Summary: A What Happened In Between for the episode “The Ordeal.” This story fills in the time after the Virginian is found when he leaves on the train. I always wondered what may have happened when they got the Virginian back to the ranch and Scott finally told them the story of their ordeal. This is my version of what may have happened. This is my first fanfiction story. I hope you enjoy.
To Sweat a Little
As Trampas and Harper rode along looking for the Virginian and Scott, they both wondered what could have happened to them. They couldn’t believe that the horses had broken loose because the Virginian was always so careful in making sure they were tied well. Trampas only hoped that maybe Scott had tied the horses and they had gotten loose, and that there was not something more seriously wrong.
As they came up over the rise and looked down in the canyon, Trampas’ worst fears came true. Harper looked over at Trampas, sharing those fears with him. Scott was pulling a travois with the Virginian on it and he didn’t look good. He and Harper hurried down the hill as quickly as they could.
When they got to Scott, they tried to stop him but he kept telling them that he needed to get the Virginian back to Shiloh.
“Get out of my way. Get out of my way.”
“Take it easy. Take it easy,” Trampas replied, holding onto Scott.
“I’ve got to get back. I’ve got to get back to Shiloh. I’ve got to get him back to Shiloh.”
“Scott. Scott, now you’re all right. Take it easy. Take it easy.”
“I’ve got to get him back,” Scott whimpered.
While Trampas took care of Scott, Harper moved back to see if the Virginian was breathing.
“How is he?” Trampas asked Harper.
“He’s still breathin’.”
“Get some water.”
“I’ve got to get back.”
“That’s all right. That’s all right. Now take it easy. Take it easy,” Trampas soothed Scott as he continued to whimper about how he needed to get the Virginian back to Shiloh.
Harper came over with some water for Scott, and Trampas moved back to check on the Virginian. After checking for himself to make sure he was breathing, Trampas tried to see what was wrong. Then he placed a hand on the Virginian’s shoulder as he looked back over to Scott and Harper.
Harper was giving Scott some water. “Easy. Take it easy now. Not too fast. That’s good, not too fast.”
Trampas looked up, wondering just what had happened out on the desert as Harper helped Scott.
“Harper, we need to get Scott and the Virginian back to Shiloh. The Virginian is hurt bad and we don’t have time to wait for a wagon. Will you be all right helping Scott up on your horse alone?”
“Yes, I can help Scott up alone. Let me help you get the Virginian up on your horse, Trampas. Then we can head back to the ranch.”
“Come on, Bossman, let’s get you back to the ranch,” Trampas said as he and Harper lifted the Virginian onto Trampas’ horse. Trampas climbed up behind the Virginian and waited while Harper helped Scott mount and then climbed on behind him.
“All right, let’s get these two back to the ranch before Elizabeth comes looking for them. Harper, how’s Scott doing?”
“He’s seems to be doing fine. He sure was exhausted when we found him. I’m glad to see he’s getting some sleep. It must have been quite an ordeal for him to know that he was responsible for the Virginian’s life and that he was the only one who could get him back to the ranch. How’s the Virginian doing, Trampas?”
“He’s still unconscious. Did you notice when we lifted him onto the horse, he didn’t even make a sound or moan. I’m really worried and sure will be glad to get him back to the ranch.”
“Well, it’s not far now,” Harper said.
Trampas had seen the Virginian injured before but had never seen him so unresponsive. The other times he had been injured and was unconscious, he always either groaned or moaned when he was moved. This time was different; there had been no response at all. Scott had told them that he had hurt his knee and had made it most of the way on crutches before he fell and hit his head. Trampas knew this was not a good sign.
As they came up over the hill, Trampas had never been so glad to see the ranch house. He sent the first hand he saw for Doctor Spaulding.
“Hank, ride to town quick and get Doc Spaulding. Tell him the Virginian is hurt and that Scott is sick.”
“On my way, Trampas,” Hank said as he jumped on his horse and headed for town.
The hands quickly gathered at the bunkhouse as Trampas and Harper rode up. Elizabeth came running down the stairs. She had been watching for them.
“Boys, can you help us get the Virginian and Scott into the bunkhouse,” Trampas asked.
The men quickly came over to help get them into the bunkhouse. As they lifted the Virginian down, Trampas told them to be careful of his knee and his head.
The men carried the Virginian into his room as several others helped to get Scott to his bunk. Trampas went in to take care of the Virginian while they waited for Doctor Spaulding, leaving Harper and the other men to take care of Scott.
“What happened, Trampas?” Elizabeth asked as she followed him into the Virginian’s room.
“We don’t know yet. Scott wasn’t able to tell us. He’s exhausted and dehydrated. He’s needs some rest then maybe he can tell us what happened.”
“I just knew something was wrong but you wouldn’t listen to me.”
“Now Elizabeth you know the Virginian; he wouldn’t have wanted me to come after him. But if it makes you feel any better, I would have gone out this afternoon if they weren’t back. When Harper came in with the horses, I knew we needed to go look for them because the Virginian ties the horses too good to get loose. Now why don’t you go see how Scott is while I take care of the Virginian. I need to get him cleaned up before the doctor comes,” Trampas said as he closed the door behind her.
Trampas first tried to get the Virginian to drink some water but it only dribbled back out of his mouth. He took a clean cloth and carefully dribbled water into the Virginian’s mouth. He knew that he was dehydrated from the ordeal he had had in the desert.
Trampas then worked to clean the Virginian up. He carefully took off his shirt, then his boots and pants. It was then that the full extent of the Virginian’s injuries were revealed. Not only had he hurt his knee but he must have hit his shoulder when he fell and hit his head. There was a large bruise on the shoulder but it didn’t look broken. His feet also were bloody from blisters that had popped as he walked through the thick sand then hopped along on his good left foot. The Virginian’s hands also were blistered and bloody from using the crutches.
Trampas took a clean cloth and carefully began cleaning up the Virginian. By the time Doctor Spaulding arrived, Trampas had cleaned and bandaged his head, hands, and feet, then splinted his knee.
Trampas had not stopped talking to the Virginian the whole time he was working with him. Still he got no response as Trampas recalled some of their more memorable moments. He thought for sure that he would get some response to some of the stories but still the Virginian remained unmoving.
Doctor Spaulding came into the Virginian’s room. One look at him told him more than he wanted to know. He quickly wiped the shock from his face.
“Trampas, can you tell me what happened?” Doctor Spaulding asked.
“Doc, we haven’t been able to ask Scott yet because he has been sleeping most of the time since we brought him back. Scott did tell us that he hurt his knee and hit his head on a rock. As I was cleaning him up, I noticed a bruise on his left shoulder that he must have gotten when he fell and hit his head. His feet are also blistered, as are his hands. He has been unresponsive since we found him. Usually he groans when we move him, but not this time. I’m really worried. Doc, is he going to be alright?”
“I don’t know, Trampas. Why don’t you wait out in the main room while I check him over; then I’ll be able to tell you more.”
“Thanks, Doc. You take good care of him.”
“I will, Trampas.”
As Trampas opened the door to the Virginian’s room, the hands quickly moved towards him, hoping he had news of how he was.
“Doc said that he won’t know until he checks him over. How’s Scott doing?”
“He’s awake and drinking lots of water. He’s been asking about the Virginian,” Harper responded.
“Good, maybe he’ll feel up to telling us what happened,” Trampas said as he moved towards Scott’s bunk. “Scott, do you feel up to telling us what happened and why you were on foot?”
“Yes, I can. It started yesterday morning when I woke up and found the horses were gone. I asked the Virginian what we were going to do and he said that we would have to walk back.”
“Scott, do you know how the horses got loose? Trampas interrupted.
“No, I didn’t then, but he told me later. He said that he had turned them loose because he thought that if ‘I sweated’ a little it might make me gain more pride in myself. So we stowed our gear and started walking out.”
“We had been walking awhile when we came to a hill with some loose sand and shale. The Virginian told me to be careful. I took a step forward and fell forward into the Virginian knocking him off his feet. I tumbled a short way down the hill while the Virginian tumbled the whole way down the hill.”
“I ran to him and asked him if he was all right as I tried to help him up. He told me to stop and set him back down. I asked him what was wrong and he told me that he had hurt his knee.”
“I asked him if he would be able to walk on it and he said that he would have to see after I helped him up. After he was on his feet, he tried to stand on his leg and cried out in pain.”
“He sat back down and told me that I would have to go for help. I told him there was no way I could find my way out of the desert and that he would be worse off then he was now. So the Virginian had me cut some tree limbs for crutches and we set off again.”
“The Virginian sure is one tough man to be able to continue on hopping on one leg on crutches in that sand,” Harper added.
“He sure is,” Scott continued. “As I went to cut the tree branches to make the crutches for him, he told me that it was his fault. He told me that he had let the horses loose and it served him right. I asked him why he had done that. The Virginian said that at the time he did it, he thought that he ‘would have the use of both of them’.”
Trampas and the other hands chuckled at the picture this presented in their minds. The Virginian sure could be one stubborn man.
“I was so mad that I told him ‘I would enjoy every step I took knowing how much tougher it would be for him. It wasn’t a very nice thing to say, but at the time, I was so angry that I wanted nothing to do with him. Especially when he told me that it would be good for me to ‘sweat a little bit’ so that I could have some pride in myself for accomplishing something hard for once in my life,” Scott continued.
“Well, Scott, it looks like the Virginian is the one who ended up ‘sweating’ a little,” Trampas said as he laughed at the image of the Virginian hopping across the desert on crutches on one foot.
“A short while later, we stopped for a rest and to cover our faces as a dust storm came up. Not too long after that one of the crutches broke and the Virginian fell, hurting his knee again. I helped him up and we continued on. It was even harder for him than before being on only one crutch.”
“I’m amazed he was able to continue but that’s the Virginian for you. He’s always telling us to never quit until the job is done and done right,” Trampas said.
“Well, I was surprised as well but he continued on, knowing that the only way we were going to get back was to keep going. It was another hour or so when the Virginian fell and hit his head on a rock. I believe he was just so exhausted he couldn’t go on but he wouldn’t stop either because he knew that without him neither of us would make it back to the ranch.”
“It really scared me when I couldn’t wake the Virginian up. I wasn’t sure what to do or which way to go. I decided to make a travois and put the Virginian on it. I started walking in the direction we had been going hoping that it was the right way.”
“I kept going even when I thought that I couldn’t make it any more. I was never so glad to see anybody then Trampas and Harper. I knew we had finally made it and that they would get us back to Shiloh. I was just glad that my responsibility was over and I could turn it over to someone else,” Scott finished.
“Well, Scott, it sounds like you had quite an adventure. Get some rest; the Doc should be out soon,” Trampas said, grateful that he had found them alive.
The men waited impatiently for Doctor Spaulding to let them know how the Bossman was. Some were pacing up and down the bunkhouse while others quietly sat and played cards or read.
They didn’t have long to wait. As Doctor Spaulding came out of the Virginian’s room, the men moved towards him. Trampas noticed the frown on his face and was even more worried.
“Doc, how is he?” Trampas asked.
“I’ve stitched the cut on his head, wrapped and splinted his knee, wrapped his shoulder, and cleaned the cuts on his feet and hands and bandaged them. He has a severe concussion and is dehydrated. We need to get as much fluids as we can into him. He came around for a few minutes when I put some smelling salts under his nose. He’s going to need to be woken up every hour and asked several questions to make sure his concussion isn’t getting worse. I’m going to stay the night to see if we can get as much fluids in him as possible. He needs to have someone with him at all times.”
“I’ll stay with him while you check Scott to see if he’s all right,” Trampas said as he moved towards the Virginian’s room.
“Thanks, Trampas. Scott, how are you feeling?” Doctor Spaulding asked him as he came over and sat down on a chair by his bunk.
“I’m fine, doctor; just very tired and sore,” Scott answered.
“Well, it looks like you came off better than the Virginian. You’ll need to drink lots of fluids as you are little dehydrated. Sleep will be the best thing for you right now. That must have been quite an ordeal you had out there.”
“Yes, it was, doctor. One I don’t care to repeat. Can I see the Virginian for a moment?” Scott asked the doctor.
“Sure but then I want you back in bed,” Doctor Spaulding replied.
“Thanks, doctor,” Scott said as he slowly stood up and moved towards the Virginian’s room with the doctor’s help.
Trampas stood up and let Scott sit down in the chair next to the Virginian’s bed. Scott leaned over. “Virginian, we made it. Do you hear me? We made it. I guess you were right; I needed to sweat a little to gain some pride in something I had accomplished,” Scott told the Virginian. “Don’t die on me now. I didn’t work this hard to save your life only to have you die on me. Remember what you told me when I first came: ‘Workers eat and loafers go hungry’. Well, who’s the one loafing now?”
Scott patiently sat for a few more minutes, watching the Virginian for any signs that he was coming around but he didn’t see any.
The doctor came over. “Scott, you need to get back into bed. He’s exhausted and needs his sleep as much as you do. We’ll let you know if there is any change. Trampas can you help Scott back to his bunk.”
“Sure thing doc.”
After getting Scott settled, Trampas went back in with the doctor and the Virginian.
“Trampas, it’s going to be a long night. Why don’t you get some sleep? I’ll wake you in a few hours for a shift change,” Doctor Spaulding said.
“All right, doctor. I’ll see you in a few hours,” Trampas said as he stood up and moved towards the door.
Trampas tried to get some sleep but couldn’t because of his worry for the Virginian. He knew that he would have to run the ranch now until the Grangers got back or the Virginian got better. It was up to him to see that things got done and the ranch ran smoothly.
As Trampas lay in his bunk, he planned out the work for the next day. When the doctor came to get him, he had a schedule all set for the next several days.
“Is there any change, doc?” Trampas asked as he stood up to go into the Virginian’s room.
“No not yet, Trampas. He drank some water each time he woke up. Just keep trying to get as much water into him as possible,” the doctor said as he lay down on Trampas’ bunk.
The next few days were hectic around the ranch as the hands took shifts with the Virginian. Two days after they found the Virginian, Doctor Spaulding felt confident enough that he would be all right. They had been able to get some broth in him as well as plenty of water. The doctor told Trampas and the men to let him sleep as much as possible.
It was another four days before the Virginian finally woke up more alert then he had been the last six days. Trampas had been sitting with him, telling him of the day’s events but had gotten up to look out the window. He was getting restless and wanted his friend back. As he continued talking, the Virginian tried to ask him a question. Trampas had been looking out the window, thinking of all they had accomplished over the last six days. He quickly turned to see the Virginian looking at him.
“What was that, Bossman?” Trampas asked as he poured a glass of water and gave it to the Virginian.
“How long have I been out?” The Virginian asked.
“Six days. You really had us worried. How are you feeling?”
“Like I walked miles across a desert, rolled down a hill, walked more miles across the desert on crutches, and hit my head,” the Virginian answered.
“Well ,now we can see why you have multiple bruises on you, blisters on your feet and hands, a bruised shoulder, and a nice lump on your head,” Trampas stated.
“Is that all?” the Virginian asked. “Have you heard anything from the Grangers?”
“Yes I have. They aren’t going to make it back until the end of the summer.”
“How’s the ranch been running while I’ve been out?” The Virginian asked Trampas.
“Well it’s running as good as can be considering, Bossman.”
“Just what does that mean Trampas?”
“Well, we’ve been down a few men, thanks to someone who thought they were pretty smart. What were you thinking when you let those horses loose?” Trampas questioned the Virginian.
“Well, at the time, it seemed like a good idea. I guess I just never planned on anything going wrong. How’s Scott doing?”
“He’s back to work. He’s working as hard as any hand on this ranch. I think that ordeal in the desert helped him more than any of us realized. Hey, are you hungry? We have some nice broth on the stove if you are.”
“Sure, but I would prefer a nice juicy steak.”
“Not yet, Bossman. The doc says you’re to have broth for a few more days.”
“What is the doc doing, trying to starve me?”
“No, he just wants to make sure your stomach is up to handling solid food before he puts you back on your feed.”
“Thanks, Trampas, you’re so complimentary.”
“Now you just stay put and I’ll be back in a minute with your broth.”
As soon as Trampas left to get the broth, the Virginian attempted to get out of bed. He knew that with the Grangers gone, he needed to be up making sure the ranch was running properly and that the paperwork was getting done. He had stayed in bed long enough.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t very successful and got no further than getting the covers off before Trampas came back with the broth.
“Hey, Bossman what do you think you’re doing? The doc said you weren’t to get out of bed for another week, then you’ll be on crutches for three or four more after that. If you try to rush it, he’ll tie you to that bed.”
“Trampas, you know that I can’t stay in bed with the Grangers gone. I need to be up running the ranch and getting the paperwork done. There are a lot of things that need to be done to prepare for the fall roundup.”
“I know that, Bossman. Everything is being taken care of. Now that you are finally awake, we can discuss what needs to be done and plan out the work each day so that it gets done. It’s not like I haven’t run the ranch before you know.”
“I’m sorry. I know you’ve had to run the ranch before. You’re right. We both need to work together rather than against each other. That is what is best for the ranch.”
“Now drink your broth and get some more rest. I’ll go check up on the men and see you in a while.”
“Take care, Trampas. I’ll see you later.”
The next week seemed to pass slowly for the Virginian. At least the doctor had finally given him permission to do the books again. His dizziness was almost gone now and he was feeling better. He could hardly wait to get out of his bed.
The Virginian did not wait the full week like the doctor requested but instead got up three days before he was supposed to.
The next four weeks couldn’t pass quickly enough for the Virginian. He was more than ready to be out riding the range again. He had missed it. He had been off his crutches for almost a week now and decided it wouldn’t hurt to try riding once again.
The Virginian quickly saddled his horse. He was anxious to get out on the range and see how things were really going. As he climbed in the saddle, he felt only a small tinge of pain in his knee. It felt good to finally be in the saddle once again.
As he rode out to where the men were, he was amazed at how well things looked. Trampas had done a good job running the ranch while he was down and the Grangers were away. He was even more amazed to see how changed Scott was. He was working as hard as any man on the ranch. It was hard to believe he was the same man who had arrived at the ranch three months ago and that he would be leaving next week. Scott had changed so much since the ordeal they had shared in the desert.
As Scott finished out his final week on the ranch, the Virginian and he had some time to talk. Scott admitted that he hadn’t been a very nice person at the first and that he had not wanted anything to do with a bunch of cowboys. After the ordeal, though, Scott found out that he could accomplish anything if he put his mind to it.
As they rode to town the morning Scott was to board the train, he reflected on how much he had changed since coming to Medicine Bow. In a way, he was going to miss the new friends he had made here at Shiloh but he knew that he could always come back next year. It was a bittersweet moment for him when he realize that he would never be the same man he was before he came Shiloh, but at the same time, he felt a new sense of pride for the man he had become. Scott knew he was a better man and had the Virginian to thank for that. Scott would never forget the ordeal in the desert that had changed his life for the better.
*Please note that some of the dialogue at the first of the story comes directly from the season 7 episode of the Virginian “The Ordeal.”