Gone Gull | Chapter 6 of 42 - Part: 1 of 3

Author: Donna Andrews | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1889 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 1

“Wow, you could kill someone with that thing! Doesn’t that worry you?”

I counted to ten before looking up from the anvil, where I’d been about to start hammering on an iron rod. I’d only just finished heating the iron to the perfect temperature for shaping it. If I was working in my own barn, I’d have ignored Victor Winter’s remarks.

But I wasn’t in my own barn. I was at the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center being paid—quite handsomely—to teach Blacksmithing 101. And however annoying I found Victor, he was a student. If ignored, he’d start muttering again about complaining to management. I didn’t want him doing that. Management was my grandmother Cordelia, owner of the center, and I didn’t think she needed the aggravation today.

So when I’d reached ten I put my hammer down, set the rod safely on the anvil, and pushed up my safety goggles. Then I smiled, and did what I could to turn his question into a teaching moment.

“Yes, Victor,” I began. “You could kill someone with this metal rod—even if it wasn’t heated to its present temperature of approximately a thousand degrees Fahrenheit.”

This generated a few titters from the other eleven students. I deduced that I wasn’t the only one in whom Victor provoked the occasional brief homicidal fantasy. Victor, coshed on the head with a ball peen hammer. Victor, skewered through the heart on the pointed end of the rod I was turning into a fireplace poker. Victor, doubled up and stuffed through the door of my forge, like Hansel at the mercy of the wicked witch.

“That’s why we spent so much time this morning learning all about proper blacksmithing safety,” I went on. “Do we need to go through all of that again?”

Several of the other students groaned—understandably. After just one morning, they were already tired of hearing safety lectures. I understood how eager they were to start working iron, but I was not about to turn twelve beginners loose with hot metal rods and two-pound hammers until I was absolutely sure that they understood the dangers. And even more important, that when I barked out an order, they’d obey.

“No, I’m good.” Victor smirked as if he’d said something clever.

I caught several of the women students rolling their eyes. They probably realized as well as I did that all the safety lectures in the world couldn’t guarantee that Victor—already referred to behind his back as “The Klutz”—would make it to the end of our weeklong class with all his digits intact and without third-degree burns. I worried, just for a moment, about whether Cordelia had a signed waiver on file from Victor. And then I reminded myself that of course she did. An important detail like that would not have escaped her eagle eye. If there was such a thing as a gene for organization, Cordelia was definitely the one I’d gotten it from. And even though she was in her eighties, some days she made me feel like a slacker.

Though the waiver probably wouldn’t protect the center if I slaughtered Victor, no matter how annoying he was. So I took a few of the deep, calming breaths my yoga-savvy cousin Rose Noire would have recommended and went back to my lesson on how to determine when your iron was hot enough to be worked.

My students—five men and seven women—watched with keen interest. Even Victor. A few of them took notes, but most merely drank in everything I did and said with rapt interest and peppered me with questions.

“Okay, I think we’re ready for one of you to try it,” I said at last.

In my peripheral vision I could see Victor waving his hand frantically, like a first grader in dire need of a bathroom break. I pretended not to notice him. I called on one of the women and let her be the first to try hammering iron.

The morning crept along. One by one, each of my fledgling blacksmiths—even Victor—had the chance to heat an iron rod in the forge and hammer it on the anvil for a bit, while I gave helpful comments. I was a nervous wreck, trying to keep them all from hammering their hands, inflicting serious burns on themselves or their classmates, or impaling each other with the rods. When the bell rang to announce that the morning session was over and lunch was available in the dining room, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank you, class. We’ll reconvene at two this afternoon.”

As the students filed out, I busied myself with tidying the studio and getting things ready for the afternoon session.

“Ms. Langslow?”

“Just Meg,” I looked up to see three of the women students clustered in the doorway. “We’re pretty informal here at Biscuit Mountain.”

“Would you like us to save you a place at our table?”

They looked so eager. Suddenly, I found myself remembering how in high school who sat at your table during lunch period could make or break your social standing. Back then I didn’t recall anyone soliciting my presence with such fervor. It made a nice change, and I wished I could oblige them. Maybe later in the week.

“Rain check?” I said aloud. “Because I have no idea if I’ll make it to the dining room for long enough to sit down and eat today—always a lot of administrative stuff to do on the first day of a session. But if I do get there, I’ll look for you and pull up a chair.”

“Great!” “Hope you can make it!” “Okay!”

They hurried off, smiling.

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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