Cutter was standing in front of the wagon apron, looking out into the darkness at the pale blue beginnings of dawn.

It won’t be long now, he thought. Things are never as long as people think they’re gonna be.

Stupid man to go off and leave us anyways.  Must a been taken by a storm a’ pride  to move out in a downpour like that.  No way would I do that.  Heck no.

Damn water is dirty, too. The walk over to the bend where it’s clean is too long in the dark, and the taste is so stale if it sits in the bucket all day and night.  It’ll be a fine thing to get to that Montana country where they say the water is cold and clear.  And clean.  Just so as we get there a’fore big winter hits. Time to build a lean-to or even a little cabin.  Ain’t going to sit no winter out under a canvas cover with not firebox.

Even the horses are jumpy.  Maud and Ezekiel and Tom  are all jumpy, too. And poor little Eugenia and baby Eli.  Crazy to wait out here.  Crazy not to wait.  Damn fool is probably not even coming back.

Sun goes down slow out here.  Back in Richmond there were so many trees you never knowed it – never figured there was a place where’n the trees was right scarce.  Like red rabbits.  Like other folks. Stars are bigger out here, seems like, too.  Huge up there in that old Milky Road or whatever it’s called.  Coyotes like em, that’s for sure.  Wonder if those big ol’ rattlers do better rabbit catching under those big stars.  It’s a lot of damn trouble to go out and take a piss in the grassy dark with all the rustling and howling going on around about.  Damn that cold creaky wagon, too.  And damn that high-minded know-it-all who got us lost out here.

That’s funny, Cutter, you fool.  He chuckled to himself.  Out here you can see so far it is almost tomorrow everywhere you cast your eyes. Hard to believe a body could get lost and still be able to see so far. Hard to believe a whole passel of folks could all be plumb lost and could see so far.  Wish we could see yesterday.  Maybe two days back – that’ed be the thing:  grab that man by the reins when he tried to ride off and leave us.

And here it comes now:  another pretty dawn sky.  They sure are beautiful out here in this god forsaken prairie, I’ll say that.  Maybe it will be today that we find out.  We damn sure better do somethin real soon, with our without that bastard.


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