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 carefully.

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.

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