The House of One's Youth
Posted on Sun Oct 29th, 2017 @ 6:43am by Adalwin Stahl
Edited on on Sat Nov 11th, 2017 @ 11:01pm
Time & Location: Early AM, Monday, 07/12/1875; Main Barn, Snowlight Basin
Tags & OOCs: Response to: For Whom the Rooster Crows
Stahl straightened his shoulders as he walked down towards the barn in the morning, soup and sleep had done away with most of the cold, though he still felt like he had not slept at all. You are getting old, soldier, and now move it, he told himself. Miss H.G., his employer and the people of the farm had been friendly enough to give him the day to recover, which he appreciated. But now he best see to Wilhelm and get his bearings before reporting to H.G. to finish their agreement.
The barn was not empty, he could hear Jess’ voice further down the building, probably tending to his horse too. Wilhelm had been stabled right beside H.G.’s team, exactly where Stahl had put him the evening before. The horse raised its head slightly, ears peeked as Stahl walked up to him. “Alles gut, euer Majestät,” (All good, your Majesty) Stahl said softly, gently patting the horse's strong neck. “Kein Grund sich gleich aufzuregen.” (No reason to get excited.)
Like so often it took some talking, some patience to make the tall beast relax and rein in its more ill-tempered nature. Carefully, Stahl took his time to check the horse. Wilhelm's legs were cool, no signs of swelling or other exhaustion. The hooves…well that was another issue. “We’ll have to get you new irons before long, Wilhelm,” Stahl said, he knew that it might look weird to talk to the horse, but he had learned that the animal responded to his voice, it had become part of their partnership. “Especially if we get further up those mountains,” He paused the work to check on two scars on the horse's left flank. The scar tissue was cool and dry, no strain. “What do you think? We can go until autumn hits and find someplace further up to work.”
The horse huffed and gave him a soft push, an almost playful move that heralded as much affection as there was from it. “I know,” Stahl chuckled, getting up. “You want out again, I have no idea where that old man found you, but you were not born in a stable, that much is obvious.”
Stahl went to get the bucket for water, if he did not leave today, he’d have to see he got that horse outside, or he’d really become ill-tempered. Spotting Jess working further down in the barn, Stahl wondered how the man was holding up. He had learned parts of the tragic story during their ride, the ‘Indian’ attack that might be many things, the death of his family, a family he had been away from for long, and now returning to find children he was responsible for and the home of his youth…changed. It had to take a toll on him, whatever crime - real or imagined - had driven him to leave, to be wanted, now standing here again could not be easy on the man’s mind.
For a moment Stahl simply watched Jess work. There were no outward signs of distress or tension. None that were easily detected, except maybe a certain fervor with which he took to his work. Carrying the bucket back to the box, he gently patted Wilhelm’s flank but keeping his eye trained on Jess. “Heimkommen ist oft schwer, Wilhelm,” (Coming home is often hard, Wilhelm), he said softly. Leaning closer to the horse, he closed his eyes, the picture of the small, picturesque marketplace of a town far far away rising before his mind’s eye. He had come through there again, briefly, on an escort errand, escorting some courier or other from Potsdam to Altenburg. They had stopped in Meuselwitz, the courier totally oblivious of Stahl’s link to the town. The Apothecary was long run by a different family, the house changed somewhat. Peering into the so familiar shop behind the tall glass window he saw a strange man stocking the shelves. The only inn at the place had not changed, but no one remembered or had recognized him. At the time it had been a blessing, none of them quite making the connection between the young man who had left and the officer now staying overnight on an errand. Only the old lady still running the bakery had eyed him strangely. “Your eyes… they remind me of Georg Stahl,” she had said, when they had been just mounting to leave, he had not replied but nudged the horse to canter off, not looking back. It had been the last time he had come close to that town.
In retrospect it had been easy for him, he had known that his siblings were not there anymore, there was nothing left for them there, except maybe for his mother’s grave. His sisters married in different places, one in greater Saxony, the other in Saxe-Weimar, both relatively happy or unhappy, respectively. His brother… the only one to whom he wrote occasional letters, living in Vienna, having left this town and all that had happened there behind him, just like Adalwin had. But… imagine having to go back, or to go to Vienna, to seek out whatever was left of Max's family…
Looking up he saw that Jess had moved on with the work, carrying on. What else could he do? There was no choice here for him, none at all. Had he spoken about it at all? Not about the duty, but about what he felt? What he thought of it all? That usually was a talk the pastor may have with the respective person… or the Doctor of the regiment did it before a man cracked up and did things he regretted later. Stahl wondered if Jess had spoken to Quentin about it, he certainly butted heads easily enough with H.G. He straightened up, seeing Wilhelm happily munching away on his food, and decided to go and see if he could assist Jess.