That night, we stopped by a creek to camp. Seeing a grave marker, I crossed the campground and stood beside it to read the words painted on a rock: Sam Field, born and died, April, 1859.
The sight of that tiny grave hit me. I swallowed hard, and my throat closed. All I could think of was Ma and her dead babies. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to push the memory away and keep tears from falling.
I felt a hand on my arm.
“Are you all right, Miss Pierce?”
Martin Sims seemed to be paying me a lot of attention, annoyingly so.
“I’m fine,” I said. “Seeing this tiny grave makes me think of how many young lives are lost because men take foolish chances with their lives. Then they blame the women for the loss of the children with questions like ‘what did she do wrong?’ and ‘why isn’t she strong enough?’ You all want to go on adventures and don’t stop to think about your families at all.”
“You seem to have some experience with that.”
“I wish never to see another baby dead because of a reckless father, and yet I know I will.” I spun around and hurried away, seeking a place by the shallow creek to sit and listen and watch the slow-moving water.
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