In the original novel, “The Yearling,” Ms. Rawlings suggested a number of possible exciting plot twists that she then declined to pursue. I couldn’t resist writing them myself. Here is one such possibility.


Jody had been planning to do this ever since the fight in Volusia. He would sneak over to Forresters’ Island in the middle of the night, and call to his friend Fodder-wing from the bushes. The other boy would come to the window, and they would have their secret meeting.

Jody’s eyes were bright with anticipation as he slipped soundlessly into the clearing. The cabin was silent; the Forresters had to be all asleep. Jody worked his way stealthily around to Fodder-wing’s window, and leaned into the bushes in front of it with only a slight rustle.

“Fodder-wing!” Jody called in a hoarse whisper. “Fodder-wing, hit’s me.”

“Jody!” came the whispered response. Fodder-wing appeared in the window; his face shone with joy at the sight of his only friend. “Jody, I’m so glad you’re all right! I was turrible fretted. Lem shouldn’ta been hittin’ you. They told me you was still out cold when they left Volusia. Oh, Jody!”

Jody’s heart warmed with pleasure at his friend’s concern. “I was out for hours, but I’m fine now. So, you ain’t riled at me for gittin’ into it?”

“Course not! I could never be riled at you, Jody. What about your friend, Oliver; is he all right?”

“Well,” Jody hesitated. “No. But I reckon he will be agin, in time. But hit’ll likely take a long time. They hurted him awful bad.”

A sinister laugh sounded behind Jody. He spun around from the window. Lem, Buck, and Mill-wheel were right behind him.

Both boys shrieked. Fodder-wing grabbed Jody and tugged at him urgently. Git in here!”

Desperate in his desire to escape the three somehow, Jody cooperatively attempted to vault over the windowsill, toward Fodder-wing. In his haste, he stumbled, his feet tangling in the bushes, and he instead impaled himself on the sill, hanging half in and half out of the window.

The three men behind him roared with laughter.

“Well now, that presents a nice target,” Lem observed.

Just as Jody was deciding to deliberately fall in the window head first, he saw a sight that rendered the entire project futile. Gabby, Arch, and Pack were in the room, behind Fodder-wing. Jody hung suspended, staring.

Lem chided, “Well, make up your mind, boy, in or out.”

“Don’t seem like hit make too much diff’rence,” Jody replied in defeat. He eased himself back onto the outside ground.

Fodder-wing turned, saw the other three in his room, and gave a little gasp.

Jody leaned his head on the windowsill and waited for them to decide what to do with him. He had certainly known that this was a possibility. Even as he’d conceived the notion of this visit, while still lying in the guest bedroom of the Hutto house right after the fight, he had speculated that perhaps the boys would get caught, and that Lem would whip them both to death. He had decided then that that would teach Oliver a lesson, and make him sorry that he’d abandoned his visit with the Baxters, to go fight the Forresters over a girl. Now that he was facing the very real possibility, though, Jody felt a bit less noble about sacrificing himself, and maybe even this friend, in order to punish another.

“So, we done a good job on Oliver. Glad to hear it,” Lem remarked conversationally.

Jody made no reply.

“We shoulda done better on you, though. Messed you up good, ‘stead o’ jest knockin’ you out. Mebbe we’ll do it now.”

“No!” Fodder-wing raged. “You ain’t gonna hurt my friend. Lem, I’m warnin’ you!”

You warnin me? That’s a good un! Mebbe I need to warn you a leetle….” He moved forward a step.

“Wait, Lem.” Buck intervened. “You ain’t gonna hurt Fodder-wing. Do what you want with Jody, and we’ll he’p, but not our boy.”

“All right,” Lem agreed.

“No!!” Fodder-wing insisted. “Buck, I’ll fight! I mean it! I’ll fight you iffen you touch Jody!”

“You gotta be kiddin’,” Arch spoke from behind him. “You ain’t never yit got into one of our fights.”

“You allus been scairt of it,” Pack reminded him.

“I don’t keer!” Fodder-wing fumed. “I ain’t gonna leave you hurt my friend! You’ll hafta hurt me, too!”

“If necessary.” Lem stepped forward.

“No!!!” Buck and Mill-wheel yelled in concert.

“We’ll not let you, Lem,” Mill-wheel warned.

“Fine,” Lem announced testily. “Then, one o’ you in there grab Fodder-wing and hold him, so’s he cain’t interfere whilst we’re beatin’ on Jody.”

Jody watched fearfully as Gabby seized Fodder-wing and dragged him back from the window.

Fodder-wing kicked and yelled, “Ma!!!” at the top of his lungs.

Gabby swore as Fodder-wing’s foot connected with his shin, and there was a brief skirmish as Arch and Pack bent to restrain the child’s legs.

“Ouch!!” Fodder-wing shrieked. “You’re hurtin’ me! Buck, Mill-wheel, he’p me! It hurts!!!”

Buck and Mill-wheel bellowed, shoved Jody roughly aside, and charged in through the window. Buck struck Arch, and Mill-wheel slugged Pack. Then, they both turned to pound Gabby.

“Now wait a minute!” Lem shouted, and climbed in after them to help Gabby.

Mrs. Forrester ran in the doorway behind the tumult. “What the hell…!”

Jody gaped at them through the window. His eyes frantically searched for his injured friend amid the scuffle. He couldn’t see him….

Fodder-wing appeared abruptly at the window.

“Fodder-wing!” Jody cried. “How bad do it hurt?!”

His friend grinned at him. “I ain’t hurted, Jody; I was foolin’ ‘em. Git outen here whilst you kin.”

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