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Thursday, November 22, 2012

MY WESTWARD TREK Chapter 16


Widow's Country House
courtesy photobucket.com
 
The first night after the wagons had parted was quite lonely for Morgan. He wandered about the camp talking to friends he had made, but his mind was elsewhere.  

He couldn't believe that a little fourteen year old girl could affect him so. What made him angry was that at times he came close to tears and that threatened his He-Man status.  While he had missed his mother it was never anything like this.

During the days his mind had to focus on what he and Virgil were doing but at night the loneliness would return. There was a lot of danger in killing these animals for meat. These buffalo didn't take kindly to being shot, and the bears didn't go down easy.  They usually would get a few rabbits and squirrels and the people would argue over who got them instead of the meat of the larger animals.

They had reached the point where some of the stock was worn out. When they pressed against their yoke or harness it wasn't done with the same power as before. You would see them stumble and have a hard time keeping their balance. For the teams of horses, the weak horse would be released out on his own which in most cases they would lay down and die but for the oxen they would be killed for meat.

On the level ground it didn't make that big a difference but when they hit the upgrades and mountains they had to leave one wagon using the extra oxen on the other wagon.
 
The horses was different when a horse was turned out one of the out riders would put his horse into harness and they would continue on.  Finally they reached the Sierras and little by little made their way through the passes till one day they reached the top.  
 
Morgan was thinking about his trip around Cape Horn, and the stormy weather they went through and concluded it didn't compare with his trip overland.

When it came to cooking Virgil had picked a winner for his wife who was a marvel at fixing food.  Morgan ate with them as often as possible.  Cooking for three wasn't any more work than for two.  Her good cooking put a different attitude on the hardships they endured.

Morgan wondered if Bessie knew how to cook like Virgil's wife, as he thought he concluded probably not.

It was about a day and a half till they would reach Sacramento and Captain John gave Morgan and Virgil their pay and told them they could leave and ride on in the town. This meant they would be in Sacramento in a few hours and a full day before the wagon train.

Virgil told his wife he would find a place to live and would have it ready when she got there. This sounded good to her for she had driven her wagon for almost six months and wanted to be shed of it.

There was much to do when Morgan and Virgil got to town, the first thing was to eat and then find lodging.  
 
There were no rooms to rent because of all the miners in town, but Virgil found a small house on the outskirts of town for sale by a widow.  He thought she wanted too much for it but took it anyway.  He had to borrow some money from Morgan to pay for it because she wanted all cash.  She had enough of all this gold mining business, and was going to live with relatives in Oregon. Virgil bought the house, furniture and all so he was ready for house keeping.

The next morning they set out looking for men who had struck it rich and peddled their jewelry to them. The men were willing to pay whatever they asked for it, and by noon it was all gone and they had a pocket full of money.

Their next item was to buy the necessary equipment for their mining needs. They were out near Virgil's new house when they saw an old miner with a pack mule and some mining gear. They learned he had made out well and was leaving for home. They asked him if he was willing to sell his gear and he said he would sell his gear, pack mule and more importantly his gold claim for there was still a lot of gold there but he was wore out.

He said they might have to run off some claim jumpers so be ready for that. They paid him and they were now in the mining business.

Morgan and Virgil rode out to meet the wagon train and collect Virgil’s wife, and for the first time in six months he and his wife slept in a real bed.   

To be Continued   

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