Shiloh Seasonby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The favorite dog of third-graders everywhere returns in a reissue of a perennial young-readers bestseller. Newberry Medal winner Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh Season is the second in the Shiloh trilogy, the story of young Marty Preston and the abused dog he rescues -- and fights to keep. Suspenseful and sweet, charming and thought-provoking, Shiloh has/i>… See more details below
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The favorite dog of third-graders everywhere returns in a reissue of a perennial young-readers bestseller. Newberry Medal winner Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh Season is the second in the Shiloh trilogy, the story of young Marty Preston and the abused dog he rescues -- and fights to keep. Suspenseful and sweet, charming and thought-provoking, Shiloh has captured the attention -- and the hearts -- of millions of young readers, and it's ready in a brand-new edition for another generation.
* Taut with suspense, touched by a fine sense of humanity, and narrated in an authentic West Virginia dialect, this cmopelling page-turner will be in justifiable demand."Booklist, starred review
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After Shiloh come to live with us, two things happened. One started out bad and ended good. The other started out good and...Well, let me tell it the way it was.
Most everybody near Friendly, West Virginia, knows how Judd Travers treats his dogs, and how he bought this new little beagle to help him hunt, and how the beagle kept running away from Judd's kicks and curses. Ran to me.
They know the story of how I hid the dog in a pen I made for him up in our woods and named him Shiloh. Judd just calls his dogs cuss words. And everybody in Tyler County, almost, heard how a German shepherd jumped into that pen and tore up Shiloh something awful, and then the secret was out. My dad drove Shiloh over to Doc Murphy, who sewed him up and helped him live.
And then, because my friend David Howard has the biggest mouth from here to Sistersville, most everybody knows how I worked for Judd Travers two weeks to earn that dog. So now he's mine. Mine and Ma's and Dad's and Dara Lynn's and Becky's. We all just love him so's he can hardly stand it sometimes; tail wags so hard you figure it's about to fly off.
Anyway, the thing that started out bad and ended good was that I promised Doc Murphy I'd pay him every cent we owed him for fixing up Shiloh. I looked for bottles and aluminum cans the whole test of the summer, but only earned two dollars and seventy cents.
When I took it to Doc Murphy, though, so he could subtract it from our bill, he says I can work off the rest, same as I worked for Judd. Next to Judd telling me I can have Shiloh for my own, that was the best news I'd heard in a long time.
And now for the good part that turned bad and then worse: after figuring that everything's okay now between me and Judd Travers he even gave me a collar for Shiloh Judd starts drinking.
Not that he didn't drink before. Got a belly on him like a watermelon sticking out over his belt buckle, but now he's drinkin' hard.
First time I know anything about it, I'm coming up the road from Doc Murphy's, Shiloh trottin' along ahead or behind. That dog always finds something old he's got to smell twice or something new he ain't smelled at all, and his legs can hardly get him there fast enough. I think he was down in the creek while I was working at Doc's, and he's trying to make like he was with me the whole time.
I'm following along, thinking how happiness is a wet dog with a full stomach, when I hear this truck coming up the road behind me. I can tell by the sound that it's going faster than it should. My first thought, as I turn my head, is that if it don't slow down, it won't make the bend, air and then I see that it's Judd Travers's pickup.
I take this flying leap into the field, like I'm doing a belly flop in Middle Island Creek, and for a couple seconds I can't even breathe it's knocked the wind right out of me. I watch the truck go off the road a couple feet farther on, then weave back on again, over to the other side, and finally it starts slowing down for the bridge.
Shiloh comes running back, licks my face to see if I'm all right. The question in my mind is did Judd try to run me over or didn't he even see me, he's that drunk? And if Shiloh had been behind me instead of up front, would I be looking at a dead dog right now?
"Judd almost ran me over!" I say that night at supper.
"He what?" says Ma.
I tell my folks what happened.
"He do it on purpose?" asks Dara Lynn. Ma's fixed white beans and corn bread, with little chunks of red ham in the beans, and Dara Lynn's counting out the pieces of ham on her plate. Wants to be sure she got as many as Ma gave me.
"I don't know," I tell her.
Ma looks at Dad. "This is serious, Ray."
Dad nods. "I guess I've been hearing right, then. They say Judd's been stopping off at a bar down near Bens Run. Does his drinking nights and weekends."
Ma's anxious. "You'd best keep off the road, Marty," she says. "You, too, Dara Lynn. You hear his truck coming, give him plenty of room."
"All he's going to do is get himself arrested," I say. "Why's he start drinking so hard all of a sudden?" Even I know that when a person does that it means he's bothered.
"Maybe he's thirsty!" says Becky, and we all laugh. Becky's three. Dara Lynn laughs, too, even though it's something she might have said. Dara Lynn's seven. I'm four years older than that, and supposed to set an example for my sisters, says Ma, which is why it was so hard on my folks when they found out I'd been hiding Judd's dog up in our woods.
"I think Judd drinks because he's unhappy," says Ma. She smooths out the margarine on her piece of corn bread, then takes a real slow bite.
"Maybe he misses Shiloh," says Becky, trying again. I wish she hadn't said that.
"Why?" asks Dara Lynn. "He's got all those other dogs to keep him company."
Ma chews real thoughtful. "I think he looks in the mirror and don't like what he sees," she says. "The fact that his dog kept running away and coming to you, Marty, and the way you kept on working for Judd even though he called you a fool I think that made him take a good hard look at himself, and it wasn't pretty."
Becky nods her head up and down. "Judd's not pretty," she says, real serious, and we laugh again.
All this time, my dad is breaking up his corn bread over his pile of beans, and then he eats it mixed together, and I notice he's the one not laughing.
"What's worrying me is that Judd's been hunting up in our woods, I think. Rabbits, I expect. I found a beer can up there, the brand Judd drinks, and heard a couple shots yesterday, same as last weekend."
"We've got those woods posted!" Ma says, meaning we got signs up around the property saying we don't allow any hunting. But poachers sneak in there sometimes anyway. Up in our woods, and even in our meadow on the far side of the hill.
Her gray eyes are fixed on Dad now. "Ray, you've got to tell him! I don't want him up there drunk, firing his gun off every which way. One of those bullets could end up down here."
"I'll talk to him," Dad says.
I'm real quiet then. In fact, I'm through with the beans on my plate. Been thinking about taking a second helping, but suddenly I'm not hungry anymore, so I go outside and sit on the steps. It's been real warm and dry for September, and I like to catch a breeze.
Shiloh comes over and lies down beside me, head on my leg. Then he takes this big contented sigh and closes his eyes.
What my folks don't know what nobody knows except me and Judd Travers is how the only way I got Judd to let me keep his dog was that I saw him shoot a deer out of season. A doe it was, too. And when he knew I could report him to the game warden I would have, too he said I could keep Shiloh if I kept my mouth shut about the doe and if I worked for him two solid weeks. I swear Judd must have laid awake nights thinking of the hardest, meanest jobs he had for me to do, but I did 'em, every one.
So a promise is a promise, even if I shouldn't have made it in the first place. There wasn't any point in telling the secret now anyway. The doe and all traces of the killing were long gone.
I lean against the porch post and stroke the top of Shiloh's head, smooth as corn silk. Here I'd thought now that Judd and me were almost, but not quite, friends you couldn't be real friends with a man like Judd Travers I wouldn't have to worry anymore. But Ma says drink will make a person do things he never in this world thought he'd do, and you put drink in Judd Travers, you got a bomb just waiting to blow up. He might not try to run over Shiloh, or shoot him out of spite, but what if he's up in our woods hunting and Shiloh runs through? What if Judd shoots at the first thing that moves?
After supper Dad comes out, and he's carrying this beer can he found in our woods. He puts it on the front seat of the jeep, then climbs in and heads down the driveway.
I watch the jeep pause way out by the road, then turn right and go past the mill. It crosses the rusty bridge to the old Shiloh schoolhouse that's been closed as long as I can remember. After that it's out of sight and I know that in two or three minutes Dad will pull up outside the trailer where Judd Travers lives.
I listen. Yep. About two minutes later, way off in the distance, I hear all Judd's dogs barking at once, which means they hear the Jeep. All those dogs are mean as nails, 'cause the only time Judd don't keep 'em chained is when he takes 'em hunting.
I figure that about this time Judd's looking out his window, wondering who's driving up to see him at seven o'clock on a Sunday night. Then he'll get up and come to the door in his undershirt.
Dad'll walk up the boards that serve as Judd's sidewalk, and they'll stand on Judd's steps awhile, talking about the kind of weather we've been having, and are the apples going to be any good this fall, and when is the county going to fix that big pothole just this side of the bridge.
And finally, after they say all that, Dad'll show Judd the beer can and say he's sure Judd didn't mean to wander off up in our woods when he was hunting, but Dad figures the beer can is his, and he's been hearing these shots. He surely would appreciate it, he'll say, if Judd wouldn't hunt in our woods. He don't like to make a fuss, but when a man's got children, he's got to look out for them.
My mind can think up about a dozen ways Judd could answer back, none of 'em polite, but I don't let myself dwell on it. I'm running my hand over Shiloh's head real slow, and I can tell by his eyes how he likes it. If Shiloh was a cat, he'd purr.
Becky comes out to sit beside me, and pulls her dress way up to let the cool air fan her belly.
"Shouldn't do that way, Becky," I tell her. You got to start teaching her young or she'll do like that down in Sistersville sometime, not think twice about it.
"Why?" says Becky, smartlike, and pushes her face right up against mine.
"'Cause it's not ladylike to show your underpants, is why," I tell her. I figure that's how Ma would answer.
Dara Lynn's out on the porch now, still eating a handful of cornbread crumbs, and she hears what I say to Becky. I can tell by her eyes she's up to mischief. Wipes her hands on her shorts, then sticks her thumbs down inside theelastic and starts snappin' it hard as she can snap, snap, snap the elastic on her shorts and underpants both, just to rile me.
Of course Becky laughs and then she's doing it, too, both of 'em snapping away at their underpants in a wild fit of the giggles. Girl children, are the strangest people in the world sometimes.
But then I hear the Jeep coming back. Dara Lynn hears it, too, and stops bein' crazy. Finally Becky gives up and we all watch Dad's jeep the one he delivers his mail income across the old rusty bridge again, on up the road, then turn in at our driveway.
Ma comes out on the porch, hands resting on her hips.
"Well?" she says, as Dad gets out. "What'd he say?"
Dad don't answer for a moment. Just walks over to the house and throws the beer can in our trash barrel.
"Might be a good idea if the kids didn't play up in the woods for a while," he says.
Ma stares after him as he goes inside.
Text copyright © 1996 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
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