It wasn't like Papa to be gone so long. We'd had strays before, but he always had them gathered long before sunset, now I couldn't help feeling like something was wrong.
Mama had bread baking in the oven and was seated at the table with our older sister Bonnie. Together they prayed aloud for our father's safe return, while we boys just huddled together around the fireplace like three puppies in the straw.
I could hear the cold December wind whistle around the sides of our frail cabin, pushing cold drafts through any cracks in the timbers. We shivered somewhat because of those drafts, but more directly from the thought of wolverines in the night. Every winter they wandered down from the hills making the night sounds menacing, and putting animation to our fear. The thought of their nocturnal prowlings terrified me but, being the eldest boy, I did my best to wear a courageous face for my little brothers.
Papa had set countless traps around our property, yet the wolverines still evaded and persisted, their hungry eyes searching out every corner of the cabin for a point of entry. He thought there were only two, but sometimes the tracks in the snow seemed like hundreds. Now our Papa was out there with them, in the harsh wind and blowing snow, seeking that one lost sheep before it fell prey to their ravenous appetites.
We came from strong, Christian stock, and Mama was a firm believer that a steadfast faith in God could overcome any obstacle. She always said the hardest thing was to take that first step out and act on faith, trusting in God as our provider and protector for all. She taught us that faith was a spiritual muscle requiring exercise to grow strong, and she punctuated the point often using her favorite saying,… "Faith frees and fear fails." I believed what she taught us from God's word, although I'd admit to having reservations as to whether I would ever really get any use from those Old Testament stories, or miraculously discover the courage to face my fears of the winter nights.
As the orange sun began to settle on the distant hills, my disquieted heart was stirred by uneasiness that Papa needed my help. Although we were forbidden to leave the cabin at sunset, I excused myself under pretense of required study, snatched up my coat from its hook by the front door and ascended the ladder to the loft. My concern for Papa was paramount, in spite of the fact that my fearful heart pounded at the prospect of wolverines possibly just outside the safety of our cabin.
I put on my coat and stocking cap, quietly sneaked out of the loft window and climbed down the old tree to the ground. I couldn't possibly have explained my actions. I only knew that some instinct was telling me that our Papa needed me and I had to find him.
By the time I reached our barn, Papa's footprints were still somewhat visible in the snow and led south into the heavy brush beyond our woodpile. Slowly, methodically I moved forward, taking care not to lose sight of the prints so gradually being erased by the blowing snow. As I started down a small gully, I could see him in the distance, seated in the snow. I was about to call out when I noticed he was encircled by several low, shadowy figures. I didn't have to get much closer to realize Papa was surrounded by four wolverines. He had the small sheep clutched tightly under one arm and the jagged, steel jaws of a trap clamped tightly around his ankle. A trail of his blood ran down the snowy slope arousing the predators that now snapped and snarled, inching their way ever closer to him.
I was probably some fifty yards away and downwind of the wolverines, so I still had the element of surprise on my side. I saw Papa using his large walking stick and yelling at the animals to keep them at bay, but I could also note the fear in his voice, once again Mama's words stirred my heart,… "Faith frees and fear fails."
I looked about on the ground for anything to use as a weapon, but found only a short piece of pipe and an old tin washtub. I begged God to show me how I could save papa with such meager instruments, and instantly the biblical story of Samson using a donkey's jawbone to slay the Philistines leaped to my mind. Inspired by that teaching in combination with Mama's admonition against fear, I knew what I had to do. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, I picked up the items off the ground, began beating the tub with the pipe and running toward Papa as fast as I could, while yelling at the top of my lungs.
To both of our astonishment, the startled wolverines ran off in fear. Then I used the pipe to pry Papa free from the trap, quickly wrapped his ankle and helped him back to the cabin for Mama's tender care.
From that evening on, the night sounds of winter ceased to hold fearful connotation for me. I was freed by faith to derive only peace and rest from them, no longer hostage to fear,… or wolverines in the night.
this is an excellent story!
It could use some fleshing out and the suspense could be built a little more toward the climax. With all of that is publish-worthy and more! Be patient let the story take its time. Describe the house and the family for us. How does their worry manifest itself?
how does the worry make you feel in the innermost part of you and what, in the past compares to it? See what I mean? Your style is great,sentence structure is wonderful.
I loved this story! It was suspenseful and meaningful. (Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.) Wow! What an application of that verse. Thank you.