Part of the USA Today Network

RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 2 . . Orphan . . Part 6

RAILCAR GOLD   Chapter 2 . . . Orphan

RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.  This is Part 6 of Chapter 2 . . . Orphan.  A new part will be posted every Thursday.  New readers may want to start at the beginning.


CHAPTER  2  . . . ORPHAN . . .  Part 6

Shortly before sunset Rufus instructed Dan, “Turn into that place on your left, that’s where we’re staying tonight.”  They had almost made it through Chester County, but not quite.

A Blacksmith Shop with a crudely painted sign “Jackson Cross Roads” was situated at the main crossroads.  Four farms clustered in the immediate area.  A one-room schoolhouse was located within sight; just up the road.

Rufus called out, “Jack, we’re here!”  It was not long before Jack ambled out of the barn, “Ruf, right on time for supper.  How is it that you always hit my place at suppertime?  This must be your boy Dan, that you’ve been crowing about.”

Dan wondered what kind of crowing Rufus was doing on his behalf.  Jack showed them where to corral their horses.  This was one of the regular places that Rufus stayed when on horse buying trips into Pennsylvania.  People brought horses to Jack to be trained for pulling carriages; he had two part-time hired hands from neighboring farms working for him.

Rufus and Dan ate with Jack’s family that evening.  Jack’s wife sure could cook; it had been a while since Dan had such a good meal.  Jack has a son and daughter, both younger than Dan.  This caused Dan to reflect about his own brother and sister throughout supper; reflecting upon his final visit to Spring Mills last evening.  So much had happened in 24-hours, to Dan it did not seem like only yesterday.

After supper Jack cautioned Rufus, “Ruf, I want not one interruption from you.  I want to hear what Dan knows directly form the horses mouth.  No coaching!”  Jack turns towards Dan, “Ruf has been crowing that in only a few months you have mastered training carriage horses.  If I gave you a horse that has never pulled anything in his life, how would you train him?”

Dan kept it short, “Longeing and dragging.”  Following a long pause, Jack demands, “That’s it?  Ruf you’ve been exaggerating about Danny boy.”

Dan started again, this time getting very detailed.  “I start by teaching voice commands through repetition while the horse circles around me on a long rope.  This continues until the horse consistently responds to my commands to go, stop, walk, and gallop.”

Dan looked at Rufus; he has a broad smile.  Dan was enjoying showing off what Rufus had taught him during the past few months.  “I outfit the horse with a full harness, including crupper and traces, and continue the repetitions while the horse circles around me on a long line.  Gradually I switch from circle movement to forward movement with me behind the horse.”

Jack lamented, “I take it back, you know your stuff.”  Dan wasn’t stopping; he was wound up and proud of what he learned.  “Next in sequence is hitching the horse to a wooden skid.  Once the horse drags the skid consistently around to my commands, we move onto repetitions of the same commands while in harness and pulling a wagon.”

Jack asked, “How many horses have you alone trained, start to finish?”  Dan proudly responded, “Three.”

Jack offered, “Impressive!  Would you like to work for me?”

Rufus cut-off Jack quickly, “Not so fast Jack.  Dan has a lot of work ahead of him at our new place.  I’ll be handling twice the number of horses, it’s going to take both of us to keep all of Harry’s commitments that I’m taking on.”  That was the first time that Dan heard about working with twice the horses.

Rufus and Dan slept in the loft of the Barn that night.  Dan did not dare inquire about how they were going to manage twice the number of horses.

Within a few miles of setting out in the morning, they ford Octoraro Creek.  Rufus announces, “Dan you’re now in your new home, Lancaster County.”  Actually they still had a full days journey ahead of them before arriving at their new home just before sunset.

Rufus directs Dan to a farm a short distance east of Bainbridge.  Harry and his wife greeted them, they already had their wagon packed and would be leaving early next morning.

Harry offered, “A neighbor boy caught some extra fish, you’re welcome to join us.”  All four had a fine fish supper.  Dan learned that Harry’s son had very recently married and chose not to continue in his dad’s line of work; which was the main reason Harry was downsizing his business.

After supper Rufus and Dan dig into unloading the wagon.  Eventually Dan becomes panicky.  He starts to rapidly shift through items remaining in the wagon, before exclaiming, “It’s missing!  It’s missing!  It’s missing!”

Go to Chapter 3