“The King’s men are coming! They’re looking for, volunteers! No, they’re looking to consrip, conssip, no, cospiric.., dang it, they’re short on troops and they want your boys!”
Martin gasped. Barouk stood in stunned silence. By then his wife Tessa heard the commotion and came out of the house.
“Barouk” she called. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing dear, go back inside.”
“Listen” said Jeb, “if you want to keep your boys you better hide ‘em. That’s why I’m running home. I got one boy and I need him for the farm. I know, bring out the two young ‘uns of yours. They’re not of age and the soldiers won’t search for more.”
“That’s an idea” mused Barouk. By then Tessa had joined them at the road. “What’s going on Barouk?”
“We have to hide the boys. Soldiers are coming to conspire…, what was that word?”
“Conscript” said Martin.
“Yeah, conscript” said Jeb. “Just a fancy way of saying their taking our boys!”
“You won’t let them take them, right Barouk?”
“Now now, we just gotta hide them and bring out Emma and John, make it seem like that’s all the kids we have. They’re not of age so they’ll leave ‘em be.”
“That’s the plan” said Jeb. “So if you’ll excuse me, I gotta come up with one of my own.” He snapped at the reins, bringing the horses back to life and headed for his own farm.
“Drake!” called Barouk. He had still been tilling the field while they talked to Jeb. He looked up to see his father beckoning him. He reined in Dancer and started making his way to them.
Tessa was beside herself. “Barouk, don’t let them take our boys. I don’t know what I would do if they took them. Barouk, promise me they won’t take our boys!”
“Now now Tessa, don’t worry, I’ve got this all figured out.”
While they were fussing with each other Martin began to think. He began to see his future opening up to him. Maybe, if he went with the troops, he could see more of the world. Maybe he could get out of here and do more than just tending fields. He couldn’t just leave, but if he got conscripted, there’d be nothing his father or mother could do about it. They wouldn’t dare go against the king or the king’s troops. All he had to do was stay right where he was and wait for them to…Owww!
Drake had come up next to him and punched him hard in the arm. “That’s what you get for going past the line. Ha ha!” he said as he pointed a finger in his face.
Martin grabbed his aching arm. Drake never learned to take it easy. He figured because they were all farmers Martin could take it. “Oow, that really hurt! Dad!”
“Stop the nonsense and listen up!” He said. “Drake, I don’t know if you heard but the king’s men are coming to take you and your brother away, to join the army.”
“What?” said Drake. “No way, I don’t want to join the army!”
“Don’t worry” said Tessa. “No one’s taking my boys anywhere, right Barouk?”
“Right, right, now if you’ll all shut up I can tell you the plan!” His little outburst worked, because everyone fell silent and waited, Martin still rubbing his arm, Drake suddenly attentive, and Tessa staring at him hopefully.
“Right, so this is what we’re gonna do. Drake, you and Martin go hide in the woods on the other side of the field. Tessa, you get Emma and John and have them playing in the front of the house. Then you and I will till the field like nothing’s wrong.”
“You want Mom to till the field” asked Martin.
“Well I don’t want to, but we’ve got two ploughs out there and it would look suspicious if only one of us were out there working. Now scoot!”
“Right Dad!” said Drake. He got Martin in a headlock and said “Let’s go, little bro.” He headed in the direction of the far woods while Martin complained from the headlock.
“Do you have to hold me like this?”
“No, but I wanna.” He began laughing as they walked.
Martin felt his dream of his future shifting a little. He knew if he were to get out of here he would have to do something desperate. But he had to wait until he got out of the headlock. They were both young and strong, but Drake was stronger, maybe from being a year older than him, maybe he was just born that way. Either way, Martin had to bide his time.