with a twitch of his index finger and by the time his brain was aware of his
boredom, both arms and legs were twitchy. Three days of enforced bed rest,
itchiness, warm broth, a bossy sister, a guilty father, and an overbearing
brother was more than enough to redefine the word, bored. A great deal of
irritation sealed the deal and Johnny vowed that he would be downstairs
today. He had experienced too much free time to think and plan.
He waited until the last of them left, Theresa in a huff over his outright refusal to down any more of her chicken broth. Listening, he could hear her rising voice reporting in to Murdoch and his rich tones soothing her ruffled feathers and suggesting she work some in her garden. They all knew that it would calm her down. Johnny marked his time until he heard three outside doors open and shut. That was his cue to arise and he did. His first stop on his journey to freedom was the mirror above his dresser. Looking at his image didn't help his disposition and reinforced his need for revenge. His normally handsome face was covered in welts and oatmeal paste. Gingerly he wet a cloth from his water bowl and wiped the mess off. That action started the itching again, but he stayed his left hand from rubbing his face, knowing that soon, without action, the itch would recede.
He was weak and shaky from all that laying around, but if he moved slowly he figured he'd have time to accomplish his goals and still make it downstairs. The first stop would be his father's bedroom. If only he had something to make Murdoch experience his bee stings, but he would have to settle for some other type of revenge. Looking over the room he determined that he had to do something to the old man within his present strength, which wasn't much. He went to grab the quilt on the bed, but thought differently about using his right hand. It was covered by more of the oatmeal paste and one of his socks. He worked quietly and awkwardly until he had the sheets exposed and he proceeded in short-sheeting the bed. His mind was mulling over why it had been so all-fired important that they went hunting for honey. Granted, it was Johnny slipping and
falling into the hive that resulted in all the stings, but couldn't the old man use sugar instead in his coffee? With a final pat to the smooth quilt, he proceeded to his brother's room.
Old Boston sure was neat. His older brother had everything in its rightful place. The room was clean without a speck of dust. Johnny went to the window to look out, but he didn't like what he saw. There was no breeze, so no chance of dust coming in if he opened the window wide. He stood still for the longest, thinking and the thought came into his mind like a wisp of fog. Going to his brother's dresser, he opened one drawer after the other and threw the contents willy nilly throughout the room. Stepping back to observe his artistry, he decided the room needed one more touch. Going back to the dresser, he opened the man's latest bottle of smelly stuff from Boston and poured half the contents into Scott's water bowl. The aroma was overpowering and Johnny, as quick as his sore and itching body would allow, was out of there, closing the door behind him.
It was time
to go on to Theresa's room. Of course he had to negotiate the stairs first,
since she insisted on residing on the first floor. He was sweating by now
and having second thoughts about refusing the broth. He was hungry and
needed to replenish his body's energy. Sitting down on the top step, he
rested and planned his descent. Normally he would jump up on the banister
and slide down. Ruefully, he shook his head no. His body wasn't up to that
yet. After careful consideration, he went down the steps, one at a time, on
his rump. It was the safest way to go and still stay close to the ground. He
counted each one and was thrilled when he reached the bottom step. Pulling
himself up by latching onto the banister, he decided a short stop in the
kitchen to replenish his energy was in order.
He was in luck. He could hear Maria out in the garden with Theresa. He stopped and eyed the honey jar sitting on the table, but went on to raid the pantry. In minutes, licking off the bread crumbs from his smoked, roast beef sandwich, he was on his way to Theresa's room. Stopping short in the hallway, he headed back to the kitchen, got some supplies out of the pantry, grabbed the honey jar off the table and proceeded back to his bossy sister's bedroom. It was done in frilly pink and Johnny found it distasteful to gaze upon. He poured a trail of honey from the sill of her opened window and into her chamber pot under her bed. He took out a handful of the dried peas from the bag he had taken from the pantry and scattered them on the floor, then he tossed a handful outside of her window. He could hear Jelly's pet goose honking as she ambled over to check on the bounty that had fallen from the room. Knowing how the goose would fly through the window to continue her quest for food, Johnny carefully closed the door on his way out. It wouldn't do to have the bird loose in the hacienda.
Johnny was tired, but satisfied with his completed journey of revenge. He slowly walked back into the great room and looked up the stairs. No way was he going to make it up those steps and his goal had been to go downstairs. The sofa at the end of the room was inviting him to enjoy its softness. Walking over and stretching out on it, he was asleep within minutes.
He came to with his brother softly calling his name. His eyes were dry and gritty. He automatically raised his hand to rub at them and was surprised that he, in his adventure, had managed to take the sock off of it. He slowly became aware that he was in his bedroom and that his sibling was sitting in a chair by his bed. He went to say, "Hi." Nothing came out but a croak and his brother stood and got a glass of water. Gently, he raised Johnny's head and gave him sips of water until the dryness had left Johnny's parched throat.
Settling back into the pillows, Johnny looked around. "How did I get back up here?"
"We got some of the hands to bring you up."
"From the downstairs sofa?"
"No, brother. From the corral where you got thrown breaking in that new stallion." Scott walked over to gaze out Johnny's window. "You've been out of your head for the last three days, talking about Murdoch's sheets, my cologne, and Theresa's chamber pot."
With a startled look, Johnny demanded a mirror. Puzzled, Scott complied with Johnny's shaving mirror and swiftly covered his ears when Johnny looked at his own weltless face and let out with a loud, "Arrrrrrggghhhh! Not another three days!!!!"