Cassie (Chapter Six, page 1 of 9)

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When she opened her eyes again, it was dark. Her whispered calls for Bordeaux received no response so she felt around in the darkness. The only thing she accomplished was cutting her hands on the sharp rocks. Bordeaux would be back. She curled into a ball and tried to go back to sleep. Bordeaux wouldn't have left her unless he felt she was safe, she was sure of that. Still, she wished he would get back soon. He probably went to search for food. Her stomach churned at the idea. Her head was pounding and her throat was dry. With a little more effort, she finally located a canteen and took a long drink. The muscles in her legs felt numb. Walking tomorrow would be excruciating.

She cradled her throbbing head on her arms and tried to relax. Where was she? Judging from the sharp rocks, they must be in the lava field. How far had Bordeaux carried her? She caught her breath and sat up sharply. What if he had abandoned her? It was hard to believe he would do such a thing, but nothing in her childhood had ever suggested that her father would abandon his children, either. Could she make it across the lava field by herself? Bordeaux said it was north of Ashley, or was it north of the desert?

Which would kill her, the Indians or the country? Think of something else - something positive. How many miles had they traveled today? If the Indians were renegades, surely they wouldn't want to take the time to track only two people - not with the cavalry on their trail. Maybe Pete and the others had reached Ashley by now and a rescue mission was already under way to get them. But would they know where to look?

A whisper soft movement in the night alerted her, and she held her breath, straining her eyes into the darkness. Was it an animal? An Indian? She was afraid to move. Where was her rifle? Cautiously her fingers felt the ground around her and touched the cold steel barrel. She quietly lifted it and placed it on her lap. She couldn't cock it without giving away her position, but she could use it as a club.

"Cassie?" Bordeaux whispered softly.

"Chauncey." Her hoarse whisper betrayed her relief.

"I brought you something to eat." He moved close and pressed some meat into her hand. It was still warm and smelled of wood smoke.

"You cooked it?"

"Sure," came the reply. "About two miles from here. I didn't want the smell to draw any unwanted visitors." He placed a cool canteen on her lap. "I found some water, too."

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