Words: 476 The Sheppard Boy
By Sally Madison
Kolya watched from high up the hillside, where he and his goats had been living these past few weeks. A caravan of families in brightly colored wagons was passing below. He knew it was not the Turks, but was not sure who they were. Content in his solitude, he jumped when he heard a stone tumble carelessly down from behind him. Turning quickly, he saw a giant of a man with a black beard and multicolored clothes, same as the caravan people, reaching for one of his goats. “Who goes there? Don’t touch my goat!” Kolya threatened, with his rudimentary spear aimed at the foreigner.
The man jumped back, feigning innocence. “Had not your goat been so nimble, you would not have heard me,” he replied, blaming the goat for his inept attempt at stealing the creature.
“Perhaps you are an old man, who thinks he can take advantage of a young man.” Kolya replied, defying the apparent authority that the man thought he should have.
The man stepped back, shocked at the audacity of the rom, ‘I should have such bravery in my troop’ he thought. The man lunged for control of the boy’s spear, before he was aware. With the man now holding the youngster in one hand and the spear in the other, the boy, almost startled by the sudden change of control, conceded to the strong, tight grip of the huge man.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you, but you gave me no choice. Tell me, where is your family?” How is it that you are so far away from any village?”
Trying to be brave, but totally defenseless and fearing for his life, the boy began to cry. He had no family. Not having anyone to unburden his heart to, the boy gave up and slowly began telling his story.
He was young when his father was killed fighting the Turks in Ukraine. His family had moved here when his mother married a Romanian. Watching from the high hills above the village, he heard the rumblings of something foreboding. Following the sound, he led the sheep around the side of the mountain, until he saw his village being burned, people screaming, running from the flashing swords of the Turks on horseback, as they charged through the village. They killed everyone and destroyed everything, but he saw them take his sister captive when the General Admir swung her across his saddle and riding away. She saw him running down from the mountain, and waved him back, to run away now, and fight another day.
With obvious control over his young adversary, and being sympathetic to his story, the man let go of rom, but not the spear. He commanded, “You will come with me, and bring your goats.”
Kolya was devastated. He had escaped one enemy, now to be captured by another.