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Old 03-30-2012, 01:34 PM
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Default Fiction - SHort Story - To learn

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To learn …

He was coming. . .

His uncle had enough of Waylon’s attitude, enough of his lack of knowing and enough of his laziness on the farm. The 16 year old had it good on the farm until now.

It wasn’t his fault that he wasted the food. He DID feel bad about the servant farm hands having to work all that time to can the fall vegetables, but it wasn’t like the other boy threw the ball near the table that the jars were cooling on top off on purpose. It was a simple accident while they were playing. “Big deal, the farm has plenty,” he thought to himself.

Of course a LOT of other incidents had been happening of late. The things had been stolen from the servant’s quarters only to be found in Waylon’s bedroom, Waylon had lied about his grades at school, the fight with one of the other staff’s children and then there was the tormenting of the servant children by Waylon’s constant teasing.

Waylon’s uncle had been telling him for weeks that He was coming. His uncle said it was “in his best interest”, “for his own good” and “he would need to learn”.

“So he is just another tutor?” asked Waylon about the man. All that his uncle would say is that Waylon would learn from him. He had heard the stories, but honestly how bad could it be?

The farm was a wonderful place to Waylon. They had lived here from one year before the war about the same time that Waylon had been born. For years after the war, after the day it had “changed”, the area around the farm had struggled. Waylon’s uncle along with others had finally gotten the large farms in the area rolling again. Waylon’s uncle had the largest and most successful by far. Waylon had everything he wanted.

Waylon knew that He was just someone that was going to attempt to teach Waylon: farming skills or maybe more of the Math and Science that Mrs. Grantham tutored him in. None of the other kids had so much schooling. Waylon often thought about why none of the other farmer’s kids got as much school work as he did. Sure, you had to pay to send your child and there were servant children who only got school 3 days a week, but he had lessons every day. Now here was another teacher. He was so sick of it.

Two riders were spotted at the front gate. One of the riders dismounted and stood at the gate talking to the gate watchman. Waylon’s father saw the man standing at the gate and motioned for him to come in. He would not and remained standing still.

The man wore an oil leather duster and wool medium brimmed hat. The calf high leather boots were also oiled. The man's face appeared so aged and a thin gray beard lined his face to give the onlooker a sincere since that he was indeed experienced.

Waylon’s uncle walked to the gate and addressed the man. “Magister?” The man only nodded.

It was at this point that Waylon took notice of the other rider. The other was an older boy maybe 17 to 19 years old. He had a back pack and an old oil leathered duster and leather boots as well as the gear strapped to the horses. There was also another horse, but it carried no rider nor even had a saddle. Waylon waved to them, but the boys sat sternly and unmoving except for the uneasiness of the horses.

“Is this the boy?” the man asked turning to the boy.

Waylon’s uncle turned to Waylon and said, “Yes. THIS is my nephew.”

Magister addressed the uncle, “Thirty days.”

Waylon’s uncle nodded, “I understand.”

The tutor asked, “You have the items?”

Waylon's uncle motioned for a nearby servant who gave a bag to Magister.

Magister then addressed Waylon, “Come with me. On the horse.” The other rider dismounted. The horse stood still as he dropped the reigns to the ground. The older boy walked to the side of Magister.

Waylon didn’t understand. There was no luggage packed only the small bag the servant had handed over. There had been no talk of him going anywhere. “Where are we going?”


Waylon turned to his uncle, “Thirty days? I’m leaving for thirty days?”

The older boy commanded, “Get on the horse!”

Waylon jerked at the voice. “Wait! What is going . . .” The boy’s fist slamming into his face was the last thing he saw.

Waylon woke up draped across the horses back slightly bouncing down the road. His eye felt like it was ripped out of its socket, but the fact that he could see out of the squint of space between his puffed up eye lids was evidence to the contrary. He fell back to sleep quickly.

He felt a hand at his back and then his feet, butt, back and head slammed into the ground as he was pulled from the horse. He groaned. A gruff voice commanded, “This is your area. Get up and live, if you can.”

Waylon open his good eye. It was sometime in the afternoon. Several other boys were there. They all looked at him. Some looked for only a little then turned away and left. Some stayed for a bit examining the new boy. One by one they too left as Waylon moved around to a sitting position of some sort.

Pain was still in his face. The swelling had not gone down much. Nothing was bleeding anyways. He looked at his surroundings.

He was in the woods that was sure enough. Waylon recognized the oaks and pines as well as other trees, but there were also several evergreens and other trees he did not. He had been traveling for several hours so no telling just where they were. The places between the villages of farms were basically wild areas. Sort of a no man’s land. It was safer to live in the villages. In numbers, but some lived out in the wild. Some, but only few that were thought of as the bravest and toughest or the most foolhardy and dumbest.

He looked around the open area in the forest. It was a make shift hunter’s camp. Directly around him was a small open area on the side of the larger area. Tents made like Indian teepees or other make shift shelters made from wood, grasses and leaves ringed the main open area in the middle. There were maybe eleven in all. Small fires were at each living area.

Some boys gathered together and some boys sat in their dwellings. They were all dressed similarly in leather coats, pants and shoes. You could tell that the skins had been treated in oil similarly, but some were very well put together while others were not. All were functional.

Waylon tried to stand and after a moment or two accomplished the feat. He walked to the nearest boy and asked, “Can I have some water?”

The boy turned back and answered with his own question, “This water?” as he poured liquid into a wooden bowl from a metal bottle.

Waylon reached out and the boy threw it in his face. The water first seemed shockingly cold to the swollen eye socket and then started to burn a bit. Waylon wiped his eye clear as someone yelled, “FIRST RULE!!”

The boy who had thrown the water flinched for a moment looking toward the other boys then asked another question, “Do you want the water or to learn?”

Waylon could not listen or understand. “Water,” was all that he could say.

The boy who had thrown the water smiled, looked to the other boys and then punch Waylon in the gut. The air exploded out of his lungs. Waylon coughed trying to catch his breath. It was like he was trying to breath molasses. He just could not get the air into his lungs. He finally managed a breath only to bring on another fit of coughing.

After a few moments he started breathing then stood and walked away from the first boy and to another bigger boy. “Can I have some water please?”

The larger and older boy turned to him with pure anger in his eyes. Through clenched teeth he said the words, “Do you want water or to learn?”

“Look I just want some water. Please,” Waylon pleaded, but the boy was already moving. With only a second to react Waylon turned quickly and the boy’s kick caught him in the back knocking him forward and into the dirt.

He lay there for quite some time after that. Boys laughed at him, but still he lay there. He rested a little and thought that he would die. At some point he began to dream. He dreamed of the farm for a little bit and then darkness. All he could see was shadows, branches, leaves and flashes of fire. Then came the voice echoing from memory, “Get up and live, if you can.” Waylon’s eyes snapped awake.

It was definitely later in the afternoon with the sun no longer directly overhead. The shadows were longer. He looked around first without moving. Some of the boys were talking on the other side of the camp, but he couldn’t be sure of what they were saying. He lay still in the dirt and looked around. He would out smart them. Just simply wait till the coast is clear then steal what he needed.

He saw the tent of the first boy he had approached and the metal bottle at the front of his tent. The bottle was their but not the boy. He could ease over there and get the bottle easily. He crawled a little closer, but no one noticed. Little by little he crawled closer. He only saw the few boys on the other side of the camp. No one would notice.

Waylon reached for the bottle and a rock slammed into his hand with a “Whap!” sound. He snatched back his hand and screamed in pain. Running foot steps beat their way closer. A large hand spun him over and seized his collar. Angrily almost yelling the boy would had first punched him back on the farm came face to face with Waylon again. He asked, “Do you want water . . . or to learn?”

Waylon could hardly breathe with the boy’s viselike grip on his collar. His brain clicked for a second. The bigger boy yelled the words again, but Waylon’s conscious brain did not register them. “Learn . . . learn,” he breathed.

The hands released him. “What did you say?” The bigger boy drew back a fist.

Waylon yelled, “Learn! Learn!” as he put up his hands for the blow. Some boys across the camped laughed loudly. The big boy screamed as the fist came down into the ground right beside Waylon’s face.

“Get up!” He yelled. “Get up!” He ordered again seizing Waylon’s shoulder and pulling the younger boy to his feet. “Shut up!” he yelled at the boy across the camp who were laughing. They immediately stopped. Half shoving, half pulling, the two made their way to a stream. He let go of Waylon and he fell to his knees on the bank of the stream.

“Listen carefully!” the boy commanded. “I will not repeat myself.” The boy got on his knees beside Waylon. “You have no way to boil your water so you need to drink as clean as you can. It is not as safe as boiling your water, but it is somewhat safe and better than dying. Dig a hole here in the sand and let the water filter through the sand into the hole. It gets out all of the big impurities. Let the dirt settle to the bottom, then drink.”

Waylon began digging the hole just like the older boy. As soon as he dug down about 6 inches water started easing through the side of the hole. Waylon dug a little deeper then rubbed some of the cool water on his face. He slurped up a handful of the water, then another. It was muddy, but the older boy said it would settle to the bottom so Waylon kept digging. “So how could I get something to keep the water in?” Waylon asked as he continued to dig.

The older boy stopped digging and looked at Waylon again angrily. “Do you want something to boil the water in or do you want to learn?”

Waylon knew the answer now and quickly fired back, “To learn! To learn!”

The boy immediately stood up, looked around and walked to a nearby group bamboo back up the creek and on the bank. “Cut this on the outside of the joints here and here.” The boy reached into his sack on his side and pulled out a hand made folding saw. The boy quickly cut through the plant at the places he indicated and then said, “Cut the side of it out it like a small boat and now you have a bowl.” The boy produced a metal knife and within just a minute more the oddly shaped bowl was fashioned.

Waylon reached for the bowl and the older boy threw it into the woods as hard as he could. “What did you do that for?” Waylon asked the boy with a raised voice.

The boy seized his collar again. “I have fulfilled my obligation of teaching those who ask for knowledge. The first rule is fulfilled. You do not have claim to the fruit of MY labor.”

“OK Great. So I am supposed to make my own. Fine. Let me borrow your saw and knife then.”

“At this time I owe you nothing more,” answered the older boy.

“Wait how am I supposed to cut it?”

“Do you wish for something to cut it with or to learn?”

Waylon shook his head. “Look ok. I get it. I have to learn or get pounded on. I want to learn ok. Everything I ask about from now on I want to learn it. OK? Just show me already.”

The boy looked at him for a moment. “Rule 2 - The unwise have to ask. Only in so doing am I am obligated to be your teacher.”

“What is your name?”

The older boy answered back one word, “Zane.”

“Waylon. Now, Zane, how do I cut the . . .” Something else in Waylon’s brain clicked again. “Wait, you are obligated to be my teacher?”

“Rule 2 - I was the first person you asked to learn from. Now I am obligated to be your teacher.”

Waylon secretly smiled to himself. Then he thought of a smarter question, “WHAT thing is the best thing that I need LEARN to do now?”

The boy eased up for the first time since meeting. It wasn’t evidenced by a smile or the like, but Waylon could see it in his brow. “Tools, Shelter, Fire, Water, Food. All important. You must learn to acquire all of them.”

“Where do I start?” Waylon asked.

“A cutting tool, cordage, shelter, fire and water.”

“Show me how to make a cutting tool to cut the bamboo with.”

Zane walked back down to the river and looked around through the bottom of the stream. “There pick the black rock up.” Waylon did as he was told. “Smash it on this rock. See how hard it is?” Once again Waylon followed orders. The rock fractured into three different pieces. One of the shards was about the size of Waylon's thumb and a sharp edge to it that was about 2 inches long. Zane continued, “By splitting some rocks. They cause jagged edged shapes. Use these to make a cutting device. You can learn to knap the rock later to fashion better tools.”

“Of course, like the Indians made arrow heads way back when before,” said Waylon.

Zane nodded in affirmation and fired back, “Then do it. I will be at the camp.”

It was so slow compared to the folding saw that Zane had used earlier, but he did it. Crude as it was the “bowl” was functional. Waylon scoop up water from the hole he had dug with his hand and poured it into the bowl. He drunk his fill of the water. Waylon's body started feeling better. He had filled up the bowl again. Waylon made his way back to camp with the bowl and new rock knife/hand axe.

As he entered the camp the other boys were all gathered around a fire. Zane was in the middle of the boys murmuring about something. They sensed him quickly and all turned to him.

Waylon walked straight up to Zane and said, “Teach me how to build a shelter.” The phrase hid the nervousness still in Waylon's thoughts, but was a statement not a request.

Zane's brows furrowed and his teeth clenched. “Rule 3, a teacher is only obligated to teach three skills per day. Water, container and cutting tool. I am no longer obligated to you today.” Zane turned and pounded off to one of the better looking teepee tents.

The boys snickered at Waylon. “Can someone else teach me how to make a shelter?” he asked looking at the boys.

Each in turn they answered back to him, “I am not your teacher,” and then immediately walked back to their shelters.

Waylon walked back to the area where he was told was his “area”. It was a semi wooded area that was about 30 feet by 30 feet that had been carved out in the woods. More than enough room for a camp site.

It was going to be cooler tonight. Fall was wanning into winter with each day and the even air was cooling down as the days wore on. It would not be a good night without fire and shelter. Waylon thought that it would be easy enough to build something out of the branches and wood.

He looked at some of the other simple shelters, but as soon as he got close to them the boy near it would stand up in front of him and block his view. Despite their attempts to block the view, he was able to get some information of how they went together and an idea.

He went back to the patch of bamboo near the waters edge and cut down several long lengths. He used a long pole to place into to trees that were about ten feet apart. The pole sat on two branches a little unevenly about 4-5 feet off of the ground. Next he placed supports made from more of the bamboo from the main beam down to the ground. It made sort of a angled roof down to the ground. Waylon covered this with smaller branches and then with leaves about two feet thick.

He also saw that the boys made beds for themselves from boughs and leaves so they were insulated from the ground a little. Waylon just finished building a halfway decent padding of leaves when night fell. It was going to be cool tonight.

The next morning could not come quick enough. Waylon had not shivered so much in his life. He actually woke up several times and did jumping jacks to warm himself up a bit. That is until his energy wore out. He could do nothing now except lay there and let the morning sun shine on him bringing a bit of warmth.

A whiff of meat cooking sent his stomach into a spasm. He had not eaten at all yesterday and his energy was totally depleted during the night. He just lay there still clutching the leaves around him.

“Get up boy,” came the gruff voice of a man as the man's feet kicked at the leaves. Waylon stirred around and looked up toward the voice. “You did make it. Hmm? Decided to start learning huh?”

It was the man from the day before. Magister his uncle had called him. Waylon crawled out of the leaves.

“The boys say that you have a teacher now.” The Magister said. “Good. Who is it?”

Waylon cleared his throat a bit. “Zane,” he managed to say.

The Magister looked back over his sholder. “Zane, huh? How did that happen? He is one of the best boys that has been through here in a while.”

Waylon simply said, “I asked to learn.”

“Indeed. Rule 1 – You must teach those who ask to learn. But refuse all who take.” The Magister pulled on the support poles on Waylon's make shift shelter and with only a slight pull the shelter fell to the ground. “I would advise you to learn quickly.” He turned and walked away.

Waylon looked at his shelter. He did not have the strength to fix it. He retrieved the bamboo bowl and made his way to the water. Very quickly he dug out the hole with his hands some more and wash off his face. The swelling around his eye had gone down some. He filled himself up with water then filled the bowl again. Waylon returned to his camp slowly trudging his way up from the water.

Waylon looked around the area where he slept the night before. Way far in the distance he heard a rooster crow. He looked up to the sky. It was a clear day so far, but he could see that a shelter would indeed be important. He decided to try to find Zane.

The camp was busy now. All manner of food was being cooked and eaten. As he walked through the camp people eyed him heavily. Waylon continued steady to Zane's tent.

The tent was awesome compared to how he slept last night. It reminded him of an Indian tent. Leather covered with large support poles, the tent was the tallest in the camp. About fifteen feet high and about fifteen feet wide at its base. The flap opening was pulled to the side a little and Waylon could see a small metal stove within with some sort of meat cooking in a wok shaped pan on top. He could also see a small wooden table and a bed of some sort.

It was at this point that he first noticed the metal. Things here in the camp were simple. Items made of wood and stone were all over, but he tried to think of anything around camp that was metal. Very few things came to mind like the small container that held water that Waylon saw the first day and most always were noticed at the older boys camps. How did they get the metal items?

Zane poked his head out quickly. “What?” he demanded.

“I would like to start learning.”

Zane pulled back the flap even more. “Get in.” Was all he said.

Waylon stepped into the warm tent. He had almost forgotten how cold he was. His body start uncontrollably shivering as he neared the fire. He started to reach out to the fire to absorb more of the heat, but a dirty look from Zane stopped him from moving any closer at all. He stepped back toward the door.

Zane pickup a hand carved spoon and then one of the pieces of pork meat frying on top of the cude metal stove. He offered the meat to Waylon. For a moment Waylon started to reach out. Zane simply said, “Take it.”

Another spark went off in Waylon's head and a memory was called to the forefront of his brain. The Magister's words echoed in his head, “Rule 1 – You must teach, those who ask to learn. But refuse all who take.” Waylon froze.

Zane pushed the spoon closer, “Didn't you hear me? Take it.”

Waylon put his hand down. “No . . . I will not take,” was all that he could say.

Zane faked a smile and said again, “Take it. I am giving it to you.” Waylon just shook his head.

It was with that Zane popped the meat into a wooden bowl and start scooping the rest of the meat into the bowl as well. “I have only a little time this morning. I too am learning. I am to report to the blacksmith shop before mid morning. What will you choose to learn today?” Zane asked then paused to shovel a piece of the pork into his mouth.

Waylon thought for a few moments and remembered the list that Zane had spoken the day before. “How to make cordage, how to make fire and something I can harvest to eat.”

Zane took a swallow from a glass bottle then asked, “No shelter?”

“With the cordage I think that I can make a better shelter. I need the fire for warmth. I am weak and need something to eat.”

“Very well.” He gobbled down the last of the meat and grabbed his wool jacket. “Follow me.” Zane walked out the door then out into the woods. It was only a short trip from camp but he stopped when came upon a lightly wooded area. It was far enough away not to see camp through the woods but he could hear the boys talking and starting their morning. Waylon imagined he had walked a good 250 to 300 feet back into the trees.

“Look up,” Zane instructed. “These are pecan trees.” Waylon recognized them immediately, his uncle had a whole grove of them back at the farm. He knew that some of the pecans would be ripening as the winter approached but most still had their green husks around them. Waylon looked around on the ground and picked up a hand full of the nuts. They would provide needed protein for him easily enough.

Zane cleared his throat and said, “Now that you know where they are you can come back later while I am gone. Next I suggest fire, but I do not have the time to teach it right now. Let's move on to cordage.” Zane turned down a path and another 200 feet or so was at a large group of plants he recognized as the bamboo near the river.

Zane pulled out a metal knife and cut off several of the long leaves. Waylon starred at the blade for moment. Zane tied a not in one of the ends of about 6 of the leaves. He then put the not around a branch and started weaving the leaves together to make a small rope. “Do you see?”

Waylon nodded.

Zane then picked up a recently cut bamboo pole and broke off a vertical strip out of the trunk. He separated the inner bark from the thinner outer bark. “This fibrous outer bark can also be used as cordage. Braid it together for strength. Do you understand?”

Waylon smiled for the first time since arriving, “Yes, I think I have it.”

Zane bounced off back toward camp. “Good. I will be back about mid afternoon.” With emphasis on the word 'I' he finished with, “I will be with the blacksmith.” Zane said back to the younger boy as he hurried back toward camp.

Waylon cleared his thoughts for a minute. He knew more than he knew minutes ago. He learned. Today was going to be so much better than yesterday. He followed the path back to the pecan trees and searched for over an hour for the wonderful nuts and eating his fill. He had two pockets filled with them as well.

He wanted a bigger cutting tool so he went back to the rocks in the stream and found another hard black one. After a little while he was able to split off a large shard of stone and it was quite a bit thinner and sharper for easier cutting.

Waylon spent the next hour gather long strands of the bark. He had a large arm full piled up, but before he left he fashioned two more containers out of the bamboo. One for his nuts that he would collect and another improved version of his water bowl.

Over the next several hours, Waylon ate nuts, made cordage and remade his shelter. Bigger and better. He used more leaves and secured the framework together much better. The bed of boughs and leaves that he slept on top of was now twice as thick, and he gathered more would for the fire he expected later when Zane returned. He sat back proud of what he had accomplished.

When Zane returned he looked at what the boy had accomplished: new containers, new cutting tool, full stomach, cordage, rebuilt bigger better shelter and was no longer hungry. He nodded. Then said, “Good. Now for fire.”

Waylon simply answered, “Yes please.”

Over the next hour Waylon became the best “student” Zane had ever taught. Waylon asked questions about why, how, when and where. Waylon asked and Zane answered. The wood was gathered. The cordage was prepped. The wood was shaped. Then Waylon started assembling the parts together. A firebow started to take shape. Zane would stop him from time to time to correct his technique, but the friction-made fire ember sprung to life.

Waylon nurtured it like a small child just freed from the womb. Breath was provided to it. Dry grasses were wrapped around it to keep it warm. More breaths slowly an surely were increased and then it transformed. The heat had accumulated to the maximum point and the reaction happened. The small bundle of grasses burst into open flame.

The boy stuffed the fire underneath the bundle that he had prepared ahead of time for the event. It was breathing on its own now and sucked oxygen into itself. What was once a small thing that barely had energy of its own now claimed the fuel and began to feed. With that feeding it did what it did. Light and heat grew and claimed more of the fuel which begat more light and heat.

“Yes,” rang out Waylon's voice across the camp. A few of the boys wondered over to Waylon's area to see. They nodded and said simple words of congratulations then head back to their areas to prepare a meal or work on a project of their own before night claimed the camp.

Zane stood and turned away saying, “I will tell Magister of your progress.” Zane continued on to his side of the camp.

Waylon fed the fire with the large pile of wood that he had collected. He still had to provide for it even though it was living on its own, but it was his slave. It would provide heat and light tonight. It would chase away the cold and the darkness of the night before. Tonight, he would command the night with this as his tool.

Waylon continued to practice with the firebow. He had started another two embers before he gave out and decided to eat something more. As he was eating large foot steps grew loud behind him and he turned to face Magister. Zane, holding a large leather sack, stood on the edge of Waylon's area.

Magister looked around Waylon's camp. He noticed the fire. Magister pulled at the shelter, but this time with the added lashings of cordage stood firm. He looked over the cordage, cutting tool and containers as well. “Zane has told me that you have made some progress.”

He then turned to the camp and announced in a loud voice, “This student has now completed. Firebow, crude shelter, crude container, crude cutting tool and crude cordage.” He then turned to Zane. “He is to be rewarded.” Magister nodded to Waylon and proceeded on to other boys.

Zane then entered the area in a huff and set down before Waylon the sack. Zane opened the sack and produced a nice sized hand wove grass mat than was about an inch thick. Waylon recognized it as one similar to the ones in Zane's tent and it occurred to him that these rewards belonged to Zane himself. He reached into the sack again and brought out a very well made bamboo bowl hand carved and stained with walnut shells. Next was a long length of twine rolled around a stick of wood but was way thicker and stronger than what Waylon had made so far. Next was another firebow but it was very much superior in quality to Waylon's firebow. Lastly, he brought out a stone knife. It must have taken hours to shape and prepare.

Zane almost yelled so loud the entire camp could hear, “THESE are your REWARD for learning. By MY hand made, to YOUR hand to use.” Some boys that were close looked over and watched Waylon for a few seconds, but turned back to their tasks after a moment. Zane quickly stood and walked away with the empty sack over his shoulder.

In the pit of his stomach Waylon thought that he had somehow done something wrong, but Zane said it was a “reward” and no one punched him so his guilt simply died away after a few moments.

He looked at the items. Waylon placed the mat underneath his shelter. It would definitely keep the cold from the ground away tonight. The stone knife was basically a small two inch blade, but it was terribly sharp. Yes these items were a step in the right direction. Tonight he sat back for the first time thinking that he accomplished something.

Ten days had passed. Everyday had gotten better. Waylon started with the items that he was given for reward. He tried to replicate the mat that was woven from long slender leaves. He got Zane to teach him how to make the better wooden bowl.

Waylon settled in to asking what he needed to learn that day and then putting forth every effort in learning what knowledge was offered. He had been instructed on how to make so many improvements to his camp. A water filter was taught on day three made of sand, rocks and charcoal. He was also taught how to boil the water to kill germs by placing hot rocks into the water container. How to gather different plants and how to hunt. He snared a rabbit on day 4 and a turtle on day 5. Day 9 he had finished making a bow and two arrows. The wild chickens that had been free ranging in the area didn't stand a chance.

Here he was on day 10 making a pin to keep one of the chickens in. No one had thought of the idea yet and it would take a good bit of effort but soon the idea was to have his own chicken to hopefully produce eggs. Not long after he started the cage, the boys started trying to figure out what he was doing.

He had made new clothes as more deer were taken and Waylon with his bow were able to take his own share. Leather working was added to the lessons and soon he had replaced his wardrobe with something more rustic.

Only two boys had left since Waylon arrived. Magister came to get them in the morning and when they returned they started packing up there things. They were given little time to do so, often leaving items behind. Everything of use was placed into a pile and burnt. If it survived the fire it was taken later by Magister.

It was the way of things. The boys were trained NOT to take. Those things belonging to the boy who was leaving and were not theirs. They were not rewards and therefore were not accepted. One time one of the meaner boys named Hagen tried to steal a rock knife from the pile of left over stuff. When the Magister found out, Hagen was whipped and his shelter set on fire. It took days for the boy to replace the tools he lost. However, the biggest punishment was that his “teacher's” pledge to Hagen was suspended for 7 days. That meant he was not taught and learned no new skills for that time. It was not worth it.

Days passed by and Waylon continued to learn.

It was strange when it finally happened to him. Waylon's last day came. He had actually lost track of time and honestly did not know that it was happening. Magister came by like always forcing the teacher to reward the student.

Waylon had just finished a very good job of knapping out an Obsidian stone knife, when Magister forced Zane to “reward” Waylon with his own hand-forged steel bushcraft style knfe. Zane was never without it. One of the boys said he was his fifth attempt at making a knife and it took him two days to make. No doubt it was the best knife in camp. Zane almost complained, but relinquished the prized blade. Waylon took it and studied it hard for several moments. Magister turned to leave.

It was at that moment that the feeling that he felt on the first day he had received a reward returned. Something was not right. He had completed learning how to build a good stone knife, but the metal one was not his to claim. He held it out to Zane, “No.”

Zane's eyes widened and he turned to Magister.

“What did you say?” asked the Magister just as if Waylon had committed an unspeakable sin.

Waylon straightened and repeated, “I said no. I do not need it. I will learn to make my own.”


The man looked at the afternoon sun then out across the field as they planted the winter rye. The field would grow over the winter feeding the livestock for them.

It was then he heard the sound of the alarm and the two figures on horseback riding down the road. After a few minutes one stayed at the gate and the other was allowed past the guards. The man in the field was brought a horse and rode to meet the newly arrived rider.

As they came closer the older man thought, “It isn't him. He does not look familiar.” The man's hair was wild and ragged. He wore leather breechcloths, leggings, mocasins and a buckskin shirt with a bow and quiver across his back and a 4 inch obsidian stone knife with a deer antler handle at his side.

The other ride slowed his horse to a stop and addressed the man, “Hello Uncle.”

It was only then that he recognized the voice, but his demeanor was of a man more aged.
“Welcome home Waylon.”

The two shook hands and the older man knew that he had changed. Strength now came from the man he saw before him. “I am not staying Uncle.”

“What?! You can stay Waylon. I only sent you away for 30 days. What do you mean that you are not staying. Boy, this is your home.”

Waylon breathed for a moment then said, “I have a lot to learn. I must be about it if I am going to do you or this farm any good. I have taken from you all of my life. It is time for me to learn how to give back.”

“No, Waylon. You can come home. This is your home.”

Waylon smiles at his Uncle as he says, “I understand Uncle. And believe me I have never been so thankful for it, but I will be someone better. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning. I must continue learning till I learn enough to function in this world. Then I will return and learn from you. I will then continue to improve this land as you have done. I will return soon, but for now, I must learn what I need.”

The younger man handed his Uncle a large sack filled with items he had fashioned over the last few weeks. “Take these to help out around here.” Then he waved goodbye, “Thank you Uncle. I will return in the spring.”
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Old 03-30-2012, 02:47 PM
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What came you here to do?
To learn,
to subdue my passions and
to improve myself.

Great story, great moral... good work.
Thank you
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:01 PM
Marlin 45 carbine Marlin 45 carbine is offline
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good to see another of your storys Josiah
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:53 PM
223shootersc 223shootersc is online now
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great story and moral aptitude
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:58 PM
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Thank you good story. Only thing if the program is 30 days, why is Zane still there?
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Old 03-30-2012, 08:30 PM
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Because Zane truly "graduated" like Waylon and is there to learn more.
Guess it should be Waylon like Zane, cuz Zane was there first.
That's my take on it.

Really nice story Josiah, Thanks.
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:15 AM
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Another excellent story...thank you

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Old 03-31-2012, 03:13 PM
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thanks this is great.
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Old 03-31-2012, 07:16 PM
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Great story. I enjoyed Waylon's character development.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:10 AM
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I really enjoyed seeing Waylon turn from being worthless to a rapidly maturing young man with a sense of direction and honor. Great short story.
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Old 04-01-2012, 11:07 AM
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Thanks for another great story!
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:42 PM
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Awesome story! It always does my heart good to see a spoiled boy blossom into the worthy man he was meant to be.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadjanet View Post
Thank you good story. Only thing if the program is 30 days, why is Zane still there?
Why IS he still there? If I was to write a second follow up story to this, it would be obviously answered. Just think about it for a little bit and you should guess. I was hoping that it was not obvious in this story but that you could figure it out or at least guess it.

Thanks for the question.
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Gwynmael View Post
Because Zane truly "graduated" like Waylon and is there to learn more.
Guess it should be Waylon like Zane, cuz Zane was there first.
That's my take on it.

Really nice story Josiah, Thanks.
Good answer Gwynmael. That is it. MOST of the boys have made this first graduation to the next level and are there by their own accord. About half of the boys that come through the instruction stay longer than the beginning instruction period. Zane is not the oldest boy, but the most respected. He is choosing to learn everything available to be able to succeed later.
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Old 06-19-2012, 02:05 PM
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PART TWO is here
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:31 AM
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Welcome young one, to the School Of Hard Knocks. Learn fast or die.
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:51 PM
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Very fine job
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:11 PM
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Been reading your stories, enjoying them all. Thanks for your hard effort.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:50 PM
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:33 PM
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Good story. I would make the 'program' longer. 30 days is not much to learn stuff like that, although he was motivated.
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