"She's caught tight!" Othniel called from atop the ravine.
Quinn sighed in aggravation, but Nolan stood off to the side, thoughtful.
The three brothers were sheep herders. For half an hour now they had been searching for one wayward lamb, which had wondered off into the ravine. Its wobby legs had somehow led it toward the most dangerous part of the slope, where just below the rushing river threatened to sweep it away should it fall. The rocks were more like boulders here where the small creature had succeeded in tangling itself in some reeds wedged just between two large rocks. The poor lamb bleated mildly as Othniel carefully made his way out of the ravine and back to his brothers standing safely at the edge.
"I can walk down to him, Quinn. It won't take but a second, and then we can be on our way." Othniel crossed his arms over his chest and surveyed the rocky slope, determination set on his rugged face. He was the oldest of the three and by far the most adventurous and confident. Once when he was just Nolan's age, he had slain a wolf with his bare hands.
Quinn snorted. "Yes, you would slide down to it, and be eaten by the river." The second brother, by far the most intelligent, squinted at the raging waters below. Calculating. "We need to think this through. Perhaps if you tied a rope about your waist and tied it to that tree--"
"Oh, and tell me where we'll get a rope that long!" Othniel interrupted with a barking laugh.
Quinn scowled at him and fell silent, but by the look on his face he was still forming a delicate, flawless plan.
"I can take a running start at it and avoid the rocks, alright? And then I can throw aside the boulders, scoop up the wee lamb, and there. Problem solved."
"By the steep set of the incline, you would fall to your death by running! I say we use the rope to help you down half of the way, and then you can crawl the rest of the distance. You'll need to roll the rocks aside, of course--"
"--and try not to scare the lamb into running off."
Othniel frowned, insulted. "What? You think I don't know how to handle a lamb? I've been doing this far longer than any of you can--"
"Oh! Don't start that up again!"
The two brothers had forgotten all about their youngest, and assuredly most thoughtful and quiet, brother. Nolan had been standing off to the side, ignoring his siblings' bickering. He was quite used to being forgotten, pushed to the side. But this day, he knew exactly what to do. He was surprised neither Othniel nor Quinn had already thought of it, but then again, they were too busy arguing to really look.
Photograph property of Lilies Among Thorns Magazine. Photograph taken by Vanessa.
Without a word, Nolan slipped away. Othniel and Quinn didn't even notice his leaving.
With a growl of aggravation, Othniel glanced up at the sun. "We're losing daylight, brother. I'm going down. Without that blasted rope." He scowled at the length of rope that Quinn was now holding.
"At least start from the least dangerous spot, Othniel." Quinn pointed with the rope, indicating what looked to be the least dangerous way to start the descent.
Othniel laughed again. "Least dangerous?! And where would be the fun in that?"
He turned from Quinn, his movements sure and confident as he readied himself for the run down the ravine. Cracking his knuckles dramatically, he turned to spot the lamb--and stopped. From behind Othniel, Quinn gasped as he saw it at the same time.
The lamb was no longer pinned.
It was now resting safely in Nolan's arms as the boy slowly made his way back up the rocky slope. The two brothers watched in shock as Nolan cleared the edge.
"What...How did you...?"
"You could've been hurt--"
With a smile, Nolan interrupted, "While you two were bickering about the best way to avoid sliding down the rocks, that's exactly what I did. They actually helped me get down safely, and I used them as handholds on the way up."
The light of understanding lit Quinn's face, but Othniel simply continued to frown.
Setting the lamb safely to its feet, Nolan shrugged. "Sometimes, brothers, what we see as a hindrance...can actually be used to get us out of the problem we're in. We only need to see it."
Othniel glanced at Quinn, both of them wearing expressions of complete surprise. Then smiles broke forth, and Othniel nudged Quinn in the ribs.
"I think I like this kid. He's not too bad!"