Wind Song - Page 4

Occasionally bachelor cowpokes stopped by the cabin to buy flatbread or to have their clothes mended. They were always welcomed, not for the money in their pocket but for their company. With no neighbors for twenty miles, it was lonely on the plains. The family and guests traded news, shared a meal, and were serenaded by Sir Gallant who was often the center of conversation.

One afternoon the younger daughter Mary noticed the canary sitting motionless on his perch. "Is Sir Gallant sick?" she asked in alarm.

"No. It's just a dark day outside," her mother reassured her. "It'll be raining soon and he probably doesn't feel like singing."

The younger children accepted this explanation but not Rachel. She knew that while Sir Gallant stopped singing from time to time, he had always hopped about his cage. She went to the door and looked outside. It was deathly quiet, no wind or sounds of birds or prairie dogs. She saw the outline of her father with the two oxen in the north field and at the same time she saw black thunderclouds stacked high into the sky. There was a heaviness to the air and a prickly feeling.

The Indian's words echoed in her mind. "It listens to the wind."

Rachel thought about Sir Gallant's odd behavior and the angry thunderclouds and how strange it felt. Straining to hear, she caught a faint rumbling and it was the sound of thunder.

Suddenly Rachel knew. She absolutely knew they were in danger. "Mom," she shouted. "It's a tornado!"

Immediately Mary and Michael began screaming as their mother gathered them up and, along with Sir Gallant, rushed outside. The safest place was the root cellar at the side of the house. Throwing open the cellar doors, the mother yelled to Rachel to warn her father.

Rachel took off running across the field shouting and waving her arms, but not until she was halfway across did she get his attention.

"What's wrong?" he yelled.

It was another moment before she reached him. "Tornado."

His eyes searched the horizon. "I don't see anything, but I can bring in Molly and Bell anyway. I'll come back to the house."

"No! There's no time. Listen!" Rachel was close to hysterical and because she never lied or played tricks, he did as she asked. Finally able to hear the rumbling he jumped to action. Releasing the yoke from the harnesses on the oxen he turned them free and then grabbed Rachel's arm and they began to run. By the time they reached the sod cabin, the tornado was visible, rain drenched their bodies and a thunderous roaring pounded the air.

The tornado lasted only minutes although it felt like hours. When the family emerged from their shelter they were relieved to find their sod cabin intact. Fortunately the oxen, too, had escaped although the scarred earth proved the north field had been in the center of the tornado's path. The loss of crops would make things more difficult, but they felt blessed to be alive. They also felt divine intervention had come in the form of a little yellow bird.

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