Hoggee

Hoggee by Anna Myers

Book: Hoggee by Anna Myers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anna Myers
looked back at him and called, “Come on down here.”
    Howard turned to the girls. “Well, then, I suspect you’ll be going back to the house as soon as the competition is over. Tomorrow it’s the canal for us bright and early.” He shifted his weight again. “Work hard at the lessons, Laura.”
    â€œOh, I will, Howard. I will.” She stepped toward him, and Howard thought she was about to say something more.
    Suddenly though, Jack was back, and the girls turned toward him. “I wanted to tell you good-bye,” he said, and he bowed to the girls. “I’m so glad I got the chance to meet you.”
    â€œGood-bye, Jack,” Laura said.
    Howard spun around to run down the hill. “Good luck to you, Howard,” Laura called. “Good luck in the contest and on the canal.”
    Howard glanced over his shoulder at her, but she was talking now to Jack. There was, he decided, no use tocall back to her, not while she talked to Jack. There was no use to think about Laura at all, not if Jack took a fancy to her. At the bottom of the hill, he waited for his brother with eyes down.
    Jack had a big bucket for a target turned over the fence post in front of the barn. “You want to go first or me?” he asked when he joined Howard.
    Howard bit at his lip, thinking. He might as well get it over with. “I’ll go first,” he said.
    Jack turned to the audience and held up his arms to make an announcement. “We’ll shoot three rounds,” he called, making his voice loud enough for the girls to hear him. “May the best man win.” He handed the sling and three rocks to Howard.
    Howard put two of the rocks in his pocket, loaded the strap, and began to whirl it above his head, keeping his eye on the target. Let her fly, he told himself, and the rock hit the bucket sending a big thump into the air.
    Howard heard Laura yell, “Good shot!”
    Jack called, “That a boy! Now go at it again.”
    Howard took the strap and whirled it again. This time he missed, and he heard Laura’s “Oh!”
    â€œGive it another go,” said Jack. “You’ve still got a chance to win.”
    Howard loaded his last rock. Good old Jack. He always wanted there to be a possibility that Howard might actually beat him. What fun would it be to beat someone who had no chance? He began to twirl the sling. Take your time, he told himself. When he was certain his aim was good, he let go.
    It seemed to Howard that the rock was in the air a very long time. He could watch no longer and had just dropped his gaze when he heard the wonderful thump.
    â€œTwo out of three,” one of the boys shouted, and Howard heard Laura clap.
    Howard handed the sling off to Bert, who took it to Jack. For an instant, Howard thought of going to stand beside the girls, but he decided not to. He had already said his good-bye. He walked toward the group of boys but stopped a bit away from them.
    Bert came to stand beside him while Jack loaded his first rock. “The fellows are mostly pulling for you,” he said. “They don’t like to say it right out on account of Jack being everybody’s mate, but they’re pulling for you, them all having been beat by him in some kind of game.”
    â€œEveryone feels for the underdog, I suppose,” said Howard, and he pushed his hands into his trouser pockets. He wondered if Laura liked the underdog, and he wondered if Laura knew her grandfather had hopes of marrying her off to Jack. He thought the idea should not seem so revolting to him. Howard certainly had no desire to marry anyone, not even a remote desire. So why should he care if Cyrus happened to be successful in his plan?
    Jack, of course, never missed a shot. Howard knew he wouldn’t. He even found himself half hoping Jack wouldn’t miss. He was not used to winning. When his opponent was his brother, it felt more comfortable to lose. He heard

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