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.Her green and black plaid skirt fit snugly on her slender waist once more.Wavy curls now fell around the lace collar of her shirtwaist.Christy smiled, noting her round pink cheeks.And still Rowan called her Thin Woman! Why, she was almost her old self again.When Mrs.Chan saw the mud-bedraggled petticoats Christy had hidden since her return from Great Falls.The Chinese woman shook her fist, then grinned and tossed them into a steaming pot.Christy grinned back until, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed one of the chickens flap and squawk a protest.Another dodged a flying pebble.Christy looked up to see Larch quickly hide the sling behind his back.She confiscated the weapon and ordered both twins to pitch in with the work.Christy hoped it would keep them out of trouble.The mischievous look the twins exchanged should have been fair warning.Soon Larch and Lolly were scrubbing away at stained work clothes and “accidentally” splashing soap and water on anyone who got within six feet of their tubs.Christy's admonitions fell on deaf ears.The Chan children soon caught on to the game.The smaller children chased each other, using dippers, tins, and any other container they could find.The older ranks formed a brigade to repel their attackers and used buckets, shoes and even Chan Song's best hat to fling water in all directions.The battle ended when Larch and Lolly overturned the rain barrel and turned the puddles surrounding the tubs into a small lake.The younger Chans skidded and ran through the water, their tiny bare feet splashing up muddy spray.“Enough!” Mrs.Chan clapped her hands and spoke excitedly in Chinese.Then she shook her fists at Larch and Lolly.“You two! Bring more water.You waste, you carry!” Christy watched Larch take up a bucket and lead the others down the train toward the horse troughs.She made a mental note to see that he refilled the troughs later, when there was less danger of getting lost in the mist.Laughing, Mrs.Chan knelt at Christy's feet, sorted through the bundled linen.“Where are twin clothes?” Mrs.Chan looked up.“You get?”Christy agreed and set out across the prairie in the direction of Rowan's camp.The train was soon lost in a swirl of fog.Because of the mist, Christy felt relieved when a shadow ahead marked a rock formation that helped her locate her position.She headed for the rocks, knowing that beyond them lay the path down into the draw.At this distance, sounds from the train were muted and, except for a few songbirds, Christy felt as if she might have been alone in the universe.“Beg pardon miss.Are you lost, then?” Christy almost jumped out of her skin when a tall dark-haired man appeared from behind the rocks.“Here, now! I didn't mean to startle you.”Christy recognized the Irishman who was a member of the safety committee.“Why, hello.Mr.Kildare, isn't it?”The man boasted a handlebar mustache, curly dark hair, and an Irish brogue thick enough to cut with a knife.“Sure, you've no business alone on the plain with the fog so thick, miss.” His nervous grin showed even white teeth.“You wouldn't want to get lost, now.”Christy gave him a startled smile.“I'm fine, thank you.I'm on my way to Mr.Cameron's camp.”“I shouldn't go there if I were you.'Tis dangerous.I'll gladly walk you back.”“Thank you, no.” Christy mustered a smile, wondering why he wasn't downtrack with the crew.“I mean, you must have work to do.”“'Tis dangerous to wander about, ma'am.”A chill of fear ran down Christy's back.She gave him a questioning look.“What are you doing out here?”“Beans and bacon and mush--mush and bacon and beans.'Tis a commonplace problem, ma'am.I declare my stomach has gone on strike for the want of a fresh potato.” Kildare gave her a dimpled smile, but when she met his gaze, Christy still felt uneasy.She suggested he report to the camp doctor.But the young man only shrugged.“Never fear, I'll be back with a sledge in my hand by the morrow.”Christy moved on down the path, but she felt uneasy as if his gaze stabbed between her shoulder blades.Yet when she turned, all she saw was a swirl of mist.As she descended into the draw, Christy paused and clutched at a rock, dizzy as if the ground had tilted under her feet.She blinked to clear her vision.Vertigo was not uncommon since her illness, though it hadn't bothered her lately.She made her way down the steep path into the draw more by the sound of the flood-swollen creek than by sight.Christy felt relieved when she finally spotted the gray shape of the tipi set high on a wide ledge about forty feet above the water.Someone had once painted the tanned buffalo hides with a Sun design and a border of blue and yellow dots around the bottom.When she got closer, Christy saw the dots were actually shaped like the paw prints of an animal.A dog perhaps.Or a wolf?The muddy surface of the ledge had been cut by the hooves of many horses.Christy thought it strange the crew would lead the animals down so steep a path instead of sending men to carry up water, but by now she knew enough to refrain from making “greenhorn” suggestions.Feeling a little guilty, she ducked inside the lodge.It took a few moments for her eyes to become accustomed to the dark.When they did, Christy felt surprise at how well organized Rowan's camp was [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]