chapter eight

chapter six

chapter twelve

chapter one

chapter seven

chapter thirteen

chapter two

chapter eight

chapter fourteen

chapter three

chapter nine

chapter fifteen

chapter four

chapter ten

chapter sixteen

chapter five

chapter eleven

chapter seventeen

chapter eight
wildflowers

 

By now Pete and Rosco were probably back in Plumpbucket. Norny had been traveling for a couple of days now since she had left them. She had drifted away from the tracks and wandered back two or three times. Right now she was on the tracks again. Norny and Poco were coming down a small hill. Up ahead quit a ways she could see a train was stopped at a water station to refill the boiler. She traveled on towards the train for about thirty minutes not knowing what to expect. The train wasnít very long. There was a caboose and a flatcar, then a coachman car and a tinder box before the engine.

She couldnít see any people yet and there wasnít much in the way of buildings, just an old tool shed. As she got closer she could hear the sound of live steam being emitted from the engine and the smell of wood from the burner. She slowly rode up along side of the train looking for someone. This might be a good place to rest and give Poco a drink of water.

Just then a woman steps down from the engine. She was a rather young looking woman with light colored hair. " Howdy!" the woman says to Norny. Norny politely returns the greeting.
"Mind if I water my horse?" Norny asks.
"No, go right ahead. There is a trough over there" the woman says.

It was rather warm in the sun and both of them could use some water. Norny leads Poco over towards the trough, " Here you go boy ," she says then returns to the woman.

"Do you run this train?" Norny asks the woman.
"I own it , or at least half of it ," she says.
"Where are you headed?" the woman ask.
"I donít know,"
"Well, Cotterville is just that a way. Its the closest town for miles," she says.
"How far is that ?"
"About twenty five miles or so," the woman tells her.
"Would you like a ride there on the train? You and your horse could ride on the flat car."
"Thank you," Norny says.
Norny could save some wear and tear on Poco and give him a break, she thought.

"Whatís your name?" Norny asks the woman.
"Hey Jo," she replied, "Whatís yours"
"Norny"
"Thatís an odd name." Hey Jo says, no offense she added.
"Are you hungry? I was about to sit down for a little bite to eat. I have some home made biscuits and some chicken and some coffee." Hey Jo said.
"Thank you! I am a little hungry." Norny says.
Then Hey Jo lets out a yell, "Luuunch!"
Norny wonders whom she is yelling at. Just then a woman steps down from the caboose carrying a basket. Norny was surprised. She looked just like Hey Jo. They were twins, and Norny had never seen twins in her life.
"This is my sister You Jo," Hey Jo said.
"I see your a little confused about the name," she said to Norny.

Confused was an understatement. Not only did they look alike, but they had the same odd names.

"Huh, yeah," Norny says
"Come on, join us for some lunch and weíll talk."
So the girls sat down in the shade of the water tower to have lunch. Hey Jo went on to explain to Norny about their father.

 

Many years ago, before the twins were born, their father operated a small stretch of track for the railroad. It was easier for the railroad to turn this seventy eight miles of track over to an independent then to try and run it and maintain it themselves. There were enough passengers traveling from Cotterville to Naush to Grover ( the county seat ) to keep an active commuter train there.

Their father had only been with his wife for about five years and had hoped to eventually teach his son to take over the commuter line someday. He loved railroading and wanted to pass it on. However, his son had not been born yet and they were having trouble conceiving.

When his wife had finally gotten pregnant, he was ecstatic. Finally he was going to have the son he had always hoped for. He had already picked out the name for his new son ( Joe ) from and old buddy he had many years earlier during the war.

When the day came for the delivery, there were complications and it was a difficult birth. Not only did he not get the son he had wanted, but he lost his wife and got twin girls instead. He couldnít believe his bad luck. He had spent the next couple of years feeling sorry for himself and tried to stay busy working in order to forget his disappointment and his loss. He had thought about putting the twins up for adoption, but for some reason he never did.

He was so disinterested in them, that he didnít even bother to change or add another name to accommodate both girls. If he needed to speak to one of them he would just simply say " Hey Jo, or You Jo." They would both respond, until they realized that it didnít matter whomever responded, he didnít know which one of them he was talking to anyway. So they decided if he calls Hey Jo then one answers, and if its You Jo then the other answers.

When they were younger he had hired a nanny to take care of the twins. He didnít want anything to do with them anyway. In some ways, he held them responsible for his wifeís death. In his grief his thinking wasnít straight.

As the years went by and the girls grew, they tried in every way to win some small approval or just a little attention from their father. It was futile. He didnít know anything about women let alone how to raise two small girls. Competing for his recognition (with the train line ), they learned everything they could about trains and the railroad.

When the girls were in their late teens, they knew a lot about the railroad and especially their fathers train. As their father got older he noticed his view on life had changed including his feelings for his girls. He finely woke up and realized what fine young ladies he had for daughters. They were smart, and self reliant and they had learned more than enough to take over his commuter line. He was sorry now for the attention and the time he had deprived them of. He realized that he really did love his girls, after they had spent a good deal of their lives trying to get their fool of a father to give some attention .

Now at this point in his life, time was short. And he wasnít going to waste any more of it without sharing in it his two girls.

He took them along on his daily runs and taught them the finer points of railroading. They learned to do everything for themselves including the maintenance on the engine. In this way Norny and these two ladies had much in common. They were self reliant and independent in every way. They did what they had to do in life, and gave little thought to the feminine side.

 

"And what about you Norny?" the girls asked.

Knowing about these two ladies, Norny felt comfortable telling them her story. When she had finished telling them her story, the two Joís were impressed with Nornyís strength and courageous spirit. The three of them truly felt like the sisterhood.

The girls had offered Norny some coffee, but it wasnít to her liking so they made her some tea. When Norny sipped on the tea, she put her little pinky finger up in the air the way she had been shown.

"Thank you for the food. Iíve never had chicken prepared that way before, it was tasty," Norny said.

"Your welcome," Hey Jo replied.

While Norny sipped her tea, she inquired if they knew anyone who worked on the tracks when they were growing up.

The girls responded with a "No, that was before our time."

Then You Jo looks at Hey Jo and says, "What about that man in Cotterville? Remember, Tom or Jeffrey something?"

"Oh yeah, I remember, Thomas Jefferson Smith. That was his name. He was a friend of daddyís."

"I can remember because he was named after one of our presidents."

"You might try and locate him when you get to Cotterville. We donít know where he is or if he is even still there." You Jo said.

Norny picked up a biscuit and took a bite out of it. Then she slipped the remainder of the biscuit onto her little pinky finger, like she had figured out at Beth and Erinís. Hey Jo and You Jo looked at Norny holding the tea cup and the little finger with the biscuit stuck on it and almost started to laugh. They held back because they thought perhaps it was some sort of Indian custom and they didnít want to embarrass or insult her.

They thought to themselves, here is this intelligent, capable, comprehensible woman who completely made sense until the little biscuit thing. This really threw them. They wanted to ask her what does it mean, but they choose to forget it.

"May I have one of those apples for my horse?" Norny asks.

"Please, help yourself to all you want."

So Norny picks up a couple of apples and walks them over to Poco.

"Here you go Poco, you didnít think I would forget about my pretty big boy did you?"

And Norny hand fed her pal Poco, and gave him that ounce of love and affection that only she knew how to deliver to her best friend.

After lunch it was time to make the run to Cotterville. The Joís dropped a ramp on the side of the flatcar so that Norny and Poco could come aboard. The ride would have ordinarily taken Norny and Poco all day, but the train would take less than two hours. This was to be Nornyís first time on a train.

It was a nice view from the flatcar as the landscape moved by. It was a rather pleasant ride accept for when the smoke from the engine would hit them making it hard to breathe. Norny tried to visualize Daniel out here working on the tracks. She wondered how much it had changed sense he was here years ago.

After a while there was a couple of short blasts from the trains whistle and then one long one. Norny looked ahead and could see Cotterville coming up. When they were pulling into the station, Norny noticed that the town was quit large compared to where she had come from.

The flatcar was level with the depot platform and her and Poco could step right off. The Joís leaned out from the engine compartment and waved so long to Norny, and Norny took her hat off and swiped it across the sky in a good bye motion.

 

When Norny and Poco rode into the main street she saw there was a lot of people and a quit a bit of traffic. She wasnít sure if she should go to the right or the left. But then she notice a couple boys playing cowboys and Indians down the street and chose to go that way.

One boy had a wooden gun and wore a hat while the other had a head band with feathers and a homemade bow. As she rode by the boys they stopped long enough to look up at Norny. When Norny saw them she gave them a warm and friendly smile. The boys just looked at her and waved.

As Norny continued through town she was noticing all the different stores and shops the town had. The town was too large and too busy to notice Norny. The two young boys were curious and started following a little distance behind her. Then Norny notice a building that said Helga's Bath House. Hot Baths.

She thought about that for a second. Selling hot baths. This was new to Norny. She was used to bathing in rivers or streams. They were always cold. She wondered how they would sell a bath. Though it seemed a bit strange to her, she was thinking about what a long dusty trail it had been. This might be nice she thought. Besides that, Norny had never had a hot bath in her life. This might be just the kind of new experience she needed right now.

Norny tied Poco to the post and went inside. Hello Miss the man said. What can I do for you today? " You have hot baths and Iíd like to try one. "

"Yes maíam, a hot bath is twenty five cents and a cold one for a dime."

" A hot one," she said.

" Then that will be twenty five cents he told her." So she paid him.

" Its going to take about thirty minutes to heat up the water and make it ready for you, so if you have other business to attend to, you might want to take care of it now."

So Norny decided to take Poco to the stable and get him situated, "Which way to the livery stable" she asked the man.

" Two blocks down and on the left." Norny headed down there.

Upon arriving at the stable, the stable master was nowhere to be found at the moment, so Norny decided to have her bath and come back later.

Norny rides back up for her bath, and ties Poco to the post just out front.

Two boys Michael and Todd spotted Norny going into the bath house. They looked at each other and said at the same time,

"The bath house!"

These boys had their own special place at the bath house. They had found a spot where they could peek in and spy on the women while they were bathing. The room that women would bathe in was down the hall and far from the menís. It was a room all by itself. If the boys would quietly sneak around behind the building, they could climb up on the roof of the shed and through a small whole in the wall, one at a time they could peek through and see the bathers.

Well this was it for them, they had to spy on Norny. Otis, the man that owned the business sent Norny up with one of the maids to help her make ready. As she was heading for her bath, Michael and Todd were making their way around to the shed. The boys climbed up on the roof and Todd was first. He was peering through the hole in the wall while the maid was helping Norny remove her clothes. The boys had to be very quiet because the walls were only wooden planks of board and batten over a four foot span of wall studs and thatís all. The boards were a little old and weak so they had to be especially careful.

The hole in the wall the boys would have to share, would have been noticed if they hadnít draped a dark piece of cloth over it on the outside. They would have to lift the cloth and place their heads under it so that the light of day wouldnít shine in.

 

The bath was all hot and almost ready for her. The maid said to Norny, "Here is your soap Miss, and a scrub brush and some towels over there."

"Iíll be back in a minute with another pail of hot water." The maid says, "If you should need anything else just ring that bell next to your tub."

"I will." Norny says to her.

So Norny removes her jeans and she is totally naked. Todd is looking through the wall at her and whispers

"WOW!!!!"

"Let me see!" Michael says.

"Just a minute," Todd says. "Its still my turn."

"What do ya see, what do ya see?" Michael asks.

"She ainít your momma Iíll tell you that!" Todd says.

Norny eases down into the water. She finally gets acclimated to the temperature.

"Ahh"

She slides down to were just her head is out of the water. This feels great Norny thought. She never felt anything like it before. Her body was totally engulfed in warmth. This was her first hot bath. Its so relaxing sheís thinking. She closes her eyes for a minute to just relax. Everything is so peaceful and quit. This is just what Norny needed. Just then the maid returns with another pale of hot water.

"Careful Miss." The maid exclaims as she pours the water into the tub.

 

Outside Michael whispers, "Its my turn!" and Todd gets out of the way. Michael looks through the hole and says

"All I can see is the top of her head, she in the tub."

"Well wait a while sheíll move around sooner or later."

After about ten minutes Norny finds the soap and figures out how to suds herself with it. Now their getting some action. Norny sat up in the tub, and her breasts were totally exposed. " OH WOW!!!" Michael whispers.

"Sheís a beauty, sheís sure nothing like old Misses Dougan," he says quietly.

"Its my turn again, get out of the way. "

And Todd pulls Michael away from the peep hole. Then Norny lifts her leg up out of the water and lathers her leg and foot. Things are starting to get pretty intense for these two boys. They were starting to get real eyes full now and they are constantly battling for the rights to the peep hole.

They are so busy arguing whoís turn it should be, they are starting to forget to whisper and getting louder. Their hormones are out running their brains.

Norny is hearing something going on, but she doesnít know where it is coming from. She is looking around the room and thinks it is either out in the hall or in the next room.

Michael and Todd are now wrestling to see who gets the peep hole.

"Its my turn now!"

"You took more than your share of time." he says.

"But I couldnít see anything until now." the other says.

And they are pushing and shoving and one of them gets the other in a head lock so he tryís to twist his way out of it until suddenly CRASH!!!!! They had fallen right through the wall into the room. From downstairs the sound was explosive. Everyone looked at each other asking,"What was that?"

 

Upstairs daylight was shinning straight in on Norny. Her eyes were wide open and surprised by the sudden gapping large hole in the wall. The two boys were laying on the floor and dust was floating all around. With the look of surprise on her face, she just looked at them. The people down stairs were charging up the stairway to see what the hell all that racket was about. Otis went upstairs, and so did the maid and a couple of other people and also Otisís wife Helga.

 

Well Otis came in the room first, forgetting that this was the ladies room. As he did the first thing he caught was a big eye full of her naked Norniness. Once he saw Norny, he didnít much care what else was going on in the room. Besides, Otis hadnít been this close to Nornyís caliber of sensuality in thirty five years.

Then other men were coming in and all they could see was bare chested Norny.

Nornyís natural reaction wasnít to cover herself up sense she was brought up thinking that nudity was a natural thing. And for the moment she had forgotten what Daniel had told her about modesty in public.

Next into the room was the maid, then a couple of people that nobody knew and then Otisís wife, Helga. She sees Nornyís bare breasts and her eyes opened wide. Then she steps in front of Otis, turns to face him and slaps him hard across the face.

"What the hell did I do?" Otis asks.

"Look away!" Helga says.

Then they all noticed the two boys on the floor, and the huge whole in the wall. People start yelling at each other and pointing fingers and the confusion is all around while Norny is calmly sitting in the tub trying to understand the whole thing. There must have been eight or ten people in that room by now, and all talking and yelling at the same time.

Helga grabs a towel and dashes over to cover Nornyís breasts. There is so much noise and shouting going on that the maid sticks her fingers into her mouth and whistles long and loud to get every ones attention.

"GET OUT OF HERE!" she yells "EVERYONE NOW!"

"Wait until I tell your parents about this!" Helga shouts at the two boys.

"Weíre sorry!" both boys say apologetically .

All of a sudden there is a terrible loud long creaking sound that goes on for about five seconds. Then an extremely loud, huge crash like lots of timbers cracking and glass breaking coming from downstairs..

Otis says " What the hell is that? It sounds like an earthquake!"

Then you could hear screaming and people yelling

"GET OUT OF HERE!"

You could hear people scrambling in all directions downstairs. The whole building is vibrating. Something loud was banging into things and bouncing off of things. At the same time there was a loud clomping sound. Stuff was breaking and crashing all over the place.

Everyone in the room was fear struck from the impending approaching destruction. Then something heavy was hitting against the walls, then the stairs, and the clomping sound was getting louder.

You could tell the styles were breaking out of the stair railing. There was wood breaking and the loud creaking sound was getting louder and closer and things were hitting into the walls. It was a thunderous, horrible loud commotion and it was almost there. The destruction was horrific!

A couple of the people in the room ran out into the hall to see what was going on. Then you could hear them scream "Yipes look out!" Something heavy was clunking into the walls and the floor was bouncing and wobbling. Then the noise was right outside the room. Everyone was on the verge of panic. It was loud, it was destructive, it was Poco coming into the room.

 

Pocoís reins were dragging the support post that held up the overhang in front of the entrance, he pulled it out and was dragging it with him. Poco had heard the maid whistle and thought it was Norny calling him in distress. When the support post went the overhang fell into the front of the building and through the front window.

"Oh my God!!!" Otis yells at the top of his lungs.

The floor was creaking and bouncing with movement.

"Weíre going to fall through the floor, thereís too much weight!" someone yells.

Everyone is screaming and running in all directions trying to get out before the whole place caves in. Now everyone forgot what they came upstairs for. They had forgotten that this whole thing started with the two boys peeping in on Norny.

 

Norny is still sitting quietly in the tub in a state of confusion. Wow! Hot baths are nothing like bathing in the river she thought.

Norny stood up in the tub and steps out to get to Poco. She is now totally exposed but there is too much panicking going on for anyone to notice. Norny calmly walks over to Poco and unties the reins from the post he was dragging. She picks up the post and tosses it out through the whole in the wall the two boys fell through. The post hits the shed roof then rolls down and off the edge where it hits Mr. Collins in the head who had came outback from next door to see what all the yelling was about. It knocked Mr. Collins out cold.

"My place is ruined!" You could hear Otis exclaim.

Norny comforts Poco through all the excitement. Poor Poco didnít now what to do now that he was upstairs. She pats him on the neck and runs her hand down his nose and tells him

"Its OK Poco, Iím all right. Thatís my pretty big boy." She says.

Then Norny takes hold of the reins and starts walking Poco back down the stairs and out towards the front. The maid sees her and yells " Miss, no donít go out there like that. Your clothes!" So the maid runs for a towel, and goes after Norny. She catches up with Norny and wraps the towel around her while she is walking Poco out.

The stair steps are cracked and broken, and there are holes in the wall. The railing is broken out.

The whole place is a mess. It looked as if a bomb had gone off inside. Nornyís twenty five cent hot bath cost the bath house about a hundred dollars in damages.

Norny walks Poco out into the street to tie him to something. The maid is directly behind Norny holding the towel closed behind her. There are lots of people in the street looking at whatís going on.

 

Now there laughing uncontrollably. It was a ridiculous sight; the overhang in front of the bath house had collapsed into the front window and the wooden sidewalk. Then thereís this big horse coming out the door being lead by a naked woman who is closely followed by the maid holding the towel closed around her. This town had never seen anything so funny as this.

Norny ties Poco to a hitching rail and calmly and collectively goes back into the bath house with the maid holding the towel right behind her.

As she goes back towards the stairs she could hear Otis bellowing,

"My business is ruined!"

Norny gets back up stairs and climbs back into the tub.

"What are you doing?" the maid asks.

"Iím finishing my bath," Norny replies

"Your bath? How can you even think about the bath after all that just happened." She says

"Iím not sure. What did just happen? In all the commotion I couldnít tell what this was all about." Norny says

"Well it must of had something to do with those two boys that were here." The maid said

"Look at this place, their going to have to close down to make repairs. I hope the parents of those two boys teach them a lesson." The maid says.

 

Downstairs Helga has hold of the two boys. She has them firmly by the ears and twisting them.

"Ow, ow, ow, We're sorry!" they say. Helga keeps twisting there ears hard as she marches them out side and down the street. You can hear Helga shouting at the boys as they walks away.

"You boys aughtta to be ashamed of yourselves. Weíll just see what your parents have to say about this.

 

When Norny completes her bath, she gets dressed and heads down stairs.

"Hot bath. That was great!" Norny says, " Iíll have to do that again."

"NO, NO!!! Please, we couldnít stand another visit from you and your horse." Otis tells her.

"Look at this! Whoís going to pay for all the damages?"

Norny didnít quite know what to say. She hadnít deliberately called Poco to come in and destroy the place. In fact she didnít know any of this was going to happen. Otis decided to call the sheriff over to figure out whoís fault it was.

When the sheriff arrived Otis explained his version of what happened. Then the sheriff asked for Nornyís side.

"Well, this was my first hot bath, and I had know idea that it involved so many people when I asked for it."

The sheriff and Otis stood there with their mouths open trying to figure Norny out. Never had a hot bath before, involving so many people, whatís she talking about? The sheriff thought.

"Anyway Otis, what do you think the damages amount to?" The sheriff asks.

"I would guess about a hundred dollars should do it."

"Well Miss, can you pay for the damages? If you canít Iíll have to take you in until the court can decide."

So Norny agreed to pay the hundred dollars and get it over with.

Norny headed back over to the stable to see the stable master and book them a couple of rooms for the night.

 

The next morning Norny was up early and walking around the town to see what was here. When she got close to the edge of town she saw a couple of boys arguing. One big boy and one smaller boy. There were a couple of other kids standing around watching.

Norny just stood there at a distance and watched them. After a few minutes she could see that the bigger boy was pushing around the smaller one. He was humiliating the smaller boy in front of the other kids. She also noticed that the bigger boy was one of the two boys from the bath house incident. She stood there and watched the whole thing until the bigger boy left.

When the other kids left, Norny walked on over to the smaller boy who was whimpering and picking himself up off the ground and tried to talk to him.

"Hi there!"
"Leave me alone" the boy said as he sobbed and wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Does that boy push you around like that all the time?" Norny asks.
"He wonít leave me alone." The boy says
"You know, he only bullies you to make himself feel brave. Because deep down he actually is a coward. He has to use your weakness to find his own strength. If he were confident about his courage then he wouldnít need to try and prove it to himself by picking on you." Norny tells him.
"Well he found it." He wipes the tears from his face as he talks to Norny.
"You can beat him if you want to." She says.
"How? Heís so much bigger than I am; besides Iím afraid of him."
"Afraid of what ?" Norny asks.
"HeĎll hurt me."
"Well isnít he hurting you now?"
"Yes."
"Then it can only get better; its time you do something about it. Whatís your name?" Norny asks.
"Danny."
"Well listen to me Danny, its not your size thatís important. Its whatís in here that matters." Pointing to his chest.

"Find the courage in your heart. He will see your strength and courage in your eyes and it will create doubt in his mind, and thatís half the battle."
"It would help if I were a fighter like he is."
"I can show you a couple of things to beat him with."
"Your a woman, what do you know about fighting?"
"Trust me, I know a few things."
"OK, show me." Danny says

So Norny goes on to show him a couple of simple moves that she learned coming up as a young warrior. Simple moves that would catch his opponent off guard and surprise him. After she shows him and allows him a few practice tries, she goes on to warn him, "Only use this as a defensive measure, never offensive. Otherwise you will be just like the other boy, and it is important that you know you are in the right. Remember Right is Might. Never show him your fear. Fear is natural, its a good thing, and its a personal thing so donít let him see it." She said.

"Now, donít worry about the other boy. If you do as I told you, you will defeat him. I promise you."
"OK. But Iím still afraid." He says, "What's your name lady?"
"Just call me Norny."
" Norny? Thatís a strange sounding name." He said "Iíve got to get to school now." And with that Danny heads off to school.

 

Norny goes on walking around the town on her little sight seeing adventure. She made a kind of a circle and after a couple of hours she was back at the school.

At that time the kids were coming out for recess. They had a ball and they were kicking it around the yard.

Norny remembered a game similar when she was a child. She got a little carried away and ran out in the middle of the action to join in when all of the sudden the ball comes up out of nowhere and smacks Norny in the face. She went straight down and was out like a light for a moment or two.

When she opened her eyes there was woman standing over her and all the kids were gathered around.

"Are you all right?" The woman asks.
"I think so." Norny says as the woman helps her up.
"Would you like to come in and sit down, I could give you a glass of water?"
"No, Iím OK. But the water sounds good."
"Then come on in the school house and Iíll get you some.", So Norny follows the woman in.
The woman introduces herself as Mrs. Beale, the teacher, "Are you new here? Iíve never seen you around here before."
"Iím just passing through. I saw the kids playing with the ball and just sort of joined in for a moment, or tried to. "
"What happened?"
"I donít know, I ran out in the middle of it all, and I think the ball hit me in the face. I never saw it coming."
"You must like kids to want to join in with them like that?"
"I do like kids." Norny says
"Are you looking for work?" Mrs. Beale asks
"No, but if you are needing some help around here, Iím willing."
"Well it wouldnít pay much."
"I donít want any pay." Norny says.
"Well then, Iíd love to have your help."

So Norny showed up every morning after that to help Mrs. Beale with the chores and the students. In fact the children learned to love Norny right away. For them she actually made coming to school a pleasure. Norny had a way about her that children and animals loved. A trust, a gentleness about her that they could sense.

 

The very next day after Norny started at the school, she was on her way back to the stable when she saw Danny with Todd. Todd was starting his bullying routine with Danny. There were a half dozen other kids watching and glad that it wasnít happening to them.

Todd knocked Dannyís lunch basket out of his hands, then his work slate. Danny just stood there. Then Todd calls him a couple of names and laughs at him. With his left hand Todd pushes Danny back daring him to do something about it. Norny sees that Danny needs a little support and encouragement. So Norny eases over to the other side of the street, not so that anyone would notice, but so that Danny would see her there.

Danny sees Norny, and he feels a little embarrassed about what is happening. Norny looks straight at Danny and nods giving him the signal that it will be OK.

Todd calls Danny another name and shoves him again. The girls standing there and watching it all start giggling.

Poor Danny, it must be very humiliating for him in front of the other kids, Norny thought as she was watching.

Norny looks at Danny and doesnít move. With her eyes sheís telling him, believe in yourself and what I showed you.

Toddís hand came up again to shove Danny, but this time Danny intercepted it and spun himself around twisting Toddís arm as he went and flipping Todd on to the ground using Toddís own momentum.

Toddís eyes showed the surprise from Dannyís defensive reaction. All the kids standing around were shocked. Todd slowly gets up.

"OK, you want to play rough, well lets see how tough you are."

Danny looks at Norny, and she is looking straight at him. Go on her eyes say, you can do it.

Todd charges at Danny. Danny grabs his arm and quickly twists it causing Todd to flip himself into the air so that his arm wouldnít break. It took no strength, only balance and courage just like Norny told him.

All the kids watching didnít know what to think. They always saw Danny head off home crying, but not this time. They didnít know what to say, they just quietly dispersed and went home. Todd just looked at Danny but in a different light. Where did he learn this Todd thought.

 

Norny walks over to Danny and Danny says, "WOW, I didnít think I could ever do anything like that. How do you know all this stuff?"

"I've known bullyís in my life time as well Danny."

"Thank you Norny for showing me that." Danny says.

"Well just remember what I told you. Always the defender, never the aggressor."

"Yes maíam, I will."

So for the first time in a long time Danny goes home peaceful and joyful without fear of being persecuted. It took someone like Norny to come into his life and show him that he had what it takes to set things straight. Danny would never forget Norny in his lifetime. And the lesson he learned from Norny he would someday teach his own children.

 

The next day back at school Norny is cleaning the blackboard for Mrs. Beale, while the teacher conducts the class. Just then Norny hears the chimes from the clock on the wall and stops what she is doing to listen. She was fascinated by it. The time meant it was lunch for the kids. Mrs. Beale normally used this time to prepare the studies for the afternoon and then grab a bite when she can.

Norny had a lot of questions to ask Mrs. Beale about, sense there were so many things Norny didnít understand about the civilized culture. However, Norny knew this wasnít the time, maybe later.

Suddenly from outside one of the kids ran in to the classroom yelling.

"Mrs. Beale, Mrs. Beale, Toddís father is out here youíd better come quick."

The teacher ran past Norny in response. Norny turn to follow behind her. When she stepped outside she could see the problem. Toddís father was forcing Todd to pick a fight with Danny. He wasnít going to let any son of his be whipped by someone smaller than himself.

When Norny saw what was going on, she felt responsible. After all she did show little Danny how to defend himself.

Mrs. Beale goes over to Todd's father, "Mr. Zearke! What do you think your doing?"
"Iím teaching my boy to stand up for himself. You stay out of it! This is the kind of lesson only a father can teach."
"Mr. Zearke! There is no fight here. You are trying to start one."
"And I told you to butt out!"

Norny could see that something had to be done to distract this man from pushing these boys into a fight. She couldnít stand by and let this go any farther. She could see that there was no reasoning with a stubborn man like Mr. Zearke.

Norny walks up in front of him and says, "You aughtta be ashamed of yourself. Todd's not bulling little Danny, you are."
"Who the hell are you?" He asked.
"My name is Norny."
Mr. Zearke laughed.
"Well Horny, or what ever you call yourself, mind your own damn business. Wait a minute! Your that little tramp that got my boy Todd in trouble over at the bath house. Parading herself around naked for the world to see."
"MR. ZEARKE!!" Yells Mrs. Beale.

Suddenly Danielís words of warning to Norny about nudity in the white manís world came back to her. The word tramp only meant 'to step or stomp on' in her mental dictionary, so she didnít quit understand what he meant by it. Norny didnít feel she had to defend any of her actions at the bath house to this man or anyone else.

Norny tells him " The fact that you canít seem to leave these kids alone or pick on somebody your own size, then someone has to make it their business. That might as well be me. Question is, what are you going to do about it?"

"Well there isnít anyone here my size or I would do something about it!"
"How about Me? At least Iím bigger then Danny." Norny says
Mrs. Beale jumps in and says, " Norny Donít!"
"I donít fight women, even if you are a slut that needs a good ass kicking." Mr. Zearke replies.

Again Norny didnít understand the reference to the word slut.

She didnít believe that he wouldnít hit a woman. She thought him to be the kind of a man who would strike a woman if he thought he could get away with it,

And she was right. Zearke was thinking how he would take care of her attitude if there wasnít anyone around to see him.

He was a large and rough looking brute. He could easily intimidate anyone especially women and children. He was almost twice Nornyís size, But she knew he was four times little Dannyís size. Norny couldnít walk away from a situation like this. Besides she had told Danny that it isnít always the size of your opponent but the courage in your heart. She had told him, Right is Might. When you know you are in the right, you have the subconscience edge.

Norny removed her hat with her right hand and in a back hand motion swiped it across Mr. Zearke face as hard as she could. The whole crowd of children and Mrs. Beale took a deep breath.

"How about now?" Norny says.

Norny is looking Mr. Zearke straight in the eye and nowhere else.

Then Norny takes a step back and holds her hat off to the side so that someone would take it from her. A little girl ran up and took it from Norny.

"Why I aughtta beat the pants off of you for that."

"Come on and try, better me then little Danny."

Right then Danny could see that this woman had the heart of a lion, and he knew exactly what she meant when she told him its whatís in your heart that counts. Mr. Zearke on the other hand now had a heart the equivalent of a barn yard fowl. Danny could see that this woman was ready to take on this Goliath of a man, and he feared for her safety. He was already developing a strong attraction for her. Danny runs up along side of Norny and shouts out,

"Youíd better leave her alone, Zearke-Jerky!"

Without taking her eyes off of Zearkeís, Norny puts her left hand back on Dannyís chest and gently pushes him back saying,

"Iíll handle this Danny."

She could see straight into Zearkeís soul and she knew this man could not be trusted. Norny knew fear, but this was one time that she could see the fear in Zearke was greater. Although she had reason to fear for the safety of the children. Norny knew she was not looking at a normal human being, rather an animal that couldnít be reasoned with. However it was difficult for Norny to know what was normal behavior in the civilized world. There were so many complex facades in the white world. Nornyís biggest fear at the moment was that Mr. Zearke would do something foolish. But she also feared that Todd could turn out to be like his father. This would be a real tragedy.

Norny just stood their facing down Zearke. Whether Norny could defeat this man or not was something she would never speculate about to herself. Norny dealt with things as they came to her, and never would assume anything so dangerous as that.

If Norny couldnít defeat Zearke or was being hurt by him, all Norny had to do was whistle and Poco would have come to her rescue and trotted all over Mr. Zearke.

Mr. Zearke had suddenly realized he was in a no win situation. If he used force on Norny, there was no glory in defeating a woman, only shame. On the other hand, if Norny beats him he would look like something less than a tough guy in the eyes of Todd and the other children. There was no way he could win this. Even with the knowledge of all that, he could see by looking into Nornyís eyes that she showed no fear, and this put doubt in his mind. Was she as tough as she seemed to be, or was this just a tactic to bluff me, he thought. He wasnít going to take the chance sense there was no way to win this.

"Lets go Todd!" Mr. Zearke says in a gruff voice.

And they both turn and walk away.

"Youíll be back at school tomorrow wonít you Todd?" The teacher shouts. There is no reply.

Mrs. Beale walks over to Norny and says, "Thank You Norny, but you shouldnít have done that. Mr. Zearke can be a mean and dangerous man."

Norny didnít say anything in reply. She didnít see things quit the same. In the Indian culture it was better to lose the fight and take a beating to save honor, than to lose face by showing cowardice and be dishonored. The fact that she would take on someone elseís fight or stand up for the little guy was part of Nornyís own character, not part of the Indians belief.

It seemed to Norny that every town has a bully, and she always seemed to attract them.

Danny was totally captivated by Nornyís courage. She was the bravest woman he had ever seen, even braver than most men. Danny didnít have a father to compare her to, but it didnít matter she was courageous. This woman Norny, stood up against Mr. Zearke for me, he thought.

 

When Danny first met Norny she appeared to be just an ordinary woman. But now in view of what just happened, she was his shinning knight, and she was the prettiest woman he had ever seen. Everything about her was perfect. She was fearless, and she was angelic.

It was easy for any man or boy to fall in love with Norny. You wouldnít notice anything special about her until you spoke with her. Then it would only take a few moments to put the magic in her face with the voice. Just like Daniel who had spent time with her, but then only noticed her beauty when they sat across from each other by the fire and she spoke with him. The combination of her voice and facial movement got his attention immediately. He didnít hesitate to tell her that he had just realized how beautiful she was, because he had. And if Norny should grant you a smile, it was over and you were hooked.

Danny was totally taken with Norny. Though he wasnít a man and he has had no experience with women, he was focused on her.

For Danny, Norny was what dreams were made of, especially his. This was Dannyís first serious crush.

 

After this episode was over, Norny thought she had better hang around the school and help out for a while longer. Mrs. Beale welcomed the idea. Besides Norny liked the kids and all the kids loved Norny. Some of them even wished Norny was their mother or father or both. But Norny also wanted to be there in case Mr. Zearke wanted to come back. If anything would happen to the children it would be on her shoulders.

Todd didnít come back to school for a couple of days, no one knew why exactly. Norny felt that Todd was embarrassed by his father, and she knew that Todd would never live up to his fathers expectations.

 

As the days went by Norny went on helping out in the classroom, and in doing so she learned quit a bit herself. While she was their she inquired in Mrs. Beale about Thomas Jefferson Smith. She didnít know the name, but she suggested that Norny go over to the county clerks office and see if someone by that name owned any land in the area. Norny took the rest of the afternoon off and did just that.

At the land office Norny found out that there was a man with that name that lived about five miles out of town. Norny took some directions on how to get there and headed out.

 

Norny had an appetite for any information she could find out about Daniel. What kind of a man he was before the tragidies in his life. Nornyís feelings for Daniel were only growing with time. Sometimes the mind will take an image and gradually enlarge it on its own until it is mostly out of proportion. This might have been the case with Norny, because the good she saw in Daniel only got better with time.

Norny had never experienced feelings for a man like she was feeling for Daniel. Was she in love with Daniel, or was her longing to be with him created by false feelings? She really didnít know what to do about those feelings. She may have thought at one time that the feelings would eventually fade away, but what if they wouldnít. Norny needed to talk with a woman that understood these things. But who?. She knows of no one that she felt comfortable enough to tell her story to.

 

She had eventually located the old gent and politely asked if she could speak with him about his railroad days.

The old guy was happy to speak with Norny sense he rarely had any visitors and especially pretty ones like her. Although he didnít remember anyone by that name at first, eventually something that was said jarred his memory.

"Daniel, Daniel, yeah, come to think of it there was a guy by that name. A big strong guy. I remember he could lift a railroad tie all by himself. Strong as a bull and just as tough."

The old man went on. It seems I remember one thing in particular about that man, Daniel, "Once these five cowboy drifted in to our camp looking for work. They had this Indian squaw with them. The foreman hired them on for a couple of weeks to make up for some lost time and distance laying track."

Norny was offended by the term squaw, but she forgave the old mans ignorance about Indians. He didnít know any different.

The old man went on, "Well it seems that these cowboys owned this squaw and made her do all the work for them. She did their laundry, and their cooking and any other chores that needed to be done. On top of that she had to take care of their personal needs if you know what I mean. And if all of that wasnít enough they treated her like dirt. They pushed her around and abused her especially when they were drunk, which was most of the time. I donít know if they just didnít respect her because she was an Indian, or because she was a woman."

Norny sat spellbound to the old mans recollection of the incident.

"This squaw had a papoose, and she had to try and nurse the baby and take care of these cowboys at the same time. The cowboys had no respect for the squaw and they didnít like that screamin' brat as they called it. I think the woman feared for the baby most of all. But she did anything she could to give these boys what they wanted, and keep their attention off the baby."

"Well, one night, they were sitting around the fire getting liquored up when the woman just couldn't jump fast enough for them. They were laughing and cutting up and even making fun of the Indian. While she was helping one of them with something, another called her over, and as she went another one tripped her causing her to fall into the fire. When that happened the laughter was out of control, hell we all had to see what they were laughing at. " And even some of our boys burst out in laughter."

"Well Daniel wasnít laughing."

Norny was listening intensely.

"Now we had been putting up with this nonsense for two or three days and nights now. Most of us believed in minding our own business up to that point. Before anyone else could get up to do or say anything, Daniel was already walking across the track to their camp. All of us stood up to see what was going to happen next. Daniel went straight to the woman to see that she was OK or if she needed attention."

Thatís just like Daniel Norny thought.

"When Daniel got to the woman he carefully helped her to her feet and brushed her off. Her clothes had a few burns on them and she was trembling with fear of these men. I guess she couldnít cry anymore. Daniel was very gentle with this woman, and helped her over to where her baby was and sat her down. We could tell he was soft spoken and gentle with her by the contrast of how he laid into those cowboys. By now the men were on their feet and telling Daniel to mind his own business or heíll get the same. "

"Daniel walked over to the one that tripped the Indian and leveled him with one blow. The others rushed him at the same time. Daniel was a very strong and powerful man, but four to one was heavy odds for any man including Daniel. There was this other man on the crew. He and Daniel didnít know each other but they would after this. They called him Bruce. He was a kind of tough and wirey sort of a guy. He ran across the tracks to help Daniel and jumped right into the action. Thatís all it took was the two of them to handle all five of those cowboys. Daniel and Bruce beat the tar out of those bums."

"When it was all over, Daniel escorted the squaw and the baby over to their side of the tracks for the night. Daniel gave her the tent and he slept outside on guard. The next day Daniel took up a collection from the boys on the crew and bought off the cowboys and sent them on their way. Then Daniel went to the foreman for enough time off from his job to escorted the Indian woman back to somewhere. I donít know exactly where they went, but he made sure she got there safely. Now that I think of it, he was quiet a man this Daniel was."

He sure is Norny thought.

"Well I hope I was of some help to you Miss?"

"Norny." She said , "And yes, thank you."

This is exactly the kind of man that could keep a firm grip on Nornyís heart. A good man, a strong and gentle man. A rare man indeed is Daniel Norny thought to herself.

One would envy Daniel for the fact that Nornyís passion was for him, but how unfortunate that they were so far apart. And no way to communicate their feelings, or express their love for each other.

After hearing this, her heart ached for Daniel right at that moment. Norny hadnít realized that she was holding on to the earring around her neck the whole time she listened to the story.

Norny again thanked the old man for taking the time to talk to her, and went on her way.

 

This little piece of Danielís past somehow brought comfort to Norny after longing for him the way she had. She had to wonder how many little pieces of Danielís history were out here just waiting to be discovered. There were probably many stories of Daniel in towns along the tracks.

All the way back to town Norny visualized Daniel helping the woman out of her situation. She knew for sure now that she had given her heart to the right man. Daniel was the only kind of man she would allow in her dreams. The only face and name she would let intermingle with her most intimate thoughts. Oh, if she could just see him one more time she thought.

Norny was a self-reliant independent woman, but even a woman like Norny would need to let her guard down once in a while and let herself rely on the trust and security of a strong man. To allow herself to be weak for just a moment while she snuggled in the warmth and safety of his arms. Its just that in Nornyís case, her man was but a mere vision of her past. Norny deserved to have a man that she could touch and be with every day.

But she was a flower on the wind, that no man could grip, for she would only slip, and elude them through the cracks of their fingers.

Daniel and Norny were right for each other, and they both soon realized it , but the timing was all wrong to come together when they did.

Although Daniel surely would have gone with her if Norny would have requested his company. But Norny knew this was a journey she must make alone. Even if it meant losing the only man who would ever touch her soul. Sense all men were just fleeting moments in her life, Daniel was worthy of time in her thoughts and the space in her heart , whether it caused her pain or not. After all, it was the pain that reminded her of her deep feelings for Daniel.

 

Norny returned to the school which was just about over for the day. Her and Poco were just arriving as the children were coming out.

Bye Norny." The kids would say to her.

"See ya tomorrow." They said.

Norny went in to see if she could help Mrs., Beale with anything. Ď

"Iím just going to put some math problems on the black board for tomorrow, but you could sweep up if you have the time."
"Iíd be glad to." Norny says
"Did you find the man you were looking for?" Mrs. Beale asks.
"Yes, he was very helpful."

While Norny is sweeping between the seats she is noticing the bright colored canvas hanging on the wall.
"Iíve been looking at that large colored picture on the wall, and been wondering what it is." Norny says.
"Oh, thatís a map of the North American continent."
"The what?" Norny says
"Here, the land where we all live."
"See here is the Louisiana purchase, and this is the Lewis and Clark expedition , and this is the original thirteen colonies."
"The what?" Norny says
"Oh my, looks like I need to teach you a few things about geography." Mrs. Beale says

Mrs. Beale knew nothing about Nornyís upbringing, or how much she did or didnít know about anything. But she thought that as long as Norny was helping her she would teach her anything she could while she was here.

"And how about that clock on the wall with the numbers."

Norny had a real fascination with the numbers that went tic, toc. She had seen this kind of thing before, at the clock repair shop where she had the earring put on a chain back in Plumpbucket, but never asked how they worked. She knew they measured time, but not how.

"I can hear that it makes a ticking sound, and I see that it moves continuously. Then when the long pieces reached a certain place there is a sort of musical sound."

"Why thatís a clock. And the sound is called chimes. It tells us what time of the day it is. The chimes occur at different increments in lengths of time. This way you have an idea of how much time has gone by without looking." Mrs. Beale says.

Norny had learned to tell time by the placement of the sun and the length of the shadow it cast.

"Norny I donít mean to be nosy, and you donít have to tell me anything you donít want to. But just how much schooling have you had?"

Norny was trying to think of a way to explain her lack of knowledge without revealing too much about herself.

Then she thought, this is an understanding and trustworthy woman. There is no reason why I couldnít tell her about me. There is so much more I need to know about this civilized world. I should take advantage of it.

"Norny! Would you care to come to my house for dinner tonight? We could talk and get to know each other a little better. What do ya say?"

"All right, that sounds nice. Thank you."

 

After Norny took Poco over to the stable and settled him in, Norny walked over to Mrs. Beale's. She just lived up the street.

Mrs. Beale welcomed Norny into the kitchen, "Come in and have a seat while I get us some stew Iíve had simmering most of the afternoon. I live close enough to the school that I can just run down here at lunch time and put a pot on the fire for dinner."
"Norny, would you mind getting the rolls out of the oven for me?"
Norny looks at the old stove and tryís to figure out where she meant.
"That door right there dear." She says.
Norny picks up a towel and brings the tray out of the stove.
"Would you care for some coffee Norny?"
"I would rather have tea if you have that."
"Tea, thatís a splendid idea." Mrs. Beale says

So while the water is heating up on the stove, Mrs. Beale sets the table. She laid out more silverware than Norny knew what to do with. Norny just figured she would watch her.

"Do you live alone Mrs. Beale?"
"Well, first of all, lets dispense with the Mrs. Beale and just call me Emilly."
"OK Emilly."
"And in answer to your question. My husband is in Europe on a sales campaign. He is a book salesman and right now he is in France."
"Oh, the water is ready for the tea. Would you please get the cups and saucers? There over there on the shelf."

Norny sat back down and Emilly got the rest of the dinner together. Then Emilly sat down and made small talk while they ate.

Norny is listening to Emilly talk while she eats her stew.

"Well Norny, tell me about yourself. Where are you from."

"OK Emilly, here goes..."

Norny took her back to the time she was orphaned and they found her on the rock. From there she told her everything all the way up to today. Including Daniel.

"My, thatís quit a background you came from. Your life is rich with adventure." She says.

"You could teach all of us something." Emilly said.

 

After they had finished diner and sat around talking a while, Emilly asks.

"How about a little after diner drink Norny?"

"Well, OK." Norny says.

So Emilly pours them a liqueur in small glasses. Norny looks at the tiny glass and then the bright color liquid in it then takes a sip. Her facial expression contorts.

"What is this? It burns going down." Norny says

"Do you like it?" Emilly asks.

"Well I guess I do. It makes my insides tingle." She says

The ladies go on talking with each other and drinking shots of liqueur. Eventually Norny talks about Daniel. She doesnít know why she canít stop thinking about him or shake her feelings for Daniel.

"Is this normal, does this happen to everyone the same way?" Norny asks.

"Norny, when you meet that someone that is right for you and you both know it, it never goes away. It may fade in time if you donít see each other, but when you do come together again, its right back there full force"

"People meet prospective mates all the time and think this is it. It seems that there are plenty of people out there to fall in love with and sometimes you think you are, but ninety days later you find out it was all just an illusion. It is rare for someone such as yourself to find the right man so soon, but it can happen. When it does, if you are fortunate enough to see it, then grab on with both hands before it is too late. It only comes around once in a lifetime, and very seldom twice. The trick is to be able to recognize it when you see it."

"Let me tell you a little secret about myself. Iím not really married and I never had a husband. I just have to say that because, I allowed myself to get pregnant out of wedlock when I was younger. And in this culture they would have shunned me and my child. I gave birth to a baby girl when I was much too young, and gave the baby up for adoption so that it would never suffer for my mistakes. I thought by taking on the story about a husband I would be covered if any one from my past should ever show up in my present. So you see Norny, we all have secretes to keep. Everyone of us has something we keep to ourselves. "

"But you have Daniel. I would give anything to have what you did. Maybe you will never see him again and if that is what is meant to be, then so be it. And your Daniel is a special man, a one of a kind man and so are you. Thatís why you are a perfect match for each other. You know you both feel the same, but you are so far apart. Its such a waste to let it go by. Time is so short in life, and true love is so rare. I hope you are doing the right thing Norny. You are the only one that can decide that. But remember this. It is meant to be only if you want it to be"

 

The girls went on with their conversation and sipping on the liqueur. They hadnít noticed that theyíre feeling a bit up.

"So this is the same horse you grew up with?" Emilly asks

"Yep! Heís my really big coy, I mean poy, or boy. Coco, I mean Foco, Poco. I canít seem to talk." Norny Exclaims

"The drink will do that to you." Emilly says.

Then they both break into uncontrollable laughter for a long time.

"I thinks its stime for me tooooo...." And Norny slumps over to the side and was out for the night.

 

The next morning when it was time to get up and get ready for school, Norny wasnít feeling so well.

Norny had learned that only the first half of the fire water experience was fun and laughter, the other half hurt like hell. Alcohol was not for Norny.

"I have to go and see to Poco, Iíll see you later at class." Norny says with a heavy head.

Class was a little longer than usual today because of their condition, but they got through it.

"Tomorrow Iíll be in a little late," Norny says, "I need to take Poco out for a ride."

"Sure Norny, Iíll see you when you get here."

 

The next day Norny got up at the crack of dawn to take Poco for a ride. It felt good to be with her friend again, just the two of them, out in the open spaces. They were out for hours. When they returned Norny went straight to the school and took Poco with her. She tied Poco to the rail around the side of the school in the shaded area.

During the recess Norny inquired about the large blue area on the map on the wall.

"What does Pacific Ocean mean?" Norny asked.

"Thatís the large body of water that divides the continents."

"Is it really this big?"

"Yes even bigger. I just realized you have never been to the coast, so you have never seen the ocean. Well let me tell you. Try to imagine a body of water so big that you canít see the other side. And waves so large that they are as big as a house."

Norny couldnít conceive of anything like that. Every body of water she had ever see had an other side to it. This was hard enough to imagine, but then when Mrs. Beale tried to tell her the world was round and Norny was lost.

There is so much I donít know! she thought. It would take a life time to learn.

Just then the chimes on the wall clock sounded and Norny stopped and looked at it. She liked that sound.

All of the sudden one of the children comes running in and then another yelling,

"Norny, Norny your horse, Poco just fell to the ground and he isnít moving, he looks dead! Youíd better come out." The little girl said.

Suddenly Norny felt her whole body run cold, and there was a burning deep in the center of her chest. She looked straight at the blackboard and didnít even blink. This is the moment she feared the most.

Emilly looks at Norny knowing her attachment to her Poco. She sees Nornyís face going white and tears pooling at the bottom of her eyes. Her nostrils are expanding and contracting and her chin is starting to quiver. Norny felt a sick tingling sensation beginning in her face. She knew she was about to lose control of her emotions and she didnít want the children to see her.

In a broken and choked up voice Norny is barely able to speak, "Mrs. Beale, would you please bring the children inside.?"

Emilly could tell that the voice was not Norny and she was losing it.

"Sure Norny, right away."

Nornyís whole body was so gripped with fear, she wasnít sure she could even move.

 

As the children were filing in the front Norny was going out the back. The children werenít laughing and carrying on like they normally did, instead they were all quite and behaved.

It hadnít dawned on Norny that today might have been her last ride with her best friend Poco.

 

Its just something that we all take for granted, that another tomorrow would always be there. But the end can sneak up on us without warning and suddenly, all too soon itís over. The one thing you can always count on is that the end will always come.

 

Emilly goes over to the window to see how Norny is doing. The children all gather around their teacher and watching. A few of the children have tears in their eyes as they watch Norny hovering over Poco.

Norny is undoing the cinch and the saddle and trying to remove it. It isnít easy with Poco lying on the stirrup, but Norny pulls as hard as she can and she manages to free him of the saddle.

She tosses it aside. Then she removes his bridle from Poco's head and tosses that aside. Then Norny is on her knees and bends over Poco as she gently runs her hand down his neck.

From the window they could only see the top of Nornyís head, but they could see her tear drops falling on Poco. Then they notice movement from Pocoís head. Mrs. Beale notices it too. Then they see there is foam coming from Pocoís mouth.

Mrs. Beale says, "Kendra, run over to Doc Simpsonís and tell him to get over here right away. Tell him itís an emergency!"

"Yes maíam." Kendra says.

And little Kendra takes off as fast as she can to retrieve the Doctor.

Norny can now see that Poco has something else wrong with him and he didnít drop dead as she had feared.

Norny strokes Pocoís neck with her hand and talks to him to offer any comfort she can. Norny looks up at the window and sees Emilly. Emilly says, "I sent one of the children for the doctor."

 

Norny carefully attends to her ailing friend until help can arrive. In a few minutes Kendra returns with the doctor.

Doc Simpson gets down on his knees and carefully examines the foam coming from Pocoís mouth. He listens for a heart beat and checks a few other things with the horse.

He looks straight at Norny and asks, "Is this your horse maíam?"
"Yes."
"Did he eat anything out of the ordinary today?"
"No, just his usual oats and hay."
"Well my guess would be that this animal has ingested something poisonous. The problem is that I donít have any way of knowing what kind or how much. But what I do know is that he has taken enough to kill him. My suggestion to you as that we put him out of his misery right now."
"You mean kill him?"
"Humanly of course."
"NO!! Poco is a fighter, he would never give up on me and I will never give up on him."
"But heís in pain and heís suffering?"
"If you take his life then you can take mine to, because where he goes I go!"

Nobody was going to touch her Poco unless they could heal him.

Then Norny says, " Iím going to stay right here along side of my Poco until he comes out of this, and he will."

"Well you can't stay out here in the sun and the elements. I have a barn just up the ways were you can stay there with him until he goes." The Doc says, "Michael come here! I want you to run over to the freight depot and tell Mr. Hicks that I need him to send over six of his biggest boys and a block and tackle. Then tell him I also need some heavy canvas and ropes. Also a flat-bed wagon and a horse to pull it. Oh yeah and a post and beam for the hoist. And Michael, tell him that I am reminding him that he owes me. You got all that?"

"Yes Sir."

"Then go! boy"

Mr. Hicks came through and delivered everything the doctor ordered. It took a couple of hours, but they got Poco up on the wagon and took him to the barn. Poco was never able to get on his feet so they had to gently hoist him horizontally and lower him the same way. Norny was right there with her hands on Poco at all times. She felt every bump and jolt her pal Poco felt as if it were her.

When they put Poco down and cleared out of the barn Norny quickly closed the doors behind them and barred them shut

 

Everyone in Mrs. Bealeís class was praying for Poco. They were all saddened by what had happened and felt for their friend Norny whom they had come to love.

The children were asking questions like, "Is Poco going to live?"
"I donít know." Their teach replyís
"Whatís going to happen to Norny?"
"I donít know that either."
"He looked all right when Mr. Zearke gave him the apples." one of the children says.

"What did you say." Mrs. Beale asks.

"When Mr. Zearke gave Poco the apples, he looked all right then."
"You actually saw Mr. Zearke give Poco the apples."
"Yes maíam."

"Danny, go get the sheriff." and Danny took off immediately.

 

Todd was in the room and heard the whole thing.

"Oh my God, Iím sorry!" He says and Todd jumps up and runs out of the room, ashamed of what his father had done.

When the sheriff gets there, they told him exactly what happened. The sheriff explains that even if she did see him with the apples, it wasnít proof enough to arrest him. But he was going to take a deputy over to Zearkeís and search for evidence of poisons that would tie him to the crime.

 

The next morning on the way to school, Danny stops by the barn to see how Norny and Poco are doing.

"Norny are you OK ?" he asks through the door. But there is no reply.

"You must be hungry, I can bring you some food." He asks again. But still there is nothing.

On the way home from school Danny stops by again.

"Are you OK? Please let me help you he says." But still there is nothing.

"Iíll be back later, after my mom goes to bed in case you need anything." And that night Danny snuck out just as he had said. Again he tried to get Norny to talk to him, but she wouldnít."

 

Word had gotten around the town about Norny and Poco, and it even made it to Hey Jo and You Jo on the train. They told someone who eventually told Danny that they would hit the whistle three longs blasts each time they came through town so that Norny would know they were thinking of her. And Danny told Norny.

Danny wasnít the only one to try and talk to Norny, there were others, but the results were the same. But Danny never gave up. Norny came to his rescue and changed his life and now he had to be there for her. No matter how long it would take.

Norny was so involved with Poco she wouldnít let anything take her attention away from her dying friend. She wasnít going to loose one minute of the time she had left with her best friend. Her big fear now was that Poco would leave this world alone without her being right there as he slipped away. She had to make sure that Poco felt her love for him as he crossed over to the spiritual side and wouldnít die alone. And this required her complete attention. No animal could have ever felt more loved and cared for than Norny's Poco. When Poco goes a big part of Norny goes with him. Norny and Poco had never been apart. They had literally been together every day since Norny received Poco as her reward. And in all that time she never once failed to show Poco all the compassion and tenderness she felt for her companion.

 

The next morning on the way to school Danny walks out into the field and picks a handful of wildflowers. That with some food he brought from home he brings to Norny. He stands outside the door and says, "I know you canít talk to me and thatís OK. But I brought you some food. Iím going to leave it outside the door for you. Iíll be back Norny, Iíll always be back."

After school Danny comes by again. This time he sees that the flowers and the food were gone. This made Danny feel good, like he knew that at least she did hear him and she was still in there..

"Iíll stop back again tonight Norny, I hope your OK."

And he did stop back. And every morning on the way to school like clock work he was there. When people passed by they could see that someone had left freshly picked wildflowers and some food at the barn door every morning without fail. And every day close to noon when the train rolled through there was Hey Jo and You Jo hitting the whistle for Norny. Three blasts just like they said.

A week has gone by and still no sign of Norny. Danny was there for her three times a day. He had never missed once.

Tonight he came back again, but this time something was going to happen.

 

Danny was on the side of the building telling Norny about the things they did in school today when he had heard something from behind the barn, and walked around hoping to see Norny. It wasnít! It was dark but he could make out who it was.

It was Zearke. Danny couldnít quit tell what he was up to, but it couldnít have been good. Danny watched for a while to see what was happening. Then as he did he realized that he was going to set the barn on fire with Norny in it.

Little Danny panicked at the thought of Norny burning to death in the barn. Suddenly Danny charges at Zearke screaming at the top of his lungs, "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

Zearke saw him coming and with the back of his hand he hits Danny hard in the face.

Danny was knocked back about six feet. Zearkeís hands were so large that he had broken Dannyís nose and blackened both his eyes at the same time.

Danny was rolling to a stop on the ground and in a daze. Danny wanted to cry from the shock and pain just as any child would, and he was crying. But it was for the fear that his beautiful friend and savior was about to burn to death and he wasnít big enough to do anything about it.

Danny got to his feet and took off running as fast as he could to the sheriffís house. Danny knew that if that barn caught fire it would be in full blaze in just a few minutes. He was crying uncontrollably and his insides were tingling with fear that he couldnít get there fast enough and back with the sheriff to stop the fire. The thought of Norny burning to death was choking him.

His eyes were crying and that made it difficult to see but they were also swelling up and closing on him and he knew it. He had to get to the sheriff before he couldnít see anymore.

When he gets to the sheriffís house he pounds on the door trying to get the sheriff up, but it wasnít happening fast enough, so he picks up a rock and throws it through his bedroom window. That got his attention.

" What the hell?" the sheriff says

Danny yells " Zearke is setting fire to Docís barn and Nornyís in it. Oh, please hurry!"

Danny was never this anxious about anything in his life. While the sheriff grabs his hat, boots and gun, Danny is nervously moving around in a circle like a boy who had to pee and could barely hold it, uttering the words to himself and his God,

"Oh please donít let her die, please donít let her die!"

The sheriff comes running out, "Do you know where my deputies live?" he asks Danny.

"Yes." He replies

"Well go get them and tell them weíre going to need a bucket brigade."

Danny takes off running. He hopes that he can see long enough to get there. He knows he probably wonít be able to get back to the barn.

 

After Danny gets the deputies they head for Docís barn where Poco and Norny are hold up. When they get there around back they see the sheriff holding a torch and standing over Mr. Zearke.

"What happened, did he resist arrest?" The deputy says to the sheriff.
"No, he was like this when I got here."

All three of them were standing over an unconscience Mr. Zearke .

"Well if you didnít do this, then who did?" The deputy asks.
"Thatís what Iím trying to figure out." The sheriff says
"It would take a pretty big man to do all this. Take a look at his face, it looks like he took some petty hard hits. And look at the foot. The way itís turned in like that, Iíd say his leg is broken at the knee."
"Is he alive?" one of them ask.
"Oh yeah, heís alive, but not in very good condition."
"You donít suppose the woman in here had anything to do with it do you?"
"I donít know, but I kind of doubt it. I tried knocking on the door and tried to get her to open it, but there is no answer."
"Is she even in there?"
"Donít know that either."
"Evidently Zearke thought she was in there. Look at how he rigged the doors locked so that no one could get out."
"Well that is definitely attempted murder." The deputy says
"Yes it is." the sheriff replies"
"Well he never got the fire started, looks like someone stopped him before he could."
"Well, weíd better get a wagon and take him over to the Docís before we arrest him. Iíll try and talk to the woman later."
"Then weíd better find Danny and get his statement after the Doc seeís him."

The deputies took Zearke over to the Docís, while the sheriff went looking for Danny. He found Danny just a few blocks away sitting on wooden sidewalk by the general store. Danny was sitting with his face in his knees crying. The sheriff walks over and sits down next to Danny. Danny looks up and tries to see who was there but his eyes were swollen shut and his face was soaking wet with tears. The sheriff could see that Dannyís face was so bruised and swollen that you couldnít recognize who he was.

"Whoís there?" Danny asks
The sheriff puts his arm around Danny to console him.
"Thanks to you, the barn didnít burn ." He says
"And we got Mr. Zearke."
Danny stops crying and is sniffing back his runny nose.
"Come on Danny, lets get you to the Doc."
And the sheriff scoops Danny up in his arms, and carryís him over to the Doctorís.

 

No one ever found out who beat the hell out of Mr. Zearke.

 

The next morning Danny was there as usual with wild flowers in hand. His little face was swollen and his eyes were both blackened and barely open, his nose was bruised and he looked a mess. You could see that he had suffered a pretty hard hit.

"Iím so happy your OK Norny. I thought he was going to burn you. I wished you would just come to the door and talk through it to me so I know your OK. Iíve got some food out here for you. Iíll just leave it here by the door. Iíll stop by on my way home OK Norny, well bye." And Danny walks off to school.

After school Danny comes by again, but still no Norny. The next day is Saturday and after he finishes his chores, he comes over to say hello to Norny again even if she doesnít answer.

"The sheriff is going to need to talk to you when you can see him. He asked me to tell you that. OK? Well Iíll stop by tomorrow after church and see if your OK. Bye Norny."

 

The next day was Sunday and a lot of the people of the community worship on that day. Today when they all met at the church, the topic of the day was Norny."

The pastor stood up in front of his congregation and said.

"Brothers and sisters. Just a half a mile up the road, hold up in a barn is a woman whom was assaulted by one of the people in our community. An innocent and peace loving woman who has given her time to our children and Mrs. Beale at the school. Undeserving of the dirty deed handed her when someone in our midst poisoned her friend and companion, her horse. I think it would be only fitting for us to come together at this time and show her that we care and feel for her sorrow. And that we are not all bad, but a good and caring community. "

"Brother Bill has generously donated his prize gelding, Jasper, to replace the horse she has lost. She rode onto our town on a horse, and she should ride out on a horse. Unless by the grace of God she chooses to stay with us."

"Bless you brother Bill for you heart filled donation to our guest and friend in need. Why donít we all meet out in front of the church, where we can all march up the road and present her with Jasper, and show her that we care about her loss."

 

So they all gathered out front of the church where the pastor lead the procession down the street. They all sang hymns as they went towards the barn a half a mile up the road.

There was the pastor out in front, then behind him was the congregation surrounding Bill leading Jasper, his gelding.

As they marched on and sang gospel hymns they were coming in sight of the barn, they could see the barn door on the side towards them was coming open slowly. As they walked forward they were all curious and some of the people stopped the singing as they watched intently at what was happening.

Then the door was all the way open. After a few seconds Poco comes flying out at full speed, high spirited and full of life with Norny riding proud and tall in the saddle. Poco stopped in the middle of the street his head was swinging from side to side then up and down. Like a young pony anxious to run and flex his muscles. Norny turned him sharply to the right then to the left. Poco was almost like a new animal hard to hold. And thatís how he felt after being sick for a week. Poco took off galloping at full speed out of town in the opposite direction leaving puffs of dust clouds behind them. The people cheered and yelled praise the lord as Poco and Norny headed down the tree lined road out of town. They were a glorious site to behold, especially for little Danny.

"Well brother Bill, looks like we wonít be needing Jasper after all, but the lord thanks you for your magnanimous gesture."

 

After a few minutes Norny and Poco come trotting back into town. Old Doc Simpson says, "I donít know what to say, I wouldnít have given that horse three days to live. What happened in that barn in the past week weíll never know. The bond those two have with each other transcends anything in medical science Iíve ever known. You might say this was some sort of miracle. Of course nobody really knows what powers be in the spiritual sense. But what ever those two have between them is beyond my understanding."

Then the pastor says, "The lord works in mysterious ways."

Then someone else says, "Praise the lord."

Danny canít control himself and runs up to meet Norny and Poco as they return. Danny is out in front of the congregation by about forty yards.

Norny rides Poco up to him and stops. She looks down at the badly broken face of little Danny for a moment. Norny slowly steps down off of Poco and lets go of the reins. She steps up to Danny then crouches down to his level so she can look straight into his face. She just looks at his face for a few seconds as moisture collects in her eyes. Then slowly and gently she kisses his left eye, then his right eye, then his forehead, and his nose. Then she puts her arms around the little man and holds him tight against her. Danny puts his arms around her neck and hugs her back.

" Iím so glad you and Poco are OK." Danny says.

They stay embraced for a few moments, then Norny backs off and stands up while maintaining eye contact. Not a word needed to be said. Norny recognized her brave little man, she tried to kiss away his wounds and show him her gratitude.

As Norny climbs back into the saddle, she looks down at the young boy and says, "Your a brave young man Danny, and youíll always be my hero."

Those were words Danny never thought he would ever hear from anyone, and she made him feel ten feet tall at that moment.

And eventually the whole town knew Danny to be a hero for saving Norny and Poco.

By now the rest of the crowd was moving in and surrounding her.

"Are you leaving us?" The pastor asks.

"First thing in the morning." She replies.

Then Emilly makes her way up to Norny and says, "Norny please come by the school in the morning before you go and say good bye to the class. Will you do that for us Norny?"

Iíll be there." Norny says.

Then while everyone is trying to pet and touch Poco, Norny slowly rides back to the barn.

 

The next morning Norny saddles Poco and gathers her things to head over to the school before leaving. As she rides up to the steps she hears one of the children shouting,

"Here she comes!"

And the whole class comes out to meet her. Mrs. Beale walks down in front of everyone and along side of Norny then asks,

"Where will you be heading?"

Then Norny tells her, "Southwest towards the Arizona territory. Lets see thatís south of the Nevada territory and southeast of the Sierras, and southwest of Utah. Right?"

"Thatís right Norny, you learned well. But before you leave, we have something for you."

"We all chipped in and worked up enough money to get you a good bye gift."

Norny says " You didnít have to do that."

"Well we wanted to." she says, "...to thank you for the help and the attention you gave us. Your a special woman Norny and I think you know that. We will all miss you."

And then Mrs. Beale hands Norny a gold pocket watch. Norny looks at it closely the pushes the button and it opens. Inside there is an inscription that reads

" You are forever in our hearts,

We will never forget you."

Almost the same words that Daniel whispered to himself as he watched Norny ride off in the distance.

Norny was touched. She didnít know how to respond except to say " Thank you."

Norny carefully slips the watch into her vest pocket, then takes the reins with both hands. As she does she hears a small chime coming from the watch in her pocket as it was striking the hour.

Norny always loved the sound of the chimes from the clock, and Emilly knew it. Norny looks down at the her vest pocket then looks back up at the class with a big smile on her face.

Young hearts were melting at that moment, girls and boys. There was sniveling and some tears from most of the children. They all loved Norny and at the last moment as she is saying good bye, they realized the magic of her beautiful smile, that only accented the warmth of her heart, that had already touched them.

 

Norny pulls the reins to the right and as she does she notices little Danny around the corner of the building with big good by tears in his eyes. Norny pauses for just a moment, looks straight at Danny and gives a big special smile with her eyes sparkling just for him.

Then she turns Poco the rest of the way around and heads off at a trot.

Norny can hear the children running after her to see her right to the last minute and shouting,

"Good bye Norny, Good bye. We love you Norny." Norny turns herself around in the saddle as she goes to wave back at her friends one last time.

As she rides off into the distance. Heavy hearts mourn loudly to themselves.

 

From the time Norny arrived, and the time it took her to travel from one end of the town to the other, she had a lasting effect in some small way on everyone and everything she came in contact with.

 

For this prairie flower touched many hearts and made a profound difference in many young lives. And especially one in particular. As Danny tearfully says...

"Good bye Norny."


chapter

9

doing the right thing

(click on Norny's face to see sketch detail)