Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: THE DROVER'S "SALVATION"
By Philippa Geaney
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I called her Salvation. And turns out, it was the right thing to do.
On my last city visit, some respected folk frowned and said I was too slow to talk about salvation. That’s true, I agreed. But I’m not much good at talk. Any talk.
Doubtless, it left me wondering what on earth a bloke could to do. I was up the creek without a paddle.
But then the dog changed it all.
Or mostly all; I still hang back until I figure a body is listening.
Most times they’re not. Listening, that is.
And then the point is, why add to my stupidity? I have enough futility inbred.
Salvation, as I later named her, knows all about futility. She was the runt in my blue cattle dog’s litter. The squirt didn’t have a hope really. The other pollywogs were just so much bigger and they found their way to Lady Blue’s milk by scrambling over each other as natural as can be. But Salvation was so tiny. So gentle. A smouldering wick.
So I reached down and helped her. And Lady Blue, flat out exhausted looked at me with eyes more human than I’d seen in many a man, and wagged her tail.
‘Whatja want me to do girl? Rub ‘um down for you?’
Another thump on the dust and I got the message. I rubbed them all because I knew she wanted me to. But it wasn’t until I rubbed the runt that it started sucking her mother’s milk. So I kept at it. She was smaller than my hand. Useless little coot.
Some drovers had made me promise to give them a pup from Lady Blue’s litter in exchange for a heifer. It was no robbery on my part. Never did see a drover’s mate as good as Lady. She was worth the price of twenty head and they all knew it.
Not one of them looked twice at the runt.
Anyway, turns out she was mine. Lady Blue gave her to me.
It happened the night before we set out for the Diamantina with a mob. I decided to leave Lady Blue behind even though the pups were all gone; except for the runt of course. Lady was beggared.
We were rolling them out at daybreak so I camped in my swag down at the yard. There was one wild eyed beast I suspected of loco and if so I needed to cut him out; sooner the better if I was right. A night locked up in the yard would show him up.
Still I was dead to the world when a cold nose nudged my face. It was Lady; and the runt stood beside her. Serious as could be.
Even in the moonlight or maybe because of it she was as blue as her mother. It’s the blue in the dog that makes the difference. The more the better. She had plenty blue all right, but skinny and only knee high to a grasshopper.
Lady gave me that human look.
‘Whatja want girl?
She held my gaze for one more beat then turned and walked away. The runt stayed. Fact is, she curled up into a ball, small as a weedy melon and closed her eyes.
I owed it to Lady to take the runt on. But it was gonna be as useless as a kangaroo without a tail. Most of the drive I’d have to carry her on my horse. Her legs still hadn’t even got to gangly. Then I’d have to harden her feet. But that would be months away when she could run for miles.
I reached out and drew the little bundle closer to me. Drifting off into that place where inbred stupidity has no voice and the Spirit lights a man’s candle a, I saw Jesus looking up into a tree and saying ‘Zacchaeus … salvation has come to you and your household’ b.
So I called her Salvation.
Can’t tell you how many times a lonely drover has asked me ‘bout the name. And because they are really listening I tell them about the King of Salvation.
a Prov. 20:27; b Luke 19:9.
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