The Wild Horse
Cavan's submission (see previous post for background):
The Wild Horse
Back in 1870, Jack Woodman and his wife, Alice, were traveling in the countryside of Harrisburg, Illinois. They were riding in a buggy in the forest during the fall. Jack and Alice had a team of three horses, but one of the horses tripped over a sharp rock. They went to the doctor, who told them the horse was lame. Before they leave, they stay and listen to a story about a wild horse. Jack and Alice thought they could perhaps catch the wild horse (because a new horse would be too expensive). They also hear of a horse missing from a rich man; there is a handsome reward for the horse's return! First, they decide to search for the missing horse. With the reward, they're not sure if they'll just buy a new horse or try to tame the wild horse. Putting saddles on the remaining two horses from their team, they set off on horseback.
During the search, it starts to rain hard. After a big storm, they get stuck in some mud in the middle of a pond. They can not just hop out of the pond. Jack remembers that he brought a long rope. He spots a big boulder, makes the rope into a lasso and throws it over the boulder. He pulls himself and Alice out, who were now both cold and wet. But, the horses they were riding were still stuck in the mud because they were too heavy to pull out of the pond. So, the Woodmans had to continue their search by foot.
When they find the missing horse, it is in a clearing by a cabin, closer to the town of Harrisburg, Illinois. They say to themselves, “It's probably the thieves' house, who kidnapped the horse.” Jack and Alice decide that if they rescue the horse and turn in the robber, they would probably get more reward money. They creep quietly toward the horse, who doesn't even make a tiny whinny. Alice gets on the horse, while Jack leads them back to the pond (where their other two horses were still stuck). Jack takes the rope and makes it into a double-ended lasso, putting one end over the missing horse and one end over a horse from their team . He urges the horse to back up, and after a minute, he pulls the trapped horse out of the pond. Jack then does the same for the other horse.
Once they have all the horses free, they go back into Harrisburg and ask for directions to the rich man's house. When they get the directions, they return the horse, feed and stable it, and receive the reward! Next, they show him where the thief lives and bring along the sheriff and policeman, who surround the cabin. The sheriff knocks on the door and the thief comes out quietly, not expecting to see the police. The sheriff ties him up and throws him in jail. The couple felt proud for helping the rich man and were happy to receive extra reward money too.
The next morning, the Woodmans begin their search for the wild horse. In their journey, they come across a wild river and wonder how they will get across. Jack and Alice think together about what to do and decide to jump across the river on horseback, but will they make it? They back up their horses, then start the horses galloping as fast as they can go. When they near the river's edge, they jump. Alice's horse almost makes it across, but his back legs land in the river and the current is too strong for the horse. The river pulls both the horse and Alice in! The man thinks quickly and urges his horse forward, to get in front of the woman's horse. When he is in front, Jack spots a tree stump on the other side of the river and throws his long lasso over it. He tightens the rope, and as Alice and her horse approach the rope line, it stops them from going down a water fall in front of them. The woman urges her horse to get on the river bank. The horse tries his best and succeeds!
They ride along into another forest and come to a clearing, with a quiet stream running through it. The Woodmans and their horses are hot, tired and hungry. They stop to drink at the stream and then go to pick wildberries for a meal later. When they return, they rest in the grass and eat some of the berries they found, while the horses continue drinking from the stream. After Alice feeds the horses some carrots from her pack, Jack gets out a little tent he packed that is big enough for him and his wife to sleep in.
Jack finds his small ax and goes to chop down some firewood for the night. When he was finished, nightfall was only a few minutes away. He began to rub some rocks and wood together to start a fire. After a few small sparks begin to fall, the flames then grew into a big fire. The Woodmans go to sleep and rest from their big adventurous day.
When Jack woke up, he saw a midnight black horse, standing near their horses. He silently awoke Alice. Could this be the wild horse? The Woodmans believed it was. They tried to quietly approach the black horse, but Jack stepped on a twig that snapped. The black horse turned, saw them and ran off into the woods. The Woodmans quickly packed up their camp and chased after the wild horse.
They come upon another dusty clearing, near the edge of the forest and spot the wild horse. Jack creeps over to the horse, trying not to startle him. As he approached the wild horse, he gently reaches out his hand to try and pet the horse. The horse nervously backs up, unsure of Jack's hand. Jack slowly follows the horse, but this time, the horse stays. Alice then steadily walks over to where Jack and the wild horse stand. She continues to slowly walk over to the horse, who once again, backs away a little bit. She calmly continues and holds up her hand. Alice then gets close enough to softly pet the wild horse. While she is petting the horse and showing him kindness, Jack swiftly went to get a saddle. As his wife keeps the horse peaceful, Jack calmly places the saddle on the horse. After gently tightening the saddle, he tries to carefully climb on the horse, who shakes Jack off. Jack tries again, but this time he gives the horse a carrot while he climbs up. Jack succeeds in staying on the horse this time!
The Woodmans were both glad they had found the wild black horse and were excited to take him to Champaign, Illinois (where they were going to live and start a family). Jack's cousin, an engineer, had previously offered the couple a ride on the train back to the Champaign depot. They could keep their horses on a special trailer car. The Woodmans were looking forward to an easier trip and settling down in Champaign together.