web analytics
Yearling (novel)

The Yearling, 6

Pages after we read a vignette where Penny’s wife is depicted:

He said, “Ory, the day may come when you’ll know the human heart is allus the same. Sorrer strikes the same all over. Hit makes a different kind o’ mark in different places. Seems to me, times, hit ain’t done nothin’ to you but sharpen your tongue.”

She sat down abruptly.

She said, “Seems like bein’ hard is the only way I kin stand it.”

He left his breakfast and went to her and stroked her hair.

“I know. Jest be a leetle mite easy on t’other feller.”

The next chapter describes the autumn month to get the hogs butchered while, “Flag grew miraculously, day by day. He liked best to play with Jody.” But there was an obscure shadow in that bucolic world…

He said to Jody, “Now them ocean Jessies don’t belong to be crossin’ Floridy. I don’t like it. Hit means bad weather, and when I say bad, I mean bad.”

The sun set strangely that night. The sunset was not red, but green. The fawn came to Jody’s bed and poked its muzzle against his face.

Jody asked, “Is it a hurricane comin?”

“I don’t think. But somethin’s comin’, ain’t natural.”

In mid-afternoon the skies turned so black that the chickens went to roost.

And pages later:

Penny said after him, “Don’t he look like a wet yearlin’ crane. All he needs is tail feathers. My, ain’t he growed since spring.”

There was a lull in the fierce beating wind. A pitiful whine sounded at the door. Penny went to it. Rip had found adequate shelter, but old Julia stood drenched and shivering. Or perhaps she had found shelter, too, but longed for a comfort that was more than dryness. Penny let her in.

Ma Baxter said, “Now let in Trixie and old Cæsar [the farm’s animals], and you’ll have things about to suit you.”

Penny said to Julia, “Jealous o’ leetle ol’ Flag, eh? Now you’ve been a Baxter longer’n Flag. You jest come dry yourself.”

She wagged her slow tail and licked his hand. Jody was warmed by his father’s inclusion of the fawn in the family. Flag Baxter–

Ma Baxter said, “How you men kin take on over a dumb creetur, I cain’t see. Callin’ a dog by your own name–And that fawn, sleepin’ right in the bed with Jody.”

Jody said, “He don’t seem like a creetur to me, Ma. He seems jest like another boy.”

“Well, it’s your bed. Long as he don’t bring fleas or lice or ticks or nothin’ into it.”

He was indignant.

“Look at him, Ma. Lookit that sleekity coat. Smell him, Ma.”

“I don’t want to smell him.”

“But he smells sweet.”

“Jest like a rose, I s’pose. Well, to my notion, wet fur’s wet fur.”

The rain drummed on the roof. The wind whistled under the eaves. Old Julia stretched out on the floor near the fawn. The storm was as cozy as Jody had hoped for. He made up his mind privately that he would wish for another in a week or two. Now and then Penny peered out of the window into the dark.

They worked until noon in the down-pour, pulling the slippery pods from the bushes. They came in for a hurried dinner and went back again without troubling to change their clothes. They covered most of the field.


The second day after the storm, Buck and Mill-wheel Forrester came riding to the island to see whether all was well with the Baxters. They had come straight from their own work of caring for the stranded stock. Along the main trail the sights, they said, were new in their generation. The flood had played havoc with the small animals. It was agreed that the four of them, Buck and Mill-wheel and Penny and Jody, should make a tour of exploration for some miles around, so that they might know what to expect, in the immediate future, of the movements not only of the game, but of the predatory creatures. The Forresters had brought two dogs, and an extra horse, and asked to have Rip and Julia join them. Jody was excited that he was to be taken.

Then they went to Silver Glen and in Lake George they saw something that shocked them:

Penny said, “I didn’t know there was that many snakes in the world.”

The bodies of highland reptiles were as thick as cane-stalks. There were dead rattlesnakes, king snakes, black snakes, coach whips, chicken snakes, garter snakes and coral snakes. At the thin edge of the receding water, cottonmouth moccasins and other water snakes swam about thickly.

Wild-cats and lynxes peered visibly from the branches of trees. The Forresters urged their killing.

Penny said, “Hit’s a pity we should add to their troubles. Seems like there’d ought to be room enough in the world for folks and creeturs, both.”

Later at night:

Jody put his arms under his head and looked up into the sky. It was as thick with stars as a pool of silver minnows.