Ogg opened his eyes and didn’t know where he was. He was cold. There was no door where there had always been a door. There was no thatch roof overhead. He sat up, a little bit afraid, a thumping inside of him like he had been running. He saw the coals in the fireplace, but it was not his fireplace. Two sleeping shapes wrapped in blankets were between him and fire. Not Queedle and Bosco. Not Daddy. The room was large. There were tables. He stood up, rubbing his arms, fighting the morning chill.
Keeper Twill’s place. He remembered. His new friends Box and Spar. They had given him a bowl of stew and talked about how he could be of help to them. They were going down the big road and could use a big, strong fellow like Ogg to help them.
They would need help chopping wood they agreed after Ogg volunteered that he was a pretty good woodchopper. Did he have an axe? No. But they would find one for him. And Spar found one in the barn, he said, when they went out to settle their horses for the night. Ogg thought the axe might be Keeper Twill’s, but Box said it belonged to him and Spar and that Ogg could use it. And Ogg didn’t have to sleep in the barn. Box and Spar had asked, and Keeper Twill agreed, that he could stay with them on the floor of the eating-place, by the fire.
Ogg stepped quietly to the coals of last night’s fire. He prodded the remains with the fire iron and carefully placed a stick of wood on the exposed embers. Waiting, fire iron in hand, Ogg watched as flames walked the surface of the stick. He looked in the cold stew pot and found a piece of potato, or turnip, he couldn’t tell which. Scratching the bottom of the pot, he was able to collect a small taste of last night’s meal. His stomach signaled that it was time for first meal but Box and Spar were sleeping and Keeper Twill was not in sight.
Ogg made his way to the door. Trying not to be noisy and wake Daddy…not Daddy, but Box and Spar, he slipped out and shut the door without slamming it. The yard was covered in fog. There was a river somewhere, up or down the big road. Ogg had heard talk of it. At home there was a creek, fed from rocks up on the ridge. The river, he had heard, was deep and wide and dangerous.
Ogg wandered off into the fog, out back, to take care of his morning business. When he got back both Box and Spar were sitting up, but were still wrapped in their blankets. Ogg stopped in the doorway, waiting to be told what to do.
“Do you know how to saddle a horse, Ogg?” Spar asked sleepily.
“No sir.” Ogg’s stomach turned. Already he was in over his head.
“Well, go on out to the barn and wait for us, we need to be on our way.”
“Yes, sir.” Ogg turned and hurried to the barn, cutting a path through the fog. The horses welcomed him with their soft voices and he wandered to the stalls and looked at the saddles. He figured he better leave them alone. Better to wait. He looked around and spotted a basket with a few green apples in it. There were, as best as he could tell, no plans for a hot morning meal so he ate an apple then another while he waited. They weren’t very tasty, but filled his stomach. He put another one in his pocket for later. Ogg reasoned that the apples were liable to go bad if they were left in the basket. No waste, no want, Daddy said.
Voices and footsteps mumbled through the fog, then into the barn. Two figures shambled past without speaking. Ogg watched as Box and Spar saddled their horses. Blanket on the horse, then the saddle, pull the straps tight. He thought he would be able to do it next time. As they led their horses out Box nodded towards the wood box.
“Don’t forget your axe.”
Then he put his foot in some saddle part and threw himself on his horse. Ogg was fascinated. Then Spar did the same. They did it so fast, not like climbing on a wagon. The saddles creaking and complaining and the two of them so high above him. They made horse encouragement noises like Daddy did when he drove the wagon. Ogg knew how to do that and he practiced those noises quietly to himself as he picked up the axe and followed Box and Spar out of Keeper Twill’s yard and onto the big road. He had to strike a good pace to keep up since the fog was so thick. He was afraid he might lose sight of them entirely as they turned onto the big road and headed towards the river.