Hitch Up and Move
The trip to the river crossing was a learning experience. Easterly found trailing a wagon familiar but different from driving a buggy. He would have been embarrassed except it was humorous watching Esther May go through the same experience.
Difficulties occurred at the outset when they tried to tie Skewy to Esther May’s rig alongside her horse. The feisty little mare wasn’t having anything to do with it and resorted to her old ways of biting and kicking.
Easterly finally saddled her. She bucked him around the clearing jarring his insides and clacking his teeth together. He couldn’t take much more. Skewy’s ears were still up but Easterly felt her tension leave.
He dismounted and gave her a cheek-to-cheek hug, talking low. After patting her neck and shoulders, he led the skewbald horse to the rear of his wagon next to the chestnut stud. Easterly loosened the cinch and fastened her lead rope to the wagon.
“I know this is beneath you, Skewy. But if you wait a little longer we’ll have all the running room you want. No fences.”
Skewy snorted and took a half-hearted nip at him.
Esther May headed out with Hund on the seat beside her. She towed the other two horses.
Easterly found he didn’t have to do much to drive his mules. A light touch on the reins was all it took. The mules, Rosarita and Hombrecito, fell in behind Esther May. Easterly slowed them down enough to let the road dust settle, and the two-teen wagon train was underway.
Does Esther May Know Where She’s Going?
They plodded the road to Las Cruces paralleling the Rio Grande and hadn’t stopped for lunch. The mules were sweating under their collars, yet Esther May kept on.
Easterly’s bottom hurt. He was accustomed to a saddle, not a board seat.
Esther May turned onto a small road. The path narrowed, squeezed by the pressing brush. The trail resembled a verdant tunnel before the thicket parted. They had arrived at the meandering the river. Esther May stopped on the slope leading to the water and set the brake.
Easterly hopped down and stretched. “A good place for a stop.”
Esther May unhitched her team. “I thought we’d be here sooner.”
The animals were watered and led to grazing in a natural brush corral. Easterly refilled the canteens. Hund went exploring.
The gurgling water felt so cool and clean Easterly stuck his head under. Something tickled his ear.
Esther May came running to Easterly’s yelling and swatting the side of his head. “What’s wrong? Water snake?”
Esther May alternately scanned the area and his face.
Water dripped from plastered-down hair onto his shoulders. With his head tipped sideways, a warm trickle drained from his ear.
That’s all it was. An unfamiliar sensation of moisture in his ear canal. He stood a fool in front of Esther May.
“I’m sorry to scare you. I thought something was in my ear.” He scuffed a boot in the grass, hating the heat in his face. “You can make fun of me. I’ve got it coming.”
Esther May hugged herself. “I had a dream. It was about a bad river crossing.”
Her eyes shone. “Something bad’s going to happen. We have to be ready.”
“A dream don’t mean nothing.”
Is Easterly wrong? Do dreams mean anything? Leave a comment.
To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
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