The Mary Spence story
Chapter 18: Pride And A Sore Butt
All the Wagons had rolled out on time and had finally gotten back on the trail and on schedule. All was going well and they were about another two weeks ride from Fort Hall. The Fort would mark the last leg of the Wagon Train and the families' long journey.
Flint had taken Mary for a short ride just for some time alone. "How bout we play follow the leader my 'Little Pearl'?" then Flint took off at a canter and Mary followed, giggling as she gave chase.
When they reached the tree line, they dismounted and Flint tied both horses as Mary spread the blanket for a quick picnic. Flint snuck up behind Mary and placed a gentle kiss on her neck. He continued to kiss her as he whispered sweet words into her ear. Mary responded to his affection and soon they were laying in the shade enjoying a loving embrace.
Suddenly Flint rolled onto his side and looked down at Mary, "Why, Little Ocean Pearl, I do believe you are blushing"
"Oh behave, Flint it's the middle of the day someone might see us." Mary blushed again.
"Why Mary, it's okay we're married," smiled Flint, as he began to kiss her once more.
" It's not respectable," she said red faced and tapping Flint on his arm with her delicate fist."
"Okay, darling', I'll stop and behave. Now what was it you brang us to eat." Flint asked as he poked his fingers in the basket.
"Fried chicken and corn cakes with honey; you are worse than the boys." Mary said as she playfully swatted his hand away.
"Oh come on, I'm starving."
Mary laughed and dished them both of them up a good size portion. When they had finished eating they both lay back and looked up at the clear blue sky with only smattering of clouds.
"Mary, when I ride out in the morning, I was wondering if you would be okay if I took Matthew with me. Its friendly Indian country and I think it could be a good learning experience for him as well as give us time to bond some," he smiled as he turned to look into her eyes.
"Of course Flint, Matt will really like that. How long will you be gone?" Mary asked.
"Oh, it shouldn't be more than a week to ten days by the time we catch back up with the train. We will be camping about a day's ride this side of Fort Hall. That will be our last chance to stock up for the trip across the mountains. Then it's onto California."
"I'll be so glad to get this trip behind us, it has been long and harder than I thought," Mary smiled, as she leaned in and kissed Flint before rising to pack the food and supplies.
"Hmmm yes hard, Mary. I know you have regrets about David, but no regrets about us?"
"Oh Flint, I didn't mean it like that. Hard; yes, but how very lucky am I to have found love in my life; twice and in so short a time, while there are so many years ahead of us both."
"And the boys."
"Yes well, that may end up being your only regret," she laughed. "But, no getting out of that now Mr. McCullough."
Flint Laughed, "I wouldn't dream of it, Mrs. McCullough." Flint looked at her pretty little face, "besides we could have half a dozen more, even some little girls," he winked.
Mary eyes went wide, "Oh really! Well, I think you need a cool drink before we leave," she teased.
That night as circle up was called and the nightly meeting finished, Flint called his Family together. "First, I'd like to tell you all how proud I am for all of you. The Major tells me that last night several of the other boys were caught picking on Pete again and that you three stepped in to stop them; Good job," Flint said rubbing the top of Luke's head.
"I have to go out scouting in the morning and I want to remind you boys to stay within sight of the wagon and mind you mom."
"Yes, Sir," answered Mark, and we will mind Grandpa Adams and Uncle Bill and Uncle Wooster too."
Flint and Mary laughed at Mark's inclusion of them all as family.
"That makes me proud, the fella's would be honored that you consider them family."
"Oh and Matt, your Mom and I have talked and if you can get your gear together and be up at sunup, you can come along," grinning Flint, patted the boy on the shoulder.
"What do you mean if, I'll start right now, may I?" said Matt with a grin.
"Please, Dad Please can't I go too?" asked Mark, with pleading eyes.
"Mark, not this time, I will take you another time, but it's Matt's turn," said Flint as he reached to place his hand on Mark's shoulder.
"THAT'S NOT FAIR! It's always Matt's turn, everyone always picks him!"
"Mark, you stop shouting and we will sit down and talk this over," replied Flint as stepped toward the boy.
"I don't want to talk it over, it's not fair," shouted Mark as he ran toward the edge of the circle.
"It'll be okay, Flint he'll pout for a bit, and then he will come sneaking back into camp. Just goes to show that he really is much too young," responded Mary with a smile.
"I know you're right, I'll have a talk with him when he gets back. Luke what do you say you and me set up the benches and get your mom some wood so she can cook us a fine supper?" suggested Flint in an effort to lighten the mood.
"Sure, Dad I'll race you to the trees," giggled Luke as he turned and took off like a shot.
Mary laughed as she watched Flint catch Luke running and fling him in the air. The child's laughter echoed and she appreciated just how much Flint tried to make each of the boys feel special. She breathed a silent prayer of thanks that the Lord had brought this special man into her world. Picking up the small bucket she went over and filled it then looking into her provisions decided that she would fry some potatoes to go with the left over fried chicken. She decided she would make some extra corn cakes, hoping that they might help lift Mark's mood.
Mark sat in the edge of the trees watching, Flint and Luke, thinking to himself…
"Of course, Little Luke would get all the attention, and Matt they all said stuff like that. Its Matt's turn first; he's the oldest, he's the biggest, he's the smartest. It's so unfair. Every time, every, dang, time. I can never be the oldest. Whenever there's s something fun ta do, they say; you're too young, or wait till you're older. Well I'm gonna show em ; one day, soon I'm gonna prove that I'm old enough, and big enough and smart enough, jist cause I ain't the oldest don't mean I can't prove I'm just as clever" he ,mumbled to himself and close to tears.
Just as Mary had finished cooking, Mark came stalking back to the wagon if he had looked into a mirror; the scowl on his face would have cracked it.
"Hey, Mark you want me to help you finish your chores after supper so we can play some checkers?" asked Luke running up to him.
"Augh, leave me alone, pip squeak," groused Mark pushing him aside.
"Mark Allen, he was just trying to be nice, tell him your sorry!" scolded Mary as she started setting the food out.
"I won't," answered Mark through clinched teeth.
Spinning around, to stalk off again he run smack into Flint. Mark looked up at his father's face; a face with a look on it that spelled; doom, "Is that so young man? You come with me." Mark hung his head, as Flint escorted him around behind the wagon.
"I will not have you sassing your mom, and just because you're mad is no reason to pick on your little brother." Without any more talk, Flint propped his foot up on the wagon's wheel and drew Mark roughly across his raised knee. He began to bring his hand down smartly on the upturned backside.
Luke looked about to cry as he stood with Mary listening to the loud smacks and the cries echoing from behind the wagon.
"I'm sorry, Mom I didn't mean to get Mark in trouble," said Luke with tears in his eyes."
"It isn't your fault sweetheart; Mark knows better than to sass me like that," wiping his tears Mary replied, "Now don't you worry about it."
With one last firm swat, Flint stood Mark up, giving him a few minutes to regain his composure. Flint held on to his shoulder gently and waited before telling him, "Now, young man, you go sit right over there on that wagon tongue until you are ready to apologize to your mom and Mark. And I expect to see a better attitude for the rest of this evening." Flint ran his hand through his hair, as he looked down at the boy waiting for an answer.
"Yes sir," sniffed Mark.
Mark turned to walk toward the spot; he wasn't ready just yet to accept comfort from anyone as he was still convinced in his child's mind that he had been treated so unfairly. And so, as he dragged his feet over to the wagon tongue, he turned to glare at his family, then hissed as his well-spanked backside made contact with the rough wooden timber. He managed to pass considerable time feeling sorry for himself, even receiving some mean pleasure from the fact that even though he was doing without dinner, and not sitting too comfortable, he had not said; I'm sorry. He knew that before bed he would have to, or risk another walloping, but not until they had all suffered for his mistreatment.
The dishes were cleared and the others went off to finish their evening chores. Flint who had had just about enough of a certain eleven-year-old's sulking strolled over to Mark. He would have been happy for the boy to continue sulking all night, it was no skin off his nose, but Mary was jumpy about him having no supper. And she was right. In this country; a sore backside wasn't as threatening to your well being as missing a meal. Sustenance was needed for the heavy work the long journey required.
"That's enough moping," groused Flint. "You go apologize right now and get to your chores, or you and I will go around back and this time I'll take a switch to your bare backside, now what's it to be?"
Mark looked up quickly, making them suffer was one thing adding insult to his already injured pride quite another.
"I'll say I'm sorry right now, Sir," answered Mark, rising and moving quickly toward his mom, after all he only had to say it he didn't have to mean it.