Orville was traveling to Thatcher from Globe, sweat beaded on his brow and sun beating down overhead. The horses were doing the hardest of the work for him, pulling the wagon and kicking up dust, but the dry heat still made the skin on his face redden. He was passing over Goodsen Wash, a couple of miles east of Geronimo, when he noticed two figures off to the side of the road. They were natives, tucked up under a frail bush and practically frying in the sun. Orville watched as one of them lifted their heads up as the sound of wagon wheels, eyes bleary. They were visibly dehydrated, weak, and hungry. The horses pulled Orville closer, and only when they were right next to the two did he tug on the reins. The wagon stopped; he got a closer look.
They were dying, slowly wasting away under the sun that showed mercy to no one. Orville licked his dry lips, eyes set, as he decided that he’d show the mercy the sky lacked. He didn’t have much to spare, but a canteen of water and a loaf of bread found their way into his hands. Gently, he tossed them over the edge of the wagon, right into the laps of the two hungry Indians. One of them looked up at him, eyes gleaming with gratitude akin to a shimmering creek. Orville looked back, and with a small smile, gave them a tilt of his hat. Turning back to the horses, he flicked the reins, and was back on the road.
Hours passed, and the sun was still high in the sky. Orville was traveling into the sandier part of the wash, where the ground was looser and heavier loads meant higher risks. His belongings rocked against each other in the back of the wagon, and the horses were slowing due to the soft dirt. It wasn’t long till progress completely stopped, the wheels of the wagon far too lodged in the sand to be pulled by horses. Orville straightened his hat, pulling a shovel out from the wagon and hopping off to dig the sand away from the wheels. Sweat dripped down his face, and only when he glanced up did he realize that he was surrounded by twenty Apache tribe members on horseback.
The sun blazed as he was taken back to their camp; the heat burning the ground he walked on. All of his belongings were seized, and he was left with nothing but the fear that twisted in his stomach. That was when guns and arrows were retrieved. They forced him to dance, shooting arrows and bullets at his feet; whooping and laughing as he hopped from one foot to another. Shortly after, Geronimo gave out new orders, and Orville found himself bound to an upright pole. Dried brush was stacked around him, and the danger set in when a torch was lit. They were going to burn him.
It was then that two of the tribe members stumbled into camp. They were visibly weak, barely holding themselves up as they took in the scene. One of them glanced at Orville, looking him in the eyes, and recognized him. They were the natives he had given supplies to. Immediately, they began to plead with Geronimo, asking him to let Orville go. Geronimo agreed, and Orville was cut loose.
Orville arrived at Thatcher soon after, reporting what had happened to officials. He never forgot how kindness saved his life, nor the importance of selflessness. It humbled him, and he carried the story with him to be passed down to his children, grandchildren, and so forth. Which
leads to now, where I appreciate how my fourth great-grandfather Orville valued the importance of the Golden Rule.
1. Have you ever had an experience like this, where you came face to face with someone going through a difficult or desperate challenge? Write about that experience or write about how you see the Golden Rule in what Orville chose to do.
2. Orville was held hostage during a time of great unrest between the settlers of the west and Native Tribes. Can you imagine a situation like Orville’s that might happen today due to danger and civil unrest?
3. In what ways did Orville’s Golden Rule actions have an impact on the preservation of his life?4. Write a few sentences about how this essay affected you and how it can impact your life.
Essayist: Camylle Palmer
School: Heritage Academy