The Bairn of Brianag (Chapter Eight, page 1 of 16)


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The wagon was terribly rough. My nausea increased. Rabbit sat against the wagon boards, her back toward Pete, her arms wrapped about her knees, her dark eyes wide. The wagon seemed to be packed with everything one would need for an extended stay in the wilderness. There were numerous barrels and trunks, sacks of rice and maize, and blankets and bedding. I leaned my head onto my knees and moaned as the wagon bumped into a hole.

Rabbit drew a blanket toward us and spread it out as best she could with the jolting of the wagon, and I crawled onto it and curled myself into a ball. After a time I slept.

I woke when the wagon stopped. Rabbit was asleep; she did not stir. My mouth was dry, my eyes sticky; I was terribly hot. My stomach heaved. I crawled to the wagon's side and retched.

When my heaving stopped, I looked around. Pete was not on the seat. Robbie's horse was close by, but I did not see him. I crawled over the wagon board and onto the seat, then down to the ground. I was dreadfully thirsty.

We had stopped in a glen of cypress trees; ahead of the wagon was a creek crossing.

I walked to the back of the wagon and back toward the way we had come, looking for a secluded place to relieve myself. I desperately wished for a drink of water.

When I returned to the wagon, I could see Robbie rummaging around; he looked down at me.

"Mrs. Stewart! Have you had a pleasant sleep?"

"I want water," I said.

"Water, madam? I shall draw for you a mug of beer," he said.

I did not like beer; though it was only sassafras I disliked the sour taste. But I reached out and took the tin cup he offered me, and took a small sip. The tartness caused my face to crinkle, but it quenched my thirst, and my stomach did not reject it.

"We shall have bread and meat, and then cross the creek," he said.

I had crossed this same creek many times in a carriage, going to the mountains; at this time of year the water was low. I was not afraid, but wondered how the crossing would be in the large and awkward wagon.

Rabbit awoke, and Robbie gave us all bread and ham. I forced myself to eat a few bites, pausing between each, and the food stayed. After this brief repast, we were instructed to sit down in the bottom of the wagon and hold tight to the sides.

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