Wednesday, 17 September 2008
James, Wilberforce and the adult world
James watched the flock, pecking and honking in the grass. He rested his young arms on the old fence and made tentative steps towards whistling. He hoped to train his puppy, a recent gift whom he'd named Wilberforce, to be a sheepdog and thought he'd train him using the lazy white geese that lived in the meadow.
In honesty, James had a strong dislike for the geese. They always hissed at him when he ran by on the way to help with the milking, and one (he nicknamed him Goliath) had bitten him on the hand when he was very young and trying to feed them. He paid little attention to the attempts of Wilberforce to herd the birds. He just settled back to practice his whistling and watch the small dog terrorising the flapping, feather-shedding, creatures.
Like the repeat of a rifle shot, the snarl of the dog and the rampant honks of the geese suddenly reached a shocking pitch. James was on high alert now and sprinted into the melee of scattering birds and yelping puppy.
Wilberforce whined and cowered before his master as the voice of James' mother called out in concern from the farmhouse. There at the boy's feet lay the slain Goliath, it's neck bloody and broken.
A sense of satisfaction fought with a sense of impending doom. His father would be striding now, black boots menacing, across the field towards the house. James regarded the sniffling dog below him and couldn't be angry. He felt an extraordinary kinship with him then and knelt down next to the body of the goose, awaiting the fearful arrival of the adult world.