True to his word, Dover rolled out of his blanket while it was still dark. Dover did what most men on the frontier do when sleeping out of doors. Before he does anything, his hat goes on his head. Then, he shakes out his boots to be sure no spiders,snakes,or other unpleasant creates have crawled in there to stay warm.
Dover had risen early, but as he finished pulling on his boots, he looked up to see Mariska handing him a cup of coffee, so clearly she had been up for awhile.
“Ma'm, don't worry about cooking anything for me. Just hand me a slice of jerky. I want to be going at the first crack of light”, said Dover as he checked his rifle.
“ Mr. Dover, I'm going with you. I thought about it all night, and there's no sense in my staying here. If Sean were able to move, he would have been here by now. I can be of more use being with you when we find him, besides I'm going crazy worrying. I need to be doing something to help – not sitting and waiting.”
Dover swallowed another sip of coffee, and replied, “Yes Ma'm, I can see that you have thought this out at length, and I have to say that I pretty much agree. By the time we get the horses saddled and everything ready, we should have enough light to
start tracking, so chew on some of that jerky while we work. We can eat better after Sean is safe and sound”.
They didn't have to travel very far before they spotted Sean's horse where he had been left tied. Dover removed his hat and handed it to Mariska. “Pour some water out of your canteen into my hat and let this animal drink. As best I know, he hasn't had anything to drink since about noon yesterday. He can wait for food. I'll head up the hill, you follow as soon as he is finished. I'll break branches or pile 3 rocks to show where I've gone. If I find him before you catch up to me, I'll fire a shot.”
Perhaps fifteen minutes later, Mariska had just caught up with Dover, when they came around the big rock and found Sean. He was out cold, but still breathing. Both Mariska and Dover understood the situation perfectly. They each knew that Sean had one foot in the grave. Still, some men take more killing than others. The fact that Sean had made it through the night and was still breathing, said plenty about how much sand, (the western term for grit and courage), Sean Eaton had. Without a word, they both set about gathering the limbs and vines they needed, and built a travois. Easing Sean onto the travois, they pulled him down the hill, then secured it to Mariska's horse, and pulled him back to camp.
After they got Sean onto a bed of vines, leaves, and a blanket, Marisa got busy flushing out his wounds with water, cleaning him up and bandaging his wounds. Dover let Sean's horse graze for a bit, then took him to the river for water.
Dover knelt down my Sean, and spoke to Mariska as he checked Sean's rifle to be sure it was working. “ Ma'm, it may be a waste of time, but I figure Sean needs every little bit of help we can give him. Last time I was there, Springfield had a doctor. I'm going to go get him and bring him back as fast as possible. I'll take your horse with me, so I can switch mounts to keep from wearing them out, and I will only have to make a couple of rest stops. I'm not sure Sean's horse is ready for that kind of a trip, so I'll leave him here.”
“ I'm riding straight through, and straight back. I hope to be back in a couple of days. Keep Sean's rifle by your side at all times. I'll leave my pistol also. There are some very bad road agents that work this trail, so make sure those weapons stay within reach no matter what you are doing. If they do bother you, let them get close enough that your first shot will kill. If it doesn't, neither you nor Sean, will get a second chance.”
“Don't worry about me Dover. If those men show up and try to interfere with taking care of my husband, I'll leave their bodies for you to bury when you return.”
Dover had his job to do, and Mariska had hers. As Dover sped down the trail, she gathered everything she needed around her, working feverishly, using everything she knew, to keep Sean alive.