A cloud of dirt obscured the wheels of a covered wagon that headed west towards Oklahoma, along with six horses and two goats in tow. After traveling what seemed like hundreds of miles the troupe of five people arrived in Missouri, having started the journey from New York state. The land out west was majestic but in a different manner than the Adirondacks. Of the five people, only one was a woman, anxious about traveling through the wild open country, anxious about one of the men on board who was ill and in need of some special medicine that would cure his illness. The woman sat behind the two men at the front, steering their way down the red and yellow hued roads. An ambivalent feeling came over her as she heard the ill man behind her, a sound not quite like a grunt, which made her head jerk in his direction. The man's amber eyes fell upon her face as he craned his neck to see what she was doing. Self conscious of the dust from the road on her green dress, she brushed it off, raised her eyebrows and sighed. The ill man beckoned to her but before she could rise and crawl over to him, she pulled a small bottle from the cotton purse tied at her waist, opened it and tossed a small beige capsule into her mouth and followed it with a swig of whisky. The ill man looked at her in a disparaging way.
“I know, Tom. Pretty ironic that you're the one needing medicine while I am busy self-medicating, huh.” The woman let out a tiny, demented laugh as she sank in the back of the covered wagon by his side. Her anxiety soon passed and her breathing rhythm changed. Tom's right hand reached out to gently stroke her long, wavy bronze hair. “Is the wagon spinning?” she sleepily asked. The last thing she remembered seeing was Tom's dark hair, a stray ringlet covering his forehead. But he smiled and shook his head at her.
“No, it isn't spinning my dear Julie” he replied, in his familiar and reassuring gravelly voice. His eyes looked deeply into hers.
“Oh that's good.” Julie leaned back against a pillow and tried to get some sleep after lunch. Tom was able to force down some hot stew which Julie lovingly fed him, periodically offering him a bite of bread. She turned her face towards him, watching his look upwards, the fabric and beams forming the safe and cozy shelter of the wagon. “That's good,” she repeated, as she closed her eyes and began to doze off. Julie listened to the faint voices of the two men up front, while the third man rode a stallion ahead of the covered wagon. She was glad the days were longer, traveling during the summer month of July. The hot weather did not bother her too much, and the nights cooled down considerably. The troupe was to make one more stop over the next few hours before they shacked up for the night under the clear skies. Nothing eventful was anticipated, and there were no Indian tribe attacks since they began their journey. Hopefully it would stay that way, and safety was of utmost importance with Tom in their midst. Julie was protective of him although the other men advised her to give him some breathing room, to which she ignored. What if he were to die during their journey? The last thing they could handle was a young woman, too emotionally attached to a dying man. Tom did not seem to be concerned with them, for all he cared about was their getting him to their destination. Of course he appreciated the comfort and aid from Julie but there was something about her Tom could not quite figure out, and of course he was very patient with her – maybe too patient. Perhaps it was his hoping that she might confidentially impart what he was seeking to know about Julie. Tom decided to wait though at the present time and let her sleep after she spent the entire previous night awake keeping an eye on his failing health.
To be continued...