This is an excerpt from my next novel,
the sequel to A Home for Phoebe.
She earns a penny a day for keeping
a young neighbor boy out of trouble,
but it's not easy.
“Matthew! That goat is in the garden again!” Deborah hollered out the door, “Shoo! Shoo!”
The goat lifted his head and backed away from the flailing apron. His chin hair wobbled back and forth and he chewed.
Bucky wasn’t a cute little kid anymore. He weighed over a hundred pounds and sported two long horns. Every two or three days,
would drive a tall iron stake into the ground to which Bucky was tied. Each
morning, Matthew would slip the loop on the end of the rope over the end of the
stake, and Bucky would munch on the grass and shrubs around it, clearing a
circle each day. It was a good way to keep the lawn looking trim—as long as
Bucky stayed tied. Stanley
He was getting so big that it took all of Matthew’s strength to pull him away from the garden. Sometimes, Phoebe was there to help. She’d push from behind, and he’d pull from the front until they got him closed in the barn. Bucky didn’t like being in there. He’d bang his head against the wall and bleat loudly over the injustice of being separated from his food.
Matthew couldn’t figure out how Bucky was getting loose. The rope wasn’t broken or chewed. The knot of the loop was still intact. He decided to watch and see how the goat was getting loose. Only Bucky acted very mild and obedient while Matthew sat nearby. Bucky would calmly graze around and around the stake and sometimes find a shady place to lie down for a nap and chew his cud. Matthew didn’t want to waste his time watching a sleeping goat. But it wouldn’t be long before his mother was hollering again about Bucky being in the garden.
Phoebe thought they ought to spy from a crack in the shed. Matthew’s father had moved the long stake to the back field behind the shed, where there was plenty of new grasses and flowers for Bucky to eat. He seemed content with his new surroundings, so Phoebe and Matthew decided to wait until the next day when most of the grass would be gone.
“Here’s a good wide crack to watch him, Matthew.” She leaned her face against the rough boards.
Matthew scooted a crate next to her. “Let me see.” He gave a peek and then sat back. “This is going to be boring.”
Bucky lifted his head and looked toward the shed.
“Shhhh, he heard us.” Matthew whispered.
Bucky could see the garden behind the barn. He stretched the rope as far as it could go, but it didn’t come close to the carrot tops at all. He pivoted around and ran straight toward the pole.
“He’s going to butt it!” Matthew exclaimed.
But Bucky ran past the stake until the tension of the rope yanked on his neck, pulling his front feet off the ground. He turned and ran past it again, yanking on the rope the other way. He did this eight or nine times until the stake loosened in the ground and leaned at an angle. Then Bucky walked deliberately to it. He nudged the knot of the loop over the end of stake and he was free. He strutted proudly off to eat his fill of carrots and cabbages.
Matthew slapped his hand down on his knee. “That stupid goat is pretty smart!”
Phoebe giggled. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. I guess we better go get him before your mother finds out.”
Bucky didn’t want to be caught. He tromped through the green beans and peas, nibbling as he went. Whenever Phoebe or Matthew came close, he’d run off a few feet. Matthew tried to step on the trailing rope, but was pulled on his backside as Bucky continued on.
“OWWW! Come back here, you stupid goat!”
Phoebe found some wild clover and picked a handful. “Come, Bucky. Look what I have for you.” She waved the bouquet in front of the goat. He took a couple steps toward her. She backed up and he followed.
Matthew whispered, “Hey, keep going, Phoebe! He likes them.” Matthew stood up and brushed the dirt from his hands. “I’ll try to grab the rope while he’s watching you.”
“Come on, Bucky. Come get the delicious clover.”
Matthew crept forward with exaggerated slow motion steps until he reached the end of the rope. He grabbed the loop and twisted it around his arm. “I got it, Phoebe!”
Bucky wasn’t going to be caught that easily. He jumped and pulled and twisted and began running across the yard, pulling Matthew behind him.
“HEELLLPP!” Matthew’s feet dragged through the thistles and burdocks and rocks.
Bucky pulled him around the house all the way to the front porch, where the steps anchored Matthew’s progress anymore. Matthew stood up and reeled the rope around his arm as he walked up the steps toward the cornered billygoat. “I’ve got you now.”
Bucky lowered his head and plowed into Matthew’s stomach, sending him sailing through the air. Phoebe arrived around the corner just in time to see him land head downward on the ground. She heard a CRACK!
“OWWWW! I’m dying! I can’t move my arm!”
Deborah ran out of the front door with little Sally on her hip. “What happened?”
Phoebe answered, “Bucky pushed Matthew off the porch. I heard a crack. I think he broke something.
(based on a true experience)