Where Wildflowers Grow By Diana L. Pierce…alias….Dee Grainger

The Virginian is riding along the fence line checking the wire. He notices a strand of wire pulled loose from its post. He gets off his horse and begins to tighten the wire with fence pliers. It's almost tight enough to refasten it when it snaps back against his forearm, tares his shirt sleeve and leaves a nasty cut about 3 inches long. "Ouch!" He shoves up his sleeve, wraps his wound with his bandana, slides his sleeve back down and continues to fix the fence. He follows the fence line further fixing it in spots along the way. The wound is beginning to smart so he stops long enough to wash it in a stream and wrap it again.

Later at the bunkhouse, the cowhands are eating supper and talking about the day's events. When the foreman reaches for a helping of potatoes, Trampas notices the torn shirt and bulky wrap under the sleeve, "What did you do, tangle with the fence?" His answer, "Yeah, it kind a got away from me." They finish their meal and nothing more is mentioned about the fence ordeal. The Virginian is so tired he lies down and is soon sleeping without ever giving proper care to his wound.

The next day they need to move the herd to better grazing. They are getting ready for the trip. As they stock the chuck wagon. The foreman says to the cook, "You double check your list?" The cook answered, "Doing that now, Boss." They are soon out on the range moving cattle. As night approaches the foreman gives orders as to who goes first at watching the cows. "Youngs, Hank, and Jim, you got the honors at taking first watch." Jim says, "That's fine with me. Hate getting nicely to sleep and have to get up." His boss grins, "Knew you'd be pleased. Wake me up in a couple hours." He settles down to rest a spell.

In the early hours of morning, The Virginian and his cowhands are ready to move cattle again as soon as the first light approaches. He's extra tired and somewhat disoriented, "Let's get 'em moving." Trampas notices his boss doesn't act like himself, "Yoo, Bossman, you ain't getting sick on us are you?" He looks at Trampas, "No, just tired let's move 'em." It is hours before they manage to get the herd where they planned to leave them. By this time the sun is high over head and the foreman can barely sit in his saddle. His vision is somewhat blurred. "Trampas, I'm headed to the bunkhouse. Think maybe you're right. I feel sick." His friend looking concerned, "I thought so. I'll take care of things here. You better go to bed."

Back at the ranch, Clay and Holly are preparing for a trip to visit friends. Clay is loading baggage into the carriage, "Well, Dear, if we are to make it there by dark we better go now." Holly smiles, "Glad you hired old Burt to tend the chores here while the other hands are gone. It makes me feel better about leaving the girls alone." He nods his head. "I'm glad, too. Burt's not much of a cowhand anymore, but he's good with other things like tending the animals and chopping firewood." Elizabeth gives her aunt a hug, "You go now and tell Mildred I said hello." Their other niece comes out of the house with a basket, "You forgot your lunch." Holly hugs her, "Thanks, Dee. Glad we didn't leave that behind."

Burt is throwing loose hay to the horses in the corral as the Graingers ride out, "You see our women folk are okay until the boys return, Burt. I'll see you in a few days." Burt smiles at him, "Sure will, sir. Have a good trip."

Sometime later after the Graingers leave, Dee and her dog walk to the barn. Dee looks in the trunk she'd brought with her when she first came to Shiloh. It had all kinds of brushes and animal care supplies in it. She was only going to grab a new brush to groom her horse with, when she notices a tablet filled with remedies her grandmother had written down. It seems her grandmother had learned a lot of things from a Shawnee medicine man when she was young. She wrote most of it in this old tablet. Some of it was faded and pages were loose, but Dee could make out most of it. She got her brush and kept the book out to read later.

Dee grooms her paint mare until she shines. "Pretty girl, aren't you Patches?" Quite pleased with her efforts she puts the horse back in the corral. "Chance, come here, boy it's your turn." She no more than starts to brush the dog; when she sees the Virginian riding toward them. As he gets closer she notices he can hardly stay in the saddle. He stops when he gets to the corral and goes limp as he climbs down. Dee grabs him, breaking his fall, "Burt, come quick." Burt comes running, "What's wrong with him." Burt helps her get him to his room in the bunkhouse. "He's burning up." They look at each other as they lay the unconscious man in his bunk. Dee says, "I'll run to the house and chip some ice out of the ice box." She hurries toward the house as Burt is stripping the foreman's shirt from him and wetting his face with a rag. As she enters the house she yells, "Elizabeth, something's wrong with the Virginian. He's got a fever." Elizabeth is coming down the stairs, "Where is he?" Dee says as she heads to the kitchen, "He's in the bunkhouse. I come for some ice." Elizabeth heads to the bunkhouse. By the time she gets to where he is she hears him moaning loudly. "Burt, what do you thinks wrong with him?" Burt shows her his arm. "Look at this cut on his arm, it's infected." Red streaks were surrounding the wound. Burt says, "You girls try cooling him down with cold water. I'll run for the doctor."

By the time Dee gets to the bunkhouse with the ice, Burt has a buckboard harnessed. "Dee, I'm going for the doctor. Help Elizabeth cool him down." She nods at him and goes into the bunkhouse. She puts ice chips in the wash basin. She notices the wound. "Dang, it looks bad." He begins to toss and turn. He starts talking nonsense, "Yankees! Run! Run!" Sometimes he would have his eyes wide open, screaming, "Get out of here." It was beginning to freak the girls out as they tried to hold him down. Elizabeth is wetting his forehead, "It'll be okay." Dee wraps some ice with a rag and wraps it around his infected arm. "Feels like his arms on fire, too." Elizabeth looking worried, "Wish Aunt Holly was here, she knows a lot of cures for things like this." Dee looks at her, "Grandma's tablet. Maybe it has something in it we can use." She runs out to retrieve the tablet she left by the corral. Now Joe D, the Virginian's horse is still standing where his rider left him. Dee takes his saddle off and gets him a drink, then puts him in the corral. She heads back into the bunkhouse. Elizabeth is trying to calm the Virginian who is having nightmares. "Please lay still. You're going to fall out of bed. Dee, what took you so long?" Dee is looking through the tablet, "I had to take care of Joe. You know it would be trouble if we forgot that." Elizabeth adds, "Well, he won't be chewing anyone out for awhile. Poor thing he keeps dreaming someone's after him." Dee pulls a loose page from the tablet, "Says here mud will draw out infection." She leaves and comes back with a pan full of mud.

Elizabeth looks at her, "You're not serious. He's not going to like it." Dee plasters a good portion of it on the wound and wraps it with a cloth. "I don't care what he likes if it works. Don't see a doctor yet." Elizabeth is now looking at Dee's tablet of remedies, "Wildflower tea. It says it helps reduce some fevers." Dee looks at the tablet, "Do we have any of these growing nearby?" Elizabeth nods her head, "Some of them, we do. You put on some water to boil and I'll go pick some." As Elizabeth comes back with the wildflowers, the cowhands ride in. Trampas notices her going to the bunkhouse with them, "Hey, you picking us flowers for our table?" Elizabeth shakes her head, "No they're for the Virginian. He's sick."

By the time the men come into the bunkhouse the sweet aroma of wildflower tea fills the air. The two women are trying to pour it down the throat of their patient. One is holding his head and the other trying to make him drink it. He is waving his arms and thrashing about making it an impossible job. He ends up wearing much of the first cup. Dee yells, "Trampas, somebody, come here and help us." Elizabeth trying to calm down the Virginian, "Please this might help you. It's okay." Trampas comes in the room. He didn't realize how sick his foreman was. "Didn't anyone go for the doctor?" They both answer, "Burt did." Trampas holds the patient's arms and legs down. They manage somehow to get a cup of the tea into him. They continue to try cooling him down with cold water each taking turns to fetch ice from the house. The Virginian tosses and turns while talking in his sleep. "Hurry, the Yankees, the Yankees are coming. Get down." Each hour that passes, the three of them force another cup of wildflower tea down him. Elizabeth tells Trampas about the wound, "Dee put a mud plaster on it." She shows him the tablet. He looks through the pages, "Yoo, says here buffalo dung will work, too." Dee grins, "Think the mud smells better. Don't see no buffalo around here. Do you?" He jokes, "Want me to fetch some cow dung? It couldn't be much different." Elizabeth being a little furious with what she hears, "He'd kill us. We better wait and see if the mud works."

After a couple hours goes by, the fever finally breaks. The Virginian is wide awake, "I'm starved. What's there to eat?" Elizabeth who is sitting by his bed, "Thank God, you had us scared for awhile." Still looking rather rough, "Guess I was out of it. Did I talk in my sleep?" Dee says, "You were crazier than a hoot owl. Don't worry we didn't let them Yankees at you." He gives her a serious look. "Thanks for saving me. Guess I owe you one." She smiles at him, "Just picking on you. Glad your back." Just then Burt comes back with the doctor. The doctor looks him over, "You didn't need me. Looks like your nurses knew what to do." He uncovers the wound and wipes the mud off. The Virginian looks at his arm, "Mud?" The doctor smiles, "Yeah, mud. It did the trick along with the wildflower tea." The Virginian grins, "That's what that nasty taste is I have in my mouth." Dee says, "My grandma's remedies she got from a Shawnee medicine man long before we were thought of."

A week later, Elizabeth is coming to the house with a lovely bouquet of wildflowers. The Virginian greets her as he is coming down the steps, "Hey, they for decoration or tea?" She grins, "I'll share some if you want tea." He shakes his head, "No thanks, not today."

THE END