Joe hung back and rode behind the wagons. It smarts bein’ traded for a horse. Jus ‘bout any way a body look at it, it’s belittlin’. Young pup Kincaid goes and gets his horse kilt, then wants old Joe as payment. A slave see a sight of twisted things in the world, but this beat all. An’ Kincaid puts on like he done the right thing, like a nigger ought to be happy and beholden. “But I ain’t no nigger,” Joe swore to himself. Decent folk jus don’t uproot a person like that. Black or white. Fifteen years workin’ for Lerocque, even though he be the masser, means somethin’. Goin’ through good times and bad, sharing cold camps, short rations, and danger; binds people together. Even masser and slave. Lerocque weren’t so bad. He only gave a taste of the lash oncst, and then he didn’t lay it on hard.
No, sir, ain't nothin' worse 'n' bein' traded fer a horse.
Joe mumbled to himself for the next hour, till the group fetched up at ranch. He followed Kincaid and the others as they wandered over to a paddock where a huge horse was kicking up a storm.
"Holy smoke," Garrigan said, pushing back the brim of his hat. "That's one wild stallion. Jeez, look at the size of his--"
"That's the truth," Kincaid said. He leaned on the fence. "Reckon he's frustrated. A meeting with my mare woulda calmed him down enough so's he'd take a saddle."
"Mebbe so, Kincaid, but what you gonna do now yer horse been kilt?"
Kincaid thought for a while, then turned toward Joe.
Opening: Wes.....Continuation: Anon.