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The Boy who Cried Wolf

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The fire in the fire place crackled one final time before it dimmed to a warm glow. Mary Anne awoke and stumbled over to the fire to add more wood. She placed three medium sized logs on top and began to poke it with a stick. The flames rose up again and Mary Anne felt the room get warmer almost immediately. Thump. Mary Anne looked up for the source of the noise.

She tip-toed over to the small window next to the fireplace and gathered the paisley print curtain in her hands. She peered out of the window into the dark. When she looked out, all she could see was a tall conifer tree looming nearby and the bright shining moon. She shook her head and told herself she was imagining things as she drew the curtain shut. As she started to walk back toward her bed, she slipped on the rug and tumbled to the floor with a gasp. Her head hit the table with a bang. Mary Anne heard a brief ringing sound in her ears. She clutched her head and tried not to cry out. She saw a figure approaching her and she screamed.

“Shh! Mary Anne it’s okay. It’s just me. Are you okay?”

“No,” she answered with a sigh of relief. “I hurt my head. Do you think I woke anyone else up?”

“I hope not. Even if you did I’m sure they wouldn’t be angry with you,” she whispered as she helped Mary Anne up off of the floor.

“Thanks Beatrice.”

“Aw,” Beatrice replied, “you know I’m always watching out for my little sister.” She helped Mary Anne into her bed and turned to go tend to the fire.

“Good night.” Mary Anne whispered.

“Good night.”

Beatrice walked over to the fire and saw that Mary Anne had added some logs to it and it still glowed brightly. She added one more log for good measure and poked it around for a while. She wasn’t in the mood to go back to sleep even though she had to go to school in the morning. She glanced at the tiny crack of light under the door. She figured that it was around four or five in the morning and people wouldn’t be awake until six. She decided to make some of her famous bread. Everyone in the family thought it was delicious and would be pleasantly surprised that she had baked some. She got to work mixing all the ingredients together and in no time at all, the dough was ready to rise.

She sat back in her mother’s old rocking chair and crossed her arms, deep in thought. Something felt wrong about the chair. Something was out of place. Where was the needlepoint pillow? She panicked for a second and after glancing down, she saw it had fallen on the floor. She picked it up carefully and brushed a speck dirt off of the little robin in the corner. The picture on the pillow was of the house her mother grew up in. It was much larger than the house their family lived in now and rather than being entirely surrounded by trees, there were two perfectly trimmed apple trees, one on either side. The little robin sat on a branch of the tree on the right.

Her mother had made this pillow when she was about Beatrice’s age. Her mother’s family had been very rich but, when she had fallen in love with her father, her mother’s parents disapproved of him because his father was a blacksmith and they were not very rich. Even though Beatrice had heard the story many times, she had not heard it for a while. Her mother ran away from home when she was 16. She left behind everything, her house, her parents, and even her siblings and all she brought from home was this pillow. She never looked back and now she couldn't. Her mother died three years ago and life for Beatrice had been especially hard.

Beatrice sighed and gave the pillow a squeeze, set it down, and stepped outside. There was a tree, not too far from the house, that Beatrice often liked to climb. She quickly scurried to the top and looked to the East. She could see the sun through the trees slowly rising. Bit by bit it made the forest get brighter and brighter. When it was light enough to clearly see where one was going, she hopped down. Back in the house, Beatrice put the dough in the clay bread oven in the corner. Not a lot of people had ovens like this one. It was pretty special and Beatrice loved to make bread in it.

“Morning! I see you’re up bright and early today. Is that bread I smell?”

“Good morning, Jonathan. Yes, I decided to make bread this morning. That reminds me, I need to check on Mary Anne. Will you pull the bread out when it’s done?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks.”
Beatrice silently walked over to Mary Anne’s bed and whispered in her ear, “It’s time to get up.”
“I don’t want to go to school.”
“Why not?”
“What if the kids make fun of the bump on my head?”
“They won’t. Here; let me see your head.”
Beatrice examined the bump Mary Anne got from the table. It was about as large as a robin’s egg. “Hmm,” she said as she thought of a solution, “ what if you wear your bonnet?”
“You mean my Sunday bonnet?”
“Yes. It will cover the whole bump.”
“But it is only Wednesday. Won’t people find it odd if I wear it today?”
“Perhaps they will, but if you don’t want them to see the bump on your head then it is the only solution.”
“What if Miss Browen asks me to take it off?”

“I’ll make sure she won’t.”

“Thank you, Beatrice.”

“You’re welcome. Now come. I made bread this morning.”

Beatrice and Mary Anne ate their bread quickly. Then, they put the extra bread in little baskets for lunch. Beatrice glanced around and asked, “Where is Timmy this morning?”

“Here!” Timmy was a small boy, younger than Mary Anne. He was only seven, which meant he was four when his mother died. He was very cheerful, though he was often picked on by the other kids, because of his size.

“Are we all ready to go?” Beatrice asked.

“Yup,” Timmy answered.

“Almost,” replied Mary Anne as she adjusted her bonnet.

“Alright, good bye, Father and good bye, Jonathan!” Beatrice smiled as they ran off into the woods. The school house was almost two miles away, and even though they left the house early, they always managed to be late. Beatrice missed the days when Jonathan still walked to school with them every morning, but she knew he had to stay home and help their father. Timmy just started school this fall, and now the ground was covered in frost as winter approached. They never talked as they walked because talking took to much energy. Beatrice remembered the days when she would go to school looking forward to seeing her friends and excited to learn. Those days ended when mother first got sick.

She thought often now what it would be like if she lived in the big town where her eldest brother, Ronald lived. She hadn’t seen him in nearly three years. Shortly after their mother’s death, Ronald seemed to change. He used to be as cheerful as Timmy, so full of hope. When their mother died, he left one day out of the blue. He was sixteen then, the same age Jonathan is now. Beatrice often worried that Johnathan would leave them. The thought was so bothersome that she often couldn’t sleep. When they arrived at the one-room schoolhouse at the edge of the creek that ran all the way to town, Samantha came out to greet them.

“Hooray! For once you are on time!”

“I know!” screamed Mary Anne.

“Hey, why are you wearing your Sunday bonnet today?”

Mary Anne removed the bonnet and revealed the bump on her head.

“Whoa,” Samantha said, “put it back on.”

Beatrice left them talking and walked inside the small schoolhouse. She spotted Miss Browen was in the corner by her small desk. Miss Browen young lady that came from a nice family and education was very important as child for her. She loved children, especially Mary Anne, so Beatrice knew the bonnet wouldn’t be a problem.

“Good Morning Miss Browen,” Beatrice greeted.

“Good morning Beatrice. How are those math facts coming along?”

“They are getting there. I just wanted to tell you that Mary Anne hurt her head last night so she wore her bonnet today to cover it up. Will that be a problem?”

“I don’t think so, but thank you for telling me.”

“You’re welcome. Have you seen Helen today?”

“No, I haven’t. That is certainly odd; Helen is almost always on time.”

The children began making their way to their desks. Mary Anne and Samantha came in giggling and smiling.

Miss Browen said, “All right, quiet down. It seems everyone is here today except for Helen.” She pulled out her list of names and began to call them out. “Timmy.”

“Here.”

“Samantha.”

“Here.”

“Mary Anne.”

“Here.”

“James.”

“Present.”

“Thank you James,” Miss Browen said sarcastically. “Beatrice.”

“Here.”

“Alexander.”

“Here.”

“Edward.”

Silence.

“Alright class, apparently Edward thought it would be funny to ditch class again. So instead of focusing on subtraction today, we are going to have to go find him.”

“Yay!” The little kids screamed. They loved whenever someone got in trouble because they thought it was funny. Beatrice groaned. She didn’t want to waste any more time trying to find Edward. She wished he would just show up so that they could get some work done. Alexander snickered. He was Edward’s best and pretty much only friend. Alexander and Edward we always getting into trouble together, but since Alexander’s parents were really strict, he rarely skipped school.

Beatrice tried to think of an excuse to stay, and when she did, her hand shot up in the air. “Yes Beatrice?” Miss Browen said as she called on her.

“Well, I was thinking, what if we are all gone looking for Edward and Helen comes back and no one is here? Shouldn’t someone stay just in case she comes back?”

“You raise a good point Beatrice, but I think Helen will be just fine. Besides, she lives near Edward so we might even run into her. Why doesn’t everyone grab their lunch in case we don’t get back in time for lunch.”

Everyone lined up by the door and Miss Browen check to make sure they were not missing another student. They left still walking in a perfect line as they crossed the school yard. They quickly got jumbled up as they moved through the forest. They were no real roads through this part of the forest. However, all the children came to the schoolhouse the same way each morning so there were little paths leading to everyone’s house. The took a fairly worn path in the direction of Edward’s house. Beatrice sighed really loudly. She was getting tired of people messing around. This was the third time this month they had to go searching for Edward. Mary Anne and Samantha were giggling quite loudly at absolutely nothing and Beatrice wished they would be quiet.

The group reached the little farm on the edge of the forest that belonged to Edward’s family. Miss Browen knocked on the little wooden door and a middle-aged woman opened the door and sighed. “Did Edward not come to school again?” she asked with a look of disappointment on her face.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Adams,” Miss Browen answered, “no.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. Since the last time he skipped school I arranged for the little girl that lives near us, Helen, and Edward to walk to school together so that she could make sure he gets there,” Mrs. Adams stated.

“That is very interesting,” Miss Browen replied as she crinkled her eyebrows, “Helen didn’t come to school either this morning.”

Mrs. Adams gasped, “I certainly hope they are okay! Why don’t you take the children back to the school and I will send my husband to go look for them. Meanwhile I will tell Helen’s Mother what has happened.”

“Alright,” Miss Browen agreed, “Come along children.”

As they started walking, all the children fell silent with concern. There were a number of wild animals in the woods and it was possible they had gotten attacked. Beatrice hadn’t been truly worried until now.

“I want to go looking for them,” Beatrice said before she could stop herself.

Miss Browen looked at her for a bit and sighed. “I guess you can but I want you to come back to the schoolhouse before the end of the day so that I know your safe.”

Before Beatrice could reply, Alexander blurted out, “I want to go too!”

Miss Browen frowned and said, “I’m not sure you can handle that responsibility, Alexander.”

“That’s not fair! Beatrice gets to go! Beatrice gets to do everything! She’s your favorite, isn’t she?” Alexander’s face turned bright red and he stomped off into the woods.

Miss Browen didn’t seem to know what to say. Most of her students respected her and no one had ever said anything like that to her face. Beatrice awkwardly walked away.
She knew the forest pretty well and she couldn't see how Helen and Edward had gotten lost. She headed in the direction of the school house and walked down near the creek for a drink. As she bent down over the slowly trickling water, she heard a distant noise. It sounded like her brother Ronald calling for help. Beatrice prayed that she wasn’t hearing things and ran toward the noise. She tripped over a tree stump and fell. Her knee was bleeding, but she got up and kept running faster and faster. She nearly ran into a little abandoned well but skidded to a stop.
“Help!”
Beatrice was panting too heavily to speak at first and her knee was in a lot of pain. When she finally found her voice, she said, “Whose there? Where are you?”

“Help! I’m down here!”

Beatrice immediately knew that the voice coming from the well wasn’t Ronald. She gripped the side of the well tightly so that she wouldn’t fall and looked down to the dry bottom of the well.

“Edward?”

“Beatrice, help me up, would you?”

“Where’s Helen?”





“I don’t know just help me up!”

“Not until you tell me what happen to Helen!”

“Alright,” Edward said reluctantly, “we were walking to school when she said I was stupid and that I was acting like a baby because I can’t be trusted to walk to school on my own. So I told her that I could and she said, fine and she stopped back by the creek and I continued on. I was walking rather quickly when I tripped and fell into this well. I blacked out for a while and I'm not exactly sure how long. What time is it?”

“Wow,” Beatrice stated, “I guess it’s about noon. So you left Helen back by the creek and you don’t know where she is?”

“Yes, exactly. Now lower down the bucket and pulled me up.”

“I”m not sure the bucket is strong enough to hold you.”

“Just do it.”

“Alright.”

Beatrice lowered the small wooden bucket and Edward put his foot in and grabbed to rope. It took all the muscle she had, but she managed to pull him off the ground. It seemed that he would make it to the top, when the bucket split.

“No!” Beatrice and Edward yelled at the exact same time. Edward was dangling on the inside of the well. Beatrice grabbed his arms and yanked him out. They both sighed with relief and were silent for a while. Beatrice got up and brushed the dirt off her skirt.

“Come on,” she urged, “you have to help me look for Helen.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I rescued you.”

“You did not rescue me!”

“Yes I...wait a minute.” They both paused.

“Wait for what?” Edward asked.

“Shh,” Beatrice replied. She turned around and walked toward a bush. She bent down and screamed, “I knew it!” Mary Anne stepped out of the bush. “You followed me?”

Mary Anne looked frightened at fist then she quickly began to steam with rage. “I wanted to find Helen too!”

“You are going to be in so much trouble when we get back to the school. Does

Miss Browen even know that you are here?”
“No, but..”
“But what?”
“I thought she wouldn’t mind once we found Helen!” Mary Anne’s cheeks were flushed and she was sweating like crazy.
“Helen is my friend, not yours! As for Miss Browen, now she probably believes she has lost three children.”
Edward looked uncomfortable and interjected. “Hey! Beatrice, calm down. It’s not that big of a deal. We’ll just find Helen and go back to the schoolhouse.”
Beatrice turned to take her anger out on Edward, “No we will not because you are going to take Mary Anne Back to the schoolhouse right now and I will continue looking for Helen alone.”

“Umm,” Edward retaliated, clearly confused, “I thought that you wanted me to look for Helen with you.”

Beatrice finally realized that she was being irrational and she took a deep breath. “Alright, how about this? We will all just go back to school and tell Miss Browen what happened. I’m sure it will be a pleasant surprise to her when you tell her were not ditching school this time.” Beatrice started walking swiftly.

“Gosh,” Edward feigned shock, “you saw I didn’t show up today and you all assumed that I just ditched school? It didn’t once occur to you that I could have been in serious danger?”

Beatrice laughed and replied, “you are exactly like the boy who cried wolf. Have you ever heard that story?”

“Of course I have. My mother used to tell it to me all the time when I was younger.”

“My mother used to tell it to me too. She would sit in her rocking chair and read us all sorts of different fairy tales. Timmy never really understood much, but he like to look at the little pictures. Ronald always seemed to have something else to do and Johnathan said he was too old for fairy tales, but I know he enjoyed them just as much as the rest of us.” Beatrice’s voice trailed off and she looked at the ground so that Edward wouldn’t see her eye start to water.

“Do you miss her?” Edward asked.

Beatrice looked up and answered, “All the time.”

“Sometimes I can’t even remember what she looked like,” said Mary Anne.

“I still miss my big brother,” Edward said.

Beatrice was confused and said, “I didn’t know you had an older brother.”

Edward replied, “He was only a year older than me, but he was always very sick, which is why he never came to school. I didn’t like to talk about him and most of my friends didn’t know he existed. I was embarrassed of him I guess.”

“If you don’t mind me asking,” Beatrice started, “how old were you when he died?”

“I was ten years old, in fact, he died the day before my birthday, July 13th. I guess that was five and a half years ago.”

“I’m so sorry,” Beatrice whispered, “I didn’t even know.”

Beatrice saw they had reached the schoolhouse and Samantha came out to greet them, the same way she had just this morning. “Mary Anne, why would you sneak off like that? Hooray! You found Edward! Now everyone is back.”

“Except for Helen,” Mary Anne replied.

Right as she finished speaking Helen came out of the schoolhouse, along with Miss Browen and the rest of the children. Helen first spoke to Beatrice, “I’m sorry you had to go on a wild goose chase looking for me. In the morning, after I left Edward I went home because I was upset. Later Mrs. Adams came over to tell my mom I was lost and she was surprised that I was at home and didn’t know where Edward was.”

“I’m just glad you are okay,” Beatrice told her friend as she hugged her. Beatrice and Edward explained to Miss Browen everything that had happened. Even though she was happy to learn that Edward didn’t try to ditch school, she pointed out that if he didn’t ditch school in the first place, no one would have jumped to conclusions.

“Edward?” Helen asked, “I just wanted to say sorry for what I said to you earlier.”

“It’s okay,” Edward replied, “it was true and I promise to never ditch school again.”

Beatrice, Mary Anne, and Edward were all very hungry so they ate their lunches ravenously. When it came time to go home Beatrice said good bye to Helen and Edward and the three siblings began to walk home together. The walk home seemed to go by much faster than the the walk to school because Beatrice and Mary Anne retold the story of the day to Timmy. They exaggerated the story quite a bit and Timmy still believed the whole thing.

“Why do you guys keep laughing?” Timmy asked. “Almost getting eaten by a bear isn’t funny!” Beatrice and Mary Anne were nearly beside themselves with laughter. “Wait a minute,” Timmy said, “are you guys making things up? I’m telling dad!”

“Alright that is fine by me,” Mary Anne giggled. They had reached thier destination. They walked inside and everything seemed strangely quiet.

“Hello?” Beatrice called.

“Daddy,” Timmy whined, “the girls are being mean to me.”

“Where are they?” Mary Anne thought out loud.

“Perhaps they are in the forge,” Beatrice offered, although it was highly unusual that their father had not greeted them as soon as they walked in the door. They walked outside, behind their home and into their father’s forge where they found Jonathan hard at work making nails. He had a large pile of finished nails sitting on the table next to him, which suggested he had been working for a while.

“Hey John,” Timmy said with a smile on his face, “you won’t believe what happened today.”

“Timmy!” Jonathan exclaimed, “you startled me. How many times do I have to tell you guys not to sneak up on me like that?” Johnathan set down his work and wiped his hands on a rag before giving Timmy a hug.

“John, where’s father?” asked Mary Anne.

“Well, he had to go to town this morning to do some business with the owner of the general store. He left shortly after you all left for school. He promised to be home by sundown.” This was not highly unusual. However, their father normally told them in advance before he went to town and he often asked if they would like to come.

“Why didn’t he tell us before he left?” asked Beatrice.

“I’m not sure.” replied Jonathan, “but he was in a hurry to leave.”

Mary Anne looked out the window of the forge, which was basically a hole cut out of the logs stacked to make the forge. “It’s almost dusk,” she observed.

“Lets go in the house,” said Timmy, “the forge scares me at night.”

“Alright,” said Jonathan, “I’m finished here.”

As the children walked outside, they saw a figure approaching through the trees.

“Hey, father is back,” said Beatrice.

As the man walked closer, they saw their father was not alone. With him was a man who greatly resembled Jonathan. He had the same curly brown hair as Johnathan. He had the same deep blue eyes as Timmy and the same freckles as Mary Anne.

Beatrice lept into his arms and said, “Father, you brought Ronald back!”

Jonathan hugged him tightly. Mary Anne and Timmy were a little more shy, but Ronald hugged them too.

“It’s so good to be back!” Ronald smiled from ear to ear.

Their father spoke next. “I ran into him at the general store and asked him to come back home.”

“That’s great,” Jonathan said. “By the way Timmy, you never told me what was so exciting that happened today.” Beatrice, Mary Anne, and Timmy began telling the story enthusiastically and constantly interrupting each other.

“...and the bear almost ate them!” Timmy exclaimed whilst Beatrice laughed. Mary Anne chuckled and set her bonnet down.



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