Disclaimer: This is an Alt/Uber story. The characters are mine, but they are based on two women we all know and love. J
Content Warning: There is some pushing around and bossiness.
Note: I want to thank my Beta reader, Pam. Thanks for the comments, including the constructive ones. I am not fluent in Spanish, so I apologized for the incorrect translations. I am looking for a Beta for the Spanish parts. If you would like to help, just email me. Thank you.
Comments: Feed the bard. You can send them to my email. firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
Copyright © April 2004: R. A. Hughes
April 13, 1874 continued- Somewhere near the border of Mexico
The bright sun was beginning to descend into the horizon. The usually blue sky turned to a pink hue. They rode forever. Well, it seemed that way to Elizabeth. Her posterior was getting sore from the saddle. Her eyes began to water, washing away the dust that kept invading them. Her dry throat became irritated, which abruptly caused a hacking cough.
"Here," the redhead held up a canteen. Elizabeth hesitated; he assured her, "its just water."
Elizabeth took the canteen, and unscrewed the lid. The cool water felt good. She took a few gulps until she was sure the liquid quenched her thirst. She screwed the lid back on, handing it to the redhead.
"Thank you," she said gratefully.
Elizabeth looked back out to the prairie. Slowly a black dot appeared straight ahead. She squinted her eyes to try to see better, but they were still too far away. The redhead urged the horse to pick up speed. When they came closer, the black dot turned into a log cabin. There was a movement off to her right. It was the other three riders. All six of the riders stopped a few feet from the cabin. The leader swiftly jumped from off his horse.
"Get her down, Tom," the leader growled.
The redhead named Tom climbed off the horse, helping Elizabeth down. The leader took her arm, and they walked toward the cabin. When they stepped inside, he pushed her into a chair. She looked around her. They were in a room that looked like a kitchen. There was a cook stove in one corner. A round wooden table stood in the middle of the room with six chairs surrounding it.
"Now what are we supposed to do with her, Carlos?" one rider asked the leader.
Elizabeth dreaded the answer as she saw Carlos, the leader, removing the bandanna. She observed that his face was as brown as mud and eyes of the same color.
"She stays where shes at for right now. I'm going to put the horses in the stable. Keep an eye on her," Carlos disappeared out the entry.
Elizabeth watched as the other riders took off their hats and bandannas, except for the blue-eyed stranger. Standing against the wall, those blue eyes watched Elizabeth. Elizabeth met those eyes again. She noticed that the stranger was as tall as the others were. The riders were young boys, probably a few years older than she was. She had just turned twenty a month ago.
"I guess we should introduce ourselves. Im Tom Hunter. That is my brother, Frank and my other brother, Matt. And that Mexican over there is Pedro Rodriguez." Tom pointed to each one by name.
"Howdy," Frank and Matt greeted Elizabeth in unison.
"Agradable encontrarlo, el fallo," Pedro smiled.
"He said, "Nice to meet "Tom began.
" you, miss," Elizabeth interrupted. She noticed the stranger suddenly moving away from the wall, eyes wide open with shock, and slowly backed out the door. Elizabeth didnt understand what just happened.
"Who was that?" she asked, as Tom looked back at her.
"Youll have to ask," he winked, noting the confused look on Elizabeths face.
"My name is Elizabeth Clark," she said.
"¿Entiende ested el español?" asked Pedro.
"He wants to know if you understand Spanish." Tom explained.
"Very little," she answered.
"Muy poco," Tom translated.
"Yo le enseñaré español, si le gusta." Pedro offered.
"He can teach you Spanish if you like," Tom translated back to her.
"Sí, gracias," Elizabeth accepted.
Pedro smiled broadly and the boys continued to talk among themselves.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, wrung her hands together nervously. She was anxious to leave here, somehow, but until then she must remain calm.
Standing outside the stable, the stranger loosened the strings of the hat. Raven tresses fell down the back. Long fingers untied the bandanna. Elena Garcia sighed heavily. She walked inside the stable to help her brother with the horses. Carlos finished unbuckling the saddle off the last horse. Elena picked up a brush and began brushing the horses mane.
"She understands Spanish," she informed Carlos, who placed a hand on her shoulder.
"You have a lot to explain, little sister," he said.
"Dont hurt her, Carlos," she said softly.
"I never said I was going to," Carlos walked out of the stable.
The last light of the sun sank into the earth. The stars came out of their hiding places in the velvet sky. A single kerosene lamp glowed through a cabin window. Elizabeths hands were no longer tied, but she still sat in the chair. The boys worked around her, cooking supper. They talked about the weather and farming the new years crops. They never mentioned the days events or what was to become of Elizabeth.
Elena could hear the bustling and chatter behind the cabin door, but she didnt hear Elizabeths voice. She frowned sadly. Summoning up the courage, she pulled the latchstring and swung open the door. As she came closer to the light, Elizabeth's mouth gaped. The boys looked up at Elena.
"Glad you could join us, Elena. Let's say grace," Carlos said to Elena, who sat down just as everyone else bowed their heads, "Thank you, Lord, for this feast. Amen."
"Amen," everyone said together.
Elena glanced up at Elizabeth. They caught themselves looking at each other. It was now a habit for them. Elena noticed something different in Elizabeth's eyes--confusion. Elena looked away.
They ate in silence, except for Elena who couldn't eat. Her stomach was too nervous. She didn't want Elizabeth to hate her. This wasn't her doing. She wished she could make this go away. Carlos never told her he was going to kidnap Elizabeth and his reason why.
"Well, it's getting late. We have a busy day tomorrow, so wed better turn in. Elizabeth can sleep in the master bedroom," Carlos suggested.
"No, she can sleep in the stable," Elena said sternly.
"You don't trust me, do you?" Carlos asked. A thin smile appeared on his face.
The boys watched the battle between the siblings. Elena's eyes were blazing. Carlos turned away in defeat.
"Come on, Elizabeth," Elena beckoned.
Elizabeth followed Elena outside. When they stepped inside the stable, Elena closed the door and made sure it was latched. Elizabeth smiled at the horses. They nickered their greetings to the new intruder. At the end of the stable, an old wagon canvas hung over a rope. Elena pulled back the canvas, revealing a room. A feather mattress lay on one corner of the floor. There was a small table in the other corner. The only source of light was the moon shining in the window adjacent from the room.
"Is this your room?" Elizabeth wondered.
"Yes. There's a nightshirt underneath the mattress. You can wear that. I'll close the canvas so you can undress," Elena excused herself while closing the canvas.
Elizabeth found the white buttoned-down nightshirt under the mattress. She unbuttoned the back of her dress, and it landed on the floor. She grunted when she tried unlacing the aggravating corset. When the last string of lace gave way, she threw the offending garment on the floor with her dress. After she discarded the petticoat, she slipped the nightshirt over her head. "Elena?"
"It's okay now."
Elena walked back into the room. She chuckled at the sight before her. The nightshirt was too long for Elizabeth's small frame. The sleeves covered her hands and the shirttail touched the floor.
"I bet I look silly," Elizabeth said shyly.
"No. You look like an angel," Elena complimented as Elizabeth blushed, "Let me roll the sleeves up for you."
Elena rolled up the sleeves to Elizabeth's elbows. A knot formed in her stomach. Her hands were trembling when she pulled them away.
"I'm going to sleep in one of the empty stalls. Goodnight," Elena turned to leave.
"Wait. Please, don't go. I'm scared," Elizabeth admitted.
"I guess I could sleep on the floor," Elena said, seeing Elizabeth nod.
Elena spread a blanket on the floor. Stretching her long frame onto the blanket, she folded her arms behind her head.
Elizabeth tried to get comfortable on the feather mattress. After she was settled, she pulled the blanket up to her chin. "Goodnight, Elena."
"You too," Elena whispered softly, smiling in the dark.
To Be Continued
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