Not A Time For Romance
Riding double with Esther May should have been a moonlight experience among a field of fragrant desert flowers. Instead, Easterly became aware of his own unwashed, aromatic smells. His foot burned from the cut on the bottom. Sharp pains radiated up his leg with every step the gelding took. A heavy overcast spit half-hearted raindrops onto his hatless head in a successful effort to fulfill his misery.
At least Esther May found him after the flash flood washed him downstream. It was a tragedy that they lost a wagonful of supplies and the mule team that pulled it, but the real shame was that Esther May rescued him. He was supposed to be the hero, making her swoon in admiration.
As they rode, Esther May reached around him to take the reins. Easterly swayed, his vision went white around the edges and shrank until only the horse’s ears were visible. So much for being macho. He was the one going to faint.
Are We There?
Esther May’s voice called him. She sounded … concerned? No. Frustrated.
“Easterly, try to help. I’m about to drop you on the ground.”
Easterly wedged his eyes open. He sat askew. Esther May had hooked her arm under his and kept him from falling off the horse. He gripped the saddle horn and with her help righted himself.
They were behind the remaining covered wagon. Hund barked from the shadow underneath. Esther May positioned the gelding next to the tailboard and shoved Easterly off and into the back of the carriage.
Doctored and Rested
Easterly’s exposed shoulders were chilled when he cut off the arms of his long johns to use as wrappings for his foot. Now, he was pleasantly warm.
“The wash ran again,” Esther May said. “It never did rain too hard here, but it came down in the mountains.”
Easterly took in the domed canvas overhead and propped up on his elbows under the patchwork quilt. He spoke after running his tongue over his teeth. “You threw me in here!”
Esther May stood outside the dropped down end gate and ignored the accusatory tone in Easterly’s voice. “Hungry?” She picked up Hund and put him in the wagon.
The dog sniffed Easterly’s feet under the covers.
Hund jerked his head back and moved forward to lick his master’s ear. Easterly raised the quilt to see a newly bandaged foot. “He must not like the smell of turpentine.”
“Could be that. So, food?”
Easterly licked his lips. “Drink first.”
Esther May pointed out a canteen.
Easterly drank mouthfuls before lowering the water.
“That pouch over there has salt pork when you want to eat.”
He scrounged in the sack for a piece of the meat and glared at Esther May. “I remember. You dumped me off.”
She frowned and tucked in her lips. “We need to talk about your foot.”
Why does Esther May want to talk about Easterly’s foot? Got an idea? Post it now.
Here’s an article about dogs and their sniffers. Enjoy.
To read the series, click on September 2017, in the Archive list and start with Tales Old Roy Told.
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