Foalon rose before the sun the next morning, it was his normal habit in the city. Wake before dawn and forage for whatever scraps of food he could find. He thought about how differently the last few days had made his life. Yesterday, the kind people that took them in, made sure his siblings were fed and bathed. He had never seen them so clean. Even though ma, and pa had tried their best, there was only so much you could afford on a soldiers pay. Yes, he know had hay stuck in his hair and was down his back, he was itchy but it was the best night of sleep he had since before his parents had died. He was in a warm bed, surrounded by horses and cattle that radiated heat throughout the night. Their simple noises calmed him during the night. In the city every noise made him awake in fright, afraid of the taxers coming.
He brushed off as much hay as he could, but his hair was so matted and filthy he knew a few extra pieces of hay would not make much of a difference in his appearance. He went outside the barn hoping Isiah had not yet woken and to look at the fresh new sky. It was starting to become a pale pink in the fading starlight sky.
“Good ya up.” a male voice came from the front porch of the house. “I do not have any extra boots so for ya so you goin’ to have to muck the barn in your shoes. I’ll try to go to the cobbler and get you a pair soon.” Isiah rose from the porch chair. “There’s a few shovels in the barn, you should get to work. I am going to go see about letting the cattle out in the field.”
Isiah did not even bother to show him where the shovels were. Foalan would not be a burden and he went back into the barn to look for the shovels. He found a sturdy one and began to muck out the stalls. After a while his arms and body ached with the work of it, but he did not dare complain, out loud or in his head. He bared the weight of the shovel and kept going until the cattle’s stalls were near right sparkling. All the waste and dirt had been shoveled out where the rest of the manure was out behind the barn. He found a older flat broom and continued to sweep out the stalls, making the wood flooring show through the stains.
Foalan’s arms felt like fresh jelly but continued to work. He was determined to show he could do anything Isiah needed, anything to keep his siblings fed. He felt eyes watching him and peered around his back to see Isiah resting on the door frame, overalls nearly cleaned, flannel shirt with only a few patches smiling at him.
“Ya not bad, boy. Come rest and get some food and lemonade.” Isiah turned around and headed into the house. Foalon quickly followed putting the broom down. Stopping at the front stoop he took off his offensive shoes and socks. Trying to wipe his feet the best he could. He rolled up his pants not to track in the filth.
“Quick hurry up. I have some biscuits and some dried ham for us to eat.” Foalan sat down quietly and tried to eat at a good pace, to not seem too hungry but not to waste time. He took pleasure in just sitting and resting though. His body needed it and the food was making his belly feel warm again.
“Your siblings are just so dear.” Elizabeth announced, as she wiped Cynthia’s face. Cynthia had fresh braids in her hair and ribbon to match the patches on her dress. Jonathon just looked to be in heaven with all the food in front of him, wide eyed and grin just as wide. He ate slowly and tried to use the fork and knife in front of him. But since he was not accustomed to it Foalon noticed his small fingers getting all confused at what to do.
“He is doing a good job out in the barn, Elizabeth. He has the cow stall mucked out and is about to put on fresh hay. Aren’t ya boy?”
“You keep doing a good job and I’ll see we take good care of your siblings.”
“Thank you, sir.” Foalan’s dreams were coming true. Yes, life was still hard for him but his siblings were getting the life they needed. Food in their bellies and a warm place to sleep.