The boy hung his head. “No sir. I buy them. But after I used up the hay that was in the barn I didn’t know where to buy more.”
Harry coughed to hide a chuckle. “What’s your name?”
The kid swallowed hard, like there was a lump of fear in his throat. “Felix, sir. Felix Brown.”
“Does Mr. Smith know what you’re doing?”
“He knows I’m taking care of Sam.” He looked at Harry. “I didn’t know what else to do about the hay. I’ll be glad to pay for it.”
“We’ll see about that. Meanwhile, when you get out of school this afternoon, you’ll come to my office. We’ll go pick up a load of hay for Sam and then we’ll visit Mrs. Walters.”
The boy shuffled his feet and looked at Harry with a frown. “Are you for real?”
Harry laughed and gave him a card with his office address on it. “Don’t forget.” He watched Felix sling a backpack on his back, pick up his bike and head off down the road.
It was nearly seven and farmers were used to getting up early… Harry walked over to the house and knocked on the door.
After several minutes the door was opened by a very tall, thin man. He had a fringe of snow white hair but the top of his head was bald. He also had a full white beard. He peered at Harry through thick round lenses in gold frames. “Can I help you?”
Harry introduced himself and told him about Felix and the hay.
Smith told him to come inside. “He’s been coming around for a while now. He came one day when I was feeding Sam just after I got this dang flu. And he offered to come feed him while I was sick. I guess I forgot to tell him there was hay in a little shed round back of the barn.”
“Well, he stuck to his word. I’ll take him to get some hay after school… you’ll need what’s in the shed when you start getting out and about again… and then I’ll take him to apologize to Mrs. Walker.”
Smith nodded. “Thank you, Mr. Hogan. It’s a good thing Felix was around because this flu really took the good out of me for a while. I’m much better now, but I’ll still appreciate his help.”
“No one can help getting sick, and the boy did the best he could. Stealing the hay was wrong but it was the only way he could think of to keep the horse fed.”
“I did worry about poor old Sam. He served me well over the years but he’s a bit long in the tooth now. He’s not able to work as hard as he once did, but neither am I. We suit each other and the truth is – I don’t have the heart to part with him.”
Harry nodded. “I understand, but what happens next time you get sick?”