“How bad do it hurt, Oliver?”

“I think it’s broke.” Oliver clutched at his leg and winced.

Broken! Jody’s heart sank. How would he ever get Oliver out of here, and back to Baxters’ Island? Oh why did they have to play tease-and-chase today, here at the Glen? And why did Oliver have to step into a hole?

“Oliver…. You figger you’ll be all right here iffen I go git Pa?”

“Jody.” He shook his head hopelessly. “Ain’t no way your pa kin carry me.”

“Well, we’ll git ol’ Caesar….”

“And how’ll I git up on him?”

Jody pondered that one. Suddenly, he heard hoof-beats. “Pa?” he speculated hopefully.

“No.” Oliver went white. “They’s too many of ‘em. Ain’t jest one horse….”

Jody put a hand on his shoulder. “Stay here.”

“I cain’t do nothin’ else. Where you goin’? Jody!”

Shhh!” Jody scurried up the little hill and peered down the road from under the concealment of the bushes along its edge. He scampered back to the taller blond.

Oliver took one look at his expression, and said, “Oh no.”

“Well, but it ain’t all of ‘em. And ‘specially Lem ain’t with ‘em. Hit’s jest Buck and Mill-wheel. So….”

“Jody, I know what you’re thinkin’. No.”

“But I trust them two.”

“Well for obvious reasons, I don’t.”


“Jody, I’m helpless here!”

“But that’s jest why we need ‘em!”

“Yes, to finish me off. You do that with horses that got broke legs, Jody, not with people.”

“They’d not do that.”

“Your pa a’ready told me Lem done vowed to kill me!”

“Lem ain’t here!”


“Buck and Mill-wheel he’ped Pa when he was snake-bit, and ‘twas soon after the fight.”

“That was your pa. They a’ready liked him before the fight.”

“I’m sorry, Oliver, we ain’t got no other answer.” He was forced to make a decision; the hoof-beats had been coming steadily closer and were almost upon them. If Jody didn’t call out soon, it would be too late; they would be gone.

“Buck!” Jody yelled, and began to charge back up the hill.

“Oh no,” Oliver said again. He made a half-hearted grab at Jody’s ankle, missed, and lay back resignedly.

Jody bolted out through the bushes directly in front of Buck’s and Mill-wheel’s horses. They reined in abruptly.

“Boy, you ‘bout to git run down.”

Jody panted, slightly winded.

Somethin’ wrong?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well? You gonna tell us what it is?”


“Jody?” They dismounted and went close to him. Buck laid a hand on his shoulder. “Come on, boy, what’s wrong?”

He looked beseechingly into their eyes. “Please don’t hurt him; he’s hurted a’ready. Please….”


Jody flinched, and said softly, “Oliver.”

They exchanged glances. “Where is he?”

Jody pointed. “Down there.”

They started to descend the hill. Jody ran ahead of them and slid down into a sitting position next to Oliver. Their eyes met. Oliver was in a state of barely-controlled panic. Jody slipped a hand into his. Buck and Mill-wheel arrived on either side of them.

Oboy,” Oliver murmured.

“Jest relax,” Buck reassured him. They bent to examine his leg.

Mill-wheel said, “Hit’s broke but good.”

Buck told Mill-wheel, “We’ll hafta splint it afore we kin move him.”

“Move me…where?” Oliver couldn’t suppress a shudder.

Buck looked at him in barely-concealed amusement. “Baxters’ Island. Okay?”

“Okay.” Oliver was tense, but hopeful at that.

Mill-wheel grinned. “He was afeered we’d fetch him to our place, and hand him over to Lem. Right, Oliver?”


They chuckled.

“This’ll do for the splint.” Mill-wheel grabbed a small straight branch.

“Now, Oliver,” Buck said as he looked him in the eye, “we’ll hafta straighten the leg. You understand?”

“Yes.” Oliver was pale.

“I’ll do it,” Mill-wheel offered. “You hold him down.”

Buck gripped his arms, and Mill-wheel proceeded. Oliver yelled horribly. Jody turned away, upset.

As Mill-wheel tied on the splint, Buck grinned mildly at Oliver. “Now that wa’n’t as bad as the beatin’ we give you, was it?”

Oliver smiled weakly. “No. Not near.”

Both Forresters grinned broadly at him.

The reminder set Oliver to worrying again. He asked, “You-all ain’t gonna tell Lem ‘bout this, are you?”

“No,” Buck said. “We prob’ly should. But with you hurted and helpless this-a-way, no, we’ll not.”

“Thank you.”

“And Jody,” Mill-wheel warned him, "don’t you nor your pa never let slip we done this. Lem’d never forgive us for lettin’ Oliver off.”

“I promise.”

“Thought you was in Boston,” Buck asked Oliver conversationally.

“I was. I sneaked back for a visit.”

“That was stupid,” Mill-wheel observed without looking up from his task.

“You right,” Oliver acknowledged. He clearly was not about to argue with them.

“When you gonna learn to stay outen Lem’s way?”

“I reckon now’d be a good time.”

Yestiddy’d’ve been even better.”


“We’ll do our best to keep Lem away from Baxters’ Island whilst you mend,” Mill-wheel told him.

“But git outen Floridy soon’s you kin,” Buck advised.

“And stay out,” Mill-wheel added.

“Okay. He really aims to kill me?”

“That’s how ‘tis.”

“And what’ll the rest o’ you-all do iffen you’re with him and he finds me?”

“We’ll have to he’p him do it.”


“You said that a’ready. Now I’ll tote you. Jest relax.” Buck lifted him easily.

Oliver eyed both of them in gratitude, but also in uncertainty. He had no doubt that this rescue was every bit as temporary and conditional as they’d said, and that if he ever saw them again after this, hostility would be completely restored.

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