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Kolton stood on the porch of the cottage with Eliz as the day was coming to an end. They had had been pleased by the days work, and were quietly relishing the feeling of accomplishment they shared.

“And…” Kolton pointed toward the road. “...here’s Kaden and Monica. And a lot of boys and girls.”

 

Eliz looked where he pointed and shook her head. “Oh, my.”

 

Kaden led the group toward where Kolton and Eliz stood. “Hi. We’re back!”

 

Monica gestured to the crowd. “We went as far as Bandy, then started back this way through Handsome, Grapevine, Oakdell, Forestgate, and Mansta. As we came north, they joined us.”

 

“Wow.” Kolton stepped off the porch and began greeting them as others from Refusers Farm came out to see what was going on.

 

The boys and girls from Bandy were the most frail looking, as a group, and Kolton learned quickly that they had seen a lot of harshness. Cleo, thirteen, was the youngest, and with him were, aged fourteen, Sandi and Corbin as well as David, who was sixteen. Erin had joined the group as they passed through Handsome, and was, at fifteen, a budding baker and cook. From Grapevine, where a large group of soldiers were gathering and going through drills on a daily basis, the Refusers added Clare, Will, and Roger, all fifteen years old, and Neval who was sixteen. Finias, age fourteen and Jaden, age seventeen joined the group as they passed through Oakdell. Jaden had been working for a potter for two years. As they passed through Forestgate they had been joined by Slanns, who was fourteen and Doranil, who was fifteen. From Mansta, they had been joined by Jerem, who was fifteen and had been working as a farm hand and by Thereta, who was sixteen and was working as an inn maid.

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Copyright 2018, 2019, 2020  —  Bill Snodgrass