Trace chains rattled musically as the wagons plodded forward. The squeak of badly greased wheels, the plod of hooves, and the occasional creak of a wagon, were the only sounds that the tired pioneers made as they traversed the Oregon Trail. White canvas billowed in the gentle breeze, slapping from one side to another as the wagons sank in a whole, and the wooden skeleton of the structure slashed from one side to another. Dust drifted up from a 143 hooves and 120 wagon wheels. Men sat lazily in the saddle, escorting and guarding the wagons on their slow journey west. Tired men and women sat the benches of the wagon, listlessly holding the reins as they daydreamed of things passed, or things to come. Most dreamed of the riches they would find in Oregon. They were one day out of Ft. Bridger, but already the mundane existence of trail life had settled down over the train.
The one exception was Billy Eshleman, who galloped from the back of the wagon train on his chestnut gelding. Holding his hat on with one hand, he pulled up behind the Delgado wagon and dropped off behind it. Keeping pace with the slow wagon, he tied off his horse to the left side of the tailgate. He gave Marvin and Bessie Willis, in the wagon behind, a brilliant smile and a tip of the hat, before he slid into the back of the Delgado wagon and pulled the flap closed.
“You think we should tell Oliver what’s going on in the back of his wagon?” Marvin asked his wife as he stared at the back of the wagon.
“Naw, leave them be. They’ll work things out by themselves.”
“I noticed that Oliver had the old Greener with him today. The double barreled 10 gauge.”
“Yup, it’s got quite a reach on it,” Bessie said. “He says he can hit a moving target at 40 yards.”
“I believe it,” Marvin said, giving the reins a shake to hold their position 30 feet behind the other wagon.
Billy sat smiling at the object of his affections. They made a perfect picture of all that was good in the world. Billy Eshleman was young and handsome. He wore flashy store bought clothes that favored blue. His black hair always seemed to be neat and perfect. He had a smile that would melt the heart of the coldest woman.
Hattie was young and blonde, airy in looks and personality. She was the best looking woman on the wagon train, and damned well knew it. She had a cute face with slightly chubby cheeks and a sprinkling of freckles around her nose. Her heart beat wildly as she looked at Billy, smiling at her from the back of the wagon.
“I told you not to do this any more,” she said in a threatening tone.
“And I won’t, not after today, if you don’t want me to. If you want me to stay away, I will. After all, that old man of yours might fill me full of lead.”
“He might,” she nodded, giving him a coy look. She wondered if he could hear her heart beat. She could feel it beating out of her chest even as she surveyed his slender, muscular body. She reached down and slid the hem of her dress up one golden leg. Billy’s breath was harsh and audible. He gazed spellbound as she pulled the dress even higher. Her soft thigh was clearly visible. Billy felt his cock growing rock hard. He shifted positions to make it less painful.
“You are such a tease,” he accused her, moving closer. He heard her sharp intake of breath, as he nearly touched her in the close confines of the wagon. Billy looked at the shadow of Oliver Delgado on the white canvas at the front of the wagon. Oliver would have to stand on the seat and look inside at the top of the curtain, to see him. As long as they were quiet, there was no reason for him to do that. Still, there was quite a risk. Oliver sat on the right side of the seat, so Billy had tied his horse to the left rear of his wagon. The only likely thing that could go wrong was a tattletale. God help him if Oliver actually caught him molesting his daughter. Not that anything ever came of his visits. Hattie was just a tease.
“Am I?” she asked with an arched eyebrow. She began fluttering the hem of her skirt, giving him enticing glances of both legs, and the white of her pantaloons. “It’s so hot in here,” she said teasingly.
Billy moaned in repressed lust. How could the cute little cock teaser do this to him?
“I found something,” he said baiting her.
“Like what?” she asked, dropping the hem of her skirt, allowing one entire leg and some of the other to show beneath the material.
“Something you’d like,” he said, reaching into his belt pouch and pulling out his closed fist. “What do I get for it?”
“What is it?” she asked, now so curious she was bursting at the seams. Billy smiled knowingly, shifting his fist back and forth in front of her face. She made a grab for his fist, and he pulled it back.
“What do it get for it?” he repeated firmly.
“What do you want?” she asked coyly.
“I want to see one breast, and feel one thigh… high up,” he rushed to finish before he died of embarrassment.”
“You promise that it’s worth it?” she demanded. He almost cried out in relief when he nodded, knowing that she would accept his offer. She looked around to make sure nobody could see inside the wagon, then slid the top of her dress open. He raised up for a better look, watching breathlessly. She finally jerked her dress open with a gasp, showing her entire right breast in a flash of golden soft skin. He hissed in appreciation. He was so close he could almost smell the skin of her breast. He could see the small individual freckles and the wrinkles of her perfect areola and nipple. Hesitantly he placed a hand on her leg. He felt it jerk in response. He slid his hand up her thigh. They both felt his hand shaking in nervousness as he gently rubbed it up and down her left upper thigh. It was so soft, so inviting. He watched the rapid rise and fall of her breast. He was about to ask for more, when she jerked her dress shut and pushed his hand away. He sighed in resignation and opened his fist. Hattie gasped in delight, wrenching the arrowhead from his open palm. Her eyes glowed as she looked from him to her new treasure.
“What tribe is it from?” she asked breathlessly.
“Ben thinks it’s Blackfoot, we’re in their territory. Or, it could be prehistoric. They haven’t changed much in centuries.”
“Wow,” she gasped, holding it to her chest. Billy tried to hide his disappointment, knowing the adventure was over for the day. He waved airily and turned, sliding through the rear of the wagon. He pulled the reins lose and jumped to his horse’s back in one easy move. He tipped his hat to the Willises and spurred his horse forward. In a moment he was riding next to Ben, the old mountain man who had befriended him.
“How’d things go?” Ben asked amiably.
“But not enough?” Ben said sympathetically.
“No,” Billy admitted.
“I’ll tell you what. I know of a lake up north of here, it’s about a days ride to get there and back. Let’s make a trip of it. I know the man in charge of the camp, he’s called Fierce Crow. He loves a good trade.”
“You mean trade with the Indians?”
“That’s what I said, didn’t I?”
“I… yes!” he said in surprise.
“You got anything in your pappy’s wagon worth trading?”
“Knives, cooking pots, buttons and the like.”
“I guess,” he said hesitantly. His mother had a mason jar full of buttons. He had his carvings, his one existing art form. There was little time for art in the west, but Billy’s love for carving had filled a wooden crate with miniature horse, antelope, buffalo, and the like. His pride and joy was a full sized, fully painted eagle which hung suspended from the rafters of their wagon and was always getting in the way. His mother complained of it constantly. Billy rode to the back of his wagon and tied off his horse. He jumped into the back and with his mother’s help began searching the wagon for trade goods. In less than an hour his horse was so loaded down that Ben had to help with some of the load.
“A folding oven? Are you sure your mother can part with it?”
“I asked, it’s an extra. It seems that daddy got an extra of almost everything. Now it’s all weighing down the wagon. This axe head is one of ten,” Billy said, holding the axe head up for Ben’s inspection.
“My God, boy. They’d kill for something like that. That’s worth half a dozen horses to them. You just make sure you let me do all the bartering.”
“Yes sir,” Billy nodded. They spurred their horses off to the north, leaving the wagon train behind.
They pulled up along a large stream. The stream was lined with cottonwoods and a few bushes. Billy didn’t want to put a cottonwood handle in the axe, so he searched until he found a scrub oak. It took less than an hour for a skilled whittler like Billy to shave and shape the handle and insert it into the axe head. It would shrink some in the coming weeks, but the Indians were knowledgeable about such things. They could shim the handle when it came lose, Ben assured him.
As they rode north, Billy showed Ben his carvings. He was most fascinated by the things he knew, such as the buffalo, cattle, sheep, deer, elk, and horses. Some were an inch high, and some nearly a foot tall. All were amazingly lifelike. Billy whittled constantly, from the back of his horse, or next to the campfire.
Ben was some interested in the unknown beasts, such as the elephant and the tiger, but not as much as the “real” ones. He knew the Indians would have a similar interest. The sight of the lifelike eagle bouncing against the side of Billy’s horse took Ben’s breath away. It looked like it could rise up and fly away. He knew that Billy had used a mixture of berries and earth pigment to color the wooden eagle. The white head and wingtips came from a precious supply of white paint Billy had hidden in his wagon.
“My God, son, you are rich beyond belief in the eyes of an Indian. You have more wealth than some entire villages.
“Just trinkets,” Billy shrugged.
“Any Indian in the west would kill you for those trinkets,” Ben scoffed. “It should be a good day of trading.”
They created quite a commotion when they entered Fierce Crow’s camp. Armed men stormed out and watched their approach. At first the uproar died down, until the Indians noticed the eagle rocking at the side of Billy’s horse. They ran forward in outrage, pointing at the eagle and shaking tomahawks in Billy’s face.
“What the hell?” Billy asked in horror.
Ben couldn’t seem to stop laughing, to Billy’s chagrin. He finally wiped his eyes and explained.
“They think it’s real,” he shouted over the uproar.
“They think you killed an eagle, their messenger from God,” Ben laughed.
“Well tell them I didn’t,” Billy yelled.
“To hell with that, it’s good publicity. Wait until Fierce Crow shows up.”
Billy waited patiently, pushing spear points and tomahawks out of his face. He had the urge to pull his pistol and start shooting people, before Fierce Eagle finally showed up. His face was painted. His strong body was naked, except for a breech cloth. He strode angrily forward and looked at the eagle. Humor suddenly crinkled the corners of his eyes. He shouted and pushed people back. With a reverent hand, he ran his fingers over the wooden eagle.
“Give it to him,” Ben whispered.
Fierce Eagle’s eyes immediately went from Ben to Billy, then back to the eagle. Ben knew that Fierce Crow missed nothing.
“It’s my best thing,” Billy complained.
“I’ll explain later. Give — it — to him,” he emphasized the words with a hiss. Billy untied the eagle from his saddle horn and held it out to Fierce Crow. His eyes flew wide in surprise. He again looked from Ben to Billy, then accepted it reverently. He held it aloft and the tribe broke into excited yells which nearly set their horses to bucking.
“That’s your bona fides,” Ben said from the corner of his mouth. Now you can demand anything from him and he’s honor bound to give it to you. Of course he can kill you and take it back later,” Ben said airily.
“Oh, of course,” Billy said sarcastically.