|Shiloh is a Newbery Medal-winning children's novel by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor published in 1991.|
Our story today is adapted from a book for young people, called Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Ms Naylor won the Newbery Award for Shiloh. It is the highest honor for a writer of children's books in the United States. Here is Shep O'Neal with the story.
My name is Marty Preston. I'm eleven years old and I live with my parents and two sisters. We live in a little four-room house high-up in the hills above Frendly, West Virginia.
It's Sunday and we are having us a big Sunday dinner. My sister Dara Lynn is dipping bread in her glass of cold tea the way she likes. My other sister Becky pushes her beans up over the edge of her plate in her rush to get them down. Ma gives her a scolding look. "Just once in my life," Ma says, "I'd like to see a bite of food go direct from the dish into somebody's mouth without a detour of any kind."
The best thing about Sundays is we eat our big meal at noon. Once you get your belly full, you can walk all over West Virginia before you're hungry again. On this afternoon, I was walking on the road next to the river when I see a short-haired dog, white, with brown and black spots. He's not making any kind of noise, just slinking alone with his head down. A beagle, may be a year or two old. I name him Shiloh. "But that's Judd Travers' beagle," says Dad, "he got himself another hunting dog. We'll drive him over to Judd's."
Dad opens the door of the jeep and Shiloh leaps onto my lap. When Dad crosses the bridge I can feel Shiloh's body begin to shake. He's trembling all over. When we get to Judd's place, Shiloh jumps onto the ground. The dog connects with Judd's right foot. Shiloh makes a crying sound and runs behind the trailer, tail tugged down, belly to the ground. "Please don't kick him like that," I say. All the way home I can't speak a word, trying to hold the tears back. I want Shiloh, because he needs me, needs me bad.
A few days later, I hear the noise, I know he's Shiloh. Soon as I see him outside my house again, I know I'm not gonna take him back. Not now, not ever. But for now I've got to keep Shiloh a secret.
Up the hill and back of our house, I make a pen for the dog with some old wood. I manage to take a piece of potato and some corn bread up to Shiloh before it gets dark. I tell him he's my dog now and I'm not gonna let anybody hurt him again, ever. I pray to Jesus trying to figure out what to do. "Jesus," I whisper, "which you want me to do, be one hundred percent honest and carry that dog back to Judd so that one of your creatures can be kicked and starved all over again or keep him here and fatten him up to glorify your creation?"
The problem's more mixed up than that though. I'm lying to my folks. I'm not eating the meat I've put away after supper. Every bit of food saved is money saved that I could go to buy Dara Lynn a new pair of shoes. Then Ma won't have to cut open the tops of Dara's old shoes to give her toes more room. But the way I figure, if it's food from my own plate, I wouldn't eat myself but give to Shiloh instead. What's the harm in there? A lie don't seem like a lie any more when it's meant to save a dog and right and wrong's all mixed up in my head.
One day I sneak up the hill to see Shiloh. His pen is still a secret. I'm lying there, patting his head and he's got this happy dog smile on his face. Nobody else loves he as much as a dog except your mum maybe. I figure I'm about as happy right then as you can get in your whole life. That night I hear Shiloh making a noise upon the hill in his pen. I hear a loud yell and a snarl and a growl. And it's the worst kind of noise you can think of a dog being hurt. By the time I reach the pen, I see this big German shepherd dog with Shiloh on the ground. There are footsteps behind me and I'm bent over in the light of Dad's flashlight, crying.
We take Shiloh to Doc Murphy in Dad's jeep. Hardest thing in the world is to leave Shiloh there! Second hardest thing is to climb back in the jeep with dad afterward. Dad studies me. "You can keep that dog until he's well, that's all," Dad says, "then we'll take him back to Judd."
Shiloh's getting well at our house. When Judd comes by in his truck, "Somebody goes to the Doc the other day and sees a beagle lying out on his back porch," says Judd. "So I ride over to Doc's this evening, and he tells me it was you who brought him in." Judd stares down at Shiloh at his bandage and the shaved place where he's all stitched up and the rip on his ear. "Look what you've done to my dog!" he yells at me as big in angry, " I want him back by Sunday!"
On Friday I'm on my way to talk to Judd, when I see a deer. Then I hear the sound of a rifle, Crack! The deer goes down. I can't move. One part of me wants to go to the deer; the other part knows that somebody is out here with a rifle shooting deer at a season when it's not legal. And before I can decide whether to go on or turn back, out of the woods on the other side steps Judd Travers, rifle in hand. When he looks up, I'm right beside him. "Deer ain't in season," I say, "There is a 200-dollar fine for killing a doe." "Not unless the game warden finds out," Judd says, "and who's gonna tell him? I'll tell him that the deer was eating my garden." All at once I realize I've got Judd Travers right where I want him. "I'll tell him different," I say. "Come off it, Marty." Judd says, "I'll give you half the meat." "I don't want the meat," I say, "I want Shiloh." "And you're saying if I let you keep my hunting dog, you're gonna keep this deer a secret?" Judd ask. "Yes, I will." I say. "Well, you gotta do more than that, boy. Because I've paid 35 dollars for that dog, and I want 40 to let him go." Judd says, "And I want it now. You work for me and pay it off. I'll pay you two dollars an hour and that comes to 20 hours." "I'll do it," I say.
The closer I get the home, the bigger the grin on my face. I slide into my chair and almost have to put my cheeks in to keep the smile from going all the way round the head. " Went to see Judd Travers," I say, "and I'm buying his dog." Ma turns to Dad, "You know," she says, "I think it's because Shiloh was hurt, Judd figured he got rid of a lame dog." And at last, Dad begins to smile. "Now we got to worry about is how we can afford to feed him as well as ourselves," he says, "but there is food for the body and food for the spirit. And Shiloh show(s) enough feeds on spirit"
Monday afternoon at three o'clock, I'm waiting on Judd's porch, when he pulls up in his truck. "You see that corn?" he asks, "I want the dirt chopped up so fine I can sift it through my fingers." I see what he's getting at. He's going to make it so there is no way I can please him.
Monday of the second week, it seems like Judd likes to break my back or my spirit or both. This time he's got me splitting wood. To tell the truth, I think Ma's right. Judd would have sold Shiloh to me by and by, because the dog has a hurt leg and don't walk right. Judd's the kind that don't like that in a dog, same as he don't want a scratch on his pick-up truck, his truck's got to be perfect to make up for all the ways Judd's knocked.
The last day I work for Judd he keeps bothering me, making me do my work over. I start off for home not feeling too good in my chest. "Just a minute," says Judd. He goes back inside and comes out with a dog's collar. "Might be a little big, but he'll growing into it. You got yourself a dog." he says, goes back in sudden, don't even look back.
I get home that evening and Ma's baked a chocolate cake to celebrate. I'm thinking how nothing is as simple as you guess. Not right or wrong, not Judd Travers, not even me or this dog I got here. But the good part is I save Shiloh and open my eyes on. Not any bad for eleven years old.
You have just heard the American Story Shiloh. Your story teller was Shep O'Neal. This story was adapted for Special English by Carron Leggett from the book written and copyrighted by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. The book was published by Simon & Schuster in 1992. All rights reserved. Ms Naylor wrote two more books about Marty and his dog Shiloh, Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh. Listen again next week at this time for another American Story told in Special English on the Voice of America. I'm Faith Lapidus.