The wagon train had been heading east for the past three weeks and had come to a grinding halt when one of the horses fell or rather collapsed onto the muddy bank they were climbing, took a deep breath and died. The horse beside it was pulled down to witness the death and the anguish caused it to rise up suddenly and by sheer will break its leather bonds and run off into the distance.
The people on the wagon were now trapped in the mud and the gloom of loss. They’d blamed her because she was only a distant cousin and wholly dependent on them and, as is the way with people, the embarrassment of failure raises the opportunity to point a finger elsewhere. She hadn’t fed the horse properly or groomed him or checked for signs of tiredness. As to the bolting of the other, clearly his leather bonds were sufficient but she hadn’t tied them correctly or had missed one of them.
It would serve her ill to protest, she knew that, as she’d had punishments from her Father’s cousin before. He didn’t hold back when it came to showing his anger and his wife, who had suffered at his hands for many years, only felt relief that it was someone else’s turn to the feel the heat of his rage. People on the other wagons disapproved of this practice but decided not to interfere in another man’s life. Being good Christian folk, the tenet to mind your own business and serve God alone was something they clung to in situations such as this.
The beating wasn’t prolonged and she suffered the blows in silence. She was then forced to dig out the wheel that had sunk into the soggy mud while he dealt with the dead horse. Other men had chased down the traumatised horse and fixed the bindings to allow it to continue alone. Some of their belongings had tipped into the mud and cleaning them up was part of her punishment. It took her five hours.
Categories: Just Stories