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How Legends Are Born

Part 6 of 9

A Compilation

The sun removed shadows from the valley below them as she said her farewell to the healer and climbed onto the soft leather of the white man’s saddle.

She had not enjoyed learning to ride a horse using the saddle. Why the white people made things difficult was beyond her. Ever so slowly, she managed to master the leggings and straps as they moved lower into the valley.

Crazy-Bear told her of the white man’s medicine maker who lived at the trading post, giving her words to say to him that would bring white man’s medicine.

She did not enjoy going where she had never been welcomed. Several times, she had gone with Crazy-Bear only to find that the white man thought they were better than those who had lived on this land long before they had ever found it.

As she neared the settlement, Running-Deer saw the chimney of the store through the trees and prepared herself for whatever the spirits had yet to show her.

* * *

Billy Bates and Sam Addison could hardly believe their eyes as they watched the barelegged Indian squaw in tight buckskin riding slowly down the street.

The thick beads she wore around her neck only showed promise of what lay beneath. Her long straight Indian hair fell back behind her and lay over the saddle.

Spotting the man on the litter, they smiled, realizing he would probably not care what happened to her while he lay sick or hurt. He might even thank them for taking care of her for him.

“Come on, we are going see where she takes him and then find ourselves a little fun with her.” Billy whispered with a smile as the two young men followed her progress.

Billy, the self-proclaimed leader of the two, was taller by several inches and thinner than his friend and constant companion. Both had brown hair that ran wild to their shoulders. Together, they had enjoyed finding mischief and causing mayhem to pass the time while away from work during the summer.

The squaw’s bare arms and long legs looked strong and powerful, like Indians the cowboys often told them about. Maybe she was dumb enough to do just as they told her and not kick up a fuss. She was just a simple and ignorant Indian after all.

They watched as she guided her horse up to the trading post and climbed off, giving them even more to look at as she walked around to check on the man. Watching her squat down, they realized it was truly their lucky day.

* * *

Finding the white man still asleep beneath the blanket, Running-Deer stood and walked toward the store only to find a large white woman with brown hair piled high atop her head, frowning at her as Running-Deer approached. The woman wore a stained apron over her skirts and carried a long broom that she held in both hands.

“What have you done to that man, Indian?” the woman asked curtly, drawing a complete blank from Running-Deer who had no idea what the woman had just said.

“Doctor, please?” Running-Deer started. “This man hurt and need medicine. I help with man get medicine. Please?” She struggled with the words Crazy-Bear had patiently taught her, regret now an ache that she had never tried to learn the white man’s tongue before. The spirits were clearly trying to teach her a lesson.

“You do that to him, Indian?” The woman replied; eyes narrowed as she glanced behind the tall squaw. The woman’s thoughts went to the shotgun her husband kept handy and wondered if she might need it.

Running-Deer watched the white woman’s expression and saw the doubt and suspicion that clouded it. Carefully she shook her head and tried again realizing her mistake with the wrong words earlier. “Doctor, yes? Man needs doctor now, and medicine. Please?” There, she said it the way Crazy-Bear meant for her to say it the first time.

Silently she cursed the difficulty that the white man’s tongue brought with it.

The woman eyed the squaw carefully. “You stay out here while I go fetch him. Do not steal anything while I am gone, ya hear me, Indian?” The woman latched the door behind her as she hollered for her husband. “Hank! A damn Indian squaw wants Doc for the man she done hurt! Bring up the shotgun will ya? We might need to run her off when he gets here. I do not trust any damned Indian or the devil in their eyes!”

Running-Deer realized the woman had not wanted her to follow, so she returned to the man that she had carried behind the horse.

His skin was not as pale as it had been the day before, perhaps showing the power of the spirits as they had used Crazy-Bear’s hands and medicine to heal him.

Her palm against his forehead told her his head had cooled as well.

* * *

Matthew Bracna frowned when Hank the storekeeper came to get him, claiming some Indian squaw had brought in a wounded man that needed his attention.

With one hand upon his hip, he reached back with the other to massage his neck as he got up and stretched, rolling his head around on his neck to release muscles marked by soft creaking.

Pulling up his suspenders, the press of the abusive heat reminded him that his straight razor would need sharpening ... again. Running the palms of his hands over what remained of his already short blond hair; he began to suspect that if this heat kept up much longer, he would probably have to shave himself bald to be anywhere near comfortable.

Growing up in the south Texas heat had taught him that trick. Well that, or the dark beauties of Mexico might have, he was never sure.

Bracna found himself once again questioning his choice to practice medicine way out here on the frontier, where the added burden of a badge often mixed with dispensing care.

They had explained it to him quite clearly when he first arrived that both jobs were his to do as he pleased, and he soon discovered that one could not be done without the other this far out from regular civilization.

Twenty-eight years old and still getting used to the new life he had become part of, he grabbed his medical kit and made his way out front. Putting on his wire rimmed spectacles; he stepped out into the heat.

Normally not one to wear a gun belt while tending to patients, he had learned to wear one until he found out what had happened and what might be waiting for him.

Unlike the others, he had not yet developed the distrust that bordered on contempt for their neighbors -— often traveling out to tend to their sick and learning new cultures and languages in the process.

This of course had not gone unnoticed and led several of the residents to voice their displeasure at his strange ways.

He was pleased to see the familiar face of the Indian woman Running-Deer who usually accompanied the Sioux healer Crazy-Bear.

She stood and looked at him with dark amber eyes filled with suspicion as he knelt to look at the patient.

“The spirits have put him in good hands,” Bracna said, stumbling through his cluttered understanding of the broken mix of French and Sioux that the healer had taught him.

“How is it that you speak our language?” she asked without moving from where she had been carefully watching him.

Bracna smiled at the comment even the others in camp had asked, only for different reasons. “Crazy-Bear figured I might need it someday, and looks like he was not far from the truth.”

He sensed more than saw her crouch down to hold the blanket as he did a cursory examination of the wounded man’s injuries. She did not say anything when he motioned for her to help bring the man inside.

“There is a soft bed that we can lay him on inside to get him out of the heat,” he explained, folding back the blanket. Together they lifted the man and carried him with his feet dragging between them into the cooler confines of the trading post.

With their patient laid out on the bed, Bracna had her wash the man’s body clean, using a soft cloth to clear away dirt and grime so he could get a better look at the wounds.

“Did he come with anything else?” he asked Running-Deer as she rinsed the dirt from the wet cloth.

Rising from the bed with fluid ease, she left the cloth in the basin and walked out of the room without a word.

“Makes you wonder if Indians talk much amongst themselves” he mused to the patient who continued to sleep.

* * *

Running-Deer sensed, rather than saw the men approach as she knelt to retrieve what remained of the white man’s clothing. She ignored them until one of them spoke, the rough tone telling her she did not want to know what he was saying. When a hand gripped her shoulder and pulled, she reacted on pure instinct.

Her elbow flashed straight back hard while she brought the back of her fist up against the man’s face as it came down bringing with it a loud “humph!” and a loud crack of a broken nose. Just as quickly, she spun and swept his feet from beneath him —- casting a quick thrust of her leg and landing a hard kick between his legs, buckling them as he fell to the dirt.

Finishing the spin and rising to a crouch, she prepared to face the other man only to find his eyes wide with fear and palms out facing her. She watched intently as the man slowly backed away before turning and running across the dirt.

The dark stain that had slowly formed between his legs as he backed away made her smile. Apparently, these white men were as foolish as the rest of the men who had taunted her in her own village.

The first attacker lay silent and curled on the ground with both hands firmly between his legs. He would live with knowledge that he should have had in the first place about her and her people.

Rising from her crouch, she picked up the clothing that she had come for and carried it back in to the medicine man. She spotted an older man wearing an apron watching her with a smile from behind a nearby window.

Hank shook his head, smiling at the squaw who had just cleanly whipped the insolent likes of Billy Bates and left his partner Sam Addison with a dark stain on his pants as he ran away.

Both boys should have known better than to attack a wild squaw like that. She had attacked with the speed of a rattler, while moving with the flowing grace of a panther as she walked away from the fallen boy.

When his wife Helen joined him at the window and saw the boy curled motionless in the dirt, she gasped and ran to get the doctor.

Bracna had just started looking at what remained of his patient’s clothing when the storekeeper’s wife burst in, broom held at the ready. She slid to a stop, pointing an accusing finger at Running-Deer who was gently cleaning their patient’s wounds.

“That squaw did something bad to Billy and probably killed him out there. I demand that you arrest her!”

Bracna sighed, setting the clothing down as he walked over and guided the angry woman from the room. Running-Deer had not paid any attention to the woman during the entire tirade.

Following the angry swish of Helen’s skirts out to where Billy lay motionless in the street, he knelt to check the young man. Smiling as he stood, Bracna faced the angry woman with her broom at the ready as her husband walked over.

“Saw the whole thing Doc, Billy tried to take a poke at the squaw and she poked him back, but good.”

Helen whirled on her husband only to see he was not going to say anything different than he already had. She pushed him aside as she marched back to their store in a huff.

Hank just shook his head. “Billy’s partner is probably changing his pants right about now. Should have seen it, Doc, she moved like a damn snake. Go on back to the other guy and I will take care of this little whelp.”

“Thanks Hank.” Bracna replied in relief.

The thought of Billy even thinking he might have the upper hand on someone like Running-Deer was the most amusing thing he had heard of in a long time.

He was still smiling when he picked up the belt and spotted the insignia of the United States Marshal Service stamped inside the leather. His smile faded as he looked along the rest of the belt, spotting the name “Marshal Augustus Poe” crudely stamped on it as well.

“Son of a bitch!” he said softly, leaving his patient with Running-Deer without saying a word to her. She probably would not even notice he was gone. With quick strides, he was at the telegraph office in seconds.

Wilson Pickett looked up from over half glasses and smiled until he saw the look on Bracna’s face. A painfully thin man, he always seemed to have the half glasses stuck at the end of his nose beneath the visor he wore. “What is it Doc?”

“You remember the message from Kasher Point?”

Pickett frowned and turned to leaf through a stack of papers on his desk before pulling one out and tipping his head back to read. “Something mentioned about a missing posse and marshal sent out to all stations, why?”

“Because we need to tell them we found their marshal.”

“Found him? ... Here?” Picket asked looking confused. They were far enough from Kasher Point that it seemed impossible he had shown up in their midst.

“Just send the message, Wilson, as well as one to Fort Danna. Colonel Bonnet will want to know, as well.”

Bracna quickly made his way back to his patient to try to figure out what had happened to both him and the missing posse. They would be having visitors soon. They would want answers, and he aimed to get as many as he could before they got here.

* * *

Continued


Copyright © 2011 by Robert L. Sellers Jr. All rights reserved.
Please do not use without permission of the author.

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