Gun gonna make me feel pretty good right now. Being alone up here and everything. One day I'm gonna get one. I know where too. No one knows this but I been right over on the other side of the Farngod to the road where the power lines run. To a stealer camp. I reckon they got a gun and I'm gonna steal it if they come back next summer. I been there in the snow when they gone back to the city. I smelled it all roundside about and can get around in the dark, quiet like a fox. They aint never gonna know I been there. Until they can't find that gun.
I like the thought of that. Stealing from a stealer. I got a laugh inside me when I thought that up.
But I didn't tell no one about my plan cos Dad don't have no time for guns anyway. And he's gonna get angry if I tell him about the stealer camp cos he's as scared of stealers like they were starving dogs or something. But stealers don't move too far away from the power lines so all you need to do is hide somewhere quiet and far off if they come out. They aint gonna be wandering on the mountain long in their woollen rags.
But what does Dad know? He don't sit out in the freezing wind with his fingers working slower and slower tying the wire up on the trap runs. I'd rather sit with a gun and get a dog every now and then than sit up on the Farngod in the snow all winter for hares, even though I'm the best there is at trapping.
Somehow I got a knack for it from somewhere. Dad says it's cos I been born out on the mountain and don't know anything different. Maybe he's right. But I don't plan to spend my whole life on this mountain getting old and thin. My dad just waste his time dreaming of getting a license. When he aint dreaming he's getting angry about it. But they aint gonna give him a license. I know that. But he don't.
Geraint knows it too, and he should know cos he's got one. He's allowed to farm his deer and go down to the city and sell stuff and have a gun and everything. Government even give him juice from the power line sometimes and a big fence around his farm to keep stealers out.
My dad say it aint right that we don't get a license, we don't even get papers--so we can't sell our own animal skins. It make my dad angry. But Geraint don't come by too often and even I can see that we need him cos we aint never gonna get a license. That's for sure.
If my dad complain, Geraint--sitting up all smart on his pony and laughing--says, go down to the road and get a truck ride to the city if you don't like it, Robin. You can be legal as you like then.
Geraint find it funny when he say that to my dad. But my dad aint never gonna bring us all to some dirty cold tent in the shanties and not be able to move about or hunt or trap. No way. We aint gonna go down there to the government even if that mean we got no papers cos of it. When Geraint laugh like that at my dad he aint really being funny though.
"Let's have a look what you got for me then, Robin," Geraint gonna say, getting off his horse, all mean.
"We need oats and salt and more alum--and Willo wants a knife," says my dad handing over my hare skins and the snowshoes Magda make.
"And I need pencils for the children," says Magda. She always got her own list.
"I can give you a hundred yuan for these skins and ten for the shoes," says Geraint.
"A hundred ten? We need more than that.
"No papers, Robin--can't just sell them as easy as you think. A hundred ten's all I can do. But I'll get the boy a knife--a real Chinese one--and Magda her pencils on top. Because I'm trying to help. But nothing more."
Dad go back in the house then and come out with one of the dog skins he been keeping. I know he don't want to sell it cos we need it for making new boots.
"What about with this one?" says my dad, looking at Magda. She nod.
Well, there aint nothing Geraint don't know about fur and he see this dog skin is probably half wolf. He feel the skin with his short fingers.
After the Snow Copyright © 2012 by S. D. Crockett. All rights reserved. Donnelley & Sons Company, Harrisonburg, Virginia. For information, address Feiwel and Friends, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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