It was overcast in the morning and Ned’s family were to be buried in the Snook cemetery. Ned was escorted by soldiers and allowed to stand beside Lord Snookington for the proceedings. The crowd parted as military men led the boy to the designated plot, which was set apart from the other graves as a mark of respect. Many people owed their lives to Ned’s father, who had fought so valiantly against robbers and Malaxians alike.
Four gravestones were carved with their first names and the given family name of Nobody. Graves had been dug and the gravestones set in place. The whole village was there to hear respectful words. As it concluded, military trumpets played and Ned looked on as the coffins were lowered. The boy was sad but his family had treated him, at best, with indifference. It was difficult to handle on this day. Ned was aware of the staring villagers, but he focussed on the dirt being shovelled into the graves. He lowered his head and took a moment to pay his respects.
Even as Ned’s family were being buried, one face in the crowd glowered at Ned. It was Gobba Gronk, flanked by his gang. They were getting bored, but Gobba narrowed his eyes and moved his head to one side. A wave of surprise swept across his face. He knew who the little urchin was. Taking a few steps closer, Gobba was followed by his friends. He leant forward and shook his head.
“That’s twig boy,” Gobba muttered to himself.
His eyes were ablaze. He thought often about the day when twig boy humiliated his gang. Harry Snookington had been off-limits ever since and Gobba blamed Ned. What began as a fracas near the forest was soon to develop into a whole lot more. As bells rang out from the recently completed church tower, Gobba glared at his enemy standing at the gravesides.
The crowd dispersed as the church bells faded. Gobba told his gang members to get lost so he could be alone with his thoughts. Twig boy was a lot smaller than him, but managed to get the better of his whole gang when every other boy in the Snook, including Harry Snookington, had been beaten down. There was something different about him, but Gobba was not sure what it was. He was at a loss as to how such a weedy looking kid was able to get the better of him. But, one thing was for sure. Gobba was intent on revenge. He held his head high and pledged to himself that one day he would beat Ned Nobody. And it would be a savage victory when it came. He sneered, kicked a stone at the fresh graves and stalked away.