The Farm Ch. 10bySumacandIvy©
A few of you asked me about Tom from the last chapter. Where did he come from? Remember the charge on the sheep and the boy from the stable, the one Gordy kissed in chapter seven, that's Tom.
Thank you for all your encouragement, suggestions, close readings, and critiques.
Chapter 10, Gone a Hunting
"Come to the table, Danny." Nanny stood solid before him.
Prize looked at her and recalled where he was. He looked down at the worn rug. Too much. He pulled the shirt closer. He clutched the winter quilt closer. Too much.
"Do ye want yer tea here?" Prize nodded. "I'll bring it in. Dress yer self, Danny."
The dawn illuminated the top of the wall next to the hearth above the picture of the boy and dog. Prize reached for the mended shirt and pulled it over his head. The work trousers Tom brought for him lay folded on the bench. He moved quickly dressing under the quilt. He didn't want Nanny to see him naked. The tea warmed him. The heat radiated up from his stomach. It pushed back the cold from his dreams. It meant that Tom was coming to call him Danny and smile and clap him on the shoulder and take him out to feed the chickens and hunt for eggs. That was his job, the chickens. Tom brought him a pan of feed from the barn and Prize sat on a milking stool and scattered the food. He didn't make Prize go into the barn not after that first time.
He tried to do what Tom said, to go into the shadowed barn and get the feed. Tom put his arm around his shoulders and walked him to the door, chatting about where the best places to hunt for eggs. Prize froze. Damp straw. The pony looked at him over the stall rail with its one blue eye and flicked at a fly. It landed on the sleeve of his coat sluggish with cold. It rubbed its front legs over its eyes and Prize vomited up his tea and bread on his work boots. Black spots danced across his eyes. He burned and froze at the same time. Tom caught him before he fell in the mess and helped him to sit near the rough fence.
"There now, Danny. Set here a moment whilst I fetch a little water."
Tom left him and the world tipped. Tom with his wide grin and wide shoulders and big laugh. Prize grabbed the rail to keep from falling along the ground to be swallowed by the barn with its straw and flies and the horrors they brought back. Now Tom handed the pan to him and he fed the chickens and there was no talk of going into the barn. When Tom stood close, the flies didn't crawl.
Prize sat on the low milking stool and scattered food on the bare dirt. The chickens started strutting up the moment he sat down. White, brown, some barred, red, a lone black all eyed him and scratched at the dirt and pecked the grain. The rooster, resplendent in green-black and honey-brown watched from his lookout atop a weathered fence post, carmine comb at attention. Prize tossed some grain near the post to lure him down. Chanticleer, so Prize called him, distained the advance and held his guard.
"He'll nay come down, Danny. He's a right tough harem master watching his girls. Come with me, I've something for you to see." Tom took the pan and threw the contents out, scattering Chanticleer's girls.
Prize followed him to the chicken house. Three eggs rested in the litter filled box. A nervous brown hen fluffed her feathers, making her twice her usual size. "Listen, Danny. They're hatching." The brown eggs moved slightly. Chirps soft and distant, an eggshell away from the world. And Prize watched an egg break from the inside. The sun rolled across the sky as the chicks pushed free.
Each chick emerged wet and near exhaustion from its toils and Prize marveled at each one. The effort exerted by something so small. Hercules never faced such a task. Prize picked up a black chick, the last to break free, and held it in the palm of his hand. It looked up at him with a quizzical eye and pecked at the pad at the base of his thumb. It vibrated. Prize cupped his hand over the top to keep it from falling and the chick grew quiet.
"Some'in, ain't it." Tom stood behind him. Prize looked up over his shoulder. "Some'in." Tom dropped his hand on Prize's neck.
"To see something no one else's ever seen." Prize smiled at the astonished look on Tom's face.
"Ah, Danny, it's a chick. There's two more." He indicated with a nod of his head. Tom hunkered down next to Prize as if changing his elevation might make things clearer. "I'm the first to see this one. It's from a story, Tom. The Sultan offered his favorite daughter to any man who could show him something no one had ever seen. A poor man brought him an egg. It hatched and the man married and became rich."
Tom laughed at the pure joy of such a conception. His eyes carried the laugh and sparkled with the idea and that Prize had such thoughts. With his laughter, Prize's shoulders dropped and squared and the knot that jumped to his neck at the first touch loosened. He lowered his cupped hands and the black chick darted across the dirt and under the wing of the hen.
"You might be its mam, Danny. It's as black as your hair." Tom stood and touched the jet hair above Prize's ear. "Nanny's got bread and honey for our tea." He removed his hand and turned before Prize had time to react to the touch.
Prize followed him to the kitchen and removed his boots at the door. A place waited for him at the table. He stopped. William slurped his tea. Prize began to pass through the warm room. Tom scraped his chair on the brick floor. Nanny lifted the plate and cup from the table and sighed as Prize took them and went to the hearth.
"Will ye walk with me to the smith's, Danny? The harrow is beyond my skill for repair." Tom raised an eyebrow as he stood in the doorway.
"More like a reason to grab a pint." Nanny's voice in the kitchen behind him. "I don't think Daniel's up for a long walk."
"I'll tote the harrow, Nanny. Danny'll be fine."
"And how's he to carry ye home after yer sodden with drink?"
"Leave it be, Betty. A trip to the smith's won't hurt." William tugged at her apron strings to punctuate his meaning.
"Come on, Danny. It's not far." Tom jingled a few coins in his pocket and winked an amber eye. "I'll fetch the harrow."
"Take Belle, Tom. The harrow's heavy and," with a conspiratorial smile, "She knows her way home."
"Get yer cap, Danny, the smith's waiting."
Prize stood by Belle his cap pulled low and shoulders drawn forward hands stuffed in the coat pockets while Tom chatted with the smith.
Leeshore Meadows boasted three smiths, a ferrier, harness maker, two small shops, a chapel, coach station, and The Ruby Smoke, where Tom was well known and liked. He'd promised to stand the smith a drink there later.
Prize followed Tom in, hands still deep in his coat pockets. Dark beams, low ceiling, two tables and chairs, farmers smelling of cow and barn, talk of sheep ticks, a red-faced barkeep, his fat wife with freckled arms and an impossibly red fringe of red curls bouncing out from under her cap, and the best beer within a day's ride. Prize found a dim corner and stood observing. Tom brought him a beer and clicked his glass with his.
"To the first, Danny." Tom drank deeply and Prize followed.
The setting sun threw a bright patch on the worn plank floor while Tom joked and talked with the barkeep about this and that. An inclination of the owner's head told Prize he was the next topic at hand, and he dipped his head lower and lifted his glass to his lips emptying it. Tom excused himself and brought him another.
"We're a small village. Don't mind their curiosity. Telling it once to Harry there saves me from telling each one separately. I told him yer staying with the Greys. Come down from the North. Relative of William's. The story may change as it goes around, but not so much then. Drink up." He dropped a reassuring hand on Prize's arm.
Two farmhands asked for the draughts board and Prize took a deep breath, took a step forward, and observed a Blackwatch opening. They were well matched, but neither too skilled. And he wondered how he knew that. The smith entered still wearing his leather apron. Tom bought him a drink. Laughter filled the room. Prize turned to the sound. Laughter followed Tom like a dog.
"Come on then, Danny. Nanny'll come looking for ye if we don't get back soon." He gave him a nudge and smile.
Belle knew the way, as William said, and Tom let her walk home through the growing autumn chill. A quarter moon hung in the sky. Stars glimmered beyond the bare trees.
"Feels good to get out, don't it Danny?"
"Yes." It felt good to go with Tom and drink beer and hear him joke and laugh. And it didn't feel like too much not with Tom there to laugh and steady him.
The cart turned up the lane and Belle increased her pace through the growing night, heading for oats and stall. Prize shivered as the cold settled in. He was worn out from the trip and eyes on him in The Ruby Smoke. He sagged a bit in the seat, and Tom placed his arm around his shoulders and pulled him closer to warm him. Prize let him.
"Know why they call it The Ruby Smoke?"
Prize shook his head.
"Did ye see that god awful fringe of Mrs. Harry's?" Prize looked at the solid man. "Well's there's the ruby and they's name's Smoke." Tom let his head drop back as he laughed. Prize smiled and turned his head to watch the completeness of his laughter. And when Tom kissed him on the lips, Prize let him and moved closer. His lips parted to the second kiss. Warm, sweet, honest. Tom raised his rough hand to Prize's jaw and stroked his callused thumb across his cheek. "Yer a wonder, Danny."
And Prize knew he was not a wonder; he was nothing but a stupid whore and pulled away and turned his head. "I offended ye then Danny?"
Prize wanted to move back into the embrace of the strong arms. To fall into Tom's arms. To taste the beer on his lips and the salt on his skin. To listen to the steady beat of his heart. To be held by Tom as big as an oak. But Prize rhymes with lies, and he didn't want lies with Tom. Not Tom. He shook his head and pulled at his coat to hide the growing bulge in his trousers. A stupid whore. They rode home in silence.
The sound of the coach rolling by pulled Prize from his dream where the chains on his wrists echoed on the damp walls and Cruel whispered prophesies of rape and pain at the door. The voice rumbled like coach wheels. Prize jerked awake. He didn't know where he was but he knew they were coming for him. The shirt clung to his sweating chest. His hands trembled violently. He'd fallen asleep thinking about Tom's kiss, hoping there might be another. That Tom might try again and put his arms around him.
They passed through the small village in the early hours of the night and followed the road beyond to where the cottage lay near the top of a small hill. Not a twitter from the birds sleeping in the copse of laurels by a small freehold as they passed. The shells on the drive crunched under the wheels of the Growler. The cottage gave off an air of abandonment; it did not sleep waiting for the occupants to awake or return. Even before he descended from the driver's seat of the Growler, Halden knew they wouldn't find Prize there, but March didn't stop. He scrambled down from the box like a spider and jogged to the back of the cottage, sniffing the night air. Halden followed.
At the tip of each brown leaf of the dying garden a pearl of dew hung, glowing in the light of the moon. Halden ran his hand along the leaves of dry lupine and wiped the cool water across his brow. A few seeds clung to his skin. A Lucifer held to the stub of a candle pulled from his great coat. He lifted the latch on the kitchen door, and as expected, it opened. He snorted at the trusting nature of country folk. March crowded his back urgent to enter the cottage. Halden kicked back at him and caught him in the knee.
"Fucker." Hissed in his ear.
The kitchen, the sitting room all quiet. The furniture covered in white. A silent clock on the mantle reflected the candle's light on its bell jar cover. March ran his hand over the sideboard and lifted a pewter charger.
"Put it back."
March glared and replaced the pewter with a dull thud and walked to the hearth to challenge Halden. It had been an uneasy journey and he'd had enough. His foot rattled something on the floor. March stopped his advance and lifted a length of heavy iron chain a shackle dangling from one end. He ran two fingers along the inner surface and smiled as images of Prize rose behind his hooded eyes. Here was where he lay naked and chained. Here was where he sucked cock and lifted his ass for Lord Downcliff. Here was where he begged and said please. March felt his prick begin to stiffen as he thought about that ass, an ass as soft as the skin of a peach, golden and round. He had a peach once, sweet and ripe. The soft fuzz on the skin rubbed on his lips and made them tingle as he bit into the ripe flesh. The juice ran down his chin when he bit the cleft. The stone at the heart of the fruit brown and dimpled surrounded by deep pink. He remembered how he thrust his tongue deep to lick at the stone. And his fingers ran round the inner ring of the shackle as he remembered. Round and round. Did Prize swallow and lick the cum from his lips. Did he cry the way he cried when March came on his tongue then clamped his hand over the swollen lips and pinched his nose until he swallowed? Tears like dew, like dew in the dead garden he just passed through, hung on the black lashes. The shoulders pulled back so tightly by the manacles on the bruised and scrapped wrists. How he struggled to breathe and fought him pressed against the filthy straw. His chest pushed forward and straining for air. Nipples hard. The swallow. Wide blue eyes. And the two fingers went round and round the inside face of the shackle as he stood on Persian rug before the cold hearth. He smiled showing his black broken teeth. A drop of spit hung from his lower lip and caught the flickering light from the candle in Halden's hand. To fuck Prize. To fuck them all. To fuck and fuck and fuck Prize until his juices flowed down his thighs.
"There's nothing to learn here." Halden's echo carried back his unsettled voice to fill his ears and make his heart thump off rhythm. "We need to leave now if we's to get through the village before the farmers start slapping their cold hands on the cow's teats." March made his flesh crawl more so on this journey. More so with the chain and shackle in his hand and the fingers going round and round.
"What? Why?" March's eyes lost their flint and lust.
"So's we can just arrive and ask questions. What's they to think ifs we've been here sniffing around in the dark first? We's on the up and up." Getting back to business calmed him and settled the rabbit kick in his heartbeat.
March looked at him and shook his head to help remember that it was the cottage not the cell he stood in now. "Right." He followed Halden out the kitchen door still thinking of peaches.
They camped on the London side of Leeshore Meadows to grab a few hours of sleep. The hobbled horses yanked great mouthfuls of grass. Halden folded his thick legs and slept on the leather seat. He tossed a blanket to March and sent him to sleep by the fire. He locked the carriage door. It wouldn't keep March out but it would give him a warning if he tried anything. He slept with his hand curled around a sap, woven leather around a lead bar. March grumbled at the arrangements but went quietly in the end.
Under his blanket March warmed himself with plans for the future when Prize was his and his alone. He unbuttoned his trousers and grabbed his thick cock and pulled it free. He'd been more than half hard since the cottage. His hand slid up the shaft as he planned the Afterwards. That's what he thought of it as. He'd get Prize and afterwards he'd fuck him good. He spit on his hand and rubbed up to the wrinkled, long foreskin. He gave it a tug. He pinched it and thought of Prize's lips tight on the skin. He inserted his finger and rubbed his slit. Prize's tongue. He glided his finger across the smooth head, slicking the leaking moisture as he went softly across, sending ripples of pleasure through his balls. To see his ass made deep pink with blows from his belt as pink as the flesh at the center of a peach. Twin globs to pull apart. The struggle. The locking out. The gasp as he forced himself past the clenching ring. His hand tightened and moved up and down faster. He pushed his hand beneath his shirt to twist a nipple. He didn't last long. A shudder and release. He failed to last when he thought about Prize. Next chance he'd think on that other one that starved. Liked them thin with their hipbones jutting from the hollow of their groin. Ribs sharply outlined. Shoulder blades like angel wings ready to burst the skin. It wasn't his fault he'd been nabbed and the boy starved chained in his hidden place while he sat it out in the nick. He'd been a good un too. Lived on water, bread, and spunk and did anything for it. But he'd been weakening. He'd barely crawled to suck at him.
In the carriage Halden turned uneasily in his sleep and tightened his grip on the sap.
They knew nothing of a black haired man at the coach station not one that looked like Prize. Country helpful, the groom sent Halden and March down to The Ruby to talk to Harry Smoke. He'd be there in a few hours. The groom led the horses away and sent them in for breakfast.
They talked to the harness maker and two of the smiths. March grew restless and wanted to go to The Ruby, but Halden stopped him. "Last stop before we gather the carriage and talk to the folks at the bottom of the hill."
"March, yer as bright as a turd. He's not in the village. We's just getting information here. That little freehold's nearest the cottage. If there's any information about the goings on up the hill, they'll know." March looked confused. "Jest keep yer gob shut." Halden turned to the ferrier's.
He'd seen a young man that might be the one they wanted down at Easter's dropping off a harrow with Tom who's been helping at the Grey's.
"More smiths than pubs in this here village."
"Country life, March. Country life."
Billy Easter saw such a young man just yesterday. He wore a cap. Quiet. Didn't know if he were the one they wanted. "What you want with 'im?"
"Nothing." Halden wound into his story. Short and sweet. "His uncle lays dying. He sent us to fetch 'im home to say goodbye. Has money coming."
The smith crossed his massive arms over his leather apron. "Why here?" He didn't like the look of them. London toughs ugly and mean.
"We was told he might be here or over ta Lampfield. Lad's a sorrow but the old man loves 'im."
Easter seemed satisfied with the answer. "Saw one like him with Tom at The Ruby watching the Nashdown brothers playing draughts. Ask Harry."
Halden thanked him and they turned to The Ruby Smoke. "All roads lead to Harry, March."
"Ain't but this one street, Halden."
"Bright as a turd."
"I remember the lad." Harry set two beers on the bar. Stood over there. Quiet like. Why ye looking for him?"
"Uncle's dying. Want's to see him." March piped in. Halden glared.
"Poor lad. He came in with Tom. That's Tom from up to the manner. Tom's been helping the Greys of late. Good man, that Tom."
Halden felt Harry warming to his story and cut in. "Blue eyes, black hair, not much over twenty, not much taller than my friend here." He pointed at March with his thumb. "Where do we find Grey's cottage?"
Harry leaned his elbows on the bar and began. Halden hid a sigh in his beer and readied himself for a long story. "Take the right fork and head for that low hill. One with the big oak at the top. The Greys live at the foot. If ye go too far ye'll come to Lord Downcliff's play cottage. Spent all the summer up there writing and painting. Had to call Dr. Fellows in for a sick man. Why he needed ta go there when he has more rooms than ye can count at Leeshore is more than I can figure. The rich is a strange lot."