The Old Indian Brave
As was his way, Lucas followed the Good Book when he befriended the last remaining Indian Brave in the valley. He had been coming around now for several years and his once fierce demeanor and sinewy build, with the exception of his fiery dark eyes, fell victim to the only battle he couldn't win....the one with father time. At first, a very young Mark was afraid of the Old Brave, possibly equating the Brave with some of Lucas' own Indian War stories. The old Brave came to be a grandfatherly type figure to Mark as the years went on and the Brave often carved small totems and animals and gave them to Mark. Lucas spoke a little Indian and the Indian picked up a few "whit mans" words so with that and some hand gestures the two were able to communicate nicely.
Lucas always offered the old Brave whatever food he could spare but the proud Brave wouldn't accept it from Lucas' hand. Lucas soon took to leaving the offerings on the porch step even occasionally some tobacco found it's way into the bag and sure enough after Lucas went into the house the bag was picked up by the Brave. As the years continued to pass the old Indian came around fewer and fewer times but still, Luke and mark were always happy to see him and help him out as they could. That winter, the fiercest Luke could remember, was in full swing and a knock came on the cabin door. As Luke looked through the curtain he opened the door to let the old Indian inside. Under the brave's arm was bundle wrapped in hide and secured with sinew. The old Brave motioned for Lucas to accept it from him. Lucas laid the bundle on the table near the glowing oil lamp and loosened the sinew. As the hide parted Lucas got a puzzled look on his face as he looked the old Indian in the eye. Nestled in the bundle was the once proud Brave's own tomahawk. As Lucas began to get a look of protest on his face the old Indian silenced him with an outward motion of his arm. The old Brave them further motioned for Lucas to hang the weapon over the doorway to his and Marks bedroom. Lucas did, and with that the old Indian was again on his way back into the snowy day. As Lucas and Mark watched the old Indian approach the barren tree line he suddenly collapsed to the snowy ground….he had indeed expired succumbing to that last great battle we all fight, against father time. Now that could very well be the end of this story but it isn't.
As the weeks passed and the winter ravaged on wolves began to move down from the upper elevations in search of easy prey from ranches. Emboldened by hunger and need, the wolves began a bloody onslaught against stock and the occasional unlucky human. Lucas and the other ranchers decided to go on a hunt in an effort to kill as many of the marauding beasts as possible. Mark was instructed to stay behind and care for the ranch and animals. Two days into the hunt Mark finished up the last bit of rabbit stew and bread and prepared for bed, wondering if the dawn tomorrow would be the day "Paw" would return. Just as the last glint of orangish daylight fell on the cabin door Lucas appeared, riding in from the tree line. Looking at his cabin, the weary rancher wanted nothing more than his chair and some fireside warmth. Still a distance away Lucas saw what appeared to be a large gray dog paw open the cabin door! "Oh my God", Lucas bellowed aloud, "a wolf"! Try as he may the near impassable snow drifts made any attempt at spurring his horse faster nearly impossible! Seconds passed like hours! When he was close enough to dismount he raced through the open door and to his amazement, there laying prone was a very large, very dead gray wolf. The beast expiring at the very doorway to a peacefully sleeping Mark. As Luke collected himself (and the dead wolf) Mark continued to sleep on tucked securely under his deceased mother's warm cozy quilts.
In a few days the storm subsided and Micah visited the ranch to hear all the hunt stories from Lucas. When Lucas told Micah the story about the wolf in the cabin Micah got that bemused look he so often gets when Lucas is greening him. After finishing his coffee Micah rose to be on his way and caught glimpse of the old Brave's tomahawk out of the corner of his eye. "maybe the old Indian killed your wolf Luke boy", he said with a grin as he left the cabin. Those words struck Lucas funny in an uneasy sort of way. Later in the day Luke couldn't help but retrieve the old Brave's tomahawk from it place over the bedroom doorway and it was then that the hair on Luke's neck stood up as I'm sure yours is too. For on the edge of the old Braves weapon was some dried blood and a small clump of bristly gray hairs, the same kind that would grace the head of a gray wolf……..Happy Halloween. Ol Lucas Boy