Knight of the Ribbons - Chapter 1

It was half an hour later that the lights began to define houses, little red brick homes and some of clapboard, many with trim little picket fences surrounding their yards. The village enveloped him, many of its buildings altogether dark and still. Dogs began barking, and back in the shadows someone yelled and a goose honked tentatively. Clay sped on. A couple of tom turkeys began to gobble, and they didn’t stop until he was beyond hearing range. What in the world was wrong with those turkeys, awake at this time of night? Everyone knew birds roosted and slept at night.

At last he reached the hanging shingle that said DOCTOR, and he pounded on the door. A lantern began to glow after a minute or so, and a forty-some year-old man in a nightshirt at last pushed open the door.

"You’ve got to come with me, Doctor," Clay managed to say. In his head he sounded completely calm.

"Settle down," the doctor ordered. "Take some deep breaths. I can hardly understand you."

"My wife—" Clay turned and pointed back the way he had come. "She’s in trouble, having our baby."

"Jane, run and get Nathaniel to hitch the dray," said the dark-haired doctor over his shoulder, grasping the gravity of the situation. "Tell him to put Linus and Bear in the harness. They’ll be the best night horses."

Still in a bit of a daze, and breathing way too fast, Clay waited at the door until a black rig came rattling around the corner of the house, a colored man a little older than the doctor driving it. By now the doctor had returned from another part of the house, and he was hastily dressed.

The colored man jumped down. "Here you go, Jim. Drive safe and good luck." He shot a worried glance at Clay.

"Thanks, Nathaniel," the doctor said and sprang onto the seat of the dray. He looked down at Clay, who was struggling with his good hand to get up on the seat.

The doctor swore as he glimpsed Clay’s broken arm, and his mouth dropped open. "You can’t come with me like that!"

"Well I am," said Clay. "My wife is in trouble." With that, he heaved with all his strength and fell across the seat, then pulled himself erect. "Go!"

He pointed the way, and the doctor guided his horses around and flipped the lines at them. They stepped smartly down the street, but he kept them at first to a long walk.

Clay sat there for a few moments with his anger building, then finally turned. "Make them run! She can’t hold out by herself."

The doctor’s hand came down and touched Clay’s good forearm, gentling it to sit on his thigh. "You have to know horses, son. You can’t just run them into the ground and expect to get what you need out of them."

This comment shut Clay Logan up, as a vision of Domino flooded over his mind. He sank back against the seat and clenched his teeth, trying to think the best of what was happening at home. His arm throbbed with excruciating pain, but not as horrible as the pain in his heart.