June 24, 2010

Short Story: Martha and Hank ©

I Thought I'd share another of my short-stories with you: Martha and Hank

Martha was standing in the corner of the room, when the buzz of conversation reached her.  She realised that her boss, Hank Ercheef, was the main topic of discussion and she tried quickly to avert her ears in case she overhead anything that was unsavoury.  

“Hank is a good man, and knows how to treat me right”, she said to herself.  But if only the other ladies would stop their gossiping about their relationship, then she might feel more comfortable with the group of them when they met.  She closed her brown eyes, her long lashes hiding the deep hurt mirrored there. She knew she would never fit in with the other ladies.  She had no interest in gossip and in the petty minded nastiness that often accompanied it. 

Walking to a nearby door, she stopped in the entrance and gazed out into the cool evening sky.  Although the moon’s silvery brightness never failed to fill her with delight, tonight her heart felt heavy at the thought of the big journey they were going to make tomorrow.  Hank had been telling her for weeks that they were leaving, and although she tried to prepare herself, she knew that she would miss the farm and all of the animals.  She had a soft-spot for the old rooster who would wake her up each morning with his cheery greeting to the sun. 

She recalled they had stood in the cowyards a few weeks earlier, when Hank had told her, “I reckon it’ll take us about 2 months to get there, my sweet.”  He rested a possessive hand on her back.  “You know, you’ve always been good to me., Martha.  You’re so giving and trusting.  I reckon it just won’t do to leave you behind when me and the boys go on this big cattle drive.  So how about coming along on the trip with us, hey?  What do you say?”  He gave her a soft slap on her bottom, and Martha lowered her eyelids in embarrassment.

“He really does love me,” she said to herself, hugging the secret delight close to her heart.  She murmured softly in reply.

And now, here it was, the night before the big trip.  How was she going to tell the other ladies?  They wouldn’t understand.  Heaving a big sigh, Martha decided that she would let Hank tell them in the morning.  He was the boss, and it was his responsibility.

Slowly, Martha made her way to her berth, away from the giggles and gossip and went to sleep.


The rooster woke her as usual when it was barely light, and she stretched and yawned, before greeting the bird good morning.  Her brown hair shone as usual and she knew that being in the prime of her life, she was looking especially attractive.  Quickly grabbing a bite to eat, she soon made her way to the cowyards to watch the cattle as they grouped together.

Hank strode from the house, with the three youngest boys following close behind. They had just finished packing the wagon with foodstuffs, and water for the trek.

“Well fellows,” said Hank, “If we’re going to make any money this year, we’ve got to sell this herd, and the best direction to go is west. So saddle up the horses and then we’ll head out.  Be ready in 5 minutes, ok?”

The boys nodded and raced to the barn.

Hank was a tall, lean man with weathered skin, but Martha thought that he had the kindest, and sweetest face she had ever seen on a man.  She loved him so much, she felt that she could follow him just about anywhere. 

Martha was started from her reverie when Hank placed his hand against the back of her neck.  His touch gave her goosebumps, and she shivered a little.

“Are you worried girl?” asked Hank anxiously, “We’ll be ok.  Sure the trip is long and there are plenty of dangers, but if we’re going to conquer this country, we’ve got to do this.  We’ve got to head west.  But now that you’re coming along, I feel so much better.  I couldn’t leave you behind, as there’ll be no-one left to protect you.  Besides, I know how much you’d miss me.  So stick close by me, honey, and you’ll be safe.”

Moving in closer to Hank, Martha leaned her head softly against his chest.  He chuckled a little and gently stroked her cheek.  “Come on now,” he said, “It’s time to go.”

The 3 boys rode out of the barn on horses, towing 3 others behind them. By this time, two older men had comee out of the house, their bedroll, knapsack and canteen slung over their back.  They undid the gates on the cattleyards and released the massive herd they had accumulated there. 

Hank pulled out some rope and dropped it over Martha’s neck.  “Come along my dear Martha,” he said, coaxing her along, “I’ll tie you to the back of the wagon and you can follow behind and not get lost.  And don’t you worry, I’ll be sitting up front driving the wagon so I’ll be able to protect you if there’s any danger.”

The men working on Hank’s ranch, knew that he was a bit eccentric.  He treated this one milking cow like it was some kind of queen, and they good-naturedly ribbed him about it whenever they could.

Martha happily followed along behind her boss, her hooves clopping gently on the packed earth. A gleam of excitement filled her heart and she swaggered her bony hips and swung her tail with glee.  She was going away with her boss, and those other cows, just wouldn’t understand why she was separated from them.  She knew that her milk would come in handy on the trip, but she also knew that Hank cared enough about her to not leave her behind.  It was a fine relationship they had, and Martha sighed a deep, contented cow sigh, as only a bovine can.

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