Cole looked out of the grimy window and debated what to do. It was hard to tell when the house had been abandoned and when or if the owners would come back. Maybe, they had just left for the winter? He could imagine an old couple doing that. Being on the moors right now wasn’t good.
The sleet was turning to snow outside and night was arriving. Cole could hear the wind howling around, growing stronger like an angry beast. He could half believe that there might have been some huge creature roaming around and making all that noise. He was too tried and cold though to really care.
‘It would be our deaths to go back out there now,’ Cole spoke.
He moved away and patted the pony. Eve hadn’t moved much but that might have been because of the furniture in the way.
Cole made a large space in a corner for her. moving chairs and tables together against the other wall. There was a fireplace opposite with wood and coal still stacked beside as if the owners had been readying themselves for winter.
It was easy enough to light the fire and also more candles and lamps that were dotted around the room. Cole felt more at ease in the warm and light. He took off his clothes, left them to dry and put on another shirt and trousers from his bag.
He took a few sips of water and nibbled on the food so it was just enough to get rid of his hungry but save enough for later. Cole then give Eve a handful of oats then went into the kitchen to find something to put water in for her.
The kitchen was full of things and he found a deep bowl which he then took outside to pump water into. The back door opened easily and icy wind wrapped around him. Cole spotted the hand pump and spent sometime getting it to work At last water poured out and he was able to fill the bowl.
Cole took it back to Eve and left her drinking as he got warm again by the fire.
‘What happened to the family here?’ Cole spoke, ‘people don’t just leave everything behind. Something must have happened.’
Eve snorted and shook her mane.
‘Maybe they got sick and had to leave? Maybe the son didn’t want the farm….perhaps they had none? I hope there’s nothing bad here. I should check…’
Taking up his hunting knife again, Cole left the room and returned to the kitchen. He searched around looking for clues. There were some dried herbs which were beyond recognition, some things in jars which seemed inedible and bottles of maybe beer or wine? Cole didn’t want to risk any of that.
He found more firewood, coal, cooking tools, rusting knives, a bread oven full of soot and some other useless stuff. Cole opened other cupboards and found a few small, empty glass bottles. He took them as they might be useful. There were also more candles, a rabbit’s foot on a sliver chain, a few coins and new bar of soap which was wrapped in wax paper.
Cole took these things back and packed them away. He made sure Eve was good then he went into the last room on the ground floor. It was a snugger room and had two chairs before a fireplace and a few tables holding things.
Cole took a large woollen blanket and two cushions to help make a bed in the next room. There were a few books but there was no point in trying to sell them. People didn’t read much around here. There was also a family Bible which Cole knew would have some value. He opened the cover and looked to see if anybody had written inside it. There was nothing.
Once again, he took his finds back to the first room and showed Eve. He checked the fire and added some more wood. The room was warm and the freezing night outside couldn’t get in. It was snowing heavily now, Cole could see it when he held a lamp to the window. He watched for a few minutes that made his way upstairs.
Clutching a lamp and his knife, he was careful where he stepped. There was no point in being quiet as he and Eve would have been heard by now. At the top of the stairs, there were three half open doors.
Cole peered into each one, checking there wasn’t anything dead or alive in the rooms. After confirming this, he did a deeper look into the rooms. The first, held a double wooden bed, made up as if someone was about to sleep in it. There was more woollen blankets, which he took and more candles too. There was another book but it fell apart when Cole touched it.
He also found a few piles of clothes and looked through them, picking out a few items that seemed like they would fit him.
‘I’m not stealing,’ Cole muttered, ‘I’m taking what I need. God led me here, so it’s fine.’
In the next room were two small beds and few children’s items. Cole took a sliver rattle and an bone teething ring. In the last room, were forgotten animal skins that had been once left to dry. They were mostly sheep fleeces, deer and cow skins which as Cole touched them felt dirty and smelt mouldy.
Cole wrinkled his nose and was about to turn away when something caught his eye. It was the grey, black and white fur of a massive dire wolf skin. Cole pulled it out and was shocked to see he was holding a whole dire wolf in his hands.
He set the lamp and knife down then placed the head of the dire wolf on to his own. It was too big and slipped down. Cole pulled the front paws around him, crossing them over and felt the fur wrap around him like a cloak. The back legs and tail hung down passed the back his knees. He felt the heaviness and a sense of protection inside the fur.
‘This will keep me warm,’ Cole spoke and took the dire wolf skin.
Back down beside the fire, Cole showed Eve his find.. The pony moved away, perhaps still scenting the smell of dire wolf. Cole set the skin aside and made himself a bed for the night.
He could hear the wind picking up and the snow hitting the window. A storm was starting up and he was glad they had found shelter. Cole lay down, dozing in the heat from the fire and listening to the noises outside.
He was almost asleep when a distant animal howling jerked him awake.
To Be Continued….