The New Arrival
The Run
Final Days in Texas
Indian Territory
Ardmore, Indian Territory
The Snowstorm
Paoli, Indian Territory
The New House
The Storm
The Return
Paucanla, Indian Territory
Being Indian
The Wilds of Indian Territory
Owen's Adventures
Elmer, Oklahoma Territory
More Adventures With Owen
Owen Meets President Theodore Roosevelt
The Hundred and One Ranch
Home Again
Dodsonville, Texas
Maude Ragsdale
The Wedding


Illustration of a grieving woman

Billy and Port stood looking at the two joined houses in amazement. Sarah Catherine began to cry softly, "My lovely house!" Mattie put her arm around Sarah but continued to stare at the wreckage. The barn was not disturbed. The henhouse seemed intact. Everything looked to be in usable condition. There was only the strange reconfiguration of the two houses.

The Mead house seemed to be half on its foundation and half off. The wind had almost perfectly matched the two houses together into one. Port walked around to the front door and looked under the house foundation. "The foundation seems to be okay. Not disturbed." He stepped gingerly onto the front step of the house and entered. Billy started to follow but Port signaled for him to wait outside.

Port walked cautiously through the house and into the room that led to the Mead house. They had made a door on the end of the Mead house to match the door to the Gower house with the plan to enclose the breezeway at some point and make another room. But the wind had changed all that. Now, the two doors were butt up against each other and only slightly off alignment! Mother Nature seemed to have wanted to pancake the two houses together and eliminate the breezeway.

In the meantime, Billy looked at the house Port had built for them. It was still lined up on its original foundation but half of it was hanging in midair! It was as if Mother Nature forgot to move the foundation under the house when she moved the house!

Port emerged and declared that everything in the Gower house was okay. Billy went inside the Gower house and approached the door to his own house and gasped when he saw how the doors to the two houses had been slammed together. He looked through the two doors and into his house. Everything seemed to be pretty much in place—a few dishes had fallen to the floor.

Very carefully, he stepped into his house through the new doorway. The floors creaked and he decided not to go further. He thought it best to get the house foundation built back under the house before anyone did much walking around in it.

Tom Gower came running up to his mother. "We let the horses out and mine took off running like the dickens. I guess he was scared. Worth and Allie are going to get him. Can I go with them?" Sarah looked beyond Tom at the barn and could see Worth and Allie already saddled and ready to ride. "Well, whose horse are you going to ride?" Sarah inquired. "I'll just ride on the back of Allie's horse so I can ride mine back home when we find him," Tom replied.

Sarah frowned. "Well, if your horse is scared, he may be hard to handle when you find him. You be sure and let Allie put a rope on him and just lead him back home. All right?" Tom nodded in agreement and ran back to the barn. Allie pulled Tom up behind him and they took off.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of trash that had blown into the yard and the men began picking it up. The women went to the henhouse to see about the chickens and then to see about the hogs.

By sundown, most of the damage had been assessed. The cotton crop was gone; ruined by the hail. One of the hogs had busted through the fence and was missing. And Allie and Worth and Tom were still out looking for the missing horse.

Mattie rang the dinner bell, calling the boys home, hoping that they were close enough to hear it. She herded the rest of the family into the Gower house and fixed a cold meal of cornbread and buttermilk. Sarah was glued to the door, looking for the boys. Port said , "I'll go look for the boys. They probably are having a hard time with that horse. He's a pretty young stallion and is still panicked by the storm." He started for the door when he heard them riding into the front yard. "They're here!" Sarah called.

Something was wrong. Tom was still behind Allie but he was now tied to Allie. The stray horse had a rope around his neck and Worth was leading him. Allie called out, "Momma!" Both Mattie and Sarah came running. A look of horror was on Allie's face. "Tom's been hurt. The horse kicked him in the head." Allie began untying the rope around his and Tom's waist.

"I'm all right," Tom said as they lowered him to the ground. However, there was a huge gash on the side of his head and it oozed with blood, running down into the neck of his shirt. He smiled reassuringly at everyone but he couldn't stand up. Port carried him into the house and laid him on his bed.

Sarah Catherine cried out when she saw the wound. "Oh, Tommie!" Mattie came from the kitchen with a basin of water and wet towels. They began cleaning the wound and Tom winced. Tom's hair was matted with blood. It was difficult to see how extensive the wound was but the right side of his face was beginning to swell.

Sarah worked over the wound on Tom. "Tom, I told you not to try to ride him!" Tom was crying now with pain. "Oh, I'm sorry, Tommie" and she kissed him on the cheek.

Minutes clicked by. It was decided to get a doctor. This was a bad wound. The doctor came almost two hours later. He cut off a lot of Tom's hair on the right side of his head, poured some kind of ointment on the wound and bandaged his head. "Keep some cold compresses on his face where it is swelling. Give him a teaspoon full of this for the pain every two hours."

He closed his bag and began to leave. Port followed the doctor to the door and faced the doctor eye to eye. "Is my boy going to be okay?"

The doctor glanced away. "I don't know. That's a bad wound and it may have rattled his brain pretty bad. If so, you can expect more swelling. Right now, keep him quiet and let him rest. I'll come back tomorrow to see how he is doing." With that he left.

Allie explained that Tom had gotten off from behind Allie after Worth had roped the stray horse. He said that as Tom walked toward the horse, it whirled and kicked him in the head with his hind hoof. They had a time getting Tom back on Allie's horse and tied to Allie for the trip back. Tom seemed awake then but his head was cut bad. They got back as fast as they could.

Catherine and Port stayed by Tom's side, constantly watching over him. Mattie took over the chores of the house and Billy took command of the stock and cleanup. He ordered the older boys to start working on repositioning the foundation of the Mead house so it would have support. It kept them occupied, but everyone worried about Tom.

The next day, the doctor came by early. He talked to Tom and checked his right eye which was almost swollen shut. He removed the bandage and checked the wound again, putting more ointment on it and then bandaged it again. "Keep giving him that pain medicine when he asks for it."

Sarah Catherine and Port hovered near the doctor as he began to leave. "I can't say yet how he is doing. I don't like all that swelling. Keep those cold compresses on his face and eye. I'll be back tomorrow." Sarah went back to Tom's room and Port followed the doctor to his buggy.

Port said, "Doc, what can you see in that wound? Tell me. I've seen lots of head wounds in the war." The doctor looked at him for a moment. "I am very worried that the brain is swelling. If it does, there is very little we can do for that. It is too early to tell but I'm very worried about him. He wasn't very responsive to me this morning."

As the doctor's buggy drove away, Port remembered the head wounds he had seen in the war; wounds from gun butts being slammed against a man's head. He had seen how those men lingered in pain for days and then died. He began to brace himself for what he thought might be the inevitable. The doctor didn't seem to give him much hope.

Two days later, Tom died.

[Author's Note] Family history confirms that Tom Gower died at the age of ten but it is not known how. His mother, Sarah Catherine did grieve so much that her husband Elisha Gower took her to Kiowa to her parents for recovery

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The Storm hand point to the previous chapter Hand pointing to the next chapter The Return