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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Looks like someone is about to get a spanking.... Love on the Oregon Trail

Rosalind disobeys William and wanders too far from camp. When a snake darts out from behind a rock she shoots it ... but in the process causes a stampede.

William is not impressed and takes Rosalind to one side ... looks like someone is about to get a spanking!

Lost in her thoughts, she wandered further and further afield, pausing to watch the golden ball of the sun rise in the east. The camp would be awake now, with folk lighting fires and cooking breakfast. She felt a pang of guilt as William would be wondering where she was - and would not be pleased that she had wandered so far away. Sighing, she picked up her basket and was about to head back when, from the corner of her eye, a small movement close by caught her attention, and when a snake suddenly darted out from behind a nearby rock, she acted instinctively. She fired the rifle.

It went off with a loud retort. And immediately after, the sound changed to a low rumble. Puzzled, Rosalind looked up at the sky, thinking there was a storm brewing, but the danger came instead from the herd of buffalo. Crazed and panicked by the noise, they began to bellow, and with a series of ripples their formation changed as they swarmed en-masse like a thick black cloud, bellowing loudly now in their frenzy, the noise of their hooves deafening drum beats as they thundered over the grassland ... in the direction of the wagon train camp.

"Oh my Lord!" Rooted to the spot, Rosalind stared in horror at the advancing herd, a menacing mass of black bodies hurtling towards the wagons, trampling everything in sight with their powerful hooves. She knew very little about buffalo, but of one thing she was sure - when stampeding, the beasts could not be turned from their course. Panic ensued in the camp and shouts could barely be heard above the thunder of hooves that filled the air, and it seemed the ground shook beneath the combined weight of the advancing herd.

Some order swiftly arose out of the pandemonium and the nearest wagons directly in the path of the crazed herd were hurriedly moved out of the path of the stampede. Rosalind watched all this from a distance, absolutely terrified and powerless to do anything to help. She watched as folk screamed and hollered as they fled to safety, dispersing in all directions. Even from a distance, she could hear the din - the snorts and squeals of the enraged animals adding to the cacophony. As predicted, the buffalo didn't veer from their course. They ploughed ahead, trampling one wagon to splinters. Rosalind clasped her hand over her mouth and hoped to God that wagon was empty.

The thunder of the hooves continued as the herd moved east, leaving the disordered camp behind, until eventually all that could be seen was a moving cloud of dust. Rosalind ran all the way back to camp. There were many shocked faces, and the farmer and his wife who owned the ruined wagon were distraught, but at least no one appeared to be hurt. Order was gradually restored, and then the inevitable occurred. Questions were asked, one in particular: who fired the shot that caused the stampede?

Nervously, Rosalind came forward. "I did. I'm so sorry." Her face crumpled as she tried not to cry. "I wasn't even aware of the herd. I was gathering chips for the fire when a snake suddenly shot out only a couple of feet away from me. I reacted immediately. I shot it. That's what caused the buffalo to stampede. I'm so sorry."

"It ain't the girl's fault," someone piped up. "That could've happened to any one of us and we'd have reacted the same way."

There was general agreement on this point. Heads nodded. "Yep - can't blame a body fer shootin' a snake."

Talk of the incident continued as people moved into small groups, everyone agreeing they'd had a narrow escape. Rosalind heaved a sigh of relief but looked up, startled as a grip of steel fastened onto her arm.


"Rosalind." He looked at her intently. "You and I need to have a little talk."

"We do?" A feeling of foreboding filled her as he steered her away from camp.

"Where exactly were you when you fired the shot?"

"Er ... up there." She pointed. "Past those big rocks."

His mouth narrowed into a thin line of anger. "Why did you venture so far from camp?"

"Well ... I just ... wandered up there collecting chips for the fire."

"But you had specific instructions not to stray further than 100 yards from camp."

"I know, but I ... um, I forgot. That is, I ... um, I just didn't realize I'd strayed quite so far... anyhow, it's not that far away."

"It's over a mile away."

"Oh." She shrugged. "But if I hadn't shot the snake, it would have bitten me!"

"And if you had obeyed my orders and stayed close to camp, you wouldn't have put yourself in such danger." His eyes had a dangerous gleam in them.

"Huh - I only went for a bit of a walk. That's not so terrible," she countered. Obeying orders indeed. The gall of the man. Still, she did feel bad about what happened, there was no denying it.

"And what of Joseph and Evangaline Carter, the couple who've lost their wagon and most of their possessions?"

She swallowed, feeling increasingly uncomfortable. "I know ... it's dreadful. I'm just so relieved they weren't hurt."

"But they could have been hurt - or killed - and so could countless others. And all because of your disobedience." His grip on her arm tightened as they moved forwards.

Rosalind squirmed. "I'm sorry, William."

"Oh you will be shortly, without a doubt."


Love on the Oregon Trail is available for Kindle from Amazon and in a variety of formats from LSF Publications: