Finding The Road

A faraway view of a dirt road snaking through the hills.

Esther May Returns

Esther May swung aboard Clyde’s gelding and the pack horse dutifully fell in behind. Before she cleared the last few trees where C.J. waited, she called to alert him.

“It’s just me, C.J. I found the scalper’s poke. Don’t get happy on the trigger.” Esther May gritted her teeth when her unhappy mind told her that’s what he should have done with the Apache. “It’s over and done,” she said, aloud before riding around a juniper to almost bump into C.J.

“What’s over and done?”

“Oh! I didn’t expect to see you this close.”

“Yeah, I thought I’d better get in a position to cover you if I could, so I followed you a little.” He sat tilted on his saddle, probably favoring his hurt side. “What’s over and done? Are we taking those horses?”

“Nobody else has a use for ’em more’n us.” She didn’t want to look him in the eye. “Let’s fetch my horse and head for water. I want to be away from here.”

Why Is She Fussy?

What got into Esther May?

C.J. puzzled on what triggered her snappy attitude. Why didn’t she stay on Clyde’s gelding? The pack horse was already tied on. All they had to do was lead Esther May’s horse behind Skewy and be on their way.

But no.

She had to be on her own gelding. She led the pack horse and he had to lead Clyde’s.

Then, when he suggested they find a game trail off the ridge to the stream at the bottom of the canyon, she’d said different things: “We could backtrack to the road and follow it. Like we were doing before you took off after the raiding party. The road would go to water,” and, “We could cut across to reach the road. We know the direction to go.”

C.J. understood that Esther May felt the need to be out of the forest, but she was thinking like a girl. “Look, Esther May, if we try to go straight to the road from here, who’s to say we won’t find a deep canyon in our way? Then we’d have to come all the way back.”

She nodded. “Maybe.”

Esther May turned her horse in the cross-country direction.

C.J. bit his lip. Moving any direction was better than standing still arguing. But it sure wasn’t like sweet Esther May. The Apache encounter rattled her. She’d done a good job of patching his side, though.

Lost In Thought

C.J. rode third in line: Esther May first, leading the pack horse, he was on Skewy leading Clyde’s gelding. Two people, four horses.

He didn’t expect her to talk to him from this distance, but why didn’t she turn around to check on him once every so often. He’d suffered an arrow, for Pete’s sake.

To top it off, they hadn’t reached the road yet.

C.J. had been letting Esther May set the path without checking on her. They should have followed his natural ability to guide them. Men had a built-in sense of direction that females didn’t. Esther May might be taking them around in circles.

Skewy stopped, interrupting his thoughts of why survival in the wild required male supervision.

Esther May stood in her stirrups leaning to one side, then the other. She waved C.J. forward to join her.

He rode up on her left side. “What is it?”

She pointed through the trees at the brown ribbon of road that trailed away downhill. “I saw three riders coming.”

Should Esther May and C.J. greet the riders or avoid them? Leave a comment now.

Here’s a dated article with sensible advice but leaning toward a gender-specific audience as was the trend in those days.
https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/lost-in-the-woods

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.

Thank a veteran. The time to do so is precious.

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