Here’s a sample chapter for my children’s western book, The Kidd
By Briana C. Vedsted
Kidd pulled back the tent flap, frowning out at the pouring rain. With a sigh, she let the flap fall back down into place.
It was cold. Even for late September, it was cold. It had been raining for three days, pausing only when the wind howled like a pack of angry wolves.
All the wood was wet, so there was no fire. And now, the rain had saturated the heavy canvas tent and water was starting to drip down into the only shelter.
Kidd plopped down onto the pine boughs, shivering.
Dan looked up at her, wistfully asking, “Has the rain stopped?”
Dan’s shoulders slumped.
Kidd looked down at little, three year old Amos who coughed in his sleep now and again. The sickness had settled into his lungs.
“He needs medicine.” Kidd brushed Amos’ dark hair back off his forehead.
Dan fretted, “We ain’t got much money. And we don’t know how far it is to the next town.”
“How much food do we have?”
Dan pawed through the supply bag. “We got a can of fruit, a handful of dried beans, and almost half a pound of hardtack.”
“Got any sugar left?”
“Just a little. If we had a fire, I could make some gruel for Amos.”
Kidd got to her feet. “Well, I’m goin’ scouting. Maybe I’ll find some dryer wood, and I’ll try to make a fire again.”
“You takin’ the rifle?”
“Yeah, I’ll leave you the derringer.”
Kidd got up and put on her worn-out black Stetson and grabbed her hand-me-down leather duster. She took her old man’s rifle and a handful of shells.
“I should be back a’ fore dark.” She told Dan as she was stepping out of the tent.
There was no sound but the steady drumming of rain and the occasional, distant, clap of thunder.
There wasn’t much hope of finding any critters out in this weather, but with any luck, Kidd might find a squirrel or a woodpecker.
Jolly, Dan’s mare, whickered as Kidd walked past.
“Easy, girl.” Kidd told her softly.
It had been a few hours. Kid sat down to rest under an old cedar tree. She had managed to find a few dry branches, and even a pocketful of tinder. But no food.
Kidd was just about to head back to camp when she heard a sharp snap.
Kidd looked up.
There was a jackrabbit, about ninety yards away, nibbling on a blade of grass behind some thin brush!
Kidd slowly raised the rifle.
The rabbit looked up.
The rabbit went back to eating.
Kidd s-l-o-w-l-y squeezed off a shot.
The rabbit fell down dead.
Kidd grinned proudly. That had been a tough shot. But Kidd was good with a rifle. Pa had taught her how to shoot a gun when she was only knee-high to a grasshopper.
Kidd took out her knife and skinned and cleaned the animal.
It certainly wasn’t a young rabbit. So it might be a little stringy, but it was still food.
Kidd saved the skin; Dan could make it into a fine hat or a pair of mittens for Amos.
Shielding the wood and the meat from the rain beneath her duster, Kidd hurried back to camp.
It was freezing in the tent.
Dan was holding Amos on her lap, breathing on his fingers to keep them warm. She chattered, “D-d-did y-you f-find a-any w-w-wood K-Kidd?”
“Yeah! And I got a rabbit!” Kidd tossed her hat into the corner and put the meat and wood on the ground. Her duster was still warm from being worn, so she wrapped in around Amos and picked him up.
Dan hurried over to inspect the meat.
Kidd chuckled, “I kept it out of the dirt, Dan.”
Dan was very picky; it made her sick if there were any pine needles, dirt, hair, or leaves in meat.
With Amos’ cheek nestled against her neck, Kidd threw back the tent flap.
The rain was just a steady drizzle now.
It didn’t take Kidd any time to build a cheery little fire.
Dan had the meat cut into thin strips, and had seasoned it with a little sage and ground peppercorns.
Put on a spit and turned occasionally, the meat would be well smoked and could be safely kept without worry of spoiling.
Amos watched with wide, green eyes. “Can we eat it now?” he asked.
Dan, who was stirring up a pot of ‘goo’, as Amos called it, turned to look at him, “No, Amos. Now we will eat the gruel. Maybe tomorrow we will have meat.”
Amos pouted, “I don’t like the goo. I want meat.”
“Soon, Amos, soon.” Kidd promised him.
True, the gruel was very unappealing. Pale, watery, and flavorless.
But Dan had put all the sugar into Amos’ bowl, hoping he would like it better.
Amos at all his gruel, but he made faces the whole time.
Kidd ate hers, trying hard not to grimace. Hardtack on its own was difficult to eat, but this gruel, while nutritious and warming, it was down right nasty.
Dan was the only one who could eat the gruel without grimacing.
Late that afternoon, the rain stopped.
Kidd wanted to go, but the meat was still raw in the middle.
Dan insisted on waiting a few more hours.
In the meantime, Kidd filled the skeins and canteen, packed up the tent and blankets, built up the fire, and stashed the supplies in her saddlebags.
Amos toddled around, picking up oak leaves and pinecones. He was consumed in his own little world, happy, full, and content. For now.
Dan was salting and stretching the rabbit fur. She hummed to herself as she worked.
Impatiently, Kidd moved the meat closer to the flames.
Dan sprang to her feet, sniffing noisily. “You’re burning the meat.” She said dryly. Deftly, she pulled the meat away. She frowned at Kidd and muttered something about ‘patience’.
Kidd had nothing else to do. She had already cleaned her rifle, twice. She counted and re-counted the shells. She checked the packs and saddles.
Dan finally exclaimed, “Oh alright Kidd! For heaven’s sake! I’ll pack up the meat, you put up the fire. Come along Amos, put on your hat; we’re leaving now.”
Kidd’s horse, Chip, chomped on his bit. He was ready to go. The smell of horse was strong after all that rain.
Jolly pranced, wanting to be on the way.
Amos’ pony, Nut, on the other hand, grazed contently, in no hurry.
Amos kicked his heels into the pony’s sides, urging him forward. But Nut didn’t move. He just stepped to the side, never ceasing to eat.
Kidd took Nut’s lead rope and tied it to her saddle horn.
Amos was too young to ride by himself anyway.
Nut would have to be sold.
Kidd sat Amos on the saddle in front of her, making sure he was comfortable.
Dan was fussing with her stirrups.
Kidd rolled her eyes. Why did Dan have to be so picky all the time?
Kidd complained, “Come on, Dan! It’s going to start raining again. I figured we could make at least five or six miles a’ fore sunset!”
Dan left her stirrups alone and kneed Jolly forward. “After you.” she curtly said.
Kidd lifted her reigns. Chip stepped forward eagerly. Kidd grinned. She had had Chip since she was six, and he was perfectly trained to her liking. She never had to use spurs on him, or even touch him with her heel to tell him to go. Only rarely did she even have to cluck her tongue.
Jolly, on the other hand, was still a spirited young horse, only four years old.
Besides, Dan never had liked riding much.
And Nut was just spoiled. Amos had only ridden him a few times before he was sent to pasture, where he had grazed to his heart’s content and never had to work. He would be a good horse for some rich man’s child, who would only ride him for play. But not for a hard-working boy like Amos would grow to be.
And if Kidd could find a willing buyer, Nut would bring a good price.
Dan wouldn’t be happy about that, for some reason. So Kidd would have to make the sell when Dan wasn’t around. That would be tough.
I’ll figure something out. Kidd thought.
Copyright 2013 Briana Vedsted