by: Sarah Stodola
“Good morning,” Roseanne greeted her young niece as she came into the living room. “Nice to see you already up, we can have breakfast together.”
Daisy looked up from her book and shrugged. Roseanne was pleased to see that she was in a dress. Of course, she had been there for almost a week now, it was Saturday and she’d arrived on Monday. Of course the child was becoming more ladylike. “I’m used to getting up early. On the farm, we had to get up to milk and collect the eggs, then have breakfast too before we went to school.”
She sighed. “Please, Daisy, must you speak of that farm in nearly every sentence?”
“Why not?” The dark blue eyes flashed in defiance. “It’s my home.”
“No, it is not.” Roseanne sat down beside the girl on the couch. “Actually, it would be best if you just forget all about it.”
“Well, I plan on keeping you here for the rest of your childhood. You see, I’d like to adopt you.” She smiled. Surely the child would understand that she was trying to do what was best for her. “Then, when you’re older, you can go off to a wonderful school, where you will truly belong!”
“But…” She was surprised to see tears shimmer in the girl’s eyes, “I… I already have somewhere that I belong.”
“Yes. You belong here.”
“No!” Daisy suddenly jumped up, stepping back. She tossed her head. “I belong at the farm!”
“No, you don’t,” Roseanne told her icily. “Daisy Mae, I don’t know what has gotten into you! This has been your home all your life, you have always been a sweet, obedient little girl. Then you go away for two months and come back a little troublemaker!”
“I ain’t a troublemaker!” Her aunt’s eyes narrowed at the deliberate jab of bad grammar. “I just wanna go back to live with my uncle and cousins. I wanna go back to Hazzard!”
“You will do as I say, young lady.” Roseanne stood, angry now. “Go to your room. And for your continued sass and mouthing off, your reward will be not only no lunch, but you are to have no further contact with your cousins. Do you understand me? No phone calls, no visits, no anything. Now go!”
Daisy stood still for a moment, then spun and ran out the door and up the stairs. Roseanne sighed, massaging her temples. Why couldn’t the child understand? And what could have changed her so much in so little time? Did Jesse Duke keep no rules or respect? No order among his children?
Those farm people! She had disapproved greatly when her sister had married one of them, a Henry Duke. They had almost changed her entirely! Then Henry had died, and Marian had come back to live at the family manor with her little girl Daisy Mae. The girl had always been the most ladylike of children, hardly getting into trouble of any kind, never in the way, striving to do her best at everything she tried. What could have made that beautiful young lady into such a… a tomboy?
There was really only one cure, and that was for Daisy to stay here, become involved in the manor parties, associate with the other people of her rank. Yes, that was it! Roseanne brightened. Steep her in propriety, and she would imitate those around her, just as she apparently had done in Hazzard County. So tomorrow, Daisy would start school, just as if she’d never left. Roseanne went to the phone, to contact the child’s old tutor.
Daisy tiptoed down the hall, and peered inside her aunt’s bedroom. Her eyes fell on the telephone, and she licked dry lips nervously, glancing around. If she got caught, she’d be in even more trouble with her Aunt Roseanne.
But then again, she hadn’t talked to her cousins in almost a week! And if she was adopted, then she’d never get back to Hazzard! So… the risk was worth it.
Daisy slipped through the half-open door silently, and shut it behind her, leaving a small crack so that the door wouldn’t click. She crossed the room to the bed stand where the old-fashioned telephone rested. She looked around again, feeling guilty, then swallowed and picked up the receiver. Crossing her fingers, she dialed a number from memory.
Bo and Luke were washing the breakfast dishes when the telephone rang. The boys put down what they were doing and leaped for the phone, fighting as to who would get their hand there first. Luke snatched it up, and Bo scowled, crossing his arms and leaning back against the counter.
“Duke farm,” Luke spoke into the receiver, then his eyes widened. “Daisy!”
Bo jumped up and leaned close to his cousin, trying to hear through the receiver. Luke held the phone away from his ear, and the boys put their heads close together so they could both hear.
“Guys?” came their cousin’s voice through the receiver. She sounded nervous, almost whispering into the line. Bo had to strain to understand what she was saying. “Guys, I need help.”
“What?” Luke asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Aunt Roseanne wants to adopt me! Luke, Bo, I’ll never see you again!” Her voice was still quiet, but rising in urgency. “She doesn’t want me to have anything to do with you. I’m not even supposed to be on this phone!”
“Okay, okay, hold on a sec,” Luke told her, his worried eyes meeting Bo’s. “Daisy, listen. Uncle Jesse’s down in town again, trying to see what he can do to get you back.”
“No time!” Her voice was panicky now. “She’s gonna get the papers signed tomorrow! She has too much power, Luke! Uncle Jesse will never win a lawsuit! You’d lose the farm!”
Bo bit his lip. A crazy plan was forming in his mind. Luke was usually the one to come up with ideas, but this time… and it just might work. “I got an idea.”
“What?” Luke frowned when Bo gestured to the phone. “Wait a sec, Daisy, Bo wants to talk to you.”
“Well, hurry up! I don’t know how much time I have before Aunt Roseanne comes upstairs to check on me! I’m supposed to be in my room!”
“Daisy,” Bo cut her off, snatching the phone, “do you know how to get to the manor from Hazzard?”
“Sure. It’s right outside Atlanta. But what has that have to do with anything?”
“It has to do with everything.” He met his cousin’s eyes. “We’re gonna break you outta there.”
Luke’s jaw dropped, but then he nodded, slowly. “Yeah,” he whispered, then spun and ran up the stairs.
“What?!” Daisy exclaimed. “How’re you going to get here, even if I give you directions? And what if you get caught? Bo…”
“Daisy, listen,” he said stubbornly, one fist clenching. “We’re your cousins, okay? We’re gonna get you out of there before your aunt can take you away forever. I don’t wanna lose you.”
There was silence for a second.
“What… what if you get caught..?” she sounded like she was trying not to break down. “Bo, I just want to come home. That’s all I want.”
“That’s what we want too.”
“Then, how are you going to get me out of the manor? I’m on the third floor, and believe me, Bo, it’s high. I’m not going to jump out the window into the swimming pool.”
“I’m not tellin’ you to.” He thought for a second, then reached for a piece of notebook paper that was lying on the counter. “Look, just give me the address, and trust me.”
“I… I guess I’ll have to.” Her voice was worried. “But will Uncle Jesse let you come?”
“No. But we don’t have time to ask him anyway, we’re gonna have to get going if we’re going to be there by nightfall.”
“You mean you’re..! You’ll get in trouble!”
“It’s okay.” Bo shifted the phone to his other ear so he could write with his right hand. “Just tell me how to get there.”
“Welll…” she said slowly, drawing the sound out, “I guess so.” She rattled off a list of turns and road signs, and Bo copied them all, then had her repeat them so he could double-check.
“Okay.” He put the pencil down. “Daisy, just hang in there, ‘kay? We’re comin’ for you.”
“How are you going to get here? You can’t drive, and it’s way too far to walk!”
“We’ll find a way. Hey,” he tried flippantly, “we’re Dukes! We always got to find ways out of trouble.”
“…Yeah. Just be careful, you two. And hurry.” Suddenly there was silence, then her panicked voice exclaiming, “Aunt Roseanne!” The phone slammed down.
Bo held the dead receiver a few more moments before stretching to hang it back up. He bit his lip and studied the paper he’d written the directions on, then ran upstairs.
He just hoped they’d be there in time.
“You were on the phone to your cousins, weren’t you? Weren’t you?!”
Daisy flinched back under the verbal barrage.
“I thought I told you that you were not to have any contact with them!” Aunt Roseanne tightened her grip on her niece’s arm. Her eyes flashed hot anger at being disobeyed.
“I… I just wanted to talk to them,” Daisy stuttered, scared of what her aunt might do. She knew that no rule in this house was to be broken; that had always been the case.
“I said no! And you went and did it anyway!” Roseanne released her abruptly, and she stumbled back against the bed, eyes wide. “Get to your room on the double, young lady! You’re lucky I don’t whip some sense into you! Go!!”
Daisy scrambled across the wide bed and ran for the door, grabbing the doorjamb and swinging around it as she made tracks for her room.
Her aunt shouted from behind her, “And don’t come out until tomorrow morning! No dinner either, since you were so blatantly disobedient! You hear me?”
Daisy slammed her door behind her, and winced, expecting more angry shouts. Another rule was no slamming of doors allowed. But the reprimand didn’t come, and she relaxed in relief, sliding down the door to sit on the floor, head buried in her arms. She had to get out of here. How could she have never seen her aunt this way before? The woman was a tyrant! She was all sweetness and honey as long as you did all she said for you to do, but the moment you contradicted her…
Daisy shivered. “Hurry up, guys,” she whispered. “And bring a real good plan.”
Two boys ran out of the farmhouse after leaving a note to tell their uncle that they were okay, and not to look for them because they were on a very important mission. Okay, so the note had been a bit misspelled, but it had gotten the point across. After all, Bo was only in third grade, Luke thought, and he’d been the one to write it.
The boys were traveling at light as possible. Luke carried some food, sandwiches and granola bars, in his backpack, along with a shirt and pair of pants for Daisy, in case her aunt had taken away her stuff. Which was likely. Bo, being younger and smaller, had the directions and a mapbook. They weren’t taking any chances on getting lost. Bo also carried Luke’s bow and arrows. Archery was one of the things that the two boys, even at their young age, were very good at. And it just might be of some good use. Luke had an idea for rescuing their cousin, but he’d need the bow to carry it out.
The two boys ran across the yard and disappeared into the trees, using the woods skills that their uncle had taught them in order to not leave a trace of where they were going. It took them only a few minutes to make it to the road.
“Now what?” Bo puffed from behind him as they slid down the embankment and stood on the packed dirt. “How’re we going to get to Atlanta?”
“Easy.” At least Luke hoped it would be easy. “We find a truck and somehow get on.”
“I don’t think the driver will let us.”
He made a face. “No, Bo. We’ll *sneak* on. When the truck’s stopped.” He looked around. “What we need is to get ourselves a roadblock.”
Bo frowned, and looked around. Then his face lit up. “Like that one?” he pointed.
Luke turned to see what his cousin was pointing at, then grinned. A big log lay up on the side of the hill, almost ready to roll down. “Perfect! Now all we gotta do is find a truck going to Atlanta.”
“That’ll be easy. Almost every truck’s going to Atlanta.”
“Uh-huh. Then we push the log so’s it rolls down into the road, then the guy’ll have to move it.”
“And while he’s busy, we’ll jump in the back!” Bo said excitedly.
“Yeah!” He looked around. “We have to find some sort of place to look down the road… there.” He pointed to a tree. “C’mon.” He scrambled up the hill with Bo right behind him, then pointed up. “You’re still the best tree climber in Hazzard, right?”
The blond boy grinned, dropping his backpack and the bow. “Yeah. Gimme a boost.”
Luke put down his pack as well, then bent his knees so that his younger cousin could climb on his shoulders. He struggled to a standing position, making a face. “You’re growin’,” he complained.
Bo didn’t answer. He reached for a branch, then the weight was off Luke’s shoulders as the agile boy swung himself up into the tree. Luke watched as he scaled his way from branch to branch, making his way up. Then he paused near the top. “Hey, you can see for miles!” he called down.
“Nope.” Bo settled himself into the crook where the branch met the treetrunk. “Hope one comes soon.”
“Yeah, really.” Luke slid down the trunk to sit in the pine needles. “Please, God, if you listen to kids, give us a truck,” he groaned, squinting at the sky. “We gotta get Daisy out of trouble.”
It didn’t take too long for a truck to show up. Only about forty-five minutes, according to the positioning of the sun. Of course, to Luke, it felt like forever. “Here he comes!” Bo cried excitedly, pointing in the direction of town. The boy bounded down out of the tree, nearly landing on his cousin’s head. “He’s comin’! The delivery van from the Boar’s Nest!”
“Great!” Luke leaped to his feet. “We *know* that *he’s* goin’ to Atlanta!”
It was less than a minute before the van puttered its slow way around the corner. “Now!” Luke snapped out, and both boys put their whole weights into pushing on the log. It didn’t budge, and Luke wondered if it ever would, but then it came loose with such force that the two cousins fell flat on their faces, sliding a little ways down the hill.
“You okay?” Luke panted.
“Yeah. Look!” Bo pointed. The log was rolling down the hill, picking up speed, until it reached the road. Its end lodged in a ditch, and the log jerked to a sudden halt, blocking over half the road. The bulky delivery van would never be able to go around the log. It would have to stop.
And it did. The van slowed and halted with its nose almost touching the boys’ roadblock. The driver’s side door opened, and a heavyset man climbed out, grumbling so loud that the boys could hear his complaints about stupid backwoods roads’ and the men who kept them up.
While the man was pulling and tugging on the heavy tree, Bo and Luke snatched up their packs and the bow and arrows. They ran-slid down the hill in the path the log had taken, so as not to leave other marks of their passing, and down onto the hard-packed dirt road. They ran quietly to the van and Luke opened the canvas flap over the back, motioning his younger cousin in. Then he followed Bo, grinning as he vaulted up and turned to resecure the flap. They sat down side by side, taking reassurance in the dark from each other’s presence.
In a few minutes, the van started up again, and with a lurch, two young Duke boys were on their way to Atlanta.