–Excerpt from Into Thin Air

Opening of Chapter One

Harriet Bailey smiled at the sight of the young lad sitting in the waiting room of her veterinary surgery Friday morningwith a docile hen roosting contentedly on his lap. “C’mon in, Allen. How is Rosie doing?”

The boy sprang to his feet. “Right fine, Miss Harriet. She’s mighty grateful for us saving her. She’s laid a double yolk egg every day since.”

Laughing, Harriet lifted the hen out of the boy’s arms, being careful of its splinted leg. “Wow, that’s high praise.”

The boy grabbed an egg carton from the seat beside the one he’d vacated then followed Harriet to an exam room.“I brought you a bunch. Not all Rosie’s, since I wanted to give you a full dozen, but some of hers are in here.”

“Thank you so much. I appreciate that.”

Rosie pecked at Harriet’s dangling ponytail.

Harriet quickly deposited the inquisitive hen on the examination table then flicked her ponytail over her shoulder and tucked the stray tendrils of dark brown hair behind her ears. “She certainly seems spry enough.”

“She is. The other hens wanted to peck at her splint, so I’ve kept her penned away from them, close to the house. And I visit with her every day.”

“I’m sure she loves all the attention.” Chickens didn’t always appreciate the ministrations of rambunctious young boys, but Harriet had witnessed Allen’s extraordinary care and been impressed. She removed the splint from the bird’s leg and examined it carefully.

Allen had raced over on his sister’s bicycle a few weeks ago with the hen cradled in the basket attached to the bike’s handlebars. “I need to see the new lady vet,” he’d blurted to Polly Thatcher at the reception desk as he’d dashed into the surgery. He said a fox had gotten into the hen’s enclosure and injured Rosie before he could chase it away. To make matters worse, Rosie was his mother’s favorite hen.

Harriet’s heart warmed at the memory of the confidence the boy had placed in her capabilities. Several of the local farmers, especially the old-timers, were still wary of the idea of a lady vet—and an American at that—taking over her beloved grandfather’s decades old veterinary practice in the heart of North Yorkshire.

Harriet stroked Rosie’s feathers. “I’m pleased with how her leg has mended. She shouldn’t have any trouble with it now.”

“I’m most grateful to you, Doc.”

“It’s been my pleasure.”

He stuffed his hands deep into his jean pockets. “What will I be owing you?”

Harriet glanced at the carton of eggs he’d set on her counter and knew exactly how her grandfather would respond.“Those farm-fresh eggs should cover it.”

“Really?” He picked up Rosie and hugged her to his chest. “Oh, thank you! My dad said she weren’t worth the coin it’d cost to mend her. But after she started laying double-yolkers, even he admitted she’s a right grand hen.”

Harriet chuckled. “I’m glad to hear it. She is indeed grand.” She opened the door for him and gave a relieved sigh at the empty waiting room. After spending half the night seeing to a sick calf, she desperately needed a coffee. As fond as she’d grown of the locals’ strong Yorkshire tea, she needed a bigger caffeine kick before facing the rest of her day.

Return to Bonus Features Page

Great to "see" you here today! I look forward to reading your comment.