[Author’s note: This chapter takes place at about the same time as chapter 25, “Interview with a Lord”, in Phoenix Triumphant. Here’s a little explanation of how (as indicated in Chapter 37, “One Night to Relax”) Jason got covered in engine oil. This is the second part, of what looks to be a three or four Protagonize chapters’ worth of information. Don’t know if I’ll ever get to writing the other two though.]
It wasn’t long before the two of them had put Jason to work. At least some of the tools they used had familiar names to him, but most were as strange looking as the contraption they were working upon.
“Now, you stand there,” Robert informed him, as he set Jason under a particular part of what they called the engine.
Jay, Sarah’s thought broke his thoughts as he tried to comprehend what the men were doing.
Yes Love? He responded sensing her agitation.
Where are you? Mathew says you’ve disappeared again, but you’re not with me...
The Gods arranged that I could spend a day with your family.
What? Sarah’s surprise was genuine. But that’s... that’s impossible!
The Gods do as they see fit, Jason shrugged, and we shouldn’t be talking to each other.
Could you answer one last question and I’ll stop bothering you?
“Alright, Jay get the bucket from the tractor.” Sarah’s father requested.
What my love? he asked as he went to the tractor.
How am I supposed to explain this to your father? Sarah sounded close to tears.
Your words are as good and mine, perhaps better. He grabbed the bucket and returned to the thing they called a combine.
“Now, you want to hold the bucket up there, like that.” Goodman Smith put Jason in position. “We’re going to drain her of engine oil. Rob, unscrew that...”
A sudden torrent of liquid splashed into the bucket Jason held above his head. Not having expected the weight of the viscous liquid his arms buckled and spilt half the sticky black liquid over his head. Robert just about fell over laughing, though Sarah’s father came to his rescue.
“Never changed oil before eh?” Mr. Smith chuckled as he carefully set the bucket down on the ground where oil continued dripping into it. “On your feet Robert and take the tractor back to the barn. We won’t be doing any more threshing today.” He clapped Jason on the back. “Let’s get you to the house and cleaned up, shall we.”
“I would appreciate that, Goodman Smith.”
“Bah, no need for such formality son,” Goodman Smith smiled. “My name’s Marc and you might as well use it.”
Jason nodded but didn’t say anything else. Ahead of them stood a house, matching the description Sarah had once given him. It was an odd sort of structure to Jason. He wasn’t used to seeing building with three full floors that were not made from stone. Nor had he ever seen a yellow house. Marc led him up to the back gate of a white picket fence. They went straight from there to the back door, which slammed shut behind them of its own accord.
“Sounds like a herd of elephants.” A woman appeared from a side door.
“Sarah’s Fiancé Jason’s here to visit for the day.” Marc grinned. He looked to Jason. “That’s Sarah mother, Anna.”
“We met once...” Jason began.
“And you weren’t nearly so dirty.” Anna shook her head. “Combine broke down didn’t it and you had the poor lad helping change the oil?” She scolded her husband with a smile. “WILIAM!”
“Yes Mother?” A voice called from upstairs.
“Help your sister fiancé get clean up would you,” Anna called back.
They watched the stairs as another one of Sarah’s brothers appeared. He took one look and snickered.
“Likely your brother Robert’s doing, but he’s your size. Get him cleaned up we’re going to have lunch soon.”
William quickly descended the stairs and helped Jason wipe off as much of the oil as they could. The towel was a lot softer than Jason was used to and looked to have been used for this very purpose many times.
“You’ll have to explain how to use everything for him,” Marc remarked after a few soft word with his wife. “He grew up in the dark ages.” Sarah’s father chuckled and left.
William, Jason found, was a bit easier to talk to that the others. Perhaps it was because the young man was filled with questions. He was equally willing to answer all of Jason’s questions, especially when it came to the shower.