IRON WOLF’S BRIDE — Free E-book Giveaway & Excerpt

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday and are happy to be beginning a New Year.  Here’s a hope and a wish that this year will be so very much better than last year.

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, second in The Wild West Series, is a new release for me.  Set within Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows, Iron Wolf’s Bride encompasses two continents, both America and England.

I’ll be giving away a free e-book of IRON WOLF’S BRIDE to a couple of bloggers (2 bloggers).  So do consider leaving a comment, since this is how one enters into the drawing.  We have guidelines, by the way, for our giveaways — you can see them off to the top right here.

So here we go:  I’m going to post the back cover blurb of the book and then an excerpt.  Hope you’ll enjoy both.

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE

by 

Karen Kay

I will return to you, my love…

Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.

Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest.  But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away.  Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane.  However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another.  And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.

But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son.  Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?

Warning:  Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.

Let me tell you a little about the book before I attach an excerpt.

As I said above IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is the second book in The Wild West Series, my newest series.

I’ve planned three books in this series and two of them are released, Book #1, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME and Book #2, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE.

The third book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, is a work in progress at present.

But let me tell you a little about this series.  It concerns three men,  who are part of the secret Society of the Wolf, The Clan of the Scout.  Two of the men are from the Assiniboine Indian Tribe and one is from the Lakota Tribe.  They are on a deadly serious mission.

The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has had a terrifying vision: that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe, and eventually for all Indians.  The old chief is desperate and enlists the aid of two young men from his own tribe and one young man from the Lakota tribe to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  He has been shown in a vision from the Creator that help for his people can be found if these three young men can become a part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  There, within the framework of the show, the old chief has been shown that he may appeal to the President of the United States — or his representative — for assistance; also, to find and stop the deceiver who means to harm the Indian Tribes.

Because traditionally scouts were the most trusted individuals within the tribe, the old chief appeals to two young men who are a part of that society.  One of them is his own son; another is a young man who is the most accurate shooter with the bow and arrow as well as a gun.  The third young man is to be found from the Lakota tribe.

These three young men become part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and, in addition, they become one of the most popular events in the show, especially with the young ladies. But these three young men care very little about any fame or fortune that might be attached to being so popular. Their concern is to find and disable the trickster and all his associates, so as to free the next several generations of Native American children from harm.

Within this series of three stories, these young men — although not looking for love — discover true love along the path to discovering this real evil which is threatening their tribes.

Enjoy this excerpt of the book:

CHAPTER TWO

April, 1891

Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds

London, England

 

Jane Glenforest felt as though her world was shattering.  How dare he.  How dare he come here.

Of course, she needn’t have bought the tickets to see the Wild West Show.  But, she’d been unable to resist the impulse to come here today to see if he were still with the show.  And, surely, there he was, surrounded by the usual crowd of women.

It still hurt.  Seeing him again only made the pain of what had happened between them worse.

Eventually, she’d have to go down there where he was, for her sister still worked with the show; indeed, her sister, Luci, was even now dressed as a boy.  Did this fact mean that she and Luci were still in danger?  Surely that was behind them now.  It had been two and a half, almost three years since the trouble.

Jane watched from a top section of the bleaching boards as her former husband and lover, as well as his two friends, wooed the feminine, English hearts.  He and his friends, having finished their athletic performances in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, were now engaging the crowd in a different skill: American Indian-style singing and dancing.

The three friends had taken up a position that was in front of and close up to the tiered bleaching boards.  Already, several of the young English women were leaving their seats, were filtering into the arena and joining the Indian women there.  Together, these two different groups of ladies formed a circle around the three performers.

And, there he was: Iron Wolf.  He stood in the middle between his two friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder.  Wind Eagle was drumming on what appeared to be a buffalo-hide drum, which he held in his hand.  Blue Thunder shook two rattles.  Both Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing, while Iron Wolf blew into his Indian-styled flute.  Feathers and strung beads hung from the instrument, which more resembled an English recorder than a flute.

She remembered that flute.  Iron Wolf had often played it for her, and once, over two and a half years ago, he had used it to make her smile when she’d felt downtrodden.

She watched Iron Wolf as he danced.  He was the only one of the three men who was dancing.  As the others were singing, Iron Wolf took a moment to swing around in a circle, then bent over at the waist, keeping time to the rhythm and looking as though he were a nineteenth-century Kokopelli, who was, of course, the ancient American Indian Casanova.

His dance was stimulating to her, although she was an unwilling recipient to the blatant sensuality of his movements.  Whether Iron Wolf intended it or not, the dance he was doing was not only exotic, it was erotic, and several of the women surrounding the three musicians were also bobbing up and down to the rhythm, looking as though they were part of the unusual performance.

Once again Jane wondered why he had come to England.  He didn’t have to come.  He could have stayed behind.

Didn’t he know she was here?  It wasn’t possible that he would not know, if only because their divorce papers listed her current residence as being in Surrey, England.  Was he so insensitive that he didn’t realize how much it would hurt her to see him again, to observe him flirting with other women, to witness him with his new wife?

Perhaps a better question would be to ask herself why she had come here.  Yes, good manners dictated that she visit with her sister, but she also needed to talk to Luci more seriously, if only to find out why her sister had never written.  Why had she never answered Jane’s many letters?

But, she hadn’t any real necessity to come to the show for that reason.  Not really.  She could have sent a note to Luci and her husband, Wind Eagle, inviting them to her uncle’s estate.

All at once, Iron Wolf unexpectedly jumped into the air, only to land in an athletic split upon the ground, and Jane recalled that this same man had once appeared to fly through the air in an effort to rescue her and their baby.  To her disappointment, his attempt had failed.

But, this was all in the past.  Once, not too long ago, he had loved her.  Once, she had loved him to distraction.  But their love was over now.  It was dead.

And, she had recovered from its extinction.  She’d had to, for she was raising her small son without Iron Wolf’s aid.  Indeed, her once-unconditional love for Iron Wolf had died about a year ago when he had divorced her.  It was that simple.

She had grieved for months, but had forced herself to move on with her life and had put her infatuation with Iron Wolf behind her.  Her future now lay with another.

Little Jeremy Iron Wolf, Jane’s son, laughed, his antics serving to bring Jane back to the present.  She glanced to her right where her friend and nanny, Marci Fox, sat.  Marci was holding Jeremy in her arms, while Jeremy wiggled his small fingers, entangling them in Marci’s long, nearly-black hair.

Jane smiled.  “Here, I’ll take him,” she said, as she moved to gather her son into her arms.  “I’m thinking we should be leaving soon.”

Marci nodded and grinned.  “Look at your son dance up and down to the drum.  Do you think he knows that he belongs in the Western culture on display down there?”

“No,” replied Jane, “although I admit I used to think this was so.  But not now.  Let’s go.”

“Yes.  Are you going to try to see your sister?”

“Not today.  Tomorrow perhaps.”

“But tomorrow you are to be married.  Will there be time?”

Jane bit her lip.  “Yes, well…  Perhaps you are right.  Will you come with me while I try to find my sister?”

“Of course.”

“Then, I suppose we should go down there,” Jane replied, then sighed.  “Mayhap, we might find someone who will lead us to her.  Maybe, too, I might invite her to dinner tonight….  Possibly…”

That’s all Jane would say on the subject for now.  But she did wonder why, in all this time, Luci had not written.  Like Iron Wolf, had Luci changed so much?

Well, there was nothing to do about it now.  Luci was here in London, and she was, after all, Jane’s sister.

Positioning young Jeremy on her hip, Jane rose up from her top seat beneath the white canvas awning covering the bleaching boards of the Wild West Show.  Stepping toward the stairs on the far side of the sitting arrangement, she carefully made her way down toward the arena.  That the bottom edge of her light-blue walking dress dragged on the steps, dirtying it, was, for the moment, forgotten.  What was more important was what her stomach was doing.  Her entire body was trembling.  Her stomach in particular felt as though butterflies had taken residence within it.

Would he see her?  Would he even recognize her?  He might not, since two years ago, Jane had been forced to wear a disguise.  At that time, Jane had managed her hair into a tight chignon, and she had worn a wig of long, dark hair whenever she was away from her sleeping quarters.  Yes, he had seen her as a blonde, but rarely, and mostly in the privacy of their bedroom.  She’d been pregnant then and he’d only been privy to a brief glimpse of her as a slim, young girl before her father had come and whisked her away.  Would he even know her now?

He might.  Unlike many men, Iron Wolf seemed unusually perceptive, attentive to the minutest detail in his environment.  He saw elements around him that another might miss.

Her light-blue hat, however, might cause him to pass her by, for it was wide brimmed, with feathers on top to give her small, five-foot-four figure more height.  It hid her face, also.

She inhaled deeply…for courage.

Having descended to ground level, she stepped forward onto the field of the arena.  The three young American Indian singers had not yet finished their performance, and Jane hoped she might be able to avoid detection as she glanced into the distance, her gaze searching for Luci.  However, it was not to be.

Her first indication that she had been recognized was when Marci touched her shoulder and said, “He comes, I fear.” 

There was no need to say who “he” was.  Apparently, he had detached himself from the rest of the performance, and Jane watched as Iron Wolf approached her.

Dear Lord, why did he have to look so handsome?  Tall, with a slim, muscular build and long legs, he sauntered toward her, his gait smooth and graceful, as though the mere act of walking were an art form.  His hair had come a little loose from where he usually clipped the two braids behind his head, and the Assiniboine-style “bangs” blew in the wind.  He wore dark-blue, cotton pants that fell to the ground and were long enough to almost cover his moccasins.  His breechcloth was white with blue, red and green beaded decoration, and his shirt was light blue.  A beaded, white vest was secured in front with what looked to be leather ties, and a white bandana was tied neatly around his neck.

Jane took another breath as her stomach alerted her to the danger coming toward her, and she realized with mounting dread that she was not immune to him.  She should be, but she wasn’t.

And she, who was to be married to another man tomorrow….

She pasted a smile on her face as she prepared herself to confront the man she had once loved with all her heart.

***

He had watched for her all through their performances this day; he had even counted on her being here, for he’d suspected that her father might have taken her to England.  Indeed, his antics today were for her benefit, alone.

He had despaired, though, when he hadn’t caught a glimpse of her in the crowd.  However, as he and his two friends had begun their singing, he had espied her, there in the top row of the seating arrangement.  All through their first singing performance, he had felt as though he had gobbled her up with his gaze.  Had she felt the intensity of his emotions?  Did she know that he played his flute for her?  That he wooed her with it?  That his dance was for her, and only for her?

His heart beat fiercely in his breast as he approached her now.  Two, almost three years ago, he had known her as a pregnant woman and she had been beautiful then, both in spirit and in body.  But to see her now, slim, holding their son on her hip…it was such a stunning sight, he was certain he would never forget it.

In many ways, it was hard to believe that she was his wife, for her beauty was unusual to his eye.  Small-boned, feminine and clothed as she was in the English style of dress, she looked calm, cool…and untouchable.  The light blue of her dress might complement her coloring of light skin and pink cheeks, but its color added to the illusion that there was no history between them.  She looked foreign, cool, out of reach.

All those years ago, her hair had been dark, almost black whenever she was in public.  He had come to learn that it was a wig she wore, that the true color of her hair was an unusual shade of white-yellow.  On her, the hair color was beautiful, although he had to admit that to him, it was still foreign to his eye.

He felt a stirring in his loins as he measured his steps toward her, and he marveled at the power of his attraction to her.  She was his wife, and, although their love had been left to simmer over the ashes of a two-and-a-half-year-old fire, he felt his hunger for her stirring again within him.

He stopped directly in front of her, and, as was Indian tradition, he simply looked at her.  It was a sign of respect he bestowed upon her, and he didn’t speak, nor did he extend a hand toward her.  He simply gazed at her, admiring her lovely face.

She looked up at him briefly, then glanced quickly away.

“Why are you here?” she asked, her voice low and sweet, though within those tones, there was an air of hostility toward him.  She didn’t look back at him, leaving him to do little more than admire her attractive profile.

Although her words weren’t exactly welcoming, he yet felt heartened.  He was here and so was she.  They were, at last, together again.  He said, “I am happy to see you, my wife and my son.”

She did nothing in response at first and he watched as she swallowed hard before she gained her composure and uttered, “How dare you call me that.”

To say he was astonished by her tone of voice, as well as by her words, would have been an understatement, and it took him a moment to respond.  But at last, he asked, “Call you what?  I do not understand.  What did I say that you object to?”

“’Wife.’  That’s what I take offense to and you should know it.”

Clearly puzzled now, he asked, “Are you not my wife?”

“You know I am not.”

He had not expected her anger; sadness, perhaps, that he had not been able to find her sooner.  But antagonism bordering on what appeared to be disgust?  And, what did she mean that she wasn’t his wife?

He watched in surprise as a tear slipped down her cheek.  Why was she crying?  It seemed incomprehensible to him that she was so upset, especially because his emotions were intense and happy; he was, after all, reunited with her.  Yet, he could not deny that those were tears.  Reaching out a finger toward her, he traced the path of the tear’s salty wetness.

But she batted his hand away, saying, “Do not touch me!”

He nodded and took one step backward, and, by way of apology, he murmured, “I mean no assault.”

“Don’t do this!”

He said nothing.  He didn’t, however, avert his gaze from her, for she was truly angry with him.  Why?

“I am looking for my sister,” she stated after a pause; still she did not look at him.  “Do you know where I might be able to find her?”

“I do,” he answered calmly.  “If you follow me, I will take you to her.”

“I will not follow you anywhere, sir.  Simply tell me where she is, and I shall go there.”

“She is in the corral,” he told her without pause.  “But come, the time is long since we have seen or talked to one another.  Could we not take a moment to speak kind words to each other?  You are angry with me and I do not know why.  Perhaps if we share our thoughts with one another, we can renew our acquaintance.  But, if it is your wish to see your sister now, I would be honored to take you to her.”

“Don’t do this to me, Iron Wolf.  I will not go with you.  Is it your wish to parade that other woman in front of me?  Is that why you wish to accompany me?  No, I will not allow it.”

Iron Wolf realized at last that he was completely baffled.  He questioned, “Another woman?”

“Do you really expect me to say it?”

He could only stare at her, confused.

“Your other wife!  That is who I am speaking of.  Do you think I don’t know of her existence?  Did you believe that you could throw me away and marry another without my knowledge?”

“Throw you away?”

“Please, stop this.  I…I’ve seen the pictures of you with her.  Did you expect that I would not?  I also have our divorce papers that you signed.  So, do not pretend innocence with me.  I…I can say no more.”

Iron Wolf felt as though he were bedazzled.  True, he was confounded by her accusations, but he was also in awe of her.  Angry or not, he continued to be happy to see her.  But, he did question how a woman could be so angry, yet exude such beauty at the same time.

Accused of acts he hadn’t done, he knew no other course of action but to tell her the truth, and so he said, “I tell you no lie.  I have no other wife.  But I do wonder, who has told these lies to you?”

She didn’t answer his question.  Instead, after a short moment, she called over her shoulder, “Come, Marci.”

He watched as his wife turned and brought forward the young woman who had been standing behind her all this while.  Then, his fine-looking, yet irate wife said to the one whom she called Marci, “We will find my sister without any help.”

But, before they left, and in defense, he uttered, “I tell you this true.  I have no other wife, but you.”

“It is you who lie, for I have a news clipping of this wife you claim you don’t have and of you…pictures…newspaper articles…as well as our divorce papers.  And those, Mr. Wolf, prove that it is not I who is telling lies, but you.”  Then she turned away, and, within moments, she was walking away from him.

She loathed him, he realized perhaps too late.  And, he supposed that from her point of view, she might believe she had reason to show him dislike.

He watched her until she turned a corner and was no longer in his line of vision.  He frowned.  Two, almost three years ago, Jane and her sister had faced a trouble that had almost taken their lives.  He had thought the incident had resolved itself, and that his and Jane’s forced separation had been the act of a jealous father.

Now he wondered about the truth of that.  His wife’s reaction to simply seeing him again caused him to further speculate.  What had happened here, and, perhaps more importantly, why had something bad happened here? Did it have anything to do with what had occurred to Jane and her sister two years ago?  He didn’t know, but he promised himself that he would discover these answers, and soon….

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IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, Coming November 15th — Give Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another Terrific Tuesday!  

Am really excited to let you know that my newest effort, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is due to be released on November 15th.  Yea!

So, I thought I’d give you a quick glance at the cover and a little excerpt from the book, as well as the blurb.  Hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt!

IRON WOLF’S BRIDE

By

Karen Kay

BACK BLURB:

I will return to you, my love…

Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.

Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest.  But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away.  Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane.  However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another.  And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.

But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son.  Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?

Warning:  Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.

Iron Wolf’s Bride

An Excerpt:

Despite the warmth of the evening, the marble flooring of the foyer was cold beneath Jane’s slippers.  She was gazing forward, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows which graced the manor’s entryway.  Lacy, white curtains framed the windows, and, as Jane reached out to touch their softness, she recalled the feel of a smooth, deerskin bag that Iron Wolf had given her upon their marriage.  She’d had to leave it behind.

Iron Wolf…  How she wished that this evening were already over.

Biting her lip, she looked forward once more, out the window.  There were so many carriages out there; there must have been fifty or more of them, carrying the cast from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show here tonight.  And, one by one they pulled into the sweeping driveway of her uncle’s red-brick mansion.

The hour was early evening, and the many lanterns—which were scattered here and there along the brick drive—shone with a hazy light into the mist of the darkness, causing small pockets of foggy light to glitter, as though held there by a ghostly hand.  It caused the carriages to be appear to be as dark and as dreary as a funeral procession.

A shiver rushed over Jane’s skin as she realized that the ghosts from her past had come to haunt her tonight.  Iron Wolf would be amongst these people, and her tension because of this knowledge was so great, she held onto Nathaniel with a tight grip on his arm.  Luckily, he didn’t seem to mind and he patted her hand, his touch reassuring and gentle.

That her uncle had invited the entire cast of the Wild West Show to his estate was to Jane not to be believed, especially because tonight should have been the celebration party of her marriage to Nathaniel.  But, her uncle had explained that because the musicians had already been hired and an assortment of cooks were still on hand to provide the dinner, the original form of the party had changed from being a quiet dinner party to a ball and a sit-down dinner.

Why was her uncle honoring Bill Cody’s Wild West Show?  Didn’t he disdain those public gatherings which he labeled as “spectacles”?  Was it because Jane’s sister, Luci, performed with the show?  Perhaps.

And, of course Luci would be present here tonight, as would Luci’s husband, Wind Eagle.  Blue Thunder would also be present…and Iron Wolf.  There would be little chance she could avoid her former husband this evening, since he and his two friends were known to be Buffalo Bill’s most popular act—popular, that is, with the ladies.

During The Wild West’s long run, the threesome’s performances—which included not only daring feats of horsemanship, but also expert marksmanship—had gained steady popularity.  Indeed, a few years past, the three young men had added the American Indian style of singing and dancing as part of their entertainment.  From there, and because of that, the number of tickets sold to those of the female gender—young and old—had tripled the income of the show, if one were to believe the newspapers.  Indeed, her uncle had informed her that Buffalo Bill had asked the three young men to entertain this small gathering of London’s “elect” which was to be present here tonight.

At the moment, she could do little more than wonder how she was to get through the evening with her emotions still intact.  Pray, it might be the greatest acting performance of her life, since she was upset with them all: her sister, Wind Eagle, Blue Thunder and especially Iron Wolf.  But, she would sooner die from the heartbreak they had caused her than to openly show the hurt of their two-and-a-half-year indifference.  She promised herself that she would paste her most cordial smile onto her countenance, and she would grin as though her life depended upon it…and perhaps it did.

Jeremy, her son, would not be present at the festivities tonight, and for this Jane was indebted to Marci, who would attend to him and ensure his bedtime schedule remained the same as usual.  More commonly, Jane saw to her son’s nighttime storytelling and to the delightful chore of tucking him into bed.  Often, when there was a party, Jeremy was permitted to attend it.

But not tonight.  Tonight she needed every bit of her attention focused upon her smile and getting through the evening without grief and tears. 

Suddenly her heart seemed to stop.  There he was, exiting a carriage and stepping toward the house in the casual manner he seemed to have perfected.  His friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder, as well as Jane’s sister, Luci, flanked him on either side.  Suddenly Jane’s breathing stopped and her heart raced, reminding her that she had not yet healed from the wounds Iron Wolf had inflicted upon her.

How innocent she had been back then, although, if she were to be honest, she would admit to wishing to be so happy again.  Ah, if life could only be like that once more.

She sighed, noticing at the same time that her sister, Luci, was dressed as she usually was when she performed with the show—as a boy—and Jane was startled to witness it.  Surely, Luci didn’t have to still pretend to be someone she was not, did she?  Didn’t she realize that dressing as a boy here would give away her true identity?

Whatever the reason for the disguise, it made Jane feel uneasy.  Was there a continuing danger to Luci and to herself, as well, that demanded her sister continue the disguise?

But, she quickly forgot the question, when, seeing Iron Wolf walk slowly toward her, Jane’s attention came away from her sister to focus squarely onto her former husband.  He wore his best clothing tonight, she noted, and he looked so handsome that she could not suppress the soft gasp which fell from her lips.

A tanned-buckskin shirt and leggings seemed to caress his casual movements, and she realized she had rarely seen him dress in this manner, for Buffalo Bill provided the cotton shirts and trousers that the American Indian performers wore.  His style of buckskin clothing was adorned with beads set in round designs of orange, blue and yellow colors, and the same scheme was repeated on his breechcloth and his moccasins.  She caught sight of the several feathers that were fastened together and fell down from the back of his head, disappearing from her view as Iron Wolf stepped readily forward.  He had left his hair loose and long tonight, the whole of it thrown over his shoulders. There was no bow in his hands or quiver full of arrows upon his back, but still, she could see that he was armed, for a colt .45 was neatly tucked into a holster that fit around his lower waist.

He had painted two streaks of red upon his cheeks, but he wore no other war paint.  From this distance, Jane’s stomach was already reacting in turmoil toward him, warning her of the danger he presented her.  But, she had no choice but to ignore it.  She had promised herself that she would play her part of a happy young lady tonight and nothing would distract her from that, pretense though it was.

The havoc of her emotional fears and grief, however, was so great, that when the four of them walked into the foyer, Jane thought she might faint.  But, she mustered up the act she had decided to present them, and, as she and Nathaniel paced toward the four of them, her grip on Nathaniel’s arm was so tight, it might have been made of iron instead of flesh and blood. 

She smiled at all four of them briefly, then said, “Luci, Wind Eagle, how are you?”

“We are well,” answered Wind Eagle.

“Good, I am glad to hear it.”  Jane smiled again, but couldn’t quite look at Iron Wolf as she continued, “Iron Wolf, Blue Thunder, you are both welcome here tonight.”

Blue Thunder nodded.  Iron Wolf, however, did nothing and said nothing, causing Jane to look up at him briefly.  In that glance, short as it was, she saw that he did not gaze at her, but had cast his glance upon her hand which remained clutched upon Nathaniel’s arm, while Nathaniel’s hand covered hers.

And then, before she could look away, Iron Wolf thrust his chin forward and stared down his nose at her, looking at her as though she were made of something distasteful.  He didn’t smile; he didn’t say a word.  And, the expression on his countenance—outside of disgust—was so blank that little other emotion could be seen there.

He continued to remain silent, though his brief look at Nathaniel could have melted steel.  But, instead of speaking, he turned quickly away from Jane and Nathaniel, following the other performers into the ballroom.  And Jane, glad to have the first introductions accomplished without error on her part, sighed.  Hopefully, the rest of the evening would go as planned.

***

To say that Iron Wolf was upset would not have done justice to the fury raging within him.  Who was that man?  Whoever he was, he had been touching her.  And worse, she had let him, had perhaps encouraged him, for her hand had rested on that man’s arm.

What had happened here in this strange country of England?  Was his wife’s love for him so lacking that she had placed another man in her affections?  He blew out a breath in revulsion.  It might be so.

Well, let them both look at and try to rationalize the performance he had this moment decided to give in this foreign and hostile place.  Their music featured both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder as the vocalists in their trio.  Wind Eagle also kept time with a buffalo-hide drum and Blue Thunder accompanied the rhythm by shaking two different rattles.  While Iron Wolf also sang at times, he usually played his flute in these performances.  Also, he had become the group’s dancer.

For this, Iron Wolf was grateful.  His part in their performance tonight would allow him to give the presentation of his life.  She might not like what he was about to do, but he would ensure she would never again relegate him to the back recesses of her mind.

Áwicakeya, he dared her to forget about him again…ever.

***

Jane didn’t wish to view Iron Wolf’s and his friends’ act of drumming, singing and dancing.  Indeed, she wished she could be anywhere else but here, looking on.  But, it was not to be.

The gala which should have been her wedding party had turned sour.  Not that it was anyone else’s fault.  It was she, after all, who had postponed her wedding, and all because of one man, her former husband, Iron Wolf.

Servants had arranged the front of the ballroom into a stage for the performers, who were billed under their English names: Charles Wind Eagle, Luke Blue Thunder Striking, and of course her former husband, Michael Iron Wolf.  Chairs were clustered around the stage in five different rows.  After this performance, a ball was scheduled to follow, and, immediately after that, a sit-down dinner.

As the three men stepped forward, Iron Wolf turned so he was facing forward.  He caught her eye, and Jane drew in her breath sharply.  His look at her was so hostile, she had no choice but to look away.

Soon, the music began.  Both Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder were singing.  Blue Thunder took the lead with the song’s high-pitched intro.  Wind Eagle followed the lead, singing the same minor-keyed melody.  Wind Eagle beat out time on a hide-covered, hand-held drum, and Blue Thunder shook the two different rattles.  Iron Wolf wasn’t singing, instead he was playing his flute, but it wasn’t long before he began to dance.  Indeed, he was the only one of the three men who was dancing.

Too soon, it became evident that Iron Wolf was fashioning his performance to be much too personal, and Jane caught her breath as he stared directly at her while his dance took on a sensual, sexual nature, his hips jutting forward in time to the music.  Jane stirred uneasily, for a passionate sort of excitement was arising within her, and she didn’t wish to experience it.

As his dance continued in much the same manner, she wondered how much of this she could take.  Already recollections of their lovemaking from their not-too-distant past were materializing in her mind, and the reminiscence of their lovemaking flooded her body with an unwanted, yet passionate response.  As she watched, she couldn’t control the unwelcome, yet soul-stirring excitement which burned like fire over her nerve endings.  It was too much and she knew she had to get away.

But she couldn’t jump up suddenly and run from the room.  Her uncle, her aunt and even Nathaniel would be scandalized.  Briefly, she looked over her shoulder, searching for a reprieve.  But, all she saw were her uncle, Buffalo Bill and her uncle’s moneyed friends, who were standing or sitting toward the back of the room.

There was no comfort to be found there.  Looking forward again, her eyes met Iron Wolf’s angry and openly hostile gaze.  What did he have to be angry about?  It was she who was the victim of his scandalous affair.

Still, she wished now that Nathaniel hadn’t picked the front section of seats in order to watch the entertainment.  She had nowhere to go.

Luckily, Luci had taken up a position on Jane’s left while Nathaniel reposed on her right, and, despite Nathaniel’s presence beside her—perhaps because of it—Iron Wolf’s gaze at her did not allow to her look away.  All the while, his blatantly passionate dance made love to her.  Even his flute playing did not detract from the explicit, carnal manner of his movements.

Unfortunately for Jane, his dance was causing her usually conservative composure to shatter.  Suddenly, Iron Wolf squatted down on one knee, jutted his hips forward briefly, then jumped up with a vigor that proclaimed his youthful prowess.  The suggestive movement caused her heart to leap, and Jane wished she were embarrassed by his antics.  The truth was, however, she wasn’t.  She was responding to it—unwillingly, yes.  But, she was reacting to it all the same, and in kind.

She had to look away.  She tried to do so, but found it was impossible.  He was seducing her in front of everyone here, plain and simple.  With his legs spread apart, he fell down into a partial side-split, and, taking the mouthpiece of his flute out of his mouth, he held his hands up in the air as he slid back up into a standing position.  He then fell into a dance step—up and back, standing straight, then hunched over—all the while rocking and jutting his hips forward in so sensuous a manner, and in such an apparent, sexual way, it took Jane’s breath away.  Parts of her body appeared to be out of her control, being awakened by Iron Wolf’s display, and, try as she might to suppress the stirred-up lust he was causing, she couldn’t.  She gulped nervously.

Luci reached out to take Jane’s hand into her own, and Jane was glad of her presence beside her.  At last the music became low and soft, allowing Iron Wolf to speak out in English, and he said,

 

My wife, what has happened to us?

My wife, I have waited for you.

My wife, did you wait for me, honor me?

No, you did not.

And yet, my wife, I give you all of me now.

Will you take me?

It is not too late, my wife; it is not too late for us.”

 

His gaze was direct and piercing, and there was no doubt that his poetry was for no one but her.  In response, Jane could barely move; she couldn’t speak.

After his few words, the performance ended and he stepped quickly toward her.  But, Jane wasn’t about to confront him.  Not here, not now.

She jumped up as though there were a wound-up coil within her, and, turning around toward the entrance of the ballroom, she ran out of the room as fast as she could, aware of, but unable to look at the many curious glances sent her way.  She didn’t stop, nor did she pause.  Instead, she fled out into the foggy, darkened night, running along a pathway which led toward the gardens.  There was a labyrinth there that she knew well.  She intended to lose herself in it.  Now.

***

Iron Wolf followed her.  It was time to learn what was happening here.  Who was that man?

He intended this to be his first question to the woman who should be, and still was, his wife.  His second question to her would be why she believed he, her husband, had betrayed her.  But this could wait.

He noted that she had fled into a maze that was flanked by fragrant bushes which were taller than a man, and, were he not the scout and tracker he was, he might have become lost within these high shrubs, for the paths intersected one another and led in multiple directions.  But he didn’t lose his way.  He found her soon enough.

Once he had discovered her, he spoke out softly, so she might become aware he had followed her. “What is going on here?  Who is that man you were touching, the one who sat next to you?  What is he to you?”

Jane spun around, the look of surprise on her countenance quickly turning to anger.  She didn’t pause an instant, though, as she accused, “How dare you follow me!”

“I am your husband.  It is my duty to follow you.”

“Well, you can go away now.  I came here to be alone.”

Iron Wolf didn’t leave.  Instead, he repeated his question, for he intended it to be answered, and asked once more, “Who is that man?”

“That man?”

“The one you touched.  The one who sat beside you tonight.”

“He and I were to be married today.” 

She turned her back on him and Iron Wolf didn’t speak; he couldn’t, for he felt as though she had punched him in the gut.

She added, “We didn’t marry today, as it turns out, because I would like my sister to be a part of the marriage ceremony.  So we have postponed our wedding for the time being.  And now you see that I, too, might marry another, as you have.”

Although he wished to speak out loudly, to rage the truth at her, he found it impossible to find his tongue, and so he paused until at last he was able to say, “My wife, you have become like a wild pony in my absence.  How can you marry another when you are already married to me?”

“Am I?  Do you forget you divorced me?  And, how dare you call me ‘wild,’ when you…when you…”  Her voice caught.

He ignored the insult and said instead, “You have now accused me of this too many times.  Who has told this to you?”

“No one has ‘told’ it to me, as you say it.  It was written up in the newspapers, and I have the divorce papers that you signed, or have you conveniently forgotten that?  And, how dare you seduce me in front of all these people tonight; you, who are married to another.  Is she here tonight?  Does she care that you looked at me as you danced as though you were making love to me?”

She spoke so swiftly that he took a moment to understand all she had said, and then he asked, “Do you speak of the white-man’s newspapers where you saw my ‘wife’?”

“Of course.”

“Who showed this to you?”

“Does it matter?”

He sighed.  “Hau, hau, it matters.  I would ask you again, who has said this to you?”

“My uncle, if you must know.”

“Your uncle who owns this house?”

“Yes, indeed.”

Iron Wolf took a moment to collect his thoughts, then said, “You are wrong to believe these people, even if they be family.”

“So you can say easily enough.  But, my uncle is beyond reproach and I am certain he wouldn’t lie to me.  Besides, you forget that I have evidence of your betrayal of me.”

“No,” he countered, “what you have is ‘proof’ that is a lie.  And, now I say that it is good you did not marry that man this day, for had you done so, you would have committed a grave error, one I could not easily set aside.  So now, you must decide and choose between one or the other of us: me—your husband or that man.  For, even in my society, a woman may have only one husband.”

“I have already chosen, and that man is not you.”

Hau, then I will go.”

“Good.”

“But before I go, I wish to see these papers you have mentioned to me many times.  I would witness these lies with my own eyes.”

“They are not lies.”

He raised his voice.  “I say they are, and if you continue to tell me these untruths, I will say that you are a woman of no honor, who tells lies, as well.”

“How dare you shout at me, and how dare you say I am not honorable!”

He blew out his breath in an attempt to control his temper.  At length, he said, “I am a man who must be convinced.  Show me the papers you speak of, for I tell you true: I did not place my written name on anything.  I have no other wife, but you.  Why would I want another woman when the one I have is the sweetest, the most beautiful woman I have ever known or seen?  I ask you, why would I throw away the woman of my heart, for, if I were to do that, would I not destroy her and myself, too?”

He noted that the compliment, spoken as it was from his heart, might have found its target.  However, she did not respond favorably, and she turned her back upon him.

He encouraged, “Show me.”

When she turned around, she was crying, and his heart sank to realize that his raised voice and unkind words might have caused her grief.  Still, what he’d said had been true.

“Do you really think I stoop to tell fibs?  That I don’t have these things in my possession which show you betrayed me and then married another?”

“I would see them.”

She paused, as though she seriously considered his demand, even against her will.  At length, she said, “I suppose that might be a fair request.  So follow me.  I will show you, although I am certain you are already aware of what I am talking about.”

He nodded, but said nothing except, “Show me.  I will do as you ask and follow you.”

She turned around then and stomped out of the maze.  And, Iron Wolf, astonished again by the obvious—that this was no act and that his wife truly hated him— trailed after her.

*************************

Well, that’s it for now.  Look for the book November 15th, 2020 on Amazon.   Hope y’all will let me know if you like the cover as well as I do.  The male model is Lakota, by the way.  

Also, book #1 of the Wild West Series is on sale now for $.99.  It’s the first time this book has been put on sale for this low of a price.

You can get the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Itunes, but I’m going to leave the link here on the blog for Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/w49evpb

Also, I’ll be giving away a free e-book or paperback of the first book in The Wild West Series, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME.  Remember to look at the rules we have here for giveaways.  Just leave a comment and you’re entered into the drawing.

The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas, Part ll

Howdy!

And a happy Tuesday to you!  Hope y’all are doing well and I hope you’ll find the blog today fascinating.

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned that I’ll be giving away the free e-book, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION today, thus, I’ll do it here at the start of today’s blog.  Today’s blog could be a bit long, so let’s get right to it.

In my last blog last month, I tried to give an overview and an idea of how Pocahontas came to be familiar with the English colonists and how they had come to know her.  If you missed that post, you can do a search  under “The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas,” and it will come up for you to read. 

Okay, that said, let’s look at where I left off in my last post, which was with Pocahontas coming of age and I promised to tell you about her marriage to Kocoum, as well as her abduction by a few of the colonists, and the rather sordid details of her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe.  It may take me more than this post to fill in all those holes.  But let’s at least start with how she might have met her husband, Kocoum.

In the Powhatan society, a young girl and boy’s coming of age is celebrated, and it was no different for Pocahontas.  However, because there was a rumor of an abduction planned for Pocahontas, her ceremony was limited to special friends and family only.  There is a special dance called the courtship dance during which male warriors search the dancers for a mate.  This is probably where their courtship began.  After a time, they were married.  Kocoum was an elite warrior.  He was among 50 of the top warriors that guarded the capital of the Powhatan confederacy.  He was also the younger brother of Wahunsenaca’s, a friend of Pocahontas’ father, Chief Japazaw.  Because the priests (called quiakros) feared that the colonists plotted to kidnap Pocahontas, the couple went to live in Kocoum’s home, which was isolated from the colonists and farther north.  She was, in fact, being hidden from the English.  Kocoum and Pocahontas had a child, little Kocoum, a boy.  It was Captain Samuel Argall, an English colonist, who accomplished the feat of kidnapping Pocahontas.

Please excuse me as I pause from my story momentarily to tell you of a movie I once watched where it rendered that Pocahontas and her father had a falling out and that he had banished her from the tribe, thus she had taken up with the English.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Pocahontas was a princess, dearly beloved by her father.  She was also married to Kocoum and had a child by him.  Never would she have been banished from the tribe.  That movie did nothing but further the false information about this very brave woman.  That said, back to Captain Argall.  Why did he wish to capture Pocahontas?  Why did he take such extreme measures, for he certainly did.  Once he had learned of her hiding place, he gathered together not only men, but weapons and arms to attempt her capture.  But why?

Let’s speculate.  Do you remember from my previous post that the English colonists were looting the Powhatan villages of their stores of food.  They were also raping their women and children and oftentimes stealing their women and children in order to make them servants for the English. Sometimes I wonder at the foolishness of sending only men to the colonies.  It only courted trouble.  But I digress.  Perhaps he simply wanted her as his woman.  But I don’t think so.  I think the reason is much more complex and includes money and greed.  The Powhatan had many diverse and rich agricultural fields. There were no trees to cut, no land to clear.  In order to take the land, all the colonists had to do was destroy the village and take the land — it seemed this was considered easier than clearing the land.  This the colonists did and they expected retribution from the very powerful Powhatan tribe because of it.  The tribe might have done this.  But they chose not to because Wahunsenaca considered the English a branch of his tribe.  Though the abuses were numerous, he still sought other ways to deal with the problem, rather than killing the colonists outright. 

Through trickery and deceit, Captain Argall managed to get Pocahontas onto his ship.  She was supposed to be returned.  She never was.  She was held for ransom.  What Captain Argall demanded from Pocohontas’ father was:   a) the return of English weapons that had been taken from Jamestown, b) the return of the English prisoners Washunsenaca held captive and c) a shipment of corn.  Washunsenaca  paid the ransom at once.  In fact Argall writes of the transaction in his log in 1613, “This news much grieved this great king (Wahunsenaca), yet without delay he returned the messenger with this answer, that he desired me to use his daughter well, and bring my ship into his river (Pamunkey), and there he would give me my demands; which being performed, I should deliver him his daugher, and we should be friends.”  Although Wahunsenaca quickly carried out the ransom demands, Pocahontas was never released.  images27According to the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, by Dr. Linwood “little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star,” “…oral history states that before Argall took sail (back to Jamestown), several of Argall’s men returned to Pocahontas’ home and killed her husband, Kocoum.”  It was tradition that he would have come for her and rescued her, something that Argall could not permit.  Little Kocoum survived because upon Pocahontas’ capture, he was put into the care of several of the women of the tribe.  As an aside, there are still many descendents of Kocoum who are alive and well to this day.  You may again wonder why the Powhatan didn’t retaliate.  Part of that is Pocahontas’s father’s fear for her life if he were to do so, the other reason he didn’t attack is because of a tribal custom — part of the cultural foundation of the tribe, which was that of appeasing evil.  If one could, one always sought a balance between submitting to evil demands and preventing the loss of life.  Even so, the quiakros  (priests) of the tribe advised a swift retaliation, but Wahunsenaca would not do it, fearing for his daughter’s life.

One of Pocahontas’ elder sisters, Mattachanna, and her husband, Uttamattamakin, who was also a priest, were allowed to visit Pocahontas during her captivity.  Oral tradition is very distinct on the fact that Pocahontas confided that she had been raped and worse,  she suspected she was pregnant.  Again, rape was unheard of in Powhatan society.  Interestingly, shortly after this confession to her sister, Pocahontas was quickly converted to Christianity in order to rush her into marriage.  At this time, it would have been inconceivable for a Christian man to marry anyone who was not Christian.  It is also supposed that Sir Thomas Dale was actually the biological father of Pocahontas’s child, since, according to scholars William M.S. Rasmussen and Robert S. Tilton, it was Thomas Dale who was most closely linked to Pocahontas during her kidnapping.  Note also that her son’s name was not “John,” but rather “Thomas.”  It would also explain why Rolfe (who was secretary of the colony at the time) did not record the birth of Thomas.

smlrolfe2Was the marriage one of love?  Oral history casts doubt on this.  She had just lost her husband, was separated from the father she loved, had given birth to a child from an incident she described as rape, and was rushed into marriage in order to make it appear that the birth had taken place after the marriage.  Plus, she was not free to live her own life.  She could not come and go as her leisure.  Did John Rolfe love her?  In a letter to Dale, Rolfe refers to her as a “creature,” not a “woman.”  But regardless, whether they loved one another or not, they were married and Rolfe became the heir to the friendliness of the Powhatan people, which included their knowledge of the tobacco plant and how it was processed.  Here is where the unsavory aspects of money and greed enter into the equation.  The Virgina company wasn’t doing well.  There was no gold in the New World, there was no silver, no gems, nothing to make the venture successful.  There just  had to some way to make the colony prosperous.  Would the tobacco plant become their claim to fame?

It seems likely that this might have been their intentions.  Rolfe had left England in 1609 with the goal of making a profit growing and processing tobacco.  He arrived in 1610 and for three years, he had been unsuccessful at both growing the tobacco and in the processing of it.  The year 1616 was the “deadline for the initial investments in the Virginia colony.” From the book THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, it appears that time was running out.  The colony was failing.  And Rolfe’s crop was failing.  Thus, Rolfe himself was failing.  What was he to do?

Stay tuned.   We’ve gone over her abduction now.  Next month, I hope to answer the questions of what possible motive John Rolfe, Captain Argall and Thomas Dale might have had for kidnapping Pocohontas.  And then marrying her.  Then there’s the question of who killed her?  And why?  What could her death have accomplished?  Most of all, however, how was the deed accomplished and covered up so thoroughly?  To the point where it was believed that she had died of small pox?  

So come on back next month for the conclusion of The Murder and Abduction of Pocohontas.

Am hoping that you’ll come in an tell me your thoughts about this very real American legend.

Welcome to Some Summer Fun! A Puzzle…

Howdy!

Are you ready for another fun week of games and puzzles?  Well, kicking off this week, I thought I might post a puzzle — I figure we could call it:  Name that cover.

 

Here’s the link:  https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=333e8f3e0a3f

So, did you put it together yet?  Okay, shall we compare times?  Now, before I tell you how long it took me to put the puzzle together, be aware that I am not puzzle-oriented.  Okay? It took me 11 minutes and 54 seconds — and that was after I called my husband, Paul (who loves puzzles) to come and help me.  I seem, also, to be alone in my lack of tolerance and working over puzzles.  Both my daughters, my grandchildren, my husband, his mother, his sister, etc. etc. — all love puzzles and put them together (really hard ones) in no time at all.

Not me.

Would love to hear your time.

So here’s the multiple choice question:  Is the cover?

** RED HAWK’S WOMAN

** THE LAST WARRIOR

** THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF

Thanks so much for coming here today and for playing the game with me.  Know that if you leave a comment, you are automatically entered into the drawing that will take place at the end of the week.  (All Petticoats and Pistols rules for Giveaways apply.)

Thanks for playing and have a super rest of the week…lots of fun!

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is a museum in Nebraska…not really near me because let’s face it, Nebraska is HUGE.

But it’s near enough that I’ve gotten there a couple of times.

It’s absolutely fascinating. A laid-out circle of buildings that have been brought it, that date to the 1800s.

I may write five blogs about it because there is SO MUCH. I could spend days there and just look and read and look and read.

But today I’m writing about the recreated Earthen Lodge built there.

In the early 1800s the Pawnee lived mainly in only a few towns. Six or seven.

In each town were 40 to 200 of these earthen lodges.

Each lodge held around 20 Pawnee and each village could contain from 800 to 3500 tribal members.

These were big towns.

The smallest one is larger than my hometown.

 

This first picture is a diagram of the lodge. It’s laid out to respect the power the Native people gave to the earth. It was called The Circle of Life. Both symbolic and literally the source of their family, their safety, their food, their shelter. Truly a circle of life for them.

For me, museums are most fun when there are lots of words. This picture above is for the Pawnee History that is celebrated with this earthen lodge. I hope you can read it. I spend more time READING in museums than looking at the objects contained there.

This is the side view of the lodge from outside. It’s exactly as you’d think it would be. A hole dug into a hill. Remember this is Nebraska. It gets cold! The insulation from dirt is excellent, though it still seems like it’s be a little cold to me. 

Here it is from the front, this is the entrance. It’s full size and we were able to go inside.

This is the inside edge of the lodge. You can see there is a layer of grassy seating off the ground. The Pawnee would sit here, around the fire, and could sleep here at night. A single lodge could house dozens of tribal members.

Here you can see the tree trunks that support the ceiling, even though it’s inside an earthen mount it is hollowed out and they need to keep the ceiling up. Note the opening in the ceiling. A fire was built in the center of the lodge and it would warm everyone, the smoke would rise up through the hole, they could cook over it and heat water to wash.

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. A fascinating slice of history in Minden Nebraska in the heart of the Nebraska prairie.

Mary Connealy

 

The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas

Howdy!

So, today, I thought I’d tackle a subject of some interest, since this woman is actually a great American heroine.  I’m talking about Pocahontas.  And, I’ll be giving away a free copy of THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR today.  Just look off to the right here, please, for the rules regarding out give-aways.

Before I start, let me ask you a question:  Do you believe the Disney story of Pocahontas?  Or some version of it?

I did, well at least I did until I did some research into the actual story of Pocahontas.  So, if you don’t mind dropping down a rabbit hole, come along with me in this fascinating subject that has been given a spin so as to cover up an actual murder of this true, American heroine.

Pocahontas’ real name, by the way, was Matoaka — which means “flower between two streams.  Now, before I go on, let me do a disclaimer: this post in no way pretends to “know it all,” about this very definite heroine, but I think we might be able to set the story straight, at least a little.

To the left here is probably the most true picture (painting) that we have of Pocahontas.  Now, this will probably be the subject of two or three blogs, simply because there’s just too much info to get into one blog.  The information that I’m going to be telling you about comes from the book THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTES, by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L;. Daniel “Silver Star.”  This story that I’m about to present to you is one that is the story that has been passed down orally for hundreds of years by the priests of the Powhatan tribe (Pocahontas’ tribe).  It is the story of Pocahontas as told by her own people.  It is the story passed down by the tribe’s quiakros — or the chosen few of the tribe, who have spent their lives in learning.  One fact that I’m going to say here at the start of this post, mostly because it fascinated me, is that Pocahontas did not die of something.  She died for something.  And, she did not die of smallpox as is generally reported.  She was murdered.

But, as is said in Blackfeet Country, I get ahead of myself.  Let’s continue.  Pocahontas was indeed a princess.  She was born to the paramount chief, Chief Powhatan Wahunsenaca.  She was born to Wahunsenaca’s first wife, the wife of  his heart late in life.  Her mother died giving birth to her — and interestingly enough, her mother’s name was Pocahontas.  Wahunsenaca had truly loved his wife and when she died, he showered the love that he’d had for her upon his newborn child.  Pocahontas means, by the way “Laughing and joyous one.”  As mentioned in the book, the story of Pocahontas is a story of love — not the love between her and John Smith — but rather the story of a father and daughter’s love for one another and for their people.  Pocahontas had many older brothers and sisters — many were already married so that caring for the young child was not a problem.  She grew up being nursed by several different women of the tribe, which according to the book, might be one reason why her ties to her people were so strong.

To the left here is the more European version of the above painting of Pocahontas and her child.  Notice the smiles painted on the faces and the lack of dark circles under her eyes.

Pocahontas was only 10 years old when the colonists stared to arrive in 1607.  Because she was the daughter of the paramount chief, she was watched over very, very closely.  No running around wild for her.  Captain John Smith was 27 years old when he arrived in the New World.  The Powhatan tribe was made up of 6 different tribes, with other tribes in its alliance, as well.  There were other chiefs, but Powhatan Wahunsenaca was the paramount chief.  They all spoke the Algonquain language.  Part of the politics of the day was to bring into the tribe an alliance with other peoples and other tribes.  Thus, although the Powhatan could have destroyed the colonists at any time, they did not.  Instead, they sought to ally the newcomers to them.  Perhaps, looking back on history, this was their true mistake.

John Smith — about 6 months after their arrival in the New World — went to explore the countryside.  Warriors out hunting for food, discovered him and his party and after a skirmish ensued, Smith was taken captive.  Because the English used “thunder sticks” to kill the Indians, the people were afeared of them and were beginning to think of the English as though they were a deity.  This next is from the book quoted above — I found it highly interesting:  “Smith would pretend to come into a village in a friendly manner.  When he was in close proximity to the chief of the village, he would put his pistol to the chief’s head, demanding a ransom of food in exchange for the chief’s release.  Smith and his men would proceed to take all the corn and food in the village.  As they left, Smith would throw down a few blue beads, claiming to have “traded” with the Powhatan people.”

Does that sound like a man that a young girl would fall in love with?  When Smith was taken to Wahunsenaca, it is uncertain whether Pocahontas met Smith at this time or not.  Wahunsenaca asked John Smith why the English had come here, to which John Smith replied that they had come to this land to escape the Spanish.  Now, the Indians of this country had some trouble with the Spanish, already.  In fact they called the Spanish, “sons of the devil..”  Remember that Spanish ships would patrol the coasts of the Atlantic coast, sometimes capturing Native people.  Relations between the Spanish and the Powhatan were hostile.  A little known fact:  the word “Indian” does not come from Columbus’ error.  Rather it comes from the Spanish word, “indio” meaning to walk with God.  I like that meaning.

It is said that Wahunsenaca truly liked John Smith.  It was his plan to bring John Smith into the tribe and make him part of the tribe in an effort to consolidate their friendship against the Spanish.  Then if the Spanish did come in, they would be faced with the English-Powhatan people.  According to Pocahontas’ people, “Although Smith alleged years later that Pocahontas saved his life during the four-day ceremony in the process of his being made a Powhatan werowance, his life was never in danger.  His life did not need saving.”  A werowance was a commander — male.  Also, at this time, Pocahontas was a child.  Children were not allowed to attend these kinds of ceremony.  The priests would not have allowed Pocahontas to be at the ceremony.  After the ceremony, not only was John Smith considered to be a member of the Powhatan tribe, but the entire English colony was considered to be members, too.

In fact, when Smith returned to the English fort, it was the English who tried to kill him.  He was put on trial and was sentenced to death.  It was Christopher Newport’s arrival in the colony that saved John Smith.

Because the English were now considered part of the tribe, Wahunsenaca sent envoys with food to the Jamestown colony.  Because he now trusted John Smith, he allowed his favorite daughter, Pocahontas, to accompany the envoy.  Although she was closely watched and chaperoned during these excursions, the colonists became familiar with her, and they associated Pocahontas with the food — not the powerful chief who was in fact sending it.  Thus, the rumor that Pocahontas brought food to the colonists against her father’s will, is dispelled as untrue.

What Pocahontas was at this time was a symbol of peace.  She was not a spy as some historians have liked to believe.  It was during the summer of 1609 that relations between the Powhatan tribe and the English began to deteriorate.  Smith entered into villages rudely and with full arms, demanding and taking food.  In some instances, he left the Powhatans with no food for the winter.   As a matter of fact, this is the speech preserved that Wahunsenaca said to Smith. 

“Why do you take by force (that which) you may quickly have by love?  Or to destroy them that provide you food?  What can you get by war when we can hide our provision and fly to the woods?”  Yet John Smith continued to force arms upon the villages in order to take all their food stores, again leaving behind a few beads as though he had traded for the supplies.  Maybe he was simply a bully and it’s all he knew.  Smith continued to allege that Wahunsenaca wanted to kill him.  However, if this were true, it would have been done without apology or explanation.  Yet, it wasn’t.  Why?  Because Smith was considered to be part of the tribe.

Danger came to the Powhatan tribes in the form of rape.  In Powhatan society, the children went naked in the summer and women were bare-breasted.  It was part of their dress, and did not excite the men in particular because it was such a common sight.  Rape was not permitted in Powhatan society.  Often the women of the tribe would offer themselves to the English to prevent them from raping their children.  Because the English had guns, this was all they could do.  Whenever the English would come to the village, the elders would often take the children and hide them in the woods.  As more and more English colonists arrived, the atrocities began to grow.  Children were often taken to be slaves to the English.  The women were simply raped.  The Powhatan became shocked at the behavior of the English and set up guards to determine when they were coming to their villages.  For their own part, the English kept expecting some sort of retribution by the Powhatan.  Neither Wahunsenaca nor Pocahontas had seen John Smith since 1609 and they were told that he was dead.  Wahunsenaca discontinued allowing Pocahontas to go to Jamestown.  It was no longer safe.

smlkocoum1Well, that’s all we have time and space for today.  I hope you’ll bear with me and come seek out my post next month as I’ll be discussing Pocahontas’s coming of age.  Her marriage to Kocoum, her abduction and her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe.  And last but not least, her murder.  Why she was murdered and who did the deed, or at least who was responsible for it.  Facts, all.  Facts that have been hidden all these years which have only recently been brought to light by the people of Pocahontas’s own tribe.  I hope you have enjoyed this excursion into history and a look at this very brave heroine.  The enormity of her bravery and what she gave up and its cost to her, we’ll go over in my next post (Lord willing).

So, what do you think?  Did you already know this, or does this shed a different light on history.  It is said, that what is written of history is written by the victors.  This has, indeed, been true in the case of Pocahontas.  Thank heaven for oral tradition and keeping the truth alive against all odds.  So come on in and tell me what you think.   I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

A True American Hero, John Trudell, Lakota Indian & Free E-book Gift Download

Howdy!

Well, today I thought we might look at the poet, philosopher and performer who was — in his younger days — a political activist for his tribe.  That man is John Trudell.

John Trudell’s life was so full and he accomplished so many things that I don’t believe I could really do his story justice with one simple blog.  But I’ll try.

John Trudell was an Indian Activist who was the spokesperson for the Occupation of Alcatraz in the early 1970’s.  One of the quotes from his first wife that I found so stunning was when he told his wife that they were going to the Alcatraz Occupation, she told him she was afraid she’d get cold feet.  His response was, “Wear socks.”

He was also a part of the American Indian Movement, also in the 1970’s.

He tells the story of his father and how he and his father and mother came to be married.  His father was Lakota and his mother was Mexican.  John said in an interview that his father literally stole his mother and rode away with her on horseback.  But they loved one another and the marriage worked.

John was briefly in the Navy, but it didn’t appear that this held great interest for him and he soon returned to the reservation.  He met his second wife, Tina, in 1971 and in 1972 they became a couple.  It was a troubling time to be on an Indian Reservation.  There had been some shoot-outs and tensions were high on the Pine Ridge Reservation in So. Dakota.  In February of 1979, John was engaged in protests in Washington DC.  On the 11th of February, he burned an American Flag on the steps of the FBI building in protest of the injustices to the American Indian people.  Within 12 hours after that event, his wife, Tina, and their three children and Tina’s mother were killed in a sudden fire in their home on her reservation in Death Valley.  Tina was also pregnant at the time.

John said in interviews that he had to die, too, in order to get through each day after his family’s death.  But he also said that Tina’s parting gift to him was the gift of her poetry.  She was the poet in the family.  He said in interview that it was she who encouraged him to write down his thoughts, and to write them down using poetry.  It was her parting gift to him. 

And so he did begin to write.  His poems were often heart-felt and sometimes they were fiery and full of passion for life and for his people.  He became involved in reading his poetry in public places, and on one occasion, he met Jessie Ed Davis, a Kiowa guitarist, who said that he could put John’s poems to music.  And thus began the poetry from John Trudell’s heart and the many concerts that you can still see online.

John has influenced many Native American artists.  I’ve only recently discovered John’s work, but I have found it profound.  So I’m going to show you some quotes of his that I find inspirational.

You can still find his concerts and his talks and interviews on the internet.  John became, or perhaps he always was, philosophical, and his wisdom was often sought after by many people of all different races.  This last quote, off to the left here is probably my favorite of his quotes, if only because I find this very profound in today’s world, which has become more than a little strange.

I’ve said this to my closest friends, and I’ll tell you this today in this blog.  Whatever else we as a people are involved in, I believe we are in a spiritual war against some dark forces.  I admit that I’ve heard this saying over and over and over, but I never really understood it until recently.  But I believe that this is what John was saying when he said “protect your spirit”:  In this life, one has many choices, but if one chooses the path of violence, theft, and the stripping of another’s God-given rights and happiness, all in the attainment of some materialistic goal, one is looking at one’s eternity as though one were painting oneself into a corner — and, it seems to me that in doing those things which bring harm to another, one is not “protecting one’s spirit.”  I guess he was saying that one has the choice spiritually…and maybe that’s what he means by “Protect your spirit….”

John Trudell died in 2015.  He left behind him a legacy of beauty, of music and poetry.  He also left behind him a philosophy that I believe enriches one’s soul.

Well, that’s all for today.  I hope you enjoyed the blog.  Often, I think of the American Indian Hero as having lived in the long ago past.  But John Trudell was a modern hero.  At least that is my opinion of him.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you.

Am offering a free download of the book, LAKOTA SURRENDER today in honor of John Trudell, a wonderful poet, philosopher and a Lakota Indian.  This is a download from BookFunnel and will be up only for the next fews days.  Grab it while you can:  https://dl.bookfunnel.com/uq6ti9a1kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of my books are now on SALE! AND Free e-book Give-away

Howdy!

Hope y’all are doing well in this weird world.  Who would’ve ever thought the entire world would shut down?  All I can say is that I hope y’all are surviving well in this time period and that when it’s over, you’ll go on to do even better than before.

Almost from the start of this, I started putting a few of my books on sale.  Many have gone from $5,99 to .99 cents.  ALL of my paperback books have gone from (we started this about 2 months ago) $14.99 to $9.99.  My newest book, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, will be put on sale soon — we just uploaded it to Amazon and it’s going to their editing at the moment.  But, when it comes on, it will NOT be put on sale at $14,99, but rather at $9.99.

In truth, the reason I started doing this right from the beginning is that often when one is frightened or bored or uncertain, a romance book can raise them up a little and often put a smile on their face.  So, here we go.  This is a list of the books that are on sale for .99 cents right now or read for free on KindleUnlimited:

So the books on sale for .99 cents are:  Gray Hawk’s Lady; White Eagle’s Touch; Night Thunder’s Bride; War Cloud’s Passion; Lone Arrow’s Pride; Soaring Eagle’s Embrace; Wolf Shadow’s Promise; The Angel and the Warrior; The Spirit of the Wolf; Red Hawk’s Woman and The Last Warrior; Black Eagle; Seneca Surrender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these books (except for Lakota Surrender) are priced at .99 cents or can be read for free on Kindle Unlimited.  The book, LAKOTA SURRENDER is on sale for $3.99.  This is a special edition, newly edited book that is the 25th Anniversary Edition of that book.

As I said all of my books that are in paperback are also on sale for $9.99.  They used to sell at $14.99, but we’re trying to reduce those prices as much as we can so that if you read only paperback books, you’ll also have a sale.  These paperback books on sale for $9.99 are:  Lakota Surrender; The Angel and the Warrior; The Spirit of the Wolf; Red Hawk’s Woman; The Last Warrior; Seneca Surrender; The Princess and the Wolf; and Brave Wolf and the Lady.  Lakota Surrender is also on sale in e-book for $3.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if there are any of these books that you haven’t read, now might be the time to pick one up.

But my blogs wouldn’t really be a blog if I didn’t give away at least one book for free.  And so, today, I’m giving away an e-book of my latest release, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, to one of today’s bloggers.

On another note, I’m wondering how y’all are doing during this time period.  Are you reading a lot?  Doing gardening?  Cleaning the house?  Doing all those little things in the yard or around the house that we seldom have time to do?

Would love to hear how you’re doing during this time period and any suggestions you might pass along to the rest of us as to how to keep in touch with others in this time of enforced social distancing.  We, as people, i think thrive on our associations with others, our conversations, talking back and forth, sharing jokes and sharing even our heartbreaks.  If you’d like to share things you’re doing, how you’re doing, I’d love to hear it.

May we all come out of this time period a little wiser, a little more aware and a little bit better off for the experience.  Remember that this, too, will pass.

The Eagle and the Flame: https://tinyurl.com/w49evpb

 

In Honor of Steve Reevis — Give-Away and 99 cent books

Howdy!

About 3-4 weeks ago, I learned that a good friend of mine, Steve Reevis had passed away.  He passed on in December of 2017.  Unfortunately, for me, I was unaware of this because when I moved away from LA, his family and mine lost contract.  Steve was a Native American Actor, and he appeared in many films.  Probably my favorite film of his was “The Last of the Dogmen,” where Steve played the major Native American role.  I will leave a list of many of his films at the end of this blog.

Steve was only 55 years old when he passed, much too young to leave this world.  In 1999, Steve helped me and my husband and a few other friends to set up a literacy project on the Blackfeet reservation.  This was the first time I had met Steve.  He was a very handsome young man, he was quiet, yet when he did speak, we listened, for he was also a wise young man.  Steve never asked for anything in return for the help he gave us, his main concern being to help his people.

In truth, I was shocked when I learned of his passing, and so I thought that today, I would hostess a give-away in the style of the Blackfeet in Montana.  (I am adopted Blackfeet.)

I’ll be giving away many books today, so do leave a message so that you can enter into the give-away.  I’ll also be giving away a pair of Blackfeet made earrings.  Now, let me show you some pictures of a fundraiser that we did with Steve and his beautiful wife, Macile, in a Walmart in 1999.  All of my Blackfoot Warrior series (three books total) will also be on sale for a week for 99 cents in honor of Steve. (See  below for the links to those books.)

The picture to the left here is of Steve when he was speaking at the fundraiser.  This event also included many romance authors from the Orange County Romance Writers Association.  At the event, we had a local drum group, who also donated all of their time and their musical art for the literacy project.

Off to the right here is a picture of Steve in a conversation with Maria Ferrara, who helped to fund raise for the project and was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.  Without her help, there would have been no project.

As you can see here, Steve is listening intently to Maria, and this is one of my favorite pictures from that time.

To the left here are several people connected to the project.  From left to right are:  Mark Reed; Maria Ferrara; Jeff Butler; Harold Dusty Bull; Kinder Hunt; Steve Reevis; Macile Reevis; George Randall; Toni Running Fisher; Saginaw Grant; Yours truly.

 

And again, to the left is Harold Dusty Bull, who was In Charge of the Project.  In the background to the left is Steve and on the right is Mark Reed, from the Iroquois/Mohawk tribe, I believe.

Both Harold and Steve grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana.

 

 

 

To the left here is Steve dancing.  Steve was a grass dancer.  

And, to the right is a couples dance.  Here is Steve and Macile; behind them are Harold Dusty Bull and the founder and head of the H.E.L.P. project (Hollywood Education and Literacy Project), Kinder Hunt.  Pulling up the rear in the picture is Saginaw Grant and Toni Running Fisher.

Also, there was Blackfeet style Indian bread and tacos — made by Toni Running Fisher.

 

 

 

To the right here is another view of Steve and Macile dancing the Couples Dance, with Saginaw Grant and Toni Running Fisher not too far behind them.

Here also is a view of some of the men who gave in the drum who gave us the music so the dancers could dance.  To the left is another picture of Steve dancing.

To the left here is Steve speaking, and in his hand he holds an eagle feather fan.

To the right is Steve’s beautiful wife, Macile.  Macile, by the way, has her own clothing line of Native American clothing.

 

To the left here is a picture snapped of us when we were visiting the L. Ron Hubbard Author Services Center in Hollywood, CA.  From left to right are:

Paul Bailey (my husband); Harold Dusty Bull; Steve Reevis; Macile Reevis and her daughter; me; Toni Running Fisher and her husband Kevin.  By the way, the dress I’m wearing in this picture is one of Macile Reevis’ creations.

 

And lastly, here we all are:  the authors, the Drum, Steve and Macile (off to the left).

The event was very successful and the HELP literacy project was also a success on the Reservation, and was up and running there for many years.

I will miss my friend, Steve Reevis.  Somehow, I thought he would always be here, alive and well, and I wish that I hadn’t lost touch with his family when my own family moved East.  Steve once said to me in a passing conversation, “Why do you think all those warriors in the past would risk their lives?”  I didn’t know and said so.  Steve then said, “Because they knew they would live again.”

Somewhere, in some other time and place, perhaps, I feel that Steve is still with us, and is, even now, the cause of someone else’s joy and happiness.  Good-bye, Steve.  You are missed.  But I know that wherever you are, those who are with you, love you.

All of the Blackfoot Warrior Series books are on sale for .99 in honor of Steve.  Those books are:

GRAY HAWK’S WOMAN — https://tinyurl.com/qtl7hsu

WHITE EAGLE’S TOUCH — https://tinyurl.com/vbanq3m

NIGHT THUNDER’S BRIDE — https://tinyurl.com/twdjtx4

These are list of some of Steve’s Films, as well as some photos from those films:

 

  • CREDITS
  • Film Appearances
  • Indian, Twins, Universal, 1988
  • Indian child, Grim Prairie Tales (also known as Hellbent),Academy Entertainment, 1990
  • First Sioux and first warrior, Dances with Wolves, Orion, 1990
  • Indian in desert, The Doors, TriStar, 1991
  • Chato, Geronimo: An American Legend, Columbia, 1993
  • Two Bears, Posse, Gramercy, 1993
  • Yellow Wolf, Last of the Dogmen, Savoy Pictures, 1995
  • Sioux Chief Whistler, Wild Bill, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1995
  • (As Steven Reevis) Shep Proudfoot, Fargo, Gramercy, 1996
  • Freddy, Follow Me Home, New Millenia, 1997
  • Sam Keno, The Outfitters, New Skivvies Films, 1999
  • Sim Lundy, Highway 395, Creative Light Worldwide, 2000

 

 

 

  • Film Work
  • Stunt performer, War Party, c. 1989.
  • Television Appearances
  • Movies
  • Crazy Horse, TNT, 1996
  • Mule, Horse Sense, The Disney Channel, 1999
  • Episodic
  • Sammy Wheeler, “Return of Jimmy Blackhorse,” JAG, NBC, 1996
  • “The Only Goode Indian,” Goode Behavior, 1997
  • Jake Stonecrow, “Mayday,” Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1997
  • Sheriff Lamont Nez, “The Outrage,” Promised Land, CBS, 1997
  • John Wolf/Lone Wolf, “Way of the Warrior,” Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1999
  • Also appeared in Unsolved Mysteries.
  • Other
  • Grey Eyes, Miracle in the Wilderness, 1992
  • Jack Buck, Wild Grizzly, 1999
  • RECORDINGS
  • Videos
  • Life, Love, and Earth (educational music video), Shenandoah Films,1999

 

 

 

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME — New Release & e-book Give-Away

Howdy!  Welcome to another terrific Tuesday!

Big news!  At least for me.  THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME has just been released.  Am not going to say too much about it, except to say to be sure to leave a comment, cause I’ll be giving away a free e-book to one of you bloggers.

This is a rather long excerpt (Prologue and First 2 Chapters).  So without further ado, here is the blurb and excerpt (prologue and first two chapters).  Please enjoy!

THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME, by Karen Kay

A vision foretold his tribe’s doom.  Is the flame-haired beauty the trickster or his true love?

 

Lucinda Glenforest’s father, a general who’d fought in the Indian Wars, taught his flame-haired daughter to out-shoot even the best men the military could put up against her. When Luci’s sister is seduced and abandoned, it’s up to Luci to defend her honor in a duel.  Although she wins, the humiliated captain and his powerful family vow vengeance. The sister’s only hope is to flee and hide until their father returns from his overseas mission.  Out of money, Luci hatches a plan to disguise herself as a boy and use her sharpshooting skills in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has a terrifying vision, that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe.  He enlists Charles Wind Eagle to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, in hopes of appealing to the President of the United States for help, and to find and stop the deceiver. When Wind Eagle is paired with a girl whom he knows is disguised as a boy, he believes she might be the deceiver.  Still, she stirs his heart in ways he must resist, for he has a secret that can never be told, nor ignored.  And Luci can never forget that her father would destroy Wind Eagle if she were to fall in love with him.

Forced to work together, they can’t deny their growing attraction.  Will Luci and Wind Eagle find a way through the lies to find true love?  Or will they be consumed by the passion of deception and slander?

Warning:  A sensuous romance that might cause a girl to join the rodeo in order to find true love.

Excerpt:

 

PROLOGUE

 

The Wild West Series

Book One

The Assiniboine Sioux Reservation

Northeastern Montana

May 1884

 

 

 

          “Run!  Run to them!  Help them!”

          Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, couldn’t move.  It was as though his feet were tied to the ground with an invisible rope.  He attempted to lift his feet one at a time.  He couldn’t.  Bending, he struggled to remove the shackles that held him prisoner.  It was impossible.

          Straightening up, he looked down into the Assiniboine camps from his lofty perch upon a hill, and he watched as a cloud of dust and dirt descended from the sky to fall upon the children of the Assiniboine.  Helpless to act, he stared at the scene of destruction as each one of the children fell to the ground, their bodies withering to dust.  Still, he stood helpless, unable to act in their defense.  He heard their cries, their pleas for aid.  He reached out to them, he, too, crying.  But he couldn’t move; he couldn’t save them.

          The cloud lifted.  The children were no more; their bones had returned to the earth.  Instead, in their place arose a people who appeared to be Assiniboine outwardly, but within their eyes, there showed no spark of life.  They appeared to be without spirit, without heart; they were broken—mere slaves.

          From the cloud of dirt came the sound of a whip as the people cowered beneath its assault.  Then arose the lightning strikes and the thunder.  One by one even those soulless people fell to their knees—a conquered people, their heads bowed in fear.

          And, then they were no more.  All was lost; all was gone.

          What force was this?  Who or what was this faceless power that had killed the Assiniboine people and their children?  He knew it not.

          He cried, his tears falling to the ground, but even the essence of this, his body’s grief, was barren.  His proud people were no more.

          Jerking himself awake, Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, chief of the Rock Mountain People, sat up suddenly.  His sleeping robes fell around him and sweat poured from his body.  Tears fell from his eyes as he came fully into the present moment.

          At once, he realized that what he had seen had been a mere dream, and, while this might have comforted a lesser being, Horned Headdress knew that there was more to the nightmare.  It was a vision, a warning from the Creator: this was what would come to pass if he and his people didn’t act.  And now.

          But, what was he to do?  He didn’t know who this enemy was.

          It was then that, wide awake, he beheld a vision unfolding before him as the Creator spoke to him in the language of the sacred spider.  And, as the spider weaved his web, pictures of a future time appeared upon that maze, as though it were a backdrop for the images.

Astonishment and fear filled his soul.  But, he soon came to realize that the Creator had not warned him in vain, for, upon that same web appeared visions of deeds that would thwart that future evil, if he could but do them.

He must act, and with speed.  This he vowed he would do.  But how?  He was no longer a young man, conditioned to the rigors that would be required.  He could not perform the skills necessary to accomplish what must be done.

But there are two youths among our people who can.  The thought came to him as though it were his own, but he realized that the words were from the Creator.  Moreover, he saw with his mind’s eye, that there were, indeed, two young men who were strong enough and proficient enough to undertake this task.

With a calmness of purpose, Horned Headdress knew what he would do, what he must do…. 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

May 1884

 

 

“Our way of life is endangered, and our people might well be doomed, I fear—all our people—unless we act.”

Twenty-year old, Wa?blí Taté, Wind Eagle, of the Hebina, the Rock Mountain People of the Nakoda tribe, listened respectfully to his chief, Horned Headdress.  The chief held an honorable war record, was honest beyond reproach and was known to be wise at the young age of fifty-two years. On this day, Wind Eagle and his ?óla, Iron Wolf, were seated in council within the chief’s spacious sixteen-hide tepee.  There were only the three of them present: Horned Headdress; himself, Wind Eagle; and Macá Mázasapa, Iron Wolf, the chief’s son.

“The White Man is here to stay,” continued Horned Headdress.  “Many of our chiefs speak of this.  Already we have seen changes that are foreign and confusing to us, for their customs are not ours.  I have asked you both to this council today because I have dreamed that our people will not long exist if we do not act as a united people.  But allow me to explain.

“As you both are aware, the annuities, promised so easily in treaty by the White Father, did not arrive this past winter to replace the hundreds-of-years-old food source, the buffalo.  Because of this, too many of the young and the old did not survive the harsh snows and winds that inflicted wrath upon this country; a worse winter cannot be remembered, not even by the very old.   All our people are grieved, for every family amongst us lost loved ones, and, I fear that if we do not become like the beaver and act in a fast and well-organized manner, we, as a people, will perish from the face of this earth.

“The Indian agent is partly to blame for this; he put us at a terrible disadvantage, for our men of wisdom and experience, who have always ensured that our people remain alert to future dangers, were rounded up and placed in an iron cage that the agent calls jail.  He used Indian police to do this; they were young men from our tribe who listened to this agent’s poisonous tongue, and, feeling they knew best for our people, acted for the agent and not us.  They helped him to disarm us, not realizing that their people had need of their guns and their bows and arrows not only to defend their families, but to hunt for food.   Later, these same young men lamented their actions, for they learned too late that the Indian agent is not our friend.

“Some of our young men, like yourselves, escaped by hiding until the danger passed.  Then, stealing away into the night, these men left to find food and bring it back to supply us with needed rations.  But in many cases, the food arrived too late, and the evil face of starvation caused the death of too many of our people. 

“We have heard this agent laugh at our plight, but what are we to do, for we have no one else to speak for us to the White Father?  We chiefs have spoken often of this matter and have pondered who among us might seek out the White Father and express our grievances.

“Recently I received a vision from the Creator.  I have now seen that the danger is not in the past; I have learned that our children have a terrible fate and we might lose them all if we remain here and do nothing to change our future.”

          Wind Eagle nodded solemnly; no words were spoken, as befit the purpose of this council.

          “I believe I know what must be done,” continued Horned Headdress. “I have seen in vision that there is a white man whose name is Buffalo Bill Cody, who is now visiting our Lakota brothers to the southwest of us.  I am told that this man, Buffalo Bill, is not a bad man, though he pursues fame and approval, as well as the white man’s gold.  Further, I am told that he searches for those among us who can perform feats of daring, because he would take the best that we have and parade those youths before the White Man.  It is said to me that this is the manner in which this man purchases the necessities of living.

          “I have discovered that he offers a home for those whom he chooses, as well as the white man’s gold and silver which can be traded for clothing, food and other comforts. He is soliciting youths who can perform trick riding, or who can run as fast as the wind or those who can shoot with precision.  He also is asking for young men who are unparalleled in tests of strength and brawn.  Wind Eagle, you have proven yourself to be unequalled in shooting the arrow straight, accurately and with a speed that no one in all the nations can match.”

          Wind Eagle nodded silently.

          “And you, Macá Mázasapa, my son, are the best horseman in all the Nakoda Nation, performing tricks that even the finest riders of the Plains, the Blackfeet, admire.”

          Iron Wolf dipped his head in acknowledgement.

          “I am now asking you to act for me on behalf of your people; humbly, I would implore you both to travel to the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation and enter into those contests sponsored by this man, Buffalo Bill.”  Horned Headdress paused significantly as though he were choosing his next words with care.  “I have seen in vision,” he continued, “that the White Father, or a man representing him, will attend one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.  If I could, I would go in your place, but there are reasons why I cannot.  I am no longer a youth who might compete against other youths.  Also, I am needed here to counsel our sick and our needy and to act against this Indian Agent on behalf of our people, for this man is still here, is still corrupt, and every day denies our people the food and supplies that have been promised to us by treaty.”

As was tradition in Indian councils, neither young man spoke, both kept their eyes centered downward, in respectful contemplation.  Not only was it the utmost in bad manners to interrupt a speaker, but it was a particular taboo to volunteer one’s opinions with an elder of the tribe unless asked to do so.  At length, Horned Headdress continued, saying, “I have seen into the future, and I believe that both of you will be accepted by this showman.  I ask you this: when the White Father or his representative comes to this show, ask for a private audience with this man, who I believe will grant your request.  But beware.  I have also seen that all will not be easy for you, for there is a deceiver there.  You may come to know this person by being part of Buffalo Bill’s show.  Have a care, and do your work well, for this deceiver might be the greatest threat to all the Indian Nations.  This trickster, if not recognized and stopped, may bring about death and destruction to our children in ways that our minds do not comprehend.  Look for this person, discover who it is, man or woman. Be alert that if we do not learn from what tribe he or she hails, this deceiver could bring disaster not only to us, but to all the Indian Nations, and we, as an Indian people, might die in spirit forever.  Identify this person as quickly as you might and disarm him or her, for I do not speak lightly that the fate of our children rests with you.”

He paused for a moment.  “And now,” he continued, “I would hear what you wish to say about this burden I ask you to shoulder, for I would know if each one of you stands ready to pit your skills against this ill wind of tragedy for our people.”

Now came the chance for each young man to speak, and they both agreed that they would be honored to bear this responsibility.  They would go at once to their Lakota brothers in the south, and yes, they would use all their cunning and strength to prevent any future harm that might befall their people.

Horned Headdress nodded approval.  “It is good,” he acknowledged, before adding, “Seek out another young man from your secret clan, the Wolf Clan, once you have been successful in joining Buffalo Bill’s show.  Take him into your confidence, for I have also seen that three is oftentimes better protection against evil than two.”

Both young men nodded.

Wašté, good.  Now, listen well, my young warriors, and I will tell you what I wish you to say to the white man’s representative, and what I wish you to do.…”

***

Wind Eagle looked out from his lofty perch upon a stony ridge, which sat high above the winding waters of the Big Muddy, or as the white man called it, the Missouri River.  He faced the east, awaiting the sunrise, his face turned upward, his arms outstretched in prayer.  Below him unfolded numerous pine-covered coulees and ravines, jagged and majestic as they cut through the mountains, a range which appeared to never end.  The huge rock beneath his moccasined feet felt solid and firm, and, as he inhaled the moist air of the morning, he gazed outward, welcoming the beauty of the Creator’s work.

He sought a vision to guide him on this vital quest for his people.  Also, he hoped to ease his troubles, for as Horned Headdress had so elegantly said, the shared tragedy that had destroyed so many of their people had also struck Wind Eagle personally.

It was true that starvation had been the ultimate weapon employed by rogue forces within and without the tribe.  Because both the Indian Agent and the Indian police had acted against the people, Wind Eagle’s grandfather had died in those cages the white man called jails.  At the time, Wind Eagle and his father had been gone from the village on the hunt for food.  But game was scarce, causing his own, and his father’s, absence to extend for too long a time.  When they had returned to their village, they had found that many of their friends were now gone.  Even his beloved grandmother—the woman who had raised him—had been weak when Wind Eagle and his father had returned.  For a short while, it had appeared that she might recover, but it was not to be.  Too soon, she had left this life to travel to the Sandhills, where she would join her husband.  At least, they would journey on that path together.

It was only a few days past that Ptehé Wapáha, Horned Headdress, had spoken to himself and Iron Wolf, setting the two of them into action.  Quickly, they had made their plans and had talked of nothing else for the past two days, and, if they were both picked by the Showman to be a part of the show, each individually knew what his part would be in this vital task.  Failure was no option; the life of their people must continue.

Because no delay could be spared, they were to leave this very night to set out upon the trail to the Pine Ridge reservation.  They would travel by horseback, the both of them taking two or more of his ponies with him.

But no such journey could commence without first seeking a vision, for only in this way could a man communicate with his Creator.  And so Wind Eagle began with a prayer:

“Waka?tanka, hear my plea.  I come before you humble, having given away my best clothing to the needy.  As is right for my appeal, I have bathed myself in the smoke of many herbs, and have spent many days in prayer.  Show me, guide me, to see how I might best aid my chief and my people.”

Then he sang:

 

          “Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya, (Creator, I pray for them)

          Waka?tanka, wacéwicawecioiya,

Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata, (Creator, I call thee by name)

          Waka?tanka, ca jéciyata,

          Waka?tanka, unkákí japi. (Creator, we suffer)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya. (Creator, help me)

Waka?tanka, oi?iya.”

 

He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply as the sun peeped up from above the horizon.  Already, he could feel the sun’s warming rays, and he sighed.  It was good, and he became quiet, merging himself with the spirit of Mother Earth, hoping that he might be gifted a vision.  Perhaps Waká?ta?ka was attuned to the cries of His people, for Wind Eagle was not left long to linger.  As he opened his eyes, he beheld a pair of bald eagles—his namesake—dancing in the cool drafts of the air.  Beautiful was their courtship ritual as they climbed ever higher and higher into the airy altitudes of the sky.

Then it happened, the dance of love: locking talons, they spun around and around, spiraling down toward the earth in what might seem be a dive to their death. Still, neither let go of the other, embracing and holding onto each other in their twirling spectacle until the very last moment.   From that courtship dance, the pair would mate and form a union that would last their lifetime, and out of that union would appear a new generation of bald eagles.  So it had been for thousands of years past; so it was now.

Entranced by the exquisiteness of this show of nature, he didn’t at first see what was before him, didn’t realize the two eagles were now hovering in the air, within his reach.  The sound of their flapping wings, however, was loud in the cooling mountain breeze, and, lifting his vision to encompass them both, they spoke to him:

“We, the eagle people, are sent here from the Creator to tell you that He has heard your plea.  He has told us to say this to you.

“Learn from us, for we, the eagle people, marry but once, and for all our life.  Heed the advice of your heart, since it will lead you on a path that will ensure the well-being of your people.  Beware the past mistakes of others. Beware also the one or the many who would hide within the cloak of deceit.  Be strong, remain alert, for the way to help your people will be fraught with great danger.

“Opportunity will soon be yours, for your skill is the best in all the Nations.  Use this to learn about your peoples’ secret enemy, for it will be through this venture that will appear the chance to free your people from a coming darkness.  If you are successful, your acts of valor will be spoken about throughout the Indian Nations.

“Trust your heart, for there is one there who might help you to find peace within your mind and spirit.

“We have spoken.”

 

Wind Eagle outstretched his arms toward the eagles, and he might have sung his song back to them, but the two birds had already lifted away from him, soaring higher and higher into the sky.  Once more, the eagles locked talons, repeating the ancient courtship ritual dance.

Breathing deeply, he watched their magnificent show with respect, until at last the eagles plummeted to the earth, breaking away from one another before striking the ground.  Coming together again, they climbed high over the rocks, alighting at last upon their nest.  Here, they would love, ensuring that their species survived well into the future.

What was the meaning of their verse?  He would relay his vision to his chief, of course, for only in this way could he assure the success of his task. But, before he left, he sang out his thanks in prayer, saying:

“Waka?tanka, I thank you for the vision you have given me.

“Waka?tanka, I honor you.  I honor your messengers.

“And now I would seek out my chief that I might ensure I understand fully your instruction to me.”

So saying, Wind Eagle stepped back from the ridge and retraced his steps to his camp.  The day was still young, and he felt renewed with purpose.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

An infamous dueling field outside Bladensburg, Maryland

May 20th, 1888

 

The early morning’s cool, gray mist hung low over the dueling field’s short grass and the woods that surrounded it.  The lawn and woods-scented air was heavy and moist here at the Bladensburg contesting grounds; and, because this notorious spot lay only a few blocks from Washington DC proper, the atmosphere was further flavored with the scent of smoke from the fires and the wood-burning stoves of the numerous houses in the city.  The earth felt mushy and wet beneath her footfalls, and the grass both cushioned and moistened the leather of her boots, as well as the bottom edge of her outfit.  There was a chill in the air, and Lucinda Glenforest wore a short jacket of crushed velvet gold over the flowery embroidered skirt of her cream-colored, silky dress.  Her bonnet of gold and ivory velvet boasted a brim that was quilled, and the satin bow that was tied high on top, fell into inch-wide strings that tied under her chin.  The color scheme complemented her fiery, golden-red hair that had been braided and tied back in a chignon that fell low at the back of her neck.  The entire ensemble had been strategically donned in the wee hours of the morning to allow for freedom of movement, which might be more than a little required for the sedate “battle” which was to take place.

Beside her reposed Lucinda’s fifteen-year-old younger sister, Jane, whose condition being only a few months in the making, was, for the moment, hidden.  But soon, in less time than Lucinda liked to consider, the consequence of Jane’s ill-fated affair would become evident.

“Don’t kill him, Luci.”

          The words served to irritate Luci; not because of Jane’s concern for the swine who had done this to her, but because of Luci’s involvement in a situation that should rightly involve male members of their family.  But their father, General Robert Glenforest, had left for the Island of Hawaii on the urgent business of war, and this, because their family had no brother to uphold its honor, left only Luci to contend with the problem.  The fact that she possessed the skills to tackle the dilemma was hardly the point.

          Being the eldest child in a military family, Luci had been fated to mimic her father’s profession, for General Glenforest had made it no secret that he had hoped his firstborn would be a boy.  To this end, he had carefully schooled Luci into the more male occupations of war, of shooting, of defense and of strategic planning.  Luci’s own inclinations—which had included dolls and pretend dress-up—were of no consequence to her father.  With the feminist movement in full swing, General Glenforest had found favor in openly proclaiming that he hoped Luci would follow in his footsteps, or if this weren’t quite possible, to marry a soldier as like-minded as he.  He went further to state that he hoped his daughter would thereafter advise her husband wisely.

          As Luci had grown older, she had protested, of course, but it hadn’t done her any good, especially since she enjoyed and stood out in the sport of the shooting gallery.  Her prowess in these matches had earned her many a trophy over her male counterparts, and, as time had worn on, she had gone on to win and win and win, even those matches where the man she was pitted against was years older than she.

          Now, while it might be true that Luci enjoyed the thrill of shooting matches, it was not factual that she shared other traits of the male gender.  After all, she was well aware that she was not a man, and outside of the marksmanship that she excelled in, she held few common threads with the male of the species.  Indeed, she often found a boy’s rather crude sense of humor extremely gross and very unfunny.

So it was that she had mastered a defense against her father, her resistance being to dress up and to act in as ladylike a manner as possible. Indeed, she flaunted her femininity, had done so even as a child, especially when her father was in residence.  Her rebelliousness had earned her a treasure, though.  She had come to love the manner in which she adorned herself.  Even her day dresses protested the current trend of the dark colors of black, brown and gray; none of that for her.  Her clothing consisted of vivid hues of blue, coral, pink, yellow, green and more.  Indeed, she flaunted the style of the walking dress, cutting her version of that style low in the bodice.  Tight waists, which hugged her curves, ended in a “V” shape over her abdomen in front and the beginning arc of her buttocks in back.  These and other attributes of her clothing asserted her female gender quite vividly.  Her bustles were soft and feminine, and were generally trained in back, adding to the aesthetic allure of her costume, while the overall effect of her skirts, draped in gatherings of material, fell like a soft waterfall to the floor.

That this style was considered to be a woman’s attire for only evening gatherings bothered her not in the least.  Although she had often heard the whispered gossip doubting the truth of her maidenhood, no one dared to repeat such lies to her face. 

Her father, when he was in residence, accused her of playing up her feminine assets too well.  But when he had gone on to criticize her too greatly, Luci had merely smiled at him; revenge, it appeared, was sweet.  Truth was, left to her own devices, Luci might have made much of her own inclinations, for her heart was purely girlish.  Indeed, secretly at home, she enjoyed the more womanly chores of baking, cooking and sewing.

It did bother her that her abilities with a gun appeared to frighten suitors, for at the age of nineteen, she had never known the amorous attentions of any young man; no boyfriends, no male interest in her as a young woman.  She’d not even experienced a mild flirtation with a member of the opposite sex.  Indeed, it might be said that she was nineteen and ne’er been kissed.

          So it was with reluctance that Luci answered her sister’s plea to “not kill him,” saying, “I promised you that I wouldn’t, Janie, and that’s all I can assure you.  You must admit that the brute deserves no consideration whatsoever.  If father were here, you know that he would demand a Military Tribunal for that man, since both our father and that viper are military.  Even a firing squad would be too good, I’m sure.  To think, that skunk told you he wasn’t married—“

          “He did propose to me.”

          “How could he?  Janie, he was married when he proposed to you.  He’s nothing but a lying thief.”

          “He’s not a thief!”

          “He took your maidenhood, didn’t he?” Lucinda whispered the words.  “Once lost, it’s gone forever.  You must see that he deserves to be killed.”

          Jane blushed.  Still, she persisted, entreating, “Please don’t do it, Luci.  Please.  I love him so.”

          This last was said with such urgency and dramatics, that Luci’s only response was a sigh.  If it were up to her…

          She still remembered back to a few weeks ago, and to Janie’s confession.

 

          Luci had found her blond and beautiful fifteen-year-old sister locked in her room, grieving.  On enquiry, Jane had confessed her problem.  “I’m pregnant, Luci.  We had planned a June wedding.  But now?…”

          “Pregnant?  Had planned a June wedding?”

          “He’s married.  I didn’t know.  I swear I didn’t.  He told me he loved me, and that we would be married in June.  But when I came to him to tell him of the child, he laughed at me.”

          “He laughed?  You’re telling this to me truly?  He honestly laughed?”
          Jane cried and seemed unable to speak.  She nodded instead.

          “Who is this man?”

          Jane hiccupped.  “I…promise me that you won’t kill him.”

“How can I say that to you in view of what has happened? And with Father gone.  Now, tell me, who is this man?  You know I’ll find out one way or the other.”

“I suppose you will.  But please, I can’t reveal his name to you unless I have your word that you won’t kill him.”

Luci paused.  She could force the issue, but she would rather not.  Perhaps it was because Jane was more like a daughter to her than a sister, for Luci had taken on the role of “mother” at the age of four, when their own mother, shortly after giving birth to Jane, had passed on to the heavenly plane.  Plus, their father had never remarried.  Luci uttered, “I will do my best not to kill him, Janie. But that’s all I can promise.”

Sniffing, Jane blew her nose on the dainty handkerchief in her hand, then at length, she admitted, “I guess that’s good enough.  I think you might know him.  It’s Captain Timothy Hall.  But please, don’t be angry at him.  I love him so.”

          Of course Luci knew the worthless snake.  He had once courted Abagail Swanson, one of her best girlfriends, who also had been underage at the time.  Luckily for her friend, she had discovered the truth of Hall’s marital state before he’d been able to inflict permanent damage on her.

What was wrong with the man?  Was his twenty-year-old wife already too old for him?  Was he a pervert?

          Oh, what she would like to do to him if the society around them would only allow it.…

 

          Well, that was all in the recent past; what was done was done.  Today was the day he would pay.  Today, that no-account slime would contend with her, and Luci pledged to herself that her sister’s honor, as well as that of their family, would be avenged.

Once again, she thought back to the last few weeks.  In less than twenty-four hours after her talk with Janie, Luci had challenged the bearded, black-haired degenerate, and had done so in as public a place as possible, a garden party.  He had laughed at her, of course, when she had confronted him, and, using her gloves, she had slapped his face.

 

“You’re a two-timing scoundrel, Captain Hall, and I challenge you to a duel.  Make no mistake, I will protect and defend my family’s honor.”

“You?  A woman?  Dueling me?”  He snickered.  “I wouldn’t stoop so low.” 

“Low?  Are you a coward, then?  Is your problem that your spine runs yellow?  You know that no man has ever bested me in the skill of the shooting gallery.”

His answer was nothing more than a loud hiss.

“My second will act at once, setting the time and place of the duel.  And hear me out, if you don’t show, I will ensure that all the country in and around Washington DC, as well as your wife, will know not only of your misdeeds, but also of your cowardice.  And this, I promise.”

 

          Still, she thought, he might not come.  For now, she awaited her second, as well as those in Hall’s party.  She picked up her pistol—a Colt .45—checking it over carefully, swearing to herself what she would do to him if the wicked man didn’t show.…

***

          “The rules for this duel are as follows,” declared Sergeant Anthony Smyth, a tall, dark-haired gentleman, who was Luci’s second.  Smyth was an excellent marksman in his own right, which was one reason why Luci had picked him to preside over the duel. That both he and his wife were close family friends had aided Luci in making the choice.  But Smyth was continuing to speak, and he said, “The match continues to first blood, and, regardless of how minor the injury, the match then ends.  No further shots are legal, and will not be tolerated. The twenty paces, which were agreed upon in writing, have been marked out by a sword stuck in the ground at each side of the field.  When I drop the handkerchief that I hold in my hand, you may each advance and fire.  Lieutenant Michaels is on duty as the official surgeon.”  Sergeant Smyth glanced first at Luci, then at Captain Timothy Hall.  “Are there any questions?”

          When neither she nor Captain Hall spoke up, Sergeant Smyth continued, “Then it is begun.”

          Luci glanced down the field, estimating her distance, as well as determining where exactly she would place her shot.  Having already decided that a shoulder injury would be the easiest to heal, she calculated the precise angle that would be required to obtain that “first blood,” and end the match.  Next to Captain Hall stood his older brother, James Hall, his second.

          Behind Luci, well to her rear and out of shooting range, sat Janie, who had brought a blanket to cushion the soft ground upon which she sat.  Refreshments of cinnamon rolls and coffee, with plates and coffee cups, decorated a table next to Janie.  As was expected by the rules of conduct for all matters concerning dueling, both Janie and Luci had brought the refreshments for the participants today, including that serpent, Captain Tim Hall. 

Luci hadn’t easily consented to the early morning snack, but her friend, Sergeant Smyth, had already determined that the duel would follow the rules of personal combat exactly, making her obligated to provide the food and drink.

          She sighed as she awaited the signal to begin, but she never once glanced away from her target.  To do so might be fatal.

          Smyth dropped the handkerchief, and both duelists fired at will.  Luci’s shot hit Hall in the shoulder, as she had intended, while Hall’s volley missed her entirely.

          “First blood has been taken,” called out Sergeant Smyth. “The match now ends as formerly agreed upon.  All participants are to put down their weapons, and all are invited to coffee and rolls, which they will find at the far side of the field.  A surgeon is on hand to deal with your wound, Captain Hall.”

          Luci turned away, setting her gun down on the table next to her.

          Blast!

          The explosion was unexpected.  The match was finished, wasn’t it?  If so, why was Captain Hall still firing at her?

          Boom!

          Hall’s next shot hit her in her left upper arm.

          “Stop this at once!” shouted Smyth.  “Halt! This is illegal!”

          But Luci ignored her second in command; she was in a gun fight and under attack; his words didn’t even register with her.  With the quick reflexes of one who is in command of her weapon, she grabbed hold of her Colt, turned, and carefully aimed her shot to do the most damage to Captain Hall without killing him.

          Blast!

          She sent her answering bullet at Captain Timothy Hall, placing the slug high up on his thigh, intending the bullet to miss, yet graze his masculine parts.  His loud cry indicated she had been successful.  She turned her pistol on Hall’s second—James Hall—who had picked up his own gun, as though he might consider using it against her, also, illegal though it was.

          “Captain Hall, you and your brother must cease this at once.  You will be reported.  You and your second will likely be court martialed if you continue firing,” Sergeant Smyth yelled, as he hurried toward Luci, his own Colt drawn and aimed at the two culprits. But his threat fell on deaf ears.  Hall had fallen to the ground, his shrieks indicating he was in too much pain to be of any more use in a gunfight.  Hall’s brother, James, however, looked ready to continue the match, except that when he espied Luci’s Colt pointed directly at him, as well as Smyth’s drawn weapon, James Hall instead dropped his gun and held his hands up in surrender.

          Luci nodded.  But that was all that she did.  Without letting her guard down, she kept her weapon trained on both the Hall brothers as she paced to where Jane sat at the side of the field. Bending, Luci grabbed hold of her sister by the arm and pulled her up.  Then, without turning her back on Captain Hall and his brother, she made her retreat toward the street, where her coach awaited.

          “Make a report of this at once,” she instructed Smyth, as well as Lieutenant Michaels, the military surgeon.  “Let all know what a cowardly slime Captain Hall truly is.  My father must be informed, and he will thank you both for doing so.”

          Without cause to do more at the moment, Luci and Jane slowly withdrew, Jane leading the way to their coach, for Luci never once turned her back on her opponent.  That the screams of Captain Timothy Hall wafted through the air was music to Luci’s ears.  By measured retreat, they gained the street and the carriage, and Jane practically flew into her seat within.

          “Driver!” yelled Luci as she quickly followed her sister into the conveyance.  “Take us to the army telegraph office as quickly as possible!”  Seating herself with care, she continued, declaring to Jane, “We must send Father word of this at once.”

“Why, you’re hurt!”

          It was true.  The exact extent of the damage was yet to be determined, and it was only now, within the relative safety of their coach, that Luci realized her arm hurt unbearably.

          Yet, to Janie, all she said was, “It is only a scratch, soon healed.  But come, Jane, please tear off a part of my petticoat, and give it to me to tie, that I might stop this bleeding, for I fear it is staining my blouse.”

          “Leave it to you to consider only the damage to your clothing,” scolded Jane as she did as instructed.  It was also she who tied the tourniquet. “As soon as we arrive at our home, I will summon our surgeon to attend to you at once.”

“After we send that telegraph to father,” amended Luci.  “I fear we have not heard the last of Captain Hall and his brother.  Though I feel assured that Mr. Smyth will also telegraph word to our father on any channel available to him, he may not be able to do this at a speed that could be required to ensure our good health.”

          “What do you mean?”

          Luci sent her sister a cautious glance.  With the duel having gone as badly as it had, it was not in Luci’s nature to instill even more alarm in Jane, especially considering her delicate condition.  Nevertheless, a word of attentiveness might be in order.

          To this end, she patted Jane’s hand, smiled at her and said, “When Captain Hall heals from the wound I inflicted upon him, he might feel compelled to seek us out for daring to expose his base nature to his fellow military officers.  A man who would flaunt the rules of honor cannot be trusted.  And I fear—”

          “Luci, please,” Jane cried, tears in her eyes.  “What he has done is wrong, so very, very wrong, but please do not keep degrading his character to me.  A scoundrel he is, I have no doubt, and I feel terrible that he has hurt you, but I am, after all, carrying his child.  I wish I weren’t, Luci, but it is done, and I must bear the consequences of my actions.  However, I fear that, as he is the babe’s father, he may have rights that even I don’t understand. I should try to discover a good trait he might possess, for I fear that I may have to deal with him in the future.”  She pulled out a hanky from her purse and blew her nose.  “Is it possible that he might have some logical reason as to why it was necessary to continue to fire at you when he should have stopped?  Perhaps it was a reaction he could not control?”

“He fired two illegal shots at me, Janie, not one.”

“Oh, how hard it is to love a man so much,” Janie uttered with so much heartfelt passion that Luci was reminded of her sister’s youth—and the hardship of being pregnant at so young an age.  “I know it’s true enough that he lied to me, but that doesn’t make him all bad, does it?  I once found good in him.  It must still be there.  Oh, Luci, it hurts to love him so.  It hurts.”

          Momentarily, Luci felt at a loss for words.  She made up for that lack by patting Jane’s hand instead.

“It will get better,” she assured Jane at last.  “I know it might seem now as though the hurt will never heal.  But it will.” She sighed.  “It will.  And perhaps you are right.  Maybe in the future we might be dealing with a good man.  I guess one could say that only the future will declare the truth of his character.  We can hope, Janie, we can hope.”

Luci averted her gaze to stare at the closed, royal blue curtains that fell down over the windows of the carriage.  Enough said.  She would send this telegram to their father, then wait and see what might unfold.  Reaching over to pull that blue, velvet curtain away from the window, she watched as the sun came up in the east.

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