Best Buddies

The Tinkler boy, Jake Ralston, Via’s grubby little friend, and Aletheia, her daughter, were best buddies, no one could remember them being anything other.
By the time she was five years old, Aletheia would go on long nature walks with Rachael, often staying on in the Tinkler village to play with Jake and the other children afterwards, and in turn, Jake became a very frequent visitor at Hazelbank Farm.
The two pals roamed the neighbourhoods for miles, and knew every inch of them. Their loud and lively ramblings were well known to the valley folk, but as they never created mayhem among the crops and animals, they were welcomed wherever they turned up. Hours were spent watching the critters in the hedgerows, birds flying or busy at their nests, and they’d creep along under the banks of the deep pools on Hazel Creek to find where the biggest fish were resting. The tallest trees, the really big ones, were regularly climbed, and if they got a glimpse of the ocean, then they’d be inspired to make the long trip down the cliff paths to the pebbly beaches far below.
Engine Welland frequently took them far away, to Right Downaways and the Tinkler logging camp in the forest, or they’d go outaways to Cresthaven and spend the time between train trips looking in shop windows and stuffing their mouths with finger-burning fresh fish and chips, wrapped in brown paper.
Of course Jake had many chores to do that came before play, but when he carried messages or did small errands for the Old Ones, that took him round and about and there was no reason Aletheia couldn’t go too. He was given these jobs; though a young boy, because he did them properly, and because the Tinklers believed their children should learn early to act and think for themselves.
How much more fun to have a friend to keep you company when you were doing it, sometimes walking, other times riding their bikes or the frisky little hill ponies.
Via and Mario saw no harm in Jake’s close friendship with Aletheia. They were young children after all, and as parents they were privately glad their tomboy daughter had someone with her when she’d set off roaming without saying a word to anyone. She was so frequently among the Tinkler families down at Hazel Creek, that it was no wonder they thought of her as one of their own.

taken from B’Hemoth: Prequel to the Gatherers Trilogy

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