Just as the sun came over the horizon, he slid out of bed and quietly dressed himself in shorts and top before tiptoeing past his parents bedroom and down the passage to the kitchen. There he cut a big slab of bread from the loaf, and scurried away outside as quick as his seven year old legs would carry him.
Down past the vegetable patch, down past the hen house, down past the pine tree ’til he came to a loose panel in the fence and that is where he made his escape. Out into the big field and then keeping close to the hedge surrounding it, he made his way to the far end. Peering through the hedge, he checked all about before squeezing through a gap and into the garden. Well, once it was a garden, but now it was overgrown and tangled with weeds – a wonderful wild place to explore and play games in. Very best of all though, close to the Big House, was an orchard and this was where he was headed. Of course, it was strictly out of bounds and he risked a beating if he was caught – not from his parents but from the owner of the manor. There were dogs that patrolled the orchard also, but that was why he had the bread. He and the dogs had reached an agreement long ago, and were good friends and he liked to give them bread to eat while he picked some fruit.
Early in the mornings, like this, was the best time to visit. The household was quiet – after all, these days there was only the Man and his wife…….
He’d heard the gossip in the village, of how the sons had gone away to fight in the war, whatever that was, and how they never came back. Did they die, or did they simply choose to go elsewhere once the war was finished? That was what people talked about in quiet tones to each other.
All this little creature was interested in though, was getting the fruit to eat without being detected. Once he knew he’d been spotted by the lady, but she slowly turned away as if she hadn’t seen him at all, even though he knew she had. A secret ally.
The dogs soon sniffed him out, and had him giggling as they licked him with their raspy tongues. They were big dogs and the boy and the dogs’ faces were about the same height, so there was no way of avoiding their slobbery greetings, even had he wanted. Next they nuzzled his pockets, knowing a treat lay in store, and sure enough, there’s the bread. Now for the fruit!