Eye of the Eagle – Book Two
By Douglas B. Wright
Published by Nathan K. Wright at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Nathan K. Wright
Cover images courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress
Table of Contents
The People shall be like a lion among the animals of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and no one can save them.
-Ancient American prophecy
Chapter 1. The Decision is Made
An explosion 50 yards away rocked the ground around us, debris and shrapnel flying past and through us. United States Army ground forces were fighting back in a big way. The People’s army hadn’t seen resistance this fierce since the beginning of the war to regain their lands and rights.
“Skinwalker Squadron, move in.”
As the dust cleared, a group of elite fighters from the S-dimension nimbly moved in and spread throughout the advancing M1A2 SEPs. The sheer power of a regiment of the world’s greatest battle tanks was breathtaking, but members of the Skinwalker Squadron coolly approached each tank, forcing the spirits of the crewmen back through an unseen portal. One by one, each tank in the vast formation simply stopped in its tracks. And to prevent any of the hundreds of U.S. troops that followed from salvaging the driverless tanks, 4D grenades scanned each tank, cutting a precise hole to a distant time. In the 3D world, the tanks appeared to just melt into moldering heaps; had someone been able to watch the tanks for the next 500 years, the closer reality would have been far less dramatic, but with a similar outcome.
On another front, airpower from the opposing U.S. forces seemed to be gaining momentum, so I decided it was time for another show of force. Through high power tracking binoculars, I could see the fighter jets some miles out.
“They’re nearly in range. Porcupine you’re up, on my mark. We’ll light up their tails like a fire-stealing coyote.”
The squadron of USAF F-22 Raptors approached alarmingly fast, thundering overhead, each having sent its deadly payload to troops below. “Now,” was all I needed to said. At the same instant, the Porcupine Corps sent a flurry of heat-seeking arrow missiles following in their path. High powered bows sent the arrows screaming, each flashing to life and easily catching their intended prey in moments. Compared to the roar of the jet engines, the arrow missiles silently entered the jets’ twin exhaust nozzles, and in a spectacular show of fireworks, the tail sections of all fours jets exploded. Three of the four jets’ canopies blasted off and the surviving pilots began their slow descent, back to the earth.
“Shepherds, add three more to your POW flock. Go.”
I watched the devastation from various viewpoints. Devastation mostly on one side of this war—the white man’s side. A handful of my warriors had given their lives in the battle so far, which just meant they joined a different battalion; the Spirit Fighters. Clearly the white men had no idea what they were up against, and it showed on every front of the war. I had warned them—warned the U.S. government. I had tried negotiation, treaty reparation, reconciliation, but government officials were unwilling to budge, said that that was all in the past and nothing else could or would be done.
As if more than two centuries of abuse was not enough, the white man’s government still oppressed the American Indians: ever whittling down their rightful lands and burial grounds; more broken promises of adequate housing, healthful food, and medical services in exchange for land; ignoring rampant unemployment, suicide rates, and low mortality rates. The list of grievances against the U.S. government—grievances of commission and omission—was staggering, even after everything I had experienced in the past and present.
The decision had to be made by someone who understood—someone who understood the past, present and future of the American Indian. That monumental task was given to me. A task I did not take lightly and accepted with grave trepidation. But the decision was made.
As I watched the various battlefronts rage, I knew it wasn’t the white man’s fault per se. It was the greed of their governments and capitalism, ever finding ways to rape the land and its original inhabitants to line their pockets. A wave of deep sadness washed over me; a sadness for the loss of my many brothers and sisters through the centuries, a sadness for the destruction currently taking place upon the land I loved so deeply, and a sadness that it had only just begun. I closed my eyes, and wept.
When I reopened my eyes, I was back on the windy precipice overlooking my huge army. There was no fighting, no explosions, no death. Neither was there any movement. It was as if the entire force waited in anticipation of some inevitable devastation.
Turning back, I saw that Grandfather was nearby, as was my beloved Little Fawn. I wiped a tear with my sleeve.
“Has it truly begun, then?” I asked Grandfather.
“Those are only shadows of what may be, Eote my son. A vision of possibility, shall we say?”
“But it felt and looked so real…”
“Much like your visits to the past, it was a small taste of what may happen, based on the actions of the white man’s government…and you.”
“So many lives, so much change. So many broken promises—even today.”
“Eote, my son, you are not really sure what to do yet, are you?”
“No,” I replied.
“You have seen the capabilities of your warriors. The fighting force is ready to be sent on their mission of destruction as soon as you give the command,” Grandfather told me, “but first, you must be sure it is the right command. Now, if you are not sure what that decision should be, I suggest we get more experience and knowledge to help you.”
I gave Grandfather a long, steady gaze. I’d never known a finer specimen of a man. He was the warrior I would not have wanted to meet in battle. I looked at Little Fawn, my Princess from the Sheep Eater Band of the Shoshone Indian Tribe. She looked back at me in all her innocence and beauty. Grandfather and Little Fawn—two people I had just recently met. And, yet, the bond between the three of us was greater than any other I had experienced. Now I stood at the moment of an important decision. One word, and the fate of the world would be altered dramatically.
I let my gaze rest on Little Fawn for a long, long moment. If nothing else came of the experiences I’d had, I had her. In my most recent experience into the past, the powers that be allowed her to return with me. Don’t ask me how things like that are done. Even Grandfather says he doesn’t know. Having her was more than enough. But there was more. Much, much more. I drew Little Fawn close and held her tight.
“I am ready for the next experience, Grandfather,” I said. “Let the drums begin.” Then I closed my eyes, and waited. And waited. I waited for what seemed a long time. The drums had never taken so long to begin.
Finally, I opened my eyes and gave Grandfather a perplexed look. “What is happening, Grandfather? Why haven’t the drums started so I can begin my next experience?”
Grandfather, who up until now had been standing a short distance away, slowly moved closer. He had that sly little smile I had become accustomed to, and knew there would be a touch of mirth in his answer.
He drew near. “Patience, my son. With such an important moment before you, you must be prepared, as you already know. And so, let us first review what you have learned, so far. Come, sit, and we will talk about it.”
In a flash and a folding, which is difficult to describe, the large military force was gone from before our eyes, and we were back at my home, standing a few yards away from the huge cottonwood tree that had become our “discussion” place. I released Little Fawn from a tight embrace, took her by the hand, and followed Grandfather to the tree. When we had found a somewhat comfortable position, Grandfather began talking.
“This discussion about each of the events of the past will serve two purposes,” he said. “First, it will allow us to review what you have learned about yourself, and your people.” He paused, as usual, to allow us to think about that for a moment. “And, if Little Fawn is to be with you from now on,” Grandfather continued, “and it appears that she will, she must know what has happened so far, and what is expected in the future.”
Little Fawn turned and fell into my arms, and held me tight. “I am so glad, Eote. I want to be with you, wherever you are. It is all very strange to me, but I am willing to face anything, with you.” Her eyes dropped slightly, as she continued. “I could tell from your face and eyes that the warriors we saw in the strange carriages was new to you, as well.”
“Yes,” I replied, softly touching her face. “And I worried about what you would feel, seeing it all. As for me, I have become accustomed to seeing strange things. They do not frighten me now. They only amaze me.”
Grandfather allowed us to have a moment before he went on.
“Let us begin at the beginning. Eote, what did you learn with your first experience?”
“Well,” I thought carefully, recalling those events. “The first, and most important thing I learned was that I have an equal amount of Indian and white blood.”
Little Fawn looked up at me in surprise.
“You have white blood?”
“Yes, Little Fawn. I was raised as a white man.” I touched her hand to let her know nothing had changed. “It was only when Grandfather took me on my first experience that I found out that I am Indian as well. I was happy to learn this thing. But, I was happiest of all when I found you.”
Grandfather cleared his throat to interrupt, and said, “What else did you learn, Eote?”
“Well,” I continued, “I learned there is an army, made up of Indians from the past, present, and future who possess the latest in warfare technology, waiting to move on the world of the white man, to destroy it, if necessary. I also learned that I am the person chosen to command this army, and it will be my decision when, and if, the battle will start.
“I learned that you, Grandfather, are, indeed, my grandfather.” I smiled at him with pride as I spoke, and took Little Fawn’s hand in mine. “Though it surprised me to learn this, I am very proud of that heritage, and I will honor that heritage as I fulfill the mission I have been chosen to perform.”
Grandfather beamed, his gratitude for the consideration overflowing. “That is good, my son.” Little Fawn squeezed my hand and smiled. That took the place of many words.
“It was then, also, that I learned from you, Grandfather, of some things I would need to do, to prepare myself for the task ahead. I was told to review my life for the times I had been referred to as an Indian. It was interesting to remember that even when I worked on their reservation, the Navajos called me an Indian. An educated stranger once asked which tribe I was from, and said he could tell from my eyes that I was part Indian. Yes, the name Indian has been with me throughout my life.”
“Good!” Grandfather smiled his satisfaction. “What came next?”
“I was told to reflect on the times in my life when I was a fraction away from death, and somehow, miraculously lived through it.” I looked over at Grandfather. “There were so many of these times, the only hard thing about it was deciding which ones to recall.
“The efforts of the evil ones started during my childhood and included a near-death experience during an appendix operation. At one point, I stopped breathing, and while the doctors worked to resuscitate me, I was taken to the other side, and talked with a personage there. I was told I had a mission to perform back on earth and would be sent back. I was told what the mission would be, but when I woke up it was blocked from my mind. Grandfather informed me that it was taken from my memory so I wouldn’t dwell on it over the years. Grandfather also informed me that the Dark Forces had been close over the years, trying to stop me from fulfilling my important mission.
“The next one I recalled was the time when some friends and I went in search of some Indian ruins. Since the trip was intended only to locate the ruins, we didn’t take any climbing gear. But when we got there, I couldn’t resist the temptation, and tried to go down the 300-foot cliff without any equipment.
“About seventy feet from the bottom, I fell, but not before I had called on help from the Great Spirit. He did help me, and told me exactly what to do, and as a result, I came out of the fall with only a few scratches.”
During the telling of these experiences, I watched Little Fawn’s face carefully. From the beginning, her expression revealed only a deep interest in what was being said. But by the end of the cliff story, her expression had changed to grave concern.
“It is well, Little Fawn,” I reassured her with a hug. “These things happened a long time ago. They cannot hurt us now.” The look of relief on her face allowed me to continue with the next incident.
“The experience that followed the fall from the cliff turned out to be almost as bad, and was definitely as stupid.” Grandfather smiled.
“Five of us went back to the ruins. This time we had six hundred feet of new rope, and a determination to make it through the trip without any problems.
“We didn’t cut the rope, but rather kept both ends at the top, and had a large loop of rope going to the bottom of the canyon. When it came time to rappel down, three of the group backed out and decided to wait until we found what was in the ruin. None of us were there to destroy or pillage. We just wanted to see the ruin in its original state.
“Lee and I easily made the distance down to the canyon floor and to the ruins without any problem. But we found that many, many people had visited there, and left their mark. Sadly, the walls and ceiling was a collage of the names and dates of previous explorers. After leaving the ruin I visited the spot where I had fallen on the previous trip, and did so for a final time. I was even more amazed that I had managed to survive the fall.
“Back at the rope, we paused to decide which side of the rope we had come down on. The rest of our party must have found a spot to nap, because we didn’t get any response to our calls. We tested each side of the rope, and the one that seemed firmest we started climbing on. We had both gone the first leg of the climb, and Lee had started on the final stretch, when one of the men on top screamed, and told Lee to stop climbing. It was about five minutes before he was given the okay to continue. Then they had me wait for a few minutes before I started. When I finally reached the top, I found to my horror that we had barely averted a huge disaster. One end of the rope had been tied securely to a tree branch. The other end had been wrapped loosely around the limb. And yes, that was the end we had been using. Had it come loose, Lee would have been holding onto about four hundred feet of nothing…that would have sent him plummeting to the canyon floor, and being directly below him, I would have gone down, too.
“If we could have seen the good and the evil forces at work that day, we would have seen one side working to undo the rope that would send us to our death. We would have seen the other side working even harder to keep the rope from unwrapping from the tree limb until it could be fixed.”
I paused my narrative for a moment, at which time Little Fawn’s whole body relaxed. She had been so engrossed in the account, she must have been living it in her mind, for her body had tensed up as the account was being told. Once more I felt it necessary to remind her that it was all in the past, and could not harm us now. Then I gave Little Fawn a brief time to settle back down.
“Is it okay for me to go on now?”
Little Fawn nodded.
“My two sisters and I were on our way from Farmington, New Mexico to Utah, in a brand new pickup truck”. Little Fawn’s brows furrowed slightly, I realized she had never heard of a pickup truck. I left my account long enough to explain the “horseless carriage” and the speeds they had attained over the years. I assumed she would need to know the speeds, in order to understand what was taking place.
“The pickup belonged to my sister Margot and her husband. Sis was not an accomplished driver, but since it was her vehicle, we agreed she would drive halfway, which was to Monticello, Utah. A few miles east of Monticello, we found ourselves in a predicament. A long stretch of downhill highway had become washboard-like, or rough, causing the truck to bounce and slide out of control. In her efforts to regain control, Margot overcompensated until it was zigzagging crazily back and forth across the highway. At one point, we almost hit head-on into a car coming up the hill.
“At the bottom of the hill was a bridge that crossed a large ravine, about 300 feet across, and about 75 feet to the bottom. We hit the side of the bridge at a 45° angle, but instead of going over the side and into the ravine, as I thought it would, the truck stayed on the bridge, and rolled several times.
“Grandfather informed me that the Dark Forces had planned to have us run head-on into the car coming up the hill, and killing us all. When that failed, the contingent plan was to go over the side of the bridge and into the ravine below. That would have easily accomplished the same thing.”
I looked at Little Fawn as I spoke.
“And now this last story shows how the Great Spirit never gives up when you need His help. I was working in a coal mine warehouse when they called and said they needed a miner jack.”
I took a couple minutes explaining in 1850s terms the size and weight of this object to Little Fawn. I started comparing it with ponies, but just ended with big rocks. She smiled and shrugged. “It sounds big and heavy.”
I nodded and continued.
“We had one in our warehouse, but it was turned wrong on the pallet. I worked it around by hand, and suddenly it started rolling off the top, and I was right under it. The last thing I knew, it was coming down on top of me.
“I must have been knocked out for a few minutes, because the next thing I knew, I was across the aisle, waking up next to another row of shelves. The jack had fallen and had made a hole in the cement floor about 36 inches in diameter and about four inches deep at the deepest point. It became obvious to me that the Great Spirit kept me from serious injury or death that day.”
With another happy ending, Little Fawn and I gazed long into each other’s eyes, and Grandfather finally cleared his throat to get our attention.
“I would rather not bother you,” he said apologetically, “but we really must go on with our review, so you can get on with the next experience.”
“Well, let’s see, Grandfather.” I drew myself back to the task at hand. “My first experience took me back to when the Navajo people were being forced from their homeland in Arizona, and taken to a reservation at Fort Sumter, New Mexico.
“I found myself pinned down, and being fired at, by a group of Kit Carson’s men. We were in one of the caves in Canyon De Chelly. Since the white men below could not shoot directly into the cave, they found that by shooting into the ceiling of the cave, their bullets would ricochet around, eventually hitting one of the Navajo people hiding there. Only four Navajo men had been left behind to care for all the remaining women and children.
“Not knowing about the devious ricochet tactic, we put the women and children in the back of the cave for protection. It was horrifying to hear the screams and cries coming from those being hit, watching them being killed one by one, with nothing we could do.
“Only two of us survived the massacre. And ironically, it was because we were closer to the mouth of the cave.
“Once the screams and moans subsided, the shooting from below stopped; the soldiers supposing everyone in the cave must be dead. It took a while for the men to gather up their things and move on down the canyon. But as soon as they were gone, Ashkee and I left the cave and found the hidden canyon where some horses were pastured. With the horses to help us travel, we proceeded along the trail of the Long Walk, to try to find some of our family members. We infiltrated the camps and found who we were looking for, but in the process, we witnessed the degrading treatment The People were forced to endure, including poor food and water, and being treated worse than cattle; it was awful to see.
“For a handful of The People who didn’t have to make the journey, things turned out fairly good. The rest went through hell during those years on the New Mexico reservation. For those who survived those terrible years, it was a time that would be branded in their minds forever. It’s no wonder why they have held a hatred in their hearts for the white man, for so many years.”
“It was not just Navajo people who were mistreated by the white man,” Grandfather reminded me. “Each tribe has stories to tell about how they have been abused over the years.”
“Yes,” I agreed with him. “Each tribe I have visited so far, have their own version of what happened to The People. None of them have been happy stories.”
Grandfather gave me a long, searching gaze before he spoke. “I believe you have learned your lessons very well so far. Perhaps it is time to move on and get more experience and wisdom, to enhance what you already have.”
“I think I am ready for that, Grandfather,” I replied. “Do you have any idea where I…, uh, we will be going this time?”
“Dunno,” Grandfather shrugged. “One thing, though. You will be looking into some of the treaties that were made between the white man and the red man. Of all the hundreds and hundreds of treaties made, I do not know of any that were not broken. Perhaps, in your journeys, you will be able to find a few treaties that were kept. There are many of the people who would be pleased to find that to be true. Something else. According to Indian stories handed down from one generation to another, no tribe of Indians ever broke a treaty first; it was always the white man who broke a treaty first. Perhaps you can also learn something about that.”
“I will do my best to learn what I can, Grandfather,” I assured the old Indian sitting across from me. He arose and I could see the distance between Grandfather and me begin to increase. I reached out and caught hold of Little Fawn, and pulled her close. If the past was any indication, the drums were about to begin, and I wanted to make every possible effort to get Little Fawn on the journey with me.
The drumming began then, with a slight throbbing in the areas of my temples, and grew steadily louder. I looked nervously at Little Fawn, torn between two desires: one, her not having to go through the pain I had learned to endure, and two, the deep feeling of wanting her with me, wherever I was going. She was not in pain, but only displayed a concerned look wondering why I had to go through such pain.
“Close your eyes, Little Fawn,” I instructed her. “Close your eyes and let whatever is going to happen, happen.” The growing pain caused my eyes to close about the same time. I fell to the ground, and let out a low moan, trying to cover the pain I was experiencing. Little Fawn held on to me all the tighter, as we both waited for the pain to end.
Whether we traveled through time and space, or to another dimension I do not know; darkness and pain tell little else. But as with the other times, the pain eventually receded, and I slowly opened my eyes. Thankfully, Little Fawn and I were still together. I looked around, and became confused. Grandfather was still present. Nothing seemed to have changed from before the drums began. We were still sitting under the huge tree that stood a short distance from my front yard. Grandfather was in the same spot and position as he had been when I thought he was headed for another realm.
“What happened, Grandfather?” I asked the old man, “Why are we still here?”
“Oh…” Grandfather hesitated, “I forgot. This time you are required to witness your beginnings; you will learn where your Indian heritage comes from. But you will not be with them this time, only looking on, like you did when you were allowed to see the armies you will lead.”
Finally grasping the purpose for the change, I relaxed. “I am glad. I have been very anxious to see and learn about this part. Do you know if Little Fawn will be allowed to see it, as well?”
“Dunno”, Grandfather replied. “They don’t tell me those things. I do not see any reason why she should not be allowed to witness it with you, but I do not make those decisions.”
“Grandfather?” I asked cautiously, “Do I have to go through all that pain again?”
Grandfather smiled at the question. “Are you trying to get out of your responsibility?” Then quickly added. “No, I do not think you will have to go through the pain again. Would that make you happy?”
“I am not trying to get out…” I started, then, realizing the humor in his statement, turned the thought another direction. “No, Grandfather, I was just curious to know if I would be going through it twice for one experience.”
Grandfather smiled again, and this time I detected the depth and understanding behind the look on his face. If this old man was, indeed, a blood relative, I was extremely proud of it.
“Close your eyes,” Grandfather instructed softly. “Both of you.”
I watched Little Fawn close her eyes tightly, and quickly followed her example. Instead of the drumming that had preceded all the other experiences, this one began with a hollow, swirling sound that I could not account for.
Then it was silent.
Chapter 2. The Beginning
We were viewing a scene from the height of a range of low, rolling hills. Below was a long barren valley, except for a few scattered scrub cedar trees, and a lot of sagebrush. About halfway across the valley, moving directly toward our vantage point, was a line of horses, most of them with riders, and a few that were heavily laden with packs. Still further back, behind the horses, was a covered wagon, drawn by four horses. The whole procession raised a cloud of dust that could have easily been seen further away than just the length of the small valley.
They were not moving very fast. In fact, they appeared to be plodding along, as if this length of their journey had been a long one. As that thought went through my mind, I noticed, in particular, that the necks of most of the animals were outstretched and bent toward the ground, instead of high, as a fresh horse would be. I visualized in my mind that they had been traveling long, and hard.
From south of the valley, another dust cloud arose. This time, however, the makers of this cloud were moving fast, and in the direction of the slow-moving travelers. Just before they would have come in sight of the train of horses, the approaching group stopped. Hand and arm gestures directed members of the group to separate and encircle the small valley.
And then, as if falling into the pages of a book, we were absorbed into the story.
Andy, a young man in his early twenties, was riding lead of the column of horses. A closer look revealed him to be of the square-jawed, rugged breed of men who frequented the West. He was not tall, perhaps five feet, eight or nine inches, and slim built. Yet, there was a presence about him that indicated he was more than adequately able to take care of himself. He was not the oldest in the group, nor was he the most experienced in their trade. He was quiet, and seldom made conversation to be sociable. Yet, he commanded the respect of his workers. Whenever he spoke, they listened.
Andy stopped his horse, Ranger, and peered at the hilltops all around the valley. An uneasy feeling had pervaded their journey for the last few miles, and he wanted to take a few moments to dispel it. In the town they had just passed through, there had been talk of an Indian uprising brewing. Seems that the Shoshone Indians had been ordered to take up residence on a reservation, and some of them rebelled against the idea. Andy, and the group he was with, had been warned about running into “some mighty upset Indians.” Despite the warning, they decided to go on, and had been pushing hard since then.
The group was a sheep-shearing outfit. In an ordinary season, they would begin their sheep shearing in New Mexico. From there, they would move through Wyoming and Montana. Then they would turn and work their way back through Idaho and Utah. It was hard work, but paid pretty good. Andy reached the point where he could shear a hundred head of sheep a day, and more. At 25 cents a head, that was 25-dollars a day, and, in their time, that was good money.
This year, however, they had been delayed. As a result, other outfits had moved out ahead of them and had New Mexico and most of Wyoming finished before Andy’s outfit got started. They decided to move past those two states, and try to salvage the season by going directly to Montana, by way of Idaho. It was a good plan, but now suffered significantly from the threat of an Indian war breaking out at anytime.
That nervous feeling came in full force as Andy spotted a wisp of dust rising from the other side of the hills surrounding the valley.
“George,” Andy spoke quietly to the rider behind him. “Go back along the line and tell the men we need to form a circle, and to follow my lead. And George,” Andy added, “don’t say it to get anybody excited. We don’t want any shootin’ if we can get out of it.”
He waited until George reached the end of the column, then Andy slowly guided Ranger off the trail to the right and made a slow circle. The others followed until everyone was off the trail, doing their part to make the circle, such as it was. Andy had to chuckle to himself, as he wondered how they could ever expect to come out of this alive, with only a horse standing between them and the enemy.
And then they waited. It wasn’t as though they were completely defenseless. Each man in the shearing outfit carried a rifle, and some of them had revolvers as well. But none of the weapons were for battle. They were there to help the shearers get meat for food, when necessary.
It wasn’t a very big circle, so it wasn’t hard to hear someone whisper loudly, “Here they come!”
Every man in the outfit looked to where the whisperer pointed, and sure enough, a band of Indians had appeared on the hill to the east, slowly advancing toward the circle. Then someone pointed in another direction, and there was another band of Indians advancing similarly. And, as the men watched, more Indians appeared, coming from several directions. But something was different. Unlike most warring Indians, who came at a dead run, whooping and hollering, these Indians came slow and cautiously.
About a hundred feet from the circled men and animals, they all stopped and sat silently for several minutes. Then a single rider broke from the band on the east, and rode slowly toward them. About halfway across the expanse between them, he stopped and raised his arm in a sign of peace.
“He wants to parley with us,” someone said. “Now, who the heck is goin’ out there to talk with him?”
All eyes turned toward Andy.
“Whatcha lookin’ at me for?” Andy said nervously, his eyes darting from one to another of the men, each looking at him with a question written on his face.
“C’mon,” Andy said, “I couldn’t do any better out there than any one of you.”
“Yeah,” someone replied, “but you’ve got the courage and outright guts to do it.” The voice got quieter. “Pretty sure none of us do.”
Andy looked at his fellow shearers for a moment, snorted with disgust, then turned and walked to the outside of the circle, next to his horse. For a fleeting moment, he looked at the rifle in his hand, then swung it up, forcing it with a thunk down into the scabbard hanging on the side of the saddle. He began a cautious walk beyond the safety of circle. The lone Indian witnessed Andy put his weapon away, and did likewise, dropping his weapons to the ground. He swung a leg over his horse, dismounted, and walked confidently toward Andy until they were about ten feet apart.
“Hello,” Andy said in English, since he didn’t know any Indian words. He was sure he’d have to figure something out with sign language, but the Indian’s response caught him totally off guard.
“Buh…you speak English?”
“Yes, I went to the white man’s school for a few years. Mostly they took from me. But I did learn to speak English.”
“You are Shoshone?”
The Indian nodded.
“We heard in town that some of your people are on the warpath. That’s why we circled up when we saw you coming.”
The Indian nodded again, but said nothing.
“If you are on the warpath,” Andy ventured, “why, uh…why are you talking and not shootin’ at us?”
The Indian, who had been looking away, now turned directly to Andy. “We do not want to be on the warpath, nor do we want any killing. I think maybe you hear ‘in town’ why we want to go on the warpath?”
“Because they want to put you on a reservation?”
“Yes,” the Indian responded. “But it is not the thought of going on a reservation that has us angry. We have watched other tribes as they have been forced to make their homes where the government chooses. We are angry because the land they choose is barren, with no way for the Indian to provide for his family.”
“Yeah, I know that’s the way it is,” Andy said, feeling embarrassed to look the other man in the eye.
“We think the land given to our people for a place to live, is not fair,” the Indian continued. “All we want is to have a chance to talk with the government people about changing things a little.”
The two men had moved closer together, and Andy now felt a lot better about the situation. “I can understand your concern,” Andy told the Indian, “but I don’t quite understand how this group can help. We’re just a bunch of sheep shearers on our way to Montana. None of us here have any authority or know anybody in the government. How are we supposed to help?”
The Indian looked at the ground for a long moment. When he raised his head to look at Andy, he also held out his hand in a conciliatory gesture to the white man.
“My name is White Wolf,” he said. “I was given the name, when as a youth, I really saw the white wolf. Some of the people did not believe me when I told them I had seen the white wolf. But most of the people believed me.
“The white wolf is very sacred to our people. It stands for good medicine. Because I have the name of a sacred animal, some of the people believe that I also am the carrier of good medicine.”
White Wolf stopped talking and looked again at the ground. He gave Andy a chance to absorb what he had told him so far. What is this guy trying to tell me? Andy wondered. I came here expecting to fight. Now, I don’t know what to expect.
White Wolf did not wait long to explain.
“We think maybe we can speak with the big chiefs in Washington about giving back part of the land that was taken away.” He paused, his eyes dropping to the ground momentarily. “We think maybe if we take prisoners, the chiefs will be willing to talk with us.”
Andy hoped this wasn’t going where he thought it was. “What has that got to do with us? I already told you that we don’t have any influence with the people in Washington.”
White Wolf smiled. “You are white men. That is all that matters. Any white men who are prisoners will be seen by the chiefs. Come with us and help us get our land back.”
There it was. The truth nearly blew his boots off.
“Are you saying you want us to willingly go with you, as prisoners? Hostages? These men are on their way to Montana to earn money for their families to live on. You want them to turn their backs on their families to help you out?”
White Wolf did not drop his head this time. He looked Andy directly in his eyes.
“I think maybe we do not need all these men as prisoners. If you will come, we will let the others go on to Montana. And when this is ended, we can give you enough money to make up what you will lose by not going with the others.”
“How do I know I can trust you to do what you say?”
White Wolf raised his head indignantly. He threw back his shoulders and held out his chest in defiance. “I am White Wolf. I do not tell lies. I only tell truth. When I say I will do something, I do it, or will die trying. I have given my word. You will be safe if you go with us, and you will get paid for helping us.”
Andy looked intently into White Wolf’s face. “I believe you,” he said. Then he turned and walked back to the circle of waiting companions.
The fact that he returned at all helped erase some of the anxiety that gripped the other shearers. As Andy joined them, each one added his part to a barrage of questions thrown out concerning the outcome of the conversation with “the Indian.”
Finally, Andy held up his hands for silence. When everyone was quiet, he gave the explanation each was anxious to hear.
“Listen to me, all-a you wooly whackers: I’m gonna go with this bunch of Indians to their camp, and stay there for a few days.” The shearers broke into a loud protest, as each man gave his reasons that Andy should not do that. Andy had to raise his hands again. “Now hold on, hold on. These Indians got the idea that my being in camp will help them get some of the land back that the government has taken away.” There was a low muttering among the group of men, but Andy continued.
“These Shoshone don’t want to fight. They just want their land back. I don’t think there’s any real danger going with ‘em. ‘Sides,” Andy said with some finality, “the rest of you are free to continue on to Montana.”
The men were silent as Andy turned and walked to where Ranger, his saddle horse, and the packhorse were waiting. He mounted the one and took the lead rope of the other. “I’ll probably just hang round here ‘til you get done with the work up there.” As he turned Ranger’s head in the direction of the Indians, he added, “I’ll hook back up with you when you get back this direction. Who knows? Maybe this show of friendliness will prove to be helpful in the future.”
Then, urging the horses on, he made his way in the direction of the waiting Indians. Behind him, his shearing buddies were motionless. They remained motionless as Andy joined the band and watched as they turned and rode away from the group of sheepshearers. Once, before they had gone too far, Andy turned in the saddle and waved to the silent group behind. They all reluctantly returned the wave, but none dared break the uneasy silence. Summer flies and restless horses were the only sounds as they watched the huge band of Indians—and their friend—disappear over the hill.
Chapter 3. The Dreaded Shoshone
Andy rode silently, with White Wolf riding at his side. On several occasions, he glanced over at the Indian, as a hundred conflicting thoughts raced in his mind. What was he doing here? Why had he agreed to go with this band of Shoshone braves, when he knew nothing about them and how reliable their word would be? Everything seemed so out of place not having the bunch of sheepshearers around him. Instead, there were thirty or forty Children of the Forest surrounding him as they moved slowly, but steadily toward an unknown destination.
They rode most of the day without any stops. Andy was accustomed to being in the saddle for long hours, so he was not bothered by the lengthy ride, but to be honest, he was anxious to reach their destination, just to find out what awaited him.
The party passed yet another hill, and Andy was beginning to think they would ride forever, when he looked ahead and spotted a large collection of crude-looking huts nestled along the foot of the hill. At that moment, the braves surrounding him let out a loud war whoop and began circling around Andy and White Wolf, as they all continued their movement toward the village. People in the village came out of their shelters to see what was causing the disturbance. Old men, women, and children gathered at the center point of the village and waited for the approaching warriors. For the most part, the group wanted to hear what news the braves had to bring them.
The braves’ whooping and the circling was unnerving to Andy, and for the first time he seriously wondered about the wisdom of his decision to come. White Wolf could tell Andy was worried, and he reached across between them, and touched Andy’s shoulder.
“Do not let the demonstration bother you,” White Wolf said. “These young men are just showing off for the village. No one here will harm you. I have given my word that it will be so, and it will be.”
Andy smiled the best he could, and nodded toward White Wolf in an effort to communicate to the Indian that he believed him and his promise to keep him safe. By this time, the braves had settled down and were just riding along with White Wolf and Andy. The ride ended when they stopped in front of one of the Indian houses, and White Wolf dismounted.
“This will be your home while you are with us,” he said, turning to Andy. “We call it a wikiup. Unload your things here, and someone will care for your horses while you get settled.” White Wolf led his horse to the next wikiup.
Andy loosened the cinch and pulled the saddle from the back of Ranger. He carried the saddle to the “home” and pulled back the blanket serving as a door to the structure. Sticking his head inside, it looked like the inside of a tepee, bare of anything. He moved inside, laid the saddle down, and went back outside to retrieve the pack from the other horse. Some of the villagers gathered in front of the wikiup and looked on intently as Andy lifted each of the panniers off and set them next to the door. Then he removed the wooden packsaddle from the horse’s back.
As he completed the unsaddling, a teenage boy stepped forward, took the lead rope of each horse, and began leading them away. Andy’s heart jumped into his throat, then quickly settled down. He realized his trust in these people would have to be cultivated. He forced a smile, waved at the young man, and turned with the rest of his belongings toward the wikiup.
Andy stacked his belongings on the opposite side from the doorway and laid out his bedroll in front of it. His belongings did not hold anything of considerable value, but he did not want to lose any of it since he had spent years and worked hard to get it all together. This shearing outfit was the means of his support.
Once Andy had his belongings stowed, he sat down on his bedroll and pulled off his boots. Ah, now that feels good. Maybe the stay here won’t be so bad. Give me a chance to rest up a bit. Haven’t done that for a long time. He slipped off the socks he’d been wearing for several days, and tucked them inside a pillowcase he had brought along for that very purpose. He dug around in a bag until he came up with a clean pair of socks and pulled them on.
Using his saddle as a pillow, Andy laid his head back to rest. This beats pounding my way to Montana. He closed his eyes, soaking it all in. A swish of the blanket-door broke his solitude, and he opened his eyes to see White Wolf looking inside.
“Everything is good?”
Andy lifted himself on an elbow and grinned at White Wolf. “It sure is good,” he replied to the question. “In fact, I was just telling myself how easy it would be to get used to this life.”
“That is good,” White Wolf grinned back, and stepped into the wikiup. “It is time to eat, Andy. You are hungry?” Andy nodded affirmatively in a vigorous manner.
White Wolf stepped back to the door and peered out. “They are coming now with some food.”
He stepped back from the blanket door and a young Indian woman came in. Andy glanced quickly up and back down, and then did a double take. What he saw was not what he expected. What he expected to see was an old, overweight squaw, muttering to herself about having to serve food to a white man. Instead, he saw a young woman in her late teens or early twenties, who, by anyone’s standards, was not overweight. By now, Andy was sitting up on his bedroll and gazing—no, staring—at the young woman. She had backed into the wikiup, pushing the blanket aside with her back to keep the food from spilling. Now, she faced the startled white man. Andy had stopped breathing, had had to draw a gasp of air. Even his heart seemed to skip a couple of beats.
She was beautiful. Not just pretty. Beautiful.
“Here is your food,” the young woman said, as she crossed the wikiup and offered it to Andy. “I hope you like it. I fixed it myself.”
Andy held out his hands to take the offering, but his mind was not on the food, nor on eating. His eyes were riveted on this breathtaking woman, and his fumbling mind was searching for something appropriate to say that would not make him sound like an idiot.
“You…you speak English, too?” He finally managed to say when nothing else came.
White Wolf was still near the door. At Andy’s faltering question, he laughed and stepped across the room. “She, too, spent some time in the white man’s school.” He moved closer to the girl, then, and put his hand lightly on her shoulder. “Andy, this is my sister, Soft Breeze in the Meadow. We just call her by the name Breeze. She speaks your language much better than I do. I think maybe she listened to the teachers better than I did.”
Carefully balancing his supper in one hand, Andy reached out the other and took Breeze’s hand.
“I’m very pleased to meet you, Breeze.” And he wasn’t kidding. This was no casual “howdy do” or formal pleasantry. It seemed to Andy this was one of the most important introductions he had ever experienced. There was a brief, awkward moment, and Andy realized he was still holding Breeze’s hand. White Wolf stepped in to break the sudden silence.
“Breeze is here to help with anything you need,” White Wolf said. “She is in the wikiup next to yours. All you need to do is call her name and she will hear you.”
Andy’s face had changed color with his embarrassment. “Aw, I don’t need anybody to help me with things. I can do most things myself.”
“She will be here to help you,” White Wolf said firmly. “It is our way. You will be surprised how helpful she can be. Even if you only want someone to talk to, she can help.”
Not wanting to say something else wrong, Andy turned his attention to the food which included some meat, some kind of bread, and a drink in a cup made from a gourd. With his houseguests still looking on, he cheerily picked up the meat and took a bite.
“Mm,” he mumbled, chewing and talking, “this is good. What kind of meat is it?”
“Sheep,” White Wolf quickly responded. “We are Shoshone, but we are from the band called Sheep Eaters. Sheep is a big part of our food. So, you like our sheep meat?”
“Yes,” Andy said, and tore off another bite. “But, I have never tasted sheep meat this good before. Do you have a special way of preparing it?”
“Yes, we have a “special” way to prepare it,” White Wolf replied. “While you are here, Breeze can show you how it is done. We will leave you now so you can eat your special meat in peace.” White Wolf smiled, took Breeze by the shoulder and turned her toward the door. “If you need anything, just call,” he said as the two of them disappeared out the door.
Andy turned his attention back to eating the rest of his meal. Despite of the fact he was ravenous, it wasn’t that that made the food good, delicious even. He wondered in a fleeting thought if all the women in the village were good cooks, or if Breeze was the village cook. Even the drink, that was something entirely new, had a sweet flavor that was pleasant to the taste.
Totally satisfied, he set the rustic dinnerware aside and went to the door to have another look at the strange environment he had been drawn into. As he pulled back the blanket, he was surprised to see that a group of villagers had gathered a short distance from his wikiup. They had been talking, but abruptly stopped when he appeared in the doorway. He acknowledged them with a smile, but quickly turned his attention from the curious onlookers, and began surveying the rest of the immediate area. His gaze fell on the wikiup next to his and saw that Breeze was standing in front of her door. When she saw Andy, she hurried over.
“Are you finished with your food? If so, I can take the plate and cup away.”
“Yes,” Andy replied, and he reached back and lifted the blanket for Breeze to go inside. “And I must say that I don’t think I have ever eaten food as good as yours.”
Breeze blushed as she picked up the dishes and turned back to Andy. “I think maybe you are just teasing with me. Surely the white woman has better food than that.”
“No. Honest.” Andy emphasized as Breeze walked back toward the door. “I have never tasted food any better, and I thank you very much for it.”
“You are welcome,” Breeze returned. “Unless you need me for something else, I will bring you more food about sun up.” Then she was gone.
Andy went back to his bedroll and sat down. As Breeze had left the wikiup, he noticed the sun was setting, and evvening was beginning to set in. He had several candles in his pack, but hesitated to light one. He wasn’t sure, but candles might be something new to the Indians, so he figured he would just wait and show one to White Wolf or Breeze tomorrow during the daytime.
Andy rested his head on the saddle and put his hands behind his head. The events of the day had been overwhelming, unbelievable even, and still rolled around in his mind. Thoughts and memories of the day were coming in bunches, so it was a struggle to get them sorted out. It almost seemed like a dream. Being in this Indian village was certainly different than anything he had envisioned or worried about while on the way here. If the rest of the people were as friendly as White Wolf, and his sister, Breeze, he really had nothing to worry about.
Soft Breeze in the Meadow. Andy’s eyes closed with that thought and in moments fell into a totally exhausted sleep.
Chapter 4. Courtship and Marriage
“Hello. Hello?” A voice came from the direction of the wikiup door. Andy stirred, but was not fully awake. “Hello? Are you awake?’ came the feminine voice again. This time he woke abruptly and sat up.
“Yes, I’m awake.” Andy quickly ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his eyes. “And up. Come on in.”
The blanket covering the doorway swung back and Breeze came in. She held another plate filled with what looked like the same kind of food he had enjoyed the night before. The only difference was the amount. This time there was more.
“How did you sleep?’ Breeze asked as she handed him the plate.
“I slept very well,” Andy replied, taking the food and bringing it close to his nose. “Mm, mm. I’ll bet this tastes every bit as good as it smells. Thank you, very much.”
“You are welcome,” Breeze smiled. “Is there anything else I can do?”
“Well,” Andy started hesitantly, “Do you know if I have to stay here in the wikiup?”
Breeze’s eyes opened wide in surprise. “You are not a prisoner here. The government will not know that, but you are free to move about as you like. You can even leave, if you want to. No, you are not a prisoner. And White Wolf believes maybe you want to help us. He says he thinks maybe you even might be a good friend.”
“White Wolf is right. I want to be a good friend,” Andy said. He picked up a piece of meat from the plate and took a bite. “Mm, that is good…and I do want to help. That’s why I’m here. Maybe, after I finish eating, we can go for a walk, and you can show me some of the land around the camp.”
“I would like that,” Breeze smiled, and turned toward the door, then turned back. “I will give you some time to eat, and then we will go for a walk.”
Andy ate his food quite a bit faster than the night before. Without realizing it fully, he was looking forward to the walk with this woman, Breeze. He weighed the walk with Breeze against seeing the lay of the land, and decided it was the walk he was most interested in. He was waiting and more than ready when she returned.
She led Andy to her wikiup, and dropped off the dishes. White Wolf was inside, and when Breeze stepped in, he asked her what was planned for the day. Breeze explained what she and Andy had discussed. White Wolf’s eyes twinkled when he heard of the walk.
“Do you think maybe I should go with you on this first walk, to see that everything is good?”
“No!” was Breeze’s hasty response, and then added in a calmer tone, “I think maybe I can take care of a simple walk.” She picked up a leather water pouch and hurried out the door. White Wolf chuckled as she left.
That was the beginning of many walks in the days that followed. Each walk gave the two an opportunity for long conversations, and each talk was a catalyst that brought them closer. Within a few weeks, they were holding hands the moment they moved out of sight of the wikiups, and it was a natural and comfortable feeling for them to be together. It was obvious to the people of the village what was going on. They eyed the couple with great interest, and wondered how the cowboy and the Indian maiden could ever care so deeply for each other.
Despite that interest, once they left the village, Andy and Breeze were alone, so they spent a great deal of time away from the prying eyes. Their relationship came to fruition one night that Breeze returned to Andy’s wikiup to pick up the evening dishes. It was dark when she got there, so no one noticed her arrival. She did not leave until the early hours of morning. From then on, Breeze spent every night inside Andy’s wikiup.
Aside from the nightly rendezvous, they spent a lot of time during the day making plans for the future. Marriage was uppermost in their conversations. They would move to a spot outside the village where they wouldn’t be seen, and would sit and talk.
It was during one of those talks that White Wolf came upon the place where they were talking.
“I thought I would find you out here somewhere,” White Wolf said, as he joined them. “I have been wanting to talk with both of you for several days.” He stopped and paused for a moment. They both knew what the talk was going to be about. They sat silently and waited.
White Wolf picked up a stick, and tapped it a few times on the ground. “The people are talking about the way you two are always together.” His head was down, as he drew a design in the dirt. “Now they are talking about the nights you have spent together.”
Andy and Breeze looked at each other in surprise.
“Oh, yes, it has been quite obvious. Your secret has been as quiet as a herd of buffalo thundering across the plains.”
“White Wolf,” Breeze spoke up. “We want to be married. We love each other very much.” She turned her head to look at Andy, and smiled. “We can no longer stand the thought of facing the future without each other.”
White Wolf reached out and shook Andy’s hand vigorously. “I think that is a very good idea, my friend.” He let loose of Andy’s hand, and sat back. “Before now, I would have said I thought it was a bad idea. But, the big chiefs in Washington have listened to us, and are willing to give us back some of the land they took. It has helped for them to know that you are here on your own, and you are in favor of us getting back the land we need. I want to thank you again, my friend.”
“It’s been my pleasure,” Andy replied. The two lovers couldn’t stop smiling.
“What do you plan to do?” White Wolf questioned. “Where do you plan to live?”
Andy had been leaning back on his elbow. Now he sat up straight. “We haven’t quite decided yet. I thought maybe we would stay here in the village for a while. And, maybe someday we can always go back to my home in Utah. The people there are not so hostile as most white people. Breeze would be welcome and safe there.”
“We want to be married right away,” Breeze broke in and addressed White Wolf. “Since you are the man of our wikiup, you are the one to ask if it will be good.”
At that moment, White Wolf’s face took on a long, sober look as he dropped his gaze to the ground. For a long, awkward pause his eyes were riveted stolidly to the ground. Andy reached over and took Breeze’s hand in his, and cleared his throat.
White Wolf looked up, and this time he was smiling. “It is good,” he said, and chuckled. “I have always wanted to make someone worry over that. We will have the wedding right away. The white men from the government will be here in a few days, and we should have the wedding done by the time they get here.”
Andy drew Breeze closer.
White Wolf smiled again. “My sister, I know you are ready, right now, to be married. We will get it done tomorrow morning so you two can be together legally, and I can think about other things.”
Chapter 5. Wards of the Government
They honeymooned for a week, and all too soon it was time to return to the village. Sadly, they packed everything up and put it on Andy’s packhorse. The newlyweds were full of conversation, as they rode slowly toward the village. They were still more than a mile from the group of wikiups when they saw White Wolf riding toward them. As he drew closer, White Wolf hailed them, and rode up close.
“Is everything good?” he teased. Andy and Breeze blushed, and White Wolf laughed. “Yes, I see that everything is good.” He dismounted and invited the couple to do the same.
Andy dismounted and helped Breeze down from her horse. Then, he turned to White Wolf. “Is anything wrong?”
“Yes, I think maybe there is something wrong. That is why I rode out to meet you. I want to talk with you before you get to the village.” He led Andy and Breeze to a place where they could sit down.
“The men from Washington were here during the days you were gone. We signed the paper that gives us the land back we want.”
“That’s real good to hear,” Andy said.
“Yes, that is good,” White Wolf repeated. “They also asked for you. When I told them you had married one of our people, and you were on your honeymoon, they got very upset. They said you shouldn’t have done that. They said my people are, what they called, ‘wards of the government,’ and such things would have to be approved by the government before it could happen.”
“What does that mean for us?”
“It means, my friend, you won’t be able to stay with us until the question is settled. I promised the men, as soon as you got back, I would send you away until we get it settled.”
Andy started to protest, but the Indian stopped him.
“That is what I told them, and that is what we will do. You must leave our people until the problem is solved. I had to promise to send you away. I did not want anything bad to change the idea of getting our land back. I think maybe it will only be a little time before you will be able to come back.”
“What about Breeze?” Andy was reeling, almost in a daze over this sudden change of events. “Will she be allowed to go with me?”
“I am sorry, my friend,” White Wolf leaned forward enough to put his hand on Andy’s shoulder, “but, no, she will not be able to go with you. The two of you will be separated until the matter is settled. Let us hope it will only be a little separation. But, there will be a separation.”
The pain on Andy’s face was evident. “Now that we are one, Breeze, I don’t know how I can live without you at my side.” Before Breeze could respond, White Wolf cut in. “You can do it, my friend. You are one of my people now. Think of it as a sacrifice to help our people.”
He stood up and walked toward his horse.
“I think maybe we should get back to the village. Andy, my friend, you will need to get your things together so you will be able to leave in the morning.”
“But…” Andy started to protest, but White Wolf raised his hand to discourage any disagreement. “It is better this way, my friend. The sooner you are gone, the sooner we can work for your return.”
Andy looked helplessly at Breeze, but said nothing more. Breeze returned the look and shrugged helplessly. They stood up, still holding hands, and walked to the horses. Andy helped his bride onto her horse, then mounted his own. Together, the three of them turned the horses toward the village, and gave them their heads. The horses knew where they were going, and, although they didn’t gallop, they quickened their pace.
They were greeted and welcomed as they rode into the village. In the weeks Andy had been in their midst, he had made many friends with the people of the village. The early suspicions had been replaced with friendly smiles, even trust, from those he was not yet acquainted with. The people of the village had taken him into their lives, and treated him as one of their own. In return, Andy performed two small acts of service that the villagers viewed as much more than small.
First, he turned all the food he brought with him over to Breeze. Of course, the people were acquainted with flour, but they had little or nothing to do with coffee, sugar, or salt pork. Andy urged Breeze to let all the people try it. They seemed delighted, and the gesture did more to cement a friendship than any other he’d tried.
The second thing he did was as simple as a day’s work. Andy noticed right away that the village’s flock of sheep needed shearing in a bad way. He discussed it with White Wolf, and suggested he could shear the sheep for them. The idea of shearing was new to the entire village. Heretofore, they had stripped wool from the animals with their hands, or had hacked some off with a knife on an as-need basis. White Wolf was amazed at the thought of being able to remove all the wool at once. He wanted to see it done.
With the help of some of the boys, Andy built a small pen where one unlucky sheep waited for the exhibit. The entire village formed a circle around the pen to watch the proceedings. Andy unfolded a piece of canvas and put it on the ground to catch the newly cut fleece. Finally, Andy pulled out the hand sheers that had become his pride and joy, and which made it possible for him to sheer over one hundred head of sheep a day. He flexed the shears. The burnished, razor edges gleamed in the afternoon sun and filled the air with a magical metallic sound.
Andy put the sheers down next to the canvas, and moved slowly toward the sheep, which perked its ears forward, suspecting something was about to happen. Each step was designed to move the animal into a corner of the pen. Using that well-rehearsed strategy, whatever way the animal attempted its escape, Andy could capture it with ease. The sheep sized Andy up for a moment, and then tried to run past on his left. At the last instant, Andy’s hand shot out, grabbing a handful of wool, bringing the unfortunate ewe to a stop. Andy handily pulled the animal back, grabbed her head and led her back toward the canvas. A cheer went up from the crowd around him.
Andy set the animal on its haunches, the helpless ewe leaning back against his legs, and then began his work. Starting at the neck, he worked his way down to the belly, then the sides and back. His movements were fluid, honed from years of practice with thousands of sheep, and within a couple of minutes the entire job was done. Andy let the sheep loose, folded up the fleece, and turned to White Wolf, who had watched the sheering in total fascination.
“White Wolf, I need something to tie up the fleece,” Andy said. White Wolf turned his head, looked at several of the young braves lining the fence. Evidently seeing what he wanted, he walked over to one of the teens and motioned with his chin to the youth’s tied-back hair. The boy quickly untied and unwound a long leather string and placed it in White Wolf’s hand. He walked back to Andy.
“Will this be good?”
“Yes, that is good,” Andy replied, as he took the string from White Wolf’s hand and tied up the fleece like he was wrapping a Christmas gift. He then held the fleece triumphantly above his head, and another cheer went up, as the onlookers flooded inside the pen to see and feel for themselves the fluffy bundle.
“That was very good, my friend.” White Wolf said, as he entered the pen. He walked up to Andy, and put his hand on the shoulder of the white man. “I never would have believed it if I had not seen it for myself.” His gaze wandered to the distant flock, grazing in a meadow. “Now, what about the rest of the sheep? Would you like to cut wool off their backs as well?”
Andy chuckled. He had anticipated that question. “Of course, I have wanted to do that since I first got here.”
It had felt so good to be accepted by these people. His people.
Back to the present, Andy, Breeze, and White Wolf rode into the village and up to the front of their wikiup, and stopped. Several teenage boys appeared and took the reins of each of the horses, while Andy dismounted and helped his new bride to the ground. They walked into the wikiup as man and wife, for the first time. Once inside, Andy took Breeze in his arms, and held her in a long embrace.
“Oh, Breeze, I wish there was something I could do so I wouldn’t have to leave. It will be so lonely without you.”
“I know,” Breeze replied. “I will feel the same way. Andy, I did learn how to write at school. I think maybe we will be able to write to each other, back and forth, while we are not together. Do you think so?”
“Yes,” Andy replied, holding her tighter. “Maybe the letters will help the time go by faster.” He gazed long into her dark brown eyes. “We have one more night together. Every dream and memory while we’re apart will be centered around this night and our honeymoon. Let’s make the most of the time we have left.”
Dawn arrived early—much too early. Andy and Breeze still lay in each other’s arms when a soft knock came—White Wolf informing them it was time to start the day. Many of the villagers were already up and about. Most of them had made it a point to be present when Andy left the village.
Breeze was propped up on her elbow, caressing Andy’s face. “While you are loading your horse, I will cook you one more meal. Before you leave,” she said. “Also, you will need some food to last until you get to your home in Utah.”
She got up to dress, and it really hit Andy that the curves of her body were every bit as beautiful as her facial features. He shook his head and repeated in his mind what had been there for days now: How lucky can I be to find such a woman, and convince her to be my wife?
Once she disappeared out the door, Andy arose and dressed. He’d packed the night before and all that remained was to load the horse. He picked up the packsaddle and one of the bags, and then stepped out the door. The horses were waiting, each held by a young man who had somehow won the honor. The look in their eyes nearly brought Andy to tears, as he realized they were nearly as pained as he was about the departure.
He loaded the pack animal, threw his saddle on Ranger, and without wanting to be, was ready. He walked back into the wikiup for a final look, and picked up two items he had purposely not packed. The one, he placed in the saddlebag. The other, he held in his hand as he walked slowly to White Wolf’s wikiup.
“White Wolf, I want you to have these,” Andy said, after he had entered his brother-in-law’s home. He handed him the sheers that had been his means of support for the past few years. “I think you’ll be able to use these more than me,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be shearing many sheep from now on.”
White Wolf seemed pleased about the gift, and turned the shears over and over in his hands. He finally put the shears down, picked up a hand-sized leather pouch and handed it to Andy.
“This is for you. You are not to look inside until you are many miles from the village.”
Andy took the small bag. It was heavy relative to its size, and he was tempted to open it up right then, but White Wolf cautioned him again, “Do not look inside until you are many miles from the village.”
Breeze stuck her head through the blanket door.
“Here you are!”
She entered with a plateful of food, and placed in Andy’s hands. He set the leather bag aside and accepted the offering. Another plate appeared and was given to White Wolf. They both ate in silence.
Once the plate was empty, Andy leaned back and sighed. “I am going to miss that,” he said, and smiled wistfully at Breeze. “You know, White Wolf, the day I met up with you was the luckiest day of my life.”
He stood up and stretched, then bent down and picked up the leather bag. “I guess the longer I put it off, the harder it’s going to be. So, I better get going.”
White Wolf stood up then, and they took each other’s arm in a traditional Indian embrace. “You will always be my friend, Andy. And now, my brother.”
“White Wolf, there is no man in the world that can take your place as my friend and brother,” Andy said. They looked at each other a long moment, solidifying their brotherhood and true friendship. Andy broke the gaze, turned and took Breeze’s arm.
“Please walk with me to the horses.”
They all three left the wikiup, but wanting to give the newlyweds some privacy, White Wolf remained near the doorway. When they reached the horses, Andy turned to Breeze.
“Since White Wolf told us what needed to happen, I’ve thought many times that I would just take you with me, carry you away to Utah. But I know that would be as bad as if I was to stay. So, I will look for ways that I can return to you.” He touched her face and lifted her chin slightly. “You will be in my mind and memory as strong as you are standing with me right now.”
Breeze fell into his arms and there was a long embrace. Their kiss contained as much sadness and longing as it did passion. When they finally broke, Andy brushed the tears away with his shirtsleeve, and reached into his saddlebag. He brought out a gold pocket watch with a slithery gold rope chain. He handed it to Breeze.
“I don’t have much,” he said, closing Breeze’s hand around the watch. “This is probably the most valuable thing I have. It belonged to my father and was given to me. I want you to have it now. To remember me.”
Breeze looked steadfastly into Andy’s pale blue eyes.
“I will remember you without having a watch to remind me.” And then threw her arms around Andy in another embrace. Weeping again, she whispered in his ear, “But I will cherish the watch always, for I know it comes from your heart.”
Unable to bear the pain any longer, Andy turned and mounted Ranger. Through tear-filled eyes he gazed one more time at his bride, turned, and made his way through the village. Many of the people followed, wishing him well on his journey. As he reached the last wikiup, he turned for one last look. Breeze had her arm high in the air, waving. Behind her, he could see White Wolf was waving, too. He paused and gave them a long wave, then turned and moved into the lonely wilderness.
Chapter 6. The Separation
Alone and into utter stillness, Andy finally let his tears flow freely. In those moments of utter desolation, it seemed his whole world had come crashing down on his head. The clip-clop of the horses’ hooves sounded like anvil blows in the claustrophobic silence. To Andy, it seemed all nature sensed his sorrow, and was merely attempting to convey that message.
Later that afternoon, many miles along the trail, Andy decided to stop and rest the horses. He wasn’t hungry, yet the memory of Breeze’s smile drove him to eat some of the food she had packed for him. In his grief, Andy had completely forgotten the leather bag White Wolf had given him, with its associated request to open it later. He drew it from the saddlebag, and opened the drawstrings. He was not prepared for what he saw. There was a note just inside the bag:
“I promised the day we met that you would be paid for your troubles. I just hope you feel there is enough here to fulfill that promise.
“Your friend and Brother, White Wolf.”
Andy reached into the leather bag and pulled out a handful of weathered currency—denominations from one dollar to several fifty-dollar bills. In his hand, it seemed quite the wad of bills. Curious, he took a minute and counted it out. When he laid the last bill on the stack, he nearly fell off his rock. There was over twenty-seven hundred dollars. He was simply having a tough time wrapping his mind around what he was seeing.
After a moment of recovery, he put the money aside and reached back into the bag. There was something in the bottom of the bag. His fingers gathered what felt like rocks. When his hand came out of the bag, it was, indeed, full of rocks. Six precious gemstones. At least he thought they were probably precious if White Wolf had included them.
Andy shook his head and muttered, “Too much, White Wolf.” He didn’t think he could in good conscience take what appeared to be the wealth of the whole village. He figured the gems alone were worth, well, he wasn’t sure what they were worth never having had anything to do with precious stones.
“I’ll have to take it back to White Wolf so he can re-figure this out.”
He tucked everything back into the bag, drew the string tight, and lifted the flap of a saddlebag when a thought struck him. White Wolf had once said, “We are trying hard to hold to the old ways. Things belonging to the white man are things we want nothing to do with. Some day we may have to give in to the ways of the white man, but until then, we will do our best to resist them.”
Andy mulled over White Wolf’s words. Perhaps giving him the money and gems was an expression of his deepest feelings about the white man and his ways. Andy concluded that when he got home he’d figure out how much he would have made with the shearers in Montana, and would take that much out of the bag. The rest, he decided, would put away for the future. It would be a great nest egg for when he and Breeze could finally settle down.
The journey home was long and tedious. Andy didn’t mind riding by himself and ordinarily would have considered it a treat—riding alone with only his thoughts to contend with. But this time his heart was heavy with the ache of having left his new bride behind. He longed to see her right now, and spent a lot of time wondering what she might be doing at any given moment. And each time his thoughts returned to Breeze, his heart ached more. But, try as he might, he could not bring his mind to settle on any other subject. It seemed the more wonderful the memory, the greater the pain tugged at his ailing heart and pounded on his whirling mind. He was relieved when his hometown came into view, and Andy knew the trip was mercifully near its end.
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In book one, half-Indian Eote is given responsibility to lead a high-tech army of American Indians to bring balance to the modern world, but his self-doubts send him back for more experience among his people. Eote now learns of his own humble beginnings, and through experiences with various tribes, continues his education to determine if war is the best alternative. He and Little Fawn share the joys and sorrows of living among The People, meet the Indian Messiah who teaches peace through the Ghost Dance, and learn first-hand the consequences of practicing the dance. Through traditional storytelling, Eote and readers experience the bloodiest American Indian slaughter in history—the Bear River Massacre. Will first-hand experience among a people marked for annihilation slow or accelerate the prospect of a final battle? Author Douglas B. Wright brings the tale of an unlikely American hero to its exciting and fantastic conclusion in “Pow Wow with the Dead, Eye of the Eagle Book Two.”