"A Bell Is A Cup Until It Is Struck." - Colin Meloy
I went after the bell is a cup. Reminds me of "the hotter the fire, the stronger the steel".
I'm returning to Patience and her quest to rescue her youngest sister Charity from the clutches of the Lassiers. Jeb Grayson aims to teach Patience a much needed lesson about survival in the west.
I offer the following in response: A Lesson
“Y’ever fire one of these before, girl?” Jeb held a rifle out, his look hard to read.
Patience shook her head as he placed it in her hands. The weight of the rifle took her by surprise, and the weight of its power took her by the heart. Did she really believe that she could get her sister back without firing one? She swallowed hard, feeling unsteady. “I’ve never had much need to, back in Boston.”
She prepared for a cutting retort. And you think that place is civilized, or Figures were two possibilities that floated through her mind. He said neither. “Well, now’s a good time as any to learn,” he touched her elbow, positioning her arms with gentile force. “Tuck the stock against yer shoulder…”
Her palms sweaty, she lowered the rifle. “I don’t know…Couldn’t I just…”
His sigh carried more weight than the rifle in her hands. “Look, girl, there’s somethin’ y’need to understand about this little excursion.” His eyes darkened. “Now I tol’ you when you tried stealin’ my horse that the Lassiers ain’t for messin’ with. Make no mistake, that twisted family’s got the devil in their veins.”
Patience thought of her sister and tears fell from her eyes like a flash flood.
He paused. “You wanna know why no one back in Brasher was keen to help you get yer sister back? They’re relieved it wasn’t their sister that got took. Understand? When the Lassiers take somethin’, ain’t no one ever gonna see ‘em again.”
“You’re saying Charity’s dead?” Patience whispered.
“No, I’m sayin’ Charity’s gone. Brasher townsfolk tried to tell ya to let ‘er stay that way.”
“I can’t just let her go like that!” It hurt. Her throat cut off her air while her lungs waged war to breathe. “She’s my baby sister. She was my responsibility while my parents were at the fort…”
“That’s it, girl. That’s the fire I need you to have.” He squeezed her shoulder. “Y’had the stomach to git this far when all o’ Brasher cowered in their homes. But I’m tellin’ ya, this is gonna take more out of ya, a lot more. It’s not just the Lassiers. We gotta cross more open wilderness before we git there. There’s grizzly and wolves and rattlers, and ain’t none of them critters gonna be happy we’re there. An iffn we come across someone that don’t wanna be found, and iffn they decide they want a woman-“
“You can’t mean-”
“Girl, the West is good for two kind o’ people, them livin’ life, and them escapin’ life. Y’can’t predict what them escapin’ life are capable of.”
“What kind are you?” Patience asked.
He spit. “Most days, I’m livin’. The real question is: what kind are you?”
She tucked the rifle against her shoulder and focused through the sight to the split-log a few yards out and squeezed the trigger.
Over the ringing in her ears she heard Jeb say, “I guess yer livin’.”