Muddy face

The story continues from yesterday:

He wondered what on Earth he’d done to deserve such a reception as he stood, with muddy face, muddy hands, muddy knees and muddy shoes, at the end of the trail of muddy footprints on the tiled floor.

Being considerate in all things, Luke complied with Mum’s vehement suggestion that he wash more than just his hands, and came to the table in clean clothes.  Jared, his older brother, looked at him curiously as if wondering what he’d been doing and Luke returned the look without enlightening him.  Mum served up their tea but, as usual, didn’t sit down with them.  She would wait for Dad to get home and eat with him.

Luke was dismayed to see bacon on his plate again.  He had recently discovered what bacon really was: not food at all but slices of dead piglet.  He was horrified.  The fact that his parents, who had always told him to be good and kind, would choose to eat it was very confusing.  He thought at first that they must not be aware of what it actually was, but when he explained it to them they were not surprised.  They told him that people need to eat meat but that he shouldn’t worry because the animals were killed humanely (which they said meant ‘gently’ ).  Luke was unconvinced.

“Killed gently! So they don’t mind you killin’ ’em then, is that what you’re sayin’?  They like it do they? They look forward to it I suppose because their murderers are so gentle!”

After some lengthy discussion in this vein, during which Luke’s parents failed to persuade him to see reason, his mum effected his silence by sternly insisting that she knew best and Luke must eat his meat. Luke said no more at that time but was determined not to.

 Again faced with the need to be rid of his bacon, Luke discreetly took a rasher and held it below the table for Dudley.  Dudley, his dog, very obligingly took it from him.  At that moment Mum reappeared in the doorway.

“What did you just do?” she demanded angrily.

“Whaaat?  Nothin’.  I dint do nothin’.”

“Luuuke.”

“I was on’y feedin’ someone what was hungry,” Luke explained innocently, “jus’ bein’ generous, that’s all.”

“You know very well that Dudley has already had his dinner and if you keep giving him yours he’s going to get fat!”

Dudley ate fast.  Mum went on.

“Don’t ever do that again! You’re a growing boy Luke, you need to eat your meat!”

Luke stuck to his guns.

“I don’t want it!  I’ve got Prince Pauls!”

He’d heard the vicar talking about living by one’s  principles in the school assembly that morning.  It meant having values and putting them into practice; it meant actions speak louder than words; it meant if you love animals you don’t eat them.  Luke had never heard of Prince Paul before but knew he must have been a good bloke.

 “Prince who? What on Earth are you on about?”

Mum had obviously never heard of him either.

“I’ve got veggietarian Prince Pauls.”

Mum was not impressed.

“Oh give me strength!” she said, “well, you can explain that one to your Dad.”

“But he won’t be home ’til after bedtime right?” asked Luke, hopeful that he wouldn’t have to have that conversation tonight.

“He’s already home.  I just saw him walking down the garden. Checking on his lettuces no doubt.”

Luke, suddenly not so confident that he’d thought  of everything, became pale as it dawned on him that Dad might not understand that it was a good idea for the damsons to live in the veg patch.  He felt sure that, in time, his new friends would be welcome additions to the family, but knew that his dad was not one to take to something right away and it would be better for everyone if they did not meet just yet.

“LUKE!” His dad’s booming voice reached the house before he did.

“How did he know it was me?” Luke wondered.

********

You can read the whole chapter here.

Stay in touch for Chapter 2, coming to this site sometime, or buy the first eight chapters in paperback if you can’t wait that long 😉

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