A Love So Bold - Chapter 17

LoveSoBold_0.jpgA Love So Bold
by Anon Allsop

The story continues - Hope you enjoy!

-Seventeen-

In the pre-dawn light, the train was slowly coming to life. Families had eaten and were now hitching their mules, horses and oxen to them. Hannah was holding Em and standing beside Gideon, while Cade sat on the back of the near mule watching.

“What do we do with the little cart?” she asked, capturing a loose lock of hair and tucking it behind her ear.

“I’d love to take it with us, but we’re going in some real rough country soon and I’m afraid it will just drag us down.” He looked past Hannah to the cart where it sat off the side of the trail.

Hannah sighed, then turned to also look at the cart. “We can leave it; perhaps someone else could use it for repairs or may have use for it in some way.”

Gideon had been watching her, remembering to what she had done only last night, his mind dwelling on what his heart wanted him to do to, and for her. But alas, it wasn’t to be… for as soon as she could, she would be gone. He couldn’t help studying the curve of her form, mesmerized in the beauty she possessed. Her wavy red locks drifting in the morning air, she was so much like ‘his’ Hannah…and yet, nothing like her.

This Hannah was civil to him, unlike the woman whom he had married and slowly changed over time. She absolutely had hated the thought of moving west, loathing the trail as much as she possibly could. He thought of their last argument, the hateful words she had said to him…yet, he loved her with all his heart. And always would.

This Hannah seemed to relish in the caring of the children, allowing them to even go as far as calling her ‘Momma’. It was as though, when she had changed, this new Hannah took only the good…seemingly becoming the woman he remembered of his youth. She wasn’t above learning to do the hard work it would take to make their way out here, almost accepting of her place within his little family…if only…

“Did you tie up Blackie in the back of the wagon?” she asked as he was doing the final check of the harnesses and leads.

“He’s ready to go, as soon as we are.” He looked up and swiped Cade’s nose with his finger, “You ready to go with us, son?” The boy slid into his father’s arms and laughed gleefully, as Gideon lightly tossed him onto the wagon seat. Turning, he looked down at Hannah, “Do you want to be tossed, or climb up on your own?”

She laughed and began to climb; he gently grasped her narrow waist and assisted her into the seat, then followed picking up the reins as he settled in.

***

The afternoon grew very warm; it was sweltering inside the wagon. What little air movement there was could be felt in the wagon seat. Hannah sat holding Em, while Cade was seated between Gideon and her. The wagon was being pulled by four mules; Blackie was tied up in back.

Dust was kicked up from the wagons; just the mere fact of breathing left them all with dirty brown noses. To prevent Em from being forced to breath in the dust, she had a thin cloth over her face.

Gideon spat over the edge of the wagon, "Darn tired of chewing grit."

Hannah reached behind them and retrieved the canteen she had found. "Would you care for a drink of water? It may help get rid of the sand."

He took it from her and quickly raised it up, the first mouthful was promptly swished around and spit out, and then he drank deeply, a small trickle of water rolled from the edge of his mouth and down his neck. "That hit the spot. Thanks, Hannah."

She smiled as she took the canteen from him and held it for Cade; his was an exact repeat of Gideon's drink, first the spit and then the drink. Hannah giggled to herself as she waited for Cade to place the stopper in.

"Are you going to want a drink too, Momma?" he hesitated, holding the canteen for his mother.

"Can you hold it for me?" she asked as she positioned herself to drink and still hold Em, using her free hand, she slightly raised the canteen to sip from it.

"Spit," he reminded her in his youthful voice. She did with a smile and then followed it with a much longer drink. She mimicked both Cade and his father, much to his amusement.

Cade giggled, and when his father looked down at him, the boy pointed toward Hannah. "Mommy's nose is brown."

"I doubt if anyone told you yet, son, but your nose isn't any cleaner." He nudged him with his elbow and laughed, "It's from breathing all this dust."

Hannah took out a cloth and wetted it from the canteen, then proceeded to wipe it from her own nose. "Would you like to keep your dirty nose? Perhaps you should start grunting like a little piggy?" She made a sound with her throat; it was the same sound that always made Ezrah's own mother laugh.

Cade held his face still for her to begin washing his nose. When she was finished he exclaimed, "Pa’s next!"

She reached across and wiped the dust from the underside of Gideon's nose. She then placed the cloth and canteen back behind them and sat quietly, rocking to the stiff ride of the wagon. The constant jostling was creating a pain within her milk-laden breasts.

After several minutes she sighed, "How much further do we have to go before we're where we need to be?" She raised her arm to help hold her feminine breasts still.

He shrugged, "Wagon master says it averages around 140 to 150 days."

"That doesn't help...".

He smiled, thinking of how the original Hannah would have been complaining, as she rode along in the dust. "We left in April; probably have a month and a half travel to go."

Hannah only nodded, and then began to gently ease herself into the back of the wagon to nurse Emma. "I guess it could be worse, couldn't it?" she said with a laugh.

"There's been quite a few poor souls who didn't make it this far," he said glancing back and gave her a knowing look. "This here's some rough country; it isn't fit for someone who won't go all the way to see it through."

"You used to hate this... what changed, Momma?" Cade asked as he peered over the seat, back toward Hannah as she prepared her clothing to nurse Em.

She thought of his comment for several long seconds, "I didn't change, honey... riding this trail changed me." As she spoke, Gideon quickly looked over his shoulder toward her. She glanced up as she was placing Em at her breast. She thought about what she had said, but didn't feel badly in the least, because it was the truth.

She sat in the back looking over the sparse contents of their wagon, “Why don’t we have so much back here? Did you end up tossing it?”

He laughed, “No, we just didn’t need it. I can build just about anything that we would ever need, so there was no real need of packing it.”

She nodded, “I guess that makes sense.”

He sighed deeply, “It was also a reason that Hannah disliked the most, she didn’t like leaving her affluent lifestyle behind. She downright hated me for it.”

Hannah shrugged, “On a trip of this length, with the trail the way it is… you don’t need the extra weight. It’s better anyway to save the room for spare wagon parts instead of unnecessary items.”

Emma began to squirm, impatient on how long Hannah was taking to ready her for nursing. With a smile on her face, she began to unbutton her bodice.

She leaned against a bag of Hannah's clothing... now, her own actually. Crouching low, she hid herself from the wagon behind as she began to nurse Em. She really didn't have anything to fear as the dust they kicked up would have concealed her.

Her life had taken a seemingly impossible turn way back on the trail when she stumbled upon the original Hannah. Now, after the strange twist of events she wore a duplicate of that poor woman's body. "What a strange and extreme swing of life's pendulum," she sighed aloud as she covered Emma with the cloth once again.

Gideon glanced back as she was adjusting the covering over Emma; he turned his head back slowly and watched the mules plod along. In his peripheral vision, he saw the boy's head dip suddenly, then quickly up where he looked around. "Come on, son, why don't you take a quick nap in the back with your mother and Emma."

"I'll be okay, Papa...I promise!" he pleaded.

"No son, you need to rest. You're not going to be of any help to us if you fall off the wagon." He smiled and jostled his son's hair. "Go on now, you're mother's waiting."

Reluctantly, Cade climbed in the back with the encouragement of his father to rest awhile, Gideon had become fearful that the boy would fall forward and be crushed under the prairie schooner’s huge wheels.

Reaching out with one hand, he assisted Cade over the seat back; meanwhile from her position inside the wagon, Hannah also helped him. They acted similar to a well oiled machine, working together like an ancient timepiece; and it was all the more remarkable because she held Emma in one arm suckling for all she was worth.

Gideon adjusted his hat and turned back to face forward. He thought about how the original Hannah simply hated riding in the wagon, and let him know about it constantly. Then he thought back to what she had started doing to him last night, and how he wished she would have continued.

It was hard for him to believe that she had ever been a male; she had become so feminine in every way that he often forgot that she wasn't the Hannah he had married. He laughed to himself, thinking of how she had hated doing anything domestic, living up to the 'silver spoon' theory to the hilt.

Her family had been quite wealthy, and as long as they were willing to live in the city she was the beauty with whom he had fallen in love. As he began looking toward the west, she had changed. Hell, even her father tried to dissuade him with a bribe to stay put.

There was something, though, that he could never turn away from, some beckoning call from the distant west. It was this call which caused him to sell everything he owned, and drag his little family out in the middle of nowhere.

He thought about the day Hannah and he argued, how at the point of the attack she fled from the safety of their wagon with little Emma in her arms. The love of his life was taken from him that day, and even he knew she would never return.

Yet, that strange necklace had given him a gift that he could never really hope to fathom, much less deserve in his own eyes. It gave him back his dear Hannah, the mother of his children, the love of his life.

He knew from his own experience with the necklace that there would be a way back for the duplicate of his Hannah, but he also knew that the only way to return to who he was before, would be if the boy had an original article of clothing that had remained untouched by his new feminine self.

He again glanced back at the pretty red hair that spilled out from under her bonnet. He had lost her once... and it had left a void in him that he never thought could be filled. He had a chance to rectify it, and would do whatever it took to convince her to remain as she was... his Hannah.

To be continued...


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