"Well I'll be." A masculine voice tickled her ears, making her jump. She struggled to keep her feet under her. "I thought I was hearing things, but sure enough … You in need of help, mister?"
Trish looked up, the man's form shielded by the edge of the gulley. She could only see his head as he swept off his hat.
"Of course I need help." She snapped before reminding herself that she wasn't in the twenty-first century but the late 1800's and shifted her attitude to more of a country hick, hoping to sound like she fit in. She couldn't afford for this man to leave her. "Can you get me outta here?"
"Ya think if I throw you a rope, you can climb out?"
"I--" Trish stopped. Could she with a sore arm? She'd never been overly strong in her upper body. "I think I can."
She didn't need to worry about making a false claim to her abilities. He'd disappeared from her view. Moments later, something hit her hat. She brushed at it and caught a rope in her hand.
"Yourn 'orse don't seem too friendly so I hope ol' Clementine can pull ya out. Now you start a walkin' that-a-way." He turned his back to her. Was he pointing? She wasn't sure. She'd just follow the rope. "An' we'll 'ave ya outta there right quick."
The rope dragged on the gulley wall, knocking mud, loose dirt and rocks on her until it became taut at an angle to her right. She grasped the rope and started to climb. She paused when she had enough to wrap around her backside to climb more like the rock climbers. The added leverage took the strain off her arms, enabling her to climb steadily up out of the slippery gulley. Her feet reached drier ground making it easier to keep her footing but the foot and hand holds she had worked so diligently to make remained out of reach. The rescuer had not decided on the same trail as she had, forcing her to break new ground as she climbed. She didn't care; at least she was getting out of the gulley.
Reaching level ground, she kept hold of the rope for several steps. It would do no good to slip back into the gulley. She let go of the rope and bent over, catching her breath. "Thank you."
"Mister, if I was you, I'd steer clear of that there gulley." He approached her, winding the rope around his hand and elbow as he came. He stopped, finishing the task. Trish stood. "Hey, you ain't a feller. What's a woman doing in these parts alone?"
"I--" Trish stared at the dirty old codger that had rescued her. Layers of dirt obscured his features. He must have taken a sharp knife to his straggly beard and hair. She grimaced realizing his hat was nothing more than a dead raccoon with its eyes rotted out. How should she answer his question? What was she doing? Vacationing? She clamped her mouth shut, not wanting to say the wrong thing.
Leering, he leaned toward her. "You runnin' away from someone girlie? I'll take ya with me an' you'll be safe."