The bulk of the work was nearly complete at Purvis Lodge. Sir James, the new owner, had sent half of the sailors back to the ship having completed the necessary tasks and improvements in even less time than he had thought, and he was sure to send them back to the ship with their pockets full of extra shillings for doing so. Less than a dozen men and boys from the Acasta were still on the property, they were in charge of the daily tasks and the care and running of the house. Mr. Higgins had even been moved into the kitchen proper.
One afternoon, a party of the boys had been sent out to gather great baskets of kindling from the wilderness at the back of the property. They returned instead with a skinny milk cow lead with a length of rope.
Sir James met them at the back of the house, by the walled garden. He was in his banyon and had been pulling up weeds and dead growth for the last hour.
“What is the meaning of this?” Sir James called out from the little stone porch.
“Sir. sir!” Mr. Thomas, the youngest of the boys cried excitedly and out of breath, “We found her in the woods back behind the pasture.”
Volunteer First Class Mr. Linden, who was the oldest boy of the lot at twelve, knuckled his forehead and continued, “We think she was one of the milk cows owned by the previous fellow, and she must’ve been left here. We found a few chickens too when we first arrived. The pasture wall has a great hole in it where a tree fell and we think she got out there and has been wandering the back side of the estate ever since.”
“Heavens, look at the poor beast!” exclaimed Sir James.
In fact, Linden was correct, the poor, skinny milk cow had indeed been left in the pasture after the death of the last owner of Purvis Lodge. She was thin, scarred and filthy from her adventures in the wild.
“I’ve never owned a cow of my own before.” Sir James mused, “I find I scarcely know what to do with her.”
“She looks awful hungry sir.” Linden added, looking back at her with genuine affection.
“Indeed she does, I suppose she’s been forced to forage all this time. Let’s see to her feeding and watering.” the Captain ordered.
Linden spoke up again, “Me and the boys could make repairs in the pasture wall and she’d have a place to stay again sir.”
“Ah, a capital idea.” Sir James replied, “How long would the repairs take Mr. Linden?”
Linden looked at his group of boys, there were four of them, “I should say about two hours to clear the fallen tree and restack the stone sir.”
“Very good Mr. Linden then let’s be about it, it’s your party.” Sir James smiled.
“Aye sir, thank you sir.” he saluted and they all ran off down back toward the pasture, leaving the captain’s new cow tied to the gate of the garden wall.