“Whew, Lucy, look at that,” Emmett Swigert shifted in his saddle as he looked at the unusually high waters of Cimarron Creek. “Whatcha think girl?” Lucy answered with a sideways dance in the sand. “Yeah, I don’t wanna freeze my tail off either. Let’s see if we can ford somewhere else.”
Emmett stood in the stirrups to peer up and down the stream. “Which way?” Lucy started a slow pace northward. “Well, I guess you made up your mind, we’re going up stream.”
They rode along for a couple of miles following the high water until they came to a fork in the creek.
“Seems I remember an old trapper’s cabin in the boot between these streams.” He nudged Lucy across ankle deep water and through the marsh nearly to the creek’s edge. The cabin had just come into sight when Emmett jerked hard on the reins. A few yards away stood an Indian pony quietly munching on a patch of brush. “Uh-oh, girl, we’re not alone, one pony, probably one brave.” Emmett patted the restive horse. “Holy moly, look there.”
A young Indian, really no more than a boy, was lying in the cold water. He was trying to pull himself through the water to the cover of the brush, pausing occasionally to look back at Emmett.
“Hey, there,” Emmett gulped at the sound of his own voice. “Lucy, this is a problem.”
Emmett guided Lucy carefully through the marsh to a point just a few feet from the boy. “Looks like you got yerself in a mess.” Emmett swung off Lucy and walked slowy toward the young man. “Easy now, I’m not gonna hurt you.”
The young Indian gave another tug at the grass and cried out in pain and frustration.
“Okay, I see yer problem. You done broke yer leg. Let’s get you out of this water first.” Emmett reached down to pick him up, but the frightened boy swung his fists. Emmett stepped back a moment to rethink his moves. “Lucy, let’s get his pony. That might calm him some.”
Emmett led the Indian’s pony back to the injured boy. The brave immediately looked up and seemed to relax. “Okay, kid, let’s try again.” Emmett reached down and grasped the cold wet man under the arms, this time without any problem. As Emmett expected, the boy let out a whoop of pain as Emmett picked him up. “I’m jus movin’ you over to this dry patch.”
There was no other reply.
Emmett finally got him to the drier ground; then pulled the blanket out of his bedroll, and covered the brave. “Warm up a bit and we’ll see what we can do about that there leg. I’m gonna cut some branches up.”
The brave remained absolutely still and watched as Emmett cut four sturdy branches, and then striped them, and cut them to two foot lengths.
“Okay, lets see what we can do for that leg, it looks like a clean break.” He cut a short piece leather and gestured to the boy. “Here, put this between yer teeth.”
Emmett then cut off strips off of blanket, grabbed the sticks and knelt next to the injured man. He made sure the injured leg was straight, then braced it with the branches and tied the blanket strips tight to hold the leg in place.
“Done,” Emmett leaned back in satisfaction. “Let’s get you back on the pony.”
The brave spat out the piece of leather and closely examined the splint on his leg, but said nothing.
“Okay, pony, I hope you know the way home. Jus hold still.” Emmett wrapped the pony’s rope around the horn on Lucy’s saddle.
“You’re next, kid.”
The boy seemed to understand. As Emmett reached down to grasp him around the chest, the boy tried to stand and was ready to swing his good leg over the pony’s back when Emmett tossed him up. Emmett steadied him while the boy adjusted himself.
“Here’s yer rope,” Emmett slapped the pony and the brave rode up a small hill to the west. At the last moment he stopped, turned, and raised his arm to Emmett in salute.
Emmett returned the gesture, “Go with God,” he whispered.
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