Western Fiction posted October 29, 2013 Chapters:  ...35 36 -37- 


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Jo meets Seth.

A chapter in the book AN ORPHAN NAMED JO

Chapter Fourteen, Part two (Freedom)

by c_lucas



Background
This is a novel about the trials and tribulation of Jo Wiley. In these chapter Jo has been abused and sexually violated by her two uncles.
37 CHAPTER FOURTEEN-PART TWO
 
ARIZONA TERRITORY
 
ENDING OF LAST CHAPTER: Jo waited to make sure both were asleep and then used her teeth to saw through the ankle knot. She froze when Devin awakened and tried to struggle to his feet. He collapsed, turned on his back and started snoring. The girl gathered the kitchen knife, matches and a small pan. She wanted Devin’s knife and gun, but feared she would awaken him.  There wasn’t a solid door to the cabin, just a bear skin, used as a curtain.

Jo slipped outside. This time I’ll walk.
**
The night became cooler, and Jo regretted not bringing her coat. The girl followed the trail that she saw her Uncle Devin use.  She stared at the eyes staring back at her. I need some rocks. She picked up the largest she could handle with one hand. In her search for rocks, she found a large stick. I can use this for a walking stick, and it's heavy enough, so I can swing it if a bear or wolf gets too close.
 
The clouds passed over the moon, leaving Jo in total darkness. She stopped and looked around: the yellow eyes were still with her. She swung her stick to the left side and then swung it toward her right side and hit a tree. If nothing is in front of me, then I’m on the trail. Her progress was slow as she stopped to swing her stick,  until the clouds moved on, and the moon reappeared.
 
She came across another trail wider than the one she was on. Turning to the right, she moved on and found herself with large boulders on either side. A low growl reached her ears, and she hurried along, thankful she was stronger than the last time she tried to run away.
 
The smell of burning wood accosted her nose. I’m near somebody’s camp. A large animal jumped on the trail behind her. Jo picked up a rock and threw it too fast. The rock bounced, ricocheted and struck the animal behind its stomach; howling with pain, it scurried back into the boulders.
 
Relieved she drove the animal off, Jo walked down the trail until a horse whinnied. And she saw movement. A man stood and threw some sticks onto his fire. Forgetting about the wild animals, Jo blended into a bush and waited until the man laid back down. 
 
Several minutes later, she started slowly walking toward the horse, speaking in a very low voice.  The horse stood still as Jo stroked it as high as she could reach. Another scent invaded her senses. Food. Jo looked around, and finally made out the sack hanging from a nearby tree.
 
As quietly as she could, Jo shimmied up the tree and pulled out the kitchen knife. The branch holding the sack was too small to hold her weight. She climbed out on a larger branch, reached out and cut the rope. The bag fell, crashing onto the pine needles below. I hope I didn’t wake him. She waited.
 
Her luck held. Jo climbed down, sat by the sack, and began eating bits and pieces she pulled from the turkey. Several minutes passed as Jo studied the horse, which was looking in her direction. I can’t mount it here, but I know a place where I can.
 
After placing her pan in the bag, Jo gripped the knife tightly and left the bag on the ground. She began to talk very low to the horse as she approached it and was glad the horse stood still when she cut the rope, leaving several feet attached. She wrapped the end of the rope around her hand and led the horse to the sack of food.
 
Jo dropped the knife into the bag and picked it up without letting go of the horse. She walked away from the sleeping man and stopped at the boulders. Closing her fist around the rope and tightly gripping the neck of the bag, she climbed onto a boulder and pulled the horse closer.
 
When she jumped onto the horse, it reared. The girl quickly tightened her hold on the rope and pulled her knees together to stabilize her seat. The animal settled down when it heard her voice. Jo held on to the rope, and rode close to the horse’s neck. Conquering her fears, she rode comfortably.
      
Jo headed back the way she came, always talking to the horse in a quiet voice. The trail to her uncles’ cabin was ahead. Fear gripped her stomach as she approached the trail, and she kicked the horse just behind its legs. The horse continued at the same maddening pace.
 
When she passed the trail, Jo breathed a sigh of relief. She released the tension on the rope, and the horse walked faster, covering several miles. Soon, it tried to veer off into the bush, but Jo fought its attempts. After several minutes, she decided to let it have its way.
 
The horse increased its pace and led her to a small opening through the rocks. Jo's fears were put to rest when the horse entered the tight opening and walked toward a small stream. Holding on to the rope and bag, she slid off the horse.  As they neared the stream, she dropped the bag and drank several handfuls of water, retaining her grip on the rope.
 
“Thank you,” she said to the horse and reached into the bag for the knife.
 
The horse whinnied and began drinking. Jo measured half of the length, cut the rope and sliced the new piece in half. She remembered how her uncles used to tie the front and rear feet of their horses to keep them from straying. She succeeded in doing a fair job of hobbling the horse.
 
Picking up the bag, she turned and noticed the large rock wall. Jo eased her way to it, kicking some rocks away from the wall, and set down with her back against it. The wall has heat still in it. Jo sat the bag in her lap and pulled its length closer to her for a makeshift blanket.
 
 
The horse’s panicked whinny woke her. She heard it coming toward her as fast as his hobbled feet allowed; a pair of yellow eyes followed him. Jo pulled a large rock from her pocket and flung it at the eyes. She heard a “thunk,” and then the sound of the wild animal splashing across the creek. The horse stayed near her for the rest of the night.
 
Eventually, Jo dozed off and awakened the following morning with a need to seek relief. She walked a few feet down the wall and took care of the matter. Returning, Jo noticed the dawning of a new day, which revealed an opening to a cave.  She led the hobbled horse to the creek and brought back some small pieces of firewood. The girl made her fire just inside the cave entrance and satisfied her hunger.
 
Everything was quiet and peaceful. The horse continued to graze and appeared calm. She watched it for a while before taking a burning stick and started exploring the cave. Jo had just entered the darkness when she heard her horse’s whinny answered by another horse. They found me!
 
 
Jo picked up a large rock, dropped her burning stick and picked up a second rock, before she kicked dirt on the stick.  Filled with nervous tension, she started toward the entrance.  I'm not going back with them. 
 
The silhouette
of a man holding a gun filled the entrance. It’s Steven and he’s going to shoot me. Jo threw her rock and took off running. To her surprise, the man stopped, and her rock missed. She dropped the other rock when she tried to transfer it to her throwing hand.
 
He’s in my way. Jo panicked and increased her speed.  She lowered her head, planning to butt him in the stomach, but he stepped to the side and grabbed her. They both fell down, breaking his grip. She jumped up and ran for her life.
 
The man caught her just before the cave’s entrance.  Fighting to get free, Jo bit, clawed and kicked. His strength overcame her, and Jo realized it wasn’t either of her uncles who pressed her to the ground. Who is he?
 
“Whoa, pull in your spurs.”  He held her down by her shoulders.
 
Who is he? She continued to struggle. “Get off me!” To her surprise, he did and she took off again. She didn’t get far before he caught her. She fought harder, but he trapped her hands with one of his and smiled.
 
He's going to do what the others did. Jo tried to buck him off.
 
“If you'll calm down and promise not to run, I'll let you up."
 
He must be the owner of the horse I stole. But he still wants what the others wanted! She tried to spit in his face, but it landed on hers. His smile made her madder. Realizing, that she couldn’t defeat him, Jo stopped fighting.
 
"Are we going to call a truce, or not?"  His attitude made her mad, and she started fighting, again. It didn't last long. He was too strong.
 
"Okay."
 
"Okay what?"
 
"I won't run."  She waited until he started to get up and kicked him between his legs as hard as she could. He lost all interest in her, grabbed himself and staggered backward.  Jo made a dash for his horse.
 
He yelled, "No!"
 
Just as she got her foot in the stirrup, the horse started bucking. Jo landed flat on her back and he grabbed her. The frightened girl tried to free herself, but before she knew it, he had her over his knees.
 
All of a sudden, he stopped. "Who did this?" His question caught her off guard. He lifted her up by her shoulders and turned her to face him.
 
Jo saw the concern in his eyes.
 
"Who whipped and burned you?" he asked in a gentle voice and his look showed compassion.
 
He's not going to whip me, or use me. Jo stared at the tenderness in his eyes, threw her arms around him and bawled. He held her, stroked her hair, and talked softly until she cried herself dry.
 
“My name is Seth, Seth Thompson, What is yours?
 
“Jo. Jo Wiley.” She looked at the tenderness in his eyes. “Why are you being nice to me?”
 
“Is there any reason I shouldn’t be nice to you?” He grinned and stroked her short hair.
 
Little did Jo realize, she’d saved her life by stealing Seth's horse and food.
 
(To be continued in “Trouble’s A’Brewing.)


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