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Honey bees in peach trees

The noise began again. They were convinced it was coming from above their heads. Grasping a pitchfork leaning against the wall, the older son said, “You come after me up the ladder. I’ll use this fork to stick whatever is up there.”

Climbing first up the ladder, he lost his footing at the square hole area and fell back on top of his brother.
“This will never do,” he said, “we can’t just go off without trying to find out what is up there. Now, follow me again and I’ll stick whatever we find.”

This time he reached the top, got on his hands and knees on the hayloft floor with the fork held in front of him. The bumping sound started again, shaking the roof, and the chain rattled louder than ever.

Then came a sound more familiar to them — the bleating of a neighbor’s old ram, who was best known for his ability to jump fences. It had found the door in the gable end of the barn open, and had walked across a wide board that had been left in place by persons unloading hay. It jumped down into the loft.

There was a chain about three feet long lashed by a piece of rope from a fore leg to a hind leg to limit its ability to jump fences. As it leapt into the loft, the chain caused it to land on its side, catching its horns against the roof and pinning it in that position.

Recognizing them as humans who could help, the old ram welcomed them with a very loud “Baa-baa-baa.” The sons began to laugh at the scare the old ram had given them. Their thoughts returned to the little girl in critical condition. She died about midnight.

Years later, the sons asked the grandfather if he really heard bees in the peach trees the night she died. He assured them he did, as clearly as he could hear the ticking of an old fashioned clock that stood in the room with them now.

The sons wondered why an old pioneer like the grandfather would ask a question about bees under such circumstances, if he did not, in fact, hear a humming sound, and why could they, as younger men standing nearby, not hear this humming sound, if there were bees in the blossoms on the peach trees?