Ndalor has had several fantastic weeks of hunting. He has more than enough meat and stock for him and Padder (his dog). He determines that he could go almost a year without further hunting if he can get all the meat dressed and dried as he normally would. He would hate to lose any to rot, but with the hunting going so well he would also dislike stopping his good run or slowing down some to do the dressing. He scowls, then chuckles to himself … “How odd that good fortune can suddenly become a burden.” As he wonders about his quandary, Ndalor suddenly thinks of his not-so-close neighbors, and how they might be faring this season. Until recently, the hunt had been a worry; not much success had been the results of much time spent. Unless others had better luck than he, they might be concerned about surviving the winter and early spring. Ndalor recalled the few years recent when he and Padder had to survive mainly on grain and vegetables he had squirreled away. He shuddered at the recollections … not memories that he wanted to relive at any time.
Suddenly, Padder begins his low growl of warning of someone approaching the door. It is fairly early in the morning for visitors to be about. Then, just as sudden, Padder stops his growling, begins whining and dancing in circles towards the door! “Must be one of the Seegin girls coming to visit”, Ndalor says to Padder. A light, gentle knock on the door and a small, cute face at the window confirms Ndalor’s guess. He quickly goes to the door, and calmly opens it, and both Gracy and Faun Seegin stand there awaiting. Gracy is young, attractive, yet able woman of 18 years. Faun is pixie of 5 years, all bubbles and smiles. “Come in, come in, you two, and warm yourselves.” The girls enter and Ndalnor tightly shuts the door. “How are you both? How are your parents and others?” As they removed their gloves, coats, and boots, Gracy responds that all are well, thank you. “What brings you here, you two delights?”, inquires a smiling Ndalor. Faun perks up and says, “We came to buy some meat from you, if you have some to sell. We went to the Wents’s house, and over to see Mr. Yednik and Mr. Krens, but they do not have any to sell as they do not have enough for themselves, and …” “Whoa …. Hold on …!” Ndalor interrupted. “Gracy, is this true? Is everyone in difficulty?” “Yes, Mr. Tuttle, our hunting has not been going well. We all seem to be facing a winter of little meat.”, Gracy reported. “What about your gardens? Were they not plentiful this year?”, asked Ndalor as he frowned. Gracy continued, “We had wonderful bounty! Everything came up strong and full, even our herbs …. But Father and the others have had little to find in their hunting …” Her eyes were heavy with a sadness, and concern. “Are any of the other families around us in concern?” “No. It seems the other families have enough for themselves but little to no extra to sell.” “Well,” replies Ndalor. He ponders for a few moments and comes to a decision. “We cannot abide this situation, for sure. Do you know if your father is available tomorrow early? I know that Mr. Wents, and both Yednik and Krens will be. Go back to each of the houses. Tell them to come here to my stead as the sun rises, with guns, bows, wagons, and horses. Also tell your mother and Mrs. Wents to be ready to bring enough produce to this house for a meal for twelve people on the day after. Can you do that now?” smiled Ndalor. The girls looked rather puzzled but agreed that they would do so. “Excellent!”, cheered Ndalor, “Now, we will first have some hot chocolate to warm you up before your backward journey.” And, so they did.
The next morning, early with the sun lighting the sky gently before it shone above the horizon, Misters Seegin, Wentz, Yednik, and Krens all arrived as not-so-requested. “Good Day to you all. I hope you feel sharp, strong and lucky today. I am grateful that each of you responded this way. I hope to provide you all with a bounty of provision today to last each of you well into Spring, and perhaps beyond.” Old Krens and Yednik guffawed, while Mr. Seegin and Wentz looked somewhat aghast. “Tuttle, you got us here on a lark?” growled Wentz. Ndalor mused, “A lark you say? Come see my provisions house, before you bellow louder and scare the hunt away.” Over to his provisions house they tred. Ndalor opened the entry, stepped back, and simply smiled as the men gawked at what they saw, but could hardly believe. The stocking area was over full, and six deer hung awaiting dressing. “I have had a superb run of hunting the past few weeks, to the point where I am struggling to decide on hunting more or dressing. I have another 2 or 3 carcasses dressed in the process house. I have had the most bountiful of bounties, and I want to share this with you today, and discuss more with you all after we hunt and tomorrow after we dine together.” Ndalor’s smile was in his eyes, as wide a smile as his face could have. “Now, gentlemen, to the hunt.” And off they went.
To say that the hunt was successful would be like stating that a happy child smiles. The men as a group, and as individuals, had the best day of hunting they had ever experienced. Large quarry, small quarry, it was as if it all just came towards them all day long. “So, tonight, we can store the wagons in my cold storage. You each will take provisions home from my stock for your evening and morning meals. Come back tomorrow with your families and favorites, as we will cook, eat, and enjoy each other’s company together and discuss a proposal I have for us all.” And each went home provisioned, with huge smiles on their faces, and gratitude in their hearts.
The next became a scene of ordered chaos, as the two full families, and the old gents all descended on Ndalor Tuttle’s home. Ndalor welcomed them all and warmed them with hot chocolate and drinks. The men beamed as they showed everyone the prior day’s bounty. Each person’s eyes showed the disbelief of the obvious truth to the men’s tales of the hunt. All joined in on preparing for the evening meal together. All shared in readying the produce and in selecting fresh meat for the grill. Laughter and praise and happy song and talk was rampant throughout. Once all was ready, they sat together, all mixed at the table. Once all were well fed and content, Ndalor address them all, “As you all well know, we have a remarkable and wonderful pressure on us, to get all of what we gained ready for the winter months. I believe that we likely have more than we can each use, and towards that, I have an idea. I suggest that we five men continue our hunting, obtaining what nature continues to provide, and the families can begin the dressing of it all. I also suggest that we employ others in our town to help and pay with dressed meats. Those who wish can buy our excess, in either coin or trade. I propose this to you as you all have been a close to me as family can be, and I was almost too selfish to ask about others in the midst of my bounty, to where you had to come to ask if you could buy what I might be able to spare. In my heart that should never be. I wish and hope that we tonight can become more of a family than just being neighbors.” And to a person, they agreed, and toasted their new, expanded family.