Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 February 2009

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Penski

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Posts : 119
Join date : 2013-09-26

20131030
PostFebruary 2009

No Love Lost

The first story I wrote. Han's and Jed's lives drastically change on a summer day.



Miss Maggie Stevens recently moved to Pleasant Grove, a small town near Lawrence, Kansas, taking a position as the teacher of the one room school. She was young, enthusiastic, and very pretty with a smile that lit up her eyes. Her loving family had instilled a love of learning that she hoped to pass on to her students. Miss Stevens motivated her students to learn and encouraged questions of all kinds – there was no such thing as a dumb question. Her favorite part of the day was reading stories to the students of adventure or of far away places. To see the gleam in their eyes as she held their attention; well, that was her reward at the end of the day. Maggie knew teachers were not supposed to have favorite students, but, if truth be known, there were two that especially endeared themselves to her heart because of their love for learning . . . .

Hannibal Heyes was a natural leader; anyone could see that. Even boys a few years older than him gravitated towards him. Han was extremely intelligent and loved to learn anything and everything. Being an only child, he could entertain himself by just using his imagination or by having his nose in a book for hours. He didn’t mean to get in trouble; it’s just his curiosity sometimes led him that way before he knew it. Being smart – some might say too smart for his own good – he frequently was able to avoid getting caught in trouble or, at least, was often able to talk his way out of it. Normally Han was followed by his little cousin and “partner”, Jed. Han never minded Jed hanging around because he was always game for one of Han’s “adventures”. Sharing an adventure was so much better than going out on your own.

Jedediah Curry had that angelic look about him with his curly blond hair, deep blue eyes, and infectious smile – and he used that look to get out of trouble more than once. Jed may not have been as scholarly as Han, but he was very smart, witty, and alert to what was going on around him. He was never embarrassed to ask questions about what he didn’t know – maybe because Miss Field and Han answered his questions without making him feel dumb. You would never catch him reading a book for pleasure, but he sure loved hearing adventure stories. Jed was the youngest with older siblings. He was more of a “doer” than a “thinker” and hated sitting still for too long. He would have rather have learned through experiences in life than in a classroom. Jed loved his big cousin Han and wanted nothing more than to be Han’s partner and have Han be proud of him.

And then, one summer day, everything changed . . . .

Mrs. Millicent Arndt was a bitter, middle-aged widow. Her husband, the Reverend Arndt, moved her to this forsaken land out west and then promptly died. Now she was forced to work; to teach these . . . ungrateful orphans. Mrs. Arndt never smiled or appeared pleased. She wore widow black dresses with her hair always in a severe bun. Her goal was to instill the fear of God in these uncivil brats. She was never without her cane because she thought it made her look serious and “spare the rod, spoil the child” was her motto. Only the Bible was read for other books put silly notions in children’s minds. Mrs. Arndt had no patience and lacked understanding and compassion when children did not finish or comprehend a lesson. And if there were two students in the class that frustrated her the most . . . .

Hannibal Heyes, or just Heyes as he preferred to be called now, was probably smarter than his teacher, Mrs. Arndt. Her feeling of insecurity made him a prime target for her anger and cane. He was still a leader, but a leader with a profound weight on his slim shoulders. The light-hearted boy became very serious and he felt the heavy load of responsibility for Jed. Heyes made sure Jed didn’t starve, even if it meant he went without. The classroom was boring and did not stimulate Heyes’ mind. No books were available to read for pleasure; even if there was time for such frivolities in the orphanage. No, the only thought that simulated Heyes’ mind now was survival for himself and his kid cousin. Heyes was often too tired from lack of sleep or hunger or pain to pay much attention in class. Heyes never had a problem with learning his lessons. What he hated most about the classroom, though, was watching Jed struggle with learning his lessons. More than once he got caught trying to help the kid answer a question and got caned for cheating.

Jed Curry went from being a happy go lucky child to a very reserved one with anger slowly boiling under the surface like a volcano. He was very withdrawn and quiet, talking only to Han since adults scared him. He was afraid to ask questions and panicked when asked a question in the classroom. He wasn’t dumb – Han and Jed practiced his lesson to perfection the night before – but his mind went blank when Mrs. Arndt asked him to recite the lesson the next day. Down would go her cane on small Jed’s body and then he would be humiliated by sitting in the corner with a DUNCE cap on his head. All his self-confidence was gone and he feared Han would no longer want him as a partner because he was so stupid. Jed always seemed tired, cold and hungry. He hurt from his lessons of “sparing the rod, spoiling the child” – Han and Jed seemed to be at the receiving end of most of those lessons.

Finally, one day, it became too much for Heyes and Jed. So they walked away from Valpairso’s Home for Wayward Boys. They left their formal education without looking back for there was NO LOVE LOST.
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