1. Welcome to PHCorner Forums. Take a moment to Sign up and gain unlimited access and extra privileges that guests are not entitled to, such as:

    All that and more! Registration is quick, simple and absolutely free. Join our community today!

... the dimming of the light... (part 18)

Discussion in 'Stories, Fiction & Essays' started by Daisuke_Jigen, May 5, 2016.

  1. ... the dimming of the light... (part 18)
    … the dimming of the light… (Part 18)

    Peter Hunter


    …our dependence just on the light of our wood burning stove during the hours of darkness was becoming boring…
    … a depredation I resolved to overcome…
    The solution was obvious, now that there were obviously fewer people left in the village to care, or to interfere with our plans… Tapping off some of the domestic heating oil which the Colonel's tank still contained in abundance as we had been watchful and secretive…
    … guarding it as an important asset…
    … putting a little in his diesel Range Rover… which for two days had benefited from the trickle charge battery top-up from the small solar panel - that plugged into the car's accessory socket…
    The three of us rode to the crest of the high downland to the north - along deserted roads devoid of any sign of humans and certainly no traffic - hoping that some of the once-numerous sheep remained… Although early winter, there was still a fair covering of grass. They would not have their regular supplementary feed… and maybe many had been poached already - the sheep were nervous, a bit spooked - but a large number were still about…
    … the fact that they were obviously frightened when they detected our presence was an indication that others had preceded us with similar intentions…
    … stringing the bow by the side of the vehicle I was almost quivering with anticipation… and, leaving the others by the car, I slowly climbed the hedge and approached the huddled flock.
    My first arrow missed, whether from nervousness or taking the shot at longer-range than my ability was capable of…
    … and the broad head shaft penetrated the short turf…
    Moving close to my intended target I knew I must shoot before he recognised my intentions…
    … and ran off…
    … at a range of no more than twenty yards I drew the string back as far as my ear and carefully loosed the arrow… this time without the snatch that had caused the previous shot to fly to the left. A hit… The animal bleated plaintively, moved a step forward and prepared run…
    … as I loosed a another broad head into its heart-lung area I scored a perfect hit… and the shaft penetrated deeply…
    The animal staggered still bleating blood gently flowing from the two hits in its lower chest… as I approached it, my hunting knife in my hand… quickly stoking the blade sharply across the beast's throat. I was mindful to withdraw both arrows before the heavy animal could fall…
    … maybe breaking the precious shafts…
    After the adrenalin of stalking and killing…
    … had worn off - I felt strangely sorry for the poor ewe…
    but… I thought - she had died for a very good cause…

    * * *

    … gutting and skinning the beast was a warm, bloody affair - with me doing most of the work, as I had some experience from the times when I used to stalk deer. In order to share labour, I asked the others to scrape the inside of the sheep's skin with pieces of broken glass, better than a knife which tends to cut the skin…
    … while I set to butcher the carcase…
    The others also had the unpleasant task of soaking the skin with urine in order to further the curing process before the fleece could be used for clothes or a blanket…
    … as I jointed the carcase I sliced off as much of the fat as I could… tossing the pieces into the large tin basin that Alice was already heating over the big brick barbecue…
    Later, we happily drained off the liquefied fat into a mixture of containers, jars, cups and glasses - careful to insert wicks of string or cheesecloth…
    … before the fat solidified… then we feasted on the small lumps of meat left over from the rendering…
    If and when the material we were using for wicks ran out… we could use dried reed of which I had in abundance around the edges of the lake…
    … it worked for the ancients - if it was good enough to brighten the gers of Genghis Kahn… it could work for us… but when the sheep disappeared it would be a more serious matter to replace it…
    The resulting candles burned quite well with a yellow flame that did not give a great amount of light but did produce a lot of black smoke…
    … with a not unpleasant aroma like roasting lamb… Alice had added a few sprigs of rosemary to sweeten the smell…
    but the by-product - succulent fresh mutton was delicious…


    (To be continued…)
    -
    -
    -
    Credits to respectful owner (y)
     
Tags / Keywords: