The small black cat stood its ground against Harlan, hissing and spitting as he drew near.
He tried once more, "Hey, kit. Hey, kit." he murmured soothingly, holding out his hand. The cat yowled and swiped at him. Harlan snatched his hand away. Not fast enough, he thought looking at the drops of blood welling up from fresh scratches. Sucking his teeth at the pain, he looked around, taking in the scene. The cat had stalked back to its owner, who lay on the ground next to a yellow cart. He was tossing and turning, obviously ill. A cloak had been draped over him at one point, but now it was bunched around his feet. A bay gelding ignored everyone, scraped at the ground with a hoof, and pulled at the thin grass.
He looked at the cat again. "All right." he said, "I can see ya ain't goin' t' let me come close, I'll get Misst' Addy. She'll change yer mind." Turning his back on the scene, he started walking back down the road.
Adelaide concentrated, stretching her magic down. Just a little more, she thought. Find the heat… She could feel the increase in the pressure, but knew she still wasn't close enough. Taking a deep breath, she doubled her efforts. Just a little farther…
Something dropped with a loud clatter behind her.
"Sorry." Terrance said.
Cracking one eye, she gave her husband a dirty look as he picked up his tools from the stone path and continued to his forge. Adelaide sighed and gathered her magic back. It isn't that far away, I should be able to check on it from here. I don't want to sit out there. It's so cold, even in the summer it's cold. Maybe if I... Her cheek prickled. She frowned, recognizing the feel of the spell on the gate. Extending a tendril of power, she felt a familiar heavy tread walking up to her door. "Harlan." she announced to no one.
Hopping down, she landed with a groan, bent over and brushed off her breeches. Hah, she thought, I used to sit for hours on the rocks and still be able to run with the children afterwards. Shaking the pins and needles out of her legs, she started walking to the house. Mother bless, I'm getting old. She reached the door just as he knocked.
"Heya, Harlan." she said, opening it.
He looked down at her in surprise. "How did ya know it was me?" he asked.
"I have my ways. What do ya need?"
"I found someone. Out by Old Mine Road, looks like he's sick, but his cat won't let me near." He held out his hand as proof.
She took the hand and examined it, turning it to the light. The scratches were shallow and had already stopped bleeding. "Doesn't look bad. Wash yer hands, if it gets infected come back and I'll give ya somethin'." She released his hand. "What kind of cat?" she asked. "A wild one?"
"No, Misst', jus' a reg'lar cat. It's black."
The kitchen door behind her opened and she turned to see Terrance coming towards her with her bag in his hand. "Fixed the latch for ya." he said quietly. His fingers briefly caressed hers as she took the bag. He nodded to Harlan, and Harlan nodded back.
"Thanks, love." she said. She turned back to Harlan. "All right, let's go see it." She marched down the steps and followed him to his wagon.