Following after them, I took hold of what Sergeant Defenbargh called the yoke — it was made of wood and looked like a pair of horns. Like the kind a goat has, but bigger. The cart was heavy, and the wheels didn't spin the same, so that even on the basement floor it was like going over a bumpy road. Halfway up the stairs I almost let go, because of the splinters. But I didn't. I gritted my teeth and yelled, and then I almost laughed, because I was making the same sound Jenny was making, only not so loud.  I hauled the cart across the living room and kitchen.  I had to move the kitchen table out of the way, and I could barely fit it through the door. But I did. When my job was over, I sat on the rocker on the porch and watched Sergeant Defenbargh put a harness on Jenny and then hook it all together. She lifted up her head all wild and made that same awful howl. I tried to ignore it by digging out my splinters, but some of them were in there too deep.


The grass had not been cut since Sergeant Defenbargh first came home. Most of it was green now, with blue at the tips. It looked all wrong, like someone had started to make grass but then changed his mind about what it should look like, or else ran out of the paint he started with. And Sergeant Defenbargh kind of looked like that too.




It was almost dark when I heard Mom’s car pull up around front. Sergeant Defenbargh had been at it for most of the afternoon. He stood up on his cart and went around and around in a circle. Jenny looked tired. Her crying wasn't as loud anymore. I think she needed some water. She was still bleeding from the nose. Mom started towards me and then froze. Her face just stared. I wanted to run to her, but instead I stood up very slowly and carefully. I made my back straight, and put my shoulders up. I marched right over to her. I held her hand. It hurt, because of the splinters, but I didn't let go.