A little interlude from when the boys still had their families. Hannibal wants to read quietly, but Jed interrupts him.
Curled up on the comfortable padding of the window seat with a quilt over his knees and a book in his hands, Hannibal was alternating between reading and staring out across the wide open fields that spread beyond the small but comfortable cabin. He was enjoying the story, but kept getting distracted by daydreams of being the hero of his own tale.
He was staying with his Aunt and Uncle, because his own folks were away. Aunt Caroline was kind and a great cook. He wasn't expected to do very much in the way of chores, except make sure the bed he shared with Jed was made, occasionally wash the dishes and not leave a mess, so it was a good deal. Hannibal liked the evenings best. Grandpa Curry was there most times and always told great stories of what he called the 'Old Country,' that were even better than the ones that could be found in books. Even Uncle Michael, sometimes stern during the day, relaxed in the evening and would often add amusing asides to Grandpa's stories. Aunt Caroline and the two girls sat with amused expressions, their eyes lit with laughter as they sewed or read. Even Jed was mostly still when their Grandpa was telling his stories.
It was a Saturday morning and despite his distraction he was enjoying the book Miss Vernon had lent him. He hoped to get it finished today and then maybe she'd lend him a new one on Monday.
As he turned to chapter six, he heard a light tread on the floor. With a muffled groan he realised who it must be as he dismissed the other possibilities reluctantly. His uncle's footsteps were heavier and besides Hannibal knew he was out in the barn. He could hear his Aunt rattling round in the kitchen and the lovely scent of freshly baked pie was spreading through the cabin. The girls left him alone mostly, which meant it could only be that one persistently noisy fly that always managed to break into his peace and quiet. He said without looking up from his book, “Jed, go away I'm reading.”
Jed gave an exaggerated sigh and flopped down on the floor with unnecessary force, obviously having no intention of going anywhere. At a persistent poke on his arm, Hannibal looked down in annoyance at his cousin, who was eyeing him with a puzzled expression on his round face, “Why? Readin' ain't fun.”
“Only 'cos you ain't got the patience.”
Hannibal muffled a sigh of his own. He never understood why the adults in their family always complained he was the one who never stopped asking questions. Jed was just as good at demanding answers when the mood took him. Hannibal had learnt it was mostly just easier to give in to him. He tried to think of what to say, maybe if he got it right, he'd be able to convince Jed to leave him alone to read and daydream.
“It's when you sit quiet and don't bother anyone or let anyone bother you, 'cos you're doing something you want to on your own.”
“Yes, like fishing.”
“Huh, that ain't right, Ma says I can't go fishin' less someone goes wif me.”
Me, he means, thought Hannibal crossly and put the book down on the wood with enough force that it thudded satisfyingly, clearly expressing his frustration at the interruption. Jed was unimpressed and only sat quietly for a minute before he asked,
“You bein' patient now?”
“Tryin' to be, but someone is being annoying.”
That seemed to have an effect as Jed studied his feet. When he looked up he had a frown on his face, “' Ain't meanin' to be, but Ma's busy, Pa told me to stop fussin' him. I went to see Lizzie and Mary but they're doin' girl stuff.” Jed wrinkled his nose in disgust before adding, “'M sorry Hamibal. I'll go away, so you can be patient.” He met his cousin's gaze and Hannibal suddenly felt guilty. He was never quite sure whether Jed did it on purpose or not, but seeing that particular look on his face, almost always made him cave to whatever the younger boy wanted. And people said he was the persuasive one!
Resigning himself to amusing his cousin, he said with an air of someone making a great sacrifice, “ If you ain't too restless, I can read out loud from my book to you.”
Jed's face lit up and he peered up at the book, “What's it about?”
“Ain't pirates bad?” Curry rubbed his nose with a grubby finger and looked a bit worried.
Hannibal humphed, a bit put out at his cousin's apparent lack of enthusiasm, when he'd been willing to give up his quiet time to entertain him. “Well, you could just go away and let me be if you feel that way.”
“But...” After a brief creasing of the brow, a smile soon crossed Jed's face as he apparently remembered something. He clapped his hands, startling Hannibal before adding in a pleased tone “Grandpa Curry says pirates ain't always bad, so tell me 'bout the pirates.”
He bounced to his feet and joined Hannibal on the window seat. He snuggled under the quilt and shifted in close to avoid falling off. Hannibal watched him until he settled then started to read aloud.
Half an hour later as Jed gasped happily at the exciting sea battle Hannibal was describing, he reflected that sometimes reading was more fun with two.