Later that night, Luke helped Eleanor set up camp. She was fortunate, for he had a saddlebag full of cooking pots and spices, but no food.
"I'll go off and shoot us a turkey," said Luke to Eleanor, who was on the ground spreading her quilt. "I would have a fire started soon, if I was you," Luke pointed out as he reached behind his leg and drew his rifle. Eleanor admired the way that men could ride around on their horses, and bear rifles. She'd always wanted to bear a rifle. She knew how to shoot one alright; she just didn't own one to bear.
Eleanor removed the saddle from Eloise, and set it on the ground next to the fire pit. The mule was good about grazing nearby overnight, so Eleanor didn't really have anything to worry about. Eloise's loyalty reminded her a little too much of Red. And wherever he was- weather dead or in some else's possession- she hoped that he at least missed her. She most certainly missed him. She could almost hear his whinny in the back of her mind.
She sat on the blankets, hugging her knees to her chest. It soon began to get dark, and Luke had not returned. It was quiet under the small patch of pine trees the decided to camp at. She hoped he would return soon, for she could hear the yelps of coyotes out somewhere in the darkness.
Suddenly, Eloise began to bray as loud as se could manage. Eleanor jumped to her feet, and grabbed hold of the mule's rope halter. She began stroking the mule's neck. It did no good. Eloise began tossing her head and snorting wildly. Everything was starting to fall apart already. If only Eleanor could travel back in time and mange to grab that bucket of water that once was her stable life.
She heard a strident growl from a tree.
She looked up, and a gust of wind blew her bonnet off of her head. It landed on her back. The same gust of wind blew some of the fire in the pit onto a piece of dried grass. Eleanor quickly looked to her left, and almost screamed.
There, above her, with its teeth dripping with flesh and blood, stood a huge cougar.
The animal pulled back its teeth more, revealing immense fang-like teeth. It let out a loud roar.
Eleanor closed her eyes tightly. This is not happening to me…this is not happening to me. She opened her eyes, and then closed them again. By god, it is happening to me!
Just as the cougar bent low, readying itself to pounce, a loud horse's scream was heard.
"Hold on, Eleanor!" yelled the familiar voice of Luke. Out of nowhere, his horse galloped into sight, and Eleanor heard the loud crack of a rifle. The cougar screamed, then began tumbling down the trunk of the tree toward Eloise. It roared again as Luke blasted it two more times, leaving it unable to walk. Luke rode beside it, leaped from his horse, and shot one straight in the animals head. He turned to her when he breathed a little. "You alright?"
Eleanor nodded. "Yep," she panted.
"That mule of yours was mighty lucky that I was about ten feet away. It would've gotten her before I could even pull out my rifle," he remarked, gesturing toward the dead cougar with his rifle. "I guess you're the lucky one, alright."
Eleanor made her way over to his horse, where a turkey was hanging from a lariat. "I guess I ought to clean this here turkey up for supper," she said, grabbing the dead bird from Luke's saddle.
A/N: I am writing this because this story has been in my heart for years. I don't care if no one decided to read it, but just know that I enjoy writing it, even if it's only for my own pleasure. Thank you.