Con Verse Lea; Chapter 29, Hastings 240

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Stories from the Verse
Con Verse Lea
Chapter 29:  Hastings 240
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Beam 131

After outlining the plan, Lauren showed everyone--all three group leaders, all three team leaders, and Tommy--how to open the gate manually. She then took Tommy and the team leaders through it, closing it behind them and giving instructions to the group leaders to maintain order, try to clear a patch of ground off the road but near the gate to dirt level, and bring the three dead birds over to it. She would return, she said, but had to gather quite a bit.

Her first concern was to gather rocks, large enough to surround a campfire but not too heavy to be difficult to carry. Then she had to gather firewood, everything from tinder to a few logs as thick as an arm. Complicating it, she had to explain to her group exactly what they were seeking, how to identify decent wood from that which was too green on the one hand and too rotted on the other. She showed them what squaw wood was, and included some of that, but there was ample wood on the ground, and it was dry enough, so she preferred to leave the squaw wood for a rainy day. The group stayed close to the road and to each other, making several trips back to the gate to deposit their treasures, until Lauren was satisfied that they had enough of everything. She then had Tommy open the gate to be sure the girl knew how, and carted everything to the clearing.

Recovering her arrows, which had survived the hits in the soft flesh of the birds, she decided that the next step was to surround a fireplace with the stones and build and light the fire. This time she was primarily teaching the group leaders, although she included the team leaders in this. She reminded them all that what she was teaching them they were going to have to teach others; she also at this point officially established that each team leader was assigned to a specific group leader, that although they had independent jobs the group leaders were in charge. Stacking the wood, she had Tommy light the kindling with one of her precious matches.

“Probably,” she said, “we’re not going to find matches where we’re going, so we will have to learn another way to light fires; but the basic concept is the same.”

Taking a knife from her cooking utensils, she began to clean the first bird. She then gave it to Varlax, and gave the other two birds to Gram and Torin. She had their team leaders work with them, and talked them through the process step by step. She didn’t have knives to give them, but helped with her own; Boronir had his own knife, and she hoped that there might be knives among the people for use in the future. She showed them how to remove the inedible parts, and how to cut the turkeys into manageable chunks which were then placed on the open fire, by now sporting a solid bed of coals, to roast.

“Poultry is tricky, and you have to be certain it’s cooked. You don’t want any red, any blood, when you eat it. My brothers were both Boy Scouts, and they had a sort of joke slogan about, ‘When it’s brown it’s cooking, when it’s black it’s done.’ You don’t need it to be black, but you want bird to be cooked thoroughly. Better to be eating dry meat than to be getting sick on raw bits.”

Whole turkeys take hours to cook, but cut up they cooked more quickly, and while Lauren hadn’t cooked turkeys this way before, having made them stuffed and oven-roasted back home, she had cooked the birds she and Bob Slade had caught in the parakeet world. It wouldn’t be that different.

Once she was satisfied that the meat was cooked, she directed that the group leaders should take it back to their groups and share it with their people. They would eat the poultry with the vegetables they gathered. There would be more meat in the future, once she taught the team leaders to hunt, but this was it for now.

“What about us?” Tommy asked. Lauren pondered a moment.

“I think group three is the smallest,” she said. “We’ll eat with them.”

A share of the turkey among some thirty people was not much, but it was a change from the diet of the past few days, and Lauren savored it.

She sat by the fading fire burning the rest of her gathered wood late into the night, then slept uncomfortably, not fully confident about what they would eat and drink once through the gate. There was a lot of work ahead.

Next chapter:  Chapter 30:  Beam 132
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #463:  Characters Unsettled.  Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.  It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.

As to the old stories that have long been here:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

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