Well, Spring is finally upon us. Don’t know about you, but we had snow last night and today. However, the sun came out warm and beautiful and soon the snow was melted.
I’ll be giving away two free e-books to some lucky blogger today. Please do come in and leave a message. All rules of Petticoats and Pistols apply. But the one I wish to stress is that we here do not inform you if you have won. You must come back tomorrow or the next day to see if you are the winner. Okay? I know some site contact you, but we don’t here.
Well, upon wondering what to blog about today, I decided that it might be fun to spread around some wisdom straight from the mouths of various American Indian tribes. Many of these wisdoms come from the book, The Soul Would Have No Rainbow if the Eyes Had No Tears by Guy A Zona.
Interestingly, long before bad foods, war, treachery and other forms of treason came about, the First Americans were known by the Europeans who met them to be a very physically beautiful people. But there was more. Europeans who cared to listen found that there was also much wisdom to be found in our native cultures. Benjamin Franklin was one such individual, but there were many, many others. So I thought we might delve into a little bit of that wisdom today. I’ll tell you the quote and then what tribe that it comes from, okay?
Here’s one that I’d love to post on every government building — “The mark of shame does not wash away.” That’s from the Omaha tribe. Or how about his one from the Crow tribe: “One has to face fear or forever run from it.”
Another man said it in a different way — I don’t know the exact words, but L. Ron Hubbard once said something along the line of, “There comes a time when one must turn and face the demons that pursue one.” Probably not exact, but in these modern times, I think it’s a good piece of wisdom.
Here’s a piece of wisdom that I like from the Fox: “When you have learned about love, you have learned about God.” And another one from the Lakota that I also think is very pertinent to today’s world — especially there in Washington DC of late, “There is a hole at the end of the thief’s path.”
Here’s one I particularly like from the Hopi: “A shady lane breeds mud.” Don’t you love the imagery with that one?
This next one is from the Cheyenne, and I think it is quite aesthetic: “When you lose the rhythm of the drumbeat of God, you are lost from the peace and rhythm of life.” Isn’t that beautiful?
And here’s another one that really touches my heart: “Never part from the chiefs’ path, no matter how short or beautiful the byway may be.” This is from the Seneca.
Here’s one from my adopted tribe, the Blackfeet: “Those that lie down with dogs get up with fleas.” I love the analogy in all of these little bits of wisdom.
The Seneca were part of the Iroquois Confederation and here’s a little piece of wisdom from another one of the tribes in that Confederation, The Tuscarora, “Man has responsibility, not power.”
Now that’s an interesting one, I think. Again very appropriate for today’s age, I think. Now here’s a quote from the Shawnee that shines light on a very deep American principle: “Trouble no man about his religion — respect him in his views and demand that he respect yours.” Wise. Wise…
How about this one from the Lumbee: “Seek wisdom, not knowledge. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.”
I really love this one too, for all of us who have children. This comes from the Sioux. “Before you choose a counselor, watch him with his neighbor’s children.”
Here’s a couple that I love: “When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, strike first.” That’s from the Navaho. And now from the Iroquois, “The greatest strength is gentleness.” This one I love. In fact, I do believe that gentleness and kindness in a man is quite sexy.
Oh, and don’t you love this one from the Shawnee: “Show respect for all men, but grovel to none.” I love that one. Doesn’t it remind you of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS when Hawkeye turns to the British soldier and says: “I don’t consider myself subject to much at all.” Or something to that effect — that’s probably not an exact quote.
Now, this from the Sioux is astute, I think: “Guard your tongue in youth, and in age you may mature a thought that will be of service to your people.”
Okay, I’ll leave you with a couple of sayings that touched me: This first one is from the Twanas tribe: “Never see an old person going to carry water without getting a bucket and going in their stead.” Also from the Navaho, “Always assume your guest is tired, cold, and hungry, and act accordingly.”
I love this one, too. “We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.”
I’ll leave you with this quote taken directly from Benjamin Franklin — one of our Founding Fathers.
Remarks from Benjamin Franklin Regarding the American Indian
“Savages we call them, because their Manners differ from ours, which we think the Perfection of Civility. They think the same of theirs.”
“The Indian Men when young are Hunters and Warriors; when old, Counsellors; for all their Government is by Counsel of the Sages; there is no Force, there are no Prisons, no Officers to compel Obedience, or inflict Punishment. Hence they generally study Oratory; the best Speaker having the most Influence. The Indian Women till the Ground, dress the Food, nurse and bring up the Children, & preserve & hand down to Posterity the Memory of public Transactions. These Employments of Men and Women are accounted natural & honorable. Having few artificial Wants, they have abundance of Leisure for Improvement by Conversation. Our laborious Manner of Life compar’d with theirs, they esteem slavish & base; and the Learning on which we value ourselves, they regard as frivolous & useless…”
“Having frequent Occasions to hold public Councils, they have acquired great Order and Decency in conducting them. The old Men sit in the foremost Ranks, the Warriors in the next, and the Women & Children in the hindmost. The Business of the Women is to take exact Notice of what passes, imprint it in their Memories, for they have no Writing, and communicate it to their Children. They are the Records of the Councils, and they preserve Traditions of the Stipulations in Treaties 100 Years back, which when we compare with our Writings we always find exact. He that would speak rises. The rest observe a profound Silence. When he has finish’d and sits down; they leave him 5 or 6 Minutes to recollect, that if he has omitted any thing he intended to say, or has any thing to add, he may rise again and deliver it. To interrupt another, even in common Conversation, is reckon’d highly indecent. How different this is, from the Conduct of a polite British House of Commons where scarce every person without some confusion, that makes the Speaker hoarse in calling to Order and how different from the Mode of Conversation in many polite Companies of Europe, where if you do not deliver your Sentence with great Rapidity, you are cut off in the middle of it by the Impatients Loquacity of those you converse with, and never suffer’d to finish it—”
“When any of them come into our Towns, our People are apt to croud round them, gaze upon them, & incommode them where they desire to be private; this they esteem great Rudeness, the Effect of & Want of Instruction in the Rules of Civility & good Manners. We have, say they, as much Curiosity as you, and when you come into our Towns, we wish for Opportunities of looking at you; but for this purpose we hide our Selves behind Bushes where you are to pass, and never intrude ourselves into your Company—”
“Their Manner of entering one another’s villages has likewise its Rules. It is reckon’d uncivil in travelling Strangers to enter a Village abruptly, without giving Notice of their Approach. Therefore as soon as they arrive within Hearing, they stop & hollow, remaining there till invited to enter. Two old Men usually come out to them, and lead them in. There is in every Village a vacant Dwelling called the Strangers House. Here they are plac’d, while the old Men go round from Hut to Hut, acquainting the Inhabitants that Strangers are arriv’d who are probably hungry & weary; and every one sends them what he can spare of Victuals & Skins to repose on. When the Strangers are refresh’d, Pipes & Tobacco are brought, and then, but not before, Conversation begins with Enquiries who they are, whither bound, what News, &c, and it usually ends with Offers of Service if the Strangers have occasions of Guides or any Necessaries for continuing their Journey and nothing is exacted for the Entertainment.”
Benjamin Franklin, 1782—1783
Well, that’s all for today. Please do come on in and leave a message and please remember that I do have a new book out, BLACK EAGLE. If you don’t yet have your copy of it, here is a link: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5640/black-eagle
Today — again — I will be giving away another couple of free e-books today to a couple of lucky bloggers. One of those books will be my newest release, BLACK EAGLE. So come on in and leave a message. Please also be sure to read about our rules for these free give-aways. If you click on the link to the right here, called Give-Away Guidelines, you’ll see that there are some rules. Not many. But they are important. One rule that I like to stress is that you must come back to the blog to see if you are the winner. Some sites contact you if you are a winner, but we here at the Junction don’t. I usually post the winners Wednesday evening — so do check back then.
Okay, on with the blog. In my writing of the American Indian way of life, I’m often struck by the fact that the men of all tribes of American Indians (save those in the far-far north) wore breechcloths. Really… Now, I don’t know about you, but I find the breechcloth quite sexy, so I thought I’d talk about just what the heck they were…or are.
A breechcloth generally looked like this. They were a style of clothing worn by all American Indian men (and sometimes very young girls until they were of an age to wear dresses). The breechcloth didn’t just hang down in front and in back like some people might like to believe — they hung over the belt then dipped down on the other side of the belt, and up again in back and again hung over the belt in back, so that if a flap were pulled up, a man would look as though he were wearing underwear.
Off to the right here is another drawing of a man wearing a breechcloth, but this time it’s being worn with leggings — leggings were a sort of “pant” which were usually made from some soft, yet durable material, like buckskin. Often the seam that sewed the legs of the pant together were decorated with a fine line of fring or beadwork. But the breechcloth was a garment that was worn primarily and almost continually. Often in summer the breechcloth was worn without leggings, which would look something like this picture off to the left.
I guess it might be easy to understand why the Europeans who first came here and met the Indians might have thought they wore too little — and vice versa — to the Indian the sun was a source of food (which it actually is — vitamin D3) and so to cover the body while in the sun seemed mighty foolish to the Native American. It’s perhaps stating the obvious that many a feminine eye (when no one was looking of course) might have been studying that breechcloth.
The picture off to the right here is one I particularly like — it is of a Lakota chief, Big Eagle. I have this picture in my files, but I must admit that the picture that I have is a little more stunning than this one is. But you can clearly see the breechcloth. Now to the Amerian Indian woman looking at the men — the wearing of a breechcloth — even if only worn alone — was as common a sight to see as we might think of looking at a man in jeans. Of course there are men wearing jeans…and then there are men wearing…JEANS. Probably the same would have gone back then.
Here to the left is another picture of a breechcloth. Briefly, for those interested, to make the breechcloth wasn’t too difficult. The breechcloth was made from a long piece of skin or cloth. It was about 10 or more inches wide and could be as long as about 5 feet. The clothing usually fell, depending on the style of the tribe, to about a hands width above the knees. The material, if a skin, was softly tanned, and it became the standard piece of clothing that a man wore almost always. If leggings were worn, as in the picture here, they were usually made from single skins, were usually form fitting and had a seam that ran along the seam of the leg of the animal used. They were cut so that the hip portion was higher and slanting toward the crotch for comfort and for a good fit. The upper part of the legging was tied to the belt and oftentimes another garter was used to hold the leggings to the front, so that it didn’t slip.
And here are some of my favorite pictures of the breechcloths on men. This picture to the right is from the movie, Dances With Wolves. I’ve always liked this picture — to me it says alot — including the study of these men, watching of the buffalo.
I’m not certain what movie this picture was from — but I do like it alot. Although this picture is of Native American actors of today, it has all the flavor of the past. It is, indeed, one of my favorites.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this rather intriguing discussion (picture-wise) of breechcloths. So tell me, if it were you and you were seeing a man wearing a breechcloth for the first time, do you think you would have stared? Now be honest.
Once when I went to a pow-wow long, long ago, there was a man who was dressed in breechcloth and little more. I must admit that it was hard not to watch him — and, indeed, he had quite a few ladies following him at that pow-wow. A friend of mine, Michael Badnarik, tells a story of being at an art show and a fellow showed up in breechcloth and leggings. Michael remarked that he’d never seen so many women stare at a man. Is there any wonder why?
But to the American Indian it was nothing more than the standard way in which a man dressed, especially considering that the sun was considered in the same light as food. What do you think your reaction would have been…if any?
Often, as I research a historical book, I run across some little factoid that sets my imagination going. It sometimes has nothing to do with the story I’m researching, and I must store it away from a future book. That’s what happened to me a couple of years ago with what ultimately ended up being the basis for my latest historical, THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS.
I happened upon a story about the Industrial Schools for Indian Children that popped up in the late 19th century just as the Native Americans were forced onto reservations. I was quite stunned to discover that the government had systematically taken the Native American children from their families and sent them to what amounted to military-like boarding schools where they were stripped of their language, their culture, their long hair and even their names. These schools were often church run, and operated on the necessity of saving the souls of heathen children, but that wasn’t their only goal.
The government cloaked the education of these children in the American culture, forcing them to lose their connection to the tribes they left behind, while offering them little in the way of a future. Many children in these schools never made it out. Sickness and abuse was rampant and, despite BIA involvement, there was little government oversight. Ostensibly, the government believed that this cultural genocide—yes, I said it!—was necessary to help the children integrate into the white world. But it would appear they had no such ambition for them. Once the children had achieved a modicum of ‘education’ and they were mostly turned loose or returned to a culture they no longer felt part of, a wave of helplessness and despair swept over them.
Many turned to alcohol once back on the poverty-stricken reservation, a major problem that is still rampant today. What had once made the Native Americans strong was stripped from them piece by piece. Shortly after these schools came into being, the famous Ghost Dance began among the Indian nations, the last gasp hope that Native Americans might, somehow, miraculously, regain their culture, heritage and freedom. Sadly, that was not to be.
I was even more shocked to learn that these boarding schools existed right up until the 1980’s-90’s, when they were finally closed, following protests and legislation reform. The backlash of the boarding school experience is still visible on reservations today; a fact conveniently omitted from our school history books, along with much else that was done to that amazing culture. In many tribes, their native language is all but forgotten. If you’re interested in hearing more about Indian Boarding Schools, there’s an amazing and heartbreaking documentary about it called “Our Spirits Don’t Speak English.”
In my book, THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS, Essie is a woman who has lost everything and finds work teaching at one of these schools in the rough world of Montana Territory. The job was not what she expected. My hero, a half-breed Cheyenne who’s come in the dead of night to steal away/rescue one of the children, ends up stealing Essie instead, when the boy is nowhere to be found. The book follows their journey together as they run into the mountains to escape the men pursuing them and to find the boy. But in the end, this is a story of forgiveness and the choices these two very different people make between them and how Essie discovers her own power and finds herself. Is she ruined in the end? You’ll have to read it to find out. I can only say that I fell madly in love with both of them as I wrote this book, not only for their courage, but for their hearts. And besides, can’t all of us stand a little ruination now and then?
I hope you enjoy this book. THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS will be available for pre-sale soon. This is Book Two in my new Wild Western Rogues series, and if you’ve already read THE LADY TAKES A GUNSLINGER, (and I hope you have!) you’ll be happy to know you’ll run into my H&H from that book, Reese and Grace, in this one, too.
I’m giving away a $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD to one lucky commenter.
Just tell me what it is about Historical Western romance in particular you love?
I was so excited when Forever His Texas Bride, the last in my Bachelors of Battle Creek, came out in December. I’d waited a whole year for readers to get it. This story is about Brett Liberty who happens to be a half-breed. He knows nothing at all about his past. Someone left him on the orphanage steps with only item in the basket with him—an Indian medicine bag with an onyx stone inside. Growing up with whites, he doesn’t know what the bag stands for even which tribe he belongs to. Finally when a woman comes with proof that she’s his sister, he learns he’s Iroquois. But the medicine bag remains in the bottom of a chest with his things until he discovers a very sick old Comanche on his land and sees that he wears the same sort of leather pouch around his neck. When Brett gets his, the man explains what it is and the purpose.
Medicine bags were widely used in the American Indian culture. It was a special sacred container usually made of leather, but sometimes were fashioned from a small animal pelt. They held any object that the wearer thought would give him great “medicine” or power.
Typically, they contained something from each the plant, mineral and animal kingdom in addition to anything else the wearer thought would bring good fortune, protection and strength. Almost all held sweet grass or sage. No one was allowed to open another’s and when a warrior died, the bag was buried with him. To lose a medicine pouch signified a man had lost his “medicine” and he faced great dishonor and was ridiculed in the tribe. It also meant a bad omen for the future. After learning about his, Brett never took it off.
The onyx that Brett found in his was put there by his mother to protect him. But he knew a copper strand of Rayna Harper’s hair would bring strength so he put that inside as he went about collecting items that would give him power to fight the men who wanted to kill him. He made a medicine bag for Rayna and she put a piece of fringe from Brett’s moccasin inside along with a green stone from their secret waterfall.
I have a small leather one that has a beautiful green stone, a small turtle figure and sage inside. What would you put inside one if you had it? What things would you think important to carry?
I’m giving away this cowboy and horse mug to one person who leaves a comment.
Here’s a short excerpt from the book:
Rayna’s hand came in contact with a soft leather pouch she’d never seen him wear before. “What’s this?”
“A medicine bag. I’ve always had it, but until today I didn’t know what it was or why it was in the basket when I was left at the orphanage. Bob told me it holds my power, things that have meaning only to me.” He paused a moment, and when he spoke, his voice sounded rusty. “Rayna, I have a request that may sound odd. Would you mind if I cut a small piece of your hair to put inside?”
His request surprised her at first, then warmth rose at the thought that she meant this much to him. She raised her head. “I’d be honored to have a lock of my hair in your medicine bag.”
She moved from the circle of his arm. He pulled his knife from its sheath and, holding a curl between his thumb and forefinger, cut it. Then he opened his leather pouch and laid it inside. A pleasant glow spread through her chest. Part of her would always be with him. Her eyes misted.
Brett placed his lips to her ear. His soft breath ruffled her hair. “Thank you, Rayna.”
Flutters quivered in her stomach. When she leaned into him, he dropped a kiss on her cheek before moving away. Though she wished for more, she’d learned to be grateful for what she got. She had these peaceful moments and shared secrets with Brett to cherish forever. Maybe she was starting to heal. Maybe this land could heal her ragged spirit, too, and help her live with the things she couldn’t go back and fix. If she had a mind to.
But some things just needed doing even if they scarred your soul.
* * * * * *
You can find all three of my Bachelor series online and in bookstores. I’m currently working on a brand new series called Men of Legend. Book #1—TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER releases in October.
Yes, indeed, I will be giving away a free Tradepaper copy of THE LAST WARRIOR to some lucky blogger. Please refer to our rules for giveaways as mentioned in my bio at the end of this blog. Also, please remember to check back tomorrow (Wednesday eve) to discover if you are the winner or not. It saddens me sometimes when I pick a name for a winner and then never hear from them. So please be sure to check back. All of our blog rules for entry and for entering the contest apply. All you have to do is leave a message, but please do read the rules — it’s not long and it’s easy to understand. : )
That said, let me introduce you to THE LAST WARRIOR — a book set in the backdrop of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. So first a review of the book, and then an excerpt. Hope you’ll enjoy, and please do leave a message.
From ROMANCE AT HEART MAGAZINE:
From the mists of time, people have had legends about lost peoples, lost tribes, and lost civilizations. Karen Kay has chosen her topic well, brought forth legend and times when they were honoured. The Last Warrior is an intensely beautiful book, written on a backdrop of the 1890’s west, Karen takes us on a voyage of discovery with a young brave who has values not understood in the white world. Black Lion is led on a quest that leads him not only to Europe, but to the very one he seeks. There, yet unknown at the time, he finds the meaning of love. Too preoccupied to do anything but his job, the revelations come to him later when he finds a pregnant and very lost Suzette in The Song Bird’s tent. Known for her voice, Irena has followed Bill Hickcock and his show to America, she has her own agenda, her own quest, but when Suzette joins her, and when Black Lion comes into the mix, then the world spins, and thunder rolls, and only the gods can know what might come from the mix.
The Last Warrior has a rich background, a wealth of beautiful scenery, a host of magnetic characters, and a story you will not be able to put down. The tension and attraction that flares between Suzette and Black Lion is riddled with passion and desire. From their first accidental meeting in England when he proposes marriage, to her acceptance of his proposal in her aunt’s tent at the Wild West Show in the US, We are rooting for them both as we learn of the circumstances, of the bond, and of the sacrifices each are willing to make for the other. Only when you finish the book will you understand. This is a book of depth and sensitivity as well as being a wonderful romance. The Last Warrior will make you laugh, cry, and cheer as the terms of the quest are outlined, and the players take their places in the drama to come. Only then does Karen Kay allow the readers to see the possible ending, and even then keeps one on the edge of the seat until the end. The Last Warrior makes room and stands among the books by authors like Madeline Baker, Susan Edwards, and Cassie Edwards… The Last Warrior is a book you will read over and over again, and a great addition to your keeper shelf.
Yours in good reading,
THE LAST WARRIOR, an excerpt
Black Lion awoke with a start. Had he overslept?
It appeared he had; the signs were not good. Sunlight poured in overhead from the ear- flaps of the canvas tepee, and glancing up through the lodge poles, Black Lion caught sight of the sun, which was already positioned mid-sky.
What had caused him to oversleep? And this on a day when he had been cautioned to arrive for the performance in a timely manner. Needing to pull on his jeans over his naked body, he had no more than stepped foot into them when he remembered he was supposed to be attired in traditional dress.
“Damn.” He uttered the white man’s word.
Tossing his jeans to the side, Black Lion grabbed hold of a breechcloth lying on the floor, stretching the softened leather through his legs and tying the long string securely around his waist. Sliding his feet lightly into his moccasins, he decided he wouldn’t bother with leggings today—the kind of riding he was doing was traditionally done naked anyway.
The Long-haired Show Man—Buffalo Bill—might have things to say to him later, but
Black Lion couldn’t consider that now.
He grabbed his quiver full of arrows—mere sticks with rubber tips, since they were now minus the traditional bone arrowhead—and his bow. Then he heard feminine laughter outside the tepee.
Black Lion shook his head as though the simple action might serve to enlighten him. What was wrong with these European women that they followed him? Why did they wait for him? Touch him? Ask for his autograph?
Sighing, he realized he was doomed. Not only would he be unable to hurry to the arena as was needed, he was going to have to humor these females. That or face a dressing-down if one of them complained.
And this would never do, not when he acted in his friend’s stead.
Accepting his fate, Black Lion seized hold of his headdress, as well as his shield, and stepped out of the lodge. Frowning, he inhaled the moisture-laden air as he quickly counted the number of women in his audience. At least there were only fifteen this time. Last night there had been more than fifty.
Giggles sounded around him. “May I have your autograph?” asked one of them.
He smiled at the girl. “For twenty-five bucks.” He uttered the words good-humoredly, however, for he accepted the young lady’s pen and paper without further argument.
“My parents have given me permission to ask you if you would like to join us for dinner this evening,” said another one of the women as Black Lion attempted to scribble out his name—although it wasn’t his name, it was his friend Two Bears’s name.
Black Lion nodded at the golden-haired, pretty and immaculately dressed girl. In truth, if duty were not so heavy on his shoulders, he would have liked nothing better than to spend more time in this young lady’s presence. But he could not. Not only was he a man haunted by a responsibility to his people, he was also here representing his friend Two Bears, who was married.
“Stop it, Sadie, I wanted to ask him.” The owner of that voice pushed in toward him. “Maybe you could come to see me tomorrow?”
He breathed out another deep lament. Here before him was yet another beauty. Black Lion jerked his chin to the left—a Lakota gentleman’s gesture—and grinned first at one of them, then at the other woman. “I would like nothing better than to get to know you all,” he admitted. “Alas, I cannot.”
“Why can you not?” came several voices all at once.
“Because I have work to do and because—”
“I…be jealous.” The voice was low, feminine and came from behind him.
Looking around, Black Lion recognized the wife of Running Fox, a fellow Hunkpapa tribal member. He smiled at this woman whom he knew to be called Little Star.
Meanwhile, the giggling of those surrounding him had stopped. Each of the beautiful young women was staring at the speaker.
“I…often jealous of…women,” Little Star stated, “who ask…husband to dinner.”
It did not escape Black Lion’s notice that Little Star omitted saying exactly who her husband was.
“I didn’t know you were married,” observed one young lady.
“I didn’t either,” chipped in another.
“Sorry,” voiced Black Lion simply. “But Buffalo Bill rarely hires an American Indian man who is not married.” He cast Little Star a quick wink as well as a grateful smile. Little Star nodded. “And now,” said Black Lion to the girls at large, “I must leave you. I am late for my performance.”
Without a backward glance, he struck off toward the livery.
Once he was far enough away from the women, he didn’t waste another moment, but ran as though he were in a race, bolting over anything in his way, which included a rather large hitching post, as well as several mud holes.
“Where’s Ranckles?” he asked Old Doe, the man who attended to the animals.
“Son, you’re late,” the old-timer remarked.
“I know,” panted Black Lion, barely catching his breath. “I must hurry.”
“He’s over there in the stall. He’s saddled.” Old Doe winked.
“Thank you, Grandfather. I will honor you for this.”
“Honor? Forget about the honor, and just get in there. He’s come down here twice to check on ya.”
Black Lion had no need to ask who he was. Shoving a gift—a pouch of tobacco—into the old-timer’s hand, Black Lion adjusted his headdress over his hair, grabbed hold of Ranckles’s reins and hurriedly headed toward the arena.
It had rained the day before the show was to open. This was both good and bad. The good was that the air was clear, fresh and invigorating, if a little humid. The bad was that there was muddy water everywhere.
Black Lion had no choice but to leap over the many mud holes, as he pulled Ranckles, an Appaloosa, after him.
In an effort to determine the time, Black Lion glanced upward toward the sun, not the best action to take when one is also running. Momentarily blinded, he rammed straight into an obstacle, sending whatever it was to the ground, and unfortunately for it, directly into the mud. Luckily for Black Lion, Ranckles seemed to have more sense than his owner and stopped quickly enough so as to avert a real disaster.
Looking down to see what it was he had run into, Black Lion was disconcerted to behold yet another female. Grimacing slightly, he rolled his eyes.
“I saw that,” said the female heap who had landed at his feet. Her voice was surprisingly beautiful.
Black Lion, however, was not so easily impressed, since it was still a female voice. He looked passively at the woman and uttered, “I am sorry,” then he groaned a little as he gave her a closer look.
The woman had raised her eyes, and they were the deepest, most clear blue eyes he had ever seen, and Little Blue Eyes, as he immediately dubbed her, stared back at him. Unwillingly, he found he was not immune to her charm.
“You rolled your eyes at me,” she complained indignantly.
“Forgive me. I am late for my performance. I hurry when I should perhaps tarry.” He heaved a deep sigh then turned to leave.
“That is all? I get no more apology than that? Will you at least help me up?”
Black Lion frowned. Lovely though this young woman might be, he couldn’t help but compare her to the well-brought-up Lakota women with whom he was acquainted. No polite Lakota woman would dare to use a voice on him that, for all that it was pretty, was filled with antagonism. Indeed, in the country of the Lakota, it was considered the height of bad manners to speak to a man with anything but a pleasant demeanor. “Where I come from,” he vocalized, “women speak softly and pleasingly. And they do not contradict a man.” Perhaps he should have kept the observation to himself, however.
She scoffed at him. “I beg your pardon. Do you, an American Indian, seek to lecture me on manners? You, who have not even offered your hand to help me out of this mud? Where were you raised? With wolves?”
He stepped toward her. Obviously, he did not understand what a white man was required to do. “Forgive me. I am not from here. I do not know your customs.”
“Pray, is it really that difficult to understand? Look at me.”
He did, which was part of the problem. She was enchanting…as well as… There was something about her that pulled at him.
At the moment, she was a mass of dark hair and sky-blue material, except where she had rolled in the mud, of course. It occurred to him that she wanted him to help her up, something no Lakota woman would ever expect or need. For it was a man’s job to protect and to provide, and a Lakota woman knew this. She would never interfere with a man or with his work.
But here in this England, Black Lion was out of his element. With one more apology, he bent over the young lady, and as though she were as lightweight as the headdress he wore, he picked her up.
She was rounded and soft, he noted at once, and she was probably the most shapely young woman he had ever had the good fortune to hold in his arms.
However, this embarrassed him. In his country, men and women who were not married did not touch. Rarely did they even speak.
As he grasped her tiny waist, his fingers tingled at the contact. For a moment, he yearned to hold her closer, to breathe in her sweet scent.
He quickly set her on her feet. “Sorry,” he repeated, and turned away.
Apparently white women here were more than a little different than Lakota women. “That’s it? That’s all? You have nothing more to say? You knock me down like some colonial gun-barreling, Wild West gunslinger. You ruin my dress and my umbrella. And all you have to say is sorry?”
Spinning back toward her, he spared the delicate creature a glance, but for all that it was fast, the look was thorough. Long dark-brown hair that cascaded into ringlets over her shoulders; creamy, pale, pinkish complexion; blue eyes that were made bluer by the color of her clothes. In truth, she was more than beautiful. She was…exquisite.
He said, “I am late.”
“I have to…hurry.” Was she comely but not very smart?
“Look at me. You have ruined my dress.” She held out a muddy piece of the material as evidence. “You slung me into the mud, and then turned away without helping me up.”
“I helped you up.”
“After I complained.”
“I still helped you up.”
She sighed impatiently. “That’s not the point.”
Black Lion realized he probably appeared stupid, but he could only gape at her. She wanted something else? Wasn’t it enough that they had touched, that he was speaking to her when there was no chaperone here to thwart him? Did she not fear for her reputation?
He was not left long to wonder, however, for she continued, “Do you not understand that I will have to pay to have the dress washed and pressed tomorrow?” She blew out a breath. “And that’s tomorrow, what about today? How am I supposed to endure the rest of the day with all this guck on me? And look here, my jacket is torn too.” She put a hand to her head. “Where’s my hat?”
For a moment, Black Lion felt as guilty as a wayward boy. Once, long ago, one of the women from the tribe had scolded him in much the same manner. It had been so demeaning an experience that it had never happened again. He had ensured it.
But this was not then, and he was not a young boy to take offense so easily. What was wrong with her? Couldn’t she grant him quarter? After all, he was new to this land. He didn’t know this town, he hadn’t yet learned their rules…
“Oh, my hat,” she complained. “Where’s my hat?”
Looking around, Black Lion noticed an object of similar coloring to the woman’s dress. It was probably the object in question.
Letting go of Ranckles’s reins, he recovered the article, though the action little aided his cause. Mud had worked its damage on the hat. A long blue feather, instead of standing straight up, limped to the side. Carefully, he tried to make it stand upright. The action was useless.
Shrugging, he offered the item to her. “Back in my country, men and women who are not married, or planning to be married, do not speak, let alone touch one another. I have done both with you this day, and I fear that either I must bring our conversation to an end, or I will be forced to marry you.”
Though he smiled a little, she gasped. “Are you trying to insult me?”
“I flatter you. Or I try to. There are many women who would be honored by such a declaration from me.”
“Well, I am not one of them.”
His smile broadened. “Do not worry. If I am forced to add you to my family, my first wife will tame you.”
Her second gasp was even louder than the first. He had known, of course, that the taunt would hit a chord with her, since he had come to understand that white people married only once. But, the Great Spirit be praised, he couldn’t seem to help but tease her.
As though to add further insult, in the process of handing the hat to her, their fingers accidentally touched. At once, excitement burst through him. He even swayed toward her.
He said, “I will pay for the damage to your dress, or I will buy you a new one. People here call me Two Bears. You have only to ask for me, and others will bring you to me.”
“I do not want your money. I want you to—” She stopped suddenly.
Waiting, Black Lion raised an eyebrow at her.
“I want you to go away and leave me alone,” she finished, although as she spoke, her hat fell from her fingers, the cap landing in the mud. The feather fell over as if it might drink in the substance. Her possession was now beyond repair.
Still, he couldn’t help but grin at her. “If all that you require of me is my absence, it will be my pleasure to obey.” His smile widened, and without another word, he turned his back on her.
“Wait. It is not my duty to seek you out. A gentleman should always solicit the lady.”
He sighed. “Please, I do not have time for more talk about manners. I am late.”
“And you expect me to be sympathetic? Perhaps you should arise earlier if you have trouble arriving in a timely manner. Or better yet, maybe you should watch where you are going.”
“I think you are right. I should, and I will,” he said, just as if he might be agreeing with her. “But at least I have only a change in my schedule to consider.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Only this. Where I was raised, young women do not venture out into the day alone, and if they did…” he let the insinuation dangle between them for a moment before finishing, “…they are what the white man calls fair game.”
“What? Why, that’s as barbaric to a modern woman as—”
“And when they speak,” he continued, cutting her off, “only soft words of comfort and pleasure come forth from their lips.”
“Meaning that I…? How dare you,” she sputtered. “That’s the second time you have spoken offensively to me.”
“I mean it not as ridicule, but as instruction because you…” He shook his head. There seemed little point in explaining it was his duty to protect a young lady’s reputation. Besides, such a declaration would hardly be true. He had meant to be as forward with her as she was being with him. “If you will stay until after the show, I will seek you out then, and I will make good on my obligation to you.”
“Pray, do not bother. I will see to the repair of the dress myself.”
“If you wish it to be so, then it will be so.” He turned to leave.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “A real gentleman would press his cause.”
Once again, he turned back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Either I will pay you for the damage, or I will not pay. The choice is up to you. Now be clear on this matter. Do I look for you after the show? Or not?”
“You do not. And, sir?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“You are no gentleman!” She said it arrogantly, lifted her chin and swung around to stomp off in the opposite direction of his destination. He might have watched her for a moment. She was certainly pretty enough he would have liked to memorize her every feature. But he had wasted enough time.
Picking up Ranckles’s reins, he hurried in the direction of the arena.
THE LAST WARRIOR
Stay tuned. On November 24th, 2015, BLACK EAGLE will be released. The start of the Iroquois Warriors series.
“Give me eighty men and I’ll ride through the whole Sioux Nation.”
So said Capt. William J. Fetterman in late 1866 as he assumed command of a U.S. Army detail tasked with defending a woodcutting expedition against Indians in the Dakota Territory. A fellow officer had declined the command after mounting, and failing to sustain, a similar effort two days earlier.
Fetterman overestimated his abilities and severely underestimated his opponent.
Born in Connecticut in 1833, William Judd Fetterman was the son of a career army officer. In May 1861, at the age of 28, he enlisted in the Union Army and immediately received a lieutenant’s commission. Twice brevetted for gallant conduct with the First Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment, Fetterman finished the Civil War wearing the brevet rank of lieutenant colonel of volunteers.
After the war, Fetterman elected to remain with the regular army as a captain. Initially assigned to Fort Laramie with the Second Battalion of the 18th Infantry, by November 1866 he found himself dispatched to Fort Phil Kearny, near present-day Sheridan, Wyoming. Since the post’s establishment five months earlier, the local population of about 400 soldiers and 300 civilian settlers and prospectors reportedly had suffered fifty raids by small bands of Sioux and Arapaho. In response, the fort’s commander, Col. Henry B. Carrington, adopted a defensive posture.
Fetterman immediately joined a group of other junior officers in openly criticizing Carrington’s protocol. Although the 33-year-old captain lacked experience with the Indians, he didn’t hesitate to express contempt for the enemy. His distinguished war record lent credence to his argument: Since the Indian raiding parties consisted of only twenty to 100 mounted warriors, the army should run them to ground and teach them a lesson.
Fetterman’s voice and continuing raids eventually convinced the regimental commander at Fort Laramie to order Carrington to mount an offensive. Several minor scuffles, during which the soldiers proved largely ineffective due to disorganization and inexperience, merely bolstered the Indians’ confidence. Carrington himself had to be rescued after a force of about 100 Sioux surrounded him on a routine patrol. Even Fetterman admitted dealing with the “hostiles” demanded “the utmost caution.”
Jim Bridger, at the time a guide for Fort Phil Kearny, was less circumspect. He said the soldiers “don’t know anything about fighting Indians.”
On December 19, an army detail escorted a woodcutting party to a ridge only two miles from the fort before being turned back by an Indian attack. The next day, Fetterman and another captain proposed a full-fledged raid on a Lakota village about fifty miles distant. Carrington denied the request.
On the morning of December 21, with orders not to pursue “hostiles” beyond the two-mile point at which the previous patrol had met trouble, Fetterman, a force of seventy-eight infantry and cavalry, and two civilian scouts escorted another expedition to cut lumber for firewood and building material. Within an hour of the group’s departure from the fort, the company encountered a small band of Oglala led by Crazy Horse. The Indians taunted the army patrol, which gave chase … beyond where they had been ordered not to go.
The great Sioux war leader Red Cloud and a force of about 2,300 Lakota, Arapaho, and Northern Cheyenne waited about one-half mile beyond the ridge. In less than twenty minutes, Fetterman and all eighty men under his command died. Most were scalped, beheaded, dismembered, disemboweled, and/or emasculated.
The Indians suffered sixty-three casualties.
Among the Sioux and Cheyenne, the event is known as the Battle of the Hundred Slain or the Battle of 100 in the Hands. Whites know it better as the Fetterman Massacre, the U.S. Army’s worst defeat on the Great Plains until Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer made a similar mistake ten years later at Little Big Horn in Montana.
Whether Fetterman deliberately disobeyed Carrington’s orders or the commander massaged the truth in his report remains the subject of debate. Although officially absolved of blame in the disaster, Carrington spent the rest of his life a disgraced soldier. Fetterman, on the other hand, was honored as a hero: A fort constructed nearly 200 miles to the south was given his name seven months after his death. A monument dedicated in 1901 marks the spot where the officers and men fell.
A war of another kind erupts within the pages of Prodigal Gun, the only novel-length western historical romance ever nominated for a Peacemaker Award. A Texas fence war pits cattlemen against sheepmen and barbed wire, bringing a notorious gunman home sixteen years after the Confederate Army declared him dead. The book is available in trade paperback and all e-formats at virtual bookstores everywhere. (An excerpt is here.)