property. Rodger and Benjamin are helping him; Rodger still slightly showing the results of the stampede. They have one section completed and are beginning on the second section, leaving a gap where a gate will go.
Andrew finishes packing dirt around a pole, “Okay, that post is in the ground. Let’s get this top wire stretched. We want a nice straight fence here.”
Rodger grins over at Benjamin, “Being a road-side fence, he don’t want it to look like you ain’t learned to build fence yet.”
Benjamin laughs, “I’ll haul the wire down yonder.”
Good-naturedly, Andrew commands, “Take ‘er away!”
As the Burke brothers watch Benjamin trundling along with the ‘mule’, a bent peice of pipe used to haul the roll of wire, they discss him.
Andrew remarks approvingly, “He’s gotten pretty sturdy…when they first moved here I considered him something of wimp.”
Rodger laughs, “So did Bartholomew. I’m glad he thinks better of him now.”
Andrew nods, “Yeah, when Bart doesn't like somebody..." He trails off, then changes the subject, Well, I’m going to start building that gate. Wanna help?”
With a cheerful grin, Rodger retorts, “Since when do I not wanna help?”
They turn to the wagon which contains boards, posts, and wire.
The gate lays out on the ground, partially completed. The boys attention has been shifted from the gate to getting the top wire strung. Benjamin is about a third of the way down the fence, putting tension on the wire. Rodger does the same another third of the way down. Andrew tightens the end of the wire around the fence and pounds in the staple.
Andrew hollers back up the fence, “Alright fella’s, let's get those posts in the ground!”
Before they had started working onthe fence, Andrew had already figured out an efficent system for planing the fence posts. Carrying it out, Andrew is digging the holes (since he is the tallest and strongest), Rodger is planting the posts into the ground, and finally, Benjamin is coming along tamping the dirt in around each post.
Over half-way down the stretch of fence they are working on, Andrew stops to stretch. The post hole-diggers tended to set his neck muscles up if he didn't stretch once in a while. He hears a scream and quickly looks around, as do Benjamin and Rodger from their respective stations. The boys see Carrie on one of the new
horses Mr. James had recently bought. The horse is bucking furiously. Caleb dances around it’s front legs trying to hang on to it’s head, but he can’t get a good grip.
Suddenly, after his last attempt to grab the horse's head, as it went down and his hind feet kicked the air, Caleb falls flat on his back. The horse takes a flying leap over the corral fence. Carrie, who hadn't yelled again, screams in terror and hangs on for dear life. It is evident that she is slipping off.
Andrew instinctively starts moving, clearly to try to intercept the horse. As he does so, never taking his eyes from the animal, he orders, “Rodger…go get your horse!”
As Rodger starts off, the horse stops abruptly and before Carrie can regain anything like a semi-sound seat, he rears up, then bucks violently. Carrie is thrown off into the dust. She rolls over a couple times as the horse bolts off. Rodger, now on his own animal, chases after the crazed horse, lasso in hand. Andrew puts more speed into his legs and Benjamin doggedly follows him.
Andrew slides to a stop next to Carrie and kneels down next her. Benjamin pants up; he can't speak he is so out of breath. Carrie is bleeding pretty profusely from a gash on her head. She is concious, eyes open, but rather stunned and not talking. She is crying almost hysterically, and clings to the comforting hand Andrew places over hers.
Andrew looks to Benjamin, “Go tell your ma to get some water and bandages ready." Immediately, the younger boy pushes his tired body to go further.
Turning back to Carrie, he asks, “You alright?”
She doesn’t answer because she can't as by now she's choking on her tears and the dust that got into her by way of the fall.
Speaking almost more to himself than to her as he scoops her up and starts walking toward the house, “I hope you didn’t break anything serious…” He looks down at the face on his shoulder...at the moment, it wasn't strikingly attractive being tear-stained and dirted, but he didn't care. He felt a brotherly protectiveness of this dainty little woman.
Philip comes hurrying, “Is she alright?”
Andrew responds, “I don’t know. I’ll go for Dr. Harris though. So long as her back isn’t broke she should be fine.”
Her father looks very concerned, “You think her back is broken?”
Andrew looks up, "I couldn’t say, but I don’t really think so; it’d be best to be sure though.”
Loretta is frantic. Nobody seems to notice Caleb, his lip bleeding, as he limps steadily toward the house.
Loretta opens the door to the bedroom her three daughters share, "Here, put her in her bed.”
Andrew carries her into the girls room and lays her down gently. He brushes the hair away from the gash and looks at it before straightening up.
He turns toward the door, “I’ll get the doctor now.”
Philip graps his hand as he leaves the room, “Thank-you, son.”
Andrew returns the graps and gives the distraught parents an encouraging smile, "She'll be fine", he seems to be saying.
Loretta sighs, “Oh, Philip!” and leans on her husband's shoulder.
He kisses her forehead and comforts her, “Shh…take it easy, L’etta. Andrew didn’t seem to think her back was broken, so she is probably fine.”
Thus encouraged, Loretta collects herself and goes to cleaning her daughters head.
In the kitchen, Benjamin is standing by the table with Lucy and Beatrice. The three of them are looking towards the door to the girls room. Caleb slips in the front door and collapses onto the bench just inside. Benjamin hears him and turns around. He is startled by the sight that greets him. Caleb, normally full of life, is rather pale and quiet. The effect if hightened by the bloody lip and chin.
Hurrying over, Benjamin asks, “Caleb! You alright?”
Caleb, his usual spark gone almost whines, “My hip hurts. I think the horse stepped on me.”
Benjamin kneels down by his younger brother, and pulling out his handkerchief starts wiping the blood
off his brother’s chin. Caleb starts to cry, something he did very seldom.
His lips trembling still, he asks, “Is Carrie going to be alright?”
Benjamin scoops his brother into his arms and puts him on his lap, "I think so, Caleb…we don’t know how badly hurt she is yet.”
Dr. Harris stands by the door, hat in hand. His voice is encouraging and cheerful, “She is going to be fine. Because her ankle is swollen up, it appears that she tried to land on her feet, but twisted the ankle and went down, banging her head. Thankfully, she didn’t crack it on a rock. The gash is more, I think, from sliding a-ways then it is from actually hitting it.”
As the doctor goes to put his hat on his head, Benjamin interjects, "What about Caleb?”
The family swings around to look at him.
Philip asks startled, “What about Caleb?”
Benjamin, standing with his hand on his brother's shoulder, points out, “He’s hurt too.”
Loretta reaches out to her younger son, “Oh...I didn’t know. Why didn’t you say something?”
Manfully, Caleb retorts (while trying not to cry again), “’Cause Carrie’s hurt worse’n me.”
Dr. Harris inquires, “What’s wrong, sonny?” as he hang his hat back up and kneels in front of the boy.
Caleb points, “My hip hurts…right here. I think the horse stepped on me.”
Dr. Harris next wants to know, “Can you stand on it?”
Almost indignantly, Caleb retorts, “Of course I can! I can even walk on it.”
And to prove it, he stood up and took a limping step as he spoke.
Dr. Harris hides a smile behind his hand with which he was stroking his mustache, “I see.”
He reaches out and feels the boy’s hip, then confirms his suspcisions, “Like I thought. You probably are bruised all the way to the bone, but it’s not broken…Just take it easy and don’t do anything particularly
exciting for awhile, okay?”
Caleb grins, his spark returning, “Alright.”
Rodger and Benjamin sit on the corral fence watching Andrew. The second oldest Burke boy is in the corral with the horse that had thrown Carrie. He swings a saddle onto it and by seemingly impossible manuvers gets it cinched down. After allowing the beast some times to calm down a bit, he takes a springing leap into the saddle. The horse immediately, and very determindly, bucks and turns and twists and does everything it can think of to throw his rider. Andrew hangs on with equal determination written across his face--a face that also seemed to have enjoyment written across it.
Rodger turns to Philip, who has walked up during the above proceedure, “Andy looked like he was going to kill that animal when I got back with it yesterday.”
Philip grins, yet was also serious, “Well, I don’t blame him. I might have if Carrie was hurt any worse than she is.”
Rodger nods, “I’m glad that she was only banged up and no broken bones…believe me, that isn’t fun!”
Philip laughs briefly, “Mrs. James tells me the hard part is going to being keeping Carrie off her feet til she heals up more.”
Rodger, unlike many boys of the age of thirteen, didn't mind people knowing he like certain girls, “I admire Carrie…we all do. She’s tough but a real nice little lady.”
Philip smiles up at the boy's serious remark, “That makes this father’s heart warm…I love my daughter dearly and to hear her praised means a lot to me.”
They direct their attention back to Andrew and the green horse. The horse appears to be getting tired; however, his rider seems a fresh as ever. Suddenly, Andrew yells, “Open the gate, Rodge!”
As soon as it is open, Andrew buries his spurs into the animals flanks with a vicious kick. They bolt out through the wide gate way and Andrew runs the horse ragged. Each time it attempts to slow down, he encourages it to keep moving with another kick.
When they finally return at a walk, the animal is blowing and lathered up. Andrew sides down, saying, “I’ll be back tomorrow. I wonder how much fight he’ll have in him then?”
Rodger looks at Benjamin and remarks in an undertone, “Not much, likely. Andrew doesn’t usually have much trouble on day two when breaking horses.”
Benjamin cocks his head to one side, “It’s funny, but I rather imagined Bartholomew would be your family
Rodger laughs, “He’s certainly tough-enough…but he doesn’t have the same cool-headed patience and determination that Andrew does. No matter how much an animal misbehaves, Andrew can’t be riled out of control. Bartholomew would loose his temper and beat the horse’s head in, I’m afraid.”
Carrie limps out of the house on her papa’s arm. They lean on the railing and watch as Andrew leaps onto the horse. It jumps slightly, but in minutes it is under control.
Wonderingly, Carrie wants to know, “Papa…how does he do it?”
Philip shook his head, “Practice, patience, and not least, determination. Good qualities to have..." he tacked the last on in a musing tone.
Carrie smiles up at him, “I don’t think I’ll be getting on any horse I don’t know again anytime soon.”
Andrew, who had just brought the horse to a stop in front of them, laughs, “I sure hope not, Miss Carrie. No one would be happy if you really got hurt.”
Carrie returns the smile and shakes her head, "Least of all me!"
Philip remarks, “I declare, son, I’ve never seen anyone work a horse the way you do.”
Modestly Andrew returned, “It’s a God-given gift. I guess I just have the right personality.”
Bartholomew, who had just ridden up, affirms his brother's statement, “Yep…you can’t make this man angry enough to loose his head." Then he adds in a undertone, but in a way that was meant to be heard, "Unlike other people I know…”
This last statement caused a general, good-natured laugh, in which Bartholomew joined with a spark of extra good-humor.
*Note--I am assuming that post hole diggers, like those I am familiar with, were already invented and in use in the 1890's. I couldn't find anything about the history of post hole diggers on a cursery search of the internet.