mort put his car in gear and headed down the highway toward porterville, with the young woman from the general store in the passenger seat beside him. she had a hood pulled up over her head, and he had still not gotten a good look at her.
the road, as he expected, was deserted, whether because of the coming storm, or because that was just the way it was.
so do you live in porterville? mort asked the young woman. what is a nice looking girl like you doing out here at the crossroads in the dead of night, anyway?
i did not say i lived in porterville, i said i wanted a lift on the way to porterville.
i have been down this road before, and there is not a lot between porterville and here.
there is a farm.
it must be the only one.
so, if there is a farm, there must be a farmer.
most people would think so.
you must be the farmer’s daughter.
that’s a brilliant deduction, mister.
so, are you the farmer’s daughter? and do you have a name?
let me answer you by telling you a story.
a sudden gust of wind shook the car a little bit - the first sign of the supposedly approaching storm.
once upon a time, the girl began, there was a farm, and there was a farmer who lived on it, and he had some cows and pigs, and an old yellow dog and some cats, and a daughter. but no sheep. he was not partial to sheep and had nothing good to say about them.
now this farmer was not a friendly sort, nor was he a bible reading man, and he had no sense of humor. no sense of humor whatsoever.
the farmer was very aware of the fact that folks found humor in the fact that he had a daughter, and he was determined that no one would ever have a laugh at his expense over the fact that he had one.
and you were that daughter, mort interrupted.
let me tell the story, please.
one stormy and snowy night, the farmer was sitting in his old rocking chair staring into the blazing fireplace, and the daughter was sitting away from the fire, in a corner, working at her endless knitting, when suddenly there was a loud bangingoin the door.
who can that be? both the farmer and the daughter wondered, but neither said so out loud, because they were both persons of few words.
maybe it’s the sheriff, the farmer muttered, as he got up and went to the door.
it was indeed the sheriff, sheriff tom brown. what can i do for you tonight, sheriff? the farmer enquired, only opening the door as much as he had to, to keep the wind and snow from blowing inside.
i just dropped by to let you folks know that a desperate killer, brownie black, has escaped from the state pen and is on the loose. just a word to the wise.
thank you kindly, sheriff, the farmer replied, but i do not think he will get very far in this storm. and if he does, i have my trusty old shotgun ready, and i will not let him in.
i am glad to hear that, sheriff tom brown replied. i guess then i will be getting along, as i have other folks out here in the countryside to spread the news to.
and with that the farmer closed the door and returned to the fire, which he stirred up a bit before returning to his chair.
a little cold air had been let in, but the room quickly returned to its previous level of warmth.