Not Set In Stone
Lud, skinny but stalwart, watched his eldest son, Gilbreth, as they trudged over flat grassland.
Though small for his age, Gilbreth’s heavy frame gave him a robust appearance. His little brother, Ham, bumped into him and fell backward, sprawling flat on the green expanse. Gilbreth stared at his brother and smiled. He plucked the little boy out of the grass, easily swung him onto his hip, and continued his march. “Ham, look where you’re going. This is the third time you have run into me.”
As his little brother’s dark eyes filled with tears, Gilbreth’s voice softened. “I can’t be picking you up all the time. We have to travel far today.” By the last word, Gilbreth’s tone had lifted to a gentle croon.
Lud stifled a laugh. He dared not look at his wife.
Dinah clasped a hand over her mouth while a grin peeked out from her eyes. She carried her baby, Deli, in a sling wrapped over her shoulder.
Lud wrapped his arm around his son. “You’ll make a good father someday.”
Gilbreth rolled his eyes. “More than that, I hope! The new boys will think I am a nursemaid.” He met his father’s gaze. “Please, keep Ham and Deli away from me when we arrive.”
Lud grinned. “You think I’d be so cruel? When the others see what a good-natured boy you are, the whole community will speak of it. They’ll say, ‘Gilbreth is a boy to be trusted!’” Lud pointed from Ham to Deli. “Besides” —he cringed in mock fear— “what would they do to me if I kept you away?”
Gilbreth pursed his lips, set Ham on his feet, and readjusted the bag slung over his back. “You can at least tell me why we’re leaving. Did we do something wrong?”
Lud glanced at his wife, the dull thud of reality dragged his soaring spirit back to earth.
With an understanding nod, Dinah strode ahead. A sack strapped across her back bounced with each step. Deli swayed on her hip, and she gripped Ham’s small hand.
Lud cleared his throat and clasped his staff tighter. “My father thinks I’m soft in the head because I’m so friendly with everyone. I told him that we want to see the world, but that’s not the whole reason we’re leaving.” He peered into the distance. “My people won’t last much longer. They’ve refused visitors, and they view every new idea with suspicion. They cloud their minds with doubt and fear. Even their blood grows weak because they allow no new members to replenish the spring. They’re dying.” Lud sucked in a deep breath and hurried his pace.
Gilbreth frowned, gazing at his feet as he kept pace with his father.
“That’s why your mother and I decided to leave—so we could join with a different clan. They’re kind, like to travel, and they’re willing to learn about the world. Despite her upbringing, your mother has an adventurous heart. Look at her. Does she seem in the least bit afraid?” A warm burst of joy spread over Lud as he stared at the woman marching before him. “With each step, she soars—an eagle on an updraft—like an old friend I once knew.”
Gilbreth bit his lip. “But will I never see my grandparents or the rest of my family again?”
Lud glanced away and picked up his pace. “I can’t say. The future is not set in stone.”
Gilbreth glanced from his mother to his siblings, grief entering his eyes.
Lud pressed his son’s shoulder gently. “It is hard, but we must grow into a new life or die in stagnant waters. I’d not have you endure such a fate.” Hurrying forward, Lud caught up to Dinah and grinned in her direction.
Dinah smiled back.
As Gilbreth ran ahead, Lud watched him. “You’ll enjoy meeting Eoban. He came to visit just as your mother and I made our decision. I never saw a man so well pleased.”
When Ham tripped and squalled, Lud scooped the little boy into a comforting embrace.
With a harrumph, Gilbreth lifted his arms like a bird with wings slicing through the air. His bag bounced across his back.
Lud murmured under his breath, “Nothing is set in stone.”
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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11
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