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Epinetus continued.

 

“After noon meal and prayers the family proceeded on their downhill route again. Almost immediately the wagon hit a wet and slippery clay patch. It slid into a thicket of saplings. The wagon’s brake mechanism lodged against a young tree. The horses became excited and lunged forward. The brake-bar that had become wedged in the tree broke as the horses stormed downhill. Grandfather pulled the reigns tight but the horses paid little attention. The wagon slammed against some larger trees; first to the left and then to the right. Wooden pails tied safely to the wagons sides were smashed into splinters. Uncle Henry was thrown from the wagon and against a tree. His limp body lay on the ground as the horrible spectacle went on. The horses attempted to come to a halt but the momentum and weight of the brakeless wagon forced them to lunge forward again and again.”

 

wagon crash

 

George, mesmerized by the story, inhaled deeply on his cigarette and held the smoke in his lungs for an interminably long time.

 

“When the un-Godly mess of equines and wagon finally stopped, Grandfather leapt to the ground with rope in hand. He tied a front wheel of the wagon to a nearby tree. By that time the women and my father Horace had raced to Uncle Henry’s side. Grandfather ran uphill to meet them.”

 

“Uncle Henry lay on the ground moaning but no wounds could be seen. Grandmother and Grandfather were able to help him to his feet. After taking off his suspenders and shirt they could see the damage. One or two broken ribs poked at the underside of his skin but did not break through.”

 

George, without realizing it let an “Oh my God, the poor boy!” escape from his lips. Epinetus looked at him skeptically but then continued on.

 

Surprised Epinetus

 

“Grandmother Abashaby had each child rip a small strip off their blanket. These were tied together to form a long piece of cloth. She had two of the children hold Uncle Henry’s arms in the air as she made several circles around him. She carefully wrapped his broken body with this makeshift bandage.”

 

“Once again the Birdsall family made an early and unplanned camp. The weather had improved and the snow was melting quite rapidly. Uncle Henry and the horses were inspected several times. No additional damage was discovered on Uncle Henry. The horses had torn skin in several places on the back legs where the wagon hitch had hit them. Luckily they had no broken bones but only a few tender muscles. Grandfather applied some salve to their legs. He had stored this salve in the wagon for just such an emergency.”

 

George finished his cigarette and Epinetus took another one of his long breaks with his eyes closed. George could not determine if Epinetus was resting emotionally or physically. When Epinetus opened his eyes he continued on as if there were no break in time since he last uttered a word.

 

© wtomosky

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