A few days after our "reconciliation," Uncle Jep and I were cleaning the ditch along the back forty. Work was going well and the sun was approaching its zenith. We simultaneously jammed our shovels into the bank, straightened our backs, and as Uncle was wiping the sweat from his face with the red paisley bandana he always carried, I said, "The cottonwood tree or the elderberries?" But before he could answer we were both distracted by the clop of a rapidly approaching horse. And there she was, Eldon Moffitt's chestnut mare, running directly toward us.
The horse pulled up directly in front of me, blew and snorted. "Grab her bridle," Uncle said. Now Uncle knows that I don't like horses, and I was more than a little tempted to tell him to grab her himself. But something told me that what was happening here was more than a bit unusual. I grabbed. The animal submitted at once. Then without undue pulling, but with some urgency, the beast began to head around toward the direction she came from. She pulled. "Mount her, boy," Uncle Jep said. "Find out what she wants." I got on board. Now usually when a horse senses that the rider is uneasy, she will give that rider a hard time. And I know that she had to be aware that I scarcely knew what I was doing. Nevertheless, she started gently back along the fence row, walking quickly, but never breaking into a run.
We went perhaps 200 rods along the fencerow, then the horse turned into a fallow field. Ten rods, fifteen rods, and she suddenly stopped. There directly in front of the horse, lying face down under the edge of a huge tumbleweed was Mr. Moffitt. By the time I had dismounted, Uncle Jep rode up on the old Avery we had taken out with us that morning. We quickly turned Eldon face up and determined that he was alive. He was not able to tell us what had happened, but clearly he was suffering intense physical discomfort. He had not fallen from the horse, for the adze he had been using was still clasped in his right hand, and the evidence of his efforts were right there . A few more whacks and the roots of the yucca would have been completely severed. "Never saw a horse do such a thing," remarked Uncle Jep. "Now, I had a dog once, Budge, his name was. Did I ever tell you about the time Budge. . ."
"Please, Uncle, I want to hear your tale, but we gotta get this man home first. Plenty of time for talking later."
Uncle Jep fixed a steely eye on me. One second, two seconds, three. Then he said, "Absodoubtly without a loot; yer right. Stories later. Now we'll heist him up onto this here steed, then I'll ride behind him and hold onto him. Good horse, she can easy carry double. You drive that tractor on over to Moffitts and tell the Missus we're on the way over. Then go on over to Restons and call for Doc Barrett."
And that is what we did.
© 2014 David W. Lacy