Executing Carefully Laid Plans

Covered Wagon Trips

It’s Time To Cross The River

According to plan, Esther May climbed onto the driver’s seat of her wagon.

Easterly rode the chestnut stallion and led Skewy, the skewbald mare, on a halter lead.

For two days the animals had been grazing by and drinking from the river. At Esther May’s command, the mule team waded in without hesitation.

Easterly rode alongside upstream with a rope tied to the wagon in case it tried to float away.

The mules seemed to enjoy getting their bellies wet. Esther May pulled them back before they got too playful.

Leaving the river at a shallow bank, Esther May drove the wagon off the trail to a suitable grazing area, set the brake and hobbled the team.

While she was occupied with the team, Easterly untied the rope and coiled it to the saddle. He dismounted and led the horses to the river bank where Esther May would join them for the trip back.

The crossing had been so easy it was as if there was no river at all. Easterly scolded himself for letting Esther May worry him over nothing. Even she had to realize by now that the shallow Rio Grande was no obstacle. When she stepped up with a grim set to her face, Easterly gritted his teeth. He no longer wanted to humor her fears. She was downright irksome.

Esther May accepted the reins on the chestnut and pointed her chin at Skewy. “Don’t you want to saddle the mare?”

“Nah. We’ll be across by the time it’d take. Let’s go get the other wagon.”

Her arched brows told Easterly that she’d heard the abruptness in his answer. He didn’t want to be mean. He just wanted it to be over. “We should be all right. Short trip. I’d have to unsaddle her after we’re done anyway.” He grabbed Skewy’s mane and hopped astride.

What Will Skewy Do?

It was the first time Easterly rode Skewy bareback. The river was a good place to try it. If she wanted to buck, the water would drag her movements. Of course, he’d be easier to get shed of without a saddle, but a wet landing would be softer.

The two riders plodded across as if on a trail and repeated the crossing with the mules Rosarita and Hombrecito.

Again they waded back to lead Esther May’s and Arthur’s horses over.

Six times. Easterly grumped to himself. He crossed that river six times today plus all the times he crossed it trying to prove its safety because of Esther May’s dream. Here it was time for lunch and they had only made fifty yards. They should have kept right on going the first time they came to the river. Was Esther May worth going to all this trouble, no matter how fetching she looked?

He watched her move to the wagon for the meal basket. Yeah. She was.

Huge Relief

Lunch was great. Esther May hummed as she set out the biscuits and dried beef jerky. She shielded her eyes and looked at the trail climbing away from the river. “When Daddy and I planned on going to the Arizona Territory, we meant to head west from Albuquerque. That way we’d be north of the Apache raids. Ain’t no doubt we’ll be closer to the mischief by leaving from here.”

She laughed for the first time since Easterly had met her. “But it’s okay. The river’s behind us, and we’re on our way.”

Are the young folks safe now? Leave a comment.

Perhaps pausing at the river helped the horses. Check out this method.

To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.

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