Sarah needn’t have worried about stretching one rabbit to feed many. When she arrived back at her cook fire two scouts were working on getting a small deer onto a spit over it. “Guess I didn’t need this.” Sarah pulled her pouch off and held up the rabbit.
The scouts chuckled. “Never know what the Gods will provide,” the eldest of the two stated.
“They can provide amazing things,” Jason spoke as he joined them.
“S, S, Sergeant Ph, ph, Phoenix.” Jeremy scrambled up from the ground where he’d been crouched tending the fire.
Jason laughed. “Relax boy, I just need a word with Smith.”
Sarah handed the rabbit to Jeremy for skinning before stepping aside to see what Jason wanted.
“Smith,” he carefully used her scout name, arm draped around her shoulder as if he was giving her a special mission. “I hate to ask this of you, but I need you to prepare the rabbit for the Prince and I and feed the deer to the rest.”
“What? Why?” Sarah’s forehead furrowed as she looked at him puzzled. “Can’t he eat the same as the rest of us?”
“Yes he could, but his presence here is to be known by as few as possible.”
“And making a separate supper for him is going to do just that?” Sarah raised an eyebrow at Jason.
Jason closed his eyes for a moment and pulled his arm off her shoulder. He looked her square in the eyes. “Just do as I ask Smith,” he commanded.
“Yes Scout Sergeant,” Sarah bowed her head. She had to remember that here Jason was scout Sergeant, not her fiance.
“Thank you.” Jason sighed turned on his heel and left to talk with Sergeant Wolf.
Sarah shook her head and turned back to her fire pit. She instructed Jeremy on what to look for as far as wood was concerned. Their supply was getting low and she’d need more of a fire to get that deer cooked.
It took two more trips for wood and a lot of tending the spit to get that deer done. It also gave the tubers plenty of time to bake. Not that she was sure about how well they were baking, given she had no aluminum foil to wrap them in. Sarah took the rabbit off the fire and set it aside. Dinner’s ready, she thought out to Jason. He didn’t reply.
“Well let’s dig the tubers out, and get this fire banked. They seem to be about done with the raft. “ Sarah looked to Jeremy who nodded.
While they were burning their fingers on hot tubers a cheer rose from the raft builders. Sarah looked towards them and saw the raft was in the water and floating.
“Well don’t let it float down stream!” Marcus yelled at his workers.
Sarah stood and as soon as she saw the raft was secured to a tree she cupped her hands to her mouth. “Supper’s ready!” she called down. Another cheer rose from the Hopefuls as they all began scrambling towards the food.
“Don’t forget your mess kits!” Sarah laughed as those who hadn’t gone for their packs first did an about face to do so now. “Would you get mine when you get yours Jeremy?”
“Sure.” Jeremy nodded.
As he left to get their mess kits Sarah began serving the deer and tubers. “Don’t forget to share with the Scouts now,” she told them, “they didn’t have the luxury of having packs.”
Sarah was rewarded with chuckles from the Hopefuls and the Scouts. By the time everyone was served and she was eating herself the rabbit was gone. Before she could think a question to Jason he responded.
Thank you Sarah. The rabbit is delicious and judging by the Prince’s face, he appreciates it too.
Sarah ate quickly and then journeyed to where the raft was to wash her utensils. As she shook the water off her dishes she study it. That first crossing was going to be tricky. It would be a test to see how much the raft would hold, and how it handled. Then they’d have to bring it back, because there was no way it would hold everyone.
Marcus came back to stand beside her. “Not good enough?” his voice challenged her to find something wrong.
“Oh no,” Sarah quickly stated, “it’s a lot better than I would have done.”
“But?” he prompted, glaring at her.
“Were you able to find a pole long enough to steer it by or do we need to find out who the good swimmers are?” Sarah continued before Marcus could comment. “How many will it hold per trip, which then lets us know how many trips we have to take. We do have,” Sarah did a quick calculation in her head, “thirty men to get across plus however many of Wolf troop are on this side."
“Can’t they wait for the boat?” Marcus asked. “Not like they helped.”
Sarah shook her head. “The trial is about us, the Hopefuls, doing what needs to be done. Not them, the Scouts, doing things for us.” Sarah finally looked from the raft and river to Marcus. “It’s about team work Marcus. The sooner you realize that the sooner you will pass.”
Sarah turned on her heel and headed back up to clean up the fire pit. Reed, Aaron and Kirk had already begun to remove the remains of the deer.
“We’ll handle that,” the two scouts who’d brought the deer to the pit took the caucus from them.
Reed and Aaron exchanged glances and shrugged. “That was a good meal Smith,” Reed stated as Sarah began to carefully replace the sods she’d removed from the ground.
“Tasted as good as my mother makes,” Aaron agreed and the two exchanged glances again.
“It’s not a bad skill to have, given how often you’ll be eating in the field.” Suddenly she smiled. “My father taught me you know.” Sarah had to stifle her laughter at the puzzled looks that got. Not just from Reed and Aaron, but also from the other Hopefuls who were still near enough to hear her.