The Baaing of the Lambs
Picture - #15
Disclaimer: Story mine, most characters not. A little graphic violence, though no animals were harmed during the writing of this story.
Loud baas that sounded almost like screaming came from behind the barn and woke up Gabrielle. “What in Tartarus...?” Xena’s sword was gone and so was her chakram.
Gabrielle trotted out behind the barn. In its early evening shadow, she saw Xena’s chakram covered in gore, lying in the middle of a lot of bloody hay. There were also drag marks as if a scuffle had taken place. She followed the trail of blood, her weapon at the ready, and turned the corner where she saw a curly blond-headed youth trying to haul away a lamb that had been more hastily mangled than properly slaughtered.
The wind carried a battle cry and Xena landed catlike in front of the youth. “Where do you think you’re going?” she asked him.
He dropped the lamb and ran, but Xena snatched the back of his shirt as he passed her.
The owner of the barn where Xena and Gabrielle had slept ran out of his house. His face grew red when he saw that the youth had slaughtered one of his sheep. Before he could say anything, though, Xena interrupted him. “Let him speak.”
“I--I’m sorry,” the youth stammered. “There’s a plague in town and I was away when it started. I couldn’t go home and I couldn’t find anything else to eat.”
“So you steal my lamb?!” the owner yelled.
“He’s telling the truth,” Xena said.
“We gave the town a wide berth and stopped here instead because of the sickness,” Gabrielle added. She looked thoughtful for a moment, and then turned pleading sea green eyes on the owner. “Could he stay in your barn and help with chores until the lamb’s paid for?”
“No. He’s a thief.”
“But he was telling the truth.” She turned his gaze to the boy. “You wouldn’t steal anything else, would you, if he let you stay in the barn and gave you enough to eat in exchange for helping him?”
“No, ma’am!” the boy declared.
Gabrielle looked at the owner again. “You could use the extra help, couldn’t you?”
The owner still didn’t look sure, so Gabrielle appealed to the owner’s sense of business. “He obviously doesn’t have any money and his being in jail wouldn’t help either of you. It wouldn’t pay for the lamb.”
The owner looked at the boy and gauged his fitness. “Okay. Grab that pitchfork over there and go muck out the barn!”
“Yes, sir!” the boy joyfully exclaimed, relieved that his main problems were temporarily solved, and he ran to his work.
“Thank you,” Gabrielle said to the man, with honest gratitude.
The owner just grunted and went back inside his house.
Gabrielle smiled, which made Xena smile in turn…until she saw her chakram lying forgotten in the middle of bloody hay. She picked it up and rubbed some fresh hay on it to get most of the gore off.
“That old man should’ve made him clean this off first.”
Gabrielle giggled. “Never mind, Warrior Whiner.” That earned an icy stare from Xena, but Gabrielle just nudged Xena in the ribs with her elbow and outright laughed. “C’mon. We’ve got places to go and other people’s butts to save.”End
Story by: THE BARD OF NEW MEXICO
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