He had first discovered her as darkness broke in one of the fields he tended after. She was curled up in the rough trough of a row and tucked against the late summer cornstalks. In the morning light, her pale and delicate features gave her the appearance of a ghost and he was not sure she even existed – except in his mind’s eye.
When he tried to ask where she had come from, she would only shake her head and say that she had walked so long that she had no memory at all. No mother, no father nor any other family member. She had no recollection of a home. Just the ceaseless walking along the Oklahoma backroads, hiding and stealing to survive.
He had seen the bitterness and sorrow that bent his own mother and in that moment, he decided to keep her for himself. He would protect her from the world and tell no one about what he had found in the dusty cornfield that morning.
He gathered himself together and crouched down among the stalks with her. With quiet confidence, he began to lay out his plan to her. She listened carefully, studying the broken earth around her feet. Something in his voice touched her gently and wrapped itself around her. He persuaded her to stay. He would feed her. He would shelter her.
Every day after that first day, he would come to the field. He would give her a portion of his own meal and then he would set about working on building a home for her.