The Adventures of Scout
THE BIRTHDAY SURPRISE
Momma always said July 20th was her favorite day of the year. Both Scout and Timmy had been born on the same day 2 years apart. This year would be a birthday full of surprises.
Scout and Timmy like the hired men who came to take care of and feed the cattle in the corral, and the men liked them. Sometimes momma would send Scout and Timmy to the corral with sweet tea and a ham sandwich for the men. Momma didn’t tell the kids that today the men would be bringing with them a special surprise for their birthdays.
Usually when the men worked the cattle they brought their horses with them. Scout loved to see them on their big beautiful black and white paint horses, chasing and roping the cattle. Scout loved to watch the others riding their big gray or brown horses, sorting the cattle and moving them from pasture to pasture. Scout didn’t want to admit it, but because their horses were so big and fast, she was a little bit afraid of them.
Today would turn out to be very special indeed. As Timmy and Scout sat eating their breakfast (with a special treat of strawberry muffins with birthday candles in them. ) the hired men’s’ big pickup truck and trailer pulled into the driveway stirring up the dust and causing Laddie to bark and run circles around the truck and trailer sniffing the tires.
The men unloaded their horses, backing them out of the trailer. Scout held Laddie by the collar so he wouldn’t run behind the horses and spook them. Something was different though today. What was that last horse the men led out? It was smaller than the rest and didn’t have a saddle on it. Scout ran up to momma, (she was too shy to ask the men) Momma said “Scout, this is part of your birthday surprise. The men brought you a horse of your very own to use today while they are here branding the calves.” “Her name is “Nellie” and she is gentle enough for you to play with or ride, even with out a saddle or a bridle!”
Just as momma finished explaining to Scout, one of the men walked up leading the pretty bay mare. “Happy 8th birthday Scout” he said. The pretty mare was dark red in color with a beautiful long black mane and tail. She only had on a halter with a lead rope attached .The man opened the gate to the front yard and handed a (speechless with delight) Scout the lead rope. “Scout “he said, “this is Nellie, she is gentle and more your size and speed”, and then he laughed and smiled at momma.
Scout couldn’t agree more. She said “momma can you give me a leg up?” Momma said “Scout lead Nellie over to the porch and you can jump right on from there.” It took only a few attempts with (Scout landing in the dirt), before she managed to get on. Scout said to momma and the hired man, “Oh thank you, she feels so soft and warm and I love how she smells, oh thank you!” Scout leaned down and lay her face against Nellie’s’ warm neck and mane and said “this is the best birthday ever!” “How long can I ride her?” The man said “you can ride her all day, we will be branding ‘til dark.”
Then the man turned back again and said, “There is one more birthday present for you two”. Scout and Timmy both spoke up at once. Timmy said “is it a bike?” Scout said “is it a pony?” “Nope” said the hired man, with a big grin. “We all went together and bought you both BB guns”!
Mommas face went white! “Children can you excuse me while I have a visit with these nice men?” Scout and Timmy hid around the side of the porch trying their best to hear what momma was saying to the men. Scout and Timmy hugged each other on the other side of the porch jumping up and down together giggling. “Were getting BB guns!” Timmy chanted with excitement. Then Timmy said “do you think momma will let us keep them?” Scout said “oh Timmy I hope so, I sure do hope so.”
Suddenly they heard mommas voice “You two little spys can come from around the porch, I’ve made a decision.” “I will allow you two to accept the BB guns, but if there is any “monkey business” they will be taken away, is that understood? “Yes maam!” said Scout. “What’s monkey business?” said a wide-eyed excited Timmy. “It means Tim, that if you do anything wrong with the BB gun it gets taken away for GOOD. No shooting at the dog, the cats, the sheep, the goats, the horses, or cows understood?” said momma sternly.
“Yes maam!” “I wont, I will be careful with it.” as Timmy excitedly reached for one of the BB guns. “Ok” momma said, “The men want to show you how to use the guns, now go have fun, and thank the nice men for such a fun birthday”.
Scout listened to what the men had to say and then took her gun back to the house and put it away so that she could go ride Nellie in the yard again. Soon she was lying on Nellie on her back looking up at the sky, looking for “ponies in the clouds”, while the gentle mare contentedly munched on the clover in the yard.
The last she saw of Timmy he was shooting at tin cans the men had set up for him on some hay bales out back of the barn. After the men had finished branding the calves they loaded up their horses and promised to bring Nellie back again real soon for Scout to ride.
That night they had brisket and potato salad for their birthday dinner and were allowed to have all the sodas they wanted. Momma made special birthday cakes for each of them.
Scout wanted a cake with a pony with pink icing, and Timmy wanted a red 4x4 pickup truck shaped cake with a number 6 on the side. The whole county knew that Scout and Timmy’s momma was the one to go to for “really cool” birthday cakes. After everyone’s faces were the color of frosting, momma said it was time to get ready for bed. Scout took her bath and momma combed out her mop of tangled long brown hair into a braid.
Momma wondered why she didn’t hear Timmy splashing most of the water out of the tub when she heard another sound. The sound of shattering glass! She ran to the front porch in time to see a horrified Timmy frozen in place holding his BB gun. “Timmy, oh what have you done?” Momma stammered in horror. Momma looked at the side of her red pickup truck which now had shattered windows with a whole lot of BB gun holes in it. It looked like frost on a window on Christmas morning, but momma knew it wasn’t.
Timmy was as pale as a ghost, frozen in place, his bottom lip trembling, tears starting to stream down his dirty grimy cheeks. “I didn’t do it” he said. “Well then Tim who did? “you are holding the gun!” Momma was not smiling. Just then Timmy ran to momma still holding the gun. She took the gun and set it carefully on the floor of the porch and took Timmy in her arms, by now he was full on bawling and squalling.
Momma sat him on her lap and said “you know what comes next don’t you Tim?” (Momma always called him Tim when he was in real trouble) “Yes maam” “Scout and me have to give up our guns right?” “No, Tim you have to give up your gun, Scout can keep hers.” “Now get your hiney into that bath tub, and into bed before you get into more trouble Mr. Man!”
Timmy rubbed his dirty, tears stained face on momma’s chest and crawled down off her lap. “I’m sorry momma” looking down as he said it.
Spurs jinglin, carrying his black, beat-up, felt cowboy hat in his hand, he made his way to the bathtub, to wash away his sins, the only way a 6 year old boy knows how.
Yes, and somehow momma still managed a smile.