by Hugh Wesley
A man ain't necessarily his father.
|You don’t forget the eyes of the man who killed your daddy.
Jacob never would.
And now those eyes were watching him over a bale of straw, even though Jacob knew Tim Peterson had died two years before.
Tom was the spitting image of his father.
Jacob spat on the ground behind Dalton’s mill. Already, the western wind cut through his elkskin coat like a hatchet, and snow fell in clumps.
It was going to be the coldest night of the year. Deadly.
Each man had a hand on one end of the bale. “Get your own straw, Peterson,” Jacob said.
Isaac Dalton paced nervously between the two of them, and now he turned to Jacob.
“This is the last straw in town, Jacob. Maybe in the county!”
Jacob moved his free hand up under the tail of his jacket but froze when a young woman holding a baby stepped around the corner of the building and sidled up next to Tom.
“We need to get home and bed the calves, Tom. They’ll freeze to death if we don’t, and then …”
“Pa!” Jasper said from Jacob’s side. “Don’t let them take Rocky’s straw!”
Jacob relaxed his gun hand and tussled his boy’s hair. “I reckon that dog can hunker down in your bed tonight, Jasper. Assuming you got no objections to that.”
“Oh, boy!” Jasper exclaimed, and ran toward their wagon.
The two men stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds more, then Jacob turned and walked after his son.
“What happened, Jacob?” Molly asked as he climbed into the carriage.
Jacob didn’t look at his wife but picked up the reins and started the team on their way.
“A main ain’t his father,” he said to no one in particular.