One day, Tiri went down to the pond alone. She took the bag of crusts her brother always got to carry (fat sister fingers can’t throw the bread far enough, ha-ha) and she was gone faster than anyone realized. Pa thought she was with Mama, and Mama thought she was with Nana, and Nana was taking a nap while watching her stories, and Len was playing with his soldiers, which left Tiri alone long enough to put on her mucks and her coat and hat and get out the door. It was late winter, or she would have put her woolboots on before her mucks, but now that the ice was breaking, and the mudfish were awake, she thought she would be warm enough without them.
She knew she shouldn’t go down to the pond alone, so she took Hekka, who was a very good dog, and they went together.
Down at the pond, she and Hekka walked up and down the edge, looking into the water, calling to the fish, shaking the bag. The day was dim, and the pond was dark, and she couldn’t see the fish, so she walked closer to the pond, with her mucks almost in the water, closer and closer, until the brown grass was mud, and the mud was soft, and then Hekka was barking, and Tiri was tumbling, hat and coat and mucks and crusts and all, into the dark water.
Tiri wasn’t frightened, but she was definitely cold and wet. She tried to climb out, but the grass was too slippery, and the mud had her mucks stuck fast. “Hekka! Hekka, here! Here, Hekka!” She called to the dog, hoping the mutt would help pull her out, but neither Tiri nor Hekka were strong enough, and in the end, Tiri tore her jacket, and scraped her hand on a sharp stone.
Wet and cold, stuck in the pond-mud with the water up to her chest, with a cut hand and a torn jacket, Tiri began to cry.
“Girl,” a voice suddenly asked, interrupting Tiri’s weeping, “why are you crying?”
* * *
[To Be Cont’d]