Yep, after receiving four comments after last Friday's Western post asking if I'd post the next part or wishing for more of the story, I have decided to declare this week, "Western Week." And in case you are wondering what a "Western Week" is, it means that throughout this coming week, I'll be posting parts of Meleah's Western. They may come in the morning, the afternoon or even in the evening. Just be sure you check back often. And be sure you leave me a note to tell me what you think.:)
Did you realize that it took me two years to write the first 24 parts of Meleah's Western? At that rate it would take me years to get it finished. However, in the first two months and four days of this year I have written 10 parts of it.:) Hmm, I'm beginning to think I might get it finished this year. Would you like that? Of course I'd have to wait to publish it until I had saved enough money, but it might be nice to know all that happens.:)
Not much else to say now, so I guess I'll just let you read the first Western of the week.
That night Ty and Carson took their turn on watch along with the other men. Sally slept fitfully, waking often to listen. All was still in the dark. No animal came near and only the snap of the fire as fresh wood was added disturbed the serene silence of the still night.
As dawn approached, Sally, wide awake, arose and began to make coffee. Ty quietly joined her to build up the fire and start breakfast. Then, one by one, the other men of the party roused themselves or were roused by the tantalizing aroma of Sally’s coffee, and the day began. Before long camp was packed up, horses once again loaded and the fire put out. Vin taking his place at the front, set off.
The day was beautiful. As the sun rose higher, the sky grew richer in its robe of deep azure with here and there fleecy puffs of white dancing along on the breeze. Shining brightly, the sun cast its warm rays over the landscape. Everywhere the pine trees, their branches loaded with green needles and cones of varying sizes, showed signs of new growth at the tips of their branches. In places where there were no trees to block the sun, flowers of different colors and shapes lifted bright heads to welcome the king of the day. Miriads of tiny insects buzzed from flower to flower. It was all so lovely that Sally let her horse lag behind.
“Sally, come on,” Ty called, noticing her distance from the group.
Urging her horse on a bit, Sally soon joined her brother at the end of the line of riders. “Oh, Ty,” she breathed in ecstasy, “ain’t it just, well--” She couldn’t seem to find the right words to describe it. But her gaze took it all in, from the distant snow covered peaks to the lush valley far down below them, from the blue of the sky above, to the green grass at her horses feet; all seemed to breathe hope and tranquillity. Surely no danger could be lurking in these mountains, no crooked dealing men, no fierce beast of prey. It was too fine a day to even think such thoughts.
Ty nodded. “Yep, it’s jest that. But if ya keep laggin’ behind, we’ll never reach Fort Laramie.”
With a lilting little laugh Sally pulled her horse in front of her brother’s and followed Carson, calling back over her shoulder to Ty, “Then I reckon ya’d better ride behind me or I may not come at all.”
Continuing to travel in relative silence, the riders pushed on over the narrow mountain trail which wound its way northwest towards Fort Laramie. After a quick halt to rest the horses and eat a bite or two, Vin urged them on again. He seemed in a hurry and ordered them all to dismount and lead their mounts when they came to the cliff.
Sally and Ty, still in the rear, were some distance behind Carson when they saw him dismount and set off on foot, his horse and their pack horse following.
“That must be the cliff up yonder, Sis.”
Sally nodded, not saying a word. How wide was the path along the precipice? Dismounting slowly, she advanced with bated breath. Then, there it was. A sheer drop of several hundred feet. The trail led right along the side of the cliff wall, turning around a sharp edge and disappearing. The sight of it was too much for Sally, stout hearted though she was. Backing way from the ledge, she grasped a pine branch nearby and held on, her knuckles turning white and her breath coming in gasps.
Also dismounting and moving forward, Ty halted beside his sister. “What’s the matter? Sally, you all right?”
“That . . . that . . .” she couldn’t go on. Her eyes were full of terror.
Ty moved out to take a look. “Whew,” he whistled softly between his teeth. “Looks like a right nice place ta not miss yer step.” Then coming back to Sally, he said, “Well, I’ve been over wors’n that, so come on.”
Sally shook her head. There was no way she would set foot on that tiny lip of a trail. She was starting to tremble and her face to lose its color at the very thought.
“We’ve got ta go on, Sally,” Ty urged gently. “Here, give me yer reins an’ I’ll lead yer horse ‘long with mine.”
From a hand that visibly shook, Sally let her brother take the reins, but still she clung to her branch.
For a moment Ty looked at her. How was he to get both horses and Sally across that narrow walkway? The horses shouldn’t present a problem, but Sally . . . “I’’ll be right beside ya, now come,” he coaxed. It was useless. Sally clung all the tighter to her branch. “Sally, ya can’t stay here,” Ty went on, laying one hand over hers on the branch. “Didn’t ya tell Carson an’ me back in the town that ya weren’t afraid?”
“I ain’t afraid, Ty,” Sally whispered, “Jest scared ta death! I ain’t goin’ on that. I’d rather face any number a bears, mountain lions an’ such than put one foot on that-- that death walk.”
Working gently but persistently, Ty had been unclasping her fingers from their grip on the branch. “Sally,” he remarked slowly, “this ain’t goin’ ta be the only place yer afraid, but ya can’t let that stop ya. Ya got ta face yer fears an’ move on.”
It was only then that Sally noticed what Ty was doing. With a cry she tried to tighten her hold once again, but Ty had her fingers in his firm grasp and was pushing her away from the sheltering arms of the tree.
Just at that moment, with sudden whinnies of alarm, both mounts began to rear and plunge in terror. Ty, unprepared, staggered and fell flat on his back.
Catching a glimpse of a face above them, Sally screamed!
Would anyone like the next part tomorrow?