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He ran and ran from his father who was chasing him through the cornstalks.
“You hear me, boy? You best get back here, now!”
Nothing was going through his mind. The fear was too big for there to be any thoughts. He could only focus on the panic fueled action of running from what was sure to be the beating of a lifetime, far worse than the bruises and black eye a month ago.
“You done it now, boy! You better hope I never catch you!”
He emerged from the rows of corn only seconds ahead of his father and dove to the ground in front of a small padlocked door in the side of a shed. It had been locked for as long as he could remember, but he had taken the key from a drawer in his father’s dresser, hoping they were a match.
Pulling the key from the front pocket of his overalls, he fumbled with the lock. To his relief, the key twisted with a click, releasing the lock just as his father emerged from the corn field behind him.
He threw the lock off, flung open the little door, and crawled in, but his dad pounced on his right foot.
“You’re dead, boy! Dead!”
Kicking and screaming, he landed his left heel squarely onto his father’s nose. His father jumped, banging his head against the wooden top of the opening.
As he crawled away, he could hear his father moaning, and he felt a pang of guilt.
After a few minutes of crawling deeper into the ground, he came to a small room where a mouse with glasses sat at a tiny desk. The room was lit by the mouse’s oil lamp, and by its light he scribbled away at a stack of papers.
“Oh, hello, uh… Ah, young Master Heglin! Right this way, please.”
The mouse began leading him toward another small door, just big enough for a boy his size to fit through.
“Where are we going?”
“Why, to meet your new father, of course!”
“No! I don’t want a new father!”
The mouse stopped and slowly turned back around. He took Heglin by the hand and looked at him with kind, gentle eyes.
“My dear boy, this father loves you.”
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