Disclaimers: still can be found in chapter 1a and will probably never ever change.

Mountain Love
by Psyche_b

Chapter 2a

    The area she travelled through was parched and brown.  Her eyes scanned the land for any signs of water.  She had shared the last of her canteen with her horse that morning, now both were hot tired and very thirsty. She walked slowly, the horse following head hanging low.  she walked more and more to save the horse's strength.  She thought more and more about trying another direction to look for water. She couldn't go back as she knew there was nothing behind her.  Victoria stopped,to try to decide what to do. A large tree and the shade it offered beckoned her.  The large branches drooped low to the ground from the lack of rain, but it was shade.  A respite from the brutal sun that beat down on her from a cloudless sky. Both horse and rider rested as the heat continued.  Without realizing she drifted off.  And with sleep came the dream.  The old woman spoke to her as if she had been able to read her thoughts.
    "Do not stray from the path you follow.  Home and love are waiting for you."
    The face of the old woman was replaced by the young woman and for the first time she spoke.
    "Come home. We are here for you."
    The voice low and almost melodic to Victoria's ears as the thoughts filled her head. She woke with a start and noticed the sun was lower and the temperature was just a bit cooler.
    She stretched and stood for a long moment beforemaking the decision to continue following the road she was on. Within the hour she came upon a pond.  Although just slightly more than a large mud hole it was water.  She rigged her bandana around the moth of her canteen before plunging it into the brackish water.  Mosquitoes that hovered around the water tormented her and her horse.  The horse shied away from the water when Victoria tried to get her to drink. She thought it was because of the mosquitoes and poured some of the water into her hat.  She was puzzled that the horse continued to back away with a shake of her head. After several attempts, Victoria gave up, puzzled as to why her horse wouldn't drink when she knew she was thirsty. She lifted the canteen to drink when the horse nudged her arm causing her to spill the water down the fron of her shirt.  She tried again.  Another bump which angered her.
    "Look just because you don't want to drink doesn't mean I don't now stop it"

    With that she took a large mouthful, only to spit it right back out.
    "God that tastes awful" She started to pour the water out,  but decided tat any water, no matter how bad it tastes was better than no water and took another mouthful, swallowing quickly.  "This will have to do until we can find better water.

    Mounting her horse they continued on until she found a suitable spot to camp for the night.  The small river she camped by ran slow, but clear and tasted sweet. She dumped the contents of her canteen far from the river rinsing the canteen several times.  Her horse drank her fill without any hesitation. She cooked her meager supper and turned in.

    Cassie stood on the porch to watch the sun come up.  Even at this early hour, the day was oppresively hot.  Not even the birds were singing.  Granny sat in her rocking chair next to Cassie shaking her grey head.
    "It's started"  She said quietly.
    "What's started Granny?" Cassie asked.
    "The sickness" So ominous was her answer, that Cassie felt a chill despite the heat.




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