CTR Stories


Two of W. Dave Free's stories here on CTRstories have been published by Leatherwood Press and available through Deseret Book.

Get a copy and enjoy the edited version again. Then tell your friends!

Let us know when one of your CTRstories is published so we can share the good news!

User login

"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

Recent comments

Who's new

  • edmondsk95503
  • rainingmist
  • Asher Caneilla
  • Neysel
  • C nyyl

Who's online

There are currently 0 users and 0 guests online.

Most Recent Stories
Little Miss Liberty
    Steven O'Dell
The Christmas Dog
    Steven O'Dell
Barnaby and the Zilligong
    Steven O'Dell
GodWorld
    Steven O'Dell
The Greatest Christmas Gift Ever
    Steven O'Dell


Most Recent Chapters
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 58 -- On Wings of Angels
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 61 The Music Within
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 60 -- Lamb and Lyon
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 59 I Hate Christmas
The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Dave Free on 18 January 2007 - 6:58pm.

Chapter 16

There was something pleasant about being shaken from a deep sleep by a bugle. Steve couldn’t put his finger on it, but even at the unearthly hour of four a.m. he woke better rested and happier to the sound of the bugle than he ever did back home to the obnoxious buzzing of his digital alarm clock. Maybe it had something to do with the fresh air, the constant exercise, or the fact that staying up late to watch movies was never an option. Whatever it was, it was one of the few positive things in what were otherwise very difficult days.

By Saturday, the company had become very proficient in breaking camp and getting on the trail at an early hour. More than Captain Martin’s urgings, the memory of the heat of the sun from the day before encouraged the pioneers to get quickly on their way in the cool of the morning. Friday had been particularly hot. Hot enough that one of the older brethren in the camp had fainted under his cart.

On one of the first days of the trek, Steve had made an off-handed comment to the single sisters, that the brethren could get a tent down twice as fast as they could. From that day until Saturday the sisters’s tent was down, folded, and in a cart before Steve even rolled out of bed. So when he came out on Saturday and saw the sisters’ tent still standing he hissed to Samuel and the other brethren in the tent, “The sisters’ tent is still up men! C’mon let’s get this dog down!”

In a rush, all the brethren in the tent rolled out of their blankets and started pulling on pants. Steve didn’t wait for them, but started pulling up pegs and untying support lines. By now, the single sisters had come out of their tent and the race was on. The sisters had the advantage that there was no one inside their tent as they took it down, but Steve and the others still managed to get their tent in a cart within seconds of the sisters even though they had to step over several sleeping children and other unpacked items.

By five a.m. the entire company was on the trail and making good progress. The spirits of the pioneers were high as the sun rose behind them and they pushed and pulled their carts along. By nine a.m. they were passing through a rather well established settlement. The first few days of the trek they had passed through several such villages and settlements along the trail. But these had thinned as they moved further west and this was the first they had seen since Thursday afternoon. Steve liked the settlements for the change of scenery they always provided.

This particular one was made up of roughly a dozen unkempt log homes. Most of the homes had split rail fences around their yards. As the company made it’s way through town several of the settlers took a break from their morning chores and came out to watch the procession. Steve, and the rest of the company, were now used to being a spectacle. It always reminded Steve of the Pioneer Day parade back home. The saints would wave and the settlers would typically wave back and wish them good luck. For some reason though, this particular settlement wasn’t that friendly.

Because Steve’s carts were the first packed and ready to go that morning, they were near the head of the train and were among the first to enter the village. They waved to the villagers and said hello as they walked past their homes. But instead of return waves and well wishes there were jibes and sneers in return.

“Awful hard way to serve the Lord!” One yelled.

“Best use of Mormons, I ever seen!” yelled another. “Tie ‘em up to wagons just like a bunch a dumb asses!”

Steve was helping John and Margaret pull their cart as they walked through town. The sisters, Elizabeth and her children, and Aaron and his family followed with their carts. As the insults continued through the length of the village, Steve could feel his anger rising. Apparently so could John. He reached over and put his hand on Steve’s arm as they pulled side by side.

“Take it easy Elder. Remember Peter and John ‘rejoiced’ that they were ‘counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

“Yeah, well these yahoos aren’t going to be rejoicing much longer.”

“It’s not worth it Elder. We’re just about out of town, just let it go.”

Steve took a deep breath and nodded. “Yeah ok, ok.”

He concentrated on the ground in front of him and tried to ignore the taunts. After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the end of the village and the taunts became less and less audible.

“Now what do you suppose they’re up to?” Steve was awakened from his deep concentration on the ground in front of him by the query from John. He looked up to see several of the older boys from the village running ahead of the handcarts.

“I dunno, but I’ll bet it’s no good.” Steve replied flatly. “Looks like they’re stopping in those trees up ahead.”

Not far past the end of the village, the trail descended a slight incline and entered a long line of trees that extended as far as the eye could see in both directions. Typically Steve looked forward to trees on the trail and the shade they provided, but as he pulled his cart into the shade this morning he had a bad feeling in his stomach. It didn’t take them long before they found the boys from the village.

The line of trees they had seen from afar and were now crossing had grown up along the edge of a beautiful little stream. If not for the presence of the village boys, Steve would have been perfectly delighted by the scene. The stream was no more than ten to twelve feet wide and flowed steadily. The banks were covered in a motley green combination of moss and grass except for a few clumps of willows that grew right down to the water’s edge. Where the trail intersected the stream, the banks had been worn down and widened, forming a large slow moving pool through which the carts would pass.

The boys from the village had taken up positions along the banks of this pool and were now waiting for the show to begin. The pioneers had crossed dozens of streams over the past week and were becoming rather adept at the process. Those who wore shoes, typically took the time to take them off. The brethren rolled up their pant legs and the women hitched their skirts as high as they needed to avoid getting them wet. Despite the widened banks, this looked to be one of the deeper , if not the deepest, crossing the company had made.

Steve always enjoyed the crossings. His feet were healing well, but a nice dip in a cool stream with soft mud or smooth pebbles in the bottom always felt great. The sisters in the company weren’t quite as enthusiastic. Hitching a skirt was somewhat of an embarrassment and hitching a skirt with one hand while pulling or pushing a cart with the other was down right cumbersome. Steve figured, the rude spectators wouldn’t help at all.

He was right. As he and John entered the water pulling the cart, Margaret hitched her skirt and followed into the water pushing from behind. The boys along the bank began to snicker and hoot and yell cat calls. Now Steve could see John’s anger rising.

“I think it’s time to start rejoicing brother John.” Steve said so that only John could hear him.

“Rejoice?” John replied obviously distraught over the abuse his wife and the other sisters were taking.

“Yeah, I was thinking we’re about to see a few baptisms and we ought to have an opening song and start rejoicing.” Steve replied.

“Baptism?--”

“Yeah, I’m thinking it will be more of a sprinkling affair than immersion, but we’ll just have to see how the spirit moves won’t we? Do you have a bucket or a pot or kettle in your cart?”

“Yes, yes! As a matter of fact I do!” John now seemed to understand Steve’s intention and he dropped the handle and turned to the bed of the cart.

“No! Not yet John. Wait till we get the cart to the other side. I’ll go back to help the others and round up a few more buckets. You get your cart up the trail a ways and then come back with your bucket. Cross the stream on the far side of the carts from these ‘low-lifes’ so they don’t notice what we’re up to. Oh, and let’s start singing, that will distract them and drowned ‘em out.”

By now they had reached the opposite side. Steve slipped out from behind the pulling bar of John’s cart and reentered the stream singing at the top of his lungs. Gradually the train behind him picked up the tune.

But some will say it is too bad

The Saints upon their feet to pad

And more than that to push a load

As they go marching up the road.

We say this is Jehovah’s plan

To gather out the best of men,

And women too, for none but they

Will ever gather in this way.

Some must push and some must pull

As we go marching up the hill,

As merrily on the way we go

Until we reach the valley, oh.

The single sisters had already hitched their skirts and had their cart well into the stream by the time Steve got back to them. The cat calls from the spectators only increased in volume as the pioneers heartily sang their favorite tune. Steve grabbed the bar next to Elizabeth and began to pull.

“Do you have any buckets or pots?” He hissed in her ear.

Elizabeth was slightly taken back but had learned to expect just about anything from Steve.

“Yes, Elder we have a water bucket. Why?”

Steve quickly explained his plan to her. She approved with a broad smile. “The bucket is hanging from the back of the cart. I’m thinking this will work as well.” She stepped away from the cart as the others pulled it up onto the bank and undid the strap around her waist from which her prized hat box dangled.

“But you don’t want it to get wet do you?” Steve queried.

“It will dry and I can’t think of a better use for it right now.” She quickly dumped the contents into the bed of the cart and handed it to Steve.

“Thanks Elizabeth. Go ahead and pull your cart up the trail a ways. We’ll catch up.”

Steve accepted the hat box and grabbed the bucket from the back of the cart then headed back across the stream. The boys from the village were totally engaged in the spectacle of those just entering the stream and paid no attention to Steve. John had now also returned and helped Steve pass the word along to Samuel and Aaron.

As soon as Samuel and Aaron had their families and carts safely across the stream, they grabbed their buckets and pots and joined Steve and John in helping others across and spreading the word. Within a few minutes there were a dozen brethren with buckets in one hand helping pull carts across the stream. As the numbers grew, Steve began to worry that the hecklers would catch on and decided the time had come to put his plan into action. He quickly divided the group in half and sent one half, with their buckets full, back up the trail from which the carts continued to arrive. He sent John with them and instructed him to walk back up the trail until they were out of sight, then circle around through the trees until they were behind the boys.

While they waited for the first group to get into position, Steve and the other brethren continued to help the oncoming carts across the stream. As soon as Steve saw movement in the trees behind the boys, he began to slow the carts as they entered the stream, and encouraged additional carts to follow closely. In this way he soon had four to five carts bumper-to-bumper across the width of the stream. Behind this cover, he then scooped the hat box full of water and motioned to the other brethren to do the same. Slowly and nonchalantly they slipped between the carts and rushed the boys.

The hecklers were still heckling and only realized what was happening after it was too late. Steve launched the first bucketful and caught a toe-head with his mouth still open. He came up gasping with a completely baffled look on his face, but wasted no time in beating a retreat to the woods. Steve “reloaded” quickly and continued the assault. The village boys were now scrambling a hasty retreat to the woods. Steve and his bucket brigade scooped their buckets full and jumped up on the bank in hot pursuit.

By now the quickest hecklers had reached John and the others who were well hidden in the woods. The second ambush was even more effective than the first. John had his forces well hidden and the hecklers ran straight into the trap. The second dousing was completely unexpected resulting in a mass of confusion that lasted just long enough for Steve and those with him to catch up and douse the hecklers one more time from behind.

The heretofore hecklers were completely soaked and exasperated. They bolted in every direction and scattered through the trees like wet cats. John, Steve and their conspirators returned to the train amid the cheering and clapping of the other pioneers.

That night at camp, Captain Martin called a general session and gave a stern lecture on turning the other cheek. He did, however, note that even the great Captain Moroni would have been proud of the stratagem used that day.



Please enter an overall rating for this story


» printer-friendly
 
Stories copyright by respective authors.
Stories licensed under the Creative Commons License.

Creative Commons License

Website copyright © 2013 Zeryn, Inc. All Rights Reserved.