Photo and Story by Sherrie Robins
Tilly Part II ~ Missed Part I?
Tilly ~ Part II
Anyone watching would have wondered. As the shadows began to creep over the now far-flung mountain, a dark figure was hunched low over a heavy burden, born in their arms. Her skirts were in shreds and upon close examination the wrinkles on her face were etched with mud and there were lines where definitive tear tracks had born down.
The woolly matted bundle in her arms lay as still as death.
She walked twelve paces off the trail then slowly crumbled into a heap, arms embracing her dearly departed Ezra.
The sun rose, then set, then rose again.
~ ~ ~
A man was walking along the trail at first morning light. His grizzled face was a story waiting to be told. The fringed deerskin shirt and tell-tale leggings defined his heritage for all who were willing not to listen. A frame of black and white, separated into two medium length braids and fell down the front of his shirt.
Occupied with getting his wares to the nearest town, yet several miles away, Judd Jeremiah pulled his *travois, which carried hand-loomed cloth from the northern reservations. His travels had taught him many things and he tried to take the best of all worlds, though he didn’t know if he gave anything back.
Even though engrossed in thought, something caught his attention not more than a few yards to the right. Flies were congregating and the aroma of decomposition hit Jeremiah’s nostrils with force.
He spied out a woman and a dog in a heap on the grass, both enveloped by flies. Drawing nearer, he quickly checked for any pulse. Much to his astonishment, the woman was still alive. The dog was not. Her lips were cracked and she was badly sunburned, but she still clung to life.
Yet, though his eyes had seen so much of the harsher side of life, he was struck by the tenderness of this pose. Even when she herself was in dire straights, she was still holding tightly to her dead dog. Jeremiah didn’t have a whole lot of ‘tender’ left in him, but this here, hit a soft spot.
“Now WHAT am I going to do with that” he thought to himself, shaking his head. Forcing a of bit water down her throat he tied her to the travois and began to drag her back to his homestead, shoe heels bouncing along the way. Glancing at her shredded skirt bottom, he realized she’d be no worse for wear.
“Looks like town will have to wait.”
A half hour along, he stopped to give her some more water. Examining her face up close, he realized that though it had been marred by this ordeal, it was still rather on the homely side. Her cheeks were slightly sunken from what appeared to be the want of more than one back tooth and her apparel was obviously lacking from the start. But he wasn’t one to judge. Yet purely from a business vantage-point, she wasn’t the town customer-type and wouldn’t be purchasing any of his textiles. Of that he was fairly certain.
But that pose continued to grab at his heart.
He soldiered on and the sun rose slowly up the ladder of the heavens, not making his load any lighter, and he couldn’t help but wonder what he’d gotten himself into.
*A framed structure used to drag loads over land.