I Fell Through Chapter 16
by The Old Guy
August 30, 1847
We are getting tired of the dust and grime of travel on the road through this dry desolate area. There seems to be no trees except near the river and that is mostly out of reach due to the steep banks. The men herding the cattle and gathering the fuel for the fire need to go further and further away from the road each day to find anything. This country has been picked over until almost nothing is left. We are seeing more dead cattle and broken down wagons as we get nearer to The Dalles, as if the animals and people just gave up trying to get through. We have been lucky to have had such a good wagon master to be able to avoid most of the problems.
We have been slowed by the need to climb the steep slopes as we get closer to The Dalles as well as by the narrow road. We are also meeting traffic going the other way, although most of that is horsemen. That is a good thing, as there are few places wide enough for two wagons to pass each other easily. We are beginning to run into more and more trading posts near the road set up to catch the emigrant trade. The prices remind me of the shop and robs of my time, extremely high with a very limited selection. They have provisions and some repair items for the wagons but they are extremely expensive.
We have reached the Deschutes River and it is an amazing sight. The water flows over the crossing at the mouth of the river like a pane of green glass into various gullies and canyons until it empties into the Columbia River in a myriad of waterfalls. We have to make a decision on where to ford the Deschutes. The mouth of the river where it meets the Columbia River is a quarter of a mile wide with a very strong current flowing over bare rock with many large rocks in the path is one ford, or we can go upriver to another ford where the distance is only 150 feet but the river is 10 to 12 feet deep with an equally strong current. If we go to the deeper current we have to pay the Indians to guide the wagons across and ferry the women and children across in canoes. Some of the people have very little money and want to save it for the Barlow Road and emergencies. After much argument it was decided to do some of both. The crossing at the mouth of the river while dangerous was doable and most grown men could do so safely, but anyone caught in the current and knocked off their feet would be swept downstream. There were two islands that they could reach if they knew how to swim. Children and women would have little chance if caught though, as the current would probably be too strong for them. The bare number of men needed to take the wagons over the crossing at the mouth of the river would do that, while the women and children would be taken to the upper crossing by the remaining men and pay the Indians for portage across the river.
Elizabeth wanted to drive the wagon across, but this time I put my foot down as I was afraid she would be hurt if she fell in, "You're pregnant and are not going to be driving any wagon across this river! I forbid it!" I should have known better than start an argument like that. All I can blame it on is basic stupidity due to worry about my wives.
She lit into me with a vengeance, "Who's been driving this wagon across the other rivers we've crossed? It wasn't you! I'm a better driver than you'll ever be!" bristling in her rage. What was worse is that I knew it was true. She was a better driver and had a feel for the wagon and the abilities of the oxen that I'll never match.
I tried using concern, "Sweetheart, if anything happened to you or the baby, I'd never forgive myself."
She shot back, "And if anything happened to you what would happen to us?" Then Louise and Claire started in.
"Without you, we can't make a land claim and who would marry three pregnant women?", Louise chimed in.
"And how could we earn a living? You know that only men are hired to be school teachers. And what would Louise and Elizabeth do?" Claire said.
Let me tell you, a mere man has no chance when three women gang up on him about a subject. Finally after many repeated arguments about who was running the family I was outvoted. They determined that this was a family decision and voted that everyone would cross together. I did insist on leading the oxen over the crossing, but Elizabeth insisted that I wear a rope tied to the wagon while I did, since they almost lost me to a swift current on a previous crossing.
We began the crossing and I was soon glad that Elizabeth insisted on the rope. Several of the men fell and were carried away in the swift current until they managed to get to one of the two small islands in the middle of the river. Many of them were going to be sporting big bruises from hitting rocks, and I observed more than one man holding his arm awkwardly when he scrambled up. Several of the wagons behind us chose to tie ropes on the person leading the teams as well after seeing what had happened. Horsemen rode to the islands and rescued those who had washed up. Luckily no one was swept over the end of the river as I don't think that they would have survived.
We were about to get out of the river on the other side when suddenly the front wagon wheel collapsed as it was going over a large rock and threw all three of my wives into the river. Elizabeth screamed, "Jump!" as the wagon toppled. I ran as fast as I could to reach the wagon, stumbling in the water in my haste. I saw that Elizabeth was holding on to the tongue of the wagon and appeared safe . Hurrying to the back I found Claire holding Louise by one hand and the wagon gate with the other. I breathed a sigh of relief until I saw Louise's head under the water and ran to help her. Louise was unconscious and I panicked. I quickly carried her to the bank while men on horseback managed to rescue Elizabeth and Claire.
I laid Louise down and checked her breathing. She was breathing but wouldn't regain consciousness when I shook her. I began an examination of her body and soon found a large bump on her head and a bruise on her abdomen. Grabbing a blanket offered by a concerned driver, I undressed Louise and wrapped her in the dry blanket. While I was doing this, the wagon master had hooked another team of oxen to the wagon and pulled it to the shore. I was joined by a shivering Claire and Elizabeth as we waited for Louise to regain consciousness. The remaining wagons came ashore and while we waited for Louise, volunteers began to jack up our wagon and remove the broken wheel.
The wagon master came up to me, "Is Louise going to be all right?"
I just looked at him with haunted eyes and said, "I don't know."
"You need to decide what you're going to do. You need a new wheel and the trading post over there says they have two wheels but they'll cost 30 dollars for both."
I began to lash out at him but stopped myself. He was responsible for the whole train not just us. Others has suffered losses and had to continue, we had to do the same. I exchanged glances with my wives and receiving a nod form both stood up. Squeezing the shoulders of Claire and Elizabeth, I told them to let me know if Louise woke up and went to bargain with the shopkeeper. He demanded on bargaining for both wheels as he would not sell just the one. I didn't care at first, but as he began to raise the price to see how much he could squeeze from me I became pissed and took my anger about the accident and used it to get him down as low as he would go.
I managed to get the wagon wheels and also twenty pounds of bacon for $30. The wagon master called for two men to help me and we brought one wheel back to the wagon and replaced the broken one. I lucked out when I found the wheels were the same size as the originals, or at least so close I couldn't tell any difference. Calling my wives, we loaded Louise into the jumbled wagon and together with the rest of the train traveled to the trading post to await the rest of the women and children. I sent Elizabeth to pick up the bacon and carried Louise out of the wagon and set her gently on the ground. Claire began straightening up the wagon and checking to see what was missing and had to be replaced.
I sat numbly by Louise hoping she'd wake up. Elizabeth returned from the trading post and grasped my hand. Together we waited. An hour went by , then two and finally I saw a movement. "Louise!", I cried.
With a fluttering of her eyelids and a rasping cough, Louise started moving looking for somewhere to throw up. I turned her head and she vomited up the water she had swallowed while her head was submerged.. Claire hearing the commotion, jumped out of the wagon and hurried over to check on Louise. Together, we held Louise. Me with her head on my lap and the others on either side holding her hands. With a weak voice Louise asked, "What happened? I remember Elizabeth shouting, "Jump!" and Claire holding on to me, and then I was here."
"You fell and hit your head and belly and have the bruises and bumps to prove it. Now let me look at your eyes." I looked at her eyes and found them to be of the same size and able to track my finger so I didn't think she had a severe concussion, but I told her she was going to lay down and not move until we left tomorrow. She started to argue and rise up when she got a severe headache and became nauseous again. Stay still or it'll hurt worseEI ordered.. After that she was ready to follow my orders.
I looked at Claire, "What did we lose?"
"The flour in the flour sack and some other loose items but nothing important. We'll have to borrow dry blankets for tonight and re-stuff the mattress after the straw dries but nothing else worth mentioning. Everything else is wet but can be salvaged."
"If that's all, we were lucky. Now do you see why I wanted you to go with the other women?" I spoke loudly; angry about the accident.
Claire hung her head, but Elizabeth blazed out at me, "Stop it! No one could have guessed that the wheel would break at that moment! Don't blame us for it!" I hung my head then. She was right. I wouldn't have blamed anyone if it had happened any other time. We had been worrying about that wheel breaking for a long time before this.
"I'm sorry", I said as contritely as I could. Claire started and gave me an unbelieving look. I don't think that until then she really understood what I meant when I talked about equality. Apparently, apologizing to women just wasn't done in this period. I started to remember comments made when we were separated earlier on the trip.
I remember the single men told me the night I got drunk that the man is responsible for his wife's future, and it depends on him if her pathway is strewn with thorns or roses. Her chief function in life was to trap a man into matrimony and raise a large group of children. I forgot about the attitude difference between men in this time and me. I was raised to believe that women made their own choices about life. Marriage and children might or might not be one of them.
Elizabeth came over and gave me a kiss. Claire came over and hugged me as if to reassure herself that I really existed. I relaxed inside, relieved that I hadn't totally screwed up my relationship with my wives. I was feeling stressed again and it was leading to tensions in my relationship with them. I'll be glad when we finally get settled. I'm tired of traveling.
I don't know if someone told the women about the accident or if there is some sort of mental telepathy between women that carries information about things that need to be done, but as soon as the women returned, groups of them began to show up to help Claire and Elizabeth with the wagon. Soon food started to appear and a quiet party began among the women as they worked. I was politely but firmly ushered toward the men's group. Food and whiskey soon began to appear there as well and the men began to talk about the day and the fact that we had just crossed the last major river before we reached The Dalles. The men passed the food and whiskey around and we sat around the fire, relieved that the day was finished without any further trouble.
The groups began to break up as dusk fell and I returned to our wagon. Someone had given us a new mattress and clean blankets for the night while ours dried. Louise lay asleep in our wagon when I returned, while Claire and Elizabeth cuddled her between them. I crawled in next to Claire and quickly fell asleep.
August 31, 1847
We were pulling out the next day when the shopkeeper ran out, "You forgot your other wheel!" I could have cared less about the wheel but Elizabeth nudged me and began to pull over to the side of the trail.
I jumped out of the wagon and picking up the wheel, threw it inside the wagon. Elizabeth clicked to the oxen and the wagon started moving again. Louise was riding with Elizabeth today. She was having a hard time moving when she got up this morning and I was afraid that she would hurt herself more if she walked. I was still concerned about the bruise on her abdomen, afraid it might cause her to miscarry. Even though Corrie had told me the night before that women were tougher than that, I still worried. Claire walked with me next to the wagon and she gave me a wondering look as if afraid I would vanish before her eyes.
I teased her, "I'm not going to disappear."
"I knew you were different before, but I didn't entirely understand how different you really are until last night."
I thought I knew what this was about, "You mean when I apologized?"
"Yes. I've never heard a man apologize to a woman for yelling at her."
Thinking about it, I realized that she was right, I'd never heard a man apologize for yelling at his wife. When he made a social faux pas, yes, but never for yelling at her. "If I make a mistake, why shouldn't I apologize? I would to a man."
She leaned over and gave me a kiss, "And that is why we love you. You treat us like we are reasoning human beings and real people." She gave me a considering look, In fact you treat everyone like that, no matter what they are. I like that.EBR>
As we were walking along I heard a horse coming toward us. We moved behind the wagon to let the horseman pass. Glancing to the side I saw the man who offered to buy Louise. Still angry about the accident and the way he treated Louise earlier, I spit and hit him as he went by. He turned and gave me a threatening look and I reached for my pistol. He spurred his horse and quickly moved away. Claire scolded me for spitting at him, but not too severely. I apologized for doing it in front of her but was secretly hoping the SOB would have given me a reason to shoot him. That was one stray I'd leave where he fell.
As we finally got to the top of the long steep rocky hill we looked down to see the Columbia River between two towering bluffs of rock. Ahead we could see more of the same barren rocky landscape. We began our descent and after about 5 miles of up and down roadway we came to a small creek where we met a trader named Nathan Olney. We spent the noon hour at his trading post and met his wife, an Indian woman named Annette. He told us we were almost to The Dalles and we should be there in about two hours. Eager to arrive at someplace where we could get resupplied and rest up before beginning our trek over the Barlow Trail, we quickly ate and began to descend the trail toward The Dalles that followed the creek.
We arrived at The Dalles and were greatly disappointed with what we found. It consisted of a store, a barracks still under construction, a Catholic mission and a few houses. From the passing wagon trains we saw a collection of the most rag tag people we had seen in quite a while. Here was a woman in clean clothes but no shoes or stockings, here a man with a suit but no hat or shoes, there children running around everywhere with almost nothing on. Clothes patched so often that you couldn't tell what the original cloth they were made of was and all of us covered with the brown desert dust from our travel.
The wagon captain ordered us to camp outside of the town to avoid thieves. After we were lagered, Claire and I headed toward the store to replenish our flour and pick up any produce they had. We had finished our shopping and were headed out the door when I met the bastard who had tried to buy Louise with some companions. "Is this another one of your whores?" he sneered. Angry, I hit him with my hand and knocked him into his companions. You bastard! You've hit me for the last time" he snarled as he grabbed for the pistol in his belt.
I slipped off the hammer thong of my holster and drew my pistol as he started to raise his. With the fast draw holster I wore it was easy to bring out my gun and I fired three times with my .22 before he brought his gun level. As he fell to the floor, one of his friends started to reach for his pistol and I turned my gun toward him. He moved his hand away from the gun and stood still. I was using dumdums so I didn't worry about the man I shot, he wasn't going anywhere.
I spoke over my shoulder to the shop keeper and the other men in the store, "You saw he drew first after he insulted my wife."
I heard them answer, "Yep." "Self-defense." "He started the fight."
I spoke to his companions, "Now if any of you want the same, just reach for a weapon." They stood still until I told them to move out of the doorway keeping my gun aimed toward them. The men standing in the doorway behind them moved as well and we walked out in a bubble of silence that quickly evaporated as we went past and people began to fill each other in on what had happened. I wasn't worried about a trial this time, as several people had already said it was self defense. As we walked back to our wagon I began to worry that I might have brought trouble to the wagon train instead.
We returned to the wagon train and I told the wagon captain what had happened. He grimaced after I finished and sent his son for the wagon master. What are you doing to get in so many fights? It's a good thing you're so handy with that pistol of yours.E
The wagon master brought the guide with him when he returned. The wagon master spoke first, "I've already heard the stories. You need to go ahead and we'll meet you along the trail. If you get more than 5 miles out of the town you should be all right. I've run into groups of town toughs like this before, all talk until someone fights back. Until they get enough whiskey in them to build up their courage again, you're safe. And if they get enough whiskey to do anything , they'll be too drunk to move very far." He turned to the guide, "Take them to 8 Mile Creek on the road to the Tygh Valley and we'll meet you there tomorrow or the next day."
I objected that I didn't want to bring them any trouble, but the wagon captain waved it off, "You're a member of our wagon train and have helped almost every family in it. It's our turn to help you."
The guide, Joseph Broome, didn't say a word, just turned around and headed toward our wagon. By this time Claire had told my other wives of the events and they had already picked up almost everything. Corrie was there and after finding out what the wagon captain planned, went to her wagon and brought back a small dutch oven and some corn bread, which she handed to Louise. "You won't have time to cook before you get there, so have this for dinner." She turned to Joseph, "And you make sure they get to a safe spot before you come back!E
Joseph just smiled and replied, "I better, or this dangerous killer will be looking for me next!" He mounted and looked at Elizabeth. "Whenever you're ready." With a final nod at Corrie he started off. As we began moving I thought about what the wagon captain had said about my getting into fights. Was I really doing something to provoke these people? Curious about what someone else would think, I rode forward to join Joseph. Am I getting into fights too often, Joseph? I'm worried that I might be getting a reputation as a troublemaker.EBR>
Joseph spit out a piece of his chew and considered my question, Belike it's possible, but any man with three wives is going to have a reputation anyway. It's better to be known as a dangerous man, ready to defend himself if you're going to have a reputation. Besides, most of the people on the wagon train are city folk. Around here you'll find a lot of folk from the frontier who have a different point of view about fighting. There ain't no law here right now except what you enforce. If you don't stand up for your rights no one else will.E With that he spurred his horse ahead and left me to consider what he had said. .
Did I wish to be known as a dangerous man? How would that affect my standing in the town the wagon train wanted to establish? Deciding that these were thoughts that I needed to sleep on, I returned to the wagon. We followed Joseph as he went toward a different direction than where we entered The Dalles. He led us up some hills until we reached a stream. Where are we?EElizabeth asked Joseph.
This is Eight Mile Creek. You should be safe here until the rest of the train arrives. It may take a couple of days until we can resupply and pick up some more oxen, though. They're running $20 a head right now and some of the people are getting mighty short on money.EBR>
Feeling guilty about the trouble I might have brought on the wagon train, I decided that here was a good use for some of the money we had received for the gold we traded at Fort Boise. Reaching into my shirt, I pulled out the money sack I had there and took out five $20 pieces. I asked Joseph to give them to the wagon captain and have him buy as many oxen as he could with the money. As they were needed people could use them for their wagon. I was tempted to give them the money directly, but I had already run into the reluctance of people to accept money as a gift. I figured that given a choice between leaving their wagon or accepting a loan of an animal they could accept it without shame.
Joseph headed back toward The Dalles while he still had daylight left to see the road. We only had an hour before dusk so we quickly hurried to get ready for the night. Since we were alone, I tied a drag on the oxen's harness and left them to graze. Elizabeth and I gathered more firewood while Claire began to put away the provisions we had bought and Louise began to prepare our supper.
Opening the dutch oven from Corrie, Louise found it was a form of shepherd's pie consisting of layers of potatoes and a thick meat stew with gravy. She constructed the fire ring and, waiting until she had enough coals, placed the dutch oven in them. She got water from the creek and put two pots on to boil, one for tea and one for coffee. Taking out the coffee beans she had roasted the day before she used a hammer to crush the beans then added them to one pot. In the other she placed two teaspoons of tea. Getting four plates from the wagon and four spoons, she called us to dinner. With the cornbread, it made a good meal.
September 1, 1847
I decided that I would stand guard while my wives slept promising to sleep after they got up. I watched for any sign of trouble but spotted nothing. When Louise and Elizabeth got up I went to bed. I woke up sometime later hearing an unknown male voice talking to Elizabeth. Grabbing my pistol I looked out to see a rather scruffy looking older man in tattered buckskins sitting at the fire drinking coffee while talking a mile a minute to my wives. I holstered my gun and got out of the wagon. Sweetheart, this is Willis. He's a trapper and is traveling down to Fort Vancouver to sell his furs. He wants to know if he can go with us!E
I must have looked rather doubtful, because the next minute Willis or as he asked to be called, Willy, began talking. You a Mormon? Nice folks if you mind your own business. Can't say as I've ever seen such pretty wives before. Now my Arapaho wife's a pretty one... E He kept on talking, not expecting or really needing an answer for the next twenty minutes. I made noncommittal grunts and nods in the appropriate places until he began to talk to Louise.
Turning to Elizabeth, I motioned her to me and asked, Where did he come from?EBR>
She looked at me and said, Didn't you see him? When Louise and I turned around this morning, he was standing there with his mule and his furs.EBR>
I interrupted Willy and asked how long he'd been here and he told me that he watched us arriving yesterday but decided to wait where he was until he could tell what kind of folks we were. He only came out because when Louise started roasting the coffee beans, he just had to get a cup, it'd been so long since he had any. This was in between observations about the weather, the places he'd trapped, the people he'd seen, etc. I don't think he stopped talking except to swallow his coffee. He must have drunk 6 cups. That was all the coffee Louise had roasted beans for and the pot was now empty. Giving the empty pot a regretful look he set it down and continued to talk. I raised my eyebrows at my wives and they burst out laughing.
Grinning Willy began to thank Louise for her coffee in such words that you would have believed it to be the nectar of the gods. When she gave him some bacon and cornbread that he praised like it was manna from heaven. If he'd set out to charm Louise, he succeeded. My other wives were equally charmed.
I had to tell Willy that it wasn't just up to me as we were members of a wagon train that was going to be here in one or two days. The wagon captain had to approve of him as well. This didn't stop Willy from talking until Elizabeth mentioned that she needed to go hunting to refill the larder as we left The Dalles before we were able to buy any meat. Willy immediately volunteered to bring something back. Elizabeth willingly accepted and Louise promised to make him a dried apple cobbler when he got back. Willy grinned and promised to bring back something in a couple of hours. Leaving his mule and furs in the camp he vanished in the barren hillside within a hundred yards.
Turning to my wives I said, There's no reason to ask you how you feel, I can tell he's charmed you all. Just remember that he needs to convince the wagon captain before he can stay.EBR>
Elizabeth said, He's harmless. He reminds me of our uncle when he returned from one of his trapping trips. He would talk for hours, more to hear his own voice than anything else. Besides, he knows we're all married to you and it doesn't bother him at all.E After Louise and Claire expressed similar arguments, I gave up. Let the wagon master make the determination, he had only one wife to answer to.
I returned to bed and when I awoke several hours later, I heard the sound of Willy's voice talking again. Looking out the back of the wagon, I saw a good sized deer being expertly skinned by Willy as he talked to Claire. Louise was preparing to make a dried apple cobbler while Elizabeth listened to Willy while she repaired a piece of buckskin with a needle and thread. I got up and poured myself a cup of fresh coffee Louise had prepared. Stretching I watched while Willy removed the deer skin and sprinkled ashes on the flesh side. I came over and Claire gave me a look of gratitude as she left.
I asked Willy if he had ever trapped in the Willamette Valley and what he thought of it as farm land. He stated that he wasn't an expert on farming, then proceeded to tell me of the areas that he thought would be the best for a group of farmers. He advised me that we wanted to make a claim somewhere that the river was navigable to the sea as the roads in late fall and early spring were impassible. He warned me that we should look for hills to build on or near the river, for houses in the flats would be washed away by one of the frequent floods. He finally recommend that we settle around the Willamette River in the area of the Eola hills.
By the time I managed to sort out this information from the mass of talk about everything else Louise called us to dinner. I was amazed at what we were having. Louise had managed to make raised bread with butter to the side, a thick stew of vegetables and dried beef, thick deer meat steaks, the dried apple cobbler and coffee. She had even gotten in my medicinal whiskey and poured a glass of it for Willy.
Finally Willy stopped talking while he ate. After three servings of stew and two steaks, he began eating the apple cobbler and drinking coffee. He put away three large plates of cobbler before with a replete sigh he set his plate down. Looking Louise in the eyes, he said, You sure you're married to this young feller here? I'll marry you in a second if you're not. I haven't had cooking like that since I left home.E Louise if anything got even darker and leaned against me.
Thanks, but I feel married to all of them, my husband and my sister wives.E
Willy sighed, Just my luck to find such a good cook and she's happily marriedE
I laughed at their antics, Willy, you don't need to add any more compliments. I think you've convinced the women to push for you to join us on the trip.EBR>
Willy continued to dispense compliments indiscriminately to all three of the women I asked if he would share the night guard duty and I was surprised by his answer, No need! My mule here is the best watchdog you'll ever see. He can smell trouble a mile away and will let you know about it about as soon as he knows. How do you think I've managed to survive so long out here?E With that he rolled out his blanket under the wagon and promptly went to sleep.
I decided to trust Willy and his mule and we all went to bed. Elizabeth claimed me for her night. While Louise and Claire cuddled and watched I kissed Elizabeth around the neck and down her back. Playing with her breasts, I tickled her sides with my fingers while I sucked on her nipples. I kissed the inside of her thighs and pulling her labia apart gave the exposed lips a firm lick from the bottom to the top. Sucking in her clit, I used my tongue to tap it until with a muffled shout she squeezed my head between her legs until I thought it was going to pop like a grape. Coming down from her climax she grabbed my dick and told me, I want it in, now!EBR>
Elizabeth positioned me in the right position and with one smooth movement I bottomed out in her. I slowly began moving in her using long strokes. Elizabeth began to turn red again and soon started to let out soft gasps whenever I hit bottom. Finally she grabbed a pillow and holding it over her mouth screamed her climax into the pillow as I came.
Afterwards she lay next to me on my shoulder with her arm over my chest while Louise and Claire cuddled each other behind her. She played with my chest hair and we talked about the day and her impression of Willy. She said that Willy reminded her of her uncle who had helped them get their wagon for the trip to Oregon. She believed he was a lonely man who wanted company more than anything else. She discounted his talk about marriage, telling me that he was probably too shy around women to do anything but talk. Reassured that she was not letting his compliments turn her head completely, I began to get sleepy. I kissed all three wives and promptly went to sleep.
September 2, 1847
I woke up up alone with Elizabeth in my arms. Claire and Louise were already up and I heard the voice of Joseph , our guide and Willy talking. They seemed to be acquainted and were discussing the various places where there might be fur enough to make a good season this winter. Joseph sounded rather sad as he talked about the decline of the fur trade, I tell you Willy, pretty soon you'll be leading trains too, because the beaver are almost all gone and the prices have gone too. Used to be that a load like yours would keep a man fed all winter and still have enough for a week's drunk. Now it won't even buy a month's provisions.EBR>
I made some noise and the sound lowered until I didn't hear anything else. I felt like I had inadvertently eavesdropped on a hidden side of Joseph. I kissed Elizabeth and she snuggled against my chest until I had to get up and take care of the morning business. Dressing in my buckskins and pulling on my moccasins, I got out and greeted Joseph. He told me that the wagon train should be coming through in about an hour and we should be ready to move by then. I grabbed a cup of coffee and a slab of bacon on cornbread and gobbled both down. Waking Elizabeth, I gave her the news and she soon appeared ready to hitch the wagon . I kissed her and headed her toward the fireplace and a cup and plate that was waiting for her.
I headed toward the ox team and brought them back to the wagon and began to hitch them up. Soon Elizabeth joined me and we completed the task. Looking around I saw that while I was busy Claire had been washing the dishes leaving only one small pot filled with coffee, that Joseph and Willy were drinking while eating a plate of the remaining apple cobbler. Walking over to Joseph, I asked what had happened after I left.
Not much, A couple of men came around asking for you, but when they found that you were gone they left. We managed to buy a team of six oxen for the hundred dollars you gave us from a man who had decided to float down the river to Oregon City. They're in the cattle herd right now which should be through here any time now. The wagons should be about 30 minutes behind them.E
I was relieved that my shooting the man didn't cause any problems for the wagon train. I grabbed a cup of coffee and we talked about the Willamette Valley and the Eola hills. Both Joseph and Willy agreed that it was possibly the best part of the valley with fine fertile hills and valleys with easy water available. I asked if they would talk to the men in the wagon train about the area and they agreed. Soon afterwards the cattle herd came through and we finished off the coffee and drowned the fire. Claire and Louise had completely packed the wagon by this time and Claire was waiting for me to join her by it . Joseph told me he was going to take Willy back to the wagon captain and he was sure he'd be willing to let him join the wagon train. The wagon train appeared and we joined when our place came by. Together again with our friends we started on the final part of our journey to Oregon City and a new life. On to the Barlow Trail!
(Author's note: The Barlow Trail or as it was known then The Mount Hood Toll Road was the first road authorized by the Territorial Government in 1846. It was the first road to go over the Cascades to the Willamette Valley. This allowed emigrants to avoid the often dangerous trip down the Columbia River. He charged $5 per wagon and 10 cents per animal, substantially less than the $50 or more they were charged for the boat trip. Broke and desperate emigrants often had to pay with promissory notes, trade goods, or more often than not, didn't pay at all. He did, however, allow widows to travel the road free.)
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