The next night, the first night of the monthly town party, during the three days of the full moon, she was there with six kids we had never met before.
They were keeping to themselves, and appeared to be looking to our new friend for guidance, even though she wasn’t the oldest among them. Of the seven children only she had on shoes, and they still weren’t tied. She had stuck the laces in the sides to avoid tripping on them.
There were two older kids in the group, a male and a female. They were spending their time trying to dance like the people by the band stand, and inching closer to the dancing town folk.
I was doing as most kids did, and still do, running around snacking on everything in sight, and sneaking drinks out of unattended cups.
Back then having outsiders in town, much less at a town function, was practically unheard of. Jed knew it wouldn’t be long until the strangers were noticed, so he did his best to keep an eye on the group.
However, poor Jed was being asked to dance by just about every available woman between the ages of fifteen and twenty seven. It was about half way through the night before he managed to get a break an order to check on me. When he found me I jokingly asked him, “Having fun yet?”
Jed rolled his eyes and replied, “I’ll have more fun next month when it’s my turn to slip out of town to handle some business, and Warrick’s turn to be the center of attention.” After a moment’s pause he added halfheartedly, “Maybe I should just pick one to marry so I can end this torture.”
I laughed and grinned mischievously. “Maybe they’ll change the laws so you can marry two women, such there is such a shortage of men.” I teased.
Jed put me in a headlock and rubbed my head vigorously while threatening, “You just keep that up young man, you’re not too far from being an available bachelor yourself.”
I squirmed until I broke free. “I’ll run away from this town before I let any of them snatch me up and make a husband out of me!” I declared.
(The crowd listening to the story chuckles, knowing this is not the case since I have a Grandson, and am obviously still here.) I smile knowingly and continue:
Jed laughed for a moment, and then lowered his voice to inform me, “Our clothes weren’t the only ones messed with yesterday, but all the other clothes were taken by wolves.”
“Why would wolves want clothes?” I asked excitedly.
Jed glanced in the direction of the girl wearing my clothes and replied, “That’s what everyone is wondering.”
Just about then a boy I knew, named Tom, pointed at one of the boys in the group and yelled, “That’s my shirt! A wolf stole it off our line yesterday, and I want it back!”
Jed was quick to intercede. He was at Tom’s side practically before he finished yelling. A few others responded as well, but it was mostly kids. The girl wearing my clothes stepped between Tom and the boy he was yelling at. She exclaimed, “We didn’t know, I found it in the woods, and thought it looked nice on my friend, so I gave it to him.”
“Now you can give it back!” Tom scowled.
“Now Tom, we can’t expect the boy to go naked.” Jed stated, “He can bring it back tomorrow.”
Tom screamed, “No, I was planning to wear that shirt tonight, until that no good wolf ran off with it.”
The boy wearing Tom’s shirt started towards Tom, but the girl wearing my clothes stopped him.
I don’t know what would have happened had more kids gotten the chance to realize their clothes were also on the strangers, but lucky for the young ones the two older ones had migrated all the way into the center of the dancing, and were having trouble of their own.
Tom’s cousin Stan asked to cut in on the older kid’s dance. The male refused to let him, and Stan chided him for being greedy. A fifteen year old girl named Emily offered to dance with the boy while Stan danced with the girl, but this only succeeded in making the strange girl offended as well.
Stan was crazy enough to push the strange boy, and he responded instantly by jumping onto Stan, and tackling him to the ground. Emily screamed, and the whole town square turned to chaos in seconds.
The girl wearing my clothes took advantage of the situation and sent the four young friends running for the woods. She however stuck around and worked her way through the crowd, just shortly behind Jed.
At some point she must have ran into the older girl and sent her on her way as well, because when the Mayor and the Deputy pulled Stan and the older boy apart: the girl wearing my clothes was the only one left from their group besides him.
The Mayor asked Stan, “What seems to be the problem?”
“He wouldn’t let me dance with his girl.” Stan replied.
The Mayor laughed and exclaimed, “There aren’t enough girls here for you to dance with?”
Stan took a look around the crowd as every woman took a stern stance of one sort or another and stared at him with dagger eyes. Then he carefully replied, “She’s new and I thought I could teach her a few of our local dances; that’s all.”
Jed walked up to Stan and put his hand on the slightly younger man’s back. Then with a smile on his face he pretended to whisper, “When there’s more than enough fish in your little pond, you don’t go messin’ around with another man’s catch.”
“I just wanted a dance.” Stan stated sullenly.
“Then have one with another lady.” The deputy instructed as he pushed Emily into Stan’s arms and signaled for the band to start playing again.
The town took the cue and either returned to dancing or left the dance floor.
At some point while all the attention was on Stan the girl wearing my clothes and her older male friend had slipped away. Before the night was over the strangers were practically forgotten, except by Tom, who still wanted his shirt back, and Stan who would be sore and bruised for almost a week. Then of course there was Jed and I who knew more than the others, but still had many questions about who the strangers were.