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Pen IN Hand
As Chance pulled up even with the windwagon, the deck bounced and jostled, just barely beyond his reach as Elias poured on more speed, oblivious to Chance's desperate plunge for the windwagon. Chance cursed bitterly, his words strung out on th ewind behind him as big Red hung on, then started gaining again slowly, by painful inches. Chance began to fear as Red's strides became tired and the pumping rhythm of his shoulders jerkier, that he was going to run the ainmal to death. He shifted his weight to the horse's advantage and Red too heart, surging forward just enough for Chance to lay firm hold on the upright side of the flying windwagon. His fingers fastened themselves on rough wood, and Chance dragged himself out of the saddle well beyond the reach of the rapidly spinning wheel.
For long uncertain seconds, Chance clung to the edge of the windwagon's upright side before he was able to begin hauling himself to the deck. With painful slowness, he chinned himself against the jerky pouding of the wagon, his eyes coming up over the top of the deck. He shifted, got a better grip, then looked right into the dark eyes of a Comanche warrior coming up onto the deck of the windwagon from the opposite side.
Chance's brain telegraphed an urgent message to his muscles that sent him catapulting up over the edge of the wagon onto the deck with something less than grace.
Off balance from the start, Chance hit the deck in a half crouch. There was no way to recenter himself as the windwagon pursued its tipsy, careening course. The adventurous young warrior was doing little better. He had reached the ship's deck and was somehow managing to stand, even if he was a little stooped, and not very steady.
Easing away from the edge of the windwagon, Chance was keeping a wary eye on the Comanche warrior, preferring to let the kid facing him make the first move.
With a grim smile, the young Indian pulled a knife from the sheath at his belt and started for Chance. His stride rolled like that of a man who had been at sea many months and had just set foot on land again.
Chance shifted a little to one side. The windwagon lurched sharply and he sat down hard on the wooden deck. The windwagon rolled beneath the young warrior's moccasins as he crouched beneath the rigging, brandishing his knife above his head, lurching and staggering across the deck.
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