"Around the Salt Lick" (originally published in Analog, February 1986) is the third story in the collection A Different Flesh. The story centers on Thomas Kenton, an English scout from Virginia, and his sim companion, Charles, exploring the interior of North America in 1691. Kenton is after the teeth of the spearfang cats (sabretooth) that populate the area. He is captured by a group of wild sims, and must hope that Charles rescues him.
The story is somewhat reminiscient of the frontier tales of early U.S. literature, with Kenton as an archtypal scout hero with his faithful sidekick. However, Harry Turtledove reveals a fair amount about this world and how it works. In the opening "excerpt" from The Story of the Federated Commonwealths, the reader learns that England had adopted the "divine right of kings" approach to rule, and that the opponents of this policy did not challenge it, but instead emigrated to North America. This suggests that the OTL Civil War (1642-1651) was averted. Within the story itself, the reader learns that sims have been bred in captivity, that they can understand human speech, and that they can communicate through sign-language. The reader also learns that sims can be loyal companions if they are treated with respect, a fact which probably saves Kenton's life.